Review: Xiaomi Fitness Tracker & Watch

I had a fitbit long time ago (like first generation fitbit). I ordered a Pebble 2 when they did their Kickstarter. I have a Huawei watch sitting on its charger. I love the data I get from fitness trackers. It tickles the nerdy data-bone in my brain. I wanted a heart rate tracker if I got a new one. I hated the price of most of them – the cheapest fitbit with heart rate tracking is $70 and it really doesn’t do much (the “Inspire” just doesn’t inspire me). Apple watch was outright out since I’m not a big Apple user and it’s ridiculously expensive. There ARE some other brands (Samsung being the other big name and a few like Garmin that made me chuckle). The biggest complaint I have with most of these toys is one thing: size. Especially if the brand wants me to wear it at night, I want something without too much size or weight. I

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2019 Resolution Review

I set myself the goal of just 12 books this year. I had 15 to choose from. I ended up completing 7. I’m disappointed in myself for the most part, but you know my life was just a little crazy this year (I totally blame having a kid for throwing me off my game). I also changed jobs, but that was a little less dramatic. Here are the “classic” books I read this year and the reviews I wrote on them: Frankenstein The Bell Jar My Sister’s Keeper The Phantom Tollbooth The Great Gatsby Wuthering Heights Anna Karenina I am glad I read these books. Most of them I enjoyed more than I expected. Great Gatsby was probably the exception to this rule. Wuthering Heights has stuck in my mind more than I expected. Anna was as painful as I expected (Russian novels have a reputation). It’s not like I didn’t read other books, I re-read quite a few and

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Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

I finally went and saw this one. I didn’t want to fight opening-weekend-rush but I also wanted to avoid spoilers (I mostly did). So my Balance was waiting a week and going at 9:30 on Friday morning. Firstly, there’s a rumor Disney fired (or is about to fire) the head of Lucas Arts (the Star Wars division). GOOOD. I don’t know if this person just doesn’t understand multi-movie franchises (you’d think they could just go talk to some Marvel people about it…) or if they just don’t understand plot. Or character development. Or you know…. storytelling. That is my non-spoiler review of The Rise of Skywalker. You have been safely warned that the rest of this review is probably going to have spoilers. Because I am going to approach this a little differently than a normal review. And I might “spoil” something from this latest movie in the process. The plot between Kylo Ren and Rey make me wonder (like

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Review: Anna Karenina

The TL;DR review for this book (since this is such a damn long book): I wouldn’t have minded an abridged version. That is the first time in my life I have read a book and wished for the abridged version. Ok, maybe I would have liked one for Prince of Tides too, but I had to read that for school. This is the first time for a book I read by choice. (Again – Tale of Two Cities I might need abridged. That thing is just my Achilles heel). To begin with, I am very confused why Anna is the titular character. The book begins with Constantine Levin and ends with Levin. Why isn’t he the name on the cover??? It is like 10 chapters before Anna is even introduced! And then it isn’t like most of the rest of the book follows her. I am sure if I went and counted the chapters about Levin and the chapters about

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Reading: 2019 Resolution Nov. Edition

I am behind on my resolution of classics (still). I might not make it. I am going to put in a damn good effort though!! This is of course on top of my annual “I am going to try NaNoWriMo again” attempt. Completed: Frankenstein The Bell Jar My Sister’s Keeper The Phantom Tollbooth The Great Gatsby Wuthering Heights Attempted and failed: A Tale of Two Cities (for the upteenth time in my life!) Started: Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) audiobook downloaded from the library. The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. LeGuin) downloaded from the library Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) been listening to the audiobook (from Librivox) in the car. I am on Chapter 133 out of 238 which is 56%, but it’s on hold since Kidnapped came through. On hold/planned/gotten: Good Omens (Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman) downloaded the ebook from Google Play The God of Small Thing (Arundhati Roy) I am on hold with a copy from the library. Silence

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Work: Interview Questions I Love and Hate

I teach people how to interview.  Recently, this particular article swam through my emails of “hey, you seem to read these” (I do). I hate some of these questions. I tell managers to avoid asking them – and if you DO ask them, be prepared for a well-polished and prepared answer (and be warned if the candidate ISN’T prepared, but better to just avoid). That first question – Tell Me About Yourself – the article says don’t go off on a “personal” tangent. They essentially tell you to summarize your resume. BAH!  BAH I SAY. That is terrible advice – and I actually have always taught managers that if the candidate can’t or won’t get off their resume – it’s a yellow flag. Not a deal-breaker, it could be an act of nerves – but if you are looking for a candidate to build relationships it is a dangerous inability. I almost entirely disagree with this writer on how to

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Review: Elemental Mysteries

I was not expecting this series, A Hidden Fire, This Same Earth, The Force of Wind, and A Fall of Water to keep me engaged, but they did. Granted, the first one I enjoyed the most. Then there was a bit of “damnit, I don’t like leaving books unfinished.” This series is vampiric romance. Which if that isn’t a real genre – you all know what I’m talking about. There will inevitably be the comparisons to Twilight. I will start with that this series is about ten billion percent better than Twilight. Granted, I don’t see that as a terribly high bar to clear. I think my greatest disappointment is that Beatrice is a librarian, a historian, but it doesn’t really matter. She is set up to need this information, but it isn’t the final solution. Hell, she doesn’t actually use it that much. It’s there. It IS a plot point. I just wish it had been more. I am

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Review: Wuthering Heights

I do not understand the cult-love of Wuthering Heights. I can understand why it is chosen by high school English teachers across the country (globe?). It is solidly written with enough twists and turns to introduce students to early-19th century literature. It is NOT the best writing of the era. It is however possibly more powerful than some of the others. The characters of Wuthering Heights are generally all horrible people. There is little in the way of redeeming qualities in any of them. Many of them are selfish to the point of disgusting. The fact that Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship is romantacized – it’s as bad as Twilight.  I really want to pull out the “signs of abusive relationship” and do a point-by-point of how many dots are on the page. It’s gross. GROSS. However, unlike Gatsby where I found myself going “why do teachers choose this” I think every teacher should cover Wuthering Heights. I spent about the

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Review: The Great Gatsby

I can understand why my high school honors English teacher chose not to have us read this book. It’s fine. But she knew it wouldn’t challenge those of us in her ninth grade and tenth grade honors English. As a tableau of the “roaring twenties” it’s pretty good. As a work of literature… it’s fine? This isn’t a book I would recommend to someone who doesn’t either have a teacher to walk through the context of the 1920’s OR a decent knowledge of the 1920’s because you’ve studied history. I say this because the alcohol flows like rivers throughout the peoples’ hands, but this is the height of prohibition – and that Gatsby is a bootlegger or helper of bootleggers is heavily implied even if it’s never verified. He smuggles alcohol. Frankly, none of the characters are good people. Not just because they guzzle down gin and brandy like it’s crack in the 80’s. They lie. They are selfish. They

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Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

This is a children’s book, but it was a really nice break from “normal” in my reading regime.  And DAMN, I wish I had been given this book when I was seven. This probably would have been one of those “classics” that I devoured over and over like Matilda. The premise is that Milo is bored. And then receives a mysterious present which promises entertainment.  With hefty sighs he passes through the tollbooth “toy” and soon finds himself drawn into adventure in the lands beyond Imagination. This book had to inspire Terry Pratchett.  The play on words is just too much for the man not to have read it and loved it (in my opinion). With places like Digitopolis and The Sea of Knowledge, which you cross by jumping to Conclusions.  It was punny. Occasionally, I almost groaned and then remembered who the audience is supposed to be. The pums are perfect for an audience of 7-10 year olds. This

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