Thursday, March 27, 2014

More Books

1. The Loyal Servant, Eva Hudson
Genre: Political Crime Novel

The description from the author's site:  "Winner of the Lucy Cavendish Prize for fiction, The Loyal Servant is a whistleblower thriller that topped the Amazon political fiction chart." and Book 1 of the Angela Tate Mysteries series, The Loyal Servant is a page-turning political thriller with a twist – everything that happens to Caroline Barber could easily happen to any one of us."

What I Liked:
This is a nice, well-rounded crime novel.
Set in Britain, it is sprinkled with British idioms which I loved.
The characters are real without being over the top. I cared about them.
It showed messy lives, nothing perfect here, just real. Compelling that way.
Nice twists - believable but surprising.

What I Didn't Like:
Can't think of anything.

Liked It? Definitely
Recommend It? Definitely to anyone who likes crime novels.
Where to Find It? Amazon
Price? Free to download.

2. Don't Look Away, Leslie A. Kelly
Genre: Thriller

The author's site:

What I Liked:
The female lead was tough enough but not over the top which is sometimes irritating.
The characters were great, well-rounded, likable or not as appropriate.
Futuristic but again, not overly so, just enough to be interesting, not so much that it took a lot of effort to understand.
Cool twist on 911 being the first terrorist attack, then years later the country experienced a much worse one. Again, interesting.

What I Didn't Like:
The climax scene is too short. I don't feel like I got to realize that it was over before we jumped into resolution. Should have spent more time there.
A little too rah rah United States in an arrogant way at the beginning. Kind of made the rest of the world sound stupid which I thought was unnecessary.
At the end, we suddenly realize that even though we thought eerything was wrapped up, in fact it's not. Then it just stops. I know that this is a series but I didn't realize that the book was going to hang at the end. Kind of frustrating.

Liked It? Um,...yeah for the most part.
Recommend It? I don't think so. The ending was really jarring and frustrating though it was well-written otherwise. Maybe.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? Currently $3.33 for download, though I caught it on a free day.

3. Writer to Writer Reminders: Tickles, Tips, and Tricks, Jacqueline Girdner and Lynne Murray
Genre: Instructional, Writing How-to

From Jacqueline Girdner's site: "We're two authors who've had a combined total of 22 books published. Our writing methods are so different that it's a constant reminder of how many ways there are to get words down on paper and tell a story.

So here are 52 tickles, tips and tricks that we hope will be helpful to you in your writing journey!"

What I Liked:
I really wanted to like something because I really enjoyed Jacqueline Girdner's last book (Meet a Jerk, Get To Work), but I just didn't like this one. :(

What I Didn't Like:
I found the style irritating. The two characters tried too hard to be funny and banter back and forth. I found it distracting.
The tips weren't all that good. Very few that I didn't already know and the new ones were not worthwhile.

Liked It? No.
Recommend It? No.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? $0.89 for download

4. The Front, Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Suspense

From the author's site: "At Risk featured Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano, a shrewd man of mixed-race background and a notinconsiderable chip on his shoulder; District Attorney Monique Lamont, a hard-charging woman with powerful ambitions and a troubling willingness to cut corners; and Garano’s grandmother, who has certain unpredictable talents that you ignore at your peril.

And in The Front, peril is what comes to them all. D.A. Lamont has a special job for Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign about the dangers of declining neighborhoods, she’s sending him to Watertown to “come up with a drama,” and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve. Garano is very skeptical, because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up in order that they don’t have to be so dependent on the state—much to Lamont’s anger. He senses a much deeper agenda here—but he has no idea just how deep it goes. In the days that follow, he’ll find that Lamont’s task, and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors—everywhere he turns, he’s not quite sure if what he’s seeing is true."

What I Liked:
Oooh, everything.
The characters are fabulous. The best I've ever read. So interesting, unique, with quirks that don't seem artificial.
Smart stuff.
Twists that you don't predict.

