Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Retro Review: Fully Booked





BLOG'S DESCRIPTION: Events with an edge! In New York. Parties, press events, launches, shopping events and more! Trends in the party scene. And lifestyle tips. For those who are not invited. Get invited for free!

MY REVIEW: Bored in New York? No idea what to do? Where to go. . . here's your answer. This blog gives a daily post with a description of the event, the location, the time, and any other relevant information, often including a picture. Frequently web sites are listed and, although you cannot access them from the Kindle, you do have them for later reference. The events are interesting and run the gamut from the Fancy Food Show, a book signing at Williams Sonoma, Food & Wine from North Carolina, gallery openings, and happenings at Whole Foods just to name a few.

  • Wedding Salon and Dylans Candy Bar
  • Pistachio Hot Chocolate
  • Back Stage at New York's Fashion Week - Designer's Andy and Deb
  • Beard on Books

Retro Review: Full Figure Plus





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Full Figure Plus is dedicated to posting news, links, and relevant information for plus size women and big and tall men.

MY REVIEW: This a full-size blog for the millions of full size women out there. The posts are full of shopping information as well tips on dressing and styles. The posts are updated regularly.

There are some links that cannot be accessed on the Kindle but the entries are not dependent on those links and the valuable content is in the posts. One of the more valuable assets of this blog is its references to and reviews of retailers that offer fashions for this audience. It is refreshing to see a positive fashion blog for the full size woman.

  • Full Figured Weekly Question
  • Trendy Plus Size Fashion from Elvi
  • Charming Shoppes introduces one stop shopping for plus sizes
  • 10 steps to reducing your frustration level when shopping
  • Plus Size Maxi Dresses Just In Time For Spring

Hellow faithful readers!

I'd checked into a hotel early today, in order to get caught up on all my blog work including the Kindle Blog Report. But the room was the room from hell, except we didn't find out about it until after we'd brought in all our luggage, and my mom was too tired to want to move - even though I'd do all the heavy lifting.

So anyway, I can finally get on the internet now - 4 hours later - and I just don't have the energy to review any blogs today.

Tomorrow, I will. Promise. (Assuming I get a hotel room with working internet first crack out of the box!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Retro Review: Twig and Thistle





BLOG'S DESCRIPTION: Daily Inspiration For Home & Life

MY REVIEW: This is an updated blog that is more arts and crafts. Each post has at least one idea of how to make an item – a gift, a goodie, something for your home. The recipe or instructions are always included (or a link is) and a picture.

The author is quick to give credit to friends and colleagues for their contributions. She is always upbeat and positive. (She is one of those folks whom you wonder if she ever has a bad day!)

The blog is full of pictures of items she has found, shops and resteraunts she has visited. It is inspirational, but you draw the inspiration from her. I am not an “a&c” person, but this is an excellent blog.

And, let me explain myself here, when I say arts and crafts, I am not talking about simple “let’s glue these 2 sticks together and wrap them in colorful pipe cleaners” crafts. I’m talking about very sophisicated and impressive work that takes talent. And, some of it is clever. A great blog. Upbeat and creative, she shares and gives credit.

  • Alt Love No. 1
  • Love posters by Ty Mattson
  • Say it with jam and Nomination
  • Valentine’s day round up
  • Rita’s living room

Retro Review: Blog Maverick





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Mark Cuban, co-founder of and current owner of the Dallas Mavericks, blogs on all things in the worlds of economy and finance.

MY REVIEW: I find this blog very interesting. Although I don't care for some of Mark Cuban's antics courtside, there's no denying he's an extremely successful owner of a basketball team (the Dallas Mavericks) and it is very educational to read what he has to say on a variety of topics.

The blog is well written, informative, and of course with the insider's touch on the business side of running a sports franchise. This isn't a news journalist reporting from the outside on what it's like to be on the inside, it's a man on the inside, sharing his insight with us.

I wish the entries would be daily, but sometimes he posts on a daily basis, sometimes there's a week in between. He must be busy! ; ) Well, that's why it makes sense to subscribe via Kindle.

  • The NFL, FCC, CBA, Start Up Leagues, Sub-Prime Mortgages And You
  • Seth Godin Should Read His Own Book
  • Why Have So Many Internet People Lost Touch With Reality?
  • Why Google is Bad For the Newspaper Business
  • The Simplicity Test: A Simple Policy Guide For Job Growth

Monday, September 27, 2010

RetroReview: Wendy Knits





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Running commentary on knitting with advice, free patterns, and Lucy the WonderCat.

MY REVIEW: A blog that follows a knitter and her cat Lucy through their daily life. She mentions friends, interviews a peer who has recently published a book, talks about projects she is working on, and new products she has found. It is a well written blog that stays on track with her life around knitting with just enough of her personal life to keep it interesting. (It is a great resource.)

If I were a knitter, I would be a reader, but alas I lack this talent. The author posts frequently, almost every day, and has been doing so since 2002.

  • Busy Day
  • Happy Birthday Lucy
  • An Interview with Crazy Aunt Pearl
  • What Today has been Like
  • Let it Snow

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

Retro Review: Sarah and the Goon Squad


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Sarah and the Goon Squad


BLOG DESCRIPTION: twins, parenting, humor

MY REVIEW: Ok, here is a mom with twin 5-year-olds. Now, you have to understand that this winter has been a B*&^% for those living in DC which is where she resides. They have had snow upon snow upon snow. I cannot imagine continually being housebound with 5 year old twins, but Sarah has done it and lived to blog about it.

The author is a good writer with a dry wit. She stays on course - focused on what is going on with her life. I especially like her comment about a rumor that there was a run on Spam at Costco causing her to question if it were a snow storm or a nuclear holocaust. She posts frequently with pictures. Great blog.

  • An incomplete list of things I do not understand
  • Again
  • Reading teacher of the year, right here
  • Snowpocalypse now
  • Beware: The winter storm cometh
Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal
and also, Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Retro Review: Talking Films





BLOG'S DESCRIPTION: The site talks about movies from all across the world.

MY REVIEW: The author is an Indian, Prem Shashi. His writing reflects the fact that English is not his first language. It’s very, very good…very verbose, and with just occasionally the incorrect – but closely matching – word. Occasionally some missing punctuation – but nothing too distracting.

For example:

Enda Walsh is critically known for his work on the film Hunger. He is right now in line to write a screenplay based on the life of Nazi extermination camp commander Franz Stangl, according to the Australian Press.

Stangl was a senior assault leader for Hitler’s SS and a commander of two Nazi extermination camps who was infamous for his quick rise to power, ruthless leadership and consequent alcoholism.
(And just to be clear – “Enda Walsh is critically known for his work on the film Hunger,” would be better as “Enda Walk is known for his work on the critically successful film Hunger,” (critically in this context meaning “the critics”).

And “and consequent alcoholism” – I’m pretty sure he means “subsequent alcoholism.”

Nevertheless, this slight problem with the language is a minor detail. The author is clearly very knowledgeable on films and shares lots of good info. The actual site,, also includes videos of trailers, but if you don’t have time to check the site daily, having the info delivered to you on Kindle makes sense.


