Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Working from home & those "it figures" phone calls

Once I decided not to pursue another in-house position, the headhunter phone calls picked up. Isn't that always the way?

I just got another one about a healthcare position that actually sounded pretty interesting. But no, with the help of a loving and supportive husband, I'm doing what I want to be doing now, mediation and arbitration. Mostly mediation, really. I love how I can use my skills to facilitate discussions and bring people together, to find ways to resolve matters that work for everyone.

But isn't this the way? It feels like I always got the most attention from placement firms and companies when I don't need it. Now if I could just get those companies to talk to me about their employee relations issues and contract with me to address some of them!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Book Review: "Come Fly the World" by Julia Cooke


Come Fly the World is a fascinating look at the world of flight attendants in a more glamorous age, although that age clearly was more challenging on a number of levels. Women took on the role of flight attendant ("stewardess" back then) for many reasons, among them the freedom to travel and see the world, personal independence, and the opportunity for freedom that wasn't easily found for women decades ago. This is an era, not so long ago, when the career options for women were limited. Female employees of the State Department, looking to build careers in diplomatic service, had to retire when they got married.

Throughout these decades, as the airline industry grew in a post-World War II world, the tough, smart women who worked for the airlines were witness to a changing world, including some of its glories and its horrors, like their participation in flights carrying soldiers to and from the Vietnam War, and the airlifts to save orphaned children as US involvement drew to a close.

Focusing primarily on Pan Am and the culture that grew with this leading international airline--with discussions of the roles of other airlines, as well--Come Fly the World immerses the reader in the experience airlines, particularly Pan Am, looked to create for travelers in a very different era from today's travel experience. The onboard announcements were part of the "showmanship," as the book quotes a publication of the day pointing out. "Our passengers are starting out on an adventure and we are helping them to get the feel of it immediately." Of course, this also was an era when there was no question about the image the airlines wanted to project in their stewardesses. Applying lipstick the right way, grooming lessons, and so on, all were part of the job. This continued and only took on a cruder tone in the "fly me" era of sexually-charged airline advertising.

While the exploitive nature of this airline-to-employee relationship is dubious, any number of these ladies also enjoyed the sexual and romantic freedom their profession offered. Happily, this book doesn't shy away from exploring this aspect of their careers, either. It's certainly not something that should bring shame. Rather, the freedom to live life as they saw fit is a great thing, and these pioneers of the professional world also helped usher in greater freedom for women in general. This is summed up well with the sharing of Helen Gurley Brown's favorite saying, "Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere."

For those of us who wish we'd been able to experience the jet age and its classier approach to travel, being reminded of the days when airlines turned out guide books with tips on how to get the most out of visiting one city or another, Come Fly the World is a slice of happy time travel. Hitting an excellent balance between the glory of that era and the realities and challenges of life for those who lived it, the author does an excellent job of letting us experience life from the perspective of some of those who were on the front lines of the age.

From the first American flights to Moscow and the stewardesses' watching out for KGB surveillance to experiencing Beirut before it was devastated, back when it was the jewel of the Mediterranean, these ladies had amazing experiences. Just reading about what they saw was an exciting trip. Pan Am is gone now, as are a number of its contemporaries, and travel looks different these days, for better or worse, but Come Fly the World is a great read, capturing that era of international travel and the experiences of women who changed not just their world but the face of society going forward.

(I had the opportunity to review an advance copy of Come Fly the World. It's scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021, and I highly recommend it.)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Such an interesting year

Where to begin? Well, if you have lived through it, there's not much I can add about 2020. By turns, it was terrifying, hopeful, frustrating, and so many other adjectives. We've seen death on a staggering scale, and we've worried for ourselves and our loved ones. Whatever you choose, I think most of us are glad it's coming to an end. Vaccines have been produced, with the promise of bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. (I won't even talk about politics. If you know me, you know I'm happy we're seeing the end of this administration. If I say more, I'll just go off on a rant.)

I used to work in hospital management. We dealt with disasters in my day. I was at one of NYC's major hospitals when we had the 9/11 terrorist attack. For all that, none of it had the scope of this pandemic. In my years in hospitals, we planned for all sorts of things, including potential bioterror attacks, but this is something else.

On a personal level, this bothers me more, because my husband still works in healthcare. I'd be much more comfortable in harm's way than seeing him at risk. Still, he feels a duty to his work and to his hospital, so off he goes every day. I'm hoping they'll soon have enough vaccine to give it to him. He's supposed to get his first shot pretty soon. Whatever the schedule, it can't be soon enough! I need to know he's safe.