What I Didn't Like:
I thought that the explanation was a bit fast. I felt jarred a bit and had to go back to figure it all out. (this could be because I'm a little slow of course, but thought I'd mention it)

Liked It? Yes.
Recommend It? Absolutely.
Where To Find It? Chapters
Price? $9.49, but try your library. That's where I found it.

5. The Truth About Butterflies by Nancy Stephan
Genre: Memoir

Author's site

What I Liked:
I found the telling of her childhood to be fascinating. Like nothing I've experienced. New and interesting.
I read the first quarter of the book and didn't know that she was a black woman/girl. I thought that was an interesting twist.

What I Didn't Like:
There was something jerky about her writing.
Occasionally, the metaphors seemed forced.
There didn't seem to be an overall theme. Maybe that's too much to expect, but I missed a thread that tied everything together.

Liked It? Um,...yes. I didn't love it, but felt compelled at some points to keep reading. I liked it,...but,...I can't pinpoint exactly what was bothersome to me about it, but there was something that I couldn't shake.
Recommend It? Probably not.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? $2.99 download, though I got it for $0 awhile back.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Art Gym

I did something new today. I popped into The Art Gym. This is the coolest place. They have a bunch of tables set up and all the art supplies you could want to use: acrylics, oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoals, pencils, markers, instruction books, yadda yadda. They even have a pottery wheel. No kidding.

Sam showed me around. I should have gotten a picture of Sam,...what was I thinking? Anyway,...

I thought I would try some soft pastels which turned out to be quite hard (what's up with that?) and found out that they are messy and I suck at them. No, truly suck. I switched to charcoal,, same deal - messy and sucked. Switched to a pencil and just plain felt lame.

Fortunately, the deal I picked up for the month membership also included a free lesson. Phew. Already left a message to set that up. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dog Vaccination Protocol

I talk with a lot of dog owners through Facebook groups, at the dog park, the pet store, or just out for our daily walks and it seems that the confusion surrounding vaccination is widespread. Everyone wants to do the best for their dogs, but they complain about being overwhelmed by too much information and contradictory messages.

Let me tell you about the vaccination program we use for our dog and what led us to this protocol.

Our puppy is 17 months old. She received her puppy vaccinations at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. These included the core vaccines (distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus), as well as bordetella, leptospirosis, and rabies. When she was due for her one-year ‘booster’ shot, we did an antibody test instead. She was shown to be immune to distemper and parvovirus, so we did not repeat her core vaccines. She did receive her rabies vaccine at this time as per our local law.

Going forward, she will continue to receive her rabies vaccination every three years unless there is a change in the legal requirements. She will also have distemper and parvovirus antibody titers done in three years. If she is still immune (and there is no reason to think that she would not be), we will not repeat the titers or the vaccines.

That is the what, now here is the why:

Core vaccinations should be given to all puppies to protect against highly contagious, nearly always fatal, and vaccine-preventable diseases. In dogs, these diseases are distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, and rabies. In order for the vaccine to work, the puppy must not possess any maternally derived antibodies. This is the protective immunity that is temporarily given to the pup by the mother. It’s difficult to know exactly when the antibodies wear off, so puppy vaccines are given every 3-4 weeks to ensure that at least one of the vaccines produces immunity.

In regards to follow-up core vaccines, however, there is no scientific evidence that supports ‘booster’ vaccinations. In fact, the name ‘booster’ is itself a misnomer. You can’t boost immunity, you either have it or you don’t. If a dog shows a positive antibody titer, then no further vaccination is necessary. The WSAVA states that “the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet.”  Schering-Plough’s efficacy studies report that “these data support at least a 4-year duration of immunity for these three ‘core’ fractions in the combination vaccine.” From Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy, “Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”  International Veterinary Information Service, Dr. Richard Schultz states that “Our research on duration of immunity for the CPV-2 (parvovirus), CDV (distemper) and CAV (adenovirus) vaccines has demonstrated a minimum duration of immunity of 7 years.”

