I’ve been thinking Thursday: Popular?

Coop started this week. I was a bit worried about it’s health and welfare this past August but as usual it’s pulled itself together, opened the doors, and welcomed a new gaggle of folks.

I’m teaching two classes this year. Variations on what I like to teach each year : history and writing. It’s what I do. It’s what I know. Every year I have around 6 students per class. I get the occasional drop in and sometimes a student leaves but generally, 6 per class.  I like it that way.

I have 15 in Creative Writing and 14 in History.

Say what?

I was talking to another mom as we picked our kids up from another home school location where they take classes, and she was like “I’m so glad we registered early, you got really popular this year.”

popular

adjective

pop·u·lar | \ ˈpä-pyə-lər  \

Definition of Popular 

1of or relating to the general public (I think I always did this, the public of home schoolers anyway, LOL.)

2suitable to the majority: (yeah, so not this ever, I teach straight shot history for kids who like the truth, even when it’s messy. That’s a small group of humans.)

3frequently encountered or widely accepted (I only teach 2 classes…)
4commonly liked or approved, a very popular girl

I think that’s the one she meant. Ugh. NO thank you.

The whole idea makes me nervous. The problem with being popular is people talk. People talk and then other people seek you out to see what the big deal is and of course you fall short of the inflated expectations and then they talk about how much you suck.

With that many kids you can’t connect with them all. You can’t get to know them. Some of them are going to be let down and I hate that.

I know what you’re thinking, those are really large classes, why didn’t I put a maximum on?

Why didn’t I? I never need one before. I could always guess which kids would take my classes down to the letter.

Not anymore. sigh. I’m popular now.

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The Body in the Pool Chapter 29

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Twenty Nine

The three detectives convened briefly in the parking lot of Saint Paul’s Church at 7:15 Tuesday morning. A couple of cars in the lot suggested they weren’t the first to arrive.
“This is inhumane. Do you have any idea how early I had to be up to drive the kiddo out to my mother’s and be here, at the ass end of everything civilized, by 7:15?” Melanie was in rare form.
Barnes held up a paper bag in one hand and a coffee carrier in the other.
The smell of breakfast and coffee brought a smile to her face. “If you treated your ex-wives half as good as you treat me, you’d still be married.”
Barnes snorted. “You’re assuming I still want to be married.”
Melanie laughed and Spence smiled, a little sad for Barnes that it came down to this. Barnes’ most rewarding, intimate relationship was with his work wife.
The photography team arrived: two police officers trained not in how to take aesthetically pleasing shots, but in how to get the most front presentation of each face for identification. It was more interesting than traffic duty, Spence supposed. “How does this work?” he asked them.
“I’ll be in the parking lot and try to catch people as they arrive and depart. My partner will try to grab everyone inside. This guarantees 99 percent coverage.”
“99 percent, huh?”
“Nothing’s perfect.”
They shared a quick laugh.
The small church contained only one chapel. On the way in Spence went over their brief. “Pay attention to how people are reacting to things they hear. Funerals always talk up the dead like they were saints. This should piss off anyone who has an ax to grind with Harold. I think we should hold off asking any direct questions until the reception. Let alcohol loosen tongues.”
“And if they don’t serve any alcohol?” Barnes gave Spence an exaggerated horror face.
“We arrest them all,” Spence laughed as he replied.
“Who are you planning on arresting, Detective Thomas?” Stephanie Lewis rushed up the path behind them.
Spence paused with his hand on the door and considered his options.
Melanie whirled on her heel. “Have you no decency?”
“The public has a right to know,” Stephanie replied. “And I have a right to report it.”
“The public may have a right to the facts. This,” Melanie pointed to the church, “is you hunting for salacious entertainment to drive up readership. And using people’s grief to do it.”
