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Sun, Aug. 28th, 2016, 12:33 pm
Getting to know you!

Stormie nibbling my ear!

Being sweet!

Sat, Aug. 27th, 2016, 05:38 pm
Our Newest Family Member

This is Stormie, hatched on 3 June.  She's very quiet (so far) and easy going.  Still needs to learn the basic commands, such as, "Step up!"  So far we've determined she has a good appetite.

Stormie is a little sleepy after arriving at her new home

Sun, Aug. 21st, 2016, 03:14 pm
The Scavenging Spoils

Here are a couple pics showing the Star Trek ballcap and glasses I got at the local Hastings "Going out of business sale." Tried to make selfie not look like a selfie.

Sun, Aug. 21st, 2016, 12:14 pm
Britannia's Wolf, reviewed

Continuing with my efforts to post regularly, and running down the list of book reviews I've written, we come to Britannia's Wolf by Antoine Vanner.  Actually, Brittania's Reach comes first, at least alphabetically, but by switching the two around, we preserve the order of the series.
Britannia’s Wolf
By Antoine Vanner

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

        In 1877, Commander Nicholas Dawlish resigns from the Royal Navy and is commissioned as Kaptan in the Ottoman Navy to help in that Empire’s war against Russia.  Taking command of the ironclad Mesrutiyet and a small flotilla of smaller vessels, Dawlish gains the confidence and respect of his Turkish comrades.  Together they disrupt Russian supply lines in an attempt to stop the enemy’s relentless advance on Istanbul.  But power struggles at the top mean it’s all for naught, and Dawlish ends up fighting on land.
        In many ways, this story reflects what is currently happening in that part of the world.  Not only are nations pitted against each other, but the various faiths seek to destroy or exact revenge for a variety of atrocities.  There is also a connection with A Place Called Armageddon, by C. C. Humphreys, which tells the story of the fall of Constantinople several centuries earlier.
        In Nicholas Dawlish, the author creates a character well in tune with the times.  Here is a naval officer brought up in the tradition of sail, but who is well versed and in tune with the emerging steam powered and revolutionary ships of that time.  He is also one aware of and perhaps hampered by then current social conditions.  Throughout, he proves to be a person of humanitarian instincts and yet doesn’t hesitate to fight, to kill, and even to maim, if it suits his purpose and the goals of those he has sworn allegiance to.  Dawlish is honor bound and driven to succeed.
        This is a riveting, face-paced, and exciting story, making it imperative to read the next in the series, Britannia’s Reach, at the earliest opportunity.  The only distraction noted was in the unusual formatting of the book, with an extra line being skipped between each paragraph.  Like discovering that one has begun a book utilizing single quote marks where one would expect double, or vice versa, one gets used to it.  In all, the story flows, it’s easy to turn to the next page and keep reading.

I hope you enjoy the review, and if you have a chance to read the book, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Sun, Aug. 21st, 2016, 10:51 am

It's probably old news to many, but Hastings Entertainment is going out of business.  If you are unfamiliar with the company, they were a chain of stores throughout the US that sold books, magazines, videos, games, comics, and a whole list of related stuff.  They were of great help to local independent (self-published) authors as they would gladly take our books on consignment.  We could also do signings at the various stores.  In my case, I sometimes forgot to make the monthly check in regarding sales of my book(s), and the individual stores' book managers were always forgiving and accommodating.  On a person to person basis, it is a real shame to see these stores disappearing.  And with their demise, those of us in the self-publishing community will have to look for other means of selling books in the local community.

Anyway, yesterday I stopped by the nearest local Hastings to take advantage of the huge discounts offered as they conduct their going out of business sale.  Most items were from 1/3rd to 1/2 off.  Many shelves were bare, but still there was a lot of stuff to be had.  I did notice that it was sort of jumbled up and that things weren't always on the correct labelled shelf.  In the book section it was possible to find science fiction books in the mystery section.  The same was true with music and movies.  As I looked around the store, I sometimes felt a little like a vulture or some sort of scavenging carnivore, taking advantage of some critter that was injured and dying.  And it would seem that numerous other people were doing the same thing, whether or not they recognized the parallel.  My estimation was the store was a busy as I'd ever seen it, other than perhaps during the Christmas shopping season.

So I'm wondering now, what will happen, not only to the many people who have worked in these stores for the past several years, but also to the buildings themselves.  Once the "going out of business" sales are final, there will be three empty stores here in Spokane, and another in nearby Coeur d'Alene.  These are large stores, many of them having been at one time or another, so called supermarkets.

