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Jill Clardy "So many books, so little time...." RSS Feed (Redwood City, CA USA)
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Larger Than Life (Novella) (Kindle Single)
Larger Than Life (Novella) (Kindle Single)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars So Well Researched and Written That I Thought it was Nonfiction !, August 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I downloaded the novella when it was briefly offered at no charge, and then forgot to read it for a while. When I started to read, I forgot that it was written by a fiction author, Jodi Picoult, and really thought that I was reading non-fiction. The writing about Alice's experiences with the monkeys during her time in the Harvard labs and later in Botswana while researching long term memory in elephants was so thorough and detailed and rich that it was easy to forget that this is a work of fiction. Picoult must have really done her homework when she researched for this book.

Alice, after earning her PhD from Harvard, decides to forego the offer of a tenured position at Harvard to follow her passion of researching the elephants in a remote sanctuary in Botswana. She has a difficult relationship with her mother who does not approve of the move. While doing her research in Botswana, Alice comes across an infant elephant, recently orphaned when its mother and others in the herd were poached illegally for their tusks. Alice knows that it is against the rules of the camp to bring back a baby elephant, but she can't bear to leave it behind, knowing it will soon perish.

The novella portrays Alice's adventures with feeding and caring for the elephant and interesting background info on the elephant mother-child bond, with parallel stories of her upbringing and challenging relationship with her mother. The ending is poignant and heartwarming, and I look forward to reading more on this subject and learning more about Alice and her elephants.

Larger Than Life is apparently a prequel to a full novel, entitled Leaving Time, due out this fall . The story stands perfectly well on it own, but I really look forward to finding more about the main character Alice and her career as a scientist / naturalist studying the habits of elephants in the wild.


Scotts 18982 Miracle-Gro Titanium 8-Inch Detachable Shear with Sheath
Scotts 18982 Miracle-Gro Titanium 8-Inch Detachable Shear with Sheath
Price: $17.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Design & Sharp Blades But Handles Are Too Small for Larger Hands, August 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As soon as I received the shears I took them out in the garden for a trial. The grip fits my hand nicely and the long serrated blade cuts cleanly through small stems. I used it to deadhead roses, cut herbs and trim the foliage from my lilies which are no longer blooming. I also tried them on smaller branches and twigs of our Pittosporum hedge but the shears struggled to cut through the larger branches. The shears can be separated into 2 parts to allow effective cleaning. Though I found the grips comfortable, my husband felt they were too small for his hands.

Though the description and photos indicate that a fabric storage pouch is included, apparently those of us who selected these shears from the Vine product listing did not receive the pouch. I will store my shears indoors with my other fabric and paper scissors to reduce the chance that they will get weather beaten. Since the blades are titanium, I assume that they will not corrode or rust, which has been the fate of my other shears.


Finding Vivian Maier
Finding Vivian Maier
DVD
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Learn More About The Elusive Vivian Maier and Her Astonishing Contribution to Street Photography, August 20, 2014
I have been fascinated with the story of Vivian Maier since I first came across the post in a flickr group related to Street Photography in 2009:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157622552378986/

John Maloof found the treasure trove of Vivian's life work in 2007 - 2 storage lockers with a collection of thousands of rolls of never developed film - mostly black and white images, as well as 8mm home movies, cassettes and memorabilia from her life. She had been a loner and a hoarder, and the contents of the storage lockers were going to be destroyed if Maloof hadn't acquired them at auction. It is an act of true serendipity that the collection fell into the hands of such a curious person who appreciated what he had found - it could just have easily all gone into a dumpster! The acquisition of this collection inspired Maloof to learn more about photography, practice the art of street photography himself and start the long and arduous process of developing the film and finding who Vivian Maier was.

Because Vivian was such a hoarder, there were records, receipts, old mail, etc. that allowed Maloof to find many of the families for which she had worked as a nanny. She was indeed a loner and an eccentric and most felt that she had suffered some pivotal event in her past that made her unable to form close and lasting relationships; she never married nor had children and had no living relatives. She died alone, without ever having revealed to the world her astonishing collection of wonderful street photography images; in fact, she had developed so few of them that she may not have not known how truly great her work was.

