Drivers in San Antonio

I’ve started playing a game as I make the trek to work.  At the busiest intersections I’ll count the vehicles that drive by and keep track of any drivers that appear to be pretending to be expert multitaskers.  Of the twenty that I counted today, three drivers were visibly chatting on their cellphones.  Yesterday, a woman was applying lipstick.  She also happened to be in an SUV.  Reminded me of the time I almost got hit by a woman who was too busy applying makeup to notice me there.  She also happened to be driving an SUV.

See that’s the thing about San Antonio drivers.  The vast majority are so self absorbed, deeply focused in their own little worlds that they rarely if ever notice the people around them.  My biking friends always get hit by cars.  For the ones who have died, there’s no legal recourse for their families.  Instead you hear comments. Snide remarks under breath from people who think bikers are a nuisance.  In Texas vehicles are king.  Everything else is just insignificant.  So bikers, wheelchair users or pedestrians need to shut up and put up.

Which is why I’m playing my game.  It keeps me sane.  And who knows, maybe I’ll catch someone doing something egregious.  Catch them in the act and publish it to the web for everyone to see.  One can dream.

Review: The Unholy

The Unholy
The Unholy by Paul Deblassie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Let me see. Where to start?

Claire Sanchez is the daughter of a curandera she saw murdered at 5 years old. She grows up knowing that she’s destined to be a curandera herself, but chooses instead to avoid her heritage and live out life as a natural healer instead.

Whatever.

There’s also an evil religion extorting money from it’s wealthy parishioners and sacrificing women. And it’s not really difficult to guess how it ends.

I really wanted to care. I really wanted to like this novel with the beautiful descriptions and snapshot view of the mestizo culture. But in all honesty, this book was a mess. I mean how many times does the author have to explain the history behind the women of Lozen? Three times in the first 75 pages, word for word.

Characters were one-dimensional. Plot-lines were predictable. I kept expecting the villain to suddenly shout, “Bwah ha ha,” like you see in the cheesy Saturday morning cartoons. It was that bad.

I received a free copy for review and I don’t recommend it. Unless there’s some kind of drinking game involved.

Then again, maybe not even that.



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Review: The Devil’s Concubine

The Devil's Concubine
The Devil’s Concubine by Jill Braden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Most of the fantasy I’ve read has had a Middle Ages bent to it. Knights and sorcerers, damsels in distress, characteristics that are all too familiar. The Devil’s Concubine was completely different.

Set in a world comparable to the Orient, we’re introduced to Qui’Tal, a woman of a snake-like race called the Pongonese who have been conquered by British like colonialists, the Thampurians. The Pongonese have been left desolate, living in hut like structures and oppressed by their new rulers. Through all this is the story of Qui’Tal, the mistress and enforcer of the Devil, the werewolf kingpin.

When I started reading this book I thought I was in for another cheesy urban fantasy, but Jill Braden has managed to create a lush and vibrant world without the usual cliches. I was fully immersed in this world, and I found myself wondering, which nation were the Pongonese based on? Their culture, the way they tell their stories, the tiny details, all added to the charm of this novel.

My only complaint comes from the characterizations of the some of the supporting characters. The Major seemed to warm to Qui’Tal too quickly, and the rapport between Kyam Zul and Qui’Tal seemed a bit forced. They went back and forth and back and forth with no real explanation as to why they even needed each other to begin with. And the over-protective male role is just such a turn off.

This book deserves 3.5 stars. I’m even considering reading the next book, but I may hold off till there are more in the series. I’m just too impatient to wait!

(I received a free copy for review.)



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Review: The Sisters Will Dance

The Sisters Will Dance
The Sisters Will Dance by Brian Wheeler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The main character, Blaine, is an addict. His life seems predisposed to addiction with no cure in sight. When he inherits a farmhouse in Monteray, he doesn’t know why or how he’s going to live there. His only real concern is how to avoid the cravings gnawing at his skin. The truth hidden in his blood.

