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E. A. Lovitt "starmoth" RSS Feed (Gladwin, MI USA)
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Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever
Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Abbess, the Tout, and the Thoroughbred, December 20, 2014
"Eclipse first, the rest nowhere" was a challenge uttered by this outstanding Thoroughbred's boastful owner, Dennis O'Kelly. At the time of Eclipse's first race in May, 1769 at Epsom, a horse that was more than 240 yards (a furlong = 220 yards) behind the lead was said to be `nowhere.' Eclipse won all of his races, some of them walkovers because none of his competitors wanted to face him, but not all of his rivals ended up `nowhere.' According to this author, another unbeaten Thoroughbred named Bucephalus challenged Eclipse in a 4-mile race at Newmarket:

"As they came within sight of the stands, Bucephalus moved up on Eclipse's flank to challenge, goading Eclipse into the most determined gallop of his career. Eclipse surged ahead. Bucephalus strained to keep in touch until, broken, he fell away, leaving Eclipse to arrive at the line well in front. Bucephalus never raced again. Eclipse, by contrast, shrugged off his exertions to race again two days later."

Eclipse retired to stud after competing only 17 months on England's 18th Century racecourses. Nobody wanted to run their Thoroughbreds against him. Perhaps it was just as well this remarkable horse was retired early to the breeding shed, because of "the extraordinary influence that Eclipse has exerted, through his male line, on the development of racing." The genetic legacy of this stallion is to be found in 80% - 90% (depending on the source) of all modern Thoroughbreds. Of all the current top stallions at stud in Europe and America, only Tiznow is not a male-line descendant of Eclipse--he is a tail male descendant of Machem, another great 18th Century English Thoroughbred.

The story of Eclipse takes up only part of this book, which is also a history of Georgian England--at least, as viewed from the racetracks, debtor prisons, gaming houses, and brothels. Eclipse's owner, Dennis O'Kelly was a larger-than-life Irish immigrant, who spent more time in the Fleet debtor's prison than he did on the racetrack--at least during his earlier years. He met his long-time mistress, Charlotte Hayes at the Fleet, then graduated from debtor's prison to become a professional gambler (`blackleg'), while Charlotte became the `abbess' (madam) of a high-class `nunnery.' Everyone who was anyone in Georgian England--from the Butcher of Culloden (Prince William, son of George III), who was Eclipse's original owner, to Sir John Fielding (the `Blind Beak of Bow Street'), who once tried Dennis O'Kelly following a brawl at the Bedford Arms.

One of my favorite anecdotes involves the Duke of York, brother of King George III, who insulted a high-class prostitute by leaving her only half of her normal fee:

"Kitty, whose usual charge for a night was 100 guineas, illustrated her contempt by placing the banknote between two slices of buttered bread, which she ate for her breakfast."

The latter part of `Eclipse' skips around a bit, telling the story of George Stubbs, who painted Eclipse several times, the travels of Eclipse's skeleton, and the racing/breeding careers of several of this Thoroughbred's descendants. The author has collected many memorable stories about Thoroughbreds and their owners, right into the 21st Century.

One of the most recent anecdotes involves the feud between `Sheik Mo' (ruler of Dubai) and the `boys' (Ireland's Coolmore Stud), and the battle for the world's most expensive Thoroughbreds (not necessarily the best, but definitely the most expensive). According to this author, Coolmore is winning handily. I am hoping very much that Nicholas Clee expands this ongoing story into another fascinating book about the world of Thoroughbreds. He would be the perfect author to record the high (and low) shenanigans of the world's richest racehorse owners.


