Bizarre by Marc Dingman

Bizarre: The Most Peculiar Cases of Human Behavior and What They Tell Us about How the Brain WorksBizarre: The Most Peculiar Cases of Human Behavior and What They Tell Us about How the Brain Works by Marc Dingman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Strangelove Syndrome (where one hand fights the other or even tries to strangle its owner) is but one of the fascinating anomalies discussed in this book. Our brains are complex and not fully understood. Trauma and other factors can alter or interfere with our brain functions and this book describes many real-life cases of some of the most bizarre. The author does not sensationalize or ridicule and still he manages not to sound too clinical. I think the tone is just right. I learned a lot, and the plethora of names for all the syndromes or symptoms amazed me. I’m sure I won’t remember many of them, but it was interesting just to realize they were common enough to have acquired a name and some were known even back in ancient Greek or Roman times. It’s difficult to give five stars to a book without a storyline or plot, but I was intrigued all the way to the end.

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Arthritic guitarist imagined – by Gemini

I recently underwent surgery on my right thumb in the hopes that I will be pain-free there, and maybe even play guitar again. On a lark I asked Gemini (formerly Bard) to write a short story about a guitarist whose arthritis was cured by surgery. Here is what it wrote:

The worn case lay open on his lap, a mirror to the weathered hands that hovered above it. John traced the faded Gibson logo, his fingers catching on callouses earned in a lifetime of music. He hadn’t played in months, the fire dimmed by the firestorm in his joints. Arthritis, the doctor had said, a thief stealing his passion note by stolen note.

John spent his days lost in the echo of melodies, haunting his mind like ghosts. He’d watch old videos of himself, fingers dancing across the fretboard with an ease that felt like a different lifetime. He even considered selling the guitar, a thought that left a bitter taste on his tongue.

One evening, his son, Thomas, brought him a news article. “They’re trialing a new surgery, Dad,” he said, his voice hopeful. “It’s supposed to help with advanced arthritis.”

John felt a flicker of skepticism, but the hunger in his eyes couldn’t be ignored. He underwent the surgery, a cocktail of nervousness and hope coursing through him.

The recovery was slow, but every day held a new sensation. The first time he flexed his fingers without a wince, tears welled in his eyes. The first time he picked up the guitar, it felt foreign, yet familiar like a long-lost friend.

He started with simple scales, the notes hesitant, rusty. But with each practice session, the music started to flow. The joy of creating, of expressing himself through music, rekindled within him. He wrote a new song, the melody capturing the essence of his journey, from the depths of despair to the sweet melody of hope.

One evening, John hosted a small gathering at his home. Old friends, their faces etched with the lines of shared memories, filled the living room. John, with his guitar slung over his shoulder, a familiar smile playing on his lips, took his place. His fingers danced on the strings, weaving a tapestry of sound. The music flowed, filling the room with the joy of a resurrected dream.

As the final notes faded, a standing ovation echoed through the room. John, eyes glistening, looked at his son, a silent thank you exchanged in their shared gaze. The surgery had not just cured his arthritis, it had brought his music, and with it, his spirit back to life. He was John the guitarist again, and the music, once silenced, was singing louder than ever before.

The Longest Minute by Matthew J. Davenport

The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 by Matthew J. Davenport
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This thorough history of the famous quake and fire and the immediate aftermath is well-researched and mostly fascinating reading. The chapters are well-organized, each focused on an unique aspect, sometimes a stretch of time, sometimes on geography (e.g. the waterfront), or the efforts to organize and create viable lines of authority, but they generally flow in chronological order. It was nostalgic reading for me since I grew up in the Bay Area, although I only visited San Francisco a few times as a child. I worked in the city for years as an adult and the similarities and differences, both topological and political, between then and now are striking. I can recommend the book with a warning. It can get repetitive. There are only so many times a story of chimney bricks crashing through the roof or someone watching his business burn down retain interest. It is also dispiriting to read of all the suffering and the racism and corruption of the city leaders, but that’s part of history.

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What3Words – Trump New York fraud trial edition

As my readers know, What3words.com (W3W) is a website that aids navigation by dividing the word’s surface area into 3-meter squares and assigns a three-word combination to each. These are occasionally amusing, ironic, or just fun to play with. See my previous blog posts on these here and here.