Otherwise, life goes on. I continue to work on my mediation practice. I'm getting more exposure, now that I've built things so I'm on several court panels, including handling a variety of federal cases, and I may even have a nibble to do some ADR work for a hospital, which is a great melding of my old work and my current work.

I'm thankful for my health, my husband's health and our pups. I hope the year ahead is far better than the one about to end. Best wishes to all!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Review: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

 The Splendid and the Vile is a great history of Winston Churchill and the key people who interacted with him during the early part of World War II in Britain. If you're even a little interested in this period of history, you'll love this book. It's well researched and tells a captivating story. Also, Erik Larson is a great storyteller, so the book flows like a good novel. Highly recommended!

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Book review: The Nearest Exit (Milo Weaver #2)

The Nearest Exit just wasn't my cup of tea. Some books in this genre follow government agents who are highly skilled and working to do their government's bidding for the greater good. Others revolve around such agents who are looking to right wrongs they did in the name of their governments, or who are on the run from their agencies who have now turned on them, while still others are about former agents who now follow their own moral code, defending the defenseless and saving those in need.

The Nearest Exit really is none of those. Milo Weaver is damaged goods. He gets caught up in terrible things, from child kidnapping and worse, to thefts to fund operations. It's quite possible this novel is closer to reality than many others, but it's neither a non-fiction work nor a historical novel. It's meant to be entertainment. For me, at least, it really wasn't. Milo is very hard to relate to or feel for. It was a hard book to finish.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Book Review: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, PhD

Too Much and Never Enough doesn't really surprise so much as fill in some of the family history that explains how Donald Trump is so selfish and free of empathy. His father, Fred Trump, was a cold, divisive father, and a selfish, money-obsessed slumlord. Mary Trump recounts a story of Fred Trump personally visiting a tenant who complained of his apartment being cold. Fred, who ordinarily never took off his suit coat, made a point of taking off his coat and rolling up his sleeves, so he could tell the man it was hot in the undeniably cold apartment. Anything to bully, cheat and win. This "self-made man" took big government development handouts, but the truth wasn't an impediment to his and his son Donald's claims. Through the years, he taught Donald to cheat and bully, and he succeeded in making Donald what he wanted.

There's really nothing much here that surprises, particularly if you've watched Donald Trump over his many years of spoiled trust fund baby behavior in New York and since then in Washington DC. This book is informative and well written, but again, not really surprising. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Marching Season (Michael Osbourne, #2)The Marching Season by Daniel Silva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second (and last, as far as I can tell) in Daniel Silva's Michael Osbourne books, The Marching Season has tension, intrigue and a plot that pulls you along at a fast pace. Filled with detail, but not so much as to be tedious, you can connect with the characters, eventually including the lead bad guy in a book with plenty who could vie for that role.

Silva also is to be commended for not tying things up with a bow. He's wise enough to know that things don't always end neatly, happily or morally in the real world. Compromises are made, and sometimes bad guys win.

I enjoyed both books in this short series. Even with his Gabriel Allon books to entertain me, I wish there were more of this series. Well done!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Heaven Has No FavoritesHeaven Has No Favorites by Erich Maria Remarque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found Heaven Has No Favorites to be an unusual book of life and death. A woman dying of tuberculosis in post-war Europe spends time with a man who lives life on the edge. He's a race car driver, tempting fate every time he goes to work, and she just wants to escape from life in her Alpine sanatorium.

Going with Clerfayt, the race car driver, she takes us through various parts of Europe, spending much of her time in Paris. Interesting characters come and go, and we are along for the journey.

I can't properly describe this powerful book. I wouldn't normally go for a book that has such a dark undercurrent haunting its pages, but it moved and was compelling.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

You need to read this book!

Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wouldn't consider Ta-Nehisi Coates the most eloquent of writers. His style can come across as a bit stilted, but in the case of Between the World and Me, that's easily forgiven. This is a very powerful book, exploring the experience of growing up black in a nation that still regularly mistreats the people whose ancestors were once enslaved here.

There's a lot of food for thought in Between the World and Me. Even the way he looks at race is compelling. He says that racism isn't the child of race. Rather, race is the child of racism. And if we recognize that we all really are one race, then that makes sense. I'd just never seen someone put it that way. Still... yes, the desire to oppress others requires the distinction of "race." But without the racist intentions, racial distinctions have no meaning.

This book, written as a message to the author's son, is well worth your time, regardless of your background. It's thought-provoking, intelligently written and very timely as we go through what I hope will be a time of change for the better.

