Sunday, April 30, 2017

case studies

Case Histories (Jackson Brodie, #1)Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not your usual detective novel—it’s more of a series of character studies, I think, several stories that somehow all get connected. After I read the case histories (there are three in the beginning, and one more further in), and I was getting into the story, I was a little confused at first. But I like the “hero,” Jackson Brodie, and I especially like the way Atkinson draws you into each character when she limns their inner dialogues, the real thoughts that show who the person really is. It reminds me a lot of Stephen King’s writing, where he managed to make the characters seem like real people, people you actually know.

In this book, the stories of the survivors are more important than the whodunnit and really, much more interesting. And funny, and in some cases, sad.

I liked it so much I downloaded the second Jackson Brodie novel from the library.

posted by lee on 04/30/17 at 01:54 AM

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Friday, April 07, 2017

if the videos aren’t enough, here are more photos

Besides the videos, Scott also took a bunch of photographs of the disaster (you can click the arrows to see it full screen):

Meant to ask Scott about the ceiling over the living room—did that survive? And how did the bedroom next to the stairs do?

posted by lee on 04/07/17 at 08:58 PM

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Sunday, April 02, 2017

horror movies

Scott went up to Oscoda to assess the damage. This is what he found: (if you can’t watch these because they won’t load, please let me know and I’ll figure out another way to embed them—this is just a q&d fix).









From what he saw, it looks like this is a much older problem than we originally thought. It appears that the broken pipe kept gushing until the power to the pump was turned off (the house has its own well water supply). Someone, fortunately, turned off the breakers when the problems was originally discovered (by whom, initially, I do not know ... there are some information gaps that need to be filled in) so the water was turned off.

Scott says it’s like the inside is just dripping with moisture. The crawlspace is a swamp. The carpet needs to be ripped out ASAP. Most of the drywall is kaput. The paneling in the family room looks like it’s liquid still. The furnace and probably the hot water heater are gone, and probably the dishwasher, though the fridge is still okay (good thing—brand new, barely used). The stove was there when my parents moved in back in 1993, so that should probably be replaced anyway (or just removed).

As he said, he doesn’t know why the ceilings on the second floor fell—there are no pipes in those ceilings. So it must’ve been mighty wet in there for quite a while. With the weather warming up, cleanup needs to happen fast.

One thing I do know: when the repairs are done, they will be done right. No cut-through joists to accommodate the plumbing—a lazy con-artist did that when the house was built in 1979. Unbelievable.

posted by lee on 04/02/17 at 08:23 PM

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

wind, weather, water, & an empty house, oh calamity!

This weekend wasn’t a good one for tech stuff—DoS attack on one server, weird glitch on another, and we had to move our webserver to a new box because the disk is failing. So I was starting to think about what else to do for a living to get away from high tech. (I always do when aggravated by server crap that always seems to happen at once.)

However, I got a lesson that even “low tech” has problems. We put Dad’s house on the market last September and I saw that the market is picking up so that boded well for actually selling it this spring (Iosco County is not exactly a hot market—not for years now). But Mother Nature kicked us in the teeth. There have been windstorms and power outages where the house is—it’s the norm for a northern Michigan winter. While we don’t know for sure, it looks like the wind knocked the power out to the house (happens an awful lot there) and it didn’t come back on in time to prevent the pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes in the back wall, which apparently burst and destroyed the ceiling above the dining room and family room. My nephew Scott and his girlfriend Kayla just happened to go up that way for a weekend jaunt, checked on the house, and discovered the nightmare.

This was my biggest fear, that weather would cause something like this. A storm or a lightening strike or even a tornado. What frustrates me most about it is I’m not there to help with dealing with it.

Here is what these rooms looked like:

kitchen
The kitchen, when we put it on the market. (click to see it big!)

family room
The family room when we put it on the market. (click to see it big!)

That was then. These are now:

damage kitchen view
Looking from the kitchen towards the dining area/family room.

dining room ceiling
The ceiling in the dining area (click to see it big!)

Dining room area.
text (click to see it big!)

The ceiling above the dining area
The ceiling above the dining area. What gets me is how pristine and untouched the curtains look. (click to see it big!)

The ceiling that is no more
Where the ceiling used to be, above the dining area and family room. (click to see it big!)

Where the ceiling is now
Where the ceiling is now. (click to see it big!)

I know there was a bad windstorm a couple of weeks ago, but this looks like it’s been more than two weeks. But, I don’t know—I have no idea how quickly damage like this can happen.

The area that is damaged in mainly in the one-story section behind the garage, and below the upstairs bathroom in the two-story part of the house (hence all the pipes).