ROGGE DUO-Clean Screen Cleaner - Professional grade cleaning kit for all LED, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor, Laptop, Phone Screens, Lenses, Eyeglasses, ... (Extra large Microfiber Cloth + 250ml Cleaner Spray) - Made in Germany
ROGGE DUO-Clean Screen Cleaner - Professional grade cleaning kit for all LED, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor, Laptop, Phone Screens, Lenses, Eyeglasses, ... (Extra large Microfiber Cloth + 250ml Cleaner Spray) - Made in Germany
Offered by ROGGE Cleaner
Price: $16.95
2 used & new from $16.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT spray directly on screen, December 20, 2014
We have multiple screens to clean in our house, and I'd been using my lens cleaner to do the job until I was introduced to Rogge Screen Cleaner. Here are the directions that were sent to me by the manufacturer:

Directions
1. Fold cloth into fourths, and moisten with ROGGE Screen Cleaner (4 to 6 sprays).
2. Wipe surface multiple times (with moist side) using light pressure.
3. Turn cloth over, and polish surface with dry clean section until streak-free.
4. Wash cloth if dirty (no fabric softener or bleach), then air dry (no heat).

Important
* Turn off, and unplug electrical devices, and DO NOT spray directly on screens or surfaces.
* For best results, surfaces should be at or below room temperature.

Rogge Screen Cleaner comes in a generously sized bottle (250 ml) and produces excellent results if you follow the directions.

***product supplied by manufacturer for review purposes***


Rule But I Trusted You,
Rule But I Trusted You,
6 used & new from $5.82

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Wake up and smell the coffee' before it's too late, December 14, 2014
Ex-cop and true-crime writer Ann Rule is a strong victim's advocate, and after you read this book, you'll be one, too. The final two stories are particularly haunting.

Her ill-fated characters are usually undeserving of their fate, although I wish some of them had taken the late Ann Lander's advice to 'wake up and smell the coffee' before it was too late. A few of the victims in these stories knew what was coming, but they couldn't quite separate themselves from their fate.

In Volume 14 of Ann Rule's Crime Files, it is a guy (for a change) who provides the title for this book, and the 173-page lead story: Chuck marries a sociopath who begins to isolate him from his friends and relatives, beginning at their wedding reception. He's a nice guy with a few odd quirks, such as a predilection for mowing the lawn in his BVDs. He quickly realizes his marital mistake, and the only real suspense in this story is to see whether he can extricate himself from his relationship before it's too late.

"Death in Paradise: The Haunting Voyage of the Spellbound"--A couple builds their dream boat and sail off to Tahiti. They never reach their planned destination. The author provides a possible solution to their fate, but this reader was never certain whether their deaths were due to accident, suicide, or murder.

"Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth"--A mother is afraid of her psychotic son, but lets him move back home.

"Monohan's Last Date"--A history lesson on how guys used to find adulterous partners before the days of 'point and click' on the Internet. Stranger-to-stranger encounters were just as dangerous back in the Stone Age (the 'Swinging 70's').

"Run as Fast as You Can"--Female joggers are the chosen prey in this disturbing story.

"The Deadly Voyeur"--No town, however small and rural is safe from a boozed-up creep with a gun. Two students are walking home from school when they meet up with a completely undeserved fate.

"Dark Forest: Deep Danger"--Ann Rule presents her solution to the mysterious disappearance of a young family that went camping in the forests of Oregon.


The Silent Miaow
The Silent Miaow
by PAUL GALLICO
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A cat's-eye view of humanity, December 14, 2014
This review is from: The Silent Miaow (Paperback)
This feline classic, purportedly written by a cat as "A Manual for Kittens, Strays, and Homeless Cats" was first published in 1964. The feisty, well-photographed heroine instructs her fellow felines on the methods by which they can strop and purr their way into the hearts of humans, thereby earning their right to the finest food, the most comfortable sleeping quarters, and the affection of their clueless slaves.

The eponymous silent miaow is but one tactic in this furry author's arsenal, which also includes several different purrs, a fake hunger strike, toleration of human children, and a large repertoire of cute poses.

My only problem with this book is its rather dated notion that cats and women must manipulate men in order to get what they want. There is no meeting of equals in this book. The clever-but-weak stage-manage the strong-but-dumb in order to live comfortably. The only saving grace (this feline author admits with some embarrassment) is that there is sometimes love.


