Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Grandchildren 2019

What lucky grandparents we are!

B, age 18, university student


J, age 16, proud owner of a 1980s Honda


M, age 14, fluent Finnish speaker


E, age 12, best friend you could have



M, age 11, Renaissance girl


P, age 10, lives in a world of books 


S, age 9, gymnast and dancer


S, age 6, future astronaut


C, age 5, horse girl


S, age 5, wants to go into the Halloween business


H, age 3, can do anything by herself


I, age 1 1/2, she is smilier than she looks



W, age 0, happiest guy around

Saturday, July 20, 2019

No Green Cheese in Sight!



I can't let this day go by without mentioning the moon landing, the greatest single event of my childhood. What a vivid memory I have of sitting in front a color TV in the living room of our close friends, the Price family of North Hollywood CA, and watching together both the landing and the first walk on the moon. I was 14 years old and it was my father's 48th birthday, July 20 1969.

The room was full of mile-wide smiles, hearts thumping in chests, and tears in eyes. We marveled at the stupendous accomplishment by the American space program. For all we knew, the moon was made of green cheese. During my childhood this was a common phrase, not that people believed it, but it was symbolic of the mystery of Earth's moon and outer space in general.

When I was six or seven, my father told me that men would land on the moon when I was 14. The event occurred as he said, and I marveled at his prescience. Some years later I learned of President Kennedy's speech declaring that a moon landing would occur before the decade ended, and then I knew how Dad got so smart. My growing years were punctuated with the thrill of rockets defying gravity, space ships escaping earth's orbit, and brave men gladly enduring discomfort and even misery, while knowing they might not return. I still get teary watching a film of an Apollo rocket lifting from the launch pad awash in a blast of fire and smoke.

We have watched Apollo 11 several times this month, along with a documentary detailing the race to the moon. And it was a race, a space race, a war of ideology. America won, but in actuality, humanity won. The accomplishment was a source of wonder and pride for individuals in every country, and indeed, a large portion of the Earth's population viewed the landing live. Huge TV screens were set up in metropolises around the world where fascinated crowds gathered to participate in an event that seemed impossible even a year before. Armstrong expressed it perfectly, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," the first words ever uttered from the surface of the moon.

Early this morning our newest grandson was born, and several of us helpfully suggested names for him: Apollo, Buzz, Neil Armstrong, and other lunar-related names. The parents won't take us up on those, of course. In the future we can tell this little guy where we were and what we were doing exactly 50 years before he came to the Earth.


This is a short video showing the highlights of mid-July 1969

This one is a narration by Walter Cronkite about the moon landing

Monday, January 14, 2019

Traveling Light



When making reservations for a trip between Helsinki and Sarajevo, the Lufthansa website informed me that my baggage could weigh no more than 18 pounds and was restricted to carry-on only. Wow, it seems that even my small roller bag alone weighs almost that much when empty. Taking a roller on this trip was out of the question.

It has been forever since I have traveled with more than one average-ish size roller bag and one personal item (with the exception of bringing a suitcase of American hud to leave with Bridget overseas). The days of using multiple bags have passed. It's inconvenient, awkward and slow to lug luggage around. Packing light is a superior way to travel. I figure that if I need another piece of clothing there will be plenty for sale at my destination. I never do, though. It's easy as pie to bring clothing made from fibers that can be washed in a sink and will be thoroughly dry before needed the next morning. Besides, now that airlines nickel-and-dime us to death, cheapskates travel light.

I recently traveled w/ another person on a four-day trip. The traveler brought five bags, so multiple baggage fees were paid. Yeah. The person was so encumbered by stuff that they had to rent a car to carry it around, rather than using the cheap and convenient train for local travel. What an expensive burden it was for said traveler. But I digress.

Using a thin nylon backpack from my stash of a zillion packs, I got an idea of what 18 pounds of luggage looks like. It doesn't look like much. For $16 on Amazon I bought an almost weightless nylon backpack so the weight of the carrier would not take away from what I needed on the trip. Winter travel requires more clothing than warm-weather jaunts.

In addition I took along a very small travel purse with a shoulder strap long enough to wear angled across the chest. Important small items went into that: passport, wallet, chapstick, a pen, sticky notes, toothbrush, and change of underwear in case of extended or unplanned layovers. Using the purse kept me from having to remove and dig through the pack for frequently needed items.

