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Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life
Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life
by Brian Wansink
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.32
84 used & new from $13.18

3.0 out of 5 stars Fuzzy focus, disappointing in the lack of new content, and too much self-reference in the foodnote sources, February 26, 2015
Mindless Eating was a great book in its time (2007), summarizing some very interesting research about environmental and behavioral influences on our dietary choices, and I still recommend anyone interested in these areas to be sure to read it as a source text.

Unfortunately, I cannot make the same recommendation for Slim by Design. There really are few if any new insights in the seven years since Mindless Eating was published. Even more disappointing, my rough estimate of citations in the footnotes puts them at from 30 to 50% authored/co-authored by Wansink himself, a kind of self-referral that doesn't seem all that objective.

The other key problem with this book is that it is hard to know who the audience is expected to be. There are lots of ideas if restaurants or school or employee cafeterias want to promote healthier eating but, I'll admit that, as a consumer, I am not all that happy to read about ways for businesses to promote their higher profit margin foods, even if they are healthy.

I have given this three stars because there are helpful ideas for those in the groups noted above who are truly trying to promote healthier eating. However, if anyone is coming to this for ideas in their own personal lives, buying habits, and kitchens, Mindless Eating is the book to read, not this one.


A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a must read for us all, February 25, 2015
How can each of us "transform lives and create opportunity?" Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn provide a wide array of examples and anecdotes of people all around the world who are helping others find a path to greater fulfillment and opportunity. While some of this may seem as familiar as the latest non-profit infomercial or YouTube video, this book pulls the stories together with suggestions on how non-profits might more effectively address some of the world's greatest problems. They are not afraid to point out weaknesses as well as strengths in some of the best-known charities and gently and repeatedly encourage readers to look at their own lives and resources for ways to reach beyond themselves for the benefit of all mankind.

This is not just a book for reading; it is a reference tool for personal reflection and consideration of how we can act to help others from right where we are. Highly recommended for anyone 12 and over.


OXO Basic Can Opener
OXO Basic Can Opener
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, solid quality for a basic kitchen tool, February 25, 2015
This review is from: OXO Basic Can Opener (Kitchen)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This cuts cleanly, gets started easily on even slightly dented rims, and has been easy to clean. It is lightweight, something that could be an asset but might also indicate it may not last as long as my heavier Oxo opener. However, it is half the price of the heavier one and is functioning well enough that I see no need to pay the higher price.


Parenthood: Season 5
Parenthood: Season 5
DVD ~ Monica Potter
Price: $23.52
19 used & new from $19.54

2.0 out of 5 stars Seasons 1-4 okay; 5 has lost it, February 17, 2015
This review is from: Parenthood: Season 5 (DVD)
Seasons 1 through 4 were great, and I have been recommending the series to many others who are binge watchers (ie, a whole season at a time) too. However, I think the show has jumped the shark, a year ahead of its last season (which I have yet to see).

Here are just a few of my problems with this season: a woman whose only political experience is some campaign staffing now decides, on a whim, to run for mayor of a city the size of Berkeley? Really? And then she immediately has a full time staff of several, ready to take on her opponent? sure, some are called "interns," but they miraculously appear and start right to work. Funding sources? Really?

Or what about the young woman, newly engaged, who stays late at work and goes out and gets drunk with an entire rock band. When her fiance arrives and, yes, wrongly starts a fight with one of the band members who he sees pawing at his fiance, she never once shows remorse for her actions, only for his acting out in this way. Really?

And the sister who is now the super in an apartment/condo/whatever complex and discovers that one of her tenants is a world famous physician/humanitarian, winner of great and wonderful awards, yet she has never heard of him, and no one who visits him seems to give away his elevated status. Really?

Then there is the rocky relationship where, as others have pointed out, the husband has completely changed his personality, whose lives have shifted from his being the stay at home parent to her taking on that role. Remorse for one's own actions here? Not a bit. Is this really where we want to go with this?

Bottom line: I will indeed move on to watching the entire season 6, just to complete the cycle, but I would warn anyone not already into this series to reconsider before starting out, or at least just quit at the end of season 4. You can find all kinds of plot summaries around the internet to give you details on how the Bravermans wrap up their lives, and you will be saved some pretty inane scenes and situations. Sad to see a good series go bad so quickly.


Bettyville: A Memoir
Bettyville: A Memoir
by George Hodgman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.77

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living with both an aging parent and memories of a long ago childhood, February 17, 2015
This review is from: Bettyville: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For people who grew up in small towns and then have spent most of their lives in large cities, much of Hodgman's story can sound familiar. Still, his own story, just as the life story of each of us, is unique. His narrative of an only son returning home to care for an ailing parent is no doubt one that will become more and more common as our population ages, and the struggles of seeing his mother slowly fade into dementia are often difficult to share. However, Hodgman is an engaging writer, and this is a book well worth reading. My only quibble is that a few sections are a little confusing as he conflates memories of past events with contemporary incidents. This is only a small quibble and I recommend this as nonfiction reading even those who stick mostly to novels will enjoy.


The Storm and the Tide: Tragedy, Hope and Triumph in Tuscaloosa
The Storm and the Tide: Tragedy, Hope and Triumph in Tuscaloosa
by Lars Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.68
70 used & new from $15.00

3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Specialized Football History Book, Not a Full Telling of the Birmingham Tornado Story, February 17, 2015
I'll admit it; I am not enamored by football, and I have never quite understood the deep ties many have for their area's college football team. Maybe that is why I didn't see this as anything more than a 3 star book.

