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Thursday, September 24, 2015

book reviews on the way

I will be reviewing a couple books in the near future. The authors gave me free eBooks in exchange for my honest reviews. I sometimes request a token payment of $5, but these two authors did not pay a single penny. The reviews will be posted in the near future, as soon as I finish reading the books.  Please stay tuned.


Thursday, September 3, 2015


I believe that this is worth sharing:

Jacksonville Beach, FL – Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, a national organization dedicated to honoring the sacrifices of military heroes by providing their children with college scholarships and educational counseling, announced Kendra E. Davenport will become the Foundation’s new president.
“Our board and I believe Kendra’s professional experience, proven fundraising track record and deep personal understanding of military family life, uniquely qualify her for the role,” said David Y. Kim, Founder and CEO of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. “We are excited to have Kendra join the Fallen Patriots family.”
Davenport, who was selected following an extensive nationwide search, brings more than 27 years of nonprofit experience to the leadership role, which she will begin onOctober 1, 2015.
“I am thrilled to join Children of Fallen Patriots in its noble mission,” said Davenport. “I cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to the memories of those who have given their lives in service to our country than to help their children receive a college education.”
As president, Davenport will manage the growing demands on the Foundation to ensure access to education by college-bound children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. It is estimated that nearly 20,000 more children will require assistance in the future. Since 2002, Children of Fallen Patriots has provided more than $9.8 million in total assistance, including college scholarships, supplemental grants and educational counseling to military children.           
“We’re proud of what we have accomplished through the Foundation to date and we recognize that it is poised for significant growth,” said Fallen Patriots Chairman of the Board, Thomas McGann. “Kendra will help us capitalize on our successes and harness the collective support of our Board and key constituents to take the Foundation to the next level.”
Davenport comes to the Foundation from Africare, a Washington, D.C. based organization with annual revenue in excess of $50 million that promotes sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. At Africare, Davenport served initially as Chief Development and Communications Officer, before becoming Chief of Staff and eventually, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs. Prior to Africare, Davenport served in leadership roles at Project HOPE, the National SIDS Alliance and other national and international nonprofits.
About Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
Headquartered in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation's mission is to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. This includes casualties both before and after 9/11/2001. The organization’s vision of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is to ensure that every such child receives all necessary college funding.
If you are a child who has lost a parent in the line of duty, or if you have a child and have lost a spouse in the line of duty, contact Fallen Patriots at 866-917-2373 for information on enrolling in the program.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chamber of Horrors Reveals How Science, Technology and Engineering and Math Make Fear Come Alive

You don't have to wait for Halloween to see a haunted house, and this one is also educational. 

Chamber of Horrors, the famed Long Island haunt hosted at Play it Like a Pro, brings fear, mystery and horror to life for over 10,000 guests each year. The team behind the attraction applies science, technology, math and engineering principles to nearly every aspect of the haunt experience, demonstrated a unique way that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields are present in entertainment.

Have you ever watched in wonder as dry ice vaporizes in to cloudy haze? That effect takes places when carbon dioxide transitions from its frozen state, which can only exist below -110 degrees Fahrenheit, to its gaseous state in a process called sublimation where it skips being a liquid altogether. While the food industry relies on dry ice to store and transport perishables, haunted attractions know that dry ice sublimating in water makes for a spooky witches’ brew with slow, wispy clouds of vapor billowing out low to the ground.