  • Hunger co-writer Enda Walsh on Nazi film
  • Bigelow gets a Miraculous Project next
  • Tom Hanks is all set to remake Summer Hours
  • Gwyneth Paltwo infects Contagion
  • Trailer watch: Zoe Kazan explodes on screen

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Musings of Wired Pig (technology, law and order - misc)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Musings of Wired Pig, by Wired Pig


BLOG DESCRIPTION: The personal and eclectic blog of Wired Pig, a retired cop and technophile residing in the Pacific North West.

MY REVIEW: An interesting blog. No real theme...the author is a retired police officer but he doesn't really discuss law and order. Most of his stuff seems to be about computer technology.

The caveat is that there's lots of videos, and links, so give it a try with your two-week free subscription, to see if its something that interests you.
Sample post
BEAVERTON, Ore. — The City of Beaverton has expanded the scope of a celebration that started out as a party for Mexico’s Independence Day.

The city on Friday announced they were broadening the festival to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month for the “Year of the Bicentennial” in the Americas as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico all marking 200 years of independence over the month.

It was scheduled for September 16 at 6 p.m. at Beaverton’s City Park.

Earlier this week, controversy erupted when radio commentator Lars Larson interviewed Beaverton City Commissioner Betty Bode to ask why the city was officially celebrating Mexican Independence Day, but had no official celebration for American Independence Day.

According to the U.S. Census, Beaverton is the most diverse city in the state. Twenty percent is “non-white,” 16 percent is classified as Hispanic. Larson argued that fact did not necessarily mean of Mexican descent.

A request for the event was taken from the Mexican consulate, Bode said. Bode said the aim of the celebration was to allow people of Mexican heritage into closer ties with the community at large.

Beaverton’s Mayor Denny Doyle was set to speak at the event, along with performances by a Mexican folk ballet, maricachi bands and food. The cost to put on the event was $6,000 The festival is free to attend.

But critics call it ridiculous, when the city doesn’t even have a taxpayer-funded Fourth of July Celebration.

--Talk like a pirate day
--Variations on a photo
--iOS 4.1 Jailbereak Inevitable - Update
--Flap Over Beaverton Mexican Celebration

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Securities Docket (finance)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Securities Docket, by Bruce Carton


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Securities Docket, the Global Securities Litigation and Enforcement Report, is the industry’s most comprehensive and timely source of news, commentary and data. Continuously updated throughout the day, Securities Docket is the only publication that delivers important news and developments concerning securities class actions, enforcement and white-collar matters as they occur – not days or weeks later. Lawyers, institutional investors, executives, accountants, consultants and professionals throughout the securities litigation industry rely on Securities Docket as their “one-stop” way to quickly and easily stay informed.

MY REVIEW: This is one of those blogs that I'm not really qualified to review, in one sense. This blog is for people who have millions of bucks to play with. And of course, it's about litigation - so only lawyers will really be able to benefit from this. On the other hand, it is pretty interesting to read the entries, to see how incestuous this litigation industry is...people go from one firm to another to another, and sometimes you think that the money they're talking about is play money - it certainly seems to be.

And it's also interesting to see what kinds of things are being litigated - if you invest major money in stocks, I think you'll find this blog of interest.

The blog is based out of England, but it does cover world-wide litigation, so US folks will be interested in it.

The only caveat is that you might find it better to go straight to the website. The blog does use links a lot. They'll give a few paragraphs saying some litigator has joined this firm or that firm, and then provide a link to the press release. Weekend news is strictly links to the web.

Nevertheless, check it out with your two week free subscription option, to see what you think.

--William Freeman Joins Jones Day in Silicon Valley
--Securities litigator joins Jones Day from Cooley.
--Paul Enzinna Joins Brown Rudnick in Washington, DC
--White-collar litigator joins Brown Rudnick from Baker Botts.
--Lisa Noller Joins Foley & Lardner in Chicago


Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Retro Review: Boy Genius Report

REVIEWED BY: Shannon Douglas




BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Boy Genius Report was founded by the The Boy Genius, one of the most popular gadget personalities on the net today. Under an assumed identity, he started out by contributing exclusive scoops for the BlackBerry 8100 (Pearl), BlackBerry 8800, Motorola.

MY REVIEW: Although the ABOUT US page really didn't tell us much about the blog and its content, the post are very informative. Navigation was easy and the articles are very detailed and easy to understand (especially for us non-tech people).

There are some great articles on Ipods, Ipads, Video Gaming Systems and phones, but seems to be limited to these categories - so it is great for those who are in the market for these specific items, but we thought the range of technical topics could be expanded to include many other products.

  • New LinkedIn Connector brings your professional network into your Outlook inbox
  • 60,000 Android devices being shipped each day
  • Sonos Multi-room Music System Review: S5, ZoneBridge, Controller 200
  • WiMAX growth in the US lags, worldwide growth explodes
  • Firefox Mobile for Android to debut in late 2010, future Windows Mobile version uncertain

RetroReview: In Cold Blog





BLOG DESCRIPTION: A true crime blog authored by the leading voices in the genre.

OUR REVIEW: In Cold Blog is a fascinating and invaluable blog for those people interested in true crime. Crime – and law enforcement, is covered in all its facets here. There’s a long essay on the art of writing a traffic ticket, for example. According to the author, small towns who write traffic tickets don’t actually make much money on the deal, as people who get stopped tend to believe, and a stop is always problematical for the police officer, who never knows what kind of driver he’s going to get.

Then there’s an article on a website that promotes guys having sex with unconscious women (I can see CSI doing a show on that), and another one on the hazards of Sexting – where teenage girls send nude photos of themselves to their boyfriends, who then turn around and distribute them to everyone else, resulting in humiliation for the girl – well stupid is as stupid does, there…

Highly recommended for the true crime aficionado, and those interested in the intricacies of law enforcement.

  • More than just a ticket, by Joe McKinney
  • The Devil’s Walk, an excerpt from “Mr. New Orleans” by Matthew Randazzo V , by Michelle McKee.
  • Death be not swift: Oldest condemned killer dies, but, by Ron Frascelli
  • Epiphanic Goth: Preview of Shutter Island, by Michelle McKee
  • When Fantasies Can Be Criminal (post not dafe for work), by Star Labranche

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sci Fi Freak (science fiction, arts and entertainment)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with Reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Sci Fi Freak Blog, by Darren Humphries

WEB ADDRESS: (Blog) (Actual website)

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Random thoughts on the big and small screen universe of science fiction.

MY REVIEW: I love the Sci Fi Freak website. There are reviews of dozens of SF TV shows and movies - including British ones that we across the pond have never seen, and its fun to read about what we're missing, and there's also lots of review of movies. [The only area where they fall down is the BBC Radio SF dramas - like Simon Bovey's work - no mention of them anywhere that I could see.)

So you must visit the website.

The blog is a different story. As you see from the list below, there have been 20 posts total for the entire year of 2010. For a blog that costs $1.99, that doesn't quite cut it. However, it has only just been offered for the Kindle, so hopefully now they'll start updating it at least once a week, if not twice or more.

Website - highly recommended. Blog - recommended with reservations.

