Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Oct '11

Awesome-est Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy List

John here. I know Shannon is the one who gets the Post glory in these parts, but I had to comment on the awesome-est flowchart I’ve seen in a while (and yes, awesome-est is absolutely correct—it’s in the dict-tionary, I promise).

So NPR (that’s National Public Radio, I am indeed referencing to it) recently conducted a survey of its listeners to get their take on the top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books. Well they released their list of books and that was that. No descriptions or commentary. Just a list. If you wanted to—you know—actually pick one to read you were on your own. Brush off your top hat that you’ve been keeping in the attic for just such an occasion and pick a title at random.

SFSignal, however, has taken those 100 books and created a flowchart to help you navigate to those books you might be interested in. Whether you’re “new to the fantasy genre,” looking for your next Cyberpunk-With-Funny-Hats novel, or want something Science Fictiony / Fantasy-esk without being seen in that section of the bookstore, then they got you covered.

You can start navigating the flowchart here.

If you prefer your flowchart mapped out (i.e., you like to know what kind of trouble your response might get you into) then the whole chart is viewable too.

Click to embiggen

Dec '09

Who Gave That Lady a Gun?

Today was a bizarre day with a bizarre beginning.

It all started at 3 a.m. when I woke up inexplicably awake and hungry. So hungry that no matter how hard I tried to distract myself with soothing, relaxing, sleep-inducing thoughts, my mind continually returned to food. Pancakes, specifically.

This was a little boggling to me since the night before we attended a church Christmas party where I ate a LOT. I had taught Zumba right before and came famished. And pretty much ate my weight in roast beef, real mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, carrots…it was so good.

So as much as I tried to reason myself back to sleep it didn’t work. I finally got up around 4:30 a.m., went downstairs, turned on Christmas music, and made myself pancakes.

When the pancakes were gone I popped in Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and did some online Christmas browsing. (What else are you going to do at 5 a.m.? Something practical like laundry? No way.) I finally crashed on the couch after 6 a.m. until Wes woke up at 7.

The next bizarre thing that happened was that I went shooting.

You heard me.

It was part of a church activity for the guys, and wives were invited. They successfully lured us out into sub-freezing temperatures with the promise of glazed donuts and hot chocolate. Pretty much manna from heaven.

This is the first time I ever held a gun. Do I look like I know what I’m doing?

If you said “no,” you’re right. John helped me and I shot it a couple times before my hands iced over and threatened to fall off. Not only was it FREEZING but there was a storm blowing in, and the wind was fierce.

I didn’t know this about John (and we’ve been married seven years), but the man can shoot. He hit the clay pigeon every time. He only started missing when the fellows were playing Annie Oakley (I know–who knew there were guy shooting games?) for a long time and his own fingers started icing over and threatening to fall off.

Here he is, and if you look closely at the sky you can see the orange clay pigeon that he just shot into three pieces.

Once I had my two shots of glory I was kind of done and joined the rest of the womenfolk in normal womenfolk-type things, like in-depth conversations about menstruation, menopause, and hysterectomies. Good times.

And the bizarreness didn’t stop there. After the activity ended we arranged for our babysitter to stay with Wes longer so we could actually go to a movie together. We never do this. We sneaked in $1 (actually, they’re $1.19 now) chicken sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s for lunch.

We saw Blind Side. I had serious doubts about the film when I saw Sandra Bullock in the previews with blond hair and a twangy southern accent. I was so wrong. SUCH a good movie, such a good story. And Sandra Bullock gave the performance of her life.

We were glad to be home at the end of all this, but we had fun together. Don’t EVEN ask how much I ate today. All I know is that I totally ate enough that I won’t be waking up again tomorrow at 3 for pancakes.

Jul '08


A few random things.


I left Wes with a neighbor yesterday and saw Mama Mia with a friend. It was totally fun and carefree to go see a movie. (Ah, the pleasures of my pre-mom life…) Anyway. The movie: Mama Mia was playing in London when I lived there six years ago and I had a roommate who saw it three times (which is not cheap, even at student prices). I never understood why, until now. Now I wish I’d gone to see it with her because I’m sure I would’ve loved it. Mama Mia is a fun musical. It has all the right elements for me–upbeat music, decent storyline, a dash of romance, a bit of humor, and, of course, cheesiness (what’s a musical without the background characters spontaneously bursting into chorus or the entire cast suddenly organizing themselves into dance lines with jazz hands?).

Meryl Streep is 59 years old but hardly shows her age. She is gorgeous, spunky, lithe (she even does the splits in one scene while jumping on the bed), and–surprise!–she can sing. She’s got a nice voice.