Dry ice is just one of many spooky substances. Chamber of Horrors offers a variety of experiences. 
“Haunts are built on a lot of authentic terror and a horrifying storyline, but we rely on good science to make it a world class experience. We use insights about the human senses from a biology perspective and manipulate those with precise chemical and physical processes to produce top-notch special effects,” said owner Marty Arominsky.
Consider, for example, inhibiting reliability of the sense of sight using strobe lighting to make your surroundings appear as if they’re moving in slow motion. The technology of strobe lights that pulse at a set speed are key to the masters of terror at Chamber of Horrors, as the intermittent illumination in a room otherwise devoid of ambient light forces the brain to merge perceived images.
The resulting effect is feeling trapped in spite of moving or believing that an object or person is farther away than it actually is. The induced panic and sensation of inescapability is just a failure of the eye to differentiate images that get momentarily “stuck” on the retina.
“The strobe effect is an old favorite, one that’s been around for a while, but still mystifies guests. It’s truly just a mastery of blending basic light technology with a carefully crafted ambient setting,” said manager Frank Ingargiola.  
One of the more involved engineering feats involved in the Chamber of Horrors experience is the creation of ghosts using lighting techniques known as “Pepper’s ghost.”
This involves constructing the haunt in such a way that an ultra-clear glass material is set at a 45 degree angle to the audience creating a divide between two scenes. The image behind the glass is then cast in a partial reflection to the audience side, creating a transparent, ghostlike image.
“Refraction, reflection and careful construction—it’s an exercise in introductory physics that defies our desire to make anything we can see tangible,” said Arominsky. “We can create a ghostly projection of some gruesome images.”
Beyond the hard science, the entire haunted attraction is driven by fear—an emotion that triggers countless neurological reactions by releasing a chemical cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline throughout the body. The biological and psychological reactions to fear that are very much instinctual and uncontrollable are some of the most critical scientific components at play in the attraction. 
Chamber of Horrors actors know that this is where the root of the fear is—the psyche and the conscious mind that can’t quite make sense of the unknown, unexpected and downright unworldly experiences of a world-class haunt.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Half-price lasagna at Brio Tuscan Grille!

One of my favorite restaurants is having a half-price sale. Get their delicious lasagna for half-price on Tuesday July 28.

The service is quick, courteous and competent. The food is delicious to the last bite. It looks so beautiful, it's almost a sin to dig into it.

I got this from the proverbial "horse's mouth".

Ciao Tessa!

Tuesday, July 28, is National Lasagna Day, and BRIO Tuscan Grille is celebrating with 50% off their mouthwatering Lasagna dish! This special will be offered ALL DAY at BRIO Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga.

Specializing in delicious, northern Italian cuisine with an emphasis on the finest and freshest ingredients available, BRIO’s signature Lasagna Bolognese Al Forno is not to be missed! On Tuesday, July 28, full sized Lasagna portions will be offered at half the regular price.

Offer is valid on full portions of lasagna on Tuesday, July 28, while supplies last (not available for takeout orders). Promotion does not apply to catering and children’s menus.

Mille Grazie!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hope for the kitchen Challenged

Philip K. Dick once wrote to his mother that I was the worst cook he had ever met.  Well, no more! I've learned to make a few edible dishes and even some tasty treats. Now I'm sharing them with the world in my book A Cookbook for the Kitchen Challenged by the Kitchen Challenged.

A second volume will soon appear, but first I have to get more ideas and try new recipes. The first book is mostly family recipes, and the second book will also include a few of those. However, I continue to read cookbooks and try recipes. If I fail to make something good from a recipe, I don't include it in my book. If it comes out tasty, then I will share it with you.

Here are a few of the sources that I'm trying now:

by Amna Fadel

by Amna Fadel

by Danny Gansneder

Please buy them through my links, so I can make a few pennies. Thank you so much!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Aftermath: when help is not helpful

I was delighted when Rebuilding Together Mountain Communities selected my house this year. It needs work that I can't afford to have done, especially trimming tree branches away from the roof. Sadly, my joy soon turned to pain. And they never trimmed those tree branches.

They did tear out my rotten deck, but they left me without a porch for three weeks, and the porch that they built has to be torn out and replaced. They simply buried some wood beams in the dirt, so it is rotting after only two months. Even worse, they ransacked my storage and took things that I told them not to touch.

You see, I had some things sitting out in the driveway because I was in the middle of cleaning out my shed, as I do every spring. I take everything out, and then I clean the shed and bug bomb it before putting things back into the shed, I sort them into things to sell, donate, toss out or keep. I hadn't even finished emptying the shed because it kept raining, so I just had a few things sitting out under tarps, and I told the volunteers on Rebuilding Day to leave those things alone. Most of those things were in six plastic crates that had lids, were covered with tarps and were not in the way of the work that I had asked them to do for me. I also had a stack of lumber and some tools under the tarps. I had more crates in the back yard, and I told them to just leave those alone.