It all worked like a charm. The main items included in my pack were: base layer top and bottom for warmth, one extra pair of nylon travel pants, several very lightweight tops, 1 scarf, 3 pair underwear, 3 pair wool socks, a buff, one pair black slipper-like shoes for nice occasions, small hairbrush, medicines, a few cosmetics / lotion / razor / toothbrush and paste in a zip-lock bag, iphone, and a few miscellaneous items.

Even though winter travel requires clothes with a little more bulk, and some extra layers, the bonus is that in cooler weather I don't perspire as much, thus my clothing required less washing. And just so you know, my full pack weighed only 13 pounds.

 It was liberating! I will travel like this again and will think twice about bringing a roller bag.







Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Books 2018

All of these were audio books except where noted

NON-FICTION


Manderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosenay: Did not finish this biography of Daphne du Maurier, writer of Rebecca and other loved novels. Part of my problem with the book is that I don't enjoy De Rosenay's writing style. Sorry I can't be more specific as I'm writing this months later, and the book just didn't make much impression on me. Meh.


Grant*****, by Ron Chernow: Now here's a book that is everything a biography should be. Author examines Ulysses S. Grant's flaws as well as virtues, his own self-awareness against the backdrop of historical times, and puts it all in the context of the mid-19th century. Grant was an honorable man, so much so that he knew pretty quickly when he was in need of repentance. He conquered his alcoholism, he supported American Jews to atone for an earlier mistake against them, he was devoted to his wife and family until his dying day. Grant was nearly guileless, and as a result he was constantly lied to, cheated, taken advantage of, etc. But what a man. We need US Grant today.


Bomb***1/2, by S. Sheinkin: Written for young adults, book explores the development and use of the atomic bomb. It is definitely my speed. It never got too technical, yet clearly explained the importance of the US developing the bomb before Hitler's Germany could do it, and use it. The constant danger of traitors selling secrets is discussed.


Secrets of a Civil War Submarine***, by Sally Walker: I did not know the Confederates built a submarine during the Civil War. They did, it was eventually sunk, and in the 90s was discovered in Charleston Harbor and excavated. The book details the experimental development of such a craft, how it operated, and what went wrong. Then it goes into the excavation which is interesting. It explores the crew members, who they were, and how they were identified during excavation. Fascinating! The story seems incomplete though, and I'd guess much more is known now about the sub.


Thirteen Days in September: The Dramatic Story of the Struggle For Peace*****, by Lawrence Wright: Wright wrote The Looming Tower, so this is the 2nd book of his I have read. And dramatic it is. Jimmy Carter resolved to forge a peace in the Middle East, so in 1978 he invited Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to Camp David for a peace conference. It was expected that something viable could be hammered out in three days, and that's really all the time these world leaders could afford to stay away from their primary responsibilities. But the days dragged on. At times the ME leaders pouted, argued, shouted, refused to yield, threatened to leave, and so on. I don't know how Carter stood it, and the fact that he would not give up says a lot about the man.

Carter was forward in saying that if they did not make an agreement, it would be Begin's fault, as Sadat was much more interested in the success of the job at hand. Begin was handicapped by his hard-line awareness of injustice to Jews for two thousand years, and seemed to think that it would be betrayal to that tragic legacy if he gave an inch. I lived through this event but never knew how tough a time it was.


Scars of Independence*** by H. Houck: The idea of this book is interesting and important: the American Revolution was not a noble struggle waged by kind and gentle high-minded virtuous independence-loving men. It was a brutal war full of atrocities and the worst war has to offer. Who knew? Book was hard to get into and dull-ish yet worth reading.



Earning the Rockies **** by Robert Kaplan: Author explores the role of America's geography in forming its development, its place in the world, and even the type of people American's are. The two major oceans surrounding us have protected us from the devastation of foreign wars. Our great American desert has created a hard-working practical population. Our east-west flowing rivers have facilitated western expansion. And so on. I love this type of book.



The Stranger She Loved ***, by Shanna Hogan: Dr. Martin McNeill insisted his wife have plastic surgery; she died a few days after surgery, by drowning in the bathtub. The circumstances didn't add up, at least to his daughters who were suspicious from the get-go. The police closed the case, calling it an accident. For about five years the oldest daughter worked to convince the DA to re-open the case. It was re-opened, and McNeill was convicted of murder. A narcissist, he never showed the slightest concern for his children, and even moved his mistress into the house days after his wife's death. Book is easy to read, but not well-written. So much is left out. For example, the author mentions that McNeill was working at the BYU Health Center. Then he wasn't. Then he was. And then the issue is dropped. Why was he suddenly not working there? And then why was he rehired? And how long did he remain? What about the allegations of sexual abuse made against him while he was working there? Why was he rehired in the face of allegations? Etc. etc. No answers.



