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Archive for November, 2011

US space pioneers to get congressional medals

(AFP)–15 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The US Congress on Wednesday will award the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to four American astronauts including the first man to walk on the Moon, 81-year-old Neil Armstrong.

Other recipients are Buzz Aldrin, 81, who was second man to walk on the Moon, and Michael Collins, also 81, who was the command module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969.

The fourth winner is former senator John Glenn, 90, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.

They were given the nod by Congress in 2009 to receive the award, making them the first astronauts ever named to the honor, on what was then the 40th anniversary of the pioneering US mission to the Moon.

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Wednesday’s ceremony is set for 11:00 am (1600 GMT) at the US Capitol Rotunda.

Past winners of the Congressional Gold Medal, described as the "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions," include Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Walt Disney, and Pope John Paul II.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who initially sought the Congressional recognition for the quartet, said on the eve of the ceremony that lawmakers were likely to vote to approve a NASA budget of 17.8 billion dollars.

"This budget makes a major investment in the next generation of human space flight," he said, describing it as "good news" because it would give more funding toward the James Webb Space Telescope and a rocket for deep space travel.

Armstrong was on Capitol Hill in September, when he told lawmakers that the end of the space shuttle era has left the American human spaceflight program in an "embarrassing" state and urged NASA to return to the Moon.

Hard to believe, as I look at the photo’s I found to make the collage that so much time has gone by since these phenomenal men went to the moon.  I applaud their recognition but still feel their accomplishments were pushed aside by not returning to the moon.  I feel we learned much from them, but not enough to send a human even farther out into space.   But then who am I to think that way?

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The Weed that Strings the Hangmans Bag by Alan Bradley.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bantam; (February 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0385343450

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From Booklist

Flavia, the precocious, imaginative, and adorable 11-year-old sleuth, returns for her second adventure. It’s a mystery in itself how a mature male author can pen the adventures of such a young female child and keep readers believing in the fantasy. Flavia’s world is 1950s England—specifically, a very old country house that just happens to have a long-abandoned chemistry laboratory. And Flavia just happens to be fascinated by chemistry—particularly poisons. This helps her solve mysteries because, as Flavia says, “There’s something about pottering with poisons that clarifies the mind.” This time she becomes involved with the members of a traveling puppet show that features the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. When the puppetmaster is mysteriously electrocuted during the show, Flavia knows it can’t be an accident and eventually finds the murderer. The rest of Flavia’s family are also eccentric, to say the least, and add greatly to the overall fun. Thank goodness Bradley is not allowing Flavia to grow up too quickly; we need more sleuths whose primary mode of transportation is a bicycle.

It must be Fate that has me reading these books!  I came across the first book at the used book store for 3.00 and since so many people loved it I purchased it and read it.  I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure I wanted to get into yet another series….

Low and behold, I was back at the used books store and there sat “book 2” of the Flavia saga.  Ohhhhkay, so we got book 2 and I just finished reading it.

This one was also enjoyable but I have to say that in both books there are occasional terms used by Flavia that no matter how much of a chemical genius she is an 11 year old would not be using!… however… the books are still enjoyable.

This one took it’s time getting to the “murder”… I was beginning to wonder if there was even going to be one…when suddenly, there it was… a murder for young Flavia to solve!

I’ve gone this far so the odds are I will eventually read the next book lol..like I have no other books sitting on my shelves that need to be read, right? cha!

There is one small matter that I have to say bothers me in these books… and it’s the way her sisters make her feel unwanted.  It’s a part of the books that I would have edited out if I were the author.  I realize it gives her a reason to “get back” at the sisters…but hurt like that is never forgotten, even if she is only 11 yrs old.

All in all.. I do agree with most everyone else though, that if you read these books, you will enjoy them!

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Stop Motion

I posted a few pictures over on my other blog where i put pictures that I don’t use on Blogspot, but his particular photo is one of my favorites so I thought I’d show it here.  While walking on the beach I noticed a large piece of what I call sandstone.  These stones, such as they are, wash up on shore all sizes and shapes.. I find most of them really interesting to look at. 

Anyway… this one was down where the waves were still washing over it and so I watched it for a bit and saw how the wave really splashed high and decided to try to get a picture of it..  and I have to say I love the effect and wish I had taken more snaps like this one.