More cars were pulling into the lot. People were headed towards them. Spence nodded at Melanie and then pulled open the door. After the kerfluffle on the steps, the lobby was rather quiet and empty.
Spence estimated 80 seats in the small church; few were occupied. Melanie moved to sit in the middle on the right, Barnes to the back on the left. The indoor photographer stayed in the lobby on a diagonal line of sight to the door. Spence decided to wander the side aisle unless forced to take a seat. He could move back and forth that way, catching more reactions.
People entered the church in twos and threes. The crack of dawn start was clearly affecting people’s natural inclination to be early to these sort of events and gossip with each other.
At the buzz on his hip, Spence slid out his cell phone to read a text from Melanie. At least ten are from Paulson’s office. Spence made eye contact with her and nodded. He recognized several people from the board of directors at the Academy. Doctor Wallsgraf sat alone.
He tried to estimate how few people that left as personal guests paying their respects. The door opened, Spence glanced over his shoulder and saw Nurse Nancy sliding into the last row on the far side of the room. He met her eyes briefly and she gave him a watery, weak smile.
The organist was halfway through the second hymnal when Arlene Paulson swept into the church in a dark gray fur coat and a black pill box hat complete with netting. She swooped up the aisle like the QE2 streaming into port. She sat in the front row, alone.
The funeral followed a standard program: song, priest, song, priest, song, then friends were invited to speak.
No one stood. The priest returned to the pulpit. “Do not be shy with your praise of our dearly departed.”
One of the employees from his office got up and spoke about what a great boss Harold had been because he took three hour lunches and never noticed if you skivved off, too. The employee laughed at his own joke, no one else did.
After a pause that again bordered on a bit too long, Roger Boffherd slowly made his way to the podium. He cleared his throat more than once and fiddled with the note card he removed from an interior pocket in his suit coat. Spence perked up. Roger was nervous and doing a bad job of hiding it. Roger slid one hand down the front of his tie to smooth it out.
“Harold Paulson was a good friend. I first met him when he joined my golf foursome, many years ago. At my behest he served on the board of my pet project, Whispering Evergreen Academy. We served together for a number of years. His dry wit was always a welcome break from the mundane duties we were discharging. Along the way he talked me into partnering with him on the tennis court. I’ll miss his devastating backhand. I will miss his quiet strength.” Roger’s words stumbled as he tried to start the next sentence, rubbing one hand across his chin and mouth before continuing on. “He had a way of making you feel you could trust him. That’s a commodity all too often missing these days. Rest in peace Harold, you will be missed.” After clearing his throat again, he nodded once at the congregation, and walked back to his seat.
Spence’s phone buzzed, another text from Melanie. Did you catch that mouth rub? Oh, yes, he did. Another text, this one from Barnes. Solidad chortled quietly when Roger said Paulson was trustworthy.
Spence had missed that. He had been too absorbed by Roger’s performance. He thumbed back, Nice catch.
The service wrapped up with Beyond the Blue Horizon. Spence lingered in his side aisle, watching people gather themselves and depart slowly. He’d been to funerals where there hadn’t been a dry eye in the house. This was not one of those. It seemed like a lot of people were mentally shrugging it off and ready for breakfast at the local bar and grill.
Glancing at his program, Spence noted the reception was being held in the church rectory. He gave a momentary sigh for the opportunity lost to snoop about the Paulson household. With luck, the report from the accountants would be available when he got to the office and they could poke around the Paulson house legally.
Making her way down the center aisle, Arlene Paulson nodded royally as people gave their condolences. She stopped abruptly at Nancy. Spence could feel it coming. He caught Barnes’ eye and nodded towards the ladies. Barnes was closer, not close enough. Arlene Paulson pulled back her head and spat with vehemence in Nancy’s face.