Today I examined the W3W assignments to the courtroom of Judge Engeron in New York City (80 Center St., Manhattan). He’s the judge who just found Donald Trump civilly liable for fraud for $450 million. It’s a large building and I don’t know exactly where his courtroom or chambers are located, but I’ve constructed a story containing several combos from that building.

Donald Trump entered the courtroom and sat next to Alina Habba, his gorgeous attorney, the one who failed to request a jury trial, dooming the case. She is also quoted as saying she would rather be pretty than smart because she can fake being smart. Trump whispered to her, “You should show more of that sexy thigh. Lovely! Attend to the proceedings now.” Habba’s last motion had resulted in a delay thus called by Judge Engoron, but today was the day the judge would announce the civil fine and penalty amounts. Habba told him she was optimistic, and told him not to make a scene. He replied, “I’ll behave,” nodded, bucked up by her statement. But the judge announced the penalties as $355 million plus fees and interest, expecting to total debt of at least $450 million.¬† “Don’t worry,” she told Trump, “We’ll appeal the debit, unless you can’t raise the money for a bond. The court will require one.” So much for faking being smart.

Longitude by Dava Sobel

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His TimeLongitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author relates the story of John Harrison, the clockmaker who invented the first accurate chronometer, the first reliable and practicable method of determining longitude at sea. This device saved many lives by allowing captains to avoid shipwrecks caused by inaccurate methods of navigation.The book is short, the writing clear and understandable. I listened to the audiobook read by an excellent female reader with a posh British accent. I enjoyed it despite the dispiriting subplot of Harrison being undermined at every turn by astronomers who preferred their method. Harrison got his due in the end.

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Cliff Knowles Mysteries are now audiobooks!

Great news for Cliff Knowles Mysteries fans: the series books are now available as audiobooks. Amazon has introduced a new feature for us self-published authors: virtual voice. The reader is not a human but a text-to-voice AI actor. There are a few mispronounced words or occasional odd emphases, but all in all I was impressed with the quality, so I opted in. I wouldn’t have been able to afford live voice actors for all of these. The books are available on Audible.com and Amazon.com. The Amazon pages have not updated to show the audio option for all the books the last I checked, but they could all be found on Audible.com just by searching the name.

All the books are available as follows and all have a virtual voice readers except as noted:

  • Held for Ransom
    Cached Out (human voice actor)
    Fatal Dose
    Death Row
    Gut Shot
    Behead Me (not available as audiobook for technical reasons)
    A Will to Die
    Cliffhanger
    Double Eagle
    Cold Case
    Ultimato
    Brace for Impact
    The Cryptic Crossword Caper (not a Cliff Knowles Mystery, but it is available as an audiobook)

For any fans wondering when the next new one will come out, I regret I have not been working on one. Arthritis in my hands has prevented me from doing extensive typing and I have not found dictating to work well. The good news is that I just had surgery on my right (dominant) hand and hope to solve the problem for that hand at least.

Please spread the word to your mystery fan friends, especially any geocachers.

Nuts and Bolts by Roma Agrawal

Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big WayNuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big Way by Roma Agrawal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author explains the history and workings of seven significant inventions in a casual and understandable manner. She is an engineer who knows her stuff, and has a flair for writing as well. The material is mostly on a basic level and familiar to those who took physics or engineering in school. As such, it is a bit dry. But the author makes it more interesting by personalizing it with stories that resonate, such as describing how lenses were critical in her own in vitro fertilization journey and pumps essential in her efforts to breast feed. I found it hard to read this for a sustained stretch, but whenever I picked it up, there was an interesting tidbit learned.

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Electric vehicle (EV) misinformation corrected

Lately I’ve seen a lot of bad publicity about electric vehicles (EVs). I want to give you straight scoop based on the thirteen years of experience I’ve had driving EVs. There are advantages and disadvantages to EVs just as there are to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. EVs are not a good choice for many people, but they are great choices for most.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that they cost more initially to purchase. But you make that up and more over the life of the vehicle in fuel and repair costs. If you have your own charging station at home (or a subsidized one at work), your energy costs will be less than a third of gas costs. Over time that alone will more than make up for the purchase cost differential. This is especially true if you have solar panels. Many utilities are no longer paying people for the extra power from roof panels, but you may be able to charge your EV with it, in which case it’s free.

