Friday, February 13, 2015

TV Ratings Diaries Still Exist

Remember those things called Rating Service Diaries which you would receive in the mail and in which you would write down what you watched on TV for a week?  If you thought these were a thing of the past, think again.

Last Wednesday, February 4, I received one of these in my mail to be started the following morning. I'd received and ignored a phone call sometime earlier about getting one of these things, but I still got it in the mail. I just couldn't ignore the the thing, since they sent four crisp new $1 bills with the diary, and the instructions said to send the dairy back at the end of the week, no matter how much TV was watched during the dairy period.

The last time I'd received one of these things was around 1999. As such I kind of began wondering if they'd been rendered obsolete in the digital age to be replaced a digital equivalent of some sort.  Obviously this has not been the case so far.  But somehow I haven't gotten a ratings diary for about 16 years now. I know I got more than one of these during the 1990s, but not one during the first two decades of the new millennium.  Thus it took some time getting back into the idea of recording what I watched for a week into a diary.

The dairy period began on February 5.  For some reason, "morning" began at 5 AM each day, "afternoon" at noon. "evening" at 5PM, and "late night" was 11PM till 4AM, the following day. Thus watching Access Hollywood and Early Today during the 4AM hour on February 5 did not count. In fact, these two programs were basically all that I watched during the ratings diary period (which ended on February 12).  Since I've been working a temp job that is swing shift (3:30PM to midnight) on weeknights, I wasn't home most of the time to watch TV. All I watched on the weekends while I was home was the local news as well the evening news on NBC. Saturday I watched two episodes of Saturday Night Live,  the vintage episode at 10PM (a repeat from October 1990, with Patrick Swayze as host and Mariah Carey as musical guest), as well as the show in its regular time slot, which was actually a repeat from December (with a Christmas theme).  Sunday was more news, Jeopardy, and a repeat of Burn Notice.  I don't have cable and only get two channels (literally). As a result, it felt awkward doing a ratings dairy with little to watch and little time to do it. But having accepted the $4 sent with the diary, I just couldn't toss the thing. And they wanted know what you watch, no matter how much you watch.  If I got more channels and more time to watch, the whole experience would have been more challenging.  I was just surprised to see this process is still being done, even though it's been forever since the last time I've done it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

About My Reading Posts

Yes, as you can see, I've been signing up for these reading challenges on the web and the posts have been on my blog for all last month. I've tried to resist some and some I have been able to pass on.  Some I'm doing this year that I did last year and some this year are new to me. These are either being offered for the first time this year,  or are one I passed on last year.  Some I joined later in the year (March or May), but that's something I'm trying to avoid this year, except maybe some short-term one, but I don't know how many of those there will be.  And some I did last year weren't offered this year.  I'm trying to resist signing up for any after this month.

I have actually already finished the Pre-Printing Press (chose to do three books) and Poetry (chose to do six books) ones and have one book to go on What's in a Name.  The Play On one ends in April.   And there a re some I still haven't made progress on yet.

Those of you who do these challenges--have any of you done 50 or more in one year?  That's how many I have now for this year (including the ones I've already completed).  I've only been aware of these challenges since about 2012, but did not begin doing them yearly until 2013.

If I knew how, I'd try hosting one of my own, but am not sure what my theme or subject would be.  If you ddi one, what would yours be?

Ethereal 2015!

And now Riedel Fascination's third challenge.  For this one, I choose level one.  I read fantasy, so this one should work for me.  Sign up at the link above. 
Ethereal 2015

Ethereal” d├ębuted this year and is closest to my heart of the trio I created.  My groups are free of rules stifling what we read and prizes are for all guests internationally.  This theme is for anything that steps beyond the black & white of life.  Titles boasting “haunted of” or “ghost of” that debunk those inside the pages?  No.  Anything else under the sun?  Bring it!
I love spirits, extra-sensory abilities, animal communication, healing, the afterlife.  My favourite ambiences are haunted houses, witches, and gothic mystery!  When I sought reading challenges along these lines;  all I saw were vampire-type themes in very young crowds.  I am providing a forum for any mystical subject!  Readers over 30 needn’t feel out of place and topics that were drowned out, have our attention.  Share your literature from Februrary 1, no matter when you join:  in any format, publication year, length, age group.  Anything you considerEthereal belongs here.
 ~ Spiritual, mystical, paranormal:  non-fiction, fictional, religious.Serious studies:  dreams, near-death experiences, miracles, astrology.Novels with clergy:  Sister Carol Anne O’Marie, Caroline Roe, Margaret Frazer.Books with animals talking / doing more than what society credits them.Fantasy is certainly otherworldly, as well as witches and fairies.

