Monday, January 30, 2012

Toastmasters Newsletters

If you have an interest in public speaking, story-telling, or leadership skills, please browse these Toastmasters newsletters posted on Scribd.  Let me know what you think.  If you are in South-east Georgia and want to visit a meeting, walk right in and say Ms. Jan invited you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book club Selection - Scaramouche

I am at an important part of the story where Andre Louis becomes Scaramouche.  This is the background: Andre-Louis is wanted for sedition and has decided to hide from the law by joining a group of itinerant actors who all use stage names.   Andre-Louis took on the name Parvissimus but now the lead actor in a play titled Figaro-Scaramouche is ill. Andre-Louis has been pressured into taking the role of the lead, Scaramouche.  On page 133 he reflects on the changes in his life over the course of a week.  Andre-Louis says that he has gone from lawyer, mob-orator, outlaw, property-man doing manual labor, and now to a buffoon whose role is to move an audience to laughter using sarcastic humor.  Apparently a scaramouche is  someone who is sly, an astute intriguer who stirs up trouble and that is exactly what Andre has been doing since his friend Philippe died.  I am very interested in seeing how this story develops.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Historical Fiction - Scaramouche

Scaramouche is an interesting story set in France in the period of the French Revolution.  I am finding it a little difficult to follow the English translated from the French so I am reading the story slowly. First sentence in the book tells us the protagonist Andre-Louis, a lawyer from the village of Gavrillac, was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. 

Early in the story, his friend Philippe de Vilmorir, a divinity student, has gotten himself killed in a duel with the Marquis de la Tour Azyr.   The background to his death is very simple. A vassal of Lord Gavrillac was stealing pheasants from the property of the Marquis and the gamekeeper on the property killed him. Philippe, with his sense of justice, wanted reparation for the vassal's widow.  Philippe's meeting with Lord Gavrillac did not go well.   Lord Gavrillac, Godfather to Andre-Louis, wants his niece Aline to marry the Marquis and certainly did not think that the family of a thieving vassal deserved reparation.   Philippe was more hopeful about his meeting scheduled with the Marquis himself.  To Andre-Louis' shock, Philippe ended up being killed in an unfair duel with the Marquis.  The Marquis admitted that he was bothered by the oratorical skills of Phillipe.  Suddenly, Philippe's fight for justice becomes a fight against the wealthy nobility.  That in turn becomes Andre-Louis' fight and his weapon is his oratory skills.

I am on page 96 and Scaramouche, described as a villainous-looking fellow, has appeared in the story.  It took me a while but to figure out that Scaramouche and his company of 12 which included Climene, Leandre, Harlequin, and Rhodomont were actors.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Okefenokee Book Club Moves to Paris

We will be moving to Paris and stopping over in London ... in our imagination.  Members of the club have selected the following books for discussion this year:
  •  Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Let's Try to Understand SOPA & PIPA

Unless you were hiding under a rock you must have heard or experienced the successful web blackout on January 18th.  I say successful because the Senators who sponsored *SOPA/*PIPA have backed off  ... for now.  The bills need more "due dilligence", they say. 

Why were SOPA and PIPA  proposed in the first place, you may be asking.  Well, Hollywood studios, recording industry, computer software publishing companies, and major publishing houses lobbied Congress to act against foreign Web sites (the pirates) that give away U.S. movies, music and books and enable copyright infringement.  They say piracy costs the county 100,000 jobs.

So stopping copyright violation is one side of the argument; however, read this article to find out how SOPA and PIPA would affect you personally.  Read the part that says the acts would make bloggers responsible for everything that is on their site and this would include the comments of visitors.  Read also the part about posting a video of your child, on YouTube, singing his or her favorite song.

The Anti-SOPA faction are against *DNS filtering (blocking access/connection to domains/hostnames) which it calls policing the web and censoring the free flow of information. Listen also to Clay Shirky 18 minute talk defending the right to share.

Let's learn some Acronyms:
SOPA = Stop Online Piracy Act
PIPA = Protect Intellectual Property Act
DMCADigital Millennium Copyright  Act
DNS =  Domain Name System (a look-up service for translating a website name to an IP (Internet Protocol) address)

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Louise Penny Books

I finished reading Canadian writer Louise Penny's book, A Rule Against Murder, this morning.   I was not disappointed; very good storyline with an unexpected twist.  I have three more in the Three Pines mystery series to check out: The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, and A Trick of the Light.

