Rc FOR RETIREMENT-BOOMER’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING DOWNSIZING by Sandra W. Evans is a guide written with the Baby Boomer generation, the period before, say 2009. Those, who may find difficulty in adjusting to the downsizing of life, to be coped with, during post retirement years as one prepared oneself for the youth ahead during adolescence. Approaching the issue in a logical and dispassionate manner, the recipe put forth by the author takes Maslow’s views on contentment, the five stages of grief at the loss of something dear, and the need to plan, while suggesting an endless list of sources of companionship, hobbies, pastimes and other useful ventures. The author implores us to see retirement as the beginning of a two-stage process where the preparation is done in the retirement zone. “There is still a zone to go where you will enjoy all the fruits of your retirement preparation”.
Anthony Simolia, in ‘The Roving Mind: A Modern Approach to Cognitive Enhancement’ deals with a subject that involves all streams of science, medicine and other areas like holistic healing. His explanations are simple and elegant, like Mind is what brains do or the analysis of brain as a chemical machine.
The book begins with an attempt to understand what intelligence in general and human intelligence in particular is, by inversion—looking at what they are not. He dwells on the topics of cognitive enhancement by suitable diet and type of food to avoid, what habits are good for health, what type of food are cognitive enhancers, discussion on racetams, how to sharpen the mind, techniques of active recall as well as other methods of stimulation of memory. He also introduces the concepts of lucid dreaming, describes recent advancements in neuroscience and discusses the pros and cons of cognitive enhancement. He however warns readers that sifting through endless inferior informational resources is not the optimal way to go about acquiring specific knowledge or improving cognitive performance.
Though the subjects covered is more or less specific and narrow in nature, the tone and tenor of presentation makes it fit for a more general audience. However, a short outline of the contents to follow, at the beginning of the chapter would have been a great help, if a suggestion for improvement is a must.
Almost every page introducing a novel concept for the reader, this book has the potential to satiate the book hungry.
‘Round the Bend’ by Alistair McGuinness is the story of the couple, Alistair McGuiness and his wife Fran, from their home town of Luton, UK to one edge of the world, Australia enjoying many of the unchartered tourist sites en route. First they headed to the jungles where Amazon flow, scaled the mountains, made friendship with the villager people, became their teacher of sorts, scaled more of the lands, Bolivia, Peru and others. Thereafter travel to Tanzania, trek up Kilimanjaro and then fly to Zimbabwe to pick up an organized tour. The hired truck would weave a path through southern Africa, arriving at Cape Town eight weeks later. Then they travel to their final destination, Australia.
‘Round the Bend’ by Alistair McGuinness is full of excitement, whether the glitch with immigration for Fran, the stay in the wild in makeshift tents, or getting caught wearing underpants on the head, the honeymooning non-swimmers caught in a ship, rolling and pitching in the stormy sea, there is never a dull moment, with this travelogue. They both finally make it to Australia, where they still reside.
I have read many travel books, but while reading Around the Bend, I felt part of that team, sharing equally with them, all the drama and excitement. In Round the Bend Alistair shares his travels with the reader in such a way that the reader will find great difficulty to remind him, that he is not part of the travelling team. As the author quotes in the end “Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out
over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” Highly recommended!
‘RE-WIRED’ by Greg Dragon tells the story of Brad Barkley, who is a student busy with creating his new android, Tricia. His only break is a few exchanges with his college mate Mika, with whom he is unsuccessful in making a romantic connection. Tricia, in the meantime is slowly coming to life, connecting herself to internet, recharging herself with the laws extant on robotics and becoming livelier. For meeting the expenses of completing Tricia and her costly skin to make his robot as close to the human as feasible, Brad agrees to take part in a drug testing program, of a mysterious drug, lightning, which can alter ones reality. He also gets arrested for mechanophilia, improper relation between a human and a robot, leaving Tricia with the opportunity of coming to the rescue of her creator.