Sages and Dreamers: Portraits and Legends from the Jewish Traditions
Sages and Dreamers: Portraits and Legends from the Jewish Traditions
by Elie Wiesel
Edition: Paperback
54 used & new from $0.03

5.0 out of 5 stars The Witness, December 14, 2014
I was held captive by this book for two weeks in August, when I would traditionally be reading beach fare. I picked it up because the author is Peace Nobelist and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. What could he tell me about the future of Israel in this history of Jewish sages and dreamers, some of whom lived in Israel and others in exile?

A brief note about myself: although I'm not Jewish, I became an enthusiastic Zionist at age 13, after reading "Exodus" and "Mila 18" by Leon Uris. Now, 50 years later, I'm not so certain.

Please help me, Dr. Wiesel!

"Sages and Dreamers" begins with Noah and, as the author puts it: "Let us begin at the end--I mean, at what could have been the end, not of a story but of history itself."

All the way through this extraordinary book, Wiesel stares the end in the face. The apocalypse. The endless night.

Jephthah follows Noah, and sacrifices his daughter. This is the man who most resembles Israel's current leaders. "He was a judge in Israel. He fought for Israel. He saved Israel. His name ought to evoke relief and gratitude--yet it resonates in the darkest recesses of our religious imagination like a warning."

What Jephthah had forgotten was that judges are "supposed to be compassionate as well as fair. A judge is supposed to hold high the value, the sanctity of human life." He killed his daughter because he thought the sacrifice was part of a pact he had made with God to save Israel.

"Sages and Dreamers" is divided into three parts: "The Bible;" "The Talmud;" and "The Hasidic Tradition." There are twenty-five chapters (originally lectures), each about "a man or a woman whose inspired life story [the author] found intriguing and demanding of investigation."

Four of the lectures in the Talmudic section form what seems to me to be the heart of this book. The four sages in these chapters witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Rabbi Akiba , the main figure was born around the year 40 of the Common Era. He was already married with adult children before he began to study the Torah. "'If it were not for him,' says the Talmud, 'the Torah would have been forgotten.'"

In the core episode, Rabbi Akiba and three of his friends, also sages entered the 'Pardes,' the orchard of forbidden knowledge. "One lost his mind, another lost his faith, a third lost his life--and only Rabbi Akiba entered in peace and emerged in peace."

The author explores in depth what happened to each of the four sages, and why. In order to do this, he moves backward and forward in time: from the parting of the waters at Creation; to the Roman persecution of the Jews (when the four friends went on their metaphysical adventure); and ultimately forward into the darkness of Birkenau.

Is it possible that what the four sages saw in the orchard of forbidden knowledge was the future?

We are more fortunate than we know that Elie Wiesel still stands witness. What will happen when he dies? We will still have his books. It is up to all of us to read them and remember.


by Bryan Sykes The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry(text only)[Paperback]2002
by Bryan Sykes The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry(text only)[Paperback]2002
by Bryan Sykes
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $2.97

5.0 out of 5 stars A genetic search for our distant ancestors, December 11, 2014
Although I have been interested in Paleolithic humans for a long time, "The Seven Daughters of Eve' is the first book that fit all of the different archeological sites and scientific discoveries together for me into a coherent narrative.

For instance, although I'm sure I had seen the dates, I didn't realize that Australia had been settled by humans long before they made their way to the Americas.

Essentially, Bryan Sykes, who is a professor of genetics at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, has rewritten the prehistory of the human race as revealed by their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which we inherit solely from our mothers. They, in turn, inherited their mtDNA from their mothers (our maternal grandmothers), and so on back to the 'Seven Daughters of Eve' from whom all Europeans trace their ancestry.

This book assembles the jigsaw puzzle of multiple scientific discoveries, so that the big picture of Homo sapiens migration out of Africa can be seen. It is written in the breezy style of a detective novel, and kept me reading late into the night, to discover what genetic clue the author would elaborate on next. Professor Sykes may be accused of straying over the border between fact and fiction in the latter chapters of "The Seven Daughters of Eve," where he narrates the life histories of the seven ancestresses common to all Europeans, who he named Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine, but his stories helped me understand what life was like in the Stone Age.