March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution***1/2, by Will Englund. Author examines world situations in the spring of 1917 as America contemplated entering World War 1. There were some good reasons not to enter, but in the end, it was thought better to fight the inevitable war on foreign soil rather than our own. The Russian revolution occurred at the same time that President Wilson had to work out our strategy.

It wasn't easy to get into this book as it seemed to flit around to various localities and people, and then jarringly switch to something else. As I got about 3/4 of the way through it made more sense to me, and I could see the pattern of events more clearly.



Five Presidents***1/2  by Clint Hill: former Secret Service agent details his involvement in protecting five American presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford. Hill was the man who climbed onto the rear of Kennedy's limo on that terrible day in Dallas. For many years he suffered from PTSD without knowing it, because of what he witnessed. I delighted in his descriptions of what it was like to be around LBJ. The Secret Service is not the glamorous job folks think it is, at least not in the 60s and 70s.


One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon**** by Tim Weiner: Gosh,  I lived through the Vietnam War and Watergate, and still missed important details. Of course, much information was made public later, some of it as recently as 3-4 years ago. A couple of important points here: first, the negative reviews of the book claim it is one-sided, bringing forth only the bad Richard Nixon. Given that the book focuses on Vietnam and Watergate, that bad stuff is what America experienced during the Nixon era. He does talk about Nixon breaching China, and a few other accomplishments, but the book isn't written as a comprehensive biography of Nixon. Second, the author is a lib. So.

The book is well worth reading. When a person my age thinks back to the 60s and wonders, "was it really the crazy time I remember?" The answer is: Yes. It was.



True Crime Addict by James Renner***1/2: Author is/was an investigative journalist who has loved true crime since his teen years. He gets sucked into the disappearance of young Maura Murray in Massachusetts, and begins to turn over mossy rocks to find information that even the police don't have. He comes to his own conclusion about what happened to her. He weaves in bits of his own life, most notably that he can't do this investigation and live a normal life at the same time. Book is super interesting, the true crime part. He throws in some bad language that cheapens the writing.



The Romanovs****1/2 by Simon Montefiore: The Romanov dynasty lasted 300 years and came to a sad end, as we all know, in the wake of the Russian Revolution. The book traces the Romanov roots and spends considerable time on each tsar, shedding light on how each influenced the history of Russia. Some were brilliant, others a drain on their own country. One can see why a hereditary monarchy is never a good idea. An ample amount of German blood runs in Romanov veins. Though very detailed the book is readable and fascinating.



Brave Companions**** by David McCullough: A compilation of speeches or essays given by the author and read by same. They are upbeat, patriotic, and mostly fascinating. I love McCullough's outlook on life. There is beauty, rightness, hard working people, and you won't go wrong living by time-tested principles.


Three Days in Moscow**** by Bret Baier: Ronald Reagan's role in winning the cold war. I'm a Reagan fan so of course I enjoyed this book. But even if that were not the case, the cold war put a powerful damper on my childhood, and the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union were thrilling times to live through. For those who were too young during these events, the book would be a good way to catch up on historic events as well as the mood of our country and the world at that time.


God Save Texas*** by Lawrence Wright: Another by L.W. Fascinating in parts. A few months before reading this I was in Texas--Austin area and San Antonio. I enjoyed visualizing those places as he talked about them. We all know Texas is unique among the 50. The book sheds light on why that is, and also downplays the stereotypes. Parts of the book were borderline dull, such as the deep details on Texas politics. Some bad language thrown in, just for fun I guess.



A Higher Loyalty*** 1/2 by James Comey: Comey traces his career in government service. He emphasizes ethics, honesty, uprightness, rule of law, leadership--all those things that make our country's government almost unique in the world. He worked closely with three presidents and describes their relationships. He seems honest in his assessments of others and of himself, warts and all. The details of the 2016 election are very interesting--Hilary's emails and all, Trump's quick rise to the top. All of my apprehensions about Trump are voiced by Comey; there are no reassurances that Trump isn't as bad as he seems. However, Comey is confident our country will survive this presidency. Another thing he emphasized is that the FBI, of which he was director for four years, is a separate entity from the political goings on in our government. Trump wanted a commitment of personal loyalty to himself from the FBI director and Comey refused to get drawn in by Trump, thus he lost his job.



