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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Where was the editor on this book? Spell check is only as good as the editor that double checks it! Homonyms are NOT synonyms. Site for sight, buy for by, etc diminish the quality of the writing. Sentences such as this one " Thus, for everything that Raskalnikov suspected or wondered about Dmitri, Dmitri was cognizant of it all as well, and therefore he know that not only was it highly important as to what he said next, but also how he said it." as a single paragraph gave me headaches. It was necessary to reread them to get the meaning and I found myself rewriting them in my head. Both of these situations interfered with the rhythm and pace of the reading thus damaging the enjoyment of the plot. Distracting also were the choices of at least two of the names of the main characters--Angstrom and Keplar. In the case of Angstrom I kept seeing the Swedish letter A with its circle diacritic above it. I suppose the name was a good choice since the scientist Angstrom was very interested in electromagnetic radiation and the MAV design, which is at the center of the story, sort of, involves it. Keplar, on the other hand, was distracting since I kept wanting to correct the spelling. This choice, too, is probably another tip of the hat to a famous mathematician and physicist, Kepler. In fairness, these might only distract a student and teacher of these fields, which I am. The correlation between four inch heels and women who seem to need to sexually dominate men and enjoy kinky sex was a bit gratuitous. Angstrom's ex-wife makes an early appearance for no other apparent reason than to establish the fact that he, though a tough, seasoned former CIA field operative, seems to have been passive in his sexual relationship with her, while she seems to have been something of a nymphomaniac. Rand, the woman on his team, though his subordinate, assumes an attitude of superiority in the workplace and a dominatrix in the bedroom. She flirts with all the men in the agency, sleeps with some and according to Angstrom has been the victim of some abuse or other situation that has produced a woman with a serious psychological illness. Candy Mav, the pornographic icon used on the crowd-sourced submission for a MAV design, becomes something of an obsession to Angstrom. Surprise of surprises when he finally meets her, she wears four inch stilettos. They move off into the sunset together and, if his ex-wife and Rand are any indication, there is kinky sex ahead. Thankfully, the author did not elaborate on the sex scenes and left the reader to use his/her imagination. All in all, Angstrom's submissive and, in some ways, total disassociation is treated as normal and the womens' behavior as pathological. Having pointed out the weaknesses of the story, it is now necessary to say that the main theme is engrossing and well written. The MAV is a Marine Amphibious Vehicle and the government has issued a request to the general public for a design for a new model--the request is called crowdsourcing. Anyone and any entity can submit a design. DARPA, a Pentagon branch, is in charge of sorting through the submissions and choosing one to implement. John Angstrom, a burnt out CIA operative, has been reassigned to DARPA and is put in charge of one vetting team, which includes Keplar and Rand. A CD enclosed in a girlie magazine and sporting a scantily clad woman, on all fours, heavily made up, catches Angstrom's eye. He decides to take the CD home and view it. The ensuing cat and mouse game between John and the submitter, as well as the plotting by the submitter--The Professor--are fascinating. The specifics of the design are truly interesting and the method of transmitting them over the internet is fascinating. A process called steganography, in which images break apart into pixels and reassemble into something else; the complete take over of a remote computer by intricate programs is riveting. The back and forth action between the scenes in DARPA and the team and the master planning of The Professor and his final extraction makes this an exciting read. With a little editing, both grammatically and plot-wise, and I would have given this a four, if not five, star rating. PS The author contacted me to let me know that the errors I found in my first edition have been corrected in subsequent editions. Additionally, a reader on Amazon commented on my review to say that his Kindle edition had none of the errors I've cited. As a result of these comments I have upgraded my rating to four stars, since as I've already indicated, the story and, for the most part, the characterizations are well worth the read.