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Official Settlers of Catan Board - Plastic 5-6/3-4 Player
Official Settlers of Catan Board - Plastic 5-6/3-4 Player
Offered by Catan Boards Shop
Price: $44.99
5 used & new from $35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Has renewed Catan for us, September 11, 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This is a fantastic product! We had stopped playing Catan because the sliding of the tiles made it more trouble than it was worth. This board completely eliminates that issue and allows us to finally enjoy this great game without distraction.

The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
by Salman Khan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.99
169 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that everyone should read, December 10, 2012
I do not believe that I have ever given a blanket recommendation for a book. However, it is difficult for me to imagine a person who should not read "The One World Schoolhouse."

Khan provides a history of the Western education system, including how we arrived at the current set of class levels and letter grades. He then effectively eviscerates that system and lays bare its tragic inadequacies. In doing so, Khan is very fair. He gives credit where it is due. But there is no doubt of the end result. Our system pounds the love of learning out of children, it settles for "just good enough", stifles original thinking, and costs an outrageous amount of money.

As a homeschooling parent, I was already aware of the problems with the education system. We pay a massive opportunity cost to keep our children at home. But Khan still blew me away with how bad the system has become and what it has done to our society.

Khan offers many examples of how the system should be overhauled. It is quite detailed and exciting. To cite just two examples.

1. Flip the classroom so that students watch the lectures at home, and do "homework" at class. There is no reason for a teacher to stand in front of inactive and passive students giving the same "broadcast lecture" year after year. Allow the students to watch the lectures at their own pace, rewinding and re-watching as many times as necessary. Then use valuable class time to work the assignments in class when the teacher and more advanced students are available to help.

2. Do not keep all of the students in lock step. In our current system, the class must "move on" according to a set schedule whether or not some of the students have mastered the material. No student should be forced to move on until she has mastered the concepts. Doing so is just setting her up for failure. In Khan's system, mastery is king not the calendar. Students are decoupled in such a way that they can work at different levels. Doing so allows more advanced students to continue to be challenged. It also allows them the opportunity to help the students who are not yet as advanced.

This book is filled with page after page of head-slapping "of course it should be that way" ideas. I have never been more excited to be a homeschooling parent with the opportunity to implement as many of those ideas as possible!

Learn How to Compost - A Guide to Composting
Learn How to Compost - A Guide to Composting
Price: $2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short on detail, August 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The information in this book is good, but there is too little of it. The author only covers the very basics and does not go into enough detail to get a new composter off to a good start.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2012 1:08 AM PDT

Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 3)
Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 3)
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $8.99
140 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, February 1, 2012
I enjoyed this book. The previous book of the series struck me as too scattered and under developed. However with Cursor's Fury the author has settled down a bit, tightened up and brought more focus to the narrative. Happily he is focusing on the aspects of the story that I happen to most enjoy.

That being said, I still feel that the author takes too many short cuts that detract from the story. This is particularly true in the area of character development. For example, a character suddenly is a master pick pocket, which is very convenient to the plot, despite nothing is his past providing any reason for this him to have this skill. This sort of under development still occurs often enough to be distracting.

This is a good, but not great, series. Definitely worth the time if you just enjoy it for what it is.

Offered by Appstore - US - MP - Offer
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent note taking app, January 15, 2012
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This review is from: Evernote (App)
A great app for taking and synching notes. I use it on my PC, phone and kindle. Everything is always there waiting for me. Used it for years and it hes never leg me down.

1,000 Comic Books You Must Read
1,000 Comic Books You Must Read
by Tony Isabella
Edition: Hardcover
68 used & new from $9.11

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book is not the best format for this..., January 14, 2012
I don't think that a book is the best format for this information.

Mr. Isabella provides a list of his favorite comics broken down by decade. Each section starts with a brief synopsis of what was happening in the world at the time and how this affected the comics that were published. This is all well and good. However the information provided is along the lines of what one would expect from a simple blog post.

Each comic presented as a "must read" for the decade is accompanied by an image of the cover and a brief blurb about the comic. The information is very high level and in most cases does not include any detailed analysis or commentary.