Book Review: One of Us is Lying

This is another book someone recommended to me and I put on my wait list. Lucky me, it arrived right before I left for vaca. I had lots of reading time. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus was a delightful beach read. (fruity umbrella drink not included)

Basic Summary (Courtesy of GoodReads):

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My thoughts:

I grew up with Breakfast Club, I’m a child of the 80s. And yeah, this book has a similar premise. Five very different kids go to detention. But almost anything described in a short sentence premise can sound like several other things. The two stories are really very little alike.

I’ll be honest. I LOVED this book. I did. It was funny. It was real.

But it was also madly predictable. I was never shocked. There is no suspense. Probably because I knew who done it like a third of the way in. So every “shock” value action after that made sense to me because I knew who was pulling the strings.

But I still LOVED it.

The Body in the Pool Chapter 28

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Twenty Eight

Spence walked quietly back into the office and sat down at his desk.
Melanie spoke without looking up. “I sent the file to the shrink. She thinks she can have her review to us tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a big day.”
When Spence failed to respond, Melanie turned in her chair, “What’s wrong with you?”
“I saw the bean counters.”
“And?”
“Millions, many, many, millions.” Spence nodded.
“The Academy had that much money?”
“I have no idea. He was stealing from all his clients.”
“ALL of them,” Melanie exclaimed.
Barnes turned from his monitor to face the room. “That’s a lot of new suspects.”
Melanie opened her mouth and then closed it again without speaking.
“You look like a big mouth bass I once caught,” said Barnes.
“I’m thinking. And here’s what I think. Yes, a lot of people are probably super pissed at Harold or will be when they find out what he did. But—” Melanie thrust out her pointer finger, “his body was at the Academy.”
“She’s got a point,” Spence said to Barnes.
“Literally,” Barnes deadpanned.
“We all need to be at that funeral tomorrow and the reception after. We need to talk to as many members of the board as we can.” Spence was back in the saddle. “I’m going to update the lieu and get us a photography team to take pictures of everyone. I want to be able to identify them all.”
“I’m not sure if we still care, Arlene hasn’t booked any trips since her husband’s death.”
“I’d love to be able to cross her off our list. I think we can get a warrant for her place based on the embezzlement, once we have the report to put in as documentation, which should come in tomorrow.”
“Listening to the list for tomorrow makes me feel like I need a nap today,” Melanie sighed.
“I’d love to say take the afternoon off. We need to be as prepared as we can be tomorrow. That means data mining today. I want further backgrounds on everyone. If they sneezed on a buffet in Vegas when they were seven, I want a photograph of it.”
Melanie and Barnes nodded and went back to their computers. Spence headed back downstairs to knock on his lieutenant’s office door.
“Thomas, again?”
“It’s about the Paulson case.”
“What now?”
“I don’t think this is a Dismember case. Harold Paulson was embezzling from all his clients. We’re about to go hard at it. If you want to pull us, this is the time.” Spence kept it brief.
“How deep are you?”
“Deep.”
She leaned back in her chair, tapping the eraser end of a pencil on the desk. “If I pull the case from the task force, the media will notice. The headlines will read Paulson murder no longer considered a Dismember case.”
“And our killer will be on guard.”
The lieutenant nodded at him. “What do you need to pull this in?”
“Photography team for the funeral. The accounting department probably needs a little overtime. They’re all thrilled to have landed the white whale of accounting crimes.”
The lieutenant barked out a short laugh.
“Any chance we could get Harding back?” Spence asked, knowingly pressing his luck.
“Not happening. His relationship with the reporter went on for months.”
“Begging your pardon, he didn’t know. She lied about who she was.”
“So former Detective Harding informed me,” her voice dripped with acid.
“You’ve decided to bounce him?”
“Disciplinary action is pending.” She picked up the report she had been reading when Spence arrived.
“He’s one of the best detectives you have at your disposal and our team is less effective without him.”
“Thank you, Thomas. You may go now.” She did not look up from her paperwork.
Spence accepted his dismissal.

 

I’ve been thinking Thursday: Naughty questions

This is a not PG rated post, in case you want to stop reading now.

I was watching an old episode of CSI. I’ve been enjoying them this stress filled summer. Excellent unwind capacity. But on this particular episode a woman is dead. Everyone who met the woman when she was alive kept going on about how beautiful she was and what an amazing body she had. Then you see her laid out in the morgue in a bra and panties.

Her hip bones stick out of her abdomen a good 2 inches. So does her public bone. Her ribs stick out further than her breasts in a push up bra.

This got me thinking. Yes, she’s beautiful but when you’re in bed with her, don’t all those bones hurt? Or is it like an acupressure thing?

So men, if you’ve had sex, vigorous or not, with a woman with bones sticking out everywhere, what’s that like?

No, don’t describe it. laughing. This is a mostly family friendly blog.

I want to understand the physics here. Do you have to be careful? Or it not even a thing?

The Body in the Pool Chapter 27

The Body in the Pool

Book One of the Dismember Killer Series

 

