Monday, May 31, 2010

Coptalk (law and order, personal safety)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Personal Safety Tips that can save your life from the people that wear the badges on a day to day basis. Join us on patrol and we talk about what we see on a day to day basis.

MY REVIEW: I had to give this blog a thumbs-down review on their Amazon subscription page - there's no point in subscribing via Kindle... it's a podcast! But this is a fascinating blog, and an important one - especially in this day and age when we need police more than ever. Learn how to keep your home and property safe, and how to best help the police help you. Check out this blog.

--Response Times – Help us Help you Faster:
--Episode #10 – CopTalk Podcast
--Episode #9 – CopTalk Podcast
--Episode #8 – CopTalk Podcast

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Retro Review: John Brown Kin (geneology)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Follow a direct descendant of John Brown as she researches and documents her family history

MY REVIEW: I am more interested in the Civil War time period itself (the military battles) rather than the time period leading up to it, when diplomacy ultimately failed and "cold iron" was necessary to settle the question. Nevertheless, it's fascinating to read about the people of that time period, and what they were willing to sacrfice for their beliefs.

This is a well-written blog, with an author who knows her stuff. Obviously, since she is a descendant of John Brown. Anyone with an interest to the time period leading up to the Civil War, and anyone interested in genealogy, will find this blog of interest.

At the John Brown Remembered Academic Symposium held at Harpers Ferry, WV in October 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Barford. Ian is an actor, documentary film maker, and the proud father of twins! Last week, Ian traveled to Texas to do interviews for the documentary he is currently working on about John Brown. He traveled to Austin first to interview my good friend Evan Carton, author of Patriotic Treason. He then drove up to Allen to interview me. While he was here I showed him my prized family artifact - Oliver Brown's Bible that he carried throughout his years in Kansas.

The Bible is small, 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches and just over an inch thick. Just the right size to be carried in an inside pocket of a wool overcoat. The cover is black leather embossed with an ornate design. On the spine, the words Holy Bible are embossed in gold. For a book that is over one hundred sixty years old, the binding is realitively tight, the cover only slightly torn.

On the inside back cover the following is written in pencil, in an ornate old-timey script:
This Bible was carried all through the Kansas troubles by Oliver Brown.
On the left hand inside back page is written the name of the original owner of the Bible, Oliver Brown, in ink and in a beautiful calligraphic hand.

But it is what can be found on the front inside cover that makes this Bible so valuable to me personally -- in pencil, written over and over again, in the handwriting of a young girl perfecting her signature, is the name Annie Brown. It makes me smile to think of young Annie, my great-great grandmother, scrounging around for a piece of paper to practice her penmanship on, and noticing a clean white space inside the cover of big brother's Bible. The temptation was more than she could resist. I imagine that she got into a great deal of trouble when it was discovered that she used the inside cover of the Lord's word for her penmanship practice.

Annie had the Bible in her possession when she moved to California in 1863, and it is one of the items that escaped the fire that distroyed her house and most of her belonging in 1896. Annie passed the Bible to her granddaughter Beatrice Cook Keesey, my grandmother.

-Join Me at the 2010 DFW Writer's Conference in April (FEb 19, 2010)
-2010 Winter GeneaBloggers Olymics Update (Awarding herself medals of appropriate colors for things she's accomplished on her blog - very amusing!) (Feb 18 2010)
-Tarantino to Free the Slaves Next? (Not happy about Tarantino's plan to film a movie about John Brown, given his penchant for violence in his films) (Feb 18, 2010)
-Letter from CORE - Letter to Gov to save John Brown Farm (Feb 17, 2010)
-Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Olympic Games (Participating in the "Olympics' with other geneolocgical bloggers (Feb 14, 2010)

ESPN - The Fantasy Report





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Raise your fantasy game status by staying in touch with the top experts in the industry. The Fantasy Report blog includes posts from the Talented Mr. Roto, Matt Berry and ESPN fan favorites Eric Karabell and Nate Ravitz.

If you're interested in fantasy baseball, you need to keep up with the athletes. This is definitely a blog you want to subscribe to.

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Good Math, Bad Math (science and technology)


MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: Good Math, Bad Math is a blog which exists for two reasons: to ramble about the beauty of mathematics, and to track down the bozos who use bad math to lie, distort reality, and in general support bad arguments.

MY REVIEW: This blog isn't really about math per se, but about how people use, or misuse it. One of the problems with it is that the author doesn't post very often - for example the last post was May 3. In April there were six posts (most coming in a single five-day period at the end of the month). The blog is only 99 cents a month so if you've got the discretionary funds, why not.

Having said that, I don't know that I like the author. The sample post below is him mocking a student who dared to think that because his Christian college had had no murders in 4 years, it proved that Christian values saved lives.

And really, who is to deny it?

Critics mock us for our strict rules - like no dancing or drinking on campus, no members of the opposite sex permitted in your dorm room, nightly curfew hours - and the lack of a social atmosphere it creates. We have been the subject of books (God's Harvard), television shows, op-eds, and countless blogs who rant against our brand of overbearing right-wing Christianity that poisons society's freedom.

Yet, what is the cost of students being able to "express" themselves? Is that freedom worth the cost of drunk driving deaths, drug related violence, and love affairs turned fatal?

Now, I'm an atheist, but I believe in morals, and keeping the opposite sexes apart so there's no illegitimate births, and keeping alcohol off campus so a bunch of kids don't kill themselves - that makes perfect sense to me.

The author of this blog prefers to mock, and makes his case in a mathematical fashion, as you read below.

Good math and bad math must be exposed (for example the lies about man-made global warming, and the efficacy of wind machines should be exposed!) but picking on some kid because he's proud of his religious values? At least he's not advocating going around blowing up people of different religions...

On the other hand, I found his other posts very interesting and educational, so...

I know that I just posted a link to a stupid religious argument, but I was sent a link to another one, which I can't resist mocking.

As I've written about quite often, we humans really stink at understanding big numbers, and how things scale. This is an example of that. We've got a jerk who's about to graduate from a dinky christian college, who believes that there must be something special about the moral atmosphere at his college, because in his four years at the school, there hasn't been a single murder.

Yeah, seriously. He really believes that his school is special, because it's gone four whole years without a murder:

Considering that the USA Today calculated 857 college student deaths from 2000 to 2005, how does one school manage to escape unscathed? It's certainly not chance or luck. For Patrick Henry College, it's in our Christian culture.

Critics mock us for our strict rules - like no dancing or drinking on campus, no members of the opposite sex permitted in your dorm room, nightly curfew hours - and the lack of a social atmosphere it creates. We have been the subject of books (God's Harvard), television shows, op-eds, and countless blogs who rant against our brand of overbearing right-wing Christianity that poisons society's freedom.

Yet, what is the cost of students being able to "express" themselves? Is that freedom worth the cost of drunk driving deaths, drug related violence, and love affairs turned fatal?

There were 857 college student deaths in the five-year period from 2000 to 2005! Therefore, any college where there weren't any murders in that period must be something really special. That christian culture must be making a really big difference, right?

Well, no.

According to Google Answers, the US Census Department reports that there are 2363 four year colleges in the US. So, assuming the widest possible distribution of student deaths, there were 1506 colleges with no student deaths in a five-year period. Or, put another way, more than 60% of colleges in the US went that five-year period without any violent student deaths.

Or, let's try looking at it another way. According to the census, there are 15.9 million people currently enrolled in college. The school that, according to the author, is so remarkable for going without any murders in the last four years? It has 325 students. Not 325 per class - 325 total.

In other words, among a group making up less than 2/1000ths of one percent of the college population, there were no murders. Assuming that the distribution of violent deaths is perfectly uniform (which it obviously isn't; but let's just keep things simple), given that there were 857 violent deaths in the student population as a whole, how many violent deaths would you expect among the student body at his dinky christian college?

That would be a big, fat zero.

