Review: Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons by Hal Higdon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This guide in informative and comprehensive. Hal Higdon has run over 100 marathons and has impeccable credentials. He shares his general knowledge of marathoning and provides advice in a no-nonsense kind of way.

This is a must read for anyone training for their first marathon.

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Review: Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person’s Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Half-Marathon or Marathon

Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person's Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Half-Marathon or Marathon
Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person’s Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Half-Marathon or Marathon by John Bingham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Bingham’s books are an incredible resource for runners. In this book John teams with Jenny Hadfield to provide expert advice on all aspects of running.

This book is ideal for beginners and advanced runners and comes highly recommended.

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Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As far as dystopian novels go this one ranks in the lower quadrant. For me, it never reached the heights of The Hunger Games or The City of Embers.

I was hooked in the beginning and reading like mad, but then, no questions were being answered, the plot quickly lost momentum and the characters became flat and unbelievable to the point where sometimes I could not distinguish who was speaking. I quickly lost interest.

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Review: Uncle Bubba’s Chicken Wing Fling

Uncle Bubba's Chicken Wing Fling
Uncle Bubba’s Chicken Wing Fling by Mitchel Whitington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just LOVE this book! It’s really two books in one: the stories about Uncle Bubba’s quest to open a wings restaurant and Uncle Bubba’s wings recipes.

Being from a small town in Texas I can relate to Cut Plug, Texas. In fact, I think we have a few Skeeters, Immas and some of the others in my neck of the woods!

This book will make you laugh out loud and touches your heart.

It’s well written and I highly recommend it.

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Review: Psychic Warrior: The True Story of America’s Foremost Psychic Spy and the Cover-Up of the CIA’s Top-Secret Stargate Program

Psychic Warrior: The True Story of America's Foremost Psychic Spy and the Cover-Up of the CIA's Top-Secret Stargate Program
Psychic Warrior: The True Story of America’s Foremost Psychic Spy and the Cover-Up of the CIA’s Top-Secret Stargate Program by David Morehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading Psychic Warrior when I found it on a bookcase in my house. I read the back blurb and thought it was interesting enough to start reading right then. I was hooked from the first paragraph. It’s gripping in places (I couldn’t put the book down) and slow at others but overall a very good read.

I was really interested in the main character, David Morehouse, and found his experiences and transformation interesting.

Remote viewing as a form of espionage is not new and it’s interesting and scary the lengths the government will go to protect their secrets.

The book is not a ‘how-to’ on remote viewing, instead it is about the struggles of a career military man, his spirituality and family.

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Laughter

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh. ~ Agnes Repplier

Laughter is one of the best things to bring to a marriage.  Laughter is great medicine.

Many times when Robert and I take a road trip my favorite part is either the drive there or the drive back.  It’s because we end up telling stories and laughing.  I’m not talking about a little chuckle.  I’m talking about all-out, can’t-talk, belly-laughing.  It’s contagious and it feels good.

I love that after 30 years of marriage, we can still laugh like that.  Granted we don’t laugh as often as I’d like, but we still laugh.

It is my sincere hope that we have many, many more years of laughter ahead of us.

As a side note:  Did you know that laughing burns 1.3 calories per minute?  That’s not a lot because taking notes in class burns about the same amount. However, laughing has other benefits such as it helps to lower blood pressure, relieves emotional stress and provides a workout for the diaphragm, abdomen, back and shoulders.

Studies reveal that people who have a strong sense of humor are less likely to experience burnout and depression and they are more likely to enjoy life in general – including their marriage.

So lighten up, laugh more, and stop taking yourself so seriously.

 

Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Ender’s Game is a military science fiction novel written in the late 70s and then rewritten with a bunch of additions in the mid 80s.

It is not a difficult read and I like the way the author delves into the minds of the characters. There’s a lot of propaganda and off-handed comments about women and races but just remember it was originally written in the 70s.

I give the book 5 stars.

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Space Monkeys and the Galactic King

Why is it that the inspiration and urge to write only strikes when I’m frantically trying to meet other deadlines?