September (5)
High Def Damages Classic Sci Fi?
Sci Fi Franchise Hell
The Three Ages Of The Lord Of The Rings
Kevin McCarthy Dies
► August (5)
F - New British horror gets premier at Frightfest
Sci Fi Totty - A Genre's Shame
Style Over Substance?
Shyamalan-bashing to become Olympic Sport?
AVATAR back for more of your money
► March (2)
TRANSFORMERS storm the Razzies
And the Winner Isn't....Avatar
► February (5)
BAFTA gets it right over AVATAR
What's in a name?
2010 Razzies for Sci Fi - now that's more like it
Oscar Nominations for Sci Fi Movies - what's up wi...
▼ January (3)

Sample post
DOCTOR WHO hates my dad

Much has been made of the homosexual agenda that some people have suggested runs under the reinvention of the universe's favourite Time Lord under Russell T Davies, but there is a more insidious plot going on here - to undermine fathers. Call Fathers for Justice and have red powder thrown at the show's creators.

The evidence?

Rose's dad is a loser and a coward and, though he saves her in the end it's only after he's been shown time and again to let her down (see Father's Day)

'Are you my mummy?' asks the Empty Child, but he isn't asking for his daddy and why? Because the blighter's gone and done a runner.

The Idiot's Lantern features an abusive father, who is so bad he has to be sent packing in the end.

And I don't know why we have to 'Fear Her' in the episode of that name because it's the (again absent) father who turns out to be a monster to be feared.

Where is Donna's father? We see her mum and her Grandad, but her father? Nope, not a sign. Clearly another absentee pater.

Then there's 'The Doctor's Daughter' in which the Doctor gets a surrogate child and immediately disowns her and won't have anything to do with her. Good parenting image that one.

'The Next Doctor', well he just manages to forget that he has a son that needs rescuing. That's the kind of thing that slips the minds of all dads at one time of crisis or another.

But it's not just restricted to the main series either. In THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES, Sarah is bringing up Luke without a dad (admittedly through a technicality) and Clyde's father is shown to be a right selfish git who is also absent. Maria and Rani both have non-absent fathers, but they are shown to be a bit rubbish and pompous.

And Captain Jack Harkness, what kind of a Dad is he, going around killing his own grandson in CHILDREN OF EARTH.

So, the next time that you want to go on about supposed gay subtexts in DOCTOR WHO spare a thought to the real victims of this show - fathers.

--High Def Damages Classic Sci Fi?
--Sci Fi Franchise Hell
--The Sci Fi Freak's Guide to the Televisual Galaxy
--The Three Ages of the Lord of the Rings

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Retro Review: Vanity Plates



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Vanity Plates: Creepiness In 8 Characters Or Less


BLOG DESCRIPTION: We are a team (Mr. & Ms. HorribleLicensePlates) looking to find the most ridiculous license plates out there, because well, we think they are really annoying, and sometimes, quite humorous. Ever want to know the meaning behind a vanity plate? Want your submission interpreted? Looking for bizzare ideas for your own? You've come to the right place. We don't have road-rage, we have plate-rage. This blog is our way of venting. Thanks for stopping by.

MY REVIEW: I live in an area with more than its fair share of vanity license plates, and I had often thought of starting a blog or website where I would share them with the world. But, I never got a Round Tuit and now I won’t have to, because Mrs and Mrs Horrible License Plates have beat me to it.

I must say I think the name is unnecessarily pejorative, some of these plates are quite amusing or show ingenuity or something, only a small percentage of them are creepy!

This is a very fun blog, and I recommend it highly. If you’re looking for a blog a day entry that can get you smiling, no need for those “joke a day” sites that take time to read and more often than not seem to be aimed only at the male of the species. Vanity Plates can put a smile on your face in half the time.

  • TRTLPWR – (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

O-S-S-I-A (serial fiction / science fantasy)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: O-S-S-I-A, by Kayleigh Ayn Bohémier


BLOG DESCRIPTION: In 1918 Standard Count, the lead singer of Tapestry, Eràsis, jumped to her death at the Great Falls. One day later, hackers destroyed most biographical data. All that remains is her music, along with several archived interviews.

Amkzí, a canyon woman claiming to be Eràsis, synthesized the remaining information. Her narrative expands the well-known biographical facts into a story of family intrigue and political assassination that climaxed that summer, along with the permanent depression medication that drove Eràsis to an early death.

MY REVIEW: Reading this blog reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, as well as others of course - a created world with a new language that you have to learn if you are to enjoy it to its fullest.

Unfortunately, the Kindle does not archive the complete blog. So to get the full effect, you need to visit the blog webpage itself, read it there unti you are caught up, and then continue reading via the blog, which is delivered to your Kindle every Tuesday.

A few paragraphs from pg 38 of folio 2
Folio Two, Page Thirty-Eight (svegra mos bietkron tal-kot)
When we came down from the high several hours later, my fingers were raw from playing. Sukua braced his own wrists with wooden splints.

“Where did you learn to play like that?” I looked up at him from where I sat, thinking about how badly I needed to soak my hands in ice water. “I thought I was the only one.”

“There isn’t much to do in this house,” he muttered. “Your kind out there is just jealous of us because we have the Sanctuary.”

I looked down and tried to hide the shame in my face. For the past few hours, I had not considered the delicate position I found myself in. Sitting within these walls tainted me with the same stain that made other people shudder away from their servants at the market. If anyone saw me leave — if anyone had seen me enter — they would run right to Nikis and tell them. The family’s reputation would burst like a balloon.

Actions have consequences. To purge this sin against family meant something far greater than forcing me to bake bread — barring me from entering the household shrines, or even the unspeakable. I raised my hands to my face and tried to think my way out.

Nothing came. In a hoarse whisper, I asked, “Does Yilrega forgive unconditionally?”

“Yes,” Akarsi said without hesitation. “He forgives everything. You need to sin to come to Yilrega — against yourself, against others. He offers the forgiveness of finally knowing who you are, your place in the world. First, he will cut you open. He will rip sinew from bone and refashion you again in the image of the Gods, and you will be blessed — whole and complete, free from the poison that makes your soul rot from the inside out.”

Sukua stared at me wordlessly.

A new chapter posted every Tuesday

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, September 24, 2010

RetroReviews: Hawaii Vacation Blog





BLOG DESCRIPTION: An adventure blog to guide you to all the hotspots on the islands of Hawaii. Hop onboard and follow the tracks of the Trailblazer Travel Book authors.

OUR REVIEW: Ah, how I’d love to be in Hawaii right now. It’s not in the cards however, so the Hawaii Vacation Blog is a nice substitute. It’s written by people who actually live in and have traveled throughout all the Hawaiian islands. (Just as a point of interest, the Big Island of Hawaii is not actually the one people think about when they think of Hawaii, that’d be Oahu, on which is located Honolulu. Just in case you don't know that!)

  • Staying on Oahu
  • Guide Me (uninformative title for an entry about the Big Island
  • The Once and Present Place to Be – Mauna Lani Resort
  • Lyon Arboretum – it’s grrreeat!
  • Some enchanted evening article on the Fairmont Orchid Hotel

Retro Reviews: Tales of an Amputee Mommy



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Tales of an Amputee Mommy


BLOG'S DESCRIPTION: I am a 35 year old below the knee amputee. I am also the Mommy to an extremely active 3 year old little boy. I have learned volumes since my amputation five years ago. Being a parent with a disability can be isolating for both parent and child. I am hoping to share my experiences through humor so that other disabled parents know that they are not alone.

OUR REVIEW: Tales of an Amputee Mommy is a very good blog, and an inspirational one as well. Its author, Peggy, is 35 years old. Eight years ago, she was involved in an accident that crushed her left foot. After a year or so of constant and excruciating pain, she decided to have her foot amputated. She is now fitted with a prosthetic device, and she and her husband have a three year old son.