This is one of those books that you shouldn’t take three months to read like I did. From the first chapter, Wheeler thrusts you into a hyper-realistic world full of lush details and metaphors. It’s so detailed that you have to keep track of who’s who because it’s somehow a key to unraveling the underlying mystery of who Blaine really is and why he is or isn’t important.

This is not the typical fantasy novel. A certain mysticism weaves its way through the story, and right when you think you know what’s going to happen next, the complete opposite occurs.

Needless to say, I really liked it.

(I was given a free copy to review.)




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Ok, this is madness!

I feel my age. Maybe even older!

I suppose that’s normal. Growing up with a disability somehow makes you mature 5 times faster than the normal person. So while I may have been 20 once upon a time, I felt 25. So on and so forth. (At least I managed to have a grand ole time!)

Now I feel older… and single. No significant other to speak/write about. And though I’d love to think of Ravi as my other half, it’s just not the same. Besides, he’s taken to ignoring me when other people are around.

Hence, the solution: visit Ok Cupid.

My photos on there are old. My profile still lists me as having an innate love affair with BSG. And apparently it’s not cool to not have the official app, or something like that.

Within an hour of my going active again, I received quite a few messages spelling out a number of things including but not limited to an invite to coffee, movie star comparisons, and the all important, “Hey, beautiful.” (hubba, hubba)

The stalker sense has not stopped tingling. I mean, when did online dating become so creepy?

Duh! It was always this way.

But I think I’ll hang around the OK site just to see what other amusing things I can fill my time with.

Review: Arata: The Legend, Vol. 01

Arata: The Legend, Vol. 01
Arata: The Legend, Vol. 01 by Yuu Watase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge fan of Fushigi Yuugi, and after watching the Arata anime, I figured I needed to find out what happened next.

First major difference between the anime and the manga? The anime rushes through the story while the manga gives you a better opportunity to get to know Arata and relate to him.

It’s also a great start to a hopefully memorable story.



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Review: The Road To Cordia,

The Road To Cordia,
The Road To Cordia, by Jess Allison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to hate this book. I was halfway through and was convinced that nothing good would happen to the protagonist, 14 year old Ja’Nil of the Fisherfolk.

Here’s this young girl, ostracized by her people and living with horrible memories of a tragic past, who’s thrust into this unwanted journey in search of a healer. And pretty much every character she meets on her way to Cordia has ulterior motives when it comes to poor Ja’Nil. Except for the potential love interest. He’s not evil…yet.

On the other hand, the majority of the female characters are strong and smart and likeable. I wonder if the author was trying to make a point.

And yet, I liked what I read. The second half of the book focused more on the overarching storyline versus Ja’Nil’s misfortunes, and this is where the writing is at its strongest.

I just don’t think it’s enough for me to want to read part 2.



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No fishyness here

I tried a new Tilapia recipe today. It was a simple bake with lemon, garlic, and sage. Delish!

I always have a hard time cooking fish. I never know what condiments to add, how long to bake, and nothing is as fancy as the stuff you get at restaurants. Sure, I’m not a Master Chef, but I’d like to at least do something simple like fish.

Methinks I can count today as a success.

Review: Fire Baptized

Fire Baptized
Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, I received a free copy for review…

I really wanted to like this book. As a matter of fact, I believe it deserves a 2.5 rating versus just a 2 because it was a decent read.

I’m a fan of urban fantasy. The world Wright creates is intriguing, and I see the parallels to our history’s past. The problem is that it’s not enough. The book glosses over this world giving little hints and pieces. Supernaturals are branded and relegated to habitats, but why this was done isn’t explained. Mixed breeds are hated but again, there’s no explanation as to why. I’m guessing this will be explained in the next books, but it comes off as lazy story-telling.

The book seems more focused on the romance, and it’s horrible. We’re supposed to feel perplexed over who Lanore should choose. Hulking and beautiful MeShack, or hulking and beautiful Zulu. Their skin-color is the only characteristic that really tells them apart, but even that changes. These men are alpha males, misogynistic, brutish, and boring, but the heroine soaks it all up. I hated them, and I could not stand Lanore. One second she’s all tough and determined, and the next she’s unrealistically skittish and cowardly. It’s lazy writing meant to please the romance freaks. Sorry, I just don’t do poorly written romance.