Consumer Reports recently reported that EVs have “more problems” than ICE cars based on owners reports. I have no way to review or dispute that, but it hasn’t been true in my experience. I bought a 2001 Nissan Leaf and in the 10 years I owned it, I never had any actual repairs or servicing other than two or three minor ones that any car could have (e.g., minor body repair, wiper blades). I now drive a 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. In the three years I’ve had it, the same is true. I just had my first actual repair (as distinguished from a regular service check, which found no issues): replacement of the hoses that carry windshield washer fluid. A rodent chewed through them. Clearly, that has nothing to do with it being an EV. I’m not sure if “problems” means repairs (cost) or inconvenience. I believe that if you compare repair and servicing costs of the two, EVs would be much cheaper than ICE cars. They certainly have been for me.

The cars that scored the worst according to Consumer Reports were other models than my cars, especially Jeep, Rivian, Chrysler, and Mercedes, all of which are very new to electric vehicles, not even having much prior experience with hybrids.Tesla was mostly reliable except for the Model S. But from what I read many EV problems cure themselves through rebooting or retrying whatever it is since it’s often a software problem. That’s happened to me, but hasn’t required a trip to the dealer and hasn’t cost anything. There are regular free software updates delivered over the air (OTA) to fix such little things.

So those “problems” are an inconvenience, true, but think about the inconveniences you get from ICE cars. The biggest one, of course, is you have to keep going to a gas station. With an EV, you don’t need to go anywhere, at least if you have charging at home or work. If you don’t, an EV probably isn’t for you. ICE cars also require regular oil changes and emissions checks. EVs don’t. ICE cars have catalytic converters stolen. EVs don’t. Thieves steal ICE cars, not EVs. ICE cars need brake jobs; EV’s don’t since they slow mostly with the motor (regenerative braking). In many places you can drive EVs in HOV lanes solo but not ICE cars. I think of all of those as ICE “problems” that EVs don’t have. Consumer Reports failed to weigh those things, probably because ICE car owners don’t think of them as problems and don’t report them as such.

Another EV problem in the news is how hard and slow it is to charge an EV in sub-freezing temperatures. I’m sure the individual reports are accurate, but answer me this: why don’t drivers in Norway and Canada have this problem with their EV’s (virtually all new cars in Norway now are EVs)? The answer: people there keep EV’s in a garage in their house and charge there where it’s well above freezing. And when they do charge outside at a public station, they precondition the battery like it says to do in the manual. Most people in those countries live close to where they work and rarely take long road trips. It’s easy to charge at home there. Americans, with their selfish entitlement attitude, are unique in thinking it normal to drive hundreds or thousands of miles. If you’re a road tripper, or live in a cold climate and park outside then an EV isn’t for you; or else if you’re a 2-car family, make one of them an ICE car. I took a road trip in my Volvo (~1800 miles R/T) and it was a pain stopping and charging, but it’s doable.

The public infrastructure for EVs is still being worked out. It’s not there yet, but it is improving every day. New technologies are emerging making charging simpler, faster, easier. Everyone I know who has owned an EV says the same thing I do: I’ll never go back to ICE. Driving an EV is so much more fun and convenient. There’s a lot of misinformation about the environmental benefit of EVs but the reality is that they do help greatly toward the greenhouse gas problem. In California about 80% of the electricity is produced from renewable, non-polluting sources (solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, etc.) That’s not true in other states, and some oil-producing states have been hostile toward EVs. So they aren’t for everyone there, but even if you’re not a tree-hugger, you’ll enjoy driving an EV unless you are one of those exceptions I’ve identified.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

The Lost City of the Monkey GodThe Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an account of a true life Indiana Jones type of adventure. Specifically, it details the search for the “White City,” also known by the name in the title, in Honduras. The city’s very existence was something of a dubious legend for decades. There have been many accounts and debunked claims by various explorers and con men that they found or visited the ancient city deep in the jungle. But in 2012 a lidar aerial survey revealed that there was a vast city buried under the jungle canopy in a remote valley. A team of scientists, historians, filmmakers and the author, sponsored by National Geographic and various others, eventually got permission from the Honduran government to develop “ground truth” at the site.

The trip in and out was extremely hazardous for many reasons: e.g. political instability, narcotraffickers, deadly snakes and tropical diseases, and rickety aircraft. Before the author’s expedition is detailed he goes into the history of the legends and previous attempts to find it and gives some biographical background of those involved. That’s not fascinating, but still very interesting. The book is a nail-biter and page-turner once the author’s expedition is detailed. What they found and how they found it is astounding, but is not the end of it. The subsequent fallout from the discovery is mind-blowing and includes academic jealousy or controversy, political fighting, racial/ethnic tensions, medical issues and security concerns. The fight to preserve the site and its treasures has been as difficult as the effort to find it. I highly recommend this book.