Call Me American****1/2 by Abdi Nor Iftin: Everyone would benefit from this book. Abdi is a Somali native who grew up in a time of war in Mogadishu, and the imposition of archaic Islamic practices by Islamists and al Shabab. More than anything, he wanted to be an American. In his youth he was able to sneak into the local movie house to watch American movies from which he learned English. When the US Marines came to help Mogadishu he was impressed with their care and kindness. Abdi was able to befriend an American journalist who began airing interviews with Abdi telling what it was like to live in a Mogadishu under seige. This relationship was the beginning of his escape from Somalia, though the process took many years. Abdi is well known in parts of the US because of his interviews, and the podcast, "Abdi and the Golden Ticket."

If there is an American out there who thinks refugees and - or immigrants come here to spread terror or to misuse the privilege of being in the US, Abdi's story will correct those thoughts. Imagine being so frightened and miserable in your own country that you would do anything to get to place of peace and security so that you could live a normal life. I got choked up when he finally won a visa, and then when he landed in the US.



Educated**** by Tara Westover: Oh my, where do I start? She grew up in a bizarrely weird home where her mom was a doormat who paved the way for the father to mis-treat and brainwash his children. Family had a scrap metal business. Father's wanton and deliberate carelessness led to critical injuries. And mother--she got so deep into essential oils that she could "cure" anything--burns, cancer, depression, whatever, even from thousands of miles away, vicariously. The story is how Tara escaped this madhouse and became something. Her first in-classroom school experience was college. I am saddened that she has left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as I believe she could find peace and fulfillment therein, but I can hardly blame her for ditching it given the cock-eyed, perverted form of the religion espoused by her father.



I'll Be Gone in the Dark**** (read) by Michelle McNamara: Good true-crime. Author chronicles a series of rapes and murders in California, crimes that had never been solved. Interstingly, a suspect was arrested in the spring of 2018. The man is now elderly and so many years have passed by that the investigation is going to cost a bundle and take years to bring to trial. This is the first time that I have heard of a criminal being located through the use of GedMatch, a database that allows folks to upload their DNA results in order to get matches from multiple DNA testing data bases. The author passed away before the book was finished and the suspect caught.




Sons and Soldiers****: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned With the US Army to Fight Hitler  by Bruce Henderson: German Jewish boys whose families were able to spirit them out of Germany to the US before WW2, desired to return to Germany as American soldiers to fight Hitler. Their most valuable asset was the German language. The US Army trained them how to interrogate captured Germans and thus collect important strategic information. The author follows a half dozen of these men through the war and sums up their lives. Some were involved in liberating concentration camps. That was when they knew their families left in Germany might not have lived through the war. What a compelling story.


We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices From Syria***** by Wendy Pearlman: I wish for every American to read this book. Too many think that refugees from devastated areas of the world are terrorists wanting to get into the US to wreak havoc. That is crazy bunk, and if Americans could hear the stories of displaced persons such as are in this book, they would understand that millions are trapped in horrible situations only by accident of birth. The book consists of interviews with Syrians reflecting on one aspect of their war-torn lives. The only commentary is the introduction. I want to bring all the Syrians home to my safe, comfortable house.



The Unwomanly Face of War**** by Svetlana Alexievich: Russian women who fought in WW2, who knew? Wow, passages in this book are the most unpleasant real-life thing you could read. Other portions are among the most moving I've ever read. A soldier named Anna is called away from her unit at the front lines in Latvia, in the middle of the night, to aid a civilian woman about to give birth. Anna describes the scene, with four Russian soldiers guarding the squalor-ridden house, and one holding a flashlight while she assists in the birth. As the birth is accomplished the Russian soldiers quietly cheer this new life in the midst of death on every side. The new mother names her baby Anna, and then gifts Anna the soldier a lovely mother of pearl powder box, her most precious possession among few. Anna weeps over the smell of the powder, the lovely box, the baby, all reminders of womanly lives, before war changed everything.

Like the previous book about Syria, this one is almost entirely made up of individual real-life experiences. These personal stories needed to be told before these women were gone. It was first published in 1985.