Like I said, it’s a nifty world. Some of the plot points were intriguing, but at less than 300 pages long, it’s not that great.



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Review: Sonant

Sonant
Sonant by A. Sparrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a quirky read. I love a book that can just lose itself in the details. In Sonant, music plays a huge part in the plot, and it was fun to just read through lines dwelling on the harmony and melody of sound. For a music lover, it’s the ultimate geekfest. I was revited.

Religion also seems to be a focus of this novel in both it’s positive and negative aspects. The over zealous anre humane but flawed as are the ones without faith. It’s not preachy in the least. It’s quirky.

My only complaint is the editing. Words were missing, creating incomplete gaps in sentences. Filling in the blank was no biggie, but the book could have used a bit more editing.



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Review: Beautiful Redemption

Beautiful Redemption
Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, so I have one question that nagged me throughout the entire book. Why was Ethan’s fate messed with? I get who did it, but who was behind it? It’s probably staring me in the face.

Anyway, what an awesome series. Loved the world building and the characters. The reveal of what Link did at 9 was just hysterical. I think he’s such a great character. Really, what a nifty series.

So sad it’s over. :(



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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost the entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking, “how was the movie version? I have to see the movie!” Only to probably be disappointed.

Ethan’s a great character. He’s sweet and loyal, and maybe a little funny. The book is told from his point of view, which I wasn’t expecting, but being that he’s the Mortal of the story, it brings a unique male perspective. His love for Lena is sweet, and you feel for him when things don’t go quite as expected.

The other characters are fairly well developed, with Amma and Macon being the most intriguing of the bunch.

For being Young Adult, the read was fun and quick. I definitely recommend t.



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Review: Lágrimas en la lluvia

Lágrimas en la lluvia
Lágrimas en la lluvia by Rosa Montero

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a lot to love about this book. It’s set in the world of Blade Runner and yet it isn’t. The main character is Bruna Husky, a replicant, a technohuman who ritualistically counts down the days of her inevitable demise: 4 years, two months, twenty-one days. She’s a tough, flawed character thrust into solving a murder spree of replicants. Obviously, her little search leads her towards something more.

I wonder what it would have been like to read this in English. Montero’s descriptions are detailed and humorous. I know I lost something in my own translation, but as a whole, it’s such a fun read. I enjoy a good sci-fi mystery, and this has it all.

My only complaint is that it wrapped up all too neatly. I’m wondering if this isn’t the last that we’ve read of Bruna Husky. I hope not.



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It’s only the first part

It’s a fact that I have too many books. My Kindle has opened this vast world of literature, and I’m buying way more books than actually reading them, and I want to read them all. Except maybe the trilogies. Apparently, the ‘it’ thing to do these days is write a trilogy. There may not even be enough story for a three parter, but that’s not the point. Hook someone in with the first part, and the other two will be bought up come premiere day. And that’s the most frustrating thing of all. I’m not the type to read a book and patiently wait for the next two. No. I snap them all up if I can, and maybe later find out that I’ve regretted doing so. Because it’s a fact that if the first book sucks, the other two are sure to follow.

And everyone seems to be writing trilogies, but I just want a measly stand alone novel. A very well written, blow me away story, told in a couple hundred pages or less. No to be continued or senseless cliffhangers. Just a beginning, middle, and end.

Losing a friend

A dear friend lost her dog this weekend. He escaped from her backyard along with their other dog. Although not a normal occurrence, the dogs tended to do this from time to time. Once, they disappeared for a couple of months, only to be discovered in a shelter in New Braunfels. Needless to say, my friend was thrilled to have them back. After all, these were two very unique dogs.

I remember when she got Dante. He was this tiny little thing wrecking havoc through out the apartment. Then he grew into this massive beast with a tender heart. When Dolce stumbled into their lives, it was like they became this perfect little family. And as dogs tend to do, Dante and Dolce were inseparable.

And apparently Dolce stayed by Dante’s side after he was hit by a car. She didn’t leave until it was no longer safe for her, and fortunately she found someone to take her home, broken tail and all.

