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E. A. Lovitt "starmoth" RSS Feed (Gladwin, MI USA)
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The Terrible Hours 1st Harper Collins Paperback edition
The Terrible Hours 1st Harper Collins Paperback edition
by Peter Maas
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $1.72

5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping account of the rescue of the 'Squalus', July 13, 2014
Anyone who suffers from the least amount of claustrophobia might want to give "The Terrible Hours" a pass. When the U.S. submarine 'Squalus' sank in 243 feet of water on the eve of World War II, no one had ever succeeded in rescuing men from a sunken submarine.

243 feet doesn't sound like an insurmountable obstacle. Our driveway is a bit over 1100 feet long and I can stroll down to the mailbox in less than ten minutes. But 243 feet of water works out to over 125 pounds per square inch of pressure. The human lungs are adapted to exchange gases at 14.7 pounds per square inch of pressure. When the hero of this book, Charles "Swede" Momsen was experimenting with an artificial 'lung' that would allow submariners to escape from depths of 100 feet, two of his divers died when coming up from a depth of only18 feet. However, the 'lung' was not at fault. "The two men had died simply because they had held their breath...someone only 18 feet down who fills his lungs with air or oxygen takes in over half as much as he would on the surface even though it occupies the same amount of space. If he holds his breath, it immediately begins to expand as he rises." The excess pressure (8 pounds per square inch) drove air bubbles into the divers' bloodstreams and, in the time it took from them to surface, into their brains.

The survivors aboard the 'Squalus' had Momsen lungs, and most of them had trained to use them--but from a depth of 20, not 243 feet.

Luckily, Swede Momsen had been testing his latest invention: a diving bell that could be lowered to the sunken sub and sealed around a hatch. The survivors could climb into the bell and be safely raised to the surface of the ocean. However, the devil lay in the details.

"The Terrible Hours" tells the story of the 'Squalus' and the attempted rescue of her crew from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Peter Maas writes a gripping account of this first, real test of Momsen's diving bell, and of the huge effort it took just to get the Navy to allow Swede Momsen to build and test his new life-saving devices.

The struggle to salvage the 'Squalus' and her subsequent career during World War II are also vividly portrayed. Swede Momsen didn't rest on his well-earned laurels, and his further exploits during the war are also included. He comes across as a combination of Thomas Edison and a man of action that John Wayne would have been eager to portray on the silver screen.

Note: On Youtube, there is an episode of "The Silent Service" devoted to the rescue of the Squalus. Charles 'Swede' Momsen makes a brief appearance at the end of the film. If you enjoyed "The Terrible Hours" you will want to see this film.


Plan Your Defence (How to Play Bridge)
Plan Your Defence (How to Play Bridge)
by Freddie North
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from $9.85

5.0 out of 5 stars The best organized of any of the bridge books I have read, July 12, 2014
This succinct and useful 96-page book was first published in 1998 and was written by a British bridge expert. Even though British tournament play relies on much different bidding systems than we use in the United States, good defensive play is the same no matter where you are.
The contents are divided into 19 sections:

1. Foreword
2. Introduction
3. The opening lead
4. Leading against a suit contract
5. Leading against no trumps
6. Leading against slams
7. Second hand plays low
8. Third hand plays high
9. Third hand plays intermediate
10. The rule of eleven
11. Covering honors and when not to
12. Should a trump honor be covered?
13. Don't give a ruff and sluff
14. Discarding
15. Don't block a suit
16. Attitude signals
17. Count signals
18. Suit preference signals
19. Glossary

This guide has already helped me eliminate several defensive mistakes, such as playing an ace as my opening lead when I don't have the supporting king in my hand (this particular lead is perceived as 'common wisdom' in my bridge group). Another useful bit of information is when NOT to lead a singleton in hopes of getting a ruff before the declarer draws trump.

"Plan Your Defense" is the best organized of any of the bridge books I have read. The author doesn't waste a word and supports his advice with lucid examples. Beginning and intermediate bridge players will find this to be a very useful guide. I am assuming that expert players have already internalized all of the information that is presented in "Plan Your Defence."