The fact that there were no violent deaths at his school isn't remarkable, not at all. But to a twit who's incapable of actually understanding what numbers mean, that's not the conclusion to be drawn. It's also not that the violent death among college students is actually remarkably rare. Nor is it that most college students will go through college without any violent deaths on campus. No - according to a twit, with 857 violent campus deaths over five years, the only reasonable conclusion is that there must be something special about the ridiculous religious rules at his college that prevented the great rampaging plague of violence from touching the students at his school.

I actually spent five years as an undergraduate at Rutgers University in NJ. During that time, there were no violent student deaths. (There was one death by alchohol poisoning; and there was one drunk driving accident that killed four students.) But zero violent deaths. Gosh, Rutgers must have been an absolutely amazingly moral university! And gosh, we had all of those horrible sinful things, like dancing, and co-ed dorms! How did we manage to go all that time with no violence?

It must have been the prayers of the very nice Rabbi at the Chabad house on campus. Yeah, that must be it! Couldn't just be random chance, right?

Ok, now let me stop being quite so pettily snide for a moment.

What's going on here is really simple. We hear a whole lot about violence on campus. And when you hear about eight-hundred and some-odd violent deaths on campus, it sounds like a lot. So, intuitively, it sure seems like there must be a whole lot of violence on campus, and it must be really common. So if you can go through your whole time in college without having any violence occur on campus, it seems like it must be unusual.

That's because, as usual, we really suck at understanding big numbers and scale. 800 sounds like a lot. The idea that there are nearly sixteen million college students is just not something that we understand on an intuitive level. The idea that nearly a thousand deaths could be a tiny drop in the bucket - that it really amounts to just one death per 100,000 students per year - it just doesn't make sense to us. A number like 800 is, just barely, intuitively meaningful to us. One million isn't. Fifteen million isn't. And a ratio with a number that we can't really grasp intuitively on the bottom? That's not going to be meaningful either.

Bozo-boy is making an extremely common mistake. He's just simply failing to comprehend how numbers scale; he's not understanding what big numbers really mean.

--Big Number Bogosity from a Christian College Kid
--The Danger When You Don't Know What You Don't Know
--Iterative Hockey Stick Analysis? Gimme a break!
--Finger Trees Done Right (I hope)
--Friday Random Ten, 4/23/2010

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

MIT Technology Review (technology)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: MIT Technology Review, by MIT Technology Review


BLOG DESCRIPTION: MIT Technology Review Top Stories blog offers the best of MIT Technology Review blogs. Gathered from a variety of MIT Technololgy blogs, MIT Technology Review Top Stories provides information on emerging technologies and the impact these technologies have on business and society.

MY REVIEW: This blog is much more technology oriented than science oriented, so it makes a valuable adjunct to the other blogs like Wired Science or Pop Sci and so on.

The subscription is $1.99 a month, but there are multiple posts a day. If you're in to technology, it's worth it.

Sample post:
Fruit Flies Genetically Engineered to Smell Light
Blue light is perceived as the odor of bananas, marzipan or glue.
By Emily Singer

In this petri dish irradiated with blue light, normal larvae avoid areas exposed to light. Modified larvae (seen here as white shapes on the illuminated surface) perceive the light as a pleasant odor, and they move towards it. Credit: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

Researchers in Germany have genetically engineered larvae of the Drosophila fruit fly so that the insects smell blue light. They say the findings will shed new light on the flies' olfactory system.

Scientists spliced the gene for a light-activated protein into cells in the olfactory system that normally respond to different odors. When hit with light, the cells send a signal just as if they had sensed the odor. The exact smell the animal perceives depends on the cells that are activated. Researchers were able to make the flies smell both pleasant and unpleasant odors. While normal animals normally avoid light, the genetically engineered flies flocked to it if they perceived a pleasant smell, such as the odors of banana, marzipan or glue, which are all present in rotting fruit. The research was published in Frontiers in Neuroscience Behavior.

According to a press release from the Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum, the researchers now plan to use the same principle to undertake further studies on adult flies, equipping them with photo-activated proteins to trigger isolated cerebral neurons.

--Android-Powered Sensors Monitors Vital Signs and More
--Fruit Flies Genetically Engineered to Smell Light
--New "Brains" For LittleDog
--A Better Tool to Search for Life on Mars
--Geothermal Vents and Life's Left-Handed Amino Acids
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Blog do Dentista (Spanish language, dentists)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Blog do Dentista. Noticias, desenhos, fotos, piadas, videos duvidas e perguntas, livros, historias e jogos. Tudo sobre dentistas e Odontologia. (Dentist Blog. News, drawings, photos, jokes, videos doubts and questions, books, stories and games. All about dentists and dentistry.)

MY REVIEW: Well, if you're interested in the history of dentistry and dentistry today (and who isn't?) and you can read Spanish (the Brasilian version, I believe [Spanish is different in different countries]) you'll like this blog.

Sample post:
Se tirar a pulseira azul da menina, tem que escovar os dentes
Se tirar a pulseira amarela da menina, tem que passar fio dental
Se tirar a pulseira verde da menina, tem que bochechar com elixir
Se tirar a pulseira branca da menina, tem que usar raspador de língua
Se tirar a pulseira preta da menina, tem que ir no dentista

--Simpatia para dor de dente
--Exposição de cadáveres plastificados - Corpos
--Cura rápida para dor de dente!
--Jogo da pulseira do dentista

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Retro Review: Breast Cancer? But Doctor, I Hate Pink!



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Breast Cancer? But Doctor, I Hate Pink


BLOG DESCRIPTION: With an humor and intelligence, Ann Silberman, breast-cancer "ass-kicker," describes her life since diagnosis. She found her lump in May 2009 and was diagnosed in early September. She is sharing her journey through surgeries and chemo as they happen. A must-read for anybody who either has cancer or has a family member with this disease. Ann writes with wit and energy in her blog: Breast Cancer? But Doctor ... I hate pink.

MY REVIEW: The author of this blog, Ann, found out she had breast cancer in August, 2009. This blog tells the story of her fight against the disease. It is very moving, very affecting, the more so because she does indeed manage to be funny and heroic at the same time. (Yes, there are heroes who, in a split second, risk their lives for others, such as our soldiers, and police and firemen and just regular people, and then there are people who have chronic illnesses in which they suffer every day and have to rise to that challenge every day. They are just as heroic.)

If you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer, or have a friend or loved one who has been - this is an excellent resource for you to know what the future holds. There are photos, there's talk of the various drugs and the chemotherapy and so on. If you're just interested in how people live their lives when faced by chronic illness, you will find this blog uplifing as well.

A few paragraphs from a sample post:
I am a small person with bird bones. My wrist is five inches around; I wear a size 4 1/2 ring. I can't purchase a watch without a picture of Hannah Montana on it, and I buy bracelets to use as anklets.

I have correspondingly small veins. Watching people draw my blood has always amused me, because I have a strong sadistic streak and no needle phobia whatsoever. I like seeing sweat on the brow of the phlebotomist responsible for getting blood out of me and into that vial. It just doesn't happen without hard work.

Typically, the way it goes is the first tech pokes around a while, moving the needle in and out, muttering about tiny veins until she either pops one or freaks out. She then calls the specialist with the butterfly needle who has the finesse to start the flow. Even when I try to make it easy - drink lots of water and wear warm clothing to "plump the veins," it's never enough to get the well pumping.

I'm so dry if I was Bella, Edward would leave me. [Is this a Twlight reference? KBR ed]

- Chemo Angel (Feb 21, 2010)
- Vampire Diaries (Feb 20, 2010)
- Did I mention before, that I hate leukine? (Feb 19, 2010)
- Chemo number...oh I can't remember (Feb 18, 2010)
- Chemotherapy-induced anemia (Feb 17, 2010) (Photography blog, in German)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: blog (German edition), by fotocommunity GmbH


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Neuigkeiten von

MY REVIEW: If you're German or learning German, this is a pretty good blog, particularly if you're interested in photography. It feeds to the Kindle well - meaning all the umlauts and other diacriticals in the German language come across correctly, and not as "squares".