I’m heartbroken for her and my friend.

It’s easy to say that these are just dogs. Why mourn over a being that isn’t human. And yet there’s a reason they’re labeled as man’s best friend. They’re companions with personalities meant to match our own. They make us laugh, and they make us yell. They love us and protect us. What more could anyone ask for in such a precious friend?

When I got the news I immediately thought of Ravi. I came home and promptly hugged him. And maybe he could tell that I was sad because he plopped himself by my knees, and didn’t move until I was ready to move.

Man’s best friend indeed.

FBI @ the Scooter Store

So maybe this is why I’m having such a hard time getting a scooter?

FBI executes search warrant at the Scooter Store.

The Scooter Store employs about 1,200 people at its New Braunfels headquarters and about 1,800 overall, Zipp told the Express-News earlier this month. The company laid off 150 people earlier this month and 220 people in September.

The search warrant comes as The Scooter Store has been grappling with changes in its business model. Power-mobility devices have come under scrutiny as part of a crackdown on Medicare fraud. Concerns have been raised that the devices are being prescribed to people who don’t need them.

And maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not using them to get my new wheels, although I did try many years ago.

Padilla not retroactive

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky that defense attorneys had a duty to inform their clients of the potential risks a guilty plea would have on their immigration status. Why? Well, with a felony conviction, an immigrant, legal or non, would be banned from seeking citizenship or any other immigration status.

The thing is, many immigrants, some who have been here for many years in legal status, have quite quickly found themselves in deport proceedings because of crimes they committed in the past. Many times, they accepted a guilty plea because it involved less jail time, or their attorney advised that the case was just not winnable. This advise was given in most cases without the knowledge of the immigration consequences of such a deal. The attorney didn’t know, and the client certainly didn’t know. So, hypothetically, a one time drug charge that happened when the immigrant was 18 would inevitably come back to haunt him at 50. 32 years after the fact. And now this immigrant, a family man and resident for many years, faces deportation for a mistake.

The Padilla case changed this situation. Now attorneys have a duty to inform their clients of the immigration consequences they face because of the criminal charges against them. As of 2010, this is the law of the land. But what about cases that occured prior to 2010? Can a criminal case be challenged and re-opened based on a Padilla claim?

No. The Supreme Court just ruled in Chaidez v. USA that Padilla claims are not retroactive. So that 18 year old immigrant can’t go back and challenge his guilty plea at 50. It doesn’t matter if he could have plead to a much lesser charge. It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t guilty and only followed his attorney’s uninformed advice. The 50 year old man will more than likely be deported.

What a shame.

A new workplace

Our department was moved last Thursday to a different building. We’re now the Guadalupe Community Center’s new neighbor.

The offices are smaller. The walls echo with the sound of our voices, so that someone in the back can easily hear anyone chatting in the front. Since we uphold confidentiality above all else, the sound situation makes things a bit complicated. Obviously, I’ll have to keep my door closed. Unless my master plan of covering all the walls helps.

Either way, the place is nice and cozy. We’re back amongst people, other employees assisting with taxes or food.

Now I just hope the clients can find us.

A matter of looks

Pistorius charged with murder.

As the hearing started, Pistorius kept his head down, cried and held his hands to his face. At times, he appeared confused.

“Take it easy. Come, take a seat,” Reuters quoted Magistrate Desmond Nair as telling him.

A defense lawyer referred to his client’s “traumatised state of mind.”

Several of Pistorius’ family members were in the courtroom and also appeared emotional; one seemed distraught and others wept.

Poor sympathetic Pistorius. He mistakenly killed his girlfriend, and seems all but distraught at the fact. It’s a buffet for the media. A free for all. It seems quite unreal that a man such as Pistorius could be guilty. Then again he may not be not guilty.

But, he’s disabled? He couldn’t possibly…?

I’m a firm believer in innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, since I’m not a fly on the courthouse wall, nor am I privy to the man’s mind, it’s really hard to say if he’s innocent or not. It’s not for me to judge. But I do feel bad. This man was a hero to many. He proved that anything was possible. I admired him for that. So it’s a shame this happened because a remarkable man has just been charged with murder. His hero image has been tarnished.