‘RE-WIRED’ by Greg Dragon, while providing the reader with a good literary feast, asks some basic questions in the realm of Artificial Intelligence. The legal validity of creating a robot to be appropriated as ones girlfriend, whether considering robots as another species of life is ok, causing death to a robot (of course, this involves mechanical dismantling) is a cognizable offence, and the possibility of robots getting a new attribute, amorousness, are some of the rather hazy topics, the story handles. The main character, the nerd who is always unlucky with women, reminds me about my college days, especially of the studious ones amongst us. Greg has a fertile imagination and, together with an easy flowing narration has produced a very good read.
‘‘Rescued Out of the Shadows’ by B. K. Stubblefield is a collection of short stories inspired by real events, of rescued dogs coming “out of the shadows” and into light and love. It begins with two abandoned puppies. How those puppies, Hannah Mae and Honey Bea, find their way to a loving veterinarian and reach a perfect home. Them there is this bubbly two year old pup Frodo and its adventures with police. Ellie May, an abused dog which finds a good home and Rosie, which managed to recover after being shot badly join the group. Homer, an old dog which finds a sympathetic home and a rescued puppy Ottis complete the crowd. Mention also is made about Pet Smart Charities, which has partnered with the shelter; an organization to help homeless pets all over the country.
‘‘Rescued Out of the Shadows’ by B. K. Stubblefield presents the stories associated with each pet, evoking sympathy and candor. In each and every case, the rescue act has been made possible by the constant involvement and selfless service of some animal lover with the issue, constant interaction between them being a prerequisite, which is described poignantly in this book. That is to say, as much important was the receptive character of the person who recued the dog, as adorable was the nature of the dog. The narrative gives equal importance to both and is a light, refreshing read, the rescuers coming out deserving applause and the recued, recipient of bountiful love. A Good read.
True Story of ‘PROMISING FORECAST - a Miracle Rescue at Sea by Daniel David Jones is the story of Dave, ‘who never missed a chance to make a dollar’, how he goes on a canyon trip with four other buddies, at least one of them, Joe, a good fisherman. Their adventure really begins when the sea turns rough and their boat sinks, it continues when the mayday responses by the coast guard fails in locating them, turns into a horrifying experience when they are forced to spent the better part of night at sea, hanging to a lobster pot and thereafter. How, they pass time by taking turns to recite their life story, the danger of a cargo ship going straight over them, sighting search helicopters that happen to miss them, and many other events and experiences of desperation fills the pages of this book.
True Story of PROMISING FORECAST - a Miracle Rescue at Sea by Daniel David Jones is a gripping narrative of a few horrendous moments in the life of the protagonists. They have shown remarkable degree of survival instinct in combating the dangers faced and have lived to tell their tale. The mental, physical and spiritual strength of each one is visible throughout; especially the difficulty, the ‘born again’ faces in admitting fear of death is depicted in poignant words. With fast paced action and a very interesting depiction of events, many a time I had to remind myself that this is a real life story.
‘Relapse’ by Jake Anderson begins with an admission that like a good fisherman, he would have become a proud alcoholic. But how, before he could become addicted to alcohol, skate board became his close companion, and his “first addiction”. A horrible accident separates him from skateboard for ever and he gets involved with fishing more and more to save his life from despair. He tells about the tragic loss of his father, how he goes more into fishing. How in that process, he becomes an ace in handling such vessels and joins part of a popular TV show, falls in love, and of course with a few more events to follow more or less on expected lines and some otherwise, is told with élan and makes interesting reading.
‘Relapse’ by Jake Anderson is an honest narration, of a life unlucky to have had personal tragedies, but lucky enough to be always linked with action. Relapse also, is a true reflection of that fast pace, clearly visible in this written picture. The compulsions that the author is always haunted with, (“ I wonder if I’ll have the courage to stay sober”) thoughts about his inadequacy popping up whenever he is in pensive mood, his penchant to involve in action whenever the demand so arose, and other facets of his adventurous life makes good reading. Descriptive just enough and mostly sticking to the point, honest and fast paced, this collection of experiences tells us a lot about the man and his environs.