My back shed had been torn apart by burglars during the winter storms, so many things got rain and snow on them before I was able to rescue what I could and toss out what was ruined. I had already spent weeks sorting out the trash, and most of it was done. I tossed the little things into trash barrels for the trash truck to haul away once a week. I piled up the big things, which were mostly fallen tree branches, in one spot in my back yard. I had already arranged for someone to haul away the big trash, but the volunteers took it upon themselves to toss it into the dumpster that they had parked in front of my house. That was unnecessary, but it was okay.

They came on a rainy day, and most of them deserve high praise for working so hard and being so kind. However, a few bad actors took it upon themselves to ransack the things in my driveway and take away things that I told them I was keeping. They also left the door to my front shed open. The latch does not work, so I had a heavy box holding the door shut. They took away the heavy box, and the door swung open, during a rain storm. Many things inside that shed got wet, and many things are ruined.

They moved plastic crates that I had left in the back yard because they came from the ruined shed, and they stacked them up in my driveway on top of the crates that I had pulled out of my front shed. They covered everything with tarps, so I could not see that my stack of lumber was gone, along with my tools. I had bought that lumber, cut it to size and painted it, so their claim that it was rotten does not fly. It came from inside my shed, where it did not rot. They also tore apart the wooden walk that I had built in my back yard and took away more lumber, which I had bought, cut to size and painted. Now my garden borders, walkways and raised gardens can't be built because the lumber is gone.

As I go through the things in my driveway, and I find so many little things placed there with care, I feel bad for the many good volunteers from Rebuilding Together and St. Richards Episcopal Church. It's a crying shame that a few bad actors ruined it by taking my tools, hardware and lumber, along with a few antiques, collectibles and other things. I suspect that they threw them away, but I did not see them when I checked the dumpster before it was hauled away. They even took the bucket of Lego blocks that my son had as a child. And they took my garden sign, which a friend had made for me. The paint was faded, but I certainly do know how to brush on new paint.

I guess that I should have been more suspicious on Rebuilding Day, but I thought that I could trust the volunteers from St. Richards Episcopal Church. After all,they were here to pull weeds, so what could possibly go wrong? Within a few days, I realized that many of my things were missing. They said that they threw out some rotten wood, but I was missing lumber that I had cut to size and painted, as well as trellises, gopher cages and garden stakes. Besides, I hadn't seen any of those missing things in the dumpster when I checked it before it was hauled away. They admitted to taking some of my tools "by accident", but they never returned anything to me, and it has been two months.

Even worse, they have not even scheduled the main thing that Rebuilding Together promised to do for me. They don't even have the decency to tell me that they are not going to trim the tree branches that are rubbing against my roof, but they have removed the "Rebuilding Together" sign from my front fence, which tells me that they are not going to help me.. Before they stopped responding at all, they told me that they are upset by my complaint. I am upset by their theft of my things and their broken promises. They should at least return the tools that they admit to having taken "by accident".

I have many complaints, but here is one big one that demonstrates how shoddy their "help" has been. They tore out my deck and left me without a porch for three weeks, and then they buried some wood beams in the dirt and called that a porch. It is rotting after only two months because there is no air circulation to dry it out after rain falls on it. It is simply sitting half-buried in dirt and mud. I have to find someone to rip it out and build a proper porch. I dug down into the dirt at least six inches before I found the bottom of the porch.

Perhaps if some of my friends will contact them, they will at least return my push broom and my long-handled spade. I need them to work in my garden and to sweep my driveway and walkways. They told me that they were "too busy" to look for my tools.

Here are some photos of the aftermath:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dissenting Views II, by Joseph E. Green, well-reasoned essays

This is a preliminary review of the book that I am currently reading. Dissenting Views II is a collection of essays covering, as the subtitle tells us, "More Investigations into History,
Culture, Cinema, and Conspiracy". The essays are well-reasoned, and the facts are documented with copious footnotes. They are also well-written and easy to read. 

So far, I have read  "JFK & Other Conspiracies", which is the first of four sections. Green sets out to discover why President John F. Kennedy (JFK) was killed, rather than who did it. This approach frees him from the pitfalls of conspiracy theory, which often involves following false leads down blind alleys. One essay addresses the term "conspiracy theory", which has become profanity tossed at those who disagree with the official story on any topic. 