Sample post:
Cash-Back Aktionen gibt es immer mal wieder. Leider erfährt man häufig erst davon, wenn das Ganze bereits vorbei ist. Das soll Euch nicht passieren und deswegen weisen wir auf diese lohnenswerte Aktion hin.
Für das 190XPROB Dreibein-Stativ von Manfrotto gibt es nämlich bis 31.Juli 2010 satte 40 Euro zurück.

Und so geht es: Um von dem Preisnachlass zu profitieren, zahlt der Stativ-Käufer beim Fachhändler seines Vertrauens zunächst den Normalpreis. Anschließend füllt der Käufer das Cash-Back-Formular aus, das er beim Händler oder unter erhält. Dieses sendet er dann gemeinsam mit der Rechnungskopie bis spätestens 15. August an Manfrotto Distribution. Innerhalb von vier Wochen stellt Manfrotto jedem Käufer einen Scheck über 40 Euro aus.

Diese Sommer-Aktion freut nicht nur das Portemonnaie, sondern bietet Einsteigern und fortgeschrittenen Fotografen auch die ideale Gelegenheit, unscharfen oder verwackelten Fotos mit einer bewährten und hochwertigen Stativlösung endlich ein Ende zu bereiten. Weitere Informationen zu Produkt und Garantieverlängerung unter:

-- Alle mal herhören
--Ein verführerisches Angebot
--Grafiktablett gewinnen!
--Contest: Das beste Partypic
--Canon bei den BMW Sailing Cups

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Gel B Log von Maik Preßler (German language)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Maiks Ansichten über das Leben, das Universum und den ganzen Rest.

MY REVIEW: Germans or people trying to learn German may like this blog. The posts are short and interesting. The author doesn't post every day, though. He seems to average once or twice a week, but sometimes less. Neverthless, interesting reading.

--IQ Test – Finde jetzt deinen IQ heraus.
--Kommentare in Blogs, die demnächst öfters zu sehen sein werden.
--Videotipp: Web 3.0 von Kayte Ryan
--Das rote und das blaue Formular

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Organize to Revitalize! (business and personal lifestyle and culture)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Organize To Revitalize!, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Organize to Revitalize! offers organizing tips to help you streamline your home or office, and shares up to date news on what's happening in the organizing world. Every month, we bring you video interviews with media personalities, who share how they stay on top of things with a hectic, busy lifestyle...or if they don't.

MY REVIEW: Most people are disorganized. Most families are disorganized. Ride your bike down any street - in a poor, middle class or rich neighborhood - ones that have garages, and if the garage doors are open I bet 90% of those garages will be crammed full of junk, and 10% would have that material organized so that things could be found. (I don't think rich people are necessarily any more organized than poor folk, but they can afford to pay someone to come in and clean up their messes!)

The problem as I see it is that kids from an early age are not taught to organize - either their minds or their rooms. That's why we've got this cliche of the kid's room being such a disaster area... and as they grow up, that jumble continues until it really harms their lives. Most of the time just in little ways, of course. Who thinks wasting ten minutes looking for their car keys means ten minutes of their life that will never come again? Very few people. But really, that's what it is. Time wasted is time lost, and when you have to spend twenty minutes looking for a file, or lose a bill under a pile of envelopes, you're wasting time and money. But most importantly time.

This blog doesn't address the underlying issues - why people refuse to organize or can't organize - and instead tries to help with the organization part of the equation. (But then, it never claimed to do anything else. It's just my opinion that organization skills, like money and life skills, should be taught in elementary school...!)

Several guest authors contribute to the blog, and topics include organizing the home and organizing the business. The posts are well-written, the information always of use.

I recommend it highly.

Sample post

Productivity Tao-isms – Do They Peacefully Coexist?
Posted by Doug Ramsay
May 26, 2010
Greetings readers… My standard greeting holds – I hope this post finds you well.

Time management-wise, things have been on the up since my last post. As some of you might remember, my business partner/recording partner/long time friend since college and I are striving to finish up a CD project we’ve been working on for (literally) years (life *does* get in the way, eh?).

We recently had a project status meeting at Panera Bread, which turned out to be quite productive. I’m actually populating our project calendar on Google with the new target dates for later syncing to my BB and and iCal on my Mac…you know the drill. With most of the summer planned out for the remainder of work on the CD project, I still have to plan some weekend trips in. If any of you know of online resources like Expedia, Travelocity or similar, that combine something like trip planning and scheduling, please let me know (that’s one area I’ve yet to embark on when planning a trip).

Ironically enough, I came across an article on the Zen Habits website entitled the tao of productivity. I found this article to be very interesting, and frankly was somewhat rivited by an excerpt from it that reads:

"Stop planning, stop trying to control how things will go and what the outcomes will be. Life never goes according to plan, so why stress yourself out worrying about the future and then worrying about the past when plans get disrupted?"

Huh? Frankly, I find that ridiculous. While I believe we are only promised one day at time, good planning is essential to live your life (as long as you can) in the best way possible. Could you imagine trying to attain your college degree without any planning? How about that grand day of nuptials? You get the picture. While I understand the premise behind this specific Tao-ism from a foundational standpoint, I think it also demonstrates irresponsibility. I don’t think we are a culture obsessed with productivity, but one that would like to reap the benefits of efficiency. I, for one, would love to obtain the secret formula that will allow me to get more done by doing less. J Thoughts?

Ok, I have a calendar to populate…and a few other things to mark off my list. Have a great day!

--Fact Friday: Housework & The Battle of the Sexes
--Create a Better Business Blog [Part II]
--Productivity Tao-isms – Do They Peacefully Coexist?
--Quick Tip: Mail Control in 3 Easy Steps
--Could You Wear 1 Dress for 365 Days?

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Retro Review Tales From the Administrative Minefield



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Tales From The Administrative Minefield


BLOG DESCRIPTION: I am a seasoned executive adminstrative assistant with over fifteen years experience who loves her job. Very few other employment opportunites exist that allow me to manage people, events, and offices to my heart's content, then go home and have a life.

My many years of employment have given me plenty of opportunities to scratch my head and wonder what my employers and co-workers were thinking. As a consumate professional, I have just kept a smile on my face, done my job, and listened to my gut for the next opportunity.

Welcome to my world and I hope you enjoy the ride.

MY REVIEW: As a former administrative assistant, I know where this author is coming from. Very little gets done in an office in an efficent manner unless the admin assistant is herself (or himself) efficient. And yet they get so little credit for keeping the machine running smoothly.

This blog tells the story of one such admin assistant, and her adventures in the world of business.

Here's a few paragraphs from an entry on that ever-present evil - outsourcing work overseas [more often than not to the detriment of the business, costing them more money than they save, in loss of good will if nothing else!, IMHO]

Nothing seems to be safe anymore in today’s employment climate. Gone is security of generations gone by. Very few people can stick with one company for their entire career. If they manage to do that, they have to reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the latest management model that leans toward automation, downsizing or out-sourcing.

I realize that there are many processes that can be outsourced, off-shored, and just plain automated. When all these cost cutting measures are taking place, what happens to the actual employee, who helped build the company? The general morale? The principles that built the company? More importantly the corporate history?

While the government gives lip-service to keeping jobs in the country, more and more companies are sending department functions overseas. Why? ‘Because it can be done cheaper elsewhere’. Sure, there are binding contracts that impose penalties if things are not done to the SLA’s (service level agreements) of the corporation, but what happens to the customer service interface? There are no guarantees that expectations will be met.

To be frank the customer wants to interface with employees they feel confident will fulfill their needs. Not third-party vendors that have no clue as to why the company even exists

This blog is well-written, by a "soldier on the battlefield." Admin Assistants - the good ones, anyway, know what is going on in the office. Know how things are done and why they are done in that way. Aspiring admin assistants, and the people who have them, should read this blog!