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I don’t have a real fancy camera..well it’s more than a point and shoot..but I don’t know how to work any of the fancy stuff.. I just, ummm… point and shoot lol.  I thought this sort of shot might come out just a blur.   And although I can see it in the small viewer on the back of the camera, I have learned that many times the photo’s that look really good small are not so good  when I put them on the computer.  Many are blurry and beyond being able to sharpen them up to focus. (which drives me crazy because supposedly when I hold the button down part way and a green square shows up the picture IS IN FOCUS..yeah right)

Now I find I want to go back to the beach and get more pictures like this, except this beach, with the many sandstones, was close to 20 miles away and I wouldn’t trust my “junker car” to get me there and back again.

But I still think this is a pretty neat photo, don’t you?

(below is a picture of a small piece of, what I call, sand stone)

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A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway;(May 4, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0767902521

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From Publishers Weekly

Returning to the U.S. after 20 years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to reconnect with his mother country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. Bryson (The Lost Continent) carries himself in an irresistibly bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity. He reviews the characters of the AT (as the trail is called), from a pack of incompetent Boy Scouts to a perpetually lost geezer named Chicken John. Most amusing is his cranky, crude and inestimable companion, Katz, a reformed substance abuser who once had single-handedly "become, in effect, Iowa’s drug culture." The uneasy but always entertaining relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps their walk interesting, even during the flat stretches. Bryson completes the trail as planned, and he records the misadventure with insight and elegance.

Holy cow! What a totally unexpected experience!

This is a book of Fresh Air! (pun intended)

Once again I get to blame my “sis”, Cath, from across the pond for my getting and reading this book…. and I want to give her a hug and thank her!

This book was something I needed and didn’t even know it. 

This is a fun book to read. 

If there aren’t times that you laugh out loud while reading this book, then you must be asleep with the book in your hand!  Of course it would help some if you have heard of the AT (Appalachian Trail).  And possibly if you ever (and I do mean ever) thought of hiking or camping outdoors, then this is the book for you!  Think hard if there’s a chance that you think you wouldn’t enjoy this book because of what I just said… did you ever hide under a table as a kid and pretend you were outside and your mom couldn’t see you?.. then this book might entertain you.  Did you ever make a ten out of sheets as a kid and have your mom let you eat your lunch in the tent?  If you like the outdoors at all… then this book will delight you.

In between the hysterically funny writing of Mr Bryson about his, and his friends, journey to hike the Appalachian Trail there are bits of very interesting information along the way.  I can promise you that I never *skimmed * on a single page of this book…, it was that much fun and that much interesting.  

It could possibly deter you from wanting to hike on the Appalachian trail, but more likely it could peak your interest to at least take a day hike in any of the 14 states that the Trail runs through.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans fourteen U.S. states during its journey that is 2,179 miles (3,507 km) long, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. (just an FYI).

If that doesn’t interest you.. then read this book for a good laugh!  Any time Mr Bryson begins a sentence with “that’s like…”  you know you are about to guffaw!  

Need a pick me up and you’ve never read this book before?  Go get it and read it!  You won’t be disappointed!  I have already found another book (used book) by him and have sent for it, because laughing makes me feel good!  Thank you Mr Bryson, thank you very much..I may be wa.a.a.a.ay behind in reading your books…but if I may say so… I believe this one will become a classic and be read for generations to come.

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This post is a prime example of why I call my blog “Here, There & Everywhere”.  It’s a bit of this and a bit of that.. and mostly “told” in pictures….

Ok, up first is the fact that everyone insists that it’s Fall and so I searched for what few examples I find in southern Florida for Fall. (a season I only dream of anymore.)

Note : Anhinga in a tree.. note the rust colored leaves of the Bald Cypress Tree.. .. that’s “Fall”.

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Number 2 of Fall:  The squirrels are out in force and getting their “winter fat” so they can hibernate for the full 6 weeks of winter. (loud sigh of resignation)

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..nonstop, eat, eat, eat.. got to store that fat for the long cold winter! (yes, I said that in a sarcastic tone!)

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I hear the tiny cheeps of our winter Warbler!  Not the easiest bird to get a decent photo of so you get what I got!…

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And last but not least.. little acorns fall from the mighty Live Oak trees.  That’s it folks. That sums up what I found around the pond to indicate that Turkey day is right around the corner!