‘Reconciliation & Suffering: A Brief Perspective on Western Culture ‘ by Frederick Karl Van Patten is an examination of western culture from the philosophical angle. The author, as someone fascinated by questions such as, Who am I?, Why is there evil? Or, Is there a god?, was drawn to a study of religion and philosophy, to recognize as the main themes permeating the western culture, reconciliation and suffering. Examining the writings of religious thinkers, of philosophers from ancient Greece, Middle Ages and modern times, Frederick identifies the essence of western culture as an impulse to reconcile, with a commitment to suffering. He finds that in eastern culture also, “suffering” is considered existential. However, In the West, suffering is the by-product of existence— and it’s inevitable, in the East, the root cause of suffering is deeper. Suffering exists because of ignorance—ignorance of the true nature of reality.
‘Reconciliation & Suffering: A Brief Perspective on Western Culture ‘ by Frederick Karl Van Patten presents the gist of eastern as well as western ideas about this particular aspect of life. No philosopher of some significance is left without being critically probed, in aligning the perspective with the theme presented in the book, reconciliation and suffering. This enabled me to have a new and interesting look at many of the questions of life, our philosophers generally relish. Simple and easy to read, this book is a good addition to anyone interested in learning more about humankind, and, as the author mentions, to answer many a question from curious minds.
‘YouTube : TheRealYouTubeStory.com’ by EricSkaggs.com is the true story, as the author puts it, of how he, Eric Skaggs, gave Chad Hurley the entire idea for YouTube from domain name in exchange for a promise of one percent of the $40 billion company. It begins when a chance encounter with ‘a tall guy wearing a baseball cap with a bag slung over his shoulder’, turns into something more than casual discussions on creating websites, and, other possibilities and ideas. In the ensuing discussion, the author mentions of the possibility of creating a website to do many things with videos, which could potentially become a good earner, thanks to the proliferation of videos and related development likely to happen in this field. The author readily parts with the idea, proposing that ‘1% of whatever profit you make, is mine’. This is accepted, and the idea is taken to its fruition and beyond by Chad Hurley, who conveniently is forgetful about the 1%, ever since.
‘YouTube : TheRealYouTubeStory.com’ by EricSkaggs.com is a well researched work. Each and every loose end about the ‘1% of profit’ agreement and other communications with Chad Hurley seem to have been well tied up, except for period between the seeding of the idea and, youtube becoming famous. Scores of phone calls and visits made by the author to establish the factual position regarding his involvement with youtube makes interesting reading. Even as a reviewer, I sympathize with the author for his loss of gain and wish for a speedy settlement.
‘Random Thoughts’ by Jennifer Johnson is made up of Random Thoughts, Poetry, and Inspirational Quotes. The random thoughts of the author grace such varied subjects as, ‘What could be keeping my dog’s mind busy’, or, ‘What, writing really means to me’. Then comes poetic thoughts of similar vein, ‘Where there is death, there is also life….’, ‘Walls of stone with history within’ becoming a castle, or, ‘Soul selects her own society’. The inspirational quotes also cover a lot of topics, from the mundane to the sublime, for example, “A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if no one believes it.”
’Random Thoughts’ by Jennifer Johnson are thoughts from ever racing mind of an author. Truly random and therefore truly interesting, I found almost all the topics covered offered something new to ponder. Take her take on prisons. “They get to not work and watch TV and read all day. Nap when they want to and take more naps… Our justice system needs to be harsher” Prisons definitely should be harsher than life outside, where, for everything one has to struggle. However like most other literary giants, the author has chosen more topics of negative emotions or sardonic humor than what we encounter in regular writings and with our simple lives. But for these, this is an easy read, entertaining and educating. The poems, most of which on emotional bonding, the quotes, many of them inspirational in nature and the author’s unique views on a bunch of topics, are a real treat.
‘Ralph Pincus, Occultist Extraordinaire’ by Marcus Lambert does not fit into an established branch of writing. Like all acknowledged supernatural thrillers, many of the identifiable components of such work, like, hidden diabolism, supernatural horrors, other powers of darkness and exotically beautiful women reside in these pages. But, these are also intertwined with more earthly and natural human encounters, much of which being related to sexual exchanges.