My nephew saw a silver lining: “Well, once we fix it we can say ‘improvements made’ in the listing.”

posted by lee on 03/26/17 at 01:13 AM

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

a criminal defense

A Criminal DefenseA Criminal Defense by William L. Myers Jr.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well-written and interesting, but ultimately preposterous. Much too convoluted and contrived and too many things had to fall perfectly into place for the resolution to work. But it’s well-written and it kept me reading because I wanted to see how it all resolved.

posted by lee on 03/11/17 at 02:31 AM

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

planet earth 2

Flamingoes - San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, BBC America Planet Earth 2
Flamingoes,San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Justin Anderson (click to see it big!)

We’ve been watching Planet Earth II—and it’s just as beautiful as Planet Earth, first aired back in March 2007 in the United States.

My only quibble is sometimes the music gets twee—I loathe that. I like David Attenborough fine as the narrator, though I would be just as happy with Sigourney Weaver as narrator as she was in the 2007 US version of Planet Earth. I also like that they are pointing out the effects of climate change and encroaching development on the habitats.

In the first episode, Islands, the flight of the baby marine iguanas in Fernandina, Galápagoes to reach their parents without being eaten by waiting racer snakes was very exciting—better than a car chase by far. And in episode 2, Mountains, the flamingoes in the Atacama Desert was my favorite part. In the most recent episode, Jungles, I loved the Wilson bird of paradise mating ritual in West Papua, Indonesia. I’m looking forward to the next episode, Deserts, on Saturday.

posted by lee on 03/07/17 at 05:00 PM

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

the sleepwalker

The Sleepwalker (Sleepwalker, #1)The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sleepwalker a really good read Probably 4.5 stars. An interesting mystery centered around a disorder I knew almost nothing about. I really liked the characters, the pacing, the layering on of clue after clue.

My only quibble is probably unfair as I wanted to know more about what happened afterwards, details and not just broad strokes. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to inadvertently spoil it for other readers.

posted by lee on 03/04/17 at 02:19 AM

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

the circle (the book)

The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Interminable. This took sooo loong to get through—it’s like reading a series of press releases. Raised a lot of interesting ideas, to be sure, but damn it’s a repulsive book with an even more repulsive “heroine.” Technology as psychopathy. The problem is Eggers beats you over the head with it, with a really stupid ending. The worst part is the premise is not that far-fetched.

posted by lee on 01/24/17 at 02:36 AM

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

a death in sweden

A Death in SwedenA Death in Sweden by Kevin Wignall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable reading despite a number of flaws.

It’s hard to root for the Good Guy when you understand his profession, which is someone who works for intelligence agencies and governments to find people and send them off to one of those secret CIA prisons or two whatever venue his boss desires. For a lot of money.

The flaws are things like dialogue: it’s difficult to figure out who’s speaking as the punctuation is so badly done. There are rules for punctuating dialogue and they’re used for a reason.

And flaw of the premise: the Bad Guy, some Berlin-based station chief for the CIA, is systematically having former freelancers who worked for the CIA killed for no apparent reason. All of Good Guy’s friends, and of course, he is on the list. He has to figure out how to get off the list—which is one thread of the story. Bad Guy has to keep hiring freelancers because so many are getting killed—seems like kind of a bad policy for getting things done—I mean, sooner or later the pool of available hit men is going to dry up when it shakes out of the grapevine that if you work for Bad Guy, you’ll get murdered.

The other thread is that Good Guy is sent to Sweden to investigate the death of a guy in a bus crash. Turns out this guy wasn’t who everyone claimed he was. He was hiding in the woods of Sweden for years, and part of the plot of this story is to find out who he really was, why he was hiding, what he was doing—and finding this all out, solving the mystery of why he was doing it. Which is fine—this is the interesting part.

There is, of course, a Swedish bombshell involved (I guess a Good Guy would only fall for a bombshell, not a non-bombshell but intelligent woman, or maybe only bombshells work for the Swedish version of the CIA or whatever it’s supposed to be. Such a cliche—getting really tired of it.)

Just wonder, too, why bodies dropping all over Europe, cars being blown up, etc., never seem to get the attention of the local cops or newspapers. Also, there is no apparent rationale for several of the murders done by our Good Guy. And there is his current boss, Patrick, not sure at all where he fit in or what his company initials stand for. Best I could tell is he’s the placement guy for the Mercenary Spy Temp Agency.

I won’t go into much more about it, but I just wonder if some of the people in this story never heard of the internet or YouTube. You will figure out the answer to the mystery—that too is a bit of a cliche.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this—I did. It was well-written enough for me to really get into it, and I will probably read more by Kevin Wignall.

posted by lee on 12/14/16 at 02:45 AM

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Monday, November 28, 2016

another one, from flickerembed

Created with flickr embed.

posted by lee on 11/28/16 at 03:50 PM

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