I loved Amanda Seyfried, who plays her daughter, but I found I had strong feelings against her in-movie fiance. I felt kind of bad for him because I’m not sure if he was supposed to be unlikeable or if that’s just how his character turned out.

Mr. Darcy (oops, I mean Colin Firth) plays one of Meryl Streep’s former lovers, and even though I love him simply for being Mr. Darcy I thought he did a great job. Even singing. Apparently when they offered him the job he told them he rarely sings outside the shower, but they convinced him he’d do all right. And he did.

Pierce Bronson (a.k.a. James Bond) on the other hand… I think he’s got a great voice, but he sounds better when backed up by at least a dozen chorus members. He did okay, all considering. And he’s not bad to look at if you’re a woman over 35. I mean, the guy’s a walking cologne ad.

The very funniest bit of the film is when the fiance is about to leave the beach for his bachelor party and the chorus (all men) suddenly emerges from the ocean behind him wearing snorkel gear and spontaneously starts dancing on the pier in colored flippers. It’s probably one of those “you have to see it to get it” things. But trust me, it’s totally funny.

The music was fun. The movie was fun. The disco suits they wore during the closing credits were super fun. It’s a girl movie, no question. It was a good one to see without John.


Today I bought Wes some clothes–two sleepers and one packet of onesies. I don’t buy him many clothes (he has a lot of hand-me-downs from family). But sometimes it’s nice to dress him in something and think to myself, “I gave him this.” Plus, I’m a total sucker for those sleepers that have feet in the shape of animals. One of the sleepers I got him today has feet shaped like puppies and the other like little bears. It’s strange how my taste in fashion has evolved to include the finer points of baby jammies.


I was up in American Fork and went to the Best. Bakery. Ever. Flour Girls & Dough Boys is an artisan bakery (meaning EVERYTHING is from scratch), plus it’s a cafe. You can order breakfast, lunch, dessert–anything. The atmosphere is classy and comfortable. Think vintage chandeliers, turquoise walls, checkered floor, orange-framed menus. I noticed a shelf full of kids’ books (I read somewhere that they have story time for preschoolers), which I thought was a great addition to a cozy cafe.

After salivating over displays of cheesecakes, gourmet cupcakes, chocolate croissants, shortbread cookies, etc., I brought home a loaf of asiago cheese bread. It was $5.49, which I thought was a lot, but it really does taste the best of any asiago cheese bread I’ve had. Most bakeries bake white bread and sprinkle the cheese on top. Here, the cheese makes up 20% of the dough, too, so the overall flavor is nice and cheesy-salty.

I saw on the menu that they also scoop Spotted Dog Creamery ice cream, which is made locally in Salt Lake City. Some of their sundaes sound pretty delish, so maybe next time I’ll get a loaf to go and a sundae to stay.

Nov '07

Good News Thursday

A few good things.

First off, Wes is nine weeks old. Growing up before our eyes. Yesterday he was weighed by a visiting nurse and he weighed in at 7 lbs 2 oz. Wow!

Second, this morning was his Big Cardiology Appointment. About half of all kids with Down syndrome have heart problems, so we had reason to be worried, but also reason to be hopeful, since so far his health has seemed fairly sturdy. Our cardiologist, Dr. Mart, comes down from Primary Children’s in SLC to the Parkway Health Center in Orem once in a while, which was nice so I didn’t have to drive so far. The nurse checked his oxygen saturation levels, and they were excellent. This is great since he was on oxygen for a few weeks, and I’ve seen DS kids months older than Wes who still require constant oxygen. Then she did an EKG (electrocardiogram), where she stuck stickers all over his chest and back with metal spiggets on each one and then clamped many wires to the metal, like you do when jumpstarting a car. Wes did fine until she was done and had to remove the stickers. I guess it didn’t feel too good to him, because he started to cry. The nurse, I think, was in love with him because she scooped him up and gushed, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over until he quieted down. Usually the nurses will say something like, “You can pick him up if you want,” instead of doing it themselves. But this nurse kept saying how adorable and cute and sweet Wes was, and she had a hard time putting him down again.

After that was the big echocardiogram. It’s like an ultrasound for the heart. Wes was stripped down to his diaper and had goop smeared on his chest and I got to see pictures of his heart on the monitor from the top, bottom, and sides. It would have been more interesting if I knew what any of it meant. That took about 25 minutes, wherein Wes was pretty patient.

Finally Dr. Mart came in and gave us the results. Dr. Mart is pretty amazing; he and his wife have sixteen (sixteen!) kids, most of them adopted and all of the adopted ones have special needs. He told me he has a son with Down syndrome. When I asked how old his son was, he said, “Oh, like six or seven.” I guess with sixteen kids the ages tend to blend together.