Things That Matter***1/2 by Charles Krauthammer: The author has a way with words, especially when poking fun at political correctness. He says things others would shy away from. I liked most of the book. Some parts were very deep into politics. I guess I'm not smart enough to understand everything he talked about. Am sorry he's gone now; his newspaper column was always timely and provided an important balance in thought about current affairs.




Being Mortal****1/2 by Atul Gawande: A must read! Gawande is a physician who writes about elder care and medical treatment for the elderly. He covers issues related to aging including assisted living, nursing homes, frailty, terminal illness and the dying process. We're all going to be there someday, and I found the book valuable for this reason. Many of us have elderly family who are facing major life decisions, and the author offers a variety solutions.



Whistlestop**** by John Dickerson: a review of presidential campaigns of the past. Dickerson doesn't review every 4th year in American history, but selects unusual and interesting campaigns that make 2016 seem not quite as outrageous as it really was. I did not know that Grover Cleveland (who was president twice, non-consecutively) fathered a child in what the female claimed was rape. It was an issue in his first campaign but I guess the corruption of his opponent seemed worse than what Cleveland was accused of. Perhaps that's where the saying began, "the lesser of two evils." I enjoyed this book a lot and especially appreciated the author's underhanded humor.



Killers of the Flower Moon*** by David Grann:  Osage Indians in Oklahoma experienced many cold-blooded murders in the late 19-teens through the early 1930s. The US government appointed white guardians for these Indians, assuming the Indians would not be able to manage the wealth that descended on them when oil was discovered and pumped on their lands. The murders seemed to target those who had white guardians who could benefit from the Indians' deaths. Some years later, the FBI stepped in to investigate. The book isn't gripping, yet I received an education about a crisis I never heard of before. It's well worth reading.



Young Washington**** by Peter Stark: Stark chronicles the life of George Washington as a British-serving soldier in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. He was young, impetuous, impressed with his own self-importance. During this time his skills in warfare, diplomacy and relationships was honed, and critical mistakes were made along the way. Nevertheless, his trials prepared him for what was to come later. Of particular interest to me is that Washington spent time in the area of my father's hometown. Because the maps in the book are not very detailed, I spent much time perusing that area on Google Maps to figure out more exactly where events were happening. The dearth of map details is one negative about the book. The other is the author makes too many assumptions about what Washington and others thought and did. It's acceptable to do this in a biography when there is a dearth of material. An author walks a fine line though, between using the technique to enlighten and expand the story, and over-employing it to the point where a reader thinks the book could have just been shorter.




FICTION

Divergent***1/2, by Veronica Roth: Five themed factions rule a dystopian society, and when a time of choosing comes, Beatrice shocks everyone by her choice. Any more said would be a spoiler.



The Last Days of Night*** by Graham Moore: Fictional about competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, two early inventors on a similar track to market their invention of the lightbulb. Story involves Nicolai Tesla. I like that the author wrote in an afterward, about what was true in the book, and what was pure fiction. Most of it was close to the truth, and in places all he did was to condense the time-line for story-telling purposes. Even though I prefer non-fiction accounts of true events, this book was interesting and very readable.



King Solomon's Mines*** by H. Rider Haggard: Alan Quartermain, a prototype for Indian Jones, seeks missing white man in Africa. He runs into hostile tribal leader, searches for diamonds, gets trapped in cave. Exciting adventure.



Insurgent*** by Veronica Roth: I nearly quit listening to this middle book of a trilogy. Names of characters and their groups were confusing, but to be fair, it had been 4+ months since I had listened to Divergent, and there was no review of the first book. Events all grew together. At about 80% through the book, it began to gel into important and exciting events and made better sense to me. Will go ahead and listen to the last book in the series.



The Atomic City Girls*** by Janet Beard: I knew nothing about Oakridge Tennessee's origins and it's role in the development of the atomic bomb. Now I do. The novel pulled in the Black experience and also shed light on the changes wrought in society by pulling young women away from their farms and into factory work. I didn't particularly care for some of the characters, and thought Sam was not doing June any favors by drawing her into drinking, smoking and sex. Were women that easy or so easily bamboozled in the 40s??


The Deerslayer*** by James Fenimore Cooper: Adventures of frontiersman Natty Bumpoo in mid-18th century NY. If not for the wordy, dated language, the book would be thrilling (it was thrilling to a 19th century audience).



