Amazon Dot–now this is home automation

I’m having a ball with this thing. Its real power is when you combine it with a Harmony smart remote. This morning, KK said she liked my 2nd wife–she turned on the TV by talking to Alexa. I can also switch the TV to ESPN by asking Alexa. But even without a Harmony, it’s pretty useful–This morning, I got the phone number for our vet from Alexa, and when the appt. was made, I added the event to my google calendar via Alexa.

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Solar Observing event

I’m holding a STEM event at the N. Courthouse Chesterfield Library next week. Since it’s during a week day, it would be a good home school field trip, so I’m distributing the flyer to as many groups as I can find that relate to home schooling. If you’re interested in bringing a group, let me know ASAP, as the capacity is only 13 people. You can email me at to register.

I’ll hold a 30-40 minute session inside, to explain about some of NASA’s observation tools, sun viewing safety, the upcoming solar eclipse, and describe the telescope we’ll be using for observing–it’s Coronado Solarmax Telescope, and it’s specially designed to view the sun safely. It’s owned by the Richmond Astronomical Society, of which I am a member.

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The Panther, by Nelson DeMille

This is a sequel to “The Lion’s Game.” If you’ve read other books by DeMille, you know you’re in for a roller coast ride. The hero, John Corey, is a version of Jack Bauer (24 TV series) with the smart mouth of Homer Simpson. It’s a good combination.

Corey returns to Yemen, this time in order to track down the master mind behind the U.S.S. Cole bombing (code name The Panther). Only soon he finds out that he may be the one that’s being hunted. And it doesn’t help when your bosses give you reason to think they’re out to get you too.

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Mr. Larson has done it again–he’s written a great historical story about an important event in America’s past. He also wrote “Devil in the White City,” about a mass killer at work in Chicago during the 1899 World’s Fair. This one is about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. The Lusitania was a huge passenger liner, and the pride of England in that era, and like the Titanic, it was billed as “unsinkable.” Unfortunately, this turned out to also be untrue.

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Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch

For syfy, this book is as good as it gets. Jason is a college professor of Physics, has a wife and a kid, and is normal in every way. But one night, he gets hijacked, and ends up in the craziest world you can imagine. And if you can imagine it, just wait–you’ll get another chance. Literally.

If you keep up with science, especially cosmology, you probably know that there is a current theory out there about multiverses–where there are other universes surrounding us, but they’re in another dimension. What if this was true, and there was a way to get there?

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Orphan X, by Greg Hurwitz

Evan Smoak is an orphan who was recruited into a special government program, where he’s been trained to covertly kill for his country since being a teenager. It’s all he knows. So, when the program is disbanded, he can’t quit the life style, so he goes rogue. But in a good way–he offers his services to people in trouble, who might need a hired gun to save them.

He doesn’t exist, yet if you’re in trouble, you can ask for his help by calling a phone number. This number is passed from a previous ‘client’ to the next. He has never lost one yet. But this latest call has him testing his skills to the max.

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Standoff (2016)

Fishburne plays a contract killer who murders some targets at a quiet funeral and when a 12 year old girl takes his picture, he hunts her, to terminate the evidence.  She enters Thomas Jane’s house, a ‘shell of a man’ guzzling on that liquor, because that’s probably about the best thing to do after your wife leaves you because you weren’t careful enough when your son was accidentally killed.As things turn out, Fishburne shoots his way into the house, but not before Jane blasts him with buckshot.  The ‘standoff’ then ensues with Fishburne on the ground floor with Jane protecting the child on the top floor with a shotgun.

Source: REVIEW: Standoff (2016) – ManlyMovie

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

Sweet little Melanie–all she wants to do is be around her teacher, Miss Justineau. So, why does Dr. Caldwell want to cut her up into little pieces so she can study her brain? And why can’t she remember her parents? And why is she strapped into a wheelchair every day?

The mystery is gradually revealed, and it’s so much fun getting there. Which is what makes this book so great–what a fantastic plot. It will take you on twists you will never see coming. It’s got love, hate, horror, biting, fungus, life after death, hysteria, and a whole lot of innocence lost.

One of the best horror books I’ve read, but don’t think that’s all it is–it’s a great mixture of horror, mystery, and just a great adventure. Continue reading

Power Down (Dewey Andreas, #1) by Ben Coes

Loads of fun–very fast moving, great plot, lots of action, likable hero. It starts off with an ex-Delta soldier, Dewey Andreas, working on an ocean drilling platform, thinking his military career is over and reconciled to his new life. Fail. He discovers a plot to destroy the platform, but in spite of the warning, the plot succeeds. In the process, Dewey discovers a much bigger plot, one that threatens the entire United States.

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