Dr. Ronald Schultz published a table summarizing his duration of immunity studies based on challenge testing:

Distemper, Rockbom strain, 7 years
Distemper, Onderstepoort strain, 5 years
Canine Parvovirus, 7 years
Canine Adenovirus, 7 years

This is a small portion of the literature and studies available that support a longer duration of immunity from effectively vaccinated dogs. For this reason, we will not revaccinate our dog.

In retrospect, I would not have agreed to the leptospirosis or bordetella vaccines. Both of these are bacterial vaccines which do not prevent infection, but only minimize symptoms. The leptospirosis vaccine will typically provide immunity in a dog against only 4 of the 200+ known strains, and its protection will last only for 6-8 months. “A dog who is vaccinated with this vaccine receives well less than one year of inadequate protection, but is placed at great risk for vaccine-related illness” says Dr. Jodie Gruenstern in a Dogs Naturally Magazine article. It is also reported that the Leptospirosis vaccine has the highest incident of adverse reactions. An interesting evolution is mentioned in a Dog Journal article, “infection rates have severely dropped and those dogs that do become infected are infected by an entirely different strain of Leptospire,” making the current vaccines even less effective.

In similar fashion, the bordetella vaccine will only provide partial protection against 2 out of the 40+ agents that cause bordetella infection. Dr. Ronald Schultz states, “Kennel cough is not a vaccinatable disease,” in a Dogs Naturally Magazine article. The article also mentions that kennel cough is “a self-limiting disease that amounts to as much danger to your dog as the common cold does to you.”

Viewing each of the vaccines in the risk versus reward vein, it appears that scientific evidence and professional experience shows that the initial core vaccines for puppies (or previously unvaccinated dogs) provides infection prevention to the most dangerous canine diseases and so is essential for all dogs. The subsequent core ‘boosters’, as well as the bacterial vaccines for leptospirosis and bordetella, are unnecessary at best and potentially detrimental. Though the initial rabies vaccinations are as effective as the distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus, local laws prohibit titering and so vaccines must be redone every three years.

Who's Up For A Little Kooky?

I should start off by saying that if you are not a fan of kooky, you should probably just mosey on along. I won't be offended, really. If you're still here, let's hop on over to the land of obsessions and oddities.

I've been doing a lot of research on diet, toxins, and vaccinations for dogs. Since Libby started having seizures last March, we have been trying to raise her as naturally as possible. That means natural cleaners (mostly vinegar and baking soda), flea and tick treatments that don't involve chemicals, a raw diet with supplements, and a customized vaccination schedule.

The effects of vaccines on dogs is something that scares me, even if your dog doesn't have epilepsy. So I jotted down a few notes and thought I would share that here. I know this isn't the usual subject matter, but it is writing and something that gets me stirred up.

If you have a dog, this could be really important information for you. If you do take the time to read it, please let me know if there is anything ambiguous or if you have any remaining questions. Thanks.

Dog Vaccination Protocol

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Intentions

Sometimes you start off with a plan and get all gung-ho and then it fizzles away into nothing and you can't remember at all what had you so inspired in the first place. That's how the start of 2014 was for me.

I wanted to write dammit. So I started a schedule, 10-2 every day, sitting at the computer, no excuses,....until I started with the excuses. Then there were more excuses than there were writing accomplishments, and then there weren't even any excuses. Just nothing.

But maybe it wasn't nothing after all. I read a tremendous amount in January and February (filling my well? perhaps). I also started an art journal and have done something in it almost every day of February. None of it is really worthy of sharing (though I have shared some pieces on the facebook page), but wow has it felt awesome. Plus, I have met some amazing women and fabulous artists, and I feel so inspired.

So now, I'm ready to set new intentions, start a new plan, get gung-ho about something entirely different and yet the same. Creating.

Stick around and in the next couple of weeks I'll introduce you to some of these talented gals and let the inspiration spread.

What did you create today?