Thursday, February 26, 2015

THE CUCKOO'S CALLING : A Book Review


I'm glad I gave The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith another chance.  Since it was written by J.K. Rowling the book is as long as a Harry Potter.  When I first started reading it last year I found myself getting annoyed - I've always found Rowling too long-winded, rambling in all sorts of different directions.  Then I lost my page and quit reading it.  

When I picked it up again, I had to start all over since it had been too long ago, I couldn't remember the characters and references anymore.  (And yes, like a Potter book, there are tons of characters).  This time, I read it straight through 3 consecutive nights (instead of installments before, 1 or half a chapter each night).  And I read it like a murder mystery, not like a J.K. Rowling book, and then I found myself hooked.  I couldn't put it down.  I started to enjoy the lead character, Cormoran Strike, and the thorough, methodical way he does everything, even going to bed.  And he really is a pretty interesting dude.  I love that he hooked up with a super model - if you've been with Strike for a number of chapters, you'll understand why this is so out of character.  His secretary Robin is great too, although the whole relationship reminds you of Perry Mason and Della Street.  I even really enjoyed Galbraith's very detailed descriptions of London - I'm not from there obviously, and I've never been, so I liked having a very clear picture in my mind, thanks to Rowling.

The mystery itself is about the alleged suicide of Lula Landry, another super model and actually, the Victim and what the whole book is about ("Cuckoo" is one of her nicknames).  Her brother hires Strike, a private investigator, to sniff around because he's convinced Lula couldn't have killed herself.  So Strike sets about visiting the scene of the crime, interviewing the door man, the friend, the mother, in true Christie fashion.  I loved it.  There's the big reveal, of course, and Strike gets his man, but more than the uniqueness of the plot, what I really liked is the characterization of Cormoran Strike.  The Cuckoo's Calling reads just like my old beloved English murder mysteries.  Good job, Jo!  

Monday, February 23, 2015

ART ATTACK #0005

21 and 23 February 2015
Remember that big leaf we picked up at the farm?
Yesterday during the lunch break I bought Laz some colored markers and illustration board from National.
This morning, Laz got up bright and early (he knows we scheduled it for Saturday and that kid never forgets anything) - he dragged my ass out of bed to start on our little project.
We first traced the leaf with a pencil, then Laz went over it with a black Sharpie.
The illustration board turned out to be too small so we had to adjust a bit.
Then it was time to color.
I suggested he draw what we did in Tagaytay the day we found the leaf, but Laz had other ideas.
Voila!
In the corner you'll see a tree and grass - that's the farm.  There's a yellow dog (Laz remembered the stray dog we saw), a bird, and off to the right, the yellow stick figure, that's supposed to be me, according to Laz.
He worked on it again on Monday, and this is the final product.
The artist at work.

PROGRESS SANS PHOTOS - Part 1

23 February 2015

Last December I indicated in my monthly Round Up that I've made progress on the following items in 40B40: #06, #07, #23, #33, #36, #37 and #39.  And yep, I know I haven't written about them, or about 40B40 in general, pretty much since December.  But wait!  I have updates, truly!  Just kept waiting around for pictures, and never got around to taking them, yadda yadda yadda.  So for the stuff that I don't have photos of, here are the updates:

#07 - I've been filling up our black book.  I didn't get the chance to visit the Muji flagship store in Tokyo (peste, asa Ginza na eh, grrrrr), so I'm still stuck with the crappy binder.  Progress has been slower here because I find the book cumbersome to use.  In short: hassle siya.  I also think I might have to keep a separate envelope for just the warranties and such.  But I've figured out the categories, and I've filled up all the basic entries, except for some latest additions for car and health.  Getting there!

#23 - My dear sister Amanda bought me a gift card for 1 session at the driving range.  I have yet to use it, but I so love that she got me one for Christmas.  Thank you, Amanda!

#33 - Speaking of Muji, I liked their Christmas paper bags, and stocked away 2 sets - one red, one green.  I'm going use them for a Christmas-themed project to hang up.  I'm not backing out of the "create something to hang up" challenge though, for this I know I'd better come up with something truly original.  

#36 - We did meet up with that insurance agent I was talking about in the finance post.  The tough thing with that agent was when we met, I came armed with the various policies I saw online in their website, with a list of questions I wanted to ask her.  She was very dismissive about everything else except for variable life insurance.  She indicated that all the others just paled in comparison to VUL.   She did not address my questions, and harped on and on and on and onnnnnn about VUL.  Left with unanswered questions and basically no other option, I asked for the VUL quotations.   I got my proposals.  I actually signed, but told her I'll deal with it when I get back from Tokyo.  (P.S.  Thank you to the Partners for their generosity over Christmas. It was the seed money I set aside for insurance).  

Anyhoo, over the holidays, Pao and I mulled it over.  I really wasn't comfortable getting variable life insurance.  I want to get insurance; I wasn't ready to invest yet.  And if I were, I realized I really would prefer just getting a straight up investment account, not a VUL.  So I asked the same agent to give me 2 other plans.  When she returned them to me, I was shocked.  The premium was astronomically high, as in way, way beyond what I had in mind, and even way beyond the annual premium I gave her for the VUL proposal.  I felt like she purposely gave me that impossibly expensive plan so I'd go back to the original VUL proposal she incessantly kept tossing me.  

It pissed me off.  I've started looking for another agent - from the same company, too, because I heard theirs is stable.  My sweetie Chrissie gur gave me the contact information about her agent.  I need to go back and figure out my questions, and I've narrowed it down to 2 plans - both term insurance, FYI, no VUL and not even whole life insurance.  When I email that other agent I will briefly explain that thanks but no thanks I really do not want VUL, and can you please give me a proposal for this.  

#37 - I go back: thank you again to the Partners in my firm for their generosity last Christmas.  Aside from what we paid my mom for airfare, and paying tuition for the next school year, I didn't spend my money on anything frivolous.  Oha.  I am learning.  Yun lang po.

But wait!  I have more updates, with and without pictures, heehee.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

FIRST PEDIA DAY FOR THE YEAR

21 February 2015
This little boy visited his pediatrician today.
We set out in the afternoon after a project with Manong and ice play for Alo.
First Jane tried to take his picture for their files.
But Alo kept giggling.
Jane has been our doctor's secretary from the very 1st time we brought Laz to the pedia.  She has seen our boys grow up.
 
Then they had to weight, but Alo was completely distracted by this broken control.
He loves remote controls at home, so we're leaving them out without batteries because Alo keeps playing with them.
They must understand over at the pedia's that little kids like remote controls - this one is old and has no batteries too.
Charm school!
Getting measured now
Playing with Manong while waiting for his turn.
We don't have a birthday present for Alo yet.
I think I want one of those interactive-educational table thingies.
Where to get them?  I've only seen smaller ones in Hobbes and Landes.
He also socialized a bit with the 2 brothers there.
When it was his turn, Alo got an injection on his rear end.  Real quick.  He yowled, but didn't cry.
Brave kid talaga this one.
I have photos but dare not post his clenched up backside here hehe, he might not like it when he's older.

Anyhoo!  Done na with the doctor - off to lakwatsa!