I would like a bit more grounding for the blog, however. If not the specific business she works for, at least a general sense of what the company does.

-Melting the Myth [of perfection]
-On the Cheap [outsourcing]
-Valuable Resources [admin assistant's role in the work place]
-Upon Your Actions
-Follow Instructions [sales people, especially!

Michelle Malkin (political opinion)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Michelle Malkin is a conservative author, columnist, and Fox News contributor. Her blog puts a conservative spin on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.

MY REVIEW: If you're a conservative in your political views, you'll definitely like this blog. Malkin brings a razor of wit to the sophistry of Democrat policies and Obama's failures in particular. (Yes, I'm a Republican!)

It's $1.99 to subscribe, but there are multiple posts a day. Occasionally she shares videos, which of course can't be seen on the Kindle.

Whether you're a Liberal or a Conservative or just someone fed up with the culture of incompetence and corruption from ALL our politicians in Washington as well as at the state level (at least, in many states) you really should get her side of the story.

Sample Post
The first (second) oil spill head rolls: Obama “fires” MMS head; Update: Obama assails dumb Americans for failing to appreciate his rescue efforts, whiffs on MMS questions, drags Malia into the fray
By Michelle Malkin • May 27, 2010 10:49 AM Scroll down for Obama press conference updates…

News leaking ahead of President Obama’s scheduled 12:45pm Eastern press conference today: the first head has been delivered.

Via AP:

Democratic sources say the Obama administration has fired the head of the U.S. Minerals Management Service in response to blistering criticism over lax oversight of offshore drilling.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity before the official announcement, tell The Associated Press that President Barack Obama will announce the decision Thursday.
Meanwhile, there are reports that BP’s “Top Kill” strategy to plug the leak is working:

BP has stopped the flow of oil and gas from a ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico, a US official told local media.

The company’s “top kill” effort has “stabilised the wellhead”, Coast Guard commander Thad Allen said, adding that it was too early to declare success.

This is the first step, using mud, in BP’s plan to seal the well for good with cement.

Eleven workers were killed in the initial explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig five weeks ago.

Make that the second head to hit the ground. As I noted last week, MMS official Chris Oynes resigned after news of the agency’s 2009 safety award for Deepwater Horizon surfaced.


Critics on both the left and right want to know: What about Heckuva Job Kenny Salazar?


1:00pm Eastern Summary of Obama’s oil spill remarks: Bush at fault. Cozy regulators at fault. Solution: More government, no more drilling.

Obama defends his sluggish response by criticizing dumb Americans. Bottom line: You all are too stupid and uninformed to realize that this has been his “highest priority” and that the White House has been “singularly focused” on the oil spill.

Obama: “Those who think we were slow in our response or lacked urgency don’t know the facts.”

That’s always his excuse.

Obama writes his own self-aggrandizing history: “I’m confident that people are going to look back and say that this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis.”

1:42pm Eastern. Obama insists he is working with full urgency on the issue, but refuses to take ownership of firing MMS head Liz Birnbaum. He said he only found out about it this morning when he was “busy with other things” (um, wasn’t he “singularly focused” on oil spill?) and that he is unclear about the circumstances of her stepping down.

Dragging his daughters into the public fray again: “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”

--The first (second) oil spill head rolls: Obama “fires” MMS head; Update: Obama assails dumb Americans for failing to appreciate his rescue efforts, whiffs on MMS questions, drags Malia into the fray
--Carville, Obama and a Tale of Two Daddys
--Obama responds to Sestak scandal: Just trust me
--Because When You’re Seeking Advice on Damage Control After an Embarrassing Spill, Experience Matters
--The White House/New Black Panther Party stonewall
--Todd Palin for border czar!
--9/11 families fight sharia “party place” at Ground Zero

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Blog de Viajes (South America travel, Spanish language)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Blog de Viajes, by Jorge Gobbi


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Un blog sobre viajes y turismo. Mejor blog de viajes en español 2009, según Lonely Planet.

MY REVIEW: For those who are native Spanish speakers or who are learning Spanish, and have an interest in travel in South America, this is the blog for you. Lots of information, well written (well, as far as I can tell, being someone in the process of learning Spanish! But it's at a level that I could read....)

Sample post:
[Accompanying hoto not reproduced]
200 años de Argentina
argentina Mayo 25th, 2010

Hoy es el último día de las celebraciones en Argentina por los 200 años de existencia como país soberano. A diferencia de otras naciones latinoamericanas, el bicentenario argentino no coincide con la fecha de la Independencia. Mientras que el proceso revolucionario comenzó el 25 de mayo de 1810, la independencia formal fue declarada el 9 de julio de 1816. Por ello se toma 1810 como punto de partida, algo que quedó claro con las celebraciones de 1910 por el primer centenario.

Quienes hayan llegado por Buenos Aires en estos días, se habrán encontrado con una ciudad muy cambiada. Hay cientos de miles de personas en las calles, la avenida 9 de Julio se encuentra ocupada por stands y escenarios para recitales, y hasta se reinauguró tras varios años de trabajo el Teatro Colón. Todo termina hoy, con festejos en la avenida 9 de julio hasta las primeras horas de la tarde, cuando el escenario final se concentrará en la zona de la Plaza de Mayo. Pueden ver la agenda -y una cobertura muy interesante de todo lo que está pasando desde el punto de vista de la gente que publica en Internet- en el sitio TuBicentenario. La foto que abre la entrada fue publicada por nscap en Flickr bajo licencia Creative Commons. Por cierto, hacen falta más fotos bajo CC en Flickr, a ver si hoy corregimos un poco el tema.

Hoy nos vemos por ahí, porque después de varios días de gripe, voy a dedicar la jornada a pasear por los stands y por la Plaza de Mayo. Lo estaré actualizando en mi cuenta de Twitter, @morrissey . Espero subir fotos a mi cuenta de Flickr, al menos las que tome con el celular; las que obtenga con la cámara seguramente esperarán a mañana.

Feliz día de la patria para todos, entonces Y a seguir disfrutando en paz, como han hecho todos los que han concurrido a las celebraciones que arrancaron el viernes.

--Turismo, marketing de destinos y redes de geolocalizacion: el caso Pennsylvania
--Google, turismo y mercados verticales
--200 años de Argentina
--Global Voices en Santiago, un resumen
--Notas sobre Santiago de Chile 3: fotos

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Friday, May 28, 2010

OT: It's Caturday

A photo for the day

Retro Review: Foodie Mama

REVIEW BY: Ann Currie




BLOG DESCRIPTION: Teaches you how to save money, streamline ingredients and save time and stress at dinnertime. Dinner becomes a breeze with Foodiemama.

MY REVIEW: A food blog, that lists easy family friendly recipes. Tips and advice are offered and each recipe is tagged with the "Feeding by Age" to help Moms and Dads) chose meals that will appeal to the kids. Each recipe has a short introduction and comment followed by the ingredients and directions which are clearly given. Entries are only posted every 7 or 8 days and 2 recipes are included in each post.

The recipes are ok, but the posts are infrequent. There is nothing unique or entertaining about the text. If you want a good basic Mom friendly food blog this is one of many.

--Easy Ham Barbque Biscuits
--Honey Mustard Salmon
--Butternut Squash Gnocchi
--Soft Caramel Popcorn
--Party Food for Tots

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal> and Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Travel Deals, News and Tips



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Travel Deals, News and Tips, by


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Travel blog on vacation packages, destination guide, travel advice & travel news to make reader's vacation experience easy.

MY REVIEW: This blog is part of Grab2Travel's website, and what I *think* Grab2Travel is is some entrepreneur who is an affiliate of various tourist and airline providers. Buy something from their website, and they get a commission from the business in question.