Allegiant*** by Veronica Roth: Last book in the trilogy. This book was easier to get into than was Insurgent. Here, Tris finds out what life is really all about: love, forgiveness, sacrifice. Three stars because post-apocalyptic stories are not my favorite. Also, even though it was refreshingly restrained as teen romances go, there were too many teenage make-out scenes. If I was a teen I'd probably think that is great.


Longbourne** by Jo Baker: Longbourne started out so deliciously interesting. Longbourne is the story of the Bennett household from the point of view of the servant class, rather than the wealthy family as portrayed by Jane Austen (and I'm always fascinated by the lives of lower-social class people, even when they are portrayed in fiction). The emphasis on laundry drew me in at the beginning. The Bennett women dressed in fine dresses underlain by layers of petticoats that dirtied quickly. Who knew? The Bennett sisters certainly gave no thought to the maintenance of their clothing. In addition to laundry, the cooking, cleaning, personal attendance and outdoor work all took their toll on the help. Some of the observations made by the help gives insights to the character of the Bennett family members, although their character traits may not be what Jane Austen had in mind. The descriptions of the chores are rich.

As the story progresses, the author messes up a good thing. She incorporates contemporary plot lines. Sarah, the servant-protagonist, throws herself at the young steward; they end up in a risky physical relationship. The older steward who has handled the workload for so many years turns out to be gay. In fact, he died in his man-friend's quarters and the serving staff had to spirit away his lifeless body to his own bed to keep the secret. There is some language in the book that I don't appreciate. If folks really spoke like that in 1810, then fine. If not, the words should not be there.

The attraction between Ptolemy Bingley, a mulatto and former slave, and Sarah, rang excessively false for the times. It would be one thing for her to be momentarily, silently attracted to a handsome mulatto, knowing they could never become close, but it was another thing to have the relationship (and marriage) encouraged by Mrs. Hill, the head servant. Seriously. It's 1810 people! In England! And then, could a young servant girl with hardly a farthing to her name and practically no knowledge of anything outside the tiny local village, quit her servant job to strike off across England on her own to find her lost love? Early 19th century English servants didn't quit their jobs to find fulfillment and romance.

And oh--after Lizzie married Mr. Darcy there was a remark about her feeling unsettled because her life depended on the whims of a man. Is it just me, or is that contemporary talk?

Perhaps I don't know enough about early 19th century English country society. Perhaps all of the above could have been almost-impossible yet real things, if one stretches the imagination like you stretch silly putty across a room. Even if they were, could they ALL BE HAPPENING AT ONCE in a miniscule village on just one estate and to the same person on that estate? I think not. The first third of the book is three-and-a-half stars worthy, the second half, maybe one star. Maybe.



The Man From Primrose Lane (read), possibly four stars without the horrid language, two stars with it (and this is because I had to skim plenty to miss the offensive language so am not sure how good the book really was) by James Renner: An intriguing mystery involving a reclusive man who is murdered, and a has-been writer who gets drawn in to solving the crime when the police were unable to. He uncovers evidence that the crime pertains to . . . well, no spoilers. I'm sorry this author writes beguiling mysteries that I want to read. The language is so bad that I will miss out on his other works. I want to ask the author why he can develop a riveting plot yet is unable to come up with creative language in place of the lazy four-letter words. He might say, well, it's how people talk. But it isn't. I can go a long time without hearing language this bad, and my husband says he never ever hears it in the workplace or among his tennis team or anywhere else. If someone walked into a retail establishment and was spoken to in the way that one of the characters spoke to her customers in the book, the employee would be out the door in two seconds flat.



Crazy Rich Asians** by Kevin Kwan: Mmmm. Did not finish. Yes it's a popular book (and movie) that's hard to get into with so many characters and personalities. The plot is good though. An Asian NY professor brings his live-in American girlfriend, also a professor, home to Singapore to attend his best friend's wedding. The woman is unprepared for the almost un-imaginable opulence of the man's family and the social maelstrom that goes with it. Not quite halfway through the book the language became offensive. As I've said before, throwing in four-letter words shows weakness in writing. Modern fiction is often disappointing to me, largely because writers aren't as skilled as you'd hope. There are plenty of good books out there. No need to waste time on almost-unreadable works.




Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: Did not finish. This book is a book group choice but I didn't get very far into it. The raunchy language turned me off.

NOTE:  In 2019 I plan to check out and finish these last two books. When I read them as a book it's easy to skip over parts that include foul language. When listening to audio books there is no avoiding those parts.