‘Ralph Pincus, Occultist Extraordinaire’ by Marcus Lambert is a story of beyond the world experiences of humans, vampires and other earthly and unearthly beings. As can be expected from a book of this genre, the author has succeeded in transporting the reader to a glamorous era of aristocratic manners, exotically beautiful women, regally-appointed apartments and other accompaniments. Much of the ambience provided by the unearthly elements of this story, in fact has been neutralized by the rather raw exchanges in the sex domain.
‘WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE QUIZ KIDS?’ by Ruth Duskin Fieldman traces the path followed by the famous quiz kids, the protagonists of the popular radio program of 1940s, the ones who always answer the impossible. A quiz kid herself, this chronicles how she makes a mark at school and home and the attempts to bring her to the notice of the quiz management team. How she applies to quiz kids and becomes an instant hit at seven years of age, completely writes a book introducing concepts of chemistry to children, by the age of twelve and the controversies always surrounding fame, are beautifully presented here. Of course, there are also occasions when she gets caught with her foot in mouth. Once when the hostess catches her staring into space, and says. “A penny for your thoughts,” “Oh,” she replies, “I’m just playing a thinking game that I play when I’m bored.”
She continues with Gerard Darrow, the youngest of the original Quiz Kids, who had spent a good portion of his final years on welfare, Joan Bishop, “Chicago’s Versatile Child Prodigy”, Claude Brenner, who was intriguingly complex personality, Jack Lucal, who became a Jesuit priest, Margaret Merrick, the kid in crutches, Richard Williams, Joel Kupperman, Lonny Lunde, Patrick Conlon, Naomi Cooks, Harvey Dytch, and many others.
‘WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE QUIZ KIDS?’ by Ruth Fieldman is written to show more of the human souls safely hiding in the intellectual image of the quiz kids. This book also paints an honest picture of the trials and tribulations in each ones life, is written dispassionately, but with sympathy and reading this leaves one, with a lot to cherish.
‘Planet Magazine’ by Hitoshi Machida is a book of photographic plates. Photos showing the many facets of Himalayan mountain range, scenic beauty and profile of that area, meandering streams and rivers, and, other natural edifices of great wonder and admiration are the theme of these pictures. However, not having a small write up or label indicating the essential details of the subject of these pictures, leaves one in doubt. This question is appearing with greater force, since many of the pictures are of unforgettable quality. While placing the photographs sequentially showing author’s journey through Himalayas, Andaman Islands, South India, Madagascar and Seychelles, such a label would have enabled one, to identify many of the landmarks and features that are already seen, and, to appreciate those unseen, an added source of enjoyment. These issues apart, this is a complete book introducing one to new, beautiful and must see locations and its features.
‘Planet Magazine’ by Hitoshi Machida introduces us to the natural features of these wonderful areas of our world, with the help of pictures. Each and every picture shows some significant facet of the natural reliefs or other matters in this area. As mentioned before, with suitable captions or tallies, I could have identified them easily, being an Indian, and enjoyed them more. One point, I think merits mentioning, the presentation of these pictures could have been made more reader friendly, had they been grouped into different categories, the reader being given a feeling that he is travelling through these pictures as the author traveled across the land.
‘Painting Moving Water - Surface Energy’ by Ev Hales focuses on the kinds of movement that accompany a body of water and explores different ways to interpret this moving liquid mass as a painting subject. The words descriptive of the character of moving water, like, pounding waves, burbling brook, pelting rain, thundering waterfall, rushing river, gurgling stream or gushing fountain evokes a visual image and associated rhythmic element. When translated into a painting, Ev mentions the importance of the elements of painting, the brush, canvas, paint etc, taking part in presenting the rhythmic element appropriately. Techniques to be employed, for different painting surfaces, various brushes as well as for different water surfaces are discussed. Attention is paid even for such subtle but important issues like, when to paint water first, using brush marks to differentiate areas, what color should represent water and when, and, using shore line to create the desired effect.
