Monday, July 21, 2014

Librarian's Corner: Xenocide


by: Orson Scott Card 

So far the theme of "Librarian's Corner" seems to be: books I've been meaning to read for a very long time. This month's pick was a graduation present from my best friend, 8 years ago. I read Ender's Game in middle school (several times, in fact) and had read both of its sequels (Ender's Shadow and Speaker for the Dead) in high school. Ender's Game is the first book in two separate series: Ender's Saga and the Shadow Series. Xenocide is the third book in the Ender's Saga (following Speaker). I suppose that I should put in a disclaimer here, that since this book is the third in a series, there will be some spoilers for the first two books.

Xenocide picks up where Speaker for the Dead leaves off, with the humans and the piggies reaching a tentative peace, Ender/Andrew marrying Novinha, Miro heading out to space to meet Valentine and her husband Jakt, the Hive Queen comfortably settled and the entire planet of Lusitania in rebellion against Starways Congress. But Xenocide doesn't take us immediately back to Lusitania, instead we are taken to the world of Path where we meet Han Fei-tzu and his godspoken family.

It's hard to describe exactly what exactly I love about this book. Besides the fact that it follows brilliantly on the heels of a novel that is at its heart about humanity and how we treat one another. Ender's Game is ostentiably about Ender and his struggles to discover himself when he is being groomed to be the next great military leader. Speaker for the Dead also follows the journey of Ender, now Andrew, as he re-invents himself as a Speaker, telling the lives of others in order to avoid the truth of his own past.
In Xenocide Card has managed to weave together so many different stories into one remarkable narrative. We learn the stories of the piggies and the buggers. We learn about how Novinha and her family have both changed and remained much the same over the course of 30 years. And we have the story of Han Fei-tzu, his daughter Qing-jao, her secret-main Wang-mu and their own struggle for self-actualization in the face of the grand plans of Starways Congress.

But most importantly is the theme of xenocide that runs throughout the entire book. The threat of xenocide looms in front of piggie and bugger alike, as well as the potential xenocide of the descolada virus, and the threat of Jane's extinction. Which species is on the brink of extinction seems to shift back ad forth throughout the novel, and things are never quite what we think they are.

Xenocide is the middle book in the "Speaker" trilogy, followed by Children of the Mind, which I'm in the middle of reading right now. I don't know what I waited 8-9 years between reading Speaker and its sequel, but I'm not wasting another minute finishing up the series. And when I'm done with the Speaker series, there's always the other books, the Shadow series, started off with Ender's Shadow. I know that I've got plenty of reading ahead of me (especially since Card is still producing books in both series), so I better get to it.

So that's it for this month's Librarian's Corner, stay tuned for another installment on August 21st! In the mean time, have you guys read Xenocide of any of the Ender books? I'd love to hear your thoughts about them, you can post here in the comments! And of course, I'd love to hear about whatever else you're reading! Keep checking back over the next month for more things I'm doing.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I'm just going to leave this here:

10,000 hits on the blog! I'm astonished, I'm amazed, I'm honored.

Thank you, you guys are the best!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Hornet Saga

Gather 'round children, and let me tell you a story. This is the story of the hornets that decided to make their home on our balcony, and the leasing office that wanted nothing to do with them.

Our story begins last Wednesday (July 2nd) when I was out on our balcony watering our container garden. I noticed a large swarm of (rather large) insects near the corner of the over-hang, and remarked on it to my mother, who was on the phone with me at the time.
She suggested that I call an exterminator. I shrugged it off. "Meh," I said. "There are some bugs, no big deal."
I changed  my mind fairly quickly when said insects began attacking me. I was hit a few times in the head and shoulders by dive-bombing maniacs, and I fled indoors. I took a look at the corner of the balcony from the vantage point of our window... And saw this:

I called the leasing office as soon as I got off the phone with my mother. I explained that there was an alarmingly large nest on the outside of our balcony. I was told that the exterminators were actually in the complex, and there was a good chance that someone would come out that day to take care of the nest.
I gave the office detailed directions to pass along to the exterminator, explaining clearly that the nest could not be seen from the balcony, and that if the exterminator would look at the roof from the window I indicated, he would be able to see the nest no problem.

My husband and I went out that night, to see a fire-works show, and by the time we came back it was late, and dark, and we were tired. But we saw that a service note had been left for us. The service note had a box checked off on it... The box read "treated". It was dark, and we couldn't see the nest, but we were happy to know that the bug problem was over.

We were not so happy the next morning, when we woke up to see that the nest was still there, and that there were bugs till flying in and out. I called the leasing office again before I had to leave for work. I was told that the exterminator had been there the evening before, and that he sprayed. When I asked why there were still bugs flying around, the lady at the leasing office said:
"I don't know, that's not my profession."
When I asked her if she could find out for me, I was told that it can take 24 to 48 hours for the bugs to all die, and that it was all perfectly normal. I asked if I could call again in a few days if the bugs were still there, and I was answered very dismissively.

That was Thursday (7-3), and we had a very busy weekend. We didn't get home until Saturday night, when we noticed that the nest was still there. Sunday morning there were more bugs swarming around, and by Monday morning (7-7), when I called the leasing office again, the nest looked like this:

Bigger and badder. Yuck. I called the leasing office and was initially given the run-around. Finally, I was told that they would call an exterminator. I was frustrated and expressed this by explaining that we had been dealing with this issue since Wednesday. The lady at the leasing office said:
"Okay, we'll order and exterminator for Wednesday." And then hung up on me.
Great, annoying, but at least we'd be getting this taken care of.