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Saturday August 24, 2013 11:37 CST In the Study in Nashville, Tennessee The sunset in Bowling Green on Tuesday night was spectacular and Bill said there was a full moon as well but our room was on the opposite side of the building so I didn't see it. As a matter of fact, until I started typing this I'd forgotten that little tidbit. We were so close to Nashville that we lingered Wednesday morning and so had the breakfast room and lobby to ourselves. We ate a leisurely meal with several cups of coffee before moving on down the road to Tennessee. I called Becky and Bob as soon as we hit the road to give them our ETA and stopped at the Tn welcome center to pick up another Tn tour book, Nashville tour book, various brochures on Nashville sights ( and sounds ! ) as well as a new map. Then it was a hop, skip and jump around the city center and to our home away from home. Bill and I taught with Becky centuries ago in Swanton. As a matter of fact, for five years Beck and I had adjoining counter space in the teachers' prep room and literally worked elbow to elbow with an ashtray between the folders and blotters to share. Can you imagine the days we could smoke in a school?? Am I dating us, I wonder? I've given it up and Beck is like Bill--keeps a pack and smokes it within a couple of months. Bob, Beck's husband, is new to us and we to him, except by word of mouth--lol He is an absolute delight and after the first half hour of science teachers reuniting we included him in our conversations. He is into the geneaology of his family, indeed they are spending almost a month in Sicily with family members he's never met and seeing places familiar to his parents and grandparents--all deceased, of course. As a result, he and I spent quite a bit of time on the couch with his Apple mini something or other comparing notes and sharing pix etc. Also they have a few tablets etc so Bill and I were most interested in learning about the different devices. When they come back I will list the smaller than laptop items so I can research price etc. I think I'd like something smaller to take on our winter trip. Becky and I went off to Kroger's to pick up cold cuts and artisan bread for lunch and a chance to see where things are in relation to the townhouse. It also gave me a chance to see the car and now that I have I probably will use it if I feel the need to explore. It has a GPS that I can hit to take me home so I cannot get lost. After lunch, while the guys visited Bob's workshop and otherwise visited, Becky and I went over some essential things--where things are and how to run everything. Later in the afternoon, actually early evening Bob went off to a KofC meeting and we had a delicious tilapia and salad meal. And more reunion--catching up on where everyone is now that we taught with or that we taught. When Bob came home he had a plate then we all had ice cream and in pretty short order the day was done. Thursday we all reassembled around 8:30 ish. Since Becky and I are pretty much just coffee in the morning types the guys went off to the International House of Pancakes--it still has that sign across the building--of course, in our lovely American way of shortening all names, the chain is now better known as IHOP. When they came back the B's went off for a last minute shopping run and I printed off directions to I65 N that Bill would need to go home.I set the alarm system and locked up but the system keep beeping. So I unset it, came back in and did it all over again. Again it kept beeping so in I came once more, called Becky to ask what I was doing wrong--I expected the police at any minute since I'm sure the alarm company was getting alarmed! LOL But, I'd done it correctly so I reset it one more time, locked up and we were on our way. We took a drive to check out the route. It was hilarious trying to get out of the complex here. We stayed on the road it said to stay on but the first right came too soon and had the wrong name. So we went back and tried staying on the road in the opposite direction and went almost two miles and came to the street but it was too far and we figured it might not be the right place. We judged the street name by the residence complex name there and who knew if there was any correlation. So back we came to the