Nothing wrong with that, if they provide a good service. Frankly, I wasn't impressed with the blog. They list specials...but there are so many other blogs that give you that type of information and so much more.

Check it out to see if you agree or disagree.

--$5 off Secret Coupon Code for Hotel Booking - Making Our Subscribers Feel Special
--Cheap Hotels in Orlando - Family Vacation on Cheap
--$479 - 7 Nights cheap cruise vacations to Mexico on Royal Caribbean
--Go San Francisco Card - Save Up to 40% on Admission to Over 50 Attractions
--Plan Cheap Vacations to Caribbean with Discount Caribbean Vacation Packages

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

WDW Radio - Walt Disney Radio (arts and entertainment)


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: WDW Radio - Your Walt Disney World Information Station


BLOG DESCRIPTION: WDW Radio is the award-winning online radio show dedicated to celebrating the magic of Walt Disney World. Hosted and produced by author Lou Mongello, this family-friendly show covers WDW news, vacation planning, reviews, trivia, history, fun facts, contests and features exclusive interviews with Disney Imagineers, executives, celebrities and more. The unofficial "Walt Disney World Information Station," WDW Radio has been named Best Travel Podcast for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and is also home to the Walt Disney World Trivia Books and Audio Guides to Walt Disney World.

The companion web site,, also features a popular blog, collection of fun videos and tours from the Disney parks, reviews, interviews and so much more. It also is home to one of the internet's largest Disney online communities and discussion groups. The audio guides and signed copies of the trivia books are available for purchase right from the web site. Celebrations Magazine is also available at

Lou is also the founder of the Dream Team Project (, created for the purpose of raising money to grant the wishes of children with serious illnesses to visit Walt Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. Donations and proceeds of special fundraising events run by The Dream Team Project are all used to help make the life of a child a bit brighter during a difficult time for them and their family.

MY REVIEW: If you're planning on visiting Disney World (that's the one in Florida, as opposed to Disneyland, which is in California), then you simply must subscribe to this blog. And take notes, so you'll be fully informed when you make your visit.

I say, "Yes, with reservations," because by subscribing to the blog and not visiting the website, you miss the radio portion of it. Podcasts are available on a weekly basis.

One way or another, do something with this blog/website if you intend to go to Walt Disney World. The more you know, the more you'll enjoy it.

05/27/2010 - Tonga Toast at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
05/18/2010 - The British Experience in Walt Disney World
05/14/2010 - New Walt Disney World Video: Fantasyland Construction Progress in the Magic Kingdom
05/13/2010 - Poll: Which wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort do you want to stay in most?
05/13/2010 - Bass Fishing Excursion at Walt Disney World
05/12/2010 - Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Coming to Walt Disney World
05/11/2010 - Pirates of the Caribbean: From the parks to the movies… and back again. A Treasure Hunt in Walt Disney World

Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Charlemagne's Notebook (European politics)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Charlemagne's Notebook, by


BLOG DESCRIPTION: In this blog, our Charlemagne columnist considers the ideas and events that shape Europe, while dealing with the quirks of life in the Euro-bubble.

MY REVIEW: For those people who don't want the US to end up like Europe, or perhaps I should say the European Union (and among those I must count myself) it is important to keep abreast of what is happening over there, in these socialistic, welfare states that are starting to topple because of unsustainable entitlements. And yet our own goverment wants us to accept the European model...and indeed, we do seem to be moving toward "one world order." Considering how crooked, and how incompentent, politicians are, I really don't want to see us living in a world where those that rule over us are in Bruges or wherever...

In any event, this blog is written for a college level audience (as regards vocabulary), but with lots of "Britishisms" (what's a wonk?) and talks about the news and doings in all the EU, with a special emphasis on the UK since he is from the UK. Very fascinating reading...and something I wish our own politicians would read. (He who does not learn from the mistakes of others, is an idiot.)

Sample post
The euro crisisGermany: Europe's fed-up sugar daddy

May 20th 2010, 11:57 by Charlemagne
IS Germany becoming Eurosceptic? That is the charge in Brussels and other EU capitals, as politicians and senior officials grumble about Chancellor Angela Merkel and her reluctance to join bail outs of first Greece and now, potentially, the whole eurozone.

I am not sure Eurosceptic is the right word. I think fed up is a better term. And that is not a small development. A fed up Germany could have big consequences for Europe.

I am in Berlin right now with a clutch of EU correspondents invited by the German government, and the message from ministers and politicians is that Germany still wants the European Union to work, and would like to see deeper integration of the EU. But, and it is a big but, Germany has changed. The days of France having all the ideas and Germany meekly paying the bills are over, we have heard.

Germany is fed up of paying more than any other country into the EU budget, and being taken for granted. Germany feels unfairly attacked in this euro crisis. Mrs Merkel's government thinks it is outrageous that it is taxed with euroscepticism for insisting on tough conditions before bailing out members of the euro who caused their own problems. Germany is just trying to defend the law, monetary stability and taxpayers across the union, we keep hearing.

Germany's position on bailing out eurozone countries has changed since the former finance minister Peer Steinbrück said that Germany would not allow any member of the single currency club to go bust. That was an unconditional guarantee.

Germany's guarantee of help is now conditional on countries accepting ferocious budget discipline, backed by the threat of having all EU funding withheld from the most profligate countries. Senior figures keep saying this is necessary to preserve monetary stability. Alas, their position is not coherent: because punishing horribly indebted countries by publicly cutting their EU funds would surely push them into a messy default. And it is hard to see how that is good for monetary stability.

Oh, after a country has all its funding frozen, we would send EU emergency aid, said one senior figure. I fear to me that sounded like a new system of justice in which we stone misbehaving members of the club half to death, then send them an ambulance.

The problem is that Germany is stuck, I think. Discipline failed to keep the eurozone stable, so now they want to try really, really tough discipline. Others, like France, think the answer is transfers from the rich to the poor, either directly or by pooling EU credit ratings to lower the union's overall borrowing costs. The German government is convinced that Germany's parliament and taxpayers will not wear that.

Instead of making the positive case for the euro, the German government has got stuck in a loop of blaming everything on speculators (hence their startling decision to ban naked short selling of government bonds this week, which will achieve precisely nothing beyond reducing liquidity in German markets), and on profligate countries who lack budget discipline. Meanwhile they talk about how the rich will be ok even if the euro is unstable, because they can always move their money overseas or buy gold, in the words of one senior figure. It may be, I think, the world's first sighting of populist monetarism.

Most of our meetings have been off the record, but one was entirely on the record. It was with a close ally of Mrs Merkel, Thomas de Maizière, who is currently the interior minister but was head of her chancellery for a long time. German ministers are often frustratingly cautious, in my experience. To his great credit, Mr de Maizière was extraordinarily candid with our group of visiting reporters.

As this is a blog, I think I will put a long (very long) transcript here so you can judge for yourselves. Just wait till you get to the bit where he compares Germany to a fed-up adult, fighting off demands from small children because that only leads to still more demands later.

[Q: have DE attitudes to EU changed?]

TDM: After 1990, Germany underwent a fundamental change. Until 1990, Germany was a divided country. It was economically strong but politically weak, and not really a fully sovereign state. This political weakness was comfortable for many others, even for many Germans who did not have to shoulder big international responsibilities.
It was convenient for many of our partners, as our foreign policy was partly replaced by money: we called this chequebook diplomacy.
After 1990, not only the map of Germany but the map of Europe changed dramatically. And American views of Europe changed. At least under President Obama, it is clear that America does not look first to Europe any more.
We now send troops all round the world.
All this has positive and negative effects for the German government and the German people. This change of mentality is only now taking root among our population. Maybe it is not coincidence that this is happening around the time of the 20th anniversary of German reunification: it takes 20 years for a generation of young people to grow up.