THUNDERHEAD; DELL#8875 First Printing (A Mayflower Book)
THUNDERHEAD; DELL#8875 First Printing (A Mayflower Book)
by Mary O'Hara
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $8.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Son of Flicka, July 8, 2014
I reread "Thunderhead" after a hiatus of forty years, and was surprised that I enjoyed it even more as an adult. I had to wonder how I made it through the parts about Rob and Nell's financial difficulties and rocky marriage when I was a teen-ager, but I know I read them because I can still remember details and characters after all these years.

The first book of the trilogy, "My Friend Flicka" was never a favorite of mine, and the third book, "Green Grass of Wyoming" concentrates more on teen-age romance than horses. But "Thunderhead" is a perfect balance between the story of a boy's difficult coming-of-age and the wilder saga of his horse.

The boy, Ken grows up on a horse ranch in Wyoming during the Great Depression. His mare, Flicka gives birth during a thunderstorm to an ugly white foal that Ken's mother, Nell names 'Goblin.'

Nell has the gift of giving animals their true names, but Ken begs her to come up with something grander for Flicka's colt:

"There was an ache in Nell's heart. She looked at the foal--that stubbornness, the mulish head, that stupidity, trying to nurse on every horse in sight, not knowing his own mother; and its anger--it ran across the corral head down, kicking out with one hind leg--it seemed full of hatred."

Finally, she looks to the sky for inspiration and names the white foal, 'Thunderhead.'

Ken struggles to raise Goblin/Thunderhead as a race horse, but the white colt forges a stranger destiny for himself in the mountains of Wyoming's Neversummer Range, where his grandsire, the savage Albino rules a stolen band of mares.

I was amazed to learn that Mary O'Hara's Wyoming trilogy was a work of fiction. It just seemed so real to me. Now I know that parts of it are strongly autobiographical. In fact, this author published at least three non-fiction, autobiographical works: "Novel-in-the-Making" (1954); "Wyoming Summer" (1963) based on her diary of sixteen years; and an autobiography, published posthumously, "Flicka's Friend" (1982).

Don't listen to anyone who tries to label "Thunderhead" as a work of juvenile fiction. It is much more than that. The birth and death scenes are intensely lyrical, and there is a core of untamed wildness in all scenes away from the ranch and the racetrack. Here is the beauty and the cruelty and the vastness of the American West without the usual stereotypes.


Some Horses: Essays
Some Horses: Essays
by Thomas McGuane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.84
37 used & new from $12.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Library of Literary Oddities, July 8, 2014
This review is from: Some Horses: Essays (Hardcover)
Some books are hard to classify, in spite of their seemingly simple titles. Among them are "Rats, Lice, and History" by Hans Zinsser, most of John McPhee's natural history books, and "Some Horses" by Thomas McGuane. One could call them philosophy as focused through Nature--the very opposite of religion as focused through the tribal mind.

I've been on enough horses to know that you don't tell them what to do. You ask them, and if the horse trusts you, he'll respond favorably if he knows what you want. The author discusses the equine-human relationship in depth, focusing on the art of cutting cattle from a herd. I suppose if McGuane had been more mellow Californian and less Wyoming rancher, he would have called this book, 'The Zen of Cutting Horses.'

Writer, rancher, horseman, and conservationist Thomas McGuane is the author of nine novels, a collection of short stories, several collections of essays on sport and horse, and he also wrote the screen play for "Missouri Breaks."

The latter just goes to show that an author can be an expert on his subject and still end up as a grease mark on the Hollywood Wall of Shame.

My favorite essay in "Some Horses" concerns Chink's Benjibaby, a black cutting mare, who worked cattle with an intensity that verged on loco. She went through many owners, including the author, until she found her rider. The author asks, "How did you train the mare?"

'"I didn't," says [Chink's new owner]. "I never won a fight."'

The black mare had a glint of what McGuane calls 'unlost wildness.' She knew she was special and demanded respect. When a new ranch hand fed other horses before Chink, "she was simply so offended at not being fed first that she hurled herself on the ground and held her breath until she was given her grain."