Here’s some info from her website about the trauma of amputation:
I don't want to simplify the work necessary to recover emotionally from an amputation. It was not an easy journey. My surgeon recognized the depression and body issues and set up counseling sessions with a specialist in the field. Unfortunately, the insurance company denied the request stating that the amputation was "elective" and that I, therefore, shouldn't have emotional issues.

I was forced to maneuver through the transformation without expert guidance. I struggled with my identity as an amputee, and as an amputee woman. It took years before I could look in a full length mirror and not tear up. Although I believe I have worked through the pain and the issues, I still have bouts of "the amputation blues."

Peggy speaks of her life with a prosthetic leg, of her joy in taking care of her son, and the joy she and her husband have together, and the joy of family. Her stories will warm your heart every day (much more so than a “joke a day” would ever do.)


Confessions of a Cashier (humor)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: I'm just an innocent cashier stuck in a world of irritatingly annoying people I like to call Customers. I started working in the customer service industry when I was around 15 years old. Yes, that's when I was old enough to help out with the family business. Since then, I've been called names, yelled at, threatened, flirted with, and generally disregarded as a member of the human race. I'm a cashier, and this is my revenge.

MY REVIEW: I really enjoyed this blog... an interesting insight into human nature. Since I've worked as a cashier at McDonalds and at a B&N, I know exactly where she's coming from. (Her language can be a bit ripe at times, so be aware of that.)

Read these posts - if you see yourself, correct your behavior. ; )

--I'm Sorry, We're Closing
--Where Did You Wipe That?
--Go Find Your Own Directions
--Seeing Customers Outside of the Store
--Do You Have 23 Cents?
--Come On Now, Are You Serious?
--Another Drive-Off? Really?
--Credit Card Reader Comes Back to Haunt Me
--Wow, You're Such a Good Mother
--Don't Leave the Pump Unattended
--Labor Day Weekend
--I'll Take Your Coins
--Not in the Mood Today

_______________________Check out the following blogs:Seaborn: Oceanography BlogStar Trek Report: Space SciencesVolcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure HuntersRush Limbaugh Report

Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews (book reviews, author interviews)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: The written word is something that you never grow out of. It entertains, educates, and shocks. It can cultivate previously unknown senses, and it carries the ability to change the way in which we engage our world.
From dystopian fiction to murder mysteries to chick lit, this page is dedicated to the words and sentences that shape our character and divert us from the mundane.

MY REVIEW: I enjoyed this blog. It's excellently designed. It's also brand new, and is still building its archive of reviews. She reviews:
General Fiction
Paranormal Romance
Picture Books
Science Fiction
Women's Fiction
It's a new blog - 7 posts in September, 4 in August.

But this is very promising, so check it out.

Sample post:
Author Interview: Helen Smith
Today, I have the pleasure of posting an interview with Helen Smith, author of Alison Wonderland, Being Light, The Miracle Inspector, and assorted plays and other works.

I was digging through your blog, and I have to say, you're quite the multitasker! Poetry, novels, plays . . . What frame of mind are you in when you're writing? Does it vary by genre? Any specific rituals to get into the mood?

When I’m at the planning stage I generally feel quite cross – as if I have set myself an impossible task that I will never complete. When I’m writing and putting down a couple of pages a day, I feel joyful – as if it’s all flowing from somewhere and it will be brilliant if I can just keep going. When I’m editing, I feel serene; the hard work has been done and I’m just tinkering with the text to improve it.

I find it easier to write prose than to write drama. There’s so much you can’t do in a script: you need to rely on the actors to convey the internal life of their characters, the director to set the pace – and create a sense of place - and the designer to create the mood and atmosphere (among all the other things they’re supposed to be doing). I love it that I can jump around in place and time in a novel if I want to - and it’s all done without budget constraints.

I don’t have any rituals.

It sounds like a taxing experience! Let's focus on something positive, then: what is your favorite part of the publishing process, and why?

Doing the deal/signing the contract. There’s nothing so exciting as getting a call from my agent to say, ‘I hope you’ve got some champagne on ice.’ Actually I think she only said that to me once, when she sold my first novel. I did have some champagne chilling, as it happened. When someone says ‘yes’, you feel that nothing can go wrong now – the hard work has been done and the rest of the process is out of your hands.

Good planning on your part with that champagne. I'm certain that it wasn't always smooth sailing, though. What is the hardest lesson that you've learned through your experience as a writer?

I learned that the hard work is not over once you sign the contract. If you want your books to sell you need to get out there and help to sell them.

Fair enough. Speaking of hard work, what is your greatest literary fear (e.g. pedestrian writing, stilted dialogue, inconsistent characters, etc.)? How do you overcome it?

I don’t want to bore the reader. I cut a lot in the final edit.

Well, you certainly haven't been boring them! What about your own entertainment? One always wonders what sorts of books are sitting on an author's shelf . . . What do you read in your free time? Does it have any effect upon your writing?

I read literary fiction, mostly – and a few biographies and autobiographies. If they’re brilliant they tend to make me feel slightly despondent about my own work. But I love reading so much that I get over it.

I don’t read anything when I’m at the ‘writing’ stage of my work, for fear that the author’s voice would influence mine. I’m too busy anyway, when it’s all going well – I want my head to be filled with whatever I’m working on, rather than puzzling over someone else’s novel.

True. While we're on the subject of writing, let's take a look at Alison Wonderland. I have to ask: what scene/line is your favorite, and which character(s) do you best identify with?

There’s a little bit of me in all the characters. I was developing a TV series based on the novel for the BBC (it hasn’t gone into production yet, the development process has stalled, as it so often does with these projects) and one of the producers kept calling me ‘Alison’. But she’s not much like me, really – she’s much grumpier and has very little insight into her own feelings. I’m probably more like Mrs Fitzgerald, the boss of the all-female detective agency Alison works for. She’s outwardly calm and in control, but she’s troubled by strange thoughts.

I like the scene where Alison and her best friend Taron are waiting in the car at the seaside, at the end of a strange and at times unsettling trip to Weymouth. It’s a turning point in the book and what happens at the beach will change Alison’s life, though she doesn’t yet know it. That’s the scene depicted on the front cover of the latest edition of the book – the designer came up with it after reading the book, so I suppose it was a memorable scene for him too.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the BBC makes of your series. And now, for something completely random: If you could be any character from any novel for a day, who would it be, and why?

Quite often I read books with antiheroes but I’d like to be a kind of superhero – a woman, of course - and be able to fly and save the world. Since I can’t think of anyone like that in any of the novels I have read (perhaps I should write one), I’ll go for Miss Marple. I loved Agatha Christie when I was younger and I have read most of her books. I always preferred Miss Marple to Poirot. I would like to be a nosy, wise old lady and solve mysteries and knit. I’m already quite good at knitting so I’d slip into the role fairly easily. In fact, I think I would like it so much I might be reluctant to give it up after only one day.

I can't say I blame you. Well, I suppose that's it. Thanks for answering my questions today.

Thanks for tailoring them . . . and for looking through my blog, too.