It may be new for Europe that Germany is representing its interests with new vigour. But for Britain, France or Italy, it was always a matter of course. We are also using new language in putting our arguments. We have to get used to this. The biggest net payer into the EU budget has to defend its interests.
And we have a very strong federal constitutional court, as became clear with respect to its ruling on the Lisbon Treaty. The idea that German law can be interpreted strictly on the one hand, but that EU law can somehow be more political than legal, on the other, is not acceptable to Germany. It is not Euroscepticism when a German chancellor has to check that a new EU law is compatible with German law. It serves the cause of building law and justice in Europe. You cannot just say the law does not matter, and we have to take a decision quickly.

As for public opinion in Germany, for the majority of Germans the EU was fairly remote, apart from the Common Agricultural Policy, and Brussels was fairly remote. Germans are now just slowly understanding that the EU affects their lives.
Just a year ago, we had major demonstrations against globalisation, as if you could stop globalisation. Now, people have understood that you can only shape globalisation. In a way, an era of looking at things in a purely national way is coming to an end.

When I meet German journalists here in Berlin, they say to me: you are the largest net payer, you should simply tell small countries what to do. Then I go to Brussels and meet German journalists based there. They say to me: Germany is just one country, you have to be more pro-European. Part of striking a balance between those two positions is to tell Germans, we now have to assume our international responsibilities.

When it comes to the financial crisis in Europe or sending troops overseas, this was new for us, and we had to learn very quickly. Perhaps our first reaction was to hide. But this is a learning curve and will lead to changes on all sides. Germans will have to learn that Germany is the most important part of the European Union, but is also only one part of the European Union.
Germany is going to have to act just as other countries do in Brussels, that does not make Germany anti-European.

[At this point, it was impossible not to ask about the Franco-German alliance. Because when he talked about German chequebook diplomacy, it was so clearly a reference to the old model of the French having the political ideas in Europe, and expecting the Germans meekly to pay the bills. And in the current crisis, his talk of countries pushing Germany to take decisions quickly and put politics ahead of the law, was unmistakeably a reference to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The minister did not demur from either of these suggestions.]

TDM: For Germany, it is and remains true that Franco-German relations are the most important we have. This is reflected by the number of preliminary talks we have with France [before EU meetings], which far exceeds the number of talks we have with other countries.
That also means we don’t always agree, there are some differences. Firstly, the French sometimes feel that if Germany and France agree, everyone else should fall into line. But Germany feels—and it is a long established tradition of ours, even if Chancellor Schröder did not always follow it—that we should take into account the interests of smaller countries, and since 1990, the interests of smaller countries in central and eastern Europe especially.

So we think about central and eastern Europe, while France often asks: what does this mean for the Mediterranean? We have different interests. But this can be a wonderful alliance, if it does not impose its views on Europe.

Secondly, regarding industrial policy and [monetary] stability, we have traditions that diverge. Sometimes these differences come to the surface: this is true of Airbus, it also applies to the stability and growth pact.

Finally, the Chancellor and the French president have their own approaches based on their personalities. And the combination of being quick and thorough is of value for Europe, for the G20 and also for the crisis in the eurozone.

If Germany and France get on too well, other countries say: we don’t want a Franco-German axis. If Germany and France disagree, everyone asks what happened to Franco-German friendship. As so often, the truth is somewhere in between.

[Q. What about Britain’s new government?]

TDM: Without referring to the financial crisis, in general the UK has always added a dash of pragmatic Euroscepticism. Sometimes that is a problem for us, but sometimes it is a good thing. And when British ministers come to Brussels, they are often more positive than they sound at home.
Now, with regard to the financial crisis, we now have a real disagreement. We are in the process of drawing certain lessons from this crisis, that certain forms of financial market activity have to be changed. And there the UK and America are the most hesitant, there is real disagreement. Yesterday [May 18th] you saw a disagreement on hedge funds. These disagreements will continue.
But my assumption is the new British government will maybe start off by being a little more Eurosceptic and will become more and more Euro-friendly. It is usually the way.”

[Q. on euro zone bailout]

TDM: The philosophy of Europe is based on everyone doing their homework, so there are no bailouts.

Article 122 [the emergency aid article of the Lisbon Treaty invoked by the European Commission to launch a rapid-reaction €60 billion loans mechanism for eurozone members, which Germany said could not be used as the legal basis for a much larger €440 billion eurozone defence fund] is an article intended to cover natural disasters. It is not a legal basis for helping countries that have caused their own problems by overspending.

What reasons can there be for deviating from this principle? One is if the euro is in danger. A second precondition is that countries being helped must do everything to help themselves. Those two preconditions have now been met, and [the eurozone defence fund] is in line with German law: we are providing loan guarantees under strict conditions, including conditions set by the International Monetary Fund.

[on French calls for the eurozone defence loan mechanism to use a common interest rate, and the European Commission's suggestion, rejected by Germany, that countries should extend unlimited loan guarantees to the fund]

TDM: Germany wants to provide its loan guarantees on the basis of its own credit worthiness, and not to take on some unlimited liability. All Germans have worked hard to achieve better financing conditions [than others]. If we provide loan guarantees for a country that is in trouble, we want to provide those guarantees on the same conditions that we encounter, as Germany, on the markets.

We don’t want to turn the EU into a transfer union. France is not as strict as us. The French said it would send a strong signal to the market and facilitate French financing possibilities if we used an average European financing rate. That was not our position, and that is why the negotiations went on so late into the night.

Now, the Chancellor has said we have to make use of the crisis to develop a stability culture in Europe. The basis of the EU is that everyone does their own homework, not that we share an average of our homework.

[on the Greek bailout]

TDM: Ok, we have now assisted Greece. The German position is as follows, and has led to a lot of criticism in Europe, but was a precondition for the German parliament. The assistance came with a budget consolidation programme with IMF and EU reports every three months and sanctions if consolidation requirements are not met, and not just promises.

We no longer provide unconditional assistance, but conditional assistance.

[on charges that Germany cost the EU billions by delaying the eurozone bailout]

TDM: Spending money too early would have been too expensive. In the banking crisis and now with the euro, it is a difficult decision to know when an individual case has become a systemic problem. And if you take the decision too early, it leads to more speculation.

If someone says: the situation is serious and we need taxpayers’ money, the first reaction of a politician is to ask if the situation is really so serious. Companies come to us every day and ask for help. If we gave money to all of them, we would all be bust by now.

The basic principle of capitalism is that companies are liable [for losses] but reap benefits [when there are profits].

The basic principle of democracy is that nation states are liable [for losses] but reap benefits [in good times].

We feel that if we had acted earlier, without conditions, it would have led to even higher demands later on. Look at the example of the Americans. They have a 12% deficit, we have a deficit of 5.3%, that is not bad news for taxpayers.

Wilhelm Busch, a famous German children’s writer, said that every wish granted gives birth to new wishes. Everyone here who has raised children knows that if you give in too early it will be more expensive later, especially if giving in violates all your principles. And our principle was that we are not going to bail out all those who caused their own problems.
You could say that we violated our own principle. Our philosophy was to do it as late as possible and only as a last resort. That was cumbersome, it was not popular, but it was necessary.”

--Of butterfly wings, Basque politicians and Cordoba's turbulent priests
--The new British government and the EU
--Fight! Fight! Fight!
--Mr Cameron visits Mrs Merkel
--Germany: Europe's fed-up sugar daddy
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Retro Review: Every Little Counts (Romance)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Every Little Counts is about love. This is a collection of my loves, obsessions, thoughts, memories, and influences, all of which inspire my clothing line "Every Little Counts".

MY REVIEW: Mainly written to accompany her web store by the same name that specializes in rather seductive sleep wear - the writer describes it best as being about young love, romance, and nostalgia. The posts, which are every other day or so, ramble easily from comments on old movies, complete with pictures, romantic quotes, and pictures of her modeling some of her new ware. Along the way, she comments about her life. The blog definitely stays with its theme. It is light and well done.

The blog is heavy on the photos and links to her on-line shop that are not accessible to the Kindle.