Ethereal Levels
Here is what I am reading:
  1. Down a Dark Hall--Lois Duncan
  2. Shadow Falls: The Beginning--C.C. Hunter
  3. Taken at Dusk--C.C. Hunter

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Kind Of Mystery 2015!

I decided to do this one too, and since it begins in February, I took my time deciding.  It's also by Riedel Fascination and you can sign up here.  I want to try reading different kinds of mysteries along with the cozies and  I plan to aim for the first level.  
My Kind Of Mystery 2015

Our pioneering year concludes February 28th, with a good crowd that has made me happy.  Every review has contributed to a database in my menu atop this blog.  No effort is wasted and I am excited to look ahead.  I hereby renew “My Kind Of Mystery” in 2015!  See my whole trio.
What sets us apart is any literature related to mystery ~ not solely novels.  If you enjoy true cases, are a student of investigative techniques, if there were an ‘open a detective agency for dummies’, or you like writing tips and biographies of authors:  all of these angles are included.  No matter when you join, count what you’ve read since February 1st.
Age, publication year, format, length:  there are no rules.  Combine your material with my other groups, like “Ethereal“!  :)  There are three other mystery hostesses, to whom I wholeheartedly nod.  We each bring our flair and they supported my fledgling year.  Here’s to a fun 2015!

I love plotting creative ways to award prizes!  Winners our inaugural year enjoyed eclectic goodies:  secondhand paperbacks, Canadian postcards, even plant seeds.  Fun options for everyone internationally.  Your choice each time.  RIEDEL Fascination festivities run every couple of months.
Please either subscribe to this blog, or ask for an e-mail when there’s an activity:  AlyshaeB(at)hotmail(dot)com.  Festivities are voluntary but can only take place if people play.  Rather than struggle to drop off information (via dial-up!);  everyone will know what’s afoot.  Don’t hesitate to guess.  If everyone were stumped by a riddle, I would draw a prize among all who tried!

Full Mystery Levels
Here is what I am reading:
  1. Death and Taxes--Susan Dunlap

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gentle Spectrums 2015

I didn't do this one last year and since it starts on February 1, I'm signing up today.  I'll be doing both games, and will try for Level One on the Limitless Pallet (maybe more).  Sign up here. 

Gentle Spectrums 2015

I love matching books to creative themes;  like a scavenger hunt at home!  Some challenges particularly this year have such finely-tuned criteria;  what we can include is narrow.  I thought about the kind of mixing & matching I would enjoy and last year, created “Gentle Spectrums”.
I forever appreciate the first members of my trio:  “Gentle Spectrums”, “My Kind Of Mystery,
and Ethereal.  You have my thanks.

I present broad themes, so a great deal more titles fit.  It is also important to me that if we surpass a minimum quantity, those have somewhere to go.  For our grande finale, a point system rewards everyone who keeps on reading & reviewing.  From the moment you sign-up, all Gentle Spectrums prize activities fromFebruary 2015 to February 2016, are for you!  RIEDEL Fascination prizes are for all members internationally.  It’s especially nice that your matieral for my categories may belong to any genre under the sun.

I think of you as guests in my parlour.  If you are keen on (A) or (B):  here we go!  :)  If you decide on both;  your first sign-up suffices.  Surprise me with a comment that you’re doing more.  Since my games are separate:  if a book fits them both, go ahead and use it dually!

If you blog, please give my reading challenge a post, with no more than 3 others on it.  I can’t load bogged-down webpages.  I also appreciate that your post gives our group visibility.  Input it into the linky near the bottom of this page.

If you aren’t a blogger:  use any publicly-viewable forum (not ‘facebook’) that lets you make lists and write.  Give our URL, tell people why you’re joining, and type in your progress.  Alternatively, use the URL of your Goodreads profile page for the linky further below, or contact me with any questions.

A sentence or two to explain your star rating is ample.  I complile all of them in my blog’s top menu.  Your reviews will be there for future browsers;  no efforts wasted when our year concludes.  I review at Amazon, Goodreads, and Book Depository.

