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takingadayoff "takingadayoff" RSS Feed (Las Vegas, Nevada)
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The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives
The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives
by James Forrester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.51

4.0 out of 5 stars The Cowboy Surgeons Who Tamed Heart Disease, July 2, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
James Forrester joins a long list of doctors who write for the general public. As a cardiologist who has been a witness to and sometimes a participant in the incredible advances in heart medicine over the past fifty years, he takes us through the progression -- CPR, electric shock, transplants, angioplasty, stents, statin drugs. It's an inherently dramatic story, and Forrester makes it even better by zeroing in on the big personalities behind many of the innovations.

He explains what the heart does, both when it works well and when it doesn't. He takes us into the emergency room of a 1960s hospital and illustrates how little doctors could do for a person with heart disease. He uses examples from his own career, so there's a personal element that adds to the drama.

Many of the doctors who've come up with the big advances in heart medicine were risk takers who seemed to enjoy thumbing their noses at the establishment. Forrester doesn't hide his admiration for these men (and they were all men) who antagonized people and sometimes risked other people's lives to prove their hunches. But it's hard to argue with his admiration, since their risk-taking led to life-saving procedures that are almost commonplace now. On the other hand, you have to wonder how many mavericks and cowboys are out there who aren't as successful. Yikes.

The Heart Healers isn't on the same level as Oliver Sacks' excellent works, or the recent Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by brain surgeon Henry Marsh. The Heart Healers does have its share of excitement, tragedy, drama, and victory, and includes a chapter on ways to reduce your chances of getting heart disease.


PureGuardian H8000B 120-Hour Elite Ultrasonic Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier with Digital Smart Mist Sensor, 2-Gallons
PureGuardian H8000B 120-Hour Elite Ultrasonic Warm and Cool Mist Humidifier with Digital Smart Mist Sensor, 2-Gallons
Price: $169.99
9 used & new from $135.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Dry Desert Air Has Met Its Match, June 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is my first humidifier and it's only in desperation that I've turned to one. The weather here in the desert is dry pretty much year round, down under 10% most of the time. I wake up a couple times a night with dry sinuses and have to get some steam. Nosebleeds are not unusual. But I don't really want a humidifier because the only thing worse than dry air is humid air with its resulting mildew and mold.

This PureGuardian (a brand I had not heard of until now) is a fairly simple to use unit that holds two gallons of water (preferably distilled water especially if your tap water is hard - the decalcification filter is sold separately). The only tricky part is flipping the filled water tank over into the unit without spilling any water, but practice makes perfect. Adjusting the controls for desired humidity, cool or warm mist, night light or not is easy.

Like many others I couldn't get the machine to go above about 30-32% humidity but that is plenty, in fact, 20-25% is ideal for me. Set it on cool, no light, and I'm good for a comfortable night's sleep. The unit is very quiet in operation, the little noise it makes is like a pleasant white noise, can't imagine it could keep even the lightest sleeper awake.

Haven't had to clean the unit out yet, but this looks like a straightforward process. I'm happy with the PureGuardian so far.


Zenna Home H21WW04, Luxury HotelWaffle Weave Shower Curtain, 70 in x 72 in, White
Zenna Home H21WW04, Luxury HotelWaffle Weave Shower Curtain, 70 in x 72 in, White
Price: $24.38
13 used & new from $15.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Drying, Good Looking Curtain, June 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm impressed! This Zenna shower curtain is fabric or fabric-like, not plastic-y and yet it dries out quickly after a shower. It hangs nicely, like fabric rather than plastic and it doesn't have the plastic smell I've come to expect in a new shower curtain. I usually like a pattern or design on the curtain, and this is just a white color, but the main thing for me is that it lets light through so that even though there's no light overhead in the shower, I'm not showering in dim light. Very nice. The quality is good, no loose threads or weak-looking curtain ring holes. I think I have a new favorite shower curtain in this one.


Death in Brittany: A Mystery
Death in Brittany: A Mystery
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Inspector Maigret, June 30, 2015
Commissaire Dupin of the tiny Concarneau police department in Brittany lacks some of the "hidden depths" which "now seem a quasi-requirement for his profession: drug addiction or at least alcoholism, neuroses or depression to a clinical degree, a colorful criminal past, corruption on an interesting scale or several dramatically failed marriages. He didn't have any of those things to show off about."