--Author Interview: Helen Smith
--Stay Within the Lines
--Rock Star's Rainbow (Kevin Glavin)
--The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade (Debora...
--Choose Your Own Romance (Christina Crooks)
--Minor Delay
--The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender...
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, September 23, 2010

RetroReview: The Hermitage





BLOG DESCRIPTION: This website chronicles the building of my home, The Hermitage. There’s tons of information here, including:
•resources for those who are interested in building their own homes.
•weather at The Hermitage and surrounding area
•lots of photos
•my milestones in construction of this wonderful place
•and the day by day ramblings in my blog.

MY REVIEW: The Hermit lives completely off the grid – his home is solar powered, and the resources include solar powered ones. (Once the concrete slab for his home was poured, all electricity to power tools has been generated by the sun). For anyone interested in solar power or alternative energy and how it can apply to your lives, you’ll enjoy this blog.

•Fort Garland for Sweethearts: Fort Garland is a popular pizza place in the area, having a Valentine’s Day special
•Foggy Morning: A photo and commentary on a foggy day
•Local food: a discussion of San Luis Valley – the “breadbasket of Colorado” – and how stores in the area ship produce from other locations.
•Building materials: He gives a plug to Jim’s Post Commissary, where he purchases all the basics for building his home and the La Jara Trading Post – a huge hardware store.

Retro Review: Deal Book





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Daily news on mergers & acquisitions, I.P.O.'s, venture capital and more. Edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin

MY REVIEW: An excellent blog for investors and those interested in the financial future of the country... told from the New York Times' point of view!

Some sample paragraphs
The long-awaited opinion in the Selectica case came out this week from Delaware Chancery Court. Vice Chancellor John W. Noble, in the 71-page opinion, validated the Selectica board’s decision to adopt a net operating loss poison pill and permit this pill to be set off after Versata intentionally crossed the pill’s threshold.

The facts of the case are frankly odd. They arose out of Versata’s acquisition of 5.2 percent of Selectica and Versata’s accompanying offer to acquire Selectica. (Both companies produce business software.) In response, Selectica adopted a low-threshold net operating loss poison pill that would be triggered when someone acquired 4.99 percent of its stock, rather than the more typical 15 percent trigger. Versata was exempted from this threshold to the extent that it did not subsequently acquire Selectica shares

-GE Disputes Incident in Paulson’s Book
-Citi Still Has Competive Pay, CFO Says
-Philip Morris to Buy Back $12 Billion in Shares
-Another View: Why Privacy Matters to the Swiss
-AIG Lines Up Underwriters for AIA Offering

Retro Review: Crooks and Liars





BLOG DESCRIPTION: This "Coulter-free Zone" blog is founded by John Amato and features political and other current events commentary by liberals and progressives for liberals and progressives. It frequently references The Daily Show, Hardball, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann

MY REVIEW: The blog may be intended for liberals and progressives but I as a Republican find it interesting as well. Indeed, anyone who is at all interested in the political process (and we all need to be, these days) will find it instructive to read blogs on both sides of the aisle – those from liberals and progressives aka Democrats, and those from Republicans, whom Amato apparently considers to be “crooks and liars.” (Truth be told, all politicians of either party are “crooks and liars” – that’s what’s so depressing about what should be the greatest government in the world… - but we as people are to blame for allowing these crooks and liars to remain in power.)

So, regardless of your political affiliation, this is a good blog to read. It cost $1.99 a month rather than 99 cents of most blogs.

-Sen. Kyl: Unemployment Benefits A 'Job Disencentive'
-Utah legislator who wants to criminalize miscarriages is a Glenn Beck '912er' and Tea Party fan
-Dana Bash: It Could Take a Couple of Weeks for Democrats to Work Around Bunning's Obstruction
-McCain: I'll Cut Deficits Like Reagan!
-Jim Bunning's hold is also killing "flood insurance"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Retro Review: The Comics Curmudgeon





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Do like the comics? Do you like making fun of the comics? Of course you do! Read the Comics Curmudgeon for all this and more.

MY REVIEW: I heartily recommend The Comics Curmudgeon, if you like to read the daily comics (for whatever reason. I read some of them because they’re so bad they’re good, for example, and that seems to be the reason the Comics Curmudgeon reads them, as well.

Rather than the Comics Cavern, which is – I guess – focused on independent comic books, The Comics Curmudgeon is strictly concentrated with the newspaper comic strip page (strips that you can read online at such locations as

(My own favorites (favorites because they are good, not because they are "so bad they are good!") are Brewster Rockit and Rip Haywire. I wish my own strip, The Lady and the Tiger (about a woman pilot), was represented. Well…perhaps one day.

-Metapost: Attitude adjusting comments of the week! (Mary Worth)
-He’s got legs, and he knows he should hide them (Beetle Bailey and others)
-The Miller Party — and, oh, what a party it will be (Beetle Bailey and others including Judge Parker)
-Frolicmania: Day two (Archie, Mary Worth, Gil Thorp)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Ordinary Life (parenting)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: [This blog] is based around my family and our life. I share experiences from being a mom, eating healthy foods, caring for my kids to working with major companies to review products we would otherwise buy.

MY REVIEW: This is a combination blog/ commercial site. The author reviews various children's products. She also talks about life with her husband and two children.

If you're a parent, you'll find this blog of interest. Lots of good stuff here, both for those who want to save money on kid's stuff, and for those who want to read about other parents raising their kids.

--Thomas And Friends – Zip, Zoom & Logging Adventure™ Giveaway
--A Birthday Wish To My Big Sister
--He Said She Said – Mom & Dad Vlog
--Breastfeeding A Toddler – She Looked At Him Lovingly
--A Dancer Was Born

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Butler Family...Our American Story

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: Our story is one of the many family stories of America. Aren't we still adventurers and explorers, risk takers and seekers? As our lives and individual stories continue to unfold, we play a small part in the history of this nation and the world just as our forefathers did. This story, our story is written every day by each of us as we live our lives, raise our children, solve our difficulties and pursue our version of the American Dream.

MY REVIEW: I enjoyed this blog -- it's always interesting to read the histories of people who lived so long ago, and of people today who are able to track their ancestors back so far.

Geneaologists and people interested in history will enjoy this blog. There is one flaw, months can sometimes go between posts. Nevertheless, it's got some interesting stuff there, so check it out.

--Sacred Harp 332: Sons of Sorrow
--Our Story Is The Story Of America....
--History Came Alive....
--Our Heritage..Their Legacy.....
--Dennis And Lyndell's Story....

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Retro Review: Financial Armageddon

Reviewed by: Ms. Cairo

Recommendation: YES

Amazon Subscriptoin page Financial Armageddon:

Blog description: Insights on debt, derivatives, government guarantees, the retirement system, and the coming economic unraveling

This blog is found in the Business and Investing category. It provides a gloomy view of investing, and it's a must read.

Sample post:
July 21, 2010
'Anyway You Cut It - Sales Just Aren’t Cutting It'
As a long-time market-watcher, I get a kick out of those countless Wall Street "experts" who focus so slavishly on "the number." You know, earnings per share, or EPS: the manipulated, expectations-managed data point that "analysts" view as their raison d'etre.

Even though it's been obvious for years that corporate America, including companies like Apple and IBM, are playing these fools guys (and gals) like a finely-tuned fiddle, the highly-paid Wall Street types still seem totally clueless about what's going on.

During ordinary times, a racket like this is simply a source of amusement; now, though, when it's more important than ever for people to have an accurate read on where things stand, the beat-the-number scam is a pathetically cynical joke.