  • A perfect Day
  • Toujours Tois & Family Affair F/W 2010
  • Gen Art New Garde 2010
  • lolita

  • ________________________
    Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of
    and also, Silver Pieces: The Strange and

    Spot Cool Stuff: Travel

    REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo


    AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Spot Cool Stuff: Travel


    BLOG DESCRIPTION: Reviews of unusual hotels and restaurants, great attractions, cool travel gear, places with amazing views and all manner of travel destinations with a WOW! factor. Because we live on an incredible planet!

    MY REVIEW: Another blog that I absolutely recommend. It's not travel to a specific area, but rather to all areas, but the info given is so interesting that it's definitely worth reading, and noting down for your own personal wish list should you ever get the time and the discretionary money to go travel places.

    The blog is well written, there are a lot of photos, and its just a lot of fun.

    Sample post:
    [Note - photos and links not included in sample]
    As fans of the hit ABC television series LOST watch the riveting drama about a group of airplane crash survivors on a mysterious island they often ponder questions of love, fate, survival and black smoke monsters. What exactly is the Dharma Project? and What do those numbers mean? are questions almost every LOST fan has asked themselves. They inevitably also ask Where exactly are all these gorgeous tropical scenes filmed?

    The vast majority of LOST was set in various locations around Hawaii. Even many of the locations that were supposedly not on the survivor’s island were shot in the Aloha State. The Sydney airport? In LOST that was really the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

    Here’s our roundup of our favorite Hawaii LOST filming locations. Each are worthy Hawaii travel destinations, for LOST fans and fans-in-waiting who have (yet) to see the show:

    Mokule’ia Beach
    On the show: “The beach” where (most of) the main characters from Oceanic flight 815 crash landed. The majority of LOST episodes, especially in the first three seasons, include at least one look at Mokule’ia Beach. The island scenes in the very first episodes were almost exclusively shot here.

    In real life: Mokule’ia is a gorgeous beach, surprisingly unvisited considering its LOST fame. Plus (as of May 2010) the section of the Oceanic airplane that was used as a prop in the first few episodes of the first season was still there! (To see it keep driving on the road for a few minutes past He’eia Pier).

    To get to the beach from central Oahu—Wahiawa or Pearl City, for example—head north on route 99 (the Kamehameha Highway). Just before Hale’iwa there will be a sign for route 930 (the Farrington Highway). Head west. About 1 minute after you pass Dillingham Airfield on your left you’ll see Mokule’ia Beach Park on your right. Scenes from LOST were shot all along this stretch of shore, from the beach area across from Dillingham to the Kaena Point State Natural Area Reserve at the tip of Oahu.

    The Banyan Trees & the Turtle Bay Resort
    In the show: Pay close attention to the foliage that forms the backdrop of several LOST island scenes and you’ll notice a reoccurring set of distinctive Banyan trees. We first see them in season one when poor Charlie is hung up by “The Others” (pic below). Survivors often walk past these trees on their way to some adventure and several characters have taken refuge within the arboreal ring the trees form (including Walt when he hid from the polar bear).

    In real life: The Banyan trees are on the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort. The portions of the lush resort for the backdrop for many other LOST snippets. Pretty much any scene in which the characters are walking through thick jungle were filmed here.

    The Turtle Bay is close to other LOST locations (including Waimea Falls and Waialee Beach, reviewed below). No wonder then that members of the LOST cast and crew stayed here during filming. You can too. And you should. The resort is stunningly set on a peaceful and picturesque parcel of Oahu coastline. Tennis (there are 10 courts), surfing (with optional lessons through the renown Hans Hederman School) and horseback riding (on secluded beaches) are among the activities on offer. The standard rooms at the resort are a bit small and uninspiring—it is worth the money to upgrade to an ocean view room, if not a suite.

    Note that non guests will have to pay a fee to enter the grounds. Guests at the resort can, of course, explore as they wish.

    Waimea Falls
    On the show: Waimea made its first appearance on LOST in the episode where Kate and Sawyer had their first flirtatious swim—and found two dead bodies. In a later episode Paulo came across these falls and found within its waters Nikki’s bag with the diamonds and the Nicotine gum that ultimately lead to his demise.

    In real life: The Waimea Falls are inside the Waimea Valley Audubon Center (formerly known as Waimea Falls Park) located on Oahu’s North Shore. Bring your bathing suite—visitors can go for a dip in the same swimming hole that Kate and Sawyer did. (Although, perhaps happily for visitors, the underwater dead body scenes were filmed in California). The 1,800 acre Audubon Center also features beautiful walking trails through lush foliage and wild peacocks roaming the grounds. The park is well worth a visit even apart from it’s link to LOST. The entrance fee is $10 but the parking, thankfully, is free.

    Waialee Beach
    On the show: Most LOST scenes that took place on a narrow rocky beach were filmed here. This is the beach where those in the tail section of flight 815 landed. It is also where Jin liked to go fishing, where Kate took her revealing bath in the pilot episode (pic below) and where Jack got stitched up from his wounds.

    In real life: Waialee Beach is the one attraction in this review that we might not suggest to non-LOST fans. It is a nice beach, but there are better ones nearby (around Kawela Bay, for example). This beach lies to the west of Kawela Bay before Hale’iwa on the north side of route 83.

    Byodo-In Temple
    In the show: This is Sun’s father’s extravagant mansion in Korea. We got our first look at the mansion and its meticulously kept grounds in season one when Jin proposed to Sun on a bridge here.

    In real life: LOST’s supposed Korean mansion is neither a mansion nor Korean. Instead, this elegant building is the Byodo-In, a fully functioning Buddhist temple a 30 minute drive north of Honolulu. The temple was built in the 1960s and is a near-exact replica of a temple of the same name in Uji, Japan (near Kyoto). Visitors (and their $2 admission fee) are welcome provided they are quiet during their stay and remove their shoes outside the temple. Open daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

    Ka’a'awa Valley
    On the show: The island scenes that take place in an open, grassy field were shot here. Ka’a'awa is where Hurley built his golf course and went on the joy ride in the van. When characters hiked to and from adventures on the “other side of the island” their trek often included a shot of them traipsing through this valley. In the second episode Sayid, Kate, Charlie, Shannon, Boone, and Sawyer camp here and nearly come to fisticuffs arguing over the then-mysterious French woman’s radio transmission.

    In real life: The Ka’a'awa Valley is private property, part of the Kualoa Ranch. (In fact, Ka’a'awa is often referred to as the Kualoa Valley). Fortunately, the ranch offers tour of their property by ATV, bus or horseback. In addition to showing you the LOST filming locations you’ll also see where scenes of several movies were shot, including 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park and Windtalkers.

    Kos Tours will take you by Hummer to all of the LOST locations we mention in this review.

    Hawaii Activities has a four-hour-long tour that doesn’t involve riding in huge gas guzzling vehicles. The company also runs private, customized LOST tours.

    Big Kahuna Hawaii has full-day tours for the serious LOST fans who aren’t content with the half-day offerings from Kos and Hawaii Activities

    --Exploring SF’s Interactive Exploratorium
    --LOST Hawaii
    --5 Wonderfully Earthy Glamping Sites
    --1 Week. 1 Pair of Underwear.
    --The NYC Bar Where Prices Fluctuate Like Stocks

    Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
    Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
    Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
    Topical Murder and Dated Death

    Dear Author

    REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo


    AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Dear Author, by Jane Litte


    BLOG DESCRIPTION: Dear Author is a blog devoted to the romance genre. Each review is written in the form of a letter to the author. There is also industry news as well as coverage of ebooks and ebook technology.

    MY REVIEW: People who enjoy romance books will really enjoy this blog. Plenty of reviews - well written. Other news threads regarding book sellers and authors. Recommended.