This time, I was home for the exterminator, and it was a lucky thing. I took him over to the window, and showed him exactly where the nest was. What was the first thing he said?
"Good thing you were here, I never would have spotted that."
He confirmed my suspicions that the nest had never been sprayed to begin with, and gave me a name for our intruders.

Bald-Faced Hornets, nasty little things, and nothing to mess around with, according to the exterminator. I asked him why the nest hadn't been sprayed last week, when I first called. He said that the guy probably walked out onto the balcony, didn't see the nest, sprayed a bit and went home. I explained that I left detailed instructions with the leasing office. But apparently, the leasing office didn't pass along any of those instructions.


  • We had a hornet problem.
  • I called the leasing office - they promised to take care of it.
  • When the hornets persisted in being alive, I called them again
  • They continued to be dismissive with me - telling me it wasn't a problem
  • When the hornets were still there almost a week later, I called again
  • This time, they were rude, but did call an exterminator
  • He came and informed me that the nest had never been sprayed
  • This time, he sprayed and killed the hornets
How do I know. Because this time, the nest looks like this:

See all those gross yellow things? Those are eggs, ready to hatch into more hornets, like ~50 more of them! I'm so glad that I was able to get this hornet thing taken care of, but super annoyed that it took a week to do it!
I explained to the leasing office how they needed to handle this, and they were rude and dismissive, and as a result, I couldn't enjoy my balcony or take care of my plants the way I wanted to for the past week. I almost wouldn't mind so much, if we weren't paying quite so much for rent...

What's the moral of this story, dear readers? The moral is that this is not how you treat your leasers. The moral is that if you want people to continue renting you need to treat them with more respect, and respond more promptly to service calls. You need to take care of maintenance issues, rather than telling your renters to take care of it themselves.

For now, I'm upset yes, but I'm also relieved that this hornet problem is over and done with, and we'll just have to wait and see what the next issue will be...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Knitting Entrelac

I've had this post sitting in my "drafts" folder for a very long time now, I think maybe 6+ months. So long that I don't remember why I didn't just sit down and write it in the first place. Maybe I wanted to wait until I was finished with my entrelac scarf? I don't know.

Anyway, I'm still not exactly "done" with my scarf... Okay, I'm not even half way, but I want to write about it! I've done enough (about 21") to really feel like I've got the hang of the method, and I don't see what I can't share what I've learned.

Now, I'm going to be very honest, I am not a knitter. I like to pretend I am, but I really only know a few basic stitches. For those of you who've been following me for a bit, you may remember my cable scarf, which I scraped (or "frogged") numerous times before finally getting the hang of the repeat... That was probably my greatest knitting accomplishment to date, and I still haven't finished it. It's just about as long as it was back in 2012...

So, being just a beginner knitter, when I saw this gorgeous Entrelac Scarf (by Allison LoCicero), I didn't think that I would be able to do it at all. But I got out my needles and some yarn, and I tried it anyway. I first saw the pattern on YouTube, on the channel VeryPink Knits. The video was called (of course) Learn to Knit an Entrelac Scarf.
The video was endlessly helpful in my endeavors to knit this scarf. Being sort of a beginner knitter, I was nervous, but it really isn't nearly as hard as it looks (though feel free to tell you friends how complicated it was when they compliment you on it).

Wanna get started?

Here's What You'll Need to Know:

You should come into this project with a basic knowledge of how to knit and purl (the 2 most basic stitches in knitting). There are a few other techniques that will need to be mastered (or at least learned) in order to make this scarf, but they're not hard, and if you can knit & purl, you can learn them.
They are:

sl (slip one) - to slip a stitch, you put your needle in the stitch purl-wise, then simply move it from the left needle to the right without having worked it. 

kfb (knit-front-back) - you put your needle into the stitch and knit it normally, but before taking the stitch off of the left needle move your right needle into the back loop of the stitch (as if you were going to knit it again), and then wrap and pull them both off. You've turned one knit stitch into two! 

m (make) - to make a stitch, you use your needle to pick up the "bar" between stitches and put it on your right needle. You've just made a stitch out of nothing! 

ssk (slip-slip-knit) - in this scarf, to slip-slip-knit you will slip two stitches (as if to purl) from your left side needle onto your right needle, then knit them together.

psso (pass slipped stitch over) - This isn't as weird as it sounds. Basically, what you're doing is passing a slipped stitch over the next one on the needle, just as you would when you bind-off your work.

You will also (at various times) have to knit or purl two stitches together, but this is very simple to do. Instead of picking up one stitch to work, you just pick up two. Easy as pie.

My recommendations? Read through the pattern, more than once if you need to. Watch the video continuously (I've watched it about 6 times all the way though, and I keep jumping back and forth between sections as I need). And don't be afraid to make mistakes. There are some tricky stitches in this pattern. Just take it slow and don't worry, you can do it!

Before you know it you'll have a beautiful chunk of fabric like this:

So grab your needles and get started! Don't worry if you don't have a long-dyed variegated yarn, use what you've got, it'll be beautiful regardless!

I'd love to see what you guys come up with! You can find me on (feel free to "friend" me!), or as always, you can leave a comment here on the blog. I can't wait to see your projects, and Happy Stitching!

P.S.: Don't worry if your scarf often looks like this:

It's normal, trust me.