Chapter Twenty Seven

Spence turned off the sound on his speakers. “Damn. I think we owe Mike a beer.”
“Can we hit Matt with the bottle when Mike’s done with the beer?” Barnes grumbled as he rolled his chair in the direction of his own computer. “Lawyers.”
“What I want to know is where he got that video? With the snow in and out it makes me think that wasn’t a standard security camera,” Melanie worried out loud.
“I can ask him if it will make you feel better. I’m not sure it matters though. We have the files from the accountancy firm. We will get a report on that sooner or later. I think we should follow up. Maybe get the station shrink to take a look at this footage and give us her take on that bunch. And we need an approach for the nurse.”
“I saw announcement for the funeral, tomorrow, I think.” Melanie rolled her chair over to her own desk and started in on the keyboard.
“We need a presence at that funeral,” said Spence.
“I was thinking it might be a good place to talk to the nurse. To talk to a lot of them again. At the reception after. I’m sure the board will be there.”
“I like that.” Spence nodded and picked up his phone.
“You’d think I’d done this before,” Melanie quipped.
Spence stopped mid-dial and looked at her, the phone still in one hand, his stomach in his throat.
“Too soon?”
“Even I knew that was too soon,” Barnes answered for Spence.
“Sorry,” Melanie ducked her head and resumed her work.
Spence continued dialing the accounting department. “It’s Thomas. I’m checking status on the forensic accounting for the Paulson case. Who’s working on that?”
There was a long pause, then Spence said, “What does that mean?”
Melanie and Barnes stopped working when the heard the tone in Spence’s voice and rolled closer to him.
“When will we know something?” Spence slammed the phone down. “They don’t know when they’ll have a report for us and it would be shorter to tell me who isn’t working on the case.”
“What does that mean?” Melanie asked.
“Funny, that’s what I said. Not that I got much of an answer. Someone will get back to me soon.”
“You want me to go down there?” Barnes asked.
Spence snorted. “We might have better luck if we send Melanie with baked goods.”
“I draw the line at tarting it up for a bunch of math geeks.”
“Did you find out the when and where for the funeral at least?” Spence smiled to let Melanie know she was forgiven for the earlier gaffe.
“I don’t like it. Tomorrow, seven-thirty service at Saint Paul’s Church of the Valley, Shadow Valley.”
“That is god awful early. Why would she do that?”
“Maybe that was all that was available. It’s fall. A lot of people dying,” Barnes remarked.
“Why the rush then? Wait a few days, get a decent time slot,” Spence mused.
“Maybe she couldn’t wait to be rid of the guy,” Barnes suggested.
“Again, this isn’t one of your ex-wives,” Melanie laughed.
“Maybe we should be looking at her like she is,” Barnes countered.
“Come again?”
“We’re assuming Arlene loved Harold. Maybe she’s grateful to whoever bumped him off.”
Spence stared at his co-worker. “Damn. Check her credit cards again. See if she booked any trips?”
“On it.” Barnes turned back to his keyboard and screen, using their access to pull new information.
“How about I call the department shrink and you go down to accounting?” Melanie gave Spence a hopeful smile.
“Yeah, alright.” Spence pushed back from his desk and left the office. The bean counters were housed on the first floor close to the holding cells for suspected criminals. Spence never could figure out the logic of that.
When he got to the ground floor, he was assaulted by noise. Somewhere on this floor people were loud. He paused at the duty desk. “Are they rioting in holding?”
“Nope.” The sergeant jerked his thumb to the right.
Spence continued on down the hall, the noise getting louder with each passing step. He pushed open the door to the accountants’ den. Normally this area was a pinnacle of silence and repose. Each accountant at their own desk, typing at their computers, headphones blocking the noise of everyone else typing. Today there was no calm separation. Several were gathered around one desk, the others were calling back and forth to each other. They seemed happy.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you all found Hoffa,” Spence called trying to catch anyone’s attention.
The head guy came over. “Better.”
“What’s better than Hoffa?”
“I’m not really at liberty to say.”
Spence ground his teeth. “Well then, do you think you might be at liberty to say when I’ll get my report on the Paulson request?”
“You’re the lead on Paulson? Oh, man. Come on over.”
That was a quick change of pace. Spence followed him.
“It took a little digging, but, um, oh man. We found something. Like the full digits in Pi, found something.”
Having no idea what that meant, Spence nodded.
“Harold Paulson was embezzling money.”
“From Whispering Evergreen Academy? We kind of knew that already.”
The accountant shook his head. “No. From every one.”
Spence stared at the man. “Can you clarify that?”
“Everyone. We have found odd transfers out of accounts for ALL his clients.”
Spence coughed. “All?”
“ALL. Ninety percent of it went to offshore accounts directly. The rest went to a corporate account and then was redistributed to Paulson’s personal bank account.”
“How much are we talking about?”
“I’m not…I don’t think we really have a final count.”
“How about a ballpark number?” Spence prodded the man.
“Millions, lots of millions.”
Spence sat on the desk behind him. “Wow.”
The man nodded. His eyes were bright and his face was shiny. “It’s the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.”
“I can imagine. It’s ranking pretty up there for me.”
“I really want to get back to the investigation.”
“Sure. When can you get us the preliminary stuff? Maybe a list of the clients he embezzled from? And the offshore accounts?”
“I think we can have a tentatively complete list to you tomorrow? Will that work?”
“Yeah. I can work with that.” Spence exhaled and tried to wrap his mind around how exponentially his suspect list just multiplied. “I’ll go now.” He left their office, no longer noticing the noise around him. Dazed, he waited for and took the elevator back to the fourth floor.

Book Review: Gone Girl

I tend to avoid overly hyped things. Ergo, I waited quite some time to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Ad really I only read it now because I knew I would be clocking lots of hours in the car driving between the new house and the old house, and it was available on audio book and 20 plus hours long.

In case you are the .079% of the population who doesn’t know what this book is about…

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

My thoughts:

I wouldn’t say this book was spellbinding or the best thing written this year (comments from goodreads reviewers). In fact, I spotted all the how’s before they were revealed. Sure I knew going in she wasn’t really missing (you can’t be alive today and not know that). I’m talking about all the “how she set him up” reveals. For example, the second Noelle announces Amy is pregnant, I knew Amy wasn’t and that somehow she got Noelle’s pee to fake the results. It just wasn’t “shocking.”

It was pleasant to listen to. A slow undulation of two people fully destroying each other.  But I was pretty ok with that, they signed up for that. I was even ok with the Desi thing, he was pretty slimy himself.

The ending is what makes me hate this book. I know quite well what it is like to grow up with a mentally unbalanced mother and a father who avoids her and by extension you. I felt my blood boil listening to those last few minutes. I do not like this book anymore. It is forever tainted by the life time of suffering awaiting that child.