This is not a book that rants and lectures about the plight of the ranchers, like, say the Peter Bowen mysteries. McGuane reminds me more of Mary O'Hara, author of "The Green Hills of Wyoming"--lean, beautiful prose suffused with melancholy about a vanishing way of life.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 12, 2014 4:29 AM PDT


Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond (Paperback) - Common
Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond (Paperback) - Common
by by Merri Melde
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from $18.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love horses, this book will wring you dry., July 8, 2014
Merri Melde had the courage to live her dream life with horses and I'm grateful that she shared her experiences in "Soul Deep in Horses" with those of us who lacked the courage to give up our comfortable lives to wrap legs, muck out stalls, and ride out in the cold, stinging rain just to be with our equine gods. I can't remember another book that had me alternately laughing and crying as much as this memoir. I was reading Chapter 12, "The World's Greatest Horseman" while overnighting at a friend's house and I was laughing so hysterically, I had to smother myself with my pillow to keep from waking everyone else. That was where Zayante, the world's greatest endurance horse walked into my soul. When he colicked on a trail ride in Chapter 17, "The Last Ride" I was right there with the author, screaming at him to stay on his feet, take another step, hauling on his bridle to get him to the next vet check, whipping him forward even though his bowel was twisting in agony.

If you love horses, this book will wring you dry.

There are also ecstatic rides on the perfect horse in perfect surroundings: riding Irish race horses on the Curragh (no matter that the author had come down with pneumonia); riding Borcan, "the blustery, formidable, woman-hating, breast-biting...white stallion" past the Pyramids of Egypt; riding next to a horse who had starred in "Lord of the Rings" on the most perfect beach in New Zealand; and of course, riding Zayante (9900 miles, 60 Top Tens, 5 Best Conditions, 4 Tevis buckles) through the mountains and deserts of the American West.

"Soul Deep in Horses" has made its way onto my list of all-time favorite horse books, along with "Some Horses: Essays," "The Black Stallion," "King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian," and "Horsepower:A Memoir." I hope you get a chance to ride with Merri.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2014 11:49 AM PDT


Walls of Flame
Walls of Flame
by Gerard Schultz
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Michigan tragedy, July 6, 2014
This review is from: Walls of Flame (Hardcover)
"Walls of Flame" can be read with interest by Michiganders or those of us who are fascinated by natural disasters. This book is an account of the toll that lumbering took on one corner of our fair state. I hadn't realized that the 'thumb' of Michigan had suffered an enormous fire in 1881 that killed an estimated 282 people and left almost 15,000 homeless.

When the middle of Michigan was lumbered in the beginning decades of the 19th century, the loggers "had left a wilderness of slashings, consisting of pine tops, branches, pine needles, stumps and sections of discarded trunks of trees. The slashings covered thousands of acres of land and in many places were from 12 to 15 feet high." When the land began to be settled, farmers would often clear their land by setting fire to the slashings. A severe drought in the summer and fall of 1881 made this a very dangerous practice, and furious winds on September 1st began whipping the individual fires into a wall of flame that burned Michigan all the way from West Branch down through the Saginaw Valley and into the Thumb.

The author, Gerard Schultz has put together eye-witness accounts from the local newspapers (and the "New York Times") that paints a vivid picture of the fire and of what people had to do in order to survive:

"About 4:30 a tremendous roar like a heavy discharge of artillery was heard to the north and west of the village, and the glow of miles and miles of burning material made the western sky red with heat, but failed to cast a ray of light through the thick atmosphere which was blinding and suffocating everybody." (from "The Huron Times" September 8, 1881).

In one of the numerous accounts of people who survived by clambering down wells is the grim account of a man who placed his wife and six children down into their homestead's well, then fought to keep the fire from burning down their home. When he could no longer endure the heat, he climbed down into the well with his family. "The wind tore the roof off the house and dropped it over the well. The entire family died of suffocation."

This 83-page book is a quick read and contains illustrations from the same newspapers from which the eye-witness accounts were drawn.