The list of comics given for each decade is very eclectic. Just about every imaginable type of comic is presented. Super Heroes, Westerns, Disney, Romance, etc are all lumped together. Most readers of comics are not going to be interested in reading all of these subjects. I would suspect that a small minority of comic readers will read any type of comic published out of love for the medium. However I also suspect that most have a few favorite styles that they tend to gravitate toward. I would have appreciated some way of filtering the list of comics so that I could focus on my own preferred types of comics, and then dabbling into the other styles if I felt like branching out. Again, this is something difficult to do in a book but could be easily accomplished on a blog or other web site.

Naturally, some of the titles suggested in the list were of more interest to me than others. I found myself wishing that there were an easier way for me to get more information about the titles that peaked my curiosity without having to jump out of the book and look online. I would have especially liked to know whether or not the title was available for purchase online in a digital format. One again, more difficult to do in a book than online.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that all of this information should have just been put on a website somewhere, and having in book format was much less useful.

The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young
The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young
by Loren Cordain
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from $2.48

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, if overdue, update to "The Paleo Diet", January 14, 2012
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This book is an overdue update to Dr. Cordain's classic previous work "The Paleo Diet" which greatly accelerated the concept of applying the sciences of evolutionary biology and anthropology to contemporary nutrition.

In short, Dr. Cordain provides a scientific guiding principle that humans ate, exercised and slept in specific patterns for well over a million years. Then, a comparatively recently 10,000 years ago, the agricultural revolution dramatically altered these patterns. These patterns have been dramatically altered, again, in the past 50 years with the addition of man made preservatives, colorings, favor enhancers, processing and storage techniques. Consequently, the diet that we consider "normal" bares little resemblance to what our bodies are engineered to function upon. Dr. Cordain goes on to assert this is the primary underlying cause for the "first world diseases" of cancer, heart disease, obesity, etc.

I find this argument compelling.

In this update, Dr. Cordain demonstrates how the principles in "The Paleo Diet" have been validated in the past decade. He also makes some corrections and changes his position on a few issues where the studies have not backed his previous assertions.

The best chapters are those that deal with vegetarianism and dairy.

Dr. Cordain documents in great detail the deficiencies of vegetarianism, and demonstrates how this could not possibly be a diet upon which humans were designed to live.

I found the chapter on dairy to be similarly enlightening and disturbing. I have traditionally described myself as "soft on dairy" when it comes to my personal approach to paleo nutrition. This chapter of book has me reexamining my own approach to the role dairy plays in my diet.

Highly recommended!

Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
by Scott Hahn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.26
90 used & new from $4.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book!, January 11, 2012
One of the best books that Scott Hahn has written... and that is saying a lot!

The main contention of this book is that the first Christians came into contact with the scripture in in the context of their liturgy. The practice of devotional reading came along much later, and while profitable it is not the primary context in which scripture should be understood.

Dr. Hahn goes on to explain, in fantastic detail, the unity of liturgy and scripture. To facilitate the conversation, he defines the terms economy, typology, and mystagogy. Do not allow the more technical terms to worry you. Dr. Hahn explains them clearly, and beautifully, and then uses them to demonstrate how the scripture and liturgy are one.

Highly recommended!

Kettlebell Rx: The Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches
Kettlebell Rx: The Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches
by Jeff Martone
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.26
35 used & new from $16.45

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the kettlebell book you are looking for..., January 7, 2012
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This book is an instant classic, and is destined to become the standard reference for kettlebell fitness and sport. You can only learn so much about kettlebells from a book, but Kettlebell Rx is as good as it is going to get.

Jeff Martone's kettlebell resume speaks for itself. He is certainly an expert and also an excellent teacher and coach. Martone has experience with both of the two major styles of kettlebell lifting, the so-called "hard" and "fluid" styles. He is able to explain the styles clearly and also point out that these names are more about marketing than any kind of fundamental differences.