house and started out in one last direction--lo and behold with the proper mileage on the MapQuest directions, we came to the same place and when we made the indicated turn we got to the next point properly as well. As is always the case, once you've figured out the route it is fast and easy and leads you to wonder why it seemed so complicated to start! Exhausted from brain strain and laughter and the heat we ambled into Applebee's for lunch. Our server Meg was a young single mother from Mass; there was another lady at the bar having a glass of wine, having taken a quick escape from family in town for her daughter's wedding. She said it was getting so frantic now that it was drawing closer she just needed a break. In the course of our conversation she found that I was going to be on my own for awhile and she is alone so we exchanged phone numbers and may meet up for lunch someday. There was also a fellow around our age who, when he heard we were from Vermont, decided he was going to needle us since he assumed were were liberals. We had a fun time with him especially when he said we must have been to only two conservative teachers in the State of Vermont. I hope we run into him again--he was truly a good time. When we got back around 3--the B's had just gotten back also. By this time, the temperature was well into the 90's and the heat suffocating. I opted for a nap and got up again around 5. Freshened up and helped Becky get things together while the guys went out to pick up the pizza and beer. The B's invited the neighbors with whom they are close to come over to meet us. What a terrific bunch of people--a musician retired from the Navy band, a salesgirl from a ladies shop and two retired ladies who also travel a great deal. Had just a terrific evening. Exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch. So even though I'm on my own for awhile I certainly am not alone. Yesterday, Bob made a big breakfast for us all. Bill and I got out from under their feet as they gathered luggage etc and then we drove them to the airport in the Prius. Hugged and wished them a safe and fun trip and then as quickly as possible got that Prius back home, parked and got back into our own familiar car. Off to Kroeger's and I laid in what I hope will be a month's groceries. I really want to avoid using their car if possible. I just don't like driving some one else's car. If I ever had an accident I'd be so upset. Got back around 2ish. 94 degrees!! Made sandwiches and sat down in the A/C living room and watched Green Bay and Seattle play a pre-season football game. By late afternoon a heavy thunderstorm passed through. I cooked up some hamburgers and a salad, after which we moved onto the deck and just talked until about 8 pm. Watched TV together until about 9 when Bill retired and I continued watching this week's Burn Notice and Suits episodes which I'd missed. Up around 7, had coffee on the deck before making breakfast. Then Bill showered and packed and we had another cup of coffee before he took off around 8:30 to return to Vermont. He'll be back around the beginning of October if not sooner. I have two cloth bags of books, DVD's, embroidery and the TV remote, as well as resident music CD's. My plan is to have a nice retreat mostly alone. I've already started Dan Brown's Inferno. I'm glad I have people I can call to do things with should I get bored but at the moment I truly just want alone contemplative time. Before Bill's Mom died we had the house in Montpelier and periodically I'd take off for a week-end alone but since it has been sold I haven't really had a place like that to hole up in. This is perfect and Bill will have some solitude as well--he used to like it even more than I. So, no timetable, no need to dress if I don't want to, can eat when and what I want and do whatever, whenever. Would not want it to be like that all the time and I know I'll miss my B's but don't think I'll miss the new impish 4 month old kitten, Attila the Cat. I do dread the possibility that Misty might, like Soot, die when I'm not there but that is about all that worries me. Obviously, I don't anticipate any earth shattering events or picture opportunities during retreat so it may be possible that you won't get another blog or pictures till Bill gets back. But once he's here we will be exploring all that Nashville has to offer and I'll resume more regular updates. So worry not that it has been awhile since I've written. I will, as they say, be back. 'Til then---take care all of you. Kathy