Grill Brush | Heavy Duty 12" Stainless Steel BBQ Brush - The Ideal Accessory for Cleaning Steel, Porcelain, and Cast Iron BBQ Grills - Best Grill Brush for a Weber BBQ - 2 Year Guarantee - The Fastest, Easiest Way to Clean Your Grill
Grill Brush | Heavy Duty 12" Stainless Steel BBQ Brush - The Ideal Accessory for Cleaning Steel, Porcelain, and Cast Iron BBQ Grills - Best Grill Brush for a Weber BBQ - 2 Year Guarantee - The Fastest, Easiest Way to Clean Your Grill
Offered by Kanbrook
Price: $15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleaned up 15 years worth of grease---with one caveat, July 6, 2014
We have a fifteen-year-old gas grill with two rows of heating elements, one in front, the other in back. The rack on our grill is made of cast iron, which has a fairly rough surface. The official griller in our family uses the rack sear-side up, with rails that are semi-circular in section. The other side (`grill' side) of the rails is flat in section with a central rib.

I used the grill scrubber as directed, dipping it in water to clean a hot rack. I only used it on the `sear' side. The grill scrubber worked very well in the center of the rack, cleaning it smoother than it's been in years. The ends of the rack, which did not get as hot and are coated with several layers of baked-on grease, were cleaned only of the surface grease. I suspect that it may be necessary to heat the ends of the rack with a blow-torch to get them clean with the grill scrubber. The next time my husband uses the grill, I'll turn the rack over to the `grill' side to see if that will come clean.

Over all, we were very pleased with the results and ease of use.

***product supplied by manufacturer for review purposes***
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 10:02 AM PDT


Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia
Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia
by Edward Humes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.87
77 used & new from $2.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Corruption and murder in the Deep South, July 2, 2014
Pulitzer-prize-winning author, Edward Humes has written a true crime story that opens on the bullet-riddled bodies of Judge Sherry and his wife, Margaret in Biloxi, Mississippi, the vice capital of the deep South. For much of the twentieth century, the "Dixie Mafia" bought and paid for the local government and the police force, and drug dens, illegal gambling, and prostitution flourished along the seaside highway known as 'The Strip.'

Vincent Sherry had been practicing law with his partner, Pete Halat in Biloxi ever since retiring from the Air Force in 1981, and one of their most lucrative clients was Mike Gillich, owner of the Strip's most notorious strip clubs. By 1987, Sherry had been appointed to the bench and his wife Margaret had just finished an unsuccessful run for the office of mayor. The two of them seemed to be on a course to clean up Biloxi's corrupt government--at least until their bodies were discovered in their home on Monday, September 14, 1987.

Local cops bumbled through the Sherry murder investigation, at one point accusing one of the couple's sons of the crime. Margaret and Vincent's daughter, Lynne Sposito grew more and more disgusted with the handling of her parent's murder, and in 1989 she hired a hired a private investigator, ex-state trooper Rex Armistead to look into the case. His first strong suspect had nothing to do with Biloxi's corrupt government. The man 'he couldn't get past' was Judge Sherry's former legal partner, Pete Halat!

Some of this book's most fascinating scenes take place in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison, where a convict serving a life sentence was running a wide-open lonely-hearts scam that was netting him hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions). His victims were gay men, and although the authorities had been notified of the scam many times, no one seemed to care enough about the victims to take the steps necessary to shut down the crime ring. Coincidentally, the scammer's lawyer and 'banker' happened to be the dead judge's ex-law-partner, Pete Halat, who was currently in the running to be Biloxi's next mayor.

"Mississippi Mud" occasionally bogs down in the complex legal and illegal maneuvering that eventually involved the FBI as well as the local prosecutors, the Lonely Hearts scammers, and members of the 'Dixie Mafia.' Lynne Sposito eventually got justice of a sort for the murder of her parents, but this book ends too soon, and you will have to go to the Internet to learn the more recent and satisfying end to this case of corruption and murder in the Deep South.