And that's one reason I like Dupin. It's about the mystery, not the depraved serial murderer or the cop who forgets which side of the law he's on. The setting is splendid. In this book, the first of a series, the little town of Port-Aven is the scene of the crime, and also the getaway for many artists over the years -- Picasso, Gaugin, and others. The mystery that Dupin must solve has everything to do with this world of art. Quite fascinating.

Death in Brittany (Death in Port-Aven in the British edition) is our first look at Dupin's world and I can't wait to read more. But I'll have to wait until they are translated into English (they were originally published in German).


A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Novel)
A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Novel)
by Elizabeth George
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.11

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Paced Psychological Drama, June 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's been a long time since I checked in with the Inspector Lynley gang. I think the last one I read was #9 - Deception on His Mind, and now we're all the way up to #20 in the series. I expect this is some kind of heresy, but I don't really care much for Inspector Lynley. It's Havers that's interesting. She's difficult and doesn't seem to care. Lynley is too perfect to be interesting, but the author seems to like him.

A Banquet of Consequences is an overlong book, almost 600 pages and no suspicious deaths until page 159. There are subplots about both Lynley, who is falling in love again, and Havers, who has become the special project of one of the secretaries in the office, who wants to see Havers dress better and be more social. The main story is about an extremely unpleasant woman who creates non-stop drama around her at all times. Another character is a professional feminist, which tells you that Elizabeth George may be living in the past to even include such a tired stereotype.

I stuck with the story, although it really did drag at times, I think it could have been a third shorter without losing any of the plot or subplots. Just cutting out long descriptions would accomplish that.

I was glad to see the old gang, but I probably won't be keeping in touch. Maybe in another ten years.


The Truth and Other Lies: A Novel
The Truth and Other Lies: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Author Is As Cynical As The Protagonist, June 25, 2015
The Truth and Other Lies is a thriller. It's fast paced, keeps you guessing, and is tremendously diverting. A perfect airplane book.

On the other hand, it's not plausible, it's strangely bland, and the author leaves us with no hope of a satisfying conclusion.

I found the premise irresistible -- our hero is a famous writer who hasn't written one word of the bestselling books with his name on the covers. His wife has written them all. Is this another story like that of artist Walter Keane, whose big-eyed waif paintings turned out to have been painted by his wife, Margaret? No -- Harry's wife, Martha, doesn't care about fame or even getting published. She tells Harry to do what he likes with the manuscripts and leave her out of it. She also doesn't mind that he has frequent affairs. Clearly, she is an exceptional woman.

Martha is also an unusual writer in that she types out her stories on a typewriter, fully formed, with no drafts or outlines or missteps. She just types them out once and they are ready to submit. Harry's editor has little to do other than accompany Harry to book signings and book fairs.

The Truth and Other Lies is also bland. Tim Parks, literary critic and novelist, has written about the trend to write novels that can be easily translated, especially into English, and that don't have a lot of local color that has to be explained to readers from around the world. This book fits that bill. It takes place in Germany, but it could have taken place in any coastal town. Even the characters' names don't sound particularly German -- Harry, Martha, Betty. This was obviously a story written to be easily and quickly translated for international markets. It's a book you won't mind leaving on the plane and won't remember two days after you finish it.

As for the possibility of a satisfying ending, it's impossible to say much about that without dropping spoilers, so I'll just say that a satisfying ending doesn't have to be a happy ending, it just has to make sense and seem right. This one didn't seem right to me.


LG G4, Ceramic White 32GB (Verizon Wireless)
LG G4, Ceramic White 32GB (Verizon Wireless)
Price: $599.99

4.0 out of 5 stars My First Smart Phone, June 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is my first smart phone, so I might be more impressed with the LG G4 than many of the rest of you. It's also my first true android device, although I've had a couple of the Amazon Kindle Fires that use a pseudo-Android operating system. Most of my device experience has been with Apple products, iPads and iPods, although no iPhones yet.