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Is with These Time Zones, etc???

Tuesday, August 20,2013 5:40 PM at Home but 4:40 in Kentucky!! Sleep Inn Room 309 Bowling Green, Kentucky The day began a bit later than usual-- it was almost 10 am by the time we got on the road, but then again, what's the hurray. We had stayed on the outskirts of Cincinnati last night so almost immediately we saw the city's skyline. The buildings gradually grew higher and increased in number until we reached one on which a rubber duckie sat with his ball cap and sunglasses surveying the sights. Then came the Great American Insurance Company building. Okay, add it to my list of favorite buildings: my all time fav, NY's Chrysler Bldg, the Transamerica building in San Francisco, the funny Phillie building that reminds me of a gun sight, the mirrored bullet of London, Paris' Railroad Station, now an art gallery etc, etc, etc. I guess growing up in Manhattan gave me a love of beautiful architecture. I love buildings. But I digress, as usual! I'm not sure why there is a mini-tunnel in the middle of town--have no idea what goes above it but it isn't water. Once one returns to the sunlight, however, there is the Reds' Baseball Park and, before you finish absorbing its size and the huge lights around it, you come to the Bengals' Stadium---a modern Coliseum! The cloud formations today were interesting as well. And those of you who've traveled with us before know that photographing them is another obsession. All day, as they became more congested I was sure we were going to drive into horrible weather but we only had one heavy shower heading toward Louisville. The MapQuest directions took us right through Louisville but I took us on a loop that swung east and south of the city and connected with I 65 farther south than the directions did. I hadn't really paid a great deal in attention to where the roads would be taking us in Kentucky. I'd hoped we'd take some back roads but in actuality we'd explored this area many times before--Bourbon land, Lincoln land--so decided to stay with the Interstate. But then I noticed there was a Civil War site around Munfordville so we did get off the highway there. The site is small but interesting and actually quite beautiful. Lots of trees of various types, two beautiful butterflies but only one that would pose for pictures. There was a hibiscus to die for, a ancient and noble beech heavily laden with beechnuts ( one of my Northfield friends tells me this is a very good beech nut year! ), another black walnut with huge tennis ball sized nuts, and my favorite honey locust with its beautiful ferny leaves. We had the site all to ourselves and it was so peaceful. The bridge, well, its replacement, still sits across the field from the replaced farmhouse. As we sat on a bench and looked across the farm fields toward it, Bill said " The Union has it now." With that a train came down the tracks and across the bridge. Just as it did 150 years ago and giving an insight into the important place it held during the War. One could almost imagine its destruction, the rebuilding by the Union and the attempt by the CSA to destroy the tracks. The iron horse certainly had a good path into the heart of the Confederacy on them. We continued a way on back roads before rejoining the Interstate for the last few miles into Bowling Green. We were here three or four years ago and went to the Corvette assembly plant. After the tour we went to the Smokey Pig for ribs for lunch. I didn't have the name with us but we knew the place was not far from the factory so we started to search and came close but didn't realize we were as near as we were. So we stopped in a beverage mart where a rather large Southern boy knew immediately which BBQ place we meant. He told Bill the directions to Louver Road. I didn't think that is what the fellow could have said but I kept quiet until I read the street sign and laughed out loud. I said to Bill--I think he meant LOUISVILLE Road. Uh, huh--we're in the South now! But sure enough--there it sat. This time I had pork chops, lightly sprinkled, mayo slaw, baked beans and sweet tea. If you don't like it hot, don't get it dipped! Bill had pork shoulder lightly sprinkled, same two sides and a beer. We chatted with the old guy who was there three years ago, another local who said he thinks he met us when last we were there--it was he who explained the meaning of plain, lightly sprinkled, dipped among other options that control the heat and spice of the meat. The couple at the next table were from Westmoreland, NH. On their way to Nashville, also, to see their daughter's best friend who is trying to break into the country music scene. They are staying at the Union Station which is an old railroad station made into a hotel. After getting a refill of sweet tea to take with me we were off to our motel, six miles down the road. Imagine my surprise to find that, though we thought we had traveled until 4 pm, it was actually 3 pm. Had no idea we are in Central Time. Thought we hit that farther West. Will have to clue Betsy into that. Ah, well, now I'll be able to do my Sunday's crossword puzzle but will have to adjust my TV watching schedule. Going to check out the Underground Boat Tour in Lost River Cave. Bill probably won't want to go tomorrow but perhaps we will come back up from Nashville in October when he joins me there. It is only about an hour away. Besides, it means more Smokey Pig! So, until I get a chance to write again, I wish you all lovely days and happy nights. Hugs, Kathy and Bill