I’m almost done with a massive editing job with a set-in-stone deadline when WHAM! the urge to write hits me like a ton of bricks.   Staying motivated requires a lot of willpower on my part.  I haven’t written much of anything since my mother passed away in late April.  Today it is here in full force.  Maybe the urge came from watching Sharknado last night.  I don’t know, but wherever it came from I hope it hangs around for a while. 

Just to bring you up to speed, my latest book-in-progress, Space Monkeys and the Galactic King, is book one of a kids SyFy series depicting four rebellious teenagers who encounter alien beings when their spaceship crash lands on an uncharted planet.  The teens must save Earth from the evil Galactic King and his space monkey army before something terrible happens.  Space Monkeys and the Galactic King is lighthearted but it also tackles some heavy issues such loneliness, jealousy, friendship, overcoming fear of the unknown, challenging personalities, and testing oneself in an alien environment.  

Writing about enigmatic extraterrestrials is not easy.  Creating a world where the impossible is possible with engaging characters and a compelling plot can be daunting.  Syfy writers must be able to draw readers into a strange but believable world where they can experience extraordinary events that are impossible in real life.  

I think there is a real need for science fiction and fantasy geared towards kids.  When I was younger, Robert introduced me to my first Syfy book.  Since then I would spend hours reading A Wrinkle in Time, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Have Spacesuit-Will Travel.  Writing Space Monkeys and the Galactic King brings back those fond memories and hopefully will introduce the wonder and excitement of science-fiction and fantasy to a whole new generation.

 

Diagon Alley Is Now on Google Maps

Google Maps found the magical world of Harry Potter. Google Map users can now view Diagon Alley from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London via Google Maps in Street View mode!  

Fans who are unable to make it to London can just hop on their computer and view 360-degree images of Olivanders Wand Shop, Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary,  Flourish & Blotts, Eeylops Owl Emporium, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

Although the setting is not the original set from the films, Warner Bros. Studio spent a considerable amount of time and money reproducing it for fans.

Explore Diagon Alley for yourself on Google Maps.  

Now, where’s my butterbeer?

 

Science Lesson: Making Ice in the Desert

Can someone make ice in the desert with no electricity, chemicals or gadgetry?  The answer is yes.   It's called evaporative cooling.

The idea of evaporative cooling is not new.  It takes place when liquid evaporates in the surrounding air which in turn cools any object or liquid that comes into contact with it.  Most people have experienced evaporative cooling effects after getting out of a swimming pool on a hot sunny day. 
 
The earliest recording of evaporative cooling comes from frescoes from about 2500 B.C. which show slaves fanning water filled jars to cool rooms for royalty.
 
In 2006, a Nigerian teacher named Mohammed Bah Abba took this simple, ancient concept and applied it to pots to help thousands of impoverished Nigerian farmers with inexpensive refrigeration.  By setting up a local production facility, his simple pot-in-pot system extended the shelf-life of perishable foods.
 
The pot-in-pot system is simply the application of two clay pots, one inside the other. Fill the space between the pots with moist sand and cover with a damp cloth.  The water in the sand will naturally migrate towards the outer pot which pulls the heat with it, making the inside pot very cold.  It's a cheap, easy-to-make refrigerator.
 
To create ice, fill the space between the pots with water (not sand).  Since hot water has higher kinetic energy than cold water it evaporates first.  This lowers the temperature in the reservoir by getting rid of the "hottest" molecules first.  Because it is extremely dry in a desert, the air sucks water into it and molecules with low kinetic energy (cooler water) is then able to evaporate.  This leaves only molecules with very low kinetic energy.  Eventually, the average kinetic energy will be so low that the temperature drops below 32 degrees and the remaining water freezes.   This is true even if the ambient air temperature is above freezing so long as the air's humidity level is dry enough.
 
In recognition of Abba's part in bringing this amazing technology to people in need at the very low cost of $1.20 per system, Abba was awarded numerous grants.  Having funded the first 7,000 systems from his own pocket, he used the award money to distribute over 100,000 additional pot-in-pot systems.
 
Which brings me to my point… Mohammed Bah Abba's story disproves the myth that one person cannot make a difference.  He took a simple scientific principle and applied it in such a way as to have an impact on millions of people.