Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review #16

This was a long one.  Time time I chose

House Rules, by Jodi Picoult

This was in the category: A book on your shelf that you haven't read yet

Honestly, I don't know how I missed this one on my shelf-  I usually read all of Picoult's books. 

It was an okay book.  It was an easy read, like most of her books are - all 532 pages.

The book was about a boy who has Asperger's syndrome and his family.  The boy is on trial for murder because he is accused of killing his social skills teacher.  The reader is not left in the dark, so I don't have any trouble telling you that he didn't.  The story is about how it is to deal with a child with Aspergers (he is 18 at the time of the story) and what it is like to understand all of his quirks to figure out what he did.

The boy is a forensic sciences nut, and this is how he gets linked to the murder.  He tried to fool the police into thinking there had been a robbery - he wanted to try and stump them.  But what it did is get him accused.

The real problem is how severe his Aspergers seems to be.  I know several children on the autism spectrum, and he seems to have the symptoms of everything possible, yet they call him "high functioning autistic".  The character Picoult has in the book is not high functioning by any means.

And what was worse - there was no ending to this book at all.  Which, I should know by now because she always has trouble ending her books. 

I am not sure I recommend this book.  If you know anyone with Aspergers or Autism (which I am guessing most people do) - you will probably dislike this book.  And if  you can get around Picoult's subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hints that Autism and Aspergers are caused by vaccines, you might also enjoy it.  But if not - steer clear.

2 1/2 stars

Friday, May 1, 2015

NYC Trip Day #3

Date: 4/20/2015

Today is tour day.  We only booked two shows for our trip and then decided to do some tourist stuff on Monday and Tuesday.

This day it rained.  No - it poured.  The wind was terrible, and the rain was coming down in buckets.  But we had already bought our tickets for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island and the 9/11 site and museum, so what can you do?  Off we went.

We had breakfast in a coffee shop before getting on the boat to Liberty Island.  The boat was rocking so much from the waves and wind - it wasn't a pleasant trip for me.  Everyone else thought it was a blast.

We climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty.  I did it as a kid, and didn't love it, but Mat and the kids have never done it, so off we went.  It wasn't as terrible as I remember because it wasn't very busy.  The climb didn't take long.  If you have never been - the stairs are in a spiral inside the statue - it is a very steep, very narrow climb.  Finley was a little freaked out, but she did great.  When you get to the top - it is very, very tiny with very tiny windows and since it was raining - nothing to see.

After the Statue, we road the boat over to Ellis Island.  It was closed for many years when I was growing up - I don't remember going there.  It also suffered quite a bit of damage during Hurricane Sandy.  But they were up and running and a lot of the exhibits were open.  It is a huge building.  Right now they are in the middle of restoring it to look like it did when the immigrants first arrived.  It walks you through all the steps they would have had to take in order to stay.  Pretty cool.

After Ellis Island the rain let up some and it was just sprinkling.  We headed off to the 9/11 memorial and museum.  It was the first time any of us have seen it.  The last time Mat and I were in New York was back when it was under construction.  We were only able to visit the temporary museum and church.

They have made the memorial gorgeous and the museum is amazing.  Our kids had a chance to walk through the story, and see what happened and saw that evil doesn't win in the end.  It was hard to look at all of the faces of the people who died.  You could go to a computer and click on any of the 3500 people and learn more about them and see pictures.  Each person's story was told.  We saw what was left of the towers.  They had the fire truck on display that was crushed when the towers fell.  The museum is in what used to be the garage of the towers - the walls are still the same.  As is the floor.  The preserved what they could.

I know a lot of people (and families of the people who died) do not agree with a museum - a place that makes money from their grief.  And I see their point.  But I saw it as a place to always remember those who were lost in a terrible tragedy.  Those people were innocent and they deserve to be remembered every day.

In the evening we met my cousin, Kirsten, who lives in NYC for dinner at Arturos.  We had good food and good conversation, and it was a nice ending to our day.