Monday, August 19, 2013

Post Mills, Vermont to Cincinnati, Ohio in Two Days

August 19, 2013 5:45 PM Room 136 Comfort Inn Cincinnati, Ohio Saturday night was a restless night for me--Bill was asleep at his normal 8:15 but I stayed up until the nighttime sports and then woke up every two hours until I finally got up at 5 am. Gathered some food for snacks along the way, had breakfast and decided to take my jewelry since I'm not traveling as such but rather changing my nest for awhile. So had to bring those things I'd use while at home. Bill had wanted to be on the road by 7 but we were off by 6:30. Betsy was barely awake as she hugged and kissed us goodbye before returning to bed. She locked Attila out of her room--he woke her up at 3 am. Should be interesting to see how she'll break him of that habit--lol Misty just wanted out so she could check her dish and what that youngster was doing. Glad I'm not going to be there for a lot of the kitten training! It was quite foggy as we made our way to the Interstate and I worried that it wouldn't lift before Killington. Rte 4 is treacherous when you can see what's coming at you and the deer on the Interstate are pretty dumb that early in the morning. Said a prayer to St Anthony, one to St Jude and a short plea to Mary. One or all of them answered since the fog was gone by Norwich. Made our way the normal route to Malta--could drive it in my sleep. On to Ballston to Amsterdam and the Thruway to Buffalo. We don't often go this way--it seems interminable to Lake Ontario and there is a 15 dollar toll to the Pennsylvania line. On the other hand, we avoid the mountains and that terrible Wilkes Barre-Scranton corridor. The traffic was light and hardly any trucks which is always nice. The grape vines along the Ontario-Erie border were so lush--actually all the vegetation was thick and green. All the rains have created jungle-like conditions--impenetrable to light and view. By the time we had covered 517 miles at 4 pm Bill was tired and so we stayed in Erie, Pa last night.We usually go to eat before checking in and then we are in for the night. This was no different and we headed over to Applebees where Bill had short ribs and I had blackened tilapia. Delicious! I wanted to watch Masterpiece at 9 pm but at 8:20 I dozed off and woke with a jerk. Okay, said I, I'm not going to make it, so I bedded down and got up at 8 am this morning! Continued this morning on I 90 West and then around Cleveland we picked up I 270 a connector to I71 which passes through Columbus and Cincinnati. We had heavy rain between Erie and Cleveland and quite a bit of construction but again the traffic was manageable and the driving not very stressful. The cloud formations were breath-taking. It was a real relief, however, when we drove out of the rain into a beautiful sunny day. We didn't start as early, getting on the road at 9;30. The gas is much cheaper out here. We saw it at $3.38 but paid $3.44 for regular when we filled up in Erie. Still about 20 cents cheaper than home. It was terrific to have an express lane on 270 --no exits and few entrances as we passed through the congested urban area. Wish more city areas had this arrangement--really cuts down on the hassle of city traffic. Once we passed through Columbus I looked on the map ( a new OHIO map! ) for a smallish place that might have a local restaurant for lunch. Picked W. Salem--it is small okay. Only eatery was Subway which I don't really like so we went to the IGA where they have a sign saying fresh sandwiches. Well, they probably were made this morning but they don't make them fresh for you AND they have to go into the cooler to see what they have--LOL Ah, small town America! It was edible though--roast beef and lots of veggies. What I hate about Subway is too much bread---this wasn't much better. They did have terrific chewy ginger cookies and nice lemonade so all was not lost. Plus, I found pepper jack sticks which are no longer available in NH. As we left town I noticed the town hall and had to have some pictures of the historical structure. Nice to get off the Interstate and see where people live. Too soon it was back to homogenized landscape of Highway World. We continued to Cincinnati where Bill decided he'd driven far enough. We covered 340 miles and stopped at 330. Bill went off to Applebees, brought me back chicken wings and I caught up on the newspapers. Now to eat and check up on tonight's TV offerings. Tomorrow we cross into Kentucky and on to Tennessee. More Interstate driving but maybe since we are so close and not due to Becky's until the 21st I'll be able to convince Bill to do some back road touring. Wish me luck. Until tomorrow night--hugs to all. Kathy and Bill

Monday, August 12, 2013


Locked In (Jessica Daniel Book 1)Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Terrific book--read it in one and a half days--would have been one day but company arrived and I didn't want to be rude. Wanted to be, though!

Other than a few typos that sort of stopped the rhythm of my reading and the referral to an early burglary that I could not find ( When it is discovered in the second victim's history they say the first victim also had a burglary but I reread the earlier crime and couldn't find any mention of that.) the book was a page turner.

I reread the section in which I said to myself--aha, here we have the murderer--in an effort to find the " tell " but don't know how I knew. Read a couple more chapters as the police were agonizing over how the killer got in and out of totally locked houses with no sign of entry or exit and finally couldn't stand it anymore. I read the ending!

Now, some readers cannot finish a book once they've done that, but for me it was not a problem. While I was still working along with the police on how it was done and how the victims were chosen, I also was working on a thread of my own--WHY did this person kill? By the end of the book all questions were answered in a totally satisfactory way.


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