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None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

None of This Is TrueNone of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I only read the first 80 pages of this book, so take my review for what that’s worth. The author clearly doesn’t want men to read this book. All the significant characters so far are women. There are seven promo blurbs on the back cover from other authors and one on the front cover. All are from women. When I finally got to the umpteenth fashion description on the characters’ outfits, both men’s and women’s, I gave up. The only interesting thing I learned was the difference between chambray and denim, and that I had to look up. The author obviously thought her readers would already know that. I thought I was reading a mystery novel, not a jumbo edition of Vogue.

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The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The Light PirateThe Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book begins with a terrific 5-star hurricane survival story set in near future Florida. This life and death struggle (note I wrote life and death, not or) fills almost the first third of the book. The story continues with the survivors’ subsequent lives, but takes on a different feel, focusing on one person in particular. It drifts into a quasi-post apocalyptic sci-fi story, although only barely. It’s more of a prepper saga mixed with a coming-of-age and relationship tale. As the ending nears, it loses a star, becoming less plausible and more politically correct as it also makes large leaps of time. It’s still a very engaging novel that will keep you turning pages with enthusiasm.

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Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon

Mother-Daughter Murder NightMother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut novel takes places in and around Elkhorn Slough, a beautiful eco-spot worth visiting in Monterey Bay. The title might better be called called Mother-Daughter-Granddaughter Murder Night since it features that combination of women. Lana is a pushy, hard-driven real estate lady obsessed with expensive power trappings; her daughter Beth is a nurse living at Elkhorn in a rustic (or shabby in Lana’s view) cabin with Jacqueline (Jack), a teenager who works part-time at the local kayak rental business. Lana must leave her L.A. business to get cancer treatments at Stanford, so is forced into living with Beth, although their relationship is strained. On one of Jack’s tours, a client comes across a dead body, a murder victim. Jack becomes a suspect. Of course, Lana must protect her granddaughter by catching the real killer.

This is one of the better crime novels I’ve read in recent months. The author does a good job of populating it with potential suspects and feeding clues in small doses all the way to the end. I’m not a big fan of cozy mysteries, which this one is, but the investigative work in this one is more believable than most. In novels written by women, I’m also normally put off by constant descriptions of women’s outfits and named designers. Those sorts of descriptions are a regular feature of this book wherever Lana appears. But this one makes Lana’s concern with fashion and extravagance seem vain and ridiculous, which I think it is, so I mostly approve. Beth and Jack are down-to-earth with more solid values and thus more likeable, but Lana still takes the lead in the homegrown detecting. While I find it unrealistic that so much of the legwork is done by amateurs instead of the police, at least the work done by the sheriff’s detectives is described in a plausible manner. The explanation at the end makes them come off as having done a reasonable job. The ending, with most of the suspects all together, is a bit too formulaic and contrived, but at least things are wrapped up neatly. I did suss out the killer before it was revealed, but not much before. I had my eye on another one for a long time. The critical clues were not revealed earlier. In short, the suspense was maintained almost to the end. The added local ambience of the slough was an added bonus.

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What3Words – U.S. states edition

Here we go again: more interesting What3Words.com sites with ironic or oddly suitable word combos. This time it’s centered on various states in the United States.

First.state.ever is assigned to a point near Philadelphia, which sounds appropriate, but Delaware is actually the first state of the union. Pennsylvania is 2nd. The spot is less than 4 miles from Delaware.

nickname.sunflowers.state is another near miss. This one is in Nebraska even though Kansas is the Sunflower State. Of course this is plural and the same combo with just sunflower in the middle is in Alaska.

Then there are those that appear to be other states stealing the moniker of the correct state like sunshine.state.also in Texas encroaching Florida’s territory and Michigan doing the same to Maine with pine.tree.state.

There are several that are appropriate to the state even if the word combination is not the exact nickname. Pelicans.state.flag is found in Louisiana, The Pelican State; treasures.state.cave lands in Montana, The Treasure State; garden.state.exit falls on Watchung, New Jersey. Not only is New Jersey The Garden State, but the W3W spot is only one mile from the Watchung exit sign on U.S. 22.

These spots may not be pinpoint accurate, so you may wonder how much of a coincidence are these, really. Even a large state like Montana comprises only about seven hundredths of one percent of the earth’s surface area which translates to about one chance in 1,340 a random word combo could land there. New Jersey is about 1/20 the size of Montana, so the odds for that Watchung one are about one in 27,000. If you look up some of my earlier W3W posts, you’ll see that some are specific down to a city or a building, where the odds becomes astronomically high.

Genealogy of a Murder by Lisa Belkin

Genealogy of a Murder: Four Generations, Three Families, One Fateful NightGenealogy of a Murder: Four Generations, Three Families, One Fateful Night by Lisa Belkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe DeSalvo killed officer David Troy one summer night in Connecticut. DeSalvo was a lifelong criminal who had been paroled based largely on a recommendation by Al Tarlov, a doctor he’d come to know when he served as Tarlov’s lab assistant in prison. One was Italian, one Irish, one Jewish and of similar ages. This true crime is the subject of the book, but the author has approached it from a different direction. She has researched the literal genealogy of these three men in an attempt to discern why three grandsons of penniless immigrants ended up on the paths they did. Nature or nurture?

The stories are at times fascinating, at times boring. Too much time and space is devoted to the early ancestors and their poverty-stricken lives with families of a dozen plus children. I say too much because the author never answered her own question: how much did the genes or the family traditions and moral examples play a role? We don’t know. The fact is, the siblings of all of the characters went on to do very different things despite having the same parents and similar upbringings. The author also makes an odd choice to spend much of the book on Nathan Leopold, of the once famous Leopold and Loeb murders, even though he appears to have had no connection to the crime, and a similar amount to DeSalvo’s brother-in-law Dante Cosentino, who also had nothing to do with the murder or the life paths of any of the three. She apparently had access to their stories and found them intriguing, but I found them a mostly irritating distraction, although of some interest. Still, they remind me of the man looking for his keys under the streetlight because that’s where the light is best, even though that’s not where he dropped them. On the whole the book stands on the excellent quality of the writing and the inherently interesting facts of the case.

In the end, the oppressive conditions under which people lived as recently as the 1930s and 40s is eye-opening, and the author’s deep research is impressive. Joe DeSalvo had a genius IQ, taught himself piano, read good literature and wrote like it, and had many chances to have a good job and normal life. Why he made the choices he did is not answered in this book and probably never could have been, even by himself. I think this is true for many criminals I have encountered over the years in the FBI. How much is genetic and how much “nurture” can be debated, but for many, they are hard-wired that way by the time they hit their teens or even before and can never be rewired. Incarceration to keep them from harming others is really the only proper course. In my view, the tug-of-war between rehabilitation and punishment is irrelevant.

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How singer/guitarists rank

Some singers hold a guitar just as a prop and can’t play a lick, or maybe only two or three chords. Others can play fairly well, but not while singing or vice versa. Some are great guitarists who managed to make it as singers, but don’t have great voices or range. A very few play and sing at a top level. Here’s my chart of how some of the bigger names rank.

I played fairly well before I got arthritis in my thumbs. I’m hoping surgery will allow me to play again, but my point is that I can judge the guitar skill of anyone who plays an acoustic or classical guitar if I’ve heard them enough. Judging singing is more of a taste. I can’t sing on key, so I have only my own ear to judge. Some singers have great voices, some great power and range, some have voices with character or stage presence. Anyone who becomes a famous singer can carry a tune, so the scale is more of how much I enjoy their voice or style.

I’m leaving out nearly all lead guitarists or lead singers from rock or pop bands since they mostly flat-pick, which pretty much all sounds the same to me, at least when blasting from an amp at full volume and the guitarist is “shredding” on the 14th fret and bending half the notes. Most of the best known of that genre just play as many notes as fast as they can then may even smash the guitar. How is that any good? Your taste may vary. The one exception on the chart is Eric Clapton. I’ve seen several videos of him finger picking¬† an acoustic guitar and I know he is excellent guitarist although his singing is mediocre at best. Feliciano is a flat-picker, not fingerstyle, but all you have to do is listen to him play Flight of the Bumble Bee¬† and there’s no question how skilled he is. Voices for all singers deteriorate as they age, so my judgments are based on what I remember from their best years. The best classical guitarists are more skilled as guitarists than anyone on this chart.

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

Birnam WoodBirnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mira and Shelley are two young Kiwi women who have founded an underground horticultural collective called Birnam Wood. They find spots in New Zealand that are unused, e.g. roadside strips, plant crops there, and sell them. While exploring a vacant site, Mira encounters Robert, a shameless exploitative American billionaire seeking to savage the land to extract valuable minerals, but Mira doesn’t realize his true plans and forms an alliance with him. It’s fair to call this an eco-thriller. The premise is imaginative and the writing mostly entertaining. It’s a true page turner through the last third of the book. But rating it accurately is impossible because there were so many good things about it (just mentioned), but smothered in abysmal writing through most of the book. I don’t know how to balance them out so I chose three stars almost at random.

So I told you the good; what’s so bad? Let’s start with the length. The hardback edition is 423 pages holding what should be a 250 page book. As if that’s not enough, it’s almost solid ink from margin to margin. If you open the book at nearly any point, there will be no dialogue and no more than one paragraph break on a page. It must have almost twice the words per page as the typical thriller, which means the effective page count is more like 700. The main reason for this is that the author writes almost entirely in run-on sentences. I got so frustrated I actually counted two. On p. 156-157 one sentence ran for 278 words. At least it had one semicolon. I counted a 220-word sentence on page 186. The author and the editors, Jenna Johnson and Bella Lacey, must have flunked English 1A or lost their blue pencils. All three of them should have had someone whop them upside their heads. It was agonizing to read for the first 272 pages, where the action begins, but if you can learn to skip the interior 90% of those long run-on sentences, it moves okay. In addition to the ridiculous surplus verbiage, the plot revolves around the collective members, rather obnoxious tree-hugging vegans arguing with each other in lengthy PC politco-babble about their devil’s bargain with the American corporate Lucifer, Robert.

Back to the good stuff. The author has done a creditable job of making the characters both original and believable. There’s a complicated relationship between Mira, the leader, and Shelley, the second banana, between Robert and the owner of the property in question, a pretentious businessman who was recently knighted, and between Mira and Tony, an ex-member (and ex-boyfriend) who left the group and is hell-bent on exposing Robert’s evil shenanigans. She has a knack for filling in little homey details to make events seem real and must have done a lot of research. The setting was exotic and interesting, at least for me. There were many witty, amusing moments right from the start, although crammed into 200-word sentences.

But worst of all is the ending. {Spoiler alert — sort of — but not really. You might want to stop here if you plan on reading the book anyway} I don’t actually know the ending, because I don’t know how it ended. There was violence at the end. I don’t know who survived and who didn’t. I don’t know what happened to those who did survive. There were deaths – did anyone get punished or even investigated? I read to the end, so that’s not the problem. The author just left the readers hanging in the middle of it all. I’ve read some other reviews and they all seem to think that was the ending. I can’t believe the author would leave it like that. I can’t believe any editor would allow it unless – and this is what I think must be the case – the author is already working on the sequel to finish the story. When there is a series like this, there should be a warning that this is Book 1 in the XYZ mysteries or whatnot. There is no such warning and nothing at the end promotes any Volume II. Strange. I guess the bottom line is that despite these egregious problems, I was very engaged at least for the last third of the book and eager to read the next page. It went faster than the length would indicate and I admit I enjoyed a lot of it until I became enraged at the “ending.”

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What3words in the news – Swift, San Francisco, Sioux

You know the drill: What3words is the website/app that pinpoints 3mx3m squares around the globe and tags them with three words. This works well for first responders and delivery people among others, especially if there is no street address. The word combo is easier to remember than latitude/longitude coordinates. I like to find word combinations that are particularly newsworthy, appropriate, or amusing. Search my blog for more examples. Here are a few more I recently came across.

tailor.swift.concert – Albacete, Spain. Okay, it’s 120 miles from Madrid where Tay Tay performed recently, but that’s still pretty coincidental considering that 85% of the word combinations fall in the oceans, Antarctica or other uninhabited regions.

large.crazy.ranks falls on San Francisco City Hall. Anyone familiar with the dysfunction in that city government will immediately see the connection. But there’s another interesting spot in the same building.

riding.flesh.soon also lands on that building. For those not in the Bay Area, SF City Hall is the most sought after wedding venue in the region. The building itself is beautiful and the staff there often holds mass weddings, especially gay ones during Gay Pride Week.

former.united.nations is located near Buffalo, South Dakota in the heart of the area where nine Sioux tribes were once a united nation.