The Europeans aren't the only people whose ancestry is traced by this genetic detective. The seafaring ancestors of the Polynesians, who settled the vast Pacific from New Zealand (Aotearoa) to Easter Island are also tracked down via their mtDNA.

Hint: Thor Heyerdahl was wrong.

If you are interested in learning the migratory history of your own ancestors, check out National Geographic and IBM's international research initiative, the Genographic Project at https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html. The DNA testing kit costs $100. That's how I discovered my maternal ancestors could be traced back to Professor Sykes' 'Ursula' (haplo group U5), who lived in Europe around 45,000 years ago. That made "The Seven Daughters of Eve" even more personal for me.


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World
Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "The sun gave forth its light without brightness like the moon...", December 11, 2014
"There was a sign from the sun, the like of which had never been seen and reported before. The sun became dark and its darkness lasted for 18 months. Each day, it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow."

John of Ephesus, a sixth-century church leader and historian wrote the above words. David Keys, author of this book believes the sun was dimmed by a catastrophic natural disaster that occurred in 535 A.D.--a disaster that affected the climate of the whole Earth, not just Europe.

"Catastrophe" is a world history of the 6th Century A.D., rich in detail and grim anecdote. Why were so many barbarian tribes on the move? What caused the deadly plagues that gutted empires on several continents? Why did irrigation systems fail in parts of the world, and thousand-year floods devastate other regions?

Procopius, a prominent Byzantine scholar, referring to the darkened sun, later wrote that "from the time this thing happened, men were not free from war, nor pestilence, nor anything leading to death."

Some of the most wrenching changes took place on the American continents: "Both in Mesoamerica and the Andes, there was a total geopolitical realignment, driven ultimately by the engine of climatic change."

When the Spanish conquered Mexico between 1519 and 1521, "they stumbled upon the deserted ruins of a vast city with wide avenues, great plazas, and huge pyramids." It was Teotihuacan, a once thriving metropolis with a population of between 125,000 and 200,000 inhabitants that had been deserted almost a thousand years earlier.

The archeologically-supported details of what happened to Teotihuacan's priests and nobles when the rains failed and the people ran out of food are gruesome in the extreme.

Drought also claimed the Nasca, whose extraordinary desert drawings have sometimes been attributed to extra-terrestrial sources (the author has his own explanation for them, most especially the straight lines which can be up to thirty miles in length).

Every science from dendrochronology to the study of glacial ice cores is cited by the author to support his contention that a massive eruption of Krakatoa caused the darkening of the sun and the ensuing climatic catastrophes of the sixth-century.

"Beyond Tomorrow," the last chapter in "Catastrophe" is perhaps the most ominous in the book. In it the author briefly touches on potential volcanic super-eruptions that might be in our near future.

I thought the author supported his thesis quite well (except for a brief foray into North America), and the historical detail was almost overwhelming, although very accessible.


Scottish Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) by Rosemary Gray ( 2009 ) Paperback
Scottish Ghost Stories (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) by Rosemary Gray ( 2009 ) Paperback
9 used & new from $12.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Bogles, spunkies, and blackgaird jotterymen, December 11, 2014
Throughout its history, the story of Scotland has been interwoven with tales of the paranormal: Highlanders who 'see' the funeral procession of someone not yet dead; the ghostly reenactments of bloody battles; and fey creatures that lure men to a watery doom.

Rosemary Gray has selected stories from the pens of Scotland's most well-known supernatural authors, including John Buchan, Sir Walter Scott, Margaret Oliphant, and Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as a smattering of anonymous folk tales.

Alas, some of the stories are incomplete, e.g. "The Watcher by the Threshold" by John Buchan is mainly an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the longer, original version.

The other problem with many of the stories (for me at least) is that they are narrated in an almost impenetrable Scots dialect. Here is a sampling from one of the most harrowing tales in this collection, Stevenson's "Thrawn Janet:"

"Wi' a' that he had upon his mind, it was gey and unlikely Mr Soulis wad get muckle sleep. He lay an' he tumbled; the gude, caller bed that he got into brunt his very banes; whiles he slept, and whiles he waukened; whiles he heard the time o' nicht, and whiles a tyke yowlin' up the muir, as if somebody was deid; whiles he thocht he heard bogles claverin' in his lug, an' whiles he saw spunkies in the room."