As it ended up, I did find a few things to buy and in doing so, spent roughly 60% of what I normally would have advanced for the same merchandise.  No doubt I could have gotten more, had I had a bit more patience to look at every single item.  I ended up with an Elvis CD, a Beatles CD, and a Dr. Who book, which I will no doubt offer to Jessica, as she is a genuine Whovian.  I also found a Star Trek ball cap... black with a gold StarTrek emblem on the front, and a set of 4 Star Trek drinking glasses.  The are quite heavy and hold at least a pint.  Each has a cartoonish, pixelated picture of one of the characters from the original series.  There's Kirk, Spock, Bones, and would you believe, the lizard-like Gorn.

A book signing at the same Hastings mentioned above.  As seen by the date stamp, this was over three years ago.  Just had the one book then.  Original of the cover art visible on the table.


Thu, Aug. 18th, 2016, 12:28 pm

Went looking for a new bird the other day. Here are two we are interested in. One is an albino quaker and the other a blue quaker.  Sort of like He-Lo but different, which is one requirement we all agree on.


Mon, Aug. 15th, 2016, 09:21 pm

Now set up to do LJ with the smart phone.  No doubt the device is smarter than me.


Sun, Aug. 14th, 2016, 05:21 pm
Book Review: Beat To Quarters

Continuing down the list of book reviews I've written over the past few years, we come to:

Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            In the early nineteenth century, Captain Horatio Hornblower voyages from England, avoiding all contact with land or other ships, and makes a perfect landfall along the Pacific coast of Central America.  His secret mission is to support a rebellion against Spain and further England’s efforts against France’s ally.  But when he arrives, he finds the rebel leader mad, and that Spain has changed sides.  These events counter the original intent of Hornblower’s orders.  Having already captured a ship larger than his thirty-six gun frigate, Lydia, he is now forced to pursue and defeat Natividad again.  His life is further complicated by the presence of Lady Barbara Wellesley and the cavalier attitude of Spanish authorities in Panama.
            This story takes place a good way into Hornblower’s career, but it was the first of the series written by Forester.  Many back story details do not match those in later books covering the earlier portions of Hornblower’s life.  Beat to Quarters reads as if William Bush is serving with Hornblower for the first time.  No mention is made of them having been lieutenants in Renown, or captain and first lieutenant aboard Hotspur.  In this accounting, Hornblower had been a lieutenant, rather than a post captain during the capture of the Castilla, as later described in Hornblower and the Atropos.
            Hornblower’s age does not add up either.  He is mentioned as being thirty-seven years old, and if he was indeed born on July 4, 1776, this story would have taken place in 1813.  Yet C. S. Forester’s Hornblower Companion shows the majority of this adventure occurring in July of 1808.  This book mentions six years have passed since capturing Castilla, while more recent writings suggest that Hornblower went directly from commanding Atropos to captaining Lydia.
            These discrepancies can be attributed to Forester writing the Hornblower books in non chronological order.  They were not written in order of his career, but were penned at various times to fill gaps existing in the over all story.  The author appears to have been developing the story over the entire time it was being written.
            These are minor complaints regarding an excellent story.  As always, Forester’s writing is clear, precise, and a pleasure to read.  Written in the 1930s, it reflects the style and sentiment of an earlier time.  Profanity and graphic detail are nearly non-existent, and much of the narration is from a greater distance than is currently acceptable.  While some readers might be offended by national and racial stereotyping, it is relatively mild and simply reflects the time in which the story was written.  Perhaps it also is indicative of the time in which it is set.
            It is the creation of the complex character known as Horatio Hornblower in which Forester excels.  Here is an individual who comes across, not as a hero, sure of his abilities, but as one with perhaps more than his share of human frailties.  Despite his intelligence and bravery, Hornblower cannot see himself as others do.  It is his fear of failure, his feeling that he is unworthy, that drives him to achieve the impossible.  Even then, success is not a mark of accomplishment, but a sign of survival.  Hornblower’s inability to see his true worth makes him that much more human.  Therefore he does not come across as a larger than life character, but as one whom nearly everyone can identify with.
            Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return is the first part of a three part series, usually referred to as Captain Horatio Hornblower.  It was soon followed by Ship of the Line and Flying Colours.  Those three stories were combined in the early 1950s movie Captain Horatio Hornblower, starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.  As it usually happens, many details of the story were changed in producing the movie.  A few characters exist in the film that did not appear in print, even though scenes can often be identified and crossed from one version to the next.  A notable characteristic of the film is that about three-quarters of it deal with events from the first of the three books.  These events are covered in great if not always exacting detail.  The last portion of the movie basically provides a visual synopsis of the remainder of the overall story.  Ship of the Line and Flying Colours are pretty much glossed over as the film winds its way to a conclusion.
            Unlike past reviews of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower books, this reviewer did not note any technical problems regarding the author’s descriptions of vessels or weaponry.  If any existed, it may have escaped attention due to a more concentrated search for inconsistencies between this and other stories of the Hornblower saga.
            As the United States of America prepares to celebrate its 235th Anniversary, let all those who appreciate the character of Horatio Hornblower prepare to celebrate his Birthday as well.  We might all wonder at C. S. Forester’s motivation in designating July 4, 1776 as the date of birth for his most famous character, but regardless of his reasons, Happy Birthday USA, and Happy Birthday Horatio Hornblower!
            This reviewer considers himself to be quite fortunate in having copies of the three earliest Hornblower books dating from the time of first publication.  They can not with certainty be said to be first editions, and their physical condition is such that they are probably not of any great value.  Yet they are old enough to give Copyright dates of 1938 and 1939.  Nor do they list any ISBN or Library of Congress information.