I keep finding colour titles.  I wished to read whatever I liked;  not hold back for a year, because a colour got used.  Ask and ye shall receive!  For the first time in any circle:  choose a colour level!  Accepted now:  Colourful, colour, bright, light, iridescent, iridescence, dark, shade, hue, spectrum, rainbow, prism.
Limitless Pallet Levels

Books for Part A:
  1. The Color Purple--Alice Walker
  2. Down a Dark Hall--Lois Duncan

**** (B)  GENTLE SUBJECTS ****
We are going to revisit some favoured subjects and new ones I created!  Broad and easy to fulfill.  Please complete 1 each, of these 10 subjects.  Keep on adding anything that fits for extra points.

~ (1)  STONES  ~

Variations of the word, gems, jewellery, ruins, geological formations.

~  (2)  CHEERFUL  ~

Uplifting, positive messages;  conveys pleasant thoughts, images.

~  (3)  NATIONS  ~Cultures, locations:  lakes, towns, even well-known places;  fictional included.
~  (4)  PLANTS  ~

Trees, flowers, lawns, fields, grasses, grains, and gardening paraphernalia.

~  (5)  WATER  ~

Water bodies, proper names, closely-connected components:  taps, sinks, pools.

~  (6)  SPACE  ~

The sky, its contents, spatial matter, concepts, tools.  Star Trek / Star Wars-related.

~  (7)  DAUNTING  ~

Any title that has you thinking:  “Oooo!  That does not sound good”!

~  (8)  STRUCTURES  ~

A building, its rooms, proper names, any of a structure’s parts.

~  (9)  TIME  ~

Any signifiers of time, like seasons.  Any unit-measurers, like watches and calendars.

~  (10 HUMOROUS  ~

Odd, or anything that gives you a grin.  I’ll accept a ‘pun laid on too thick’ grimace too!

Books for Part B:

  1. Stones:
  2. Cheerful:
  3. Nations:
  4. Plants:
  5. Water:  Sea Glass--Anita Shreve
  6. Space:
  7. Daunting:  Still Alice--Lisa Genova
  8. Structures:  Down a Dark Hall--Lois Duncan
  9. Time:
  10. Humorous:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Mental Illness Awareness Reading Challenge

Another one I want to do.  I think this is a good idea to read about, and since I've gone through mental health services, this one seems like one for me.  I'll try to read up to four books, but may do more, time permitting.  Go here to sign up for this one.

I've decided to create my own Mental Illness Awareness Reading Challenge for 2015! 

This is a low pressure reading challenge meaning it's about quality not quantity. I'd rather you read one or two books and get the most out of them then speed through as many books as you can. I say this for myself as well as you. I've been known to skim a section because the info seems to be a review of something I think I already know but sometimes I learn something new that I would have otherwise missed.

However, this challenge isn't just for reading informative books. It's also for reading fiction and memoir. I once heard someone say the best therapy they ever received was from reading the memoirs of people who have recovered from mental illness. There is some comfort in reading about people that have experienced mental illness or have friends or family with mental illness because you know you are not alone.

This reading challenge is also for those who are newly diagnosed or have friends or family that have been recently diagnosed and want to learn more about a particular mental illness.

What Counts as a Book About Mental Illness? 
When I say mental illness, I include a wide range of illnesses and disorders. Books that include but are not limited to multiple personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, hoarding, sleep disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, baby blues and postnatal depression, suicide, self harm, eating disorders, asperger's and autism, mental retardation, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, social and narcissistic disorders, phobias, alcoholism and addiction can all be counted.

When it's informative nonfiction it's easy to know if it counts towards the challenge but when it's a memoir or fictional story this gets trickier. For the book to count towards the reading challenge, there must be at least one character with a mental illness or disorder that contributes significantly to the story. This means the story could not exist without that character's mental struggles.

Sometimes books you wouldn't think would be about mental illness will touch on the subject. For example, last year I read Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb. This charming Christmas story begins with a nun who has bipolar disorder having a mental breakdown and a substitute teacher coming in to replace her. I would count this book for the challenge.

Some books do not always help end the stigma of mental illness. Books such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck can do more harm than good. I leave it up to your own discretion whether or not to read these books. I think it's good to be aware of the misinformation out there so you can correct it. If you do choose to read books like these please read a good informative book on the same mental illness as well.

The Rules: 

The reading challenge runs from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 3015.

You may sign up anytime during the year to participate.

Books read in part or whole before Jan 1, 2015 do not count.

You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.

Books may be novels, advice, informative, medical, or memoirs.

Books must be read in their entirety.

You may reread books.

Books may count towards other reading challenges.

If you could be so kind, please place the 2015 Mental Illness Awareness Reading Challenge banner on your blog to help spread the word.