Maloof weaves the story with many images, movie clips, audio clips and time lapse photography of the collection of objects she left behind. The original music that accompanies many of the scenes provides an interesting accompaniment, though sometimes it seems to be mismatched with the scenes and tone of the images. He also includes extensive interviews with some of the families she worked with. No one ever felt that they had truly known her; she worked for them, she took the children on outings on which the camera was always hanging around her neck, but beyond that she kept to herself. Basically she pursued her passion of street photography in spite of having to look after the children, and sometimes even took them into seamy and less than ideal neighborhoods. The children were also frequently her photographic subjects.

The most arresting part of the documentary was the inclusion of many images, carefully selected from the nearly 100,000 available to Maloof. Maier's ability to capture the defining moment was indisputable. Framing, focus, and exposure were spot on - something that modern photographers aspire to achieve with much advanced technology. She was no "point and shoot" amateur; she mastered a series of Rolleiflex cameras.

The documentary has whet my appetite to see even more of Maier's images - I hope that her art will hung in a nearby gallery some time soon !

Ultimately, however, in spite of the title "Finding Vivian Maier", I'm not sure she could be found. And yet, there are many self portraits in her collection. Did she hope that she would ultimately have the courage to display her collection and that people could know her better? Did she have the life she wished for? Or did she think that someone would discover her images after she was gone? Her motivations remain a mystery. Her posthumous fame would probably not have been welcome during her life.


Dell Computer WM524 Wireless BT Travel Mouse (F7TJK)
Dell Computer WM524 Wireless BT Travel Mouse (F7TJK)
Offered by antonline
Price: $24.99
33 used & new from $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Installs Quickly and Operates Well, August 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Dell WM524 Wireless Mouse (co-branded by Logitech) has an elegant design, and the symmetrical form factor makes it suitable either for left hand or right hand use. I like the metallic colored border around the edge, as it makes it easier to locate on the dark desk surface out of the corner of your eye.

The most challenging part of the installation process was prying the thing out of the plastic clamshell ! I plugged the dongle into the USB port on my Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, popped the included batteries into the mouse, replaced the cover, pressed the power button on the bottom, and saw the cursor appear on my screen within about 30 seconds. It was not necessary to install a driver, or run any programs. When I think of the hassles of installing peripherals over the years, I am pleasantly surprised at how easy the manufacturers have made it.

My problem with a wireless mouse is that I drop it frequently. As with other mouses (mice?) I've dropped, the cover pops off when this device lands on the floor, but the batteries don't fall out, and the plastic is sturdy enough to withstand the fall. The cover is attached with magnets and pops easily back into place. The mouse tracks nicely on smooth, shiny surfaces though I haven't tried to use it on any highly reflective surfaces such as glass. The scroll button is smooth and responsive and the buttons make a very quiet, nearly silent click.

This mouse is nearly identical to the WM514 mouse, just a little bit shorter and lighter since this is considered a "travel mouse". I question the need for a travel mouse since it's such a small object, doesn't weigh much and doesn't take up much space in the briefcase or backpack anyway. I actually found this mouse a bit too small to fit comfortably into my hand, whereas the WM514 is more substantial and fits my hand well. A person with smaller hands might prefer this version, however.


Ziploc Small Bowl Container, 5 ct-2 pack
Ziploc Small Bowl Container, 5 ct-2 pack
Offered by MAMA'S PLACE, Inc.
Price: $15.47
3 used & new from $3.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Kitchen Gear, August 18, 2014
Ziploc food storage bowls are in constant use in my household, storing left-overs and transporting my breakfast and lunch each day. I reheat and eat my lunch out of the bowl as well. My Ziplocs have gone through the dishwasher countless times. Eventually I need to replace them if they've been used to store tomato-based foods or soups, as those tend to stain the plastic. The lids also become brittle and crack after many uses. They're so economical that I don't mind if I give leftovers or food to someone who doesn't return the bowl - in the old days of expensive Tupperware containers, that would have been upsetting! I like the round bowls, as the lids are interchangeable between several different sized bowls.