Part one of Kettlebell Rx addresses flexibility drills and kettlebell exercises. This is by far the longest section of the book. The exercises are clearly explained and are accompanied by photos showing how they should be performed. Martone also demonstrates the common mistakes that people tend to make and gives advice on how to correct the errors. Also included is great information on how to structure the exercises into a safe and effective workout program. Not to be missed is the section on "lifting people" where Martone demonstrates his popular stunt of using a person in place of a kettlebell for a Turkish Get-Up. I don't think I'll be trying this anytime soon, but it is awesome to see! The production value of the book and the photos is very high. I am surprised the book does not cost more, given that every page is in full color on high quality paper.

Part two deals with rotational power development, such as hand-to-hand drills, "hot potato" exercises and other drills that use a lighter weight. This part of the book has the same high quality of instruction and production value.

Part three introduces kettlebell sport. Many people simply lift kettlebells for general fitness and/or to increase their performance in their other sports. However kettlebell lifting is itself a sport, with its own set of rules, tournaments, titles, etc. Martone introduces us to the sport, describes its history and champions, and also recounts his own experience in achieving his first title.

As good as this book is, and as Martone himself points out, there is no substitute for having a trainer if you are just starting kettlebell lifting. Having a knowledgeable trainer watch and correct your form is the best and safest way to begin lifting kettlebells. I know it is expensive (believe me, I know!) but your health is worth it. In my experience, a trainer can teach you the basics that you need to know in around ten sessions. That and a kettlebell or two will be all you need for a lifetime of fitness. It is a terrific bargain!

If you absolutely can not, or will not, get a trainer then at least have another person watch you lift and help you correct your form with the guidance in the book. But I would really recommend a trainer.

I really can not recommend this book highly enough. If you are a kettlebell enthusiast, you simply must have this book. If you are thinking about starting kettlebell lifting, this should be your first book. It could really be your only book.

It's that good.

True Compass: A Memoir
True Compass: A Memoir
by Edward M. Kennedy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.63
62 used & new from $1.42

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and frustrating..., January 4, 2012
This review is from: True Compass: A Memoir (Hardcover)
There is certainly much that could be said about this book, due to its length, the long period of history covered, and the controversy surrounding the author.

In addition to his own personal life story, Senator Kennedy offers his own unique perspective on the tragedies suffered by his family. Controversies are white washed where possible and mei cuplas are offered for his "personal failings" where white washing is not possible. He settles some personal scores with politicians both sides of the aisle, and discusses at length his own progressive theories for "reform" of our socioeconomic institutions. And he speaks of his love for his family and his Catholic faith.

However what struck me most was the entirely different world in which the late Senator lived. There is, of course, the fact that he was the product of a wealth and political connections. He speaks casually of his multimillion dollar properties, his sailing boats, Irish bread horses and global vacations. It is astounding to me that he could view himself as an advocate of the common man, as nothing in his life was common.

Beyond this, however, Senator Kennedy seems to show absolutely no understanding of the harm done by the repercussions of his policies. The Senator believed that "working hard" meant pushing a bill into law. And if that bill had a pleasant sounding name, it must be positive. Take as an example his championing of raising national minimum wage. He pats himself on the back for this "accomplishment" but seems completely oblivious to the lost jobs, rise in prices for goods mostly purchased by those with lower incomes, lost opportunity for unskilled workers to receive on the job training to become skilled workers, and the distortions introduced by the economy by reducing the ability of people to trade in freedom.

I wouldn't mind so much if there were any indication that Senator Kennedy understood these issues but felt that the good in his policies outweighed the bad. However the Senator does not provide any evidence of thinking beyond stage one (to use the phase from Thomas Sowell). There is an arrogance to the man, which is common in progressives and neoconservatives, that they are smart enough to inject themselves into incredibly complex systems and tinker with them in away that only produces the good results consonant with their good intentions. When the unpleasant unintended consequences of their actions manifest themselves the solution is to tinker more and make the situation even worse.

It would come as a great surprise to Senator Kennedy to learn that he, and those like him, are the cause of many of the social problems that so distressed him.

In the end this is an interesting, if limited and frustrating, account of the past half century from the vantage point of a man in extraordinary an situation. I do wish the Senator well and pray he rests in peace.

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