Chalk Ink 6mm Earthy Wet Wipe Markers, 8-Pack
Chalk Ink 6mm Earthy Wet Wipe Markers, 8-Pack
Price: $30.56
7 used & new from $28.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dries fast but hard to start, July 1, 2014
It's always good to see a new medium on the market for artists and crafters. These markers yield a 'chalky' appearance when dry. They dry quickly and do not smear like regular chalk, after they dry. I used them on 80 lb. cardstock, and the colors didn't leak through the paper. The only problem with using them on paper, is that the tips of the markers disintegrate rather quickly. The manufacturer recommends that the markers be used on hard, non-porous surfaces, not paper.

My main problem with these markers was how long it took to get the coloring medium to permeate down into the tip. The manufacturer recommends that you shake the marker for two minutes, then press the tip up and down until the color begins to flow. It really does take a couple of minutes. However, once the color has saturated the tip of the marker, it appears to stay there. I stored them upright, and the color still flowed after a couple of days in this position.

Once the marking fluid had dried, I was able to stamp over it with permanent ink (see customer image). There are ten colors in the 'Earthy' package, including black and white, although the two brown colors are almost indistinguishable.

***product supplied by manufacturer for review purposes***
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2014 9:15 AM PDT


The Eighteenth Century: Europe in the Age of Enlightenment. Texts by A. Cobban, J. Summerson, W.H.G. Armytage, D.C. Coleman, K.G. Davies, J.R. Western, L.D. Ettlinger, R. Shackleton, O.H. Hufton.
The Eighteenth Century: Europe in the Age of Enlightenment. Texts by A. Cobban, J. Summerson, W.H.G. Armytage, D.C. Coleman, K.G. Davies, J.R. Western, L.D. Ettlinger, R. Shackleton, O.H. Hufton.
by Alfred; Various Cobban
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $3.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grand book about a glorious age in European history, June 29, 2014
This is a grand and gloriously illustrated history of Europe in the Age of Enlightenment (Alfred Cobban, Professor of French History at the University of London and the editor and main author prefers to call this period the "siècle des lumières"). I've always thought I would have loved to have been born into this age (assuming I had wads of money and was one of the first to be vaccinated against smallpox). It may have been the age of absolute despots--Louis XIV of France, Peter the Great of Russia--but it was also their final reign (in Europe, at least). In the first section, "The Pattern of Government," Alfred Cobban begins the history of the Kings, Courts, and Parliaments of the Age of Enlightenment in 1660 and takes it up to the French Revolution. He is both an eloquent and passionate about his subject, and his essays are some of the most brilliant in this multi-authored book, even though he knew he only had a few months to live as he wrote them.

The remaining sections in this 360-page book are: "The Architectural Setting" (Sir John Summerson); "The Technological Imperative" (W.H.G. Armytage); "Countryside and Industry" (D.C. Coleman); "Europe Overseas" (K.G. Davies); "War on a New Scale" (J.R. Western); "Taste and Patronage" (L.D. Ettlinger); "The Enlightenment" (Robert Shackleton); "The Rise of the People" (Olwen H. Hufton); and "Epilogue: Reform and Revolution" (Alfred Cobban).

"The Eighteenth Century" is part of a series published by McGraw-Hill Book Company that includes "The Dawn of Civilization," "Vanished Civilizations," "The Birth of Western Civilization," "The Dark Ages," "The Middle Ages," "The Age of the Renaissance," and "The Age of Expansion." It contains 589 illustrations, 173 in color, 416 photographs, engravings, drawings and maps. My only problem with it is that it's too big and heavy (6 lbs) to take to bed with me, which is where I do much of my quality reading. This is a book to dip into and savour, rather than read straight through.

The Eighteenth Century remains a high-water mark of art, gracious living (at least, for the rich), science, philosophy, and music in Europe. Even if you only look through the illustrations in this book, you will come away with a good idea of what it meant to be alive in the Age of Enlightenment. To quote one of its major figures, Voltaire: "We live in curious times and amid astonishing contrasts: reason on the one hand, the most absurd fanaticism on the other...sauve qui peut."


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