However, if somebody actually takes the time to look at data that might be a tad more relevant to the decision-making process, they will likely reach the same conclusion as Bloomberg BusinessWeek's Investing Insights blog does in "No Sales Means No Jobs Means No Recovery":

Last week U.K. scientists determined which came first: the chicken or the egg? They claim it was the chicken. But the Wall Street version is which comes first, Sales or Jobs, is still open. Consumers don’t want to spend because they don’t feel comfortable about the future, specifically the economy and their job; companies won’t expand - add to plants, spend on capital expenditure, hire workers (full or part time, even extending hours) until their sales pick up. From the company’s viewpoint, why invest to produce more when you aren’t even selling everything you are making now, especially if their earnings are doing well (not to mention they have more cash on hand then at anytime in history). From the consumer’s side, even those who feel secure with their job are watching their bottom line, and money remains tight (and don’t even look at your retirement holdings or benefits). So how do you break the downward cycle of ‘I won’t spend’ therefore ‘I won’t build’? For starters there were the jump start stimulus programs. But here we are trillions later and no jobs. Maybe it would have been worse, maybe we just need more stimuli or maybe we’re just feeding a junkie. Pick a theory, stand at Broad and Wall and preach it. But whatever we’re doing, wherever we are in the process, it hasn’t worked yet, and Americans aren’t known for their patience. So if we don’t start to see some actual improvements soon the tie goes to the down side, and time is not on our side. I’m not looking for a home run, just someone on base would be nice - something to root for.

The above commentary is mine of course, and not part of my earnings review below, but the two do appear to be blending. Maybe I need to step back and look for bias in my reporting, or maybe a 38% increase in earnings isn’t the whole story.

As of last night we had 24.9% of the Q2 earnings reported. So far, the Q2 2010 earnings results are encouraging at first glance. Based on the issues that have actually reported, earnings are 14.5% ahead of estimates, with 65.8% of the issues beating their estimate. Sales, however, are a different story. While 73.4% of the issues have beaten their sales estimate, the “beat” is only slight, with the overall aggregate sales coming in 4.4% ahead of estimates - far less than the 14.5% for earnings. The earning growth over last year’s Q2 2009 is equally impressive, with earnings 38.4% ahead (excluding Citigroup which had a massive loss last year), but sales are a disappointing 6.7% ahead. Anyway you cut it - sales just aren’t cutting it.

I believe comparisons should focus on quarter-over-quarter results to determine the recovery’s progress, as well as the underlying momentum of the economy. And since I believe jobs are number one, and given that companies are generally in good financial shape with excess cash so they can ride out any short term disruption, I look to sales as a future indicator. On this basis, earnings are running ahead of Q1 2010, but sales are flat, and that’s the problem. It’s great that companies have improving earnings, but those improvements are due to high margins, which were the product of cost cuts - specifically job reductions, the very thing that we need to improve now. Until companies and consumers start to spend more, the job front will not get better, but they won’t spend more until they believe things are getting better. The stimulus programs were suppose to jump start the economy and break the downward cycle by convincing both groups that better times were here. But so far we’re not seeing the sales or the jobs; but earnings are good, at least for now.

Latest posts--Safe, or sorry: Americans investing in municipal bonds. They *used* to be safe, but now more and more cities are in danger of defaulting.
--No Wonder Americans Are Pessimistic: job news isn’t really as good as its been portrayed
--The Next Phase of my Evaluation: Michael Panzer points out that Greenspan, Paulson and Greenspan are not economic experts.
--A Secular Shift: The recession has battered the US economy, but the lobbying industry is humming along in the nation’s capital, even for companies that have shed thousands of jobs in the past year.

Retro Review: Improve Your General Knowledge in Leisure TIme



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: Improve Your General Knowledge in Leisure Time!


BLOG DESCRIPTION: It provides readers with information that people should know as their general knowledge; the knowledge that is well known or must be known by everyone. This blog is to help people establish their common framework in a social context to know general items in various areas of social life, science, business, technology, art, sport, universe, creatures, etc. It presents the information in an easy way to read, memorize (also to improve memory) and self-test. So readers could improve their general knowledge while enjoying their leisure time.

MY REVIEW: Each entry in Improve Your General Knowledge is simply a piece of trivia.

For example:

Jeopardy: The American quiz show featuring trivia in topics such as science, literature, history, music, culture, sports, etc.

Cold Mountain: wounded soldier, Inman, leaves the Civil War and walks home to his sweetheart Ada in Charles Frazier’s book: Cold Mountain.

The Falkland Islands: IN 1842, the British made Stanley the capital of the Falkland Islands of Argentina.

Well, the trivia is interesting, and it can certainly act as a spring board to do further research, should you find one of the trivia pieces is interesting.

I just wish that each piece of trivia would actually give a bit more information. Two paragraphs are better than one!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Retro Review: Cessna Warbirds


MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: History of the 12,000+ Cessnas sold by military air arms worldwide since World War II. Book excerpts. Articles. Artwork. Military Cessna flight manuals.

MY REVIEW: If you go into the archives (on the web), there are some great and informative articles (about 3-5 a month for 2009).

As an aviation enthusiast (my own aviation blog is - You Fly Girl: Women in Aviation), I was looking forward to learning about Cessna Warbirds, from this blog by Walt Shiel. He’s the author of the book, Cessna Warbirds, as well as T-41 Mescalero, Cessna Warbirds Vol. 1, Devil in the North Woods (Novel) and Pilots and Normal People.

Unfortunately, his blog is not updated as frequently as I would wish - although the last update was February 17, 2010, so I've moved him from the inactive file into the active file.

FYI, Shiel has another blog,, entitled View From The Publishing Trenches, about publishing, which makes for interesting reading also.

  • Cessna Built Gliders
  • Tweet, Skymaster, DC-3 News
  • Cessna Bird Dog Woes

Retro Review: My Life a Bit South of Normal





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Every once in awhile I stop and ask myself, "I don't think everyone lives this way." In fact, "I don't think anyone else lives this way." I have an ordinary existence with an insane extraordinary cast of characters. When I think about it, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Yes, folks it's all true, and it could only happen in the south.

MY REVIEW: The author of the blog, who updates it every couple of days, is a 50-year old southerner who lives in the Deep South. I believe this means, South Carolina. (I’m from Minnesota, for all that I currently live in Virginia.) Most regions of the US (or indeed, of any country) have different traditions, menus and so on, as does every generation. (I’ve read about collards in books, for example, but I’ve never felt the need to dine on them. Sufficient to know that in the Deep South they are still a traditional dish!)

If you’re interested in people, you’ll enjoy these entertaining and amusing, and culturally-instructive anecdotes.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jimmy Buffett World

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Jimmy Buffett World, by Josh Martin


BLOG DESCRIPTION: The web's largest resource for Jimmy Buffett news and tour information.

MY REVIEW: If you are a fan of Jimmy Buffett, this is a must have blog. Of course, at the actual website you can participate in the message boards, but if you just want to read the posts, this will be fine.

Check it out.

--Listen to Zac Brown Band’s “Knee Deep” with Buffett
--Nashville Margaritaville Wants Your Parrothead Plates
--Buffett Caption Contest Winner: USMC
--Vote For Your Favorite Caption
--Margaritaville Casino in Atlantic City now “Out of the Picture”

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Tips & Treasures (family finance)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Tips & Treasures , by Kookaburra


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Household and green living tips, online coupon codes, organizational tools, freebies and anything else to help you save time, money, and sanity.