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Now for the Little Bit of That part:

I am actually excited that on Nov. 19th, at the book store right down the road from me a guest author is coming to do a book signing.  Now, many of you know that I collect autographs, but generally they are on photo’s.. when I have no other choice it is on a book.   Did I hear someone say ‘what’s wrong with it on a book?”… well my apartment is only about 600 square feet and that includes the kitchen, eating area and bathroom.. which means there is very little room for all the books I already have!!!  Therefore, I’d much rather have a signature on a photograph that goes into a plastic sleeve and into a binder… but…………………. I will take what I can get.  Especially because the author that is coming to do the signing just happened to be on Apollo 15 that went to the moon!  If you don’t know how much I love the astronauts (especially from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo..then you don’t know me!)

Astronaut Al Worden will be doing a book signing in just 2 weeks!  So trust me when I say I went to the book store to get the specifics on exactly where and when to be there!

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I ran home and ordered the book from Amazon since it did save me 12.00 from the bookstore price.  I am sorry I cannot support them more, because I do love bookstores.. but I just don’t have it to spare.  So it is already on it’s way to me as I type this!  As you can see it’s called Falling to Earth by Al Worden.

I made a composite photo of him below and will have a friend print it off and hope that I can get him to sign the photo as well as the book… but I do know that he probably will only sign books.. However I will take it on the off chance he’s in a good mood and will sign a photo!

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Next, a little more of A Little of That… more used books that have come into my house.  If I were giving points to those I blame for my getting certain books I would blame the Anthony Trollope book and the Bill Bryson books on Cath!  Actually, I’d blame the second Alan Bradley book on her too!    But truth be known I can only blame her because these books happen to be in the used book stores!  I only paid 1.00 for that huge Anthony Trollope book and it’s like new.. 3.00 for the Alan Bradley and for A Walk in the Woods (which I am reading now and happily getting many chuckles over) and 2.00 for the Errol Flynn book.    Now, deduct the books I read for RIP and add these and I am back at 142 books in my tbr pile!!!    ……….. I give up!………..

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And Last of all………… this Star Trek Jacket which I still want for Christmas in case any of you would like to take up a collection and send it to me! LOL.. hey, it never hurts to put it out there! hahahaha…………….

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Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth.

Paperback: 347 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; (January 8, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1416534830

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Book Description

Lovers of historical mystery will relish this chilling Victorian tale based on real events and cloaked in authenticity. Best of all, it casts British literature’s most fascinating and controversial figure as the lead sleuth.

A young artist’s model has been murdered, and legendary wit Oscar Wilde enlists his friends Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Sherard to help him investigate. But when they arrive at the scene of the crime they find no sign of the gruesome killing — save one small spatter of blood, high on the wall. Set in London, Paris, Oxford, and Edinburgh at the height of Queen Victoria’s reign, here is a gripping eyewitness account of Wilde’s secret involvement in the curious case of Billy Wood, a young man whose brutal murder served as the inspiration for The Picture of Dorian Gray. Told by Wilde’s contemporary — poet Robert Sherard — this novel provides a fascinating and evocative portrait of the great playwright and his own "consulting detective," Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

I can hear my “sis” now… “it’s about time you read this book!”.. and she’d be right!

I think this was the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time!  I am not usually one to like a book that reads: someone is murdered and the detective will now solve the murder.  Dull, dull, dull…  But that does NOT describe this book!

I loved it!  I loved that Brandreth used characters I am familiar with. I loved that it was not “current” but set in older England. I loved that historical points were accurate and that writings from Wilde and Doyle were mentioned …. add to that, that it was so fast paced you couldn’t put it down!

If I may use a word I have heard my friend Cath use many times… this book is just *brilliant*!  I can tell you now, that if this sort of books sounds good to you..get it! Because it is far better then any review can do for it.

I also found out that it’s a series.. however.. a very expensive series! In my searches for another in the series I even found the cover I have here and all there was for the color cover I have was used books.. for 139.00!! hello?!  Need I say that this book will NOT leave my apartment? lol.. I did find another in the series, used, in hardback no less, quite cheap and so I have sent for it!

Did I mention that in this book Mr Brandreth has Oscar Wilde “acting as Sherlock Holmes” at times? Gawd, I loved it hahahaha.  This book was a breath of fresh air..and I will say something I rarely say:  I recommend it to anyone who likes a fast pace mystery, likes references to Conan Doyle’s Holmes, and likes reading books with the background of old England. 

This book is a keeper!

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