The Ziploc bowl descriptions on the Amazon pages are inadequate in that it is difficult to know what size you're looking at and to gauge how much it will hold.


Barney's Version
Barney's Version
DVD ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by Selection 1985
Price: $12.94
22 used & new from $2.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let the Previews Fool You - This is a Love Story, not a Comedy, August 17, 2014
This review is from: Barney's Version (DVD)
Barney Panofsky (played by Paul Giamatti) lead a wild and hedonistic life style during his youth when living in Rome and collected an electic assortment of friends, and one short-lived wife. He was later swept off his feet by his second wife, played perfectly by Minnie Driver, but it soon became apparent that she wasn't the love of his life. During a weekend away at the family cabin in the woods, his best friend died in a suspicious accident, and the local constable was convinced that Barney murdered him, though there was no body and insufficient evidence to pursue a case. The wild life, 2 wives, and murder are depicted in the previews, but if you selected the movie based on the previews alone, you would be quite surprised at the way the plot developed, as I was.

Barney met his third wife, Miriam (played by the lovely Rosamund Pike) when she was a guest at his wedding to Minnie Driver. It was love at first sight, and he was infatuated with her, but she wouldn't have anything to do with him while he was married. When the second marriage ended, he was free to court her, and they married and lived happily ever after ---- well not quite, but they had a long and very happy marriage. The movie is ultimately about love and commitment and the true connection between these two characters. There are many poignant moments, both happy and sad.

Casting in Barney's Version was excellent - no one plays the misguided, slightly narcissistic schlub quite like Giamatti. His father was played charmingly by Dustin Hoffman, and I just can't say enough about Rosamund Pike. She played Miriam so beautifully - lovely, witty, charming, no-nonsense, and intelligent. She was too good for Barney, and he probably knew it - but she was the love of his life until the end.


Vera Bradley Tech Case in Island Blooms
Vera Bradley Tech Case in Island Blooms
Offered by Galinda's
Price: $19.99
5 used & new from $16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for my IPod Shuffle !, August 17, 2014
This review is from: Vera Bradley Tech Case
The padded zipped "tech case" is just perfect for my 2 IPod mini's - one pink and one blue. I keep music on one IPod and use the second for podcasts, Ted Talks, and books. The USB charger cable, both IPods and both sets of earbuds fit handily in the pouch which I then toss into my handbag or briefcase. The zipper pull has ribbon attached to make it easier to close, and the wrist strap is attached via a small hook so you can remove it if not needed. It's nice knowing that all of the IPod accessories are safe in one spot, less likely to get lost, and protected from bumps and scratches. Others have noted that the case is probably not large enough for many of the current smartphones, but what's the point of having your phone zipped away in a case where you may not be able to get to it in time to take a call?


Echoes of Heartsounds: A Memoir
Echoes of Heartsounds: A Memoir
by Martha Weinman Lear
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Heartsounds" is Heartwarming and Contains Useful Advice, August 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Echoes of Heartsounds" is a lovey and poignant memoir of Martha Weinman Lear listening to her heart - not only the heart attack that echoed the one that took her first husband 30 years earlier, but the way in which her 2 husbands have loved her and how she has returned that love.

Her heart attack was nothing like the "Hollywood" heart attack that is so often depicted on film - where the man clutches his chest in agonizing pain and falls to the floor. She had an elevated temperature and felt severe nausea, but no chest pain at all - just an unsettling assortment of symptoms - "a strange unpleasant fluttering sensation low in my chest, down there at the sternum, like the fluttering of wings". She didn't decide to visit the doctor until the following day - the same doctor that had attended to her husband decades earlier. Though she felt well enough within a day or so, another EKG showed that "something had happened" - the frustratingly vague terminology that the medical staff used to keep her in the hospital for more observation. While hospitalized she contracted a virulent staph infection which spread from her arm to her leg and lead to such pain that she bedridden for weeks. Lear required intensive physical therapy to get back on her feet.

