Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Season's Greetings



Wishing everyone the best for this Happy Holiday season. Hope you like the picture. I had hoped to post a short Three Little Pigs Christmas video as well, a video that one of my readers sent, but couldn't get it to work. In the video, the wolf tries to blow down the brick house, but can't. So, like in the story, he climbs up to the chimney and tries to get in that way. However, the pigs hear the wolf on the roof and prepare a boiling part of water for him in the fire. The wolf comes down the chimney. The pigs trap him in the pot and put a lid on it.

In the video, the pigs take the lid off and bag of toys floats to the surface.

Oh, well. Probably wouldn't have been good idea anyway in case the kids saw it.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Auburn Christmas



A good friend of mine sent me this picture and song lyrics. Hope Auburn fans everywhere anjoy it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Writing Introduction

I have recently had the pleasure of meeting several local writers in the Atlanta area. Several of them are published authors. The others want to be. Admittedly, their writing appeals more to females than males. (The books target the female market, which represent between 60%-80% of the book-buying market, depending on the stats one reads.) However, there are some books that males would find interesting as well.

While I have time, I plan on adding links to the writers I have gotten to know, as well as featuring books that might interest both genders. The first book is The Color of Light by Karen White. When I asked Karen which book of hers she would recommend, she named this one as it’s the only book of hers that her husband liked. I have just started reading it and there’s more action in the first four pages than there is in four quarters of Auburn offense.

I Should Have Known

The minute I mention the women's b-ball team, the #14 Lady Tigers fall to the #12 Texas A&M Lady Aggies. They have four more games before opening the SEC season at Tennessee. (Wow! What a place to open conference play.)

On a football note, Rich Rodriguez has left WVU to take the position at Michigan. This could affect the make-up of the team that Auburn faces when it travels to Morgantown next fall. It should be noted that Rodriguez turned down the Alabama job last year. This also puts to rest any rumors that Miles might leave after the BCS Championship game.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And The Women Are Doing Well

It’s not like there hasn’t been a lot going on at Auburn these days. However, by day, I approve commercial lending facilities and there has been a lot going on trying to close sales by year-end.

Auburn’s been busy, too.

We got a Peach Bowl (ok, Chick-fil-A Bowl) invitation to play Clemson on December 31st. It should be great match up. We have a home-and-home match-up with the other orange and blue Tigers in 2010 and 2011.

Al Borges has resigned as offensive coordinator. Admittedly, the offense hasn’t worked that well at times for the last two years. Still, Coach Borges should be remembered fondly for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, where it seemed his style of offense flourished. The lack of big-play receivers, like we had in 2004 and 2005, seemed to hamper Borges’ play-calling abilities. Despite this, Borges made Jason Campbell into a first round draft pick.

In addition, for the play that many of us will ever forget, it was Borges who put in the flea-flicker that we saw executed to perfection against Arkansas in 2004.

So, to Al, best wishes. If I knew you, you’d be on my Christmas card list because you’re a class act.

Enter Tony Franklin.

Borges’ replacement from Troy State looks to be a good choice. He took Troy from the bottom on the nation in offense to #17 in the nation. Troy and Auburn had three common opponents this year: Florida, Arkansas, and Georgia. And Troy put up almost twice as many points on those two teams as Auburn did. (Yes, I know, Auburn went 2-1 against those teams, while Troy, I think, went 0-3.) Still, this new coach brings excitement…and I don’t mean like the excitement we experience in a close game.

But there’s goings-on outside of football at Auburn. B-ball season has started. The men are 4-2. Expecting to contend with all five starters returning, they have struggled with injuries and suspensions. Still, there is much hope for Jeff Lebo’s Tigers.

The women are on fire!

Coach Nell Fortner has the Lady Tigers out to a 9-0 start and a Top 20 ranking. Victories include a win over ranked Arizona State team. Still, the SEC schedule, the toughest conference in the nation for women’s basketball (or any other sport) awaits.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Littlest Actor

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than our last one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd. Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front. We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it. However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

But Will It Work On Al Gore?

It was announced yesterday by MSN’s Slate magazine that scientists are researching ways to limit animal flatulence. (Click here to see the announcement.) The reason is the 50% of greenhouse gas emissions apparently come from animals, meaning that cutting back on driving and limiting fossil fuels doesn’t address the primary driver behind the supposed theory of global warming.

Research is suggesting that kangaroos contain a certain bacteria in their intestines, bacteria that negates the methane issue with flatulence. If this bacteria could be successfully implanted in cows, as well as many other animals known to have these issues, then we could make serious strides towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The following questions do remain though:

#1) Could the science be applied to Nick Saban and Bama Nation?

#2) Could it be used on politicians and blowhard pundits. (Joe Scarborough comes to mind, though he is already covered in Question #1.)

#3) Would such a plan pit the global warming alarmists against those who crusade against genetic enhancements to the food supply? This could create a Civil War in the Sierra Club.

Your thoughts, please.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Speed (part II): The Speed of Disappointment

Max Zorin: Would you prefer stamina…or speed?
James Bond: I think a little bit of both…
- from the movie, A View to a Kill. (They were discussing a business transaction involving a racehorse.)

My son brought home a “D” on a math test last week. He wasn’t happy with himself and thought we might be angry. We weren’t, just disappointed. Andrew is an “A” math student. It’s his best subject. His reading challenges make the word problems difficult, but he can do numerical calculations.

We haven’t always held this view of Andrew’s math abilities. When he first started taking standardized exams, he would test below the scale in reading. Surprisingly, he would test on the scale in math. When I saw the results of Andrew’s first math scores, I insisted that the school add math help to the services he was getting. The exchange surprised both sides:

“But math is one of his strengths!”

“One standard deviation below the norm isn’t a strength for anybody!”

The teachers agreed and math help was added to his services at school. We started working on it more at home. And Andrew started getting better. With the combined efforts he was getting, Andrew improved in all of his subjects. However, he started excelling in math. Testing at the start of this year estimated his abilities somewhere in fifth grade, not bad for a 4th grader.

So, the “D” surprised us. However, what surprised us more were the mistakes he made. Word problems still gave him fits, but he made calculation errors. These troubled us, as we know he can do the work. Andrew knows it, too. This isn’t his first “D” this school year. He brought one home on a previous math test…and he made calculation errors there, too.

Part of the reason for these errors, we feel, is that Andrew has to complete the test in a certain amount of time. He can do the work, but it takes him longer than other kids. In the past, he has gotten extra time on tests. However, the amount of work he is getting in 4th grade dwarfs any year he has had before and we are pushing him to meet the same requirements the other kids are meeting.

So, with him taking a long time to do the tests anyway, he has very little time to check his work. My wife and I are working on that with him, trying to improve his speed. However, we also explaining the need for him to check his work.

A child with special needs, like any other child, has strengths and weaknesses. As parents, you work hard to help them grow with all of them. As I explained earlier, Andrew thought we would be angry. However, we were only disappointed. “Disappointment” is a concept that is difficult for Andrew to grasp, but getting this “D” and seeing our reaction may have finally helped him understand it.

Amazing, though, is the fact that we were disappointed at all. A few years ago, he was one standard deviation below the norm. Now, at least in one subject, we have the luxury of being disappointed when he doesn’t bring home an “A.”