‘Painting Moving Water - Surface Energy’ by Ev Hales is a helpful book for those attempting to paint water surface related scenes. Having attempted painting myself, I can appreciate the difficulty one will feel in bringing the ‘character’ of the subject to the painting, however accurate ones selection of colors be. With the advices given by Ev on matters related to other areas of painting, like selection of brush, adopting appropriate stroke, choosing canvas type, or adding depth, this book can become another companion for a painter. Good plates and a large number of examples do add to its value.
‘NOT IN GOD’S NAME : Making Sense of Religious Conflict’ By Paula Fouce begins with a vivid description of the pandemonium, aftermath of the killing of Mrs Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India, in 1984 gave vent to. She happened to witness many horrific incidents, of Sikhs being attacked and murdered, looting and arson of a big scale, president’s (who happened to be a sikh) car being attacked, and many others of great repugnance. This made her enter into a long journey through the spiritual essence of India, recollecting the many impressions left by previous visits as well as letting fresh impressions evolve, by making new visits. There is hardly a part in India that she hasn’t visited to experience herself, especially the spiritual makeup. From the abodes of the Yogis, Swamis and others in Himalayas, the Jewish and their synagogue, Budhism, Jainism and other practices from the ancient, influence from other cultures like the Chinese, and the modern challenges from the Jihadis, no aspect of the violence or the efforts to quell violence in our society is left untouched, in her attempt to an answer.
‘NOT IN GOD’S NAME : Making Sense of Religious Conflict’ By Paula Fouce exhorts India to take a prime role in saving human society. Reminding us of the importance Asoka as well as Akbar felt towards religious tolerance and the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi, she ends with a quote from ancient scriptures of India. “The different religions are like lotus flowers. They rise from the murky depths, and when they finally reach the sunlight they bloom. When a lotus opens, it represents spiritual awakening. No two buds are alike, and no one blossom is more beautiful then another. They all celebrate the divine.”
‘Not All Americans Are Racist’ by Nicole Weaver is a combination of an autobiography, a political commentary and, an appeal to young people to usher America into a new society. Unlike the stories of the injustice, the backs’ stories tell, her takes on life, resonate with grit. “..we can waste tremendous amount of energy allowing other people’s ignorance deter us from making our dreams come true, or we can align ourselves with those people that extend a hand to help us move forward in life. I chose the latter.” Teaching in schools after schools, working with principals who are out to show that she is unfit to teach, as well as others, who were greatly helpful and encouraging, handling students who are plainly racist, as well as others who were more than kind to her, she is finding her resolve to see more amicable racial relations ushered in America, becoming stronger.
‘Not All Americans Are Racist’ by Nicole Weaver is more or less a balanced view of the American society. “I will forever remain thankful that I set foot in United States’, she says “where all dreams can be made true by hard work and perseverance”. Learning a new language and its culture, she rightly identifies, has the potential to ease race relations. This is a captivating book, more than the visible elements of discrimination that may upset one emotionally, the unseen and latent factors affecting better race relations that are difficult to erase, is discussed profusely. Well done, Nicole Weaver.
‘North Carolina aviatrix Viola Gentry - The Flying Cashier’ by Jennifer Bean Bower begins with the birth of Viola in 1894, a tomboyish girl, whose pranks include running away to join a circus with some local boys and getting caught. She gets into a marriage of her own choice which ends in a divorce and happens to shift to Florida. There she comes across airplanes and gets deeply attached to flying, works hard and make enough money to meet her lessons, goes to New York, makes a mark as the first woman to fly under Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and breaks the endurance flying record for women. Her flying lessons being supported from her income for working as a cashier, earns the appellation, The Flying Cashier.
‘North Carolina aviatrix Viola Gentry - The Flying Cashier’ narrates the highs and lows in the childhood of this ordinary girl who rose to extraordinary heights. Also can be seen in this book the many instances of carefree humor from this crazy lady. Imagine working hard for months to burn the full earnings in a few minutes! I can’t but mention the unfortunate landing of this lady in a lunatic asylum, when she gets a feeling that she is “right there”, where she “belonged”.
