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Merry Christmas! December 25, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Life.
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Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope you’re having good holiday food, fun and friendship! I thought I’d share a Christmas Video.

And for the nerdy Christmas…..


Ah Vacation December 18, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Life, Musings.
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My grand joy today is that it’s my last day job work day until after the holidays.  I have two glorious weeks off and plans to spend it writing and reorganizing the house between Christmas parties and chasing my kitten out of the Christmas tree.

So Happy Holidays to everyone out there.  We likely won’t post much between now and the New Year, but I know Santa has books coming to our house so there will be a bunch of new reviews come next year.  🙂

Christmas Traditions – A Christmas Carol December 14, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Inspiration, Life, Musings.
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It’s how I know it’s the holidays.  Not a jolly elf in a fuzzy red suit, but a miser with a ghost problem.  I read the book, it’s really not that long and a quick tale and then the dear husband and I go see the play.  We go to the Hale Center Theater here in Utah, because there’s just nothing like watching A Christmas Carol in the round.  I love the music, the message and the change to think about the past, present and future, those we’ve loved and lost and what we’re building towards.

This story is also a tradition in my more extended family and goes back years to when the Muppets first donned the garb of Victorian England.   Some people watch Ralphy and the Red Ryder BB gun every year, we watched the Muppets, all night Christmas Eve…or until no one is awake to hit play again, whichever came first.   Now we all have families of our own, and there will be the Muppets at my house…I’m pretty sure theirs too.

Beyond the Nativity, my absolute favorite, it’s this little piece by Charles Dickens that makes the season for me.  How about for you?


Snow in Houston! December 4, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Life.
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So we have the earliest snowfall in Houston ever today. Just last week I was reading by the pool and sunbathing…. of course I’m glad we have it, I really needed today to catch up on papers. So I wake up to snow falling… wahoo! They didn’t think we’d get any until tonight. So what was in my e-mail box about my downtown (35 minutes away on freeway over overpasses….) campus? This was my weather alert: (bear in mind when it snows in Houston snow falls, it melts. It freezes… ice, then snow accumulates on top.)

U*DPS is urging U* community members to take proper precautions and plan for the winter weather we will be experiencing tomorrow.  Plan for extra travel time and expect possible freezing and snowy driving conditions.  Please monitor the U* Emergency Web site for updates and additional information.  


Houston Area Forecast:

A fast-moving upper level disturbance will interact with a deep layer of cold air, resulting in a good chance of heavy snow Friday. Rain showers are expected to mix with sleet and snow after sunrise Friday with a transition to all snow from midday to early afternoon Friday. Snow, which could be moderate to heavy at times, will continue through the afternoon and early evening before tapering off near midnight. Accumulations between two and four inches are expected with isolated higher amounts possible. Windy conditions will also lead to the risk of blowing snow.

Temperatures across the entire region are forecast to slowly fall as we head through the day on Friday. Most areas could see temperatures near or just above freezing by midday with near freezing temperatures expected through the afternoon. Temperatures overnight into early Saturday morning are forecast to fall into the mid to upper 20s north and west of Houston with lows on Saturday in the upper 20s to low 30s expected everywhere else with the exception of the immediate coast, where temperatures could stay just above freezing. Cold temperatures could result in lingering slick spots on elevated roadways through sunrise Saturday.

The combination of cold temperatures and windy conditions could lead to wind chill values as low as the lower 20s to upper teens Friday afternoon and evening.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated
  • Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

For more information about driving on ice or snow please go to:



Helpful! Right? I just learned to drive in snow and ice on my e-mail.



Book Review: Child of Fire – Harry Connolly December 2, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Debut, Book Review, Book Series, Urban Fantasy.

Happy December, gentle readers.

This month K is crazy as she’s writing papers and taking finals.  Upon occasion she paddles bravely to the surface, takes a deep breath and plunges back in.  So we’ll see her sometimes, but the babbling is getting stranger.  Personally I think she’s going to summon feminist Cthulu Santa any time now.

Anyway…moving on to today’s book review.

I picked up Child of Fire after reading a recommendation from John Scalzi.  This is a debut urban fantasy taking place mostly just outside of Seattle, Washington.  We’re introduced to Ray Lilly and his sorta partner Annalise.  The two of them are on a mission which encompasses finding people using magic to be bad and killing them.  There’s some mention made of redeeming them, but that doesn’t seem to happen much.  We know immediately that Ray is under a death sentence, but not why and within a few pages the main plot is introduced, from there it really never lets go.  Ray is put through the wringer, particularly after Annalise is injured and can’t do as much as she usually does.

The book was very interesting on a lot of levels.  It was a very different Urban Fantasy, much closer to the works of favorites like Jim Butcher, but also with a darker horror bent.  I was reminded very much of Lovecraft and the investigator novels.  I liked the male pov, since much of UF is female, and the matter of fact attitude that he brought to his universe.  One of the neat things is that for the most part Ray is just a guy.  He has some knowledge about the way things are and a couple of magic tricks which help him out, but when he goes up against fire breathing monsters the right answer is to run for it and he knows it.  I’m fascinated by the world presented as it mentions some of our favorite UF critters, but stays very firmly with people and the horror they cause with the absolute best intention.  As a study of human nature the book is absolutely brilliant.

This is not to say it was perfect.  It has a few issues of pacing and I was felt a bit teased by some of the information.  We had so MANY hints about Ray’s past and his great sins, but nothing ever really explained.  I think I’ve pieced together the vast majority of it, but my mental picture is still missing some puzzle pieces that I’m not really happy to wait for.  Hopefully we’ll get more of this in the next book.  As my husband put it:  It’s not perfect, but I’m invested enough in Ray as a character and the world to keep reading.

And I do like Ray.  He visits a lot of violence on a lot of people, but mostly in reaction to being threatened himself or defense of other people and at the end of the day he feels bad about it and is trying to be a better person, even as the world around him seems determined not to let him be.

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror

Age: 15+

Content:  Violence, frightening images, language and some very mild sexuality.

Overall: 4.5 paws