Louise Penny is a four time winner of The Agatha Award for Best Mystery naturally named in honor of British writer, Agatha Christie.

While I am waiting for The Brutal Telling to arrive, I am going to start reading a recommendation from  a book club member Scaramouche, an old historical fiction that was made into a movie.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

I have been reading Canadian writer Louise Penny's fourth book in the Three Pines Mystery series; A Rule Against Murder.  This is the first story in the series where the setting is not Three Pines.  The setting is a small hotel called Manoir Bellechasse in Quebec.  This story focuses on a family reunion of the dysfunctional Finney/Morrow clan so I am learning about Peter Morrow's background.  Peter and his wife Clara, both artists, have been featured in every Three Pines mystery so far.  Peter's behavior is obnoxious and insensitive to his wife when he is around his family.   There is some discussion about bathrooms that moves Julia Morrow to anger for no reason apparent to me the reader.  Shortly thereafter, by page 87, there is a dead body.  I am curious to find out what that anger episode was really about and who in the family has a motive for murder. 

I am getting a little more background on the conflict between the English speaking and French speaking Canadians. The Finney/Morrow family reflects the superiority of the Anglo-Canadian.  This arrogant family presumed that Inspector Gamache and his wife, guests at the hotel, were guilty of murder because they presumed they were low class Franco-Canadians. 

Louise Penny writes with humor and tries to portray human emotions in this story:  jealousy, vindictiveness, arrogance, and love.   I am now on page 110 and I am enjoying the storyline. 

The first book in the series is Still Life, a Okefenokee Book Club selection last year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Books to Clean Up Your Life

I found these 9 books on that are being promoted as life changing books.  I  have read only one on the list; the historical fiction Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  Powerful, powerful love story and tragedy. I absolutely loved it but it did not "clean up my life."   Take a look at the list of characters in Tale of Two Cities. 

How God Changes Your Brain is a book on the list of 9 that I would  like to read.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Personal Finance Books 2012

I read about this personal finance book list by Jeff Wuorio in an article in USA Weekend and thought I'd search online, locate the link, and share it with you.  It's all about reading and learning about personal finance in 2012.  

I am into frugal living so I would especially like to access this book  The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.  Also, most of you probably heard of Geneen Roth's book on Women,  Food, and God; well, here is another book by her  on Mr. Wuorio's personal finance book list: Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Holiday Reading

I am back! The holiday is over and work starts tomorrow.   Hope you like my pic of Santa taken on December 16th at the Jacksonville International Airport.

My holiday reading was The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny.   This was my third Three Pines mystery  by Louise Penny, set in French-speaking Canada, featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  I loved it; 4 1/2 stars from me.  I think this story was better than the first book, Still Life, our book club selection a few months ago

I loved the main characters who all seem flawed and seem to have complicated relationships with each other. For example, there is the underlying professional jealousy that the artist Peter has for his artist wife Clara.  He loves her yet he is jealous of her artistic talent and she is oblivious of his jealousy.  I am now trying to get the fourth book in the series, The Brutal Telling, and am wondering if this theme of jealousy  is going to be developed in this novel.

The main storyline is a murder that takes place in a "haunted house" at a seance but there is a secondary story also taking place. In  Fatal Grace, the second book, we learned that Gamache was having some difficulties relating to his job and may even have a spy on his investigating team.  In The Cruelest Month the specific difficulty is identified and there is a satisfactory resolution.
While I am waiting for The Brutal Telling, I am reading V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton.   Several issues are going on in this book.  A man accumulates gambling debts and is murdered by his loan shark.  Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone is hired by a lonely widower to find out if his shoplifting fiancee Audrey Vance, of whom he knows very little, committed suicide or if there was foul play.  Nora has a cheating husband and seems to be about to have a tryst with a loan shark and mobster named Dante.  At some point I think Dante, Nora, Kinsey and a newspaper reporter, Diane, who Kinsey detests, are going to connect.  I will find out as I read more tonight.