The longest story, "The Haunted Major" by Robert Marshall, is a humorous tale of a haughty English aristocrat who challenges Scotland's best golfer to a game, even though he himself has never set foot on a golf course.

Of course no book on Scotland's paranormal history would be complete without mention of the late Queen Mother's home, Glamis Castle, often called the most haunted castle in Great Britain. The editor chooses to retell the tales of the guest who was awakened by ghostly hammering, and the stonemason who was forced to emigrate after "discovering more than he should have done" about the castle's secret room.


The Watcher by the Threshold
The Watcher by the Threshold
Price: $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Ash-Tree Press has published a more comprehensive edition, December 11, 2014
Although John Buchan (1875-1940) is best known for his spy novel, "The Thirty-Nine Steps," he was also esteemed for his short stories, many of them with supernatural themes. However, casual fans of such literature will find none of the usual ghosts, goblins, and bloodsuckers in his tales. Kenneth Hillier, Honorary Secretary of The John Buchan Society writes: "[Buchan's] stories were set in and around the places he knew and loved, most famously the Scotland of his childhood, and from his earliest days he showed a fascination with the supernatural, most particularly the idea of 'temenos,' or sacred places; although these places could be sacred to malign forces as easily as they could to more pleasant ones."

If I had to choose another author that reminded me of Buchan, it would be H. Rider Haggard, rather than any of the more well-known writers of supernatural fiction.

This particular collection of five stories was originally published in 1902, and was written while the author matriculated at Oxford University.

"The Watcher at the Threshold"--A brooding, atmospheric tale of demonic possession. The laird of a desolate moor in Perthshire seems to be in thrall to a shadow that clings to his left side. He has come to believe that his manor was built on ground that was sacred to the area's prehistoric tribes.

"No-Man's-Land"--This is the longest (20,000 words) of Buchan's short stories. A Stone-age tribe survives in the Scottish moorland, occasionally kidnapping crofters' wives and daughters, who are never again seen in the outer world. They also capture a professor of Northern Antiquities, who is taken to a cave sacred to their Neolithic god (the 'temenos' of this story).

"The Far Islands"--A young boy grows up on the coast of Scotland, dreaming (or hallucinating) of a mystical island just beyond the Western horizon that can be reached only in death.

"The Outgoing of the Tide"--An historical tale of witchcraft and the Evil One. Two young lovers pledge to meet on Beltane Eve on the haunted Sker sands, when the tide is at its lowest ebb.

"Fountainblue"--This is a psychological rather than a supernatural tale. It is the portrait of a strong, self-made man who learns that "the sad elemental world of wood and mountain was far more truly his own than...cosy and elegant civilization."

Ash-Tree Press has published a far more comprehensive collection of John Buchan's supernatural fiction under the same title, "The Watcher by the Threshold" (2005). It contains a detailed introduction by Kenneth Hillier, a glossary of Scottish dialect, and 28 of this author's supernatural tales. I would recommend it over this edition.


Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Bath & Shower Gel (500 ml)
Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Bath & Shower Gel (500 ml)

5.0 out of 5 stars The only shower gel that truly smells of sandalwood, December 11, 2014
Sandalwood is one of my favorite fragrances, and I've tried shower gels from Caswell-Massey and other cheaper brands that purport to be sandalwood, or a sandalwood blend. Believe me when I say that the Sandalwood shower gel from Taylor of Old Bond Street is the only product that captures the true essence of this aromatic oil.

The bottle is squeezeable (unlike the Caswell-Massey bottles) and the top stays closed when I transport it back and forth to the pool (an essential feature for me).

Spend a little extra, and get the real thing from Taylor of Old Bond Street. Even though the bottle size is only 6.8 fl. oz., this product lasts longer than similar shower gels as it only takes a small amount to lather up a rich, highly-scented foam. This product is the Rolls-Royce of shower gels.


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