Publishing her memoir, “Hangar Flying”, at the age of eighty adds to her long list of achievements. The author has certainly succeeded in presenting the many and varied facets of her life, much of it worthy of adoration and some evoking sympathy. Good collection of photographs of memorable events of the past makes this wonderful biography, even more valuable.
‘Never Too Late’ by Harold J. Fischel begins with Clint Crawley, who happen to bump into his old friends at a recent reunion and is shocked by the news of an impending financial disaster, finding his business threatened by banks. And one of those friends, an old flame from his high school days, Sharleen, uses her connections with the underworld, in helping him. Clint’s wife dies, he meets Sharleen off and on to her husband’s annoyance and finally, they decide to move together to start a new life at Bermuda. There they ‘continue to be a magnet for people with strange stories’, like Ana with a disadvantaged and mentally challenged young man, Mike, or Nina, a woman rescued from a local modeling agency which actually is involved with human trafficking .
‘Never Too Late’ by Harold J. Fischel is many novels compressed into one. Quite a few of the characters, who could be seen to be part of Sharleen’s life, can very well have their independent existence. She interacts with a variety of people from different walks of life, and in each instance, the association leads to desirable inputs from her as well as happy reactions from them, establishing her strong character. With a narration that is deft and absorbing and a plot that is rich in its variety and content, I got the feeling that the eventful lives pictured in the novel finished too soon. This prompts me to say, ‘It is always too early, to finish Never Too Late’.
MUSTANG SUMMER by LEIF GREGERSEN is a collection of short stories. He begins with his take on Hitler, an entirely new and ‘earthly’ look at one of the most fearsome despots of all times. Plots like, examining the blow-cold, blow-hot attitude of a gentleman called Jerry towards his cats as well as his family members, or, examining Lee Harvey Oswald afresh as one of the most suspicious looking characters since very old days, follows thereafter. In all the stories, the author presents a distinctly different version of the event in question. Many of the stories deal directly with issues always affecting our society. For example, the story ‘princess’ describes an incident involving childhood rape, and how the wrong person can land up with confinement.
MUSTANG SUMMER by LEIF GREGERSEN is a good book to read. The author’s choice of themes covers almost all aspects of life, making this assortment of story snippets a good reference for anyone interested in understanding more about life. For a clear appreciation of the ways we take to look at life in our society, in any case, short story is a good medium, which is also exemplified very well in this collection. I therefore think, it will be a worthy addition to ones library.
Who, after reading the following exchange from this collection can think otherwise?
“Hi, I’m Morris. You probably don’t know me; I’m visiting for the first time. I just wanted to see if… Um… I just wanted to see if Micheal D. is still here. He’s came in here three years ago and I haven’t seen him yet.”
“And you are?”
“I’m Morris, I’m his son.”
‘MURDER WITH NO PASSION’ by Laura Burke begins with Eric Masson of New York police, who is toying with the idea of turning into a private investigator, and is offered a case by an FBI agent. The case is of a woman, eighteen year old Louise German, who went missing twenty years back. The investigation takes Eric first to Orlando, followed by many other places to meet family and friends of the missing girl. While on one of his initial trips, he comes across a pretty blonde, Tara, who instantly gets excited by the persona of Eric, with him reciprocating even better. The investigations proceed with a lot intrigue and passion, much contributions of it from Tara as well, leading to a climax.
‘MURDER WITH NO PASSION’ by Laura Burke is a tale glibly told. It has all the essentials of a good mystery as well as certain character elements added to make the sensuality of the book, stand out. However, as Laura has succeeded in linking all the characters of this novel closely with one another and with the theme, the added elements mix well with the plot. Many of the events and scenes of this book have the potential to be hair-raising, like the way Eric gets admitted to hospital. Tara’s involvement in this case and the talent she displays for careful observations and help to the police team is worth the mention. This is a fast paced story, the mystery and suspense well saved till the end.