The G4 seems big to me, it's the size of the iPhone 6 Plus. This is great for the screen space, but I don't find it handy to carry around. On the other hand, it's very comfortable to hold and extremely light weight. It's a good looking unit as well, I have the ceramic white, and the metallic gray and leather black look even better.

The display is crystal clear, really beautiful and where this really shines is with the camera, which is as good or better than any digital camera I've ever had. I love it.

I also like some of the other nifty features such as the removable battery (why don't all cellphones have this?) and the voice activated Google search, which worked right out of the box, no problem. This is an impressive smart phone and I will probably get used to the super size eventually.


Life After Life: A Novel
Life After Life: A Novel
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Gave Up on This Book, But Glad I Didn't, June 21, 2015
About 100 pages into this long novel, I put the book aside, not sure if I wanted to continue. I have liked the other Kate Atkinson books I've read, very much. I hated to give up on this one, but it was so slow and nothing was happening. Yes, I get the strange nature of Ursula Todd's life, she lives and dies, then we rewind a bit, she lives again, slightly differently and lives a little longer, dying differently this time. And again and again. But Ursula's childhood was lasting a heck of a long time and it seemed to me that this story would not get going until Ursula was an adult.

I came back to the book, with a more patient frame of mind, and was caught up in the story this time. It was still slow but now the pace had a purpose. What a book! I still don't know quite how to describe it or how I feel about it, except that I am thinking of reading it again. I hardly ever read books again. But it seems like a book that will be completely different if I were to read it again.

While I have overwhelmingly positive feelings about Life After Life, one thing occurred to me -- I think the whole Hitler subplot could have been left out. It was just so implausible and cliche that it was more distracting than anything else. On the other hand, having Ursula spend one of her lives in Germany during the war was powerful.

I am now looking forward to the next novel of Atkinson's, A God In Ruins, but I think I might wait just a bit to start it. Still recovering from the Life After Life experience.


Gaiam Sol Premium Yoga Blanket
Gaiam Sol Premium Yoga Blanket
Price: $59.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Medium Weight Blanket for Multiple Uses, June 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You wouldn't call this a thin blanket, but it's a medium weight cotton blanket, 60" x 80", big enough for a twin bed, maybe a full, definitely great for a throw in the den. It's soft but not bulky like a fleece or thermal blanket and therefore easily folded or rolled for use during exercise or yoga. The colors are soothing, not too bright (it's a YOGA blanket after all), and it seems like a good quality product. 100% cotton means it will go into the wash with no problem as well. I'm very happy with this blanket!


Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue
Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue
by Melvin I. Urofsky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.92

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Beg to Differ, June 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wait! Dissent is more exciting than it sounds. It turns out that dissent is not just a way for Supreme Court justices to disagree with the majority -- it's a way of sharpening arguments on both sides, a way of preserving minority arguments for use in future cases, and even a way of changing the court's thinking on a case entirely.

Melvin Urofsky's book Dissent and the Supreme Court examines the various roles that dissent has played and gives many examples that show how dissent has added to Federal law and sometimes changed it completely.

We all know that the Court doesn't always get it right the first time around. But without dissent (and it's surprising just how many Chief Justices discouraged dissent in an effort to get unanimous opinions -- didn't it ever occur to them how much like the Soviet Union that sounds?) the arguments are inevitably weaker and less likely to hold up over time. There are many examples of draft dissents that made the majority return to their own arguments to strengthen them. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg claims that several times a year the Court changes its collective mind on cases due to well-argued dissents. Once the Supreme Court started working as a team rather than a collection of individual justices, dissent became a vital tool to make better arguments.

This is not a chronological book, rather a collection of major cases and the role that dissent played at the time and in cases years later. It's a pretty interesting look at Supreme Court history and you don't need to be a legal scholar, just someone who's curious about the Supreme Court and American law. I would have liked the book a bit more if there hadn't been so many times when Urofsky assumed the reader knows something, sometimes a well-known (to him) legal case, sometimes something more trivial, like the name of a movie that he refers to but never actually named. Usually Google came to the rescue, but I couldn't help thinking "why don't you just TELL me the name of the movie?"


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