Sat, Aug. 13th, 2016, 10:48 pm
Keeping up with smartphones

So I've used a so called flip-phone for years.  The last one I had for four years or so, and it allowed me to do what I wanted a mobile or cell phone for.  I could call, be called, and I could take pictures and download to the computer.  I could text, but it was a fairly laborious process, so I only texted in response to someone texting me.  Truth is, the phone had a lot of capabilities, but I had no real desire to use them.  I even like the way many of the photos I took with it turned out, although that may have been more luck than anything.  I can't attribute any results to skill or a high degree of technical sophistication.

I'm sure I mentioned several weeks ago that the computer (a desktop) that I normally use got upgraded to Windows 10, completely without me requesting it.  Now I don't mind having the latest operating system installed, and quite frankly I haven't noticed a super big change in most areas.  What I did notice is that I could no longer download photos to it from my phone.  I was doing that by connecting the phone to the computer via the USB power cord.  I had a program on the computer that would download the photos.  The daughter (our computer wizard) and I discovered that Windows 10 did not have the drivers that supported the program for the phone.  The solution:  up grade my phone.

So since about noon local time on Saturday, I've been the proud, excited, and sometime frustrated possessor of a Galaxy 6 smart phone.  I've figured out quite a bit... I can make and receive calls, exchange text messages, send and receive e-mail, and at least look at Facebook.  Tried to set up to do Twitter, but somehow it thought I was trying to do a new account, although I was trying to set it up to be able to access and work with my current one.  Still haven't solved that, but, one of these days... and I can also take and send photos.  For those who have had and used so called smartphones for some time, this is no big deal, but for someone brand new to the territory, it's a great start.  (We also got a tablet as a part of the package, so I'm knee deep in modern communcation technology.)

Had several photos on the old phone that I had hoped we could download to the new, but it didn't seem to work.  Nothing really important, but would have been nice... a couple taken at my cousin's memorial celebration last weekend.  (See the previous post.)  Since have the new phone I've taken several shots, either on purpose or accidentally as I learn how to use it.  At least now I can send them to the computer via e-mail.  Tried it and it worked, so below you will find the first photo I've taken with the new phone and then successfully sent elsewhere.

Nothing terribly exciting.  Just my usual view from the recliner, looking at the TV.  Looks like a Mariners game is on, and they are profiling the starting pitchers for the next day's game.  Book on the coffee table with the full-rigged ship image is my copy of THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN SAILING NAVY, by Howard I. Chapelle.  I've had it since high school and have pretty much worn it out.  You might notice that it's taped together along the one side.  Picture under the TV in the oval frame is of Jessica when she was 1 or 2 years old.

Feels good to know that I can once again take pics and be able to send along those that I feel folks might be interested in.


Sat, Aug. 13th, 2016, 03:23 pm
A Vacation Update

I probably forgot to mention it earlier, but I've been on vacation for the past week.  (I've been at the same job for a number of years now and earn a good bit of vacation time every year.  I have a bunch on the books, so I'm trying to use it a bit at a time.)  Anyway, I used the first portion of it, last weekend, to go to my late cousin's memorial celebration.  He'd passed away earlier in the year, but this past weekend was the first time that some members of his more immediate family could get away and be there.

I don't know why, but every time I go from here to the Springfield/Eugene, Oregon area, I forget just how far it is.  Always ends up being a longer trip than I think it will be.  Basically 470 miles and around eight hours driving time.  Nice to have a vehicle that runs good a highway speeds and that has airconditioning.  Didn't need a lot of that, however.  Found that I could turn the system fan on to the first click and stay comfortable.  While there, got to see my other cousin from that family, someone I hadn't seen since the High School era, and met my late cousin's twin daughters... just a few years older than Jessica. (My daughter.)  Also met his wife for the first time.  And had a chance to see my aunt, his mom... over ninety now and still kickin!  They had a nice event at a state park... a picnic really, with primarily friends and co-workers from over the span of his life.  No ceremony to speak of, although a number of folks offered remarks and memories of him.  Comforting to see he had built so many friendships over the years, and for me personally, it was good to reconnect (or initially connect) with family members.


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