MY REVIEW: This is another one of those blogs where you really need to visit it on the web to take advatage of it, as you have to sign up for things and print coupons from the site. However, what you can do is subscribe to the blog, and read it (it's updated daily) and if you see something that interests you, then take the time to go to the web to check it out.

--Three FREE issues of Seventeen magazine!
--Kraft $5.00 off printable coupon! Hurry
--FREE Tub of Cottonelle Wipes
--Free Kindle Book: The Pawn by Steven James
--New Huggies Enjoy the Ride code - 5 points

Check out the following blogs:
Stupid is as Stupid Does
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Retro Review: Gun Nuts Media





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Gun Nuts Media is one of the premier online sources for information on the shooting sports, new guns, gear, events. We also provide up to date coverage of political issues surrounding the right to keep and bear arms.

MY REVIEW: Gun Nuts Media is a blog that is newly available for subscription by Kindle, but has been around on the web since 2006 (at It’s found in the Sports section (where I found it) and also in News, Politics and Opinion.

The blog is for gun enthusiasts who like to target shoot, in various events, and secondarily about protecting people’s rights to bear arms. They also have a radio program.

The blog entries talk about everything gun related, from the laws about gun ownership to the individuals involved in the sport.

PERSONAL NOTE: I would love to take up target shooting as a hobby... if only ammunition weren’t so expensive! In any event, for those are in to target shooting and collecting guns and so on, this is an excellent blog.

  • Glock Sponsores USPSA Area 6. (2010 pistol shooting championship season, sponsored by the US Practical Shooting Association). Area 6 region includes states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee...
  • Indiana Residents: Contact Your State Senators: news of interest to gun owners who don’t want conceal laws messed with, nor give the government the right to confiscate their guns in the case of a national emergency...
  • FBI purchases AR-15s in .40 S&W (Smith & Wesson). From my buddy at the Firearm Blog; apparently the FBI has decided that hey, pistol caliber carbines are kind of a neat idea.  According to the procurement document, the FBI wants these carbines for training and as option to the 5.56 AR15 rifles that they currently issue.  The caliber makes sense as well, as the FBI’s standard issue firearms for Special Agents is usually a Glock 22 in .40 S&W.  The FBI document actually mentions “easily sourced ammo” as a reason for going with the .40 S&W AR...
  • Revolver Boot Camp: Shooter Julia Golob has sent her S&W 627 V-Comp off to revolver boot camp at Apex Tactical to get slimmed and trimmed down for the upcoming ICORE season...

RetroReview: Amazon Daily





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Commenting on the catchy and trendy, the trivial and tremendous, the Amazon Daily blog highlights the best from the world's largest online retailer. Whether you're interested in the tops in technological toys, the quirkiest gadgets or preeminent foreign films, Amazon Daily offers a plethora of diverse opinions from the editors of From the perfect holiday dinner to the craziest car accessories, Amazon Daily covers's huge catalog of items, gizmos, books and food.

MY REVIEW: This blog is well written, it’s interesting, and its free.

Any flaws? Well, its subjects are on a wide variety of topics. If you are interested only in books, only in music, only in movies, then there will be a lot to wade through. But if your interests are eclectic, you’ll want to read this over your morning coffee.

  • The Book Behind Brad Piit’s Beard. Why is Pitt wearing that weird looking beard. Not because he likes it, thank god (although I suppose he might), it’s for a film he’s making, The Lost City of Z.
  • Neil Gaiman writing an episode of Doctor Who.
  • Ian Brown has won the Taylor Prize for non-fiction for The Boy in the Moon, an account of the life of his disabled son.
  • Gearing up for New York’s Fashion Week, an interview with Herve Leger’s Max Azria.
  • Stile Antico: Media Vita. Review of a vocal ensemble that specializes in Tudor and Renaissance Choral music. Photo, and links to various websites, but all info a reader needs to know is in the entry.
  • Breakfast of champions – a plug for Café du Monde coffee. The writer keeps talking about beignets, French for donuts, I assume (it’s a famous donut shop in New Orleans). Then, comments on other places to eat in BNew Orleans
  • Justice Leage: Crisis on Two Earths amazon exclusive clip. It’s an animated movie, and of course you can’t watch it on the Kindle.
  • Literary Superbowl – commentary on authors from Louisiana and Indiana. A list of several books, each one linked to its appropriate purchase page at Amazon – but not a Kindle page (but then, this blog isn’t written exclusively for Kindle readers).
  • Make Your Own Tortilla ChipsRye rocks my world – for liquor connoisseurs
  • Graphic Novel Friday: Copper by Koru Kibushi, with lots of photos

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Boy Who Knew Too Much: A Child Prodigy (education)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Boy Who Knew Too Much: A Child Prodigy


BLOG DESCRIPTION: This is a blog unlike any other on the net. A father, Valentine Cawley, writes of his well known scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, and family and tells of life as an expat in Asia.

Ainan spoke his first word at a couple of weeks old, crawled at four months, walked at six months, ran at eight months and read his first letter at eight months. At seven years old, he passed O level (the youngest in the world). At 8 years, he went to his first College for Chemistry. The blog takes an insightful look, at the life and world of a unique child prodigy and his family.

Ainan's story was covered on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and in hundreds of other major newspapers around the world.

MY REVIEW: This is a fascinating blog on a fascinating subject - that of child prodigies. Kids who are smarter not only than every other kid in the room, but also smarter than every other adult in the room as well.

How do they deal with life, being thought of as "gifted" by their peers, while to them, they are normal, and everyone else is handicapped. (This was the musing of the author's post for today, and it makes a lot of sense. Surely that is how a "gifted" child must feel - and then, you have to wonder, as they grow up, always being the youngest but smartest person in the room, how do they cope with their experiences, given how the rest of society treats those who are exceptional. (If you're an athlete, you are heaped with praise and can show off your physical skills all you like, if you're a scholar, you're ridiculed, laughed at, and even beaten up for "thinking that you're better than everyone else.")

I found this blog a fascinating read, and I recommend it for everyone who has gifted children, extremely intelligent children, or just children in general.

Sample post
Fintan's deft rejoinders.

Fintan, seven, is, as I have noted, before, a boy who surprises. He has a disarming manner which lulls one into a sense that all is to be as expected - and then he pounces with one of his characteristic unpredictabilities. If an "unpredictability" can be characteristic, of course.

Today, he bested me, twice, in conversation.

I was discussing reading with him. "Reading is the most important skill in life.", I opined, seriously.

"Reading?", he doubted, openly, "Not walking?", he continued, with one of his little smiles that says so much with so little.

He had me there. I imagined then, a life of utter immobility and compared it to a life of illiteracy. He was right: immobility was worse than illiteracy. The former quite deprived one of a rich life - the latter, however, might not affect one, anywhere near as drastically, if one's choices were carefully made.

He had won, without even trying. I just nodded, a little, in acknowledgement of his point.

Later that day I said: "I am going to buy a dog."

Fintan looked at me, his eyes sparkling, with amusement at what was to come. "You don't want to buy a dog, you should rent one."

Again, he had a point, for we are very unlikely to live in Malaysia for the length of a dog's life: what would we do then, when the time came to leave? He had identified the essential problem with my proposal - and proposed his own slightly whimsical solution.