    Sample post:

    Fantasy in Death

    Dear Ms. Robb:

    This is a difficult review for me to write, because something happens in Fantasy in Death that many will likely regard as insignificant, but which for me changed the series in a fundamental way. Several books ago, Jane noted that Eve did something at the end of Creation in Death that seemed completely out of character for her. Whether blip or character shift, only time would resolve, and for me, with this book, it’s resolved in favor of a frustrating change in Eve’s character. Readers who see Eve as any different or who don’t find the change I see concerning will probably find Fantasy in Death a much more satisfying book than I did. Especially if they are enjoying the stronger mystery/procedural focus the series has recently acquired.

    When techno boy wonder Bart Minnock is found dead in his locked holo room, burned, bloody, and alone except for the disk of the new game his up and coming company, U-Play, is readying for sale, the NYPSD and Eve Dallas are stumped. There was no sign of tampering with Bart’s droid, his apartment, or the lock on the holo room, and no record of any visitors since he came home from work the previous day. As soon as the e-team tries to retrieve the game disk from the hard drive, it self-destructs, a safety measure Bart had in place to deter spying and stealing. How could a guy who seemed to have no enemies and whose biggest competition was the man who had generously helped Bart build his business (Roarke) be murdered? How could anyone actually get in that room to murder him?

    These mysteries generally run one of two ways: Eve has a suspect in mind from the beginning and spends the book setting him/her/them up, or she is working to narrow down a broad field of suspects before revealing the killer near the end of the book. Fantasy in Death is of the second variety, and it is an effective suspense builder, as the way Bart died is so closely connected to who might have done it. From Bart’s girlfriend to his three partners to game company competitors to the kids in his building who played various games with him, there are numerous people around Bart who could have been responsible, even though it is difficult to imagine anyone wanting a guy like Bart dead. Affable, honest, brilliant, non-threatening, and young, Bart is a rather unlikely murder victim. In fact, was it even murder that took his life?

    For the past handful of books, I have been noting a decided shift toward a bigger emphasis on the mystery and police procedural aspects of the series. While Robb has always woven the relationship and mystery elements together, the past few books have featured Roarke and Eve working together on these cases, almost like partner detectives, with Roarke’s own world-domination a footnote at best and any battles between them erupting in the context of the case or over a somewhat mundane issue. I will return in a bit to the main conflict between Eve and Roarke in this book, because it connects to my most substantial problem with Fantasy in Death, but in terms of their personal life more generally, Nadine’s book launch is the primary “life event” featured in this book (and note that the book is launched in print hardcover!), allowing Trina to make her usual terrorizing appearance, Leonardo to design a fab dress for Eve, and the extended gang of friends to dress up and mingle at the launch party. These appearances are becoming routine (Eve feels compelled to say something nice about Mavis’s baby Bella, Peabody gets to dress up and be complimented by Roarke, etc.), although they are reassuring in regard to series continuity.

    As for the mystery, I actually guessed the method early on, although it took me a while to catch on to the responsible party. Fantasy in Death felt current to 2010 in its specific focus on gaming and on the changing technologies we are, even now, seeing around us. I have always wanted the more futuristic aspects of the In Death world to be more directly featured in the books (as they were in the beginning), and Fantasy in Death delivers on this a bit more than quite a few of the recent books have. I enjoyed all that quite well, and even though I caught on pretty quickly to what was going on, it was still fun to watch Eve’s brain sift through various suspects and theories. I’ve always found her most compelling when she’s in “cop mode,” and there’s a great deal of that in this book.

    Where I had real issues was in the way Eve’s moral compass, the aspect of her that has been so powerfully inflexible since the beginning of the series, has, in my opinion, gone inexplicably wonky (well, I think there is an explanation, but I’ll get to that). I still remember the huge battle Eve and Roarke undertook in Purity in Death over whether “justice” as Eve or Roarke sees is should prevail over the limits of the law and Roarke tells her how “black and white” she is. Or when, later in the book, she makes a deal with a dirty cop who took the law into his own hands to bring down his confederates:

    She looked away from him a moment because knowing she’d try for the deal made her sick. The greater good, she told herself. Sometimes justice couldn’t sweep clean.
    Or what about Conspiracy in Death when Eve temporarily loses her badge and is literally inconsolable because her respect for the law is so complete and her dedication to enforcing it so fundamental to her identity. How many times in the series has Eve taken a stand to do things the “right” way, from within the letter of the law? Dirty cops have disgusted her, cops who take the law into their own hands have enraged her, and she’s made many hard choices out of respect for the law. Even her use of Roarke’s unregistered equipment has made her feel conflicted, although that lessened once she was able to officially bring Roarke on board to her investigative team. Any mercy she has shown has been carried out within the letter of the law, even if it was at the very edge. So, a few books ago, when Eve stepped out of that moral absolutism in regard to a suspect it was extremely shocking to me. It seemed a very clear and abrupt change of direction for a character whose identity for more than 20 books has been consistent in regard to her respect for the law.

    Whether that change was a blip has, in my mind at least, been settled by Fantasy in Death. And my belief now is that Eve has changed, and the change is a function of what I see as the new series focus, namely Eve and Roarke, married detectives. Here Roarke, runs a deep security check on his own employees, because of the close professional connection between his company and Bart Minnock’s (yes, of course Roarke is developing new gaming technologies). Eve objects strenuously to this search, not so much because it violates police procedure but because he does so without telling her and being told by her to do it:

    “Any data from your run has to coincide with mine, and officially come from mine whether it clears your whole crew or somebody bobs to the surface.”

    “I know how it works, Lieutenant. I’ll just get back to it then, so you can have what you need and shift it back to your side of the line.” . . .

    She sat brooding into her wine. She didn’t know, exactly, why they were at odds. They were doing basically the same thing for basically the same reason.


    But he should’ve let her do it, or waited until she’d assigned him to do it. And that probably grated. The assign portion. Couldn’t be helped. She was the LT, she was the primary, she gave the damn orders.

    Now she was passing aggravated and heading toward pissed, she realized.

    She’d just been trying to shield him a little. Wasn’t that her job, too? she thought in disgust as she rose. Part of the marriage deal? So why were they fighting when she’d done her job?
    So Roarke’s stepping outside the strict limits of the law is now merely a challenge to Eve’s authority and a frustration of marital responsibilities? While I have always enjoyed the petty struggles Eve and Roarke engage in; I even enjoy the petty aspects of Eve’s character – they help make her human and relatable. But the old Eve, in my opinion, would have been worried that Roarke was himself going to take the law into his own hands, not so much whether she should have assigned the work to Roarke first.

    If, indeed, the series is moving more toward Eve and Roarke as a detective team, Roarke has to become more “official,” and thus his often unorthodox methods have to become more “official,” and I wonder if this is why Eve has taken a turn away from her previous stance of the law above all. It makes a certain sense that this would be the case, and certainly, spending two years married to Roarke has challenged many of Eve’s previously unchallenged biases. However, for me, her fundamental respect of the law and its limits has been the most defining aspect of her character, and I fear that is going to be more and more undermined as the series – and Eve and Roarke’s professional partnership – moves forward.

    As far as the mystery and procedural aspects of Fantasy in Death are concerned, while I can never read the interrogation scenes without counting the Constitutional violations (and yes, I assume that a society that still has some version of Miranda hasn’t substantially altered the Bill of Rights), I found the book moderately enjoyable. Not the best of the series, nor the worst. Somewhere between feeling engaged and entertained and wishing for a bit more fire and novelty in the series, or between a B- and a C+.


    -- REVIEW: All or Nothing by James Buchanan
    --Thursday News Thread: Penguin and Amazon Have Kissed and Made Up
    --REVIEW: Vegas Two Step by Liz Talley
    --REVIEW: Fantasy in Death by JD Robb
    --REVIEW: Seven Secrets of Seduction by Anne Mallory
    --The Dear Author Intro Interview with Mingmei Yip
    --The Reader Responsibility to Author Direction

    Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
    Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
    Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
    Topical Murder and Dated Death