Please link back to this blog, post about it on Facebook, Tweet about it, and so on to help spread the word.

Use the hashtag #MIAReadingChallenge

If you write a review of the book, come back here and post the link in the comments.

Please choose a level. You may change levels at anytime. You may go up or down. Remember this is a low pressure challenge.

Curious: 1 - 2 books

Aware: 3 - 4 books
Familiar: 5 - 6 books
Knowledgeable: 7 - 8 books
Informed: 9 - 10 books
Expert: 11 or more books

My books for this one:

  1. Still Alice--Lisa Genova

Back to the Classics Challenge 2015

Want to do this one now.  I think it's a good one to try. Sign up here.

It's back!!  Once again, I'm hosting the Back to the Classics Challenge.  I'm hoping to encourage bloggers to read more classics.  By reading and posting about a minimum of six classic books, one lucky winner will receive a $30 gift from or The Book Depository!

This year I've made two changes to the format.  First of all, there are no required categories.  That's right!!  If there is a category you don't like (or more than one), you can just skip it, and still qualify for the drawing! 

Secondly, I've increased the categories from eleven to twelve.  I had so much fun choosing categories, I couldn't decide, and so this year I've decided to make it an even dozen.  This results in a slight change to the way I'll calculate entries into the drawing.  Here's how it's going to work:

  • Complete six categories and you get one entry.
  • Complete nine categories, and you get two entries.
  • Complete all twelve categories, and your name is entered into the drawing three times!
So without further ado, here are the categories for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015:

1.  A 19th Century Classic -- any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic -- any book published between 1900 and 1965.  Just like last year, all books must have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify as a classic.  The only exception is books that were published posthumously but written at least 50 years ago.)

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author

4.  A Classic in Translation. As in last year's category, this can be any classic book originally written or a published in a language that is not your first language.  Feel free to read it in its original form if you are comfortable reading in another language.  

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel -- a single work of 500 pages or longer, regular-sized print.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections.  Updated:  The 500 pages MUST be the actual text of the novel, not including endnotes, appendices, etc.  When in doubt, check more than one edition, and use an average page count.

6.  A Classic Novella -- any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World's Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.

7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title.  First name, last name, or both, it doesn't matter, but it must have the name of a character.  David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote -- something like that. It's amazing how many books are named after people!

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.  Humor is very subjective, so this one is open to interpretation.  Just tell us in the review why you think it's funny or satirical.   For example, if you think that Crime and Punishment and funny, go ahead and use it, but please justify your choice in your post. 

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 ratings.  This is your chance to read one of those obscure books from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels or 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Books published by Virago Modern ClassicsPersephone, and NYRB Classics often fall into this category.  

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that's considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.  You'd be surprised how many classic authors dabbled in nonfiction writing -- I have nonfiction books by Dickens, Trollope, Twain, and Steinbeck on my shelves. 

11.  A Classic Children's Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children's classic that you never got around to reading.  

12.  A Classic Play.  Your choice, any classic play, as long as it was published or performed before 1965.  Plays are only eligible for this specific category.  

And now for the rest of the rules:  

  • All books must be read in 2015.  Books started prior to January 1, 2015, are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2015. 
  • All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; therefore, 1965 is the cutoff date.  The only exception is books published posthumously, but written before 1965. 
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books may also count for other challenges you may be working on.  
  • Books may NOT cross over categories within this challenge.  You may NOT count the same book twice for different categories in this challenge.  One book per category -- otherwise, they won't count.  
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicy accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 31, 2015.  If possible, please link to your sign-up announcement post, if possible or applicable.
  • You do NOT have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it's more fun if you do!  You can always change your list at any time.  Books may be read in any order.
  • Please identify the categories you've read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing!  Adding links within the post would be greatly appreciated. 
  • The prize will be awarded the first week of January, 2016.  All qualifying participants will receive one or more entries, based on the categories completed.  One winner will be randomly drawn from qualifying entries.  The winner will receive a $30 (US) gift card from or The Book Depository, as long as they live in a country that can receive shipment.  See here for list of countries.

Here is what I am reading:
1.  19th Century:
2.  20th Century:
3.  Woman Author:
4.  Translation:  Beowulf--Unknown
5.  Very Long Classic Novel:
6.  Classic Novella:
7.  Person's Name in Title:
8.  Humorous or Satirical:
9.  Forgotten Classic:
10. Nonfiction Classic:
11. Classic Children's Book:
12. Classic Play:  Antigone--Sophocles