Having breakfast before getting on the boat to Liberty Island:
 Ellis Island from Liberty Island.  Stupid rain:
 Looking down from the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
 These are the stairs you take to the top of the Statue of Liberty:
 At the top of the Statue.  Can you tell what Finley thought of it:
 Looking down from the top of the Statue of Liberty:
 Looking down inside the statue of Liberty:

 The museum on Liberty Island - kids picking the nose of the face:

 Ellis Island Registry Room:

 There was a raised map with braille on Ellis Island for blind people.  It was amazing.  I wish more places had things like this:

 The Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island:
 Ellis Island buildings:

 Leaving Ellis Island on the boat:

 Near Wall Street:
 At the 9/11 memorial.  These are the fountains outside - where the buildings used to stand.

 This was the last piece of the towers that was removed from the sight:
 Some of the metal from the towers:
 The stairs - in the middle of the escalators - where the original stairs:
 Part of the very top of the towers:

 The floor of the towers - still preserved:

 The fire truck that was crushed when the towers fell:

 Arlington and I gathering a map.  Can you tell what mood she was in at that moment?
 The new One World Trade Center:
 Having dinner with Kirsten
 Goofy kids waiting on a bench:
 Arturo's restaurant:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NYC Trip Day #2

On Sunday 4/19, we started our day around the same time, and headed out to Central Park.  We grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks this morning because we wanted to have enough time to walk around before our shows that afternoon.

We spent several hours in Central Park and we only did around half of it.  I have always loved that New York - with all of its growth and crowds - has left this space alone.  The morning we were there was the Central Park Women's Half Marathon (I had a friend from home running) so we went to watch some of that.  There were over 11,000 women running that race - it was pretty cool to see.

We got to see a lot of the Park.  We had planned out all the places we wanted to try and get to, and we got to them all.  (as you will see in the pictures below).

After Central park, we had a little time, so we went to the Huge Apple Store that is near by and the FAO Schwarz toy store to kill some time.  The kids loved both.  FAO is as overly priced as always.

This day we were splitting up for the afternoon shows.  Mat, Cainan and Arlington were going to see the musical Aladdin, and Finley and I went to see Lion King.  Mat, Arlington and I have all seen Lion King, so those two didn't want to see it again.  Cainan didn't care.  Finley wanted to see Lion King.  And - because she has to sit so close (Which makes it expensive) - we felt we should split up.

Both shows were fantastic.  I have never sat downstairs for Lion King, and the seats were amazing.  That is one of the best shows we have ever seen (this was my 3rd time), but really - I don't think in all of the years we have been going to Broadway shows I could say I have seen a bad one.  Mat and the other two said that Aladdin was funny and the Genie was amazing.  IT was a good afternoon.

We went to dinner at Mat's choice tonight - a place called S'Mac.  IT is a full Macaroni and Cheese menu cooked in a ton of different ways.  It was really yummy and a good place to end the day.

Enjoy the pictures:

First stop in Central Park - Strawberry Fields (which is near where Jon Lennon was shot).  This is a memorial:

 The Central Park Women's Half Marathon:
 Turtles in Central Park:
 Climbing the Boulders in Central Park.  There were so many!

 View of the city from Central Park.  It really was two different worlds.

 Finley climbed these boulders without assistance.  She is fearless with this kind of stuff.  She was in a dress, and even though these are good Sandals, she had no fear.  She is crazy:

 Sitting on one of the bridges in Central Park - taking a rest:
 Castle in Central Park:
 View from the castle:

 View of the Shakespeare in the Park Theater:
 Baseball fields in Central Park.  It is hard to see, but each diamond was filled with a game:
 This Obelisk that was in Central Park.  It is over 3600 years old.  We couldn't figure it out why it wasn't in a museum:

 Alice in Wonderland statue:

 Big pond in Central Park:
 The Fountain they used in Friends for their beginning promo:
 Arlington - our child who HAS fallen into a lake fully clothed before - decided to temp this:

 The main drag in Central Park.  You see this is about a million movies:

 Balto statue in Central Park.  He represents the Snow Dogs

 Boulder climbing!  This was their favorite part.

 Playing checkers and chess in Central Park:

 Cainan and Finley pretending to play an intense game:
 Riding the Carousel in Central Park:

 The Apple Store:

 FAO Schwarz:
 Waiting for the subway:

 Eating at S'Mac: