Monthly Archives: September 2020

To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith

To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #20)To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is yet another charming addition to the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. Nominally mysteries, they are in reality musings on life and human foibles, written with humor and keen insight to human nature. The author has an obvious love of Botswana and depicts it as an easy living bucolic place where the simple things in life still dominate. Farming. Family. Friends. Not the hellhole where everyone lives in mud huts and has AIDS as one high U.S. government official has declared.

Those who are expecting action or even a real plot will be disappointed, but if this is read with the right mindset it can be enjoyed by anyone. It helps to be familiar with the characters. I believe the first few books in the series were better, with more of a plot line. This is not the best one to introduce yourself to the characters. The BBC/PBS series starring Jill Scott was absolutely wonderful. Hearing the accent and speech curiosities of Botswana sets the mood. Reading them on the page can seem a bit odd.

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Bring back Grape-Nuts Flakes!

For several months now my wife has been unable to find Post Grape-Nuts Flakes in the stores. It’s my favorite cereal, but I can no longer get it. I believe it has been discontinued since I see it is no longer listed on the Post website as one of their brands. Amazon lists it as “currently unavailable.”

One of my most viewed posts is when I complained about Mother’s cookies no longer making macaroons. Many agreed with me, but to no avail. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time. I’m hoping it’s due to some shortage because of the pandemic.

Post, I implore you, bring back my favorite cereal!

Law Schools in the United States

A while back I did a post showing the law schools in the United States where U.S. Supreme Court Justices studied. Now that a new justice has been nominated, I thought it was a good time to revisit the topic. Amy Coney Barrett attended Rhodes College, a small religious college in Tennessee, and Notre Dame Law School. If confirmed, she’ll be the first justice who didn’t attend Harvard, Yale, or Columbia law school since Sandra Day O’Connor (Stanford Law School) who was appointed in 1981. I see that as a plus, although I would have preferred to see someone from a higher ranked school like Berkeley, Stanford, or the University of Chicago.

I decided to explore what opportunity a prospective lawyer would have for studying law in their state, or even in another state. Below is a graph showing the number of accredited law schools in each state on a per capita basis. A few are private, but none are unaccredited. Some are accredited only by their own state, but most are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Florida has the most per capita, as indeed, it has many colleges and universities for its size no doubt due to capitalizing on its geographic appeal to college students. Alaska is the only state with none. I included the District of Columbia which, as seat of government, has quite a few, but I left out Puerto Rico.

New Gym Workout

After months of being unable to work out at the gym, due to the pandemic lockdown, I was finally able to go again to exercise. I thought it might be worth sharing my experience. My gym is 24-Hour Fitness. I had to reserve a time, but that was not difficult. It cannot be done on a desktop computer. You need to download the 24GO app on your phone.

I did so but it would not recognize me by member number  and my password didn’t work, even though I’ve been a customer for years, including paying dues (only a few) during the lockdown. When I clicked the link to rest my password, it did not recognize that either. I emailed customer support using another link and they promptly got back to me with a link to another page where I could sign it with date of birth and the pin I use when I show up at the club. Once I got past that glitch, the app recognized me and has continued to do so without need to sign in.

Once I got there, I had to wear a mask, per local law. It was uncomfortable, but it is a necessary safety measure and I expected it. The gym was not crowded at all. It looked almost abandoned. Where there would normally be several dozen people working on the mats and machines, there were perhaps five or six, including me. I recognized one of them as a pre-lockdown regular.  There were plenty of hand sanitizing stations around. I did my normal twenty-minute workout and left.

That was on Sunday. One thing I had sort of anticipated occurred Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday) and that is sore muscles. Working out after a long layoff will do that. Be prepared if you go back for the first time. Take it easy. I worked out again today, Wednesday, and the soreness has almost disappeared already. Today’s workout may bring it back, but in my experience after two or three times, that goes away.

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

The Naturalist (The Naturalist, #1)The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a combination thriller/detective novel that doesn’t quite hit on either count. The title character, a biologist, fits the trendy “unreliable narrator” mold since he is awkward, insecure, and generally clueless about pop culture and personal relationships. He uses his scientific knowledge and computerized data analysis tools to determine that a “bear” that allegedly killed his ex-student near where he is doing field work was really a man.

The story line is rather frustrating because he cannot get anyone to believe him and he does various reckless and illogical things to chase the killer himself. I wasn’t impressed with the ending, either the character’s actions or the “solution” to the mystery. Despite that, it was interesting enough to serve as an airplane read and I got it free from Prime, so I can give it three stars.

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Austin, Texas

I haven’t been very active on this blog lately because I’m in Austin, Texas helping my daughter and her husband with their new baby. I learned a lot about Austin I didn’t know, like it gets very hot for long stretches without cooling off at night and it has real heavy lightning and thunderstorms with downpours in the summer. The humidity is very high almost always. Not like California, at least not the Bay Area. I’ve still managed to squeeze in a few morning runs. I had planned on doing some geocaching, but it’s just  not in the cards.

I see a lot of Biden signs and several houses with bright blue lights (with the Biden signs), apparently a mark of a Democratic voter. I have seen no sign of pro-Trump support, although I’m sure there is some here. This is not what I expected.

The beef here is better than California beef. The produce is about the same. The Chinese food here is terrible, I’ve been told, but I haven’t sampled any. I don’t have anything profound to say. I’m just posting to let my massive online following know why I’m not posting more.