And yet anyone can be a murderer, regardless of skin color, size, or capacity. Anyone can be a saint. It’s the person who chooses what to do in life, not the image or the blades.

Don’t make me sympathize for him because he’s disabled, or make him seem more incapacitated than he is. He’s just a man who may or may not have committed murder.

So that scooter of mine?

I keep squeaking by on my trusty Amigo scooter. For some reason the longer I go in reverse, the better it works going forward. It’s like, give it 5 and it turns into 10. So I’ve caught myself going backwards wherever I can, trying to ignore the gawking stares of that security guard at Frost bank, and that couple strolling down Houston St. I smile and try to avoid sharp corners while marveling at my dexterity with the steering. Really, going backwards is scary.

This little bit of freedom recaptured is startling. I’m thankful that I can go out and about, but at the same time I’m paranoid that my scooter will stop, never to budge again. I think, just don’t let it happen while I’m crossing a street. It’s not that I’m afraid I’ll get run down, though knowing San Antonio, it could happen. No, it’s the fact that people will stop to stare, horns will blare, and maybe then someone might come up hollering if I need any help. How mortifying.

But I have to keep going.

The VIATrans schedulers have given me horrible times for the next few days, and if I don’t want to get in trouble at work, I’ll have no choice but to use the regular bus and travel like I used to.

And the new scooter is no where near to being approved. I called to check on the status, and the lady told me she had used the wrong code. Which means getting a new authorization signed by the doctor. Which means starting over.

So my baby has to hold on a little longer. Please, hold on.

About the #SOTU

I was preparing a post on caregiving and Texas health care, but the State of the Union sounds like so much more fun.

I hate SOTU’s. The last one I listened to was during GW Bush’s term, and his accent alone was enough to send me running.

I’m listening today because I want to hear what Obama has to say on immigration. It probably won’t be anything new from what I’ve heard, but it will be interesting to hear. And watch how members react to the President’s comments.

So, I’ll be updating this post with my reaction. Catch me on twitter to @lekiare.

update: The SOTU isn’t over yet, but I’ve found myself yawning.

The only thing that irks me is the President’s comments on sending eligible immigrants to the back of the line before they can qualify for status. Well why not fix the actual line? Wait times for citizen siblings petitioning their immigrant siblings is over 15 years. The priority date is ’96, but the line only advances a week per month. So in reality that line is like a 100 yrs.

Fix the lines!

Luvely searches

So I’m checking the stats on my dashboard and I notice someone has made a search on my blog for “submissive husband, mother piss.” Really? Why here? How entirely bizarre.

I sincerely hope they got what they were looking for. ::cough, cough::

Everything changes

Our office is moving.

We’re leaving an asbestos filled building for a much smaller one, probably just as old. I actually started to wonder if I would get claustrophobic. My office will be that small. Half the size of my current one, minus the creepy crawlies. At least I hope that’s the case.

We spent the day packing and working on cases of course. My whole workspace fits in 5 tiny boxes, sans the desk and the laptop. I’ll be getting a different desk there, and a window I can actually gaze out of. This info comes of course from word of mouth.

I have yet to see the new place. I’ll get to go on Thursday. Hopefully, I’ll fit.

Tired….

I was served today.

The man wouldn’t hand the court documents to my provider. No, they were personally delivered.

I was expecting. I knew it was coming, but it was so surreal.

I know about the process, the procedure behind filing a lawsuit. It was drilled into me in law school and through bar study (of which I still have tons of useless facts tumbling through my head). I’ve seen it dramatically done on tv.

It’s not the same. There’s no screaming, no hissy fit. Just this sinking feeling in my stomach reminding me that it’s kind of serious.

And of course I can’t disclose why I’m being sued until I speak to my lawyer.

The irony is that I’ve been contemplating going back to law school to get my LLM. Oy.

Mini hiatus

Blogging will be light this week. I have a major Board meeting tomorrow and a translation to finish by Friday.

Of course, knowing me I’ll write to procrastinate. :)