Though I know that Lear survived to write this memoir, the downward spiral of her medical issues spells the end of life for many in her situation. Lear uses her memoir to give sound advice to women experiencing any sort of unsettling symptoms as a reminder that a heart attack can take many forms. Lear also uses this time to reflect back on the pain and loneliness of widowhood, as well as her wonderful luck in finding another man to love. There seems to be quite a bit of repetition from the previous book, "Heartsounds" and even some repetition within this book, as though she was stretching the material to get it to book length. The advanced uncorrected proof that I read was 188 pages of large type with wide line spacing - which means the final format will probably be a rather slim volume. Nevertheless, it is a very emotional and useful memoir, particularly for a woman of my age.


Dell Computer WM514 Wireless Laser Mouse (DR1KP)
Dell Computer WM514 Wireless Laser Mouse (DR1KP)
Offered by antonline
Price: $28.99
18 used & new from $27.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant Design, Works Immediately "Out of the Box", August 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Dell WM514 Wireless Mouse (co-branded by Logitech) has an elegant design and substantial feel in the hand. The symmetrical form factor makes it suitable either for left hand or right hand use. I like the metallic colored border around the edge, as it makes it easier to locate on the dark desk surface out of the corner of your eye.

The most challenging part of the installation process was prying the thing out of the plastic clamshell ! I plugged the dongle into the USB port on my Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, popped the included batteries into the mouse, replaced the cover, pressed the power button on the bottom, and saw the cursor appear on my screen within about 30 seconds. It was not necessary to install a driver, or run any programs. When I think of the hassles of installing peripherals over the years, I am pleasantly surprised at how easy the manufacturers have made it.

My problem with a wireless mouse is that I drop it frequently. As with other mouses (mice?) I've dropped, the cover pops off when this device lands on the floor, but the batteries don't fall out, and the plastic is sturdy enough to withstand the fall. The cover is attached with magnets and pops easily back into place. The mouse tracks nicely on smooth, shiny surfaces though I haven't tried to use it on any highly reflective surfaces such as glass. The scroll button is smooth and responsive and the buttons make a very quiet, nearly silent click.

I am very pleased with this mouse, and especially love the fact that one more messy cumbersome wire has been removed from my desktop.


Dell Inspiron i3043-1250BLK 19.5-Inch All-in-One Desktop
Dell Inspiron i3043-1250BLK 19.5-Inch All-in-One Desktop
Price: $319.99
6 used & new from $319.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Easy Setup - You Will Be "In Business" in No Time At All, August 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The i3043 is the entry-level model in the new Inspiron 3000 series All-in-One desktop series. It arrived in a carton inside a carton and was easy to unpack and setup. Just plug in the keyboard and mouse and you're ready to go. The bootup process was simple and not too time consuming. The only glitch I encountered was not being able to remember my Microsoft user Id and password. Somehow after a bit of fumbling I finally got past that hurdle.

The form factor is very sleek and attractive. The monitor rests on a repositionable picture frame style stand, and the angle can be altered to suit your preference. I substituted a wireless Dell mouse for the wired mouse just to eliminate the cord clutter. The keyboard is rather spongy feeling and definitely low-end and I might eventually substitute a wireless keyboard also. The unit includes 3 USB ports and 1 HDMI. We have installed the unit in our family room on a small desk and have connected it to our tv via the HDMI port so that we can stream Internet video. We also use it for Internet browsing, email, recipes, etc.

The Inspiron does not include any application software, but that's not a drawback since we don't intend to use it that way. This computer would be ideal for a student to do homework, or for a browsing workstation, perhaps for the elderly who are technology challenged, or any environment where space is limited but you don't want to invest in a laptop.

Having endured the setup hassles of many computers over the years, I have to say that this was the most painless of all. Dell has come a long way in usability and user convenience.


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