Another essay addresses the theory that Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) was the mastermind behind a vast conspiracy to murder Kennedy. He shows why this particular theory fails to hold water, without resorting to the name-calling that we hear from official sources such as the mainstream media. With patient logic, he takes apart the LBJ theory, showing how it falls apart under its own weight. 

I'm really enjoying this book. It provides information that is new to me, and the author maintains an even tone. There is no hysteria here, as you might find in other books on the same topic. Green simply explores the facts and backs them up with sources. 

DISCLAIMER:  I was paid a token fee of $5 to read and review this book. Nevertheless, this is my honest opinion. If I did not like the book, I would inform the author and offer a refund. 

For more information about Joseph E. Green and his work, please visit his web site:


Friday, May 29, 2015

Radio Free Albemuth movie, get it now!

Please get one of the finest Philip K. Dick movies through the link on my other blog. This apocalyptic tale looks a lot like the world in which we live.

The story will scare you, but it does offer hope at the end.

New book for organic gardeners

Going Organic is a pretty good book, and I should know because I edited it.  Of the many books that I edit for a small publisher, this is one of the best.

It tells you how to prepare the soil, choose seeds, fertilize, manage pests, harvest and even cook your garden produce. It also has a chapter on raising chickens.

I refer to it often when I'm tending my garden. You really can grow both food and flowers without resorting to nasty chemicals. It isn't as hard as you might think.

 Going Organic

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two amazing new fantasy novels by women

Gemini  Press ha released two paranormal urban fantasy novels by amazing authors who happen to be women. The novels have been named finalists in Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards. The two books feature strong female protagonists who struggle as much with demons and apocalyptic mayhem as they do with profound and metaphorically universal coming-of-age issues. 

Writer and educator Maureen O'Leary, author of the novels The Arrow and How to Be Manly, lives in Sacramento, California. She loves African dance and drumming, working out, and reading other people's books. She's proud to call herself a believer in faeries, storytellers, goddesses, rock star gods, magic, destiny, and the healing power of love.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Katherine Wynter grew up with a deep love of books and reading. After putting aside childhood dreams of genetically engineering dragons, she began writing fictional worlds filled with demons, monsters, and unsung heroes. She is married and enjoys hiking and traveling.

In The Arrow, a powerful young healer, Fynn Kildare, discovers that a pharmaceutical company's greed threatens humanity. The corporation, CainPharma, serves an ancient witch and they are about to produce a new drug called Hydravirus. The concoction is addictive and dangerous, and, as Fynn discovers, it’s also part of a greedy corporate grab for power. To stop it, she must embrace her family's heroic past and become “the Arrow.”

We meet Rebekah Lorek in Keeper Chronicles: Awakening. Not only is she the perfect hostess to the guests at her lighthouse bed-and-breakfast, she has extraordinary abilities that are only now awakening. When Rebekah Lorek's father is murdered by a demon in disguise, a dark world is revealed that forces her to accept her destiny or see humanity destroyed.

Reviews for The Arrow have included five-star ratings. One of these came from Foreword Clarion Reviews, which said, “Beautifully combining mythology, romance, and action, this story is fun to read even as it addresses some of the harder aspects of becoming an adult.” Self-Publishing Review echoed this praise  in its review, saying, “...a beautiful story... a breath of fresh air for a fantasy book... a strong opponent to any other urban fantasy out there right now..." Red City Review added, "Mythology, betrayal, corporate espionage, romance; all of this and more has been melded together flawlessly in this novel."

Keeper Chronicles: Awakening has also received several five-star ratings. Readers Favorite said, "If you're looking for a compelling urban fantasy read with a rich plot, romance and mystery, then look no further than Awakening." Self-Publishing Review agreed, saying, "A creepy and epic story to thrill urban fantasy fans from a talented narrator..." Foreword Clarion Reviews cited Wynter’s refreshing take on monsters: “Urban fantasy fans will find unique and enthralling characters in this suspenseful story...In a genre that is too often crowded with defanged vampires and misunderstood monsters, this book focuses on the dark and scary side of demons."