Basically, Anderson has chosen to tell the story of Birmingham Alabama's horrific natural disaster from the viewpoint of the famed Alabama football team. While the team was hit with significant losses, narrowing the focus so much sometimes reduced the overall impact that the tornado had on a large city. In addition--perhaps not surprisingly for a Sports Illustrated writer--he too often emphasized football minutiae to the point of losing the narrative flow for all but the most avid sports fan.

If you are drawn to sports books (and especially if you are a Bama fan), this could be a good read, but for those looking for a broader history of this event, I would not recommend this for more than a cursory read of a book checked out from the library rather than purchased.


Magazine Backing Boards (100 Count), 8.5 x 11"
Magazine Backing Boards (100 Count), 8.5 x 11"
Offered by TJTSPORTS
Price: $13.83
14 used & new from $9.14

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Organizing Tool for Those with Lots of Fabric, February 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As with so many others reviewing this product, I purchased these for organizing my quilting fabric, and they have given my sewing room a whole new look. While the weight is pretty equivalent to most cereal boxes, it would take a lot of breakfasts (and tedious cutting to size) to get enough box cartons ready for what this little package provides, already cut and ready to go.

Some reviewers have mentioned that the boards seem too light weight for fabric, but the key is simply not to wrap the cloth too tightly the first couple of turns. Since the size is just right for the typical 44-45 inch fabric, just fold the cloth in lengthwise quarters, lay fabric and backing board on a flat surface and proceed to wrap up the cloth.

One other point--these also make great backings for printed out photos you may want to send in the mail, even an extra layer for putting behind a cross stitch or other craft picture before framing. Lots of versatility for a relatively low cost...and easily reusable.


Cook N Home 6.5 Quart Stainless Steel Popcorn Popper Stovetop
Cook N Home 6.5 Quart Stainless Steel Popcorn Popper Stovetop
Price: $31.99
24 used & new from $24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If you make a lot of popcorn, this one's for you, February 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Works well, cleans up easily, and is a nice heavy weight. Does a great job with kettle corn too. A little bit more than the aluminum versions, but it should easily last long enough to make up for the higher initial cost.


T.S. Shure Pictorial Map of the United States of America - Laminated Poster with Interactive Stickers
T.S. Shure Pictorial Map of the United States of America - Laminated Poster with Interactive Stickers
Price: $19.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Far better choices are out there to introduce your kids to the USA map, February 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Whether a map is sold to children or adults, it should be first of all accurate (unless it is clearly done for some purpose of caricature). On that point alone, this map fails. That nifty little jog at the top of MN that could introduce the kids to the history of how our state and nation boundaries were drawn? Totally missing.

A second failing of this map is the overuse of colorful images. While these pictures may be initially attractive to kids, they are overly large and obliterate a lot of important geography. Want to tell your kids about the only place where four states come together in one spot? Sorry, but the pretty little drawings of the Rockies cover up most of the Four Corners lines. Kids who once lived in Maryland outside DC won't be able to see their former home at all because of the gigantic drawing of the White House. Yes, each state's drawing includes the state capital, but the overuse of graphics has also eliminated the placement of many other cities that could be very relevant to both the kids' own experience as well as to teaching about history, geography, etc. My other concern with kids' maps that focus on cutesy illustrations rather than more cartographic features is that these very images meant to draw the children's attention will quickly lose their appeal, and the ongoing interest and educational value of the map will be lost. All too soon, a map like this is likely to be determined as "too babyish" for the growing child to want to have in his or her room.

The stickers included are unique, and some of them could be good for kids who have traveled a lot and/or have relatives in a lot of places. Unfortunately, however, if you live in a relatively small state along with most of your child's family, friends, and vacation experiences, it is possible that he or she could end up having a stack of three, four, or more stickers all covering a tiny area. Think of the Red Sox loving Bostonian kid whose favorite vacation is down to the RI shore, with favorite camping in NH, grandparents in CT and MA, his favorite city his own home town, etc. etc.

Another thing missing here, something that many other maps in this price range include, is a little brochure or folder with some added relevant points about each state that would be helpful for a parent to use in helping the kids learn more about the geography, history, even demographics and economy of all parts of the country. While these things can of course be found quickly on the internet, having the data already accompanying the map is a feature very helpful in providing some immediate answers to inquisitive kids.

Finally, the price and format. This is laminated and looks like it could hold up to quite a bit of use, but it comes rolled up tightly and took quite a bit of time laying flat on the floor to uncurl enough to hang easily. The four grommets may keep the curl from being a problem, but having to put four holes in the wall isn't something many people would want to do, especially with a map that is going to be as quickly outgrown as this one. As for price: a quick check on Amazon as well as with other providers on the internet will yield a large number of similarly priced maps with much greater accuracy.

I definitely think having maps available to your child is important, but this one isn't one to start with.


Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir
Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Well Lived, in Service to His Country, February 5, 2015
This is what memoir should look like. Christopher Hill has spent decades as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), at increasing levels of responsibility and in many of recent history's most troubled areas. He brings inside the workings of diplomacy and negotiation around the world, most notably in the Balkans, North Korea, and Iraq, with a great amount of detail and insight.

What I found remarkable and rewarding in Outpost was Hill's recognition of the contributions of the many who served with him and the almost gentlemanly reluctance to name those with whom he disagreed or who he saw as inept or wrong in their positions. It is clear whose side he was on with the infighting that churned between Bush the second and VP Cheney, and he candidly discusses his disagreements with McCain. Hill refutes the often repeated "conflicts" between him and General Odierno and expresses a deep regard for the man and his work.

The 400 pages of this narrative will bring you deep into the negotiations and personalities of some of the biggest news events of the past three or more decades. This is a man who served under presidents from both parties and for a succession of Secretaries of State, and his story is one that will enlighten the reader, regardless of one's political views. Not a tell all tale, not a book written to settle old scores, this is one to read and savor.


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