I like the way he challenges my assumptions, points them out to me and punctures them. He does it so casually, as if, perhaps, it were an automatic reflex with him. I think it is, actually. I think he sees the problem with what is said to him, the moment it is said. He sees the cracks in things - the flaw that should be highlighted for a better understanding of the situation. It is a useful way to think, particularly if developed, as he grows up. It should allow him to avoid many a problem and to act, I should hope, with a certain care and wisdom.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy being defeated by my son's ripostes. It makes me smile, to hear him so.

--Gifted or Impaired?
--Fintan's deft rejoinders.
--How long is my blog?
--Publishing my blog on Kindle, Amazon.
--Don't be shy.

Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Metroblogging New Orleans (travel)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: MetroBlogging New Orleans, by Bode Media


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Written from the perspective of people who live, work, and play here every day, Metroblogging New Orleans is one of over forty-five (and growing) blogs in the globe-spanning Metroblogging network. Get comfortable and have a look around if you'd like to know more about New Orleans, and have a peek at the authors who share their New Orleans experiences with you.

MY REVIEW: An interesting blog. Unfortunately, it seems to be updated once a week or once every 10 days only, but then, that's the joy of having a subscription via Kindle, you don't have to worry about checking the blog every day, because it'll be sent to you when it's finally updated.

If you're interested in how the city is holding up 5 years after Katrina, and now how they're doing thanks to the BP oil leak (and let us not forget, as they seem to do, that the US goverment is the one dispersing claims money, not BP) you'll find this an interesting blog.

Sample post:
Five Years After Katrina, Five Lessons Learned
by richard August 29th, 2010 @ 5:45 PM Uncategorized
When things were still in chaos; when the streets of Lakeview and the Lower Ninth were drier but not dry; when all we knew about our city came from fifth-hand reports of neighbors who’d stayed or first-hand reports by journalists who’d just arrived; when no one was in charge, right before everyone was in charge: then they broke the news. And the news was this: things won’t be normal in New Orleans, not for a while. Five years, maybe ten.

“Five years?” some gasped as they shoved soggy remembrances into cars and U-Hauls, rushing to move on with their lives. “Five years?” others shrugged, happy to have something to look forward to, an endpoint, no matter how elusive. The thought of half a decade became a dividing line: the patient and the rooted dug in, while the overwhelmed, the anxious, and the helpless surrendered to the fact that their migration was permanent.

As it turns out, five years hasn’t been enough time for recovery, except in places where it has. In certain parts of the city — some rich, some poor — life resumed its usual pace within a few months. In other areas — some poor, some rich — people still check the mail with crossed fingers, hoping for insurance settlements so they can rebuild what the floodwaters spared. But for a tragedy this broad, this pervasive, this everywhereyoulook, there is no normal, only “normal”. It is the same as before, but different: a life made special because we’ve come through it with scars of varying size and shape.

Some would like to go back, to inhabit that pre-Katrina world that was always a gamble anyway, but most of those people live elsewhere now — theoretically safer places like Atlantadallasnashville. Many others, myself included, refuse to budge. Us, we look to our unofficial patron saint, Lafcadio Hearn, who crafted our unofficial novena 130+ years ago:

Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under a lava flood of taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become only a study for archaeologists. …But it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes, than to own the whole state of Ohio. (1879)

With all due respect to the good people of Ohio, of course.

We have learned so much in these five years, so much that we can share with others affected by calamity, so much that those from other places — Kobe, Istanbul, Amsterdam — once tried to share with us, only we couldn’t hear them. We can’t be guaranteed that anyone will listen to us either, but we’re obligated to write.

And so: some not-so-simple rules for surviving disaster.


This is the easy one. Anyone can see superficial havoc after it’s been wreaked by earth, wind, air, or fire. Anyone can grasp the complicated baby steps of rebuilding infrastructure. Roads, homes, doorways: all means of communication are fragile, and there’s no guarantee that you and your neighbors will be at the top of the government’s priority list. Your electricity and drinking water could be restored in three weeks or maybe four, but don’t bank on it.

And it gets worse: the warrens of bureaucracy. Permits, grants, insurance claims, and lawsuits all take time and paperwork. You will be told five different things by six different people. There will be a surge of information and a void of it, all at once. If you’ve ever been to the DMV, you’ve seen the tip of the iceberg (which is itself another potent symbol of things gone terribly, terribly wrong).

Your response: patience and more patience. And watch what you eat. Lots of us still carry ten extra pounds thanks to stress-snacking.


After the obvious problems come things you hadn’t expected. Depending on the tragedy, you may have already lost loved ones. But beyond that — yes, there is a beyond that — you will lose even more. You will lose friends and family who cannot be there, cannot walk the same streets, the same hallways, the same gardens they did before, because they don’t have the time, will, energy, or means. They will leave, and you will have to navigate a new, unfamiliar landscape with fewer shoulders at arm’s reach.

As they shuffle off, other tragedies will befall you. Bills, unseen physical damage, crime: the world will be a closet of boogeymen, and some will escape, even in broad daylight.

Your response: grief and slow acceptance. And a lot more patience.


There will be many, many people vying for a turn at the podium. Far more will stand behind them, one eye on their fearless leader, the other checking the TV monitor to gauge how much screen real estate they’re getting. There will be a lot of talk and some action.

There are exceptions to this rule, but they aren’t common. Rudolph Guiliani comes to mind. He wasn’t perfect, but he did what leaders must do, what they are meant to do, especially in the face of disaster: he was compelling. He was a figurehead. He was a champion, around which the people of New York — the nation, the world — rallied. Maybe the extraordinary circumstances of September 11, 2001 made Mr. Guiliani stand out, excel. But then, every disaster is extraordinary to the people who live through it.

Your response: organize, communicate with neighbors, and make yourself be heard. Shout, but shout in chorus.


Some — mostly those living far away, mostly those who go to sleep with full stomachs in warm beds, who have never known another life — some of those people will attack you. They will accuse you of expecting handouts and of expecting others to come to your rescue. They will ridicule you for being lazy, for not being prepared, for playing with fire. This is especially true in America, where Calvin and his work ethic still work hard, except on the Sabbath.

They will blame the victim: “You live on a fault line, what did you expect?” Which is, in fact, the same as asking, “Your skirt was too short, what did you expect?” But humans aren’t always prudent or rational, and that’s partly what makes us human. What’s more, and what these people forget, is that no place is truly safe apart from a presidential army bunker. And would even the president want to live there?

There will also be interlopers, people who come to help. Most will have their heart in exactly the right spot, but some will tell you that you’ve been doing it wrong all along and their way is better. Which is one letter away from bitter.

Your response: hold your head high, ignore the critics as long as you can. Accept help from those who offer it. Listen to those who offer advice. Then put your head down and do the work you have to do.


Or maybe don’t “expect”. But don’t be surprised when it happens. Those next door will step up to the plate and organize. Those across the country will offer comfort and support. They will fill the gap left by the boutonniered politicians at the podium and mend the wounds caused by detractors.

Some of you may not believe me. And that’s fine, be pessimistic if you like. But here’s the thing, the Very Big Thing: humans are social, and when there’s a rip in the social fabric, we tend to get out the needle and thread. Laugh all you want at that terrible metaphor, but what’s underneath it is true.

Your response: live up to your end of the bargain.

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