Anyway, the verdict: Wesley’s heart looks really good, but he does have something called Small Secundum ASD. It means that one of the valves that should have closed up at birth didn’t, but the opening is a small one, and Dr. Mart said that often such openings will close by themselves in a couple of years. So we’ll take Wes back when he’s two or three to have another echocardiogram and see how his heart looks then.

Considering that a lot of little kids with DS have to endure major heart surgery before they’re even toddlers, we feel really lucky that Wes’s heart is so healthy.

Third bit of goodness: After the doctor appointment I was starved, so I visited John at work and he took me out to Shoots restaurant in Provo. Yum! It was my first time there and John’s second. We both got lunch specials, which was about $8 apiece and came with soup, egg roll, fried won tons, and entree. I normally don’t like egg rolls, but it must be because I’ve never had one that was so fresh as the ones they make there. It was so good! The egg drop soup was a little bland, though. However, my entree was delicious. I got honey walnut chicken, which was served on a bed of lettuce in some creamy dressing. Oh, it was good. John and I split a strawberry boba drink, which was yummy. To top it all off we split a dessert: shaved ice topped with cream, sweetended condensed milk, and fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries, and bananas). It was almost better than ice cream. The creamy ice melted on your tongue. It was so good.

Okay, so now that you know that I ate ten times my weight in calories today, here are a few pictures of the kid.

Here he is konked out in his crib tonight. Sometimes when I peek at him while he’s sleeping I think he looks just like a porcelain doll. Sometimes people who see him will tell me that he looks so perfect, he doesn’t look real. I love how he holds his hands up a little while he’s sleeping.


I had to take a shot of him crying the other day.

And one more:

Sep '07

Stephanie Meyer Review

Well, I wasn’t going to post any thoughts about the last three books I’ve read–Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse–but I changed my mind after I found myself talking about the books so frequently with others.


First of all, the books are young adult novels about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire and is also best friends with (and eventually a little in love with) a werewolf.

Okay. Not really my type of plot. But my visiting teacher lent me Twilight and after reading that one I had to keep going.

Everyone upon everyone who likes to read has been talking about these books. You’ve probably heard them. But even after reading the books myself I kept wondering why: Why are these books such a hit?

I should point out that the books are probably most popular among the female readers because, in spite of the genuinely cool parts dealing with vampires and werewolves, the books are still fundamentally a love story. And a really intense love story at that.

So here’s my theory about why these books are so popular (in spite of the fact that the teenage girl, Bella, gets more and more annoying as the books go on): Stephanie Meyer has created another Mr. Darcy in Edward Cullen.

Unlike Mr. Darcy, Edward is seventeen, a vampire, and immortal. But other than that he and Mr. Darcy are one and the same: Extremely attractive. Sexy. Impeccably polite. Gentlemanly. And, more than anything, would do anything for the woman he loves.

This is the type of man women love to read about, love to dream about, love to think of themselves with. (Some of us, of course, are fortunate enough to already be married to someone with exactly these qualities. Minus the seventeen, vampire, and immortal bits.) I mean, how many women out there have watched BBC’s Pride and Prejudice a zillion times just for that part where Mr. Darcy dives into the pond and walks back in his wet shirt? What woman doesn’t wilt at the intense expression in Mr. Darcy’s eyes when he stares at Elizabeth Bennett? What woman doesn’t equate Mr. Darcy with the quintessential romantic hero and secretly wish they were Miss Bennett so they could be the object of Mr. Darcy’s attentions?

Don’t deny it, girls. You know it’s true.


Edward is the same way. Irresistible.

I think that’s a large part why we keep reading. We want to see Bella and Edward end up happily together, even though it possibly involves Bella becoming a vampire herself and breaking her best friend Jacob’s heart. And I know some people are really on Team Jacob and are rooting that he and Bella will end up together, but sorry, I think you’re in the vast minority. I’m all for Edward, and hope that Bella will get over her whininess and make us think that somehow she deserves such a man as Edward.

Jan '07

Just back

After an amazing vacation in the Caribbean and Florida we are back in the snowy, icy, yucky freezingness of Utah.

But here are some glimpses back to the wonderful warmth of our past week:

Us on the beach in Freeport, The Bahamas.

Us on beach in Bahamas

Us visiting Chocoben ruins about an hour south of Costa Maya, Mexico.

Mayan ruins

Lastly, just look at this water in Grand Cayman. And don’t tell me you don’t want to just jump in it right now, clothes on and everything.

grand cayman water