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Friday, July 03, 2020

Seriously, what’s wrong with people?

This woman deserves to be ostracized: Socialite Is 'So Sorry' for Putting 'Others at Risk' at Outdoor Party Before COVID-19 Diagnosis

She knew very well what the risks were, but her arrogance and selfishness had her go ahead anyhow. As her guests spread the virus through the community, how many people are going to die because of her?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Rest in peace, Hot Toddy

I started this blog about 16 years ago, at the urging of a friend. I had read blogs and got to know some very interesting people through the blogosphere. As I started my own blogging adventure, I got to know even more and was welcomed into a community of bloggers. While any online world can bring out the worst in some people, we shouldn't forget all the ones with good hearts who share their best.

One of the people I got to know was a blogger named Michael Todd Pozycki a/k/a Todd Pozycki a/k/a Hot Toddy. He had a blog called Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. When there was a sort of informal blogger convention here in New York, in May 2005, he was one of the ones who came. I have fond memories of hanging out with him in Greenwich Village, laughing uproariously at one thing after another. Good-natured laughter, because he was a good-hearted person. He was a fun person. He was the kind of guy who made life brighter.

He and fellow blogger Andy Grigsby ("Pony" to his blogging friends and fans) started a podcast. They were a riot to listen to, as were their guests. They had a natural interaction, born of their closeness, I suppose, and also had a skill for podcasting. We happily listened to their many episodes. Then one day, we took a trip to Portland and were on The Todd & Pony Show. That was so much fun!

By the way, don't take the "Hot Toddy" nickname the wrong way. He was quite humble. I forget what brought it up one day, but he said something about what I should expect from "a guy nicknamed Hot Toddy" and laughed about his own nickname, making clear that the name was in fun and his humility was well intact.

I wish he'd lived closer, so we could have seen him more often. In recent years, our contacts were online. Such is life, I suppose. Better than no contact at all. Still, he's one of those friends who you expect to see again, and you'd pick up where you left off, as if 10 minutes had passed, instead of 10 years.

Rest in peace, my friend. The world is darker without you in it. You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Commodore (World War II Navy, #4)The Commodore by P.T. Deutermann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another entertaining novel by P.T. Deutermann. Having now read two of his books, it's clear he knows his stuff, both in terms of the navy (not surprising with his personal history) and military history. Also important is that he creates character worth rooting for while not pulling punches on the brutality of war. Overall, just a great book.

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Dogs are fascinating

If you know us, you know we have two dogs, Lexi and Tucker. Lexi was the queen of the house until Tucker came along. Well, okay, I suppose she still is.

Her Majesty

When Tucker came along, she didn't seem thrilled. Why did she need some other dog in her home? Things got even rougher when she got very ill a few months later. Tucker wasn't particularly helpful. There were times when she was so sick that all she could do was lie there. It was really bad... and he did things like step on her. Such a clod.

Thankfully, she survived after a long battle, and then made his life miserable for a bit. He deserved it. She didn't actually hurt him, but when she got her strength back, she made a point of reminding him that she's a lot bigger than he is.

With all of that said, they've found their way over the last couple of years. They have a somewhat adversarial relationship, but it's very much like young siblings. They work together on important things, like confronting the "mailman threat." But then they'll jump on each other and wrestle. Tucker will steal her food. It's all part of their relationship.

So this morning, Tucker went to the vet for his dental cleaning.

On his way to the doggy dentist this morning

I crated Lexi while I got Tucker ready and took him out. When I got back from dropping him off, I let her out, let her hit the yard and then gave her a treat. Then I made her breakfast... which she wouldn't even look at.

I've asked her several times to eat her chow. Nope. She'd rather sit in the front door and sulk. It's really funny. If she could speak, I think she might say, "Yes, he's a pain in the ass, but he's my pain in the ass and my brother. So where is he?"

A few hours later, and she's still acting strangely. We may not understand everything they try to tell us, but dogs have strong bonds and strong emotions. I suppose that's part of what makes them great.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Mark of the Assassin (Michael Osbourne, #1)The Mark of the Assassin by Daniel Silva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a Daniel Silva fan for a long time. I've read either all of his Gabriel Allon novels or almost all of them. Either way, I like his work. So I decided to go back and read something from earlier in his career. That led me to The Mark of the Assassin. Opening with a terrorist attack that clearly echoes the explosion of TWA flight 800, the book follows our hero, Michael Osbourne, as he deals with a deadly assassin, the former KGB killer--and now killer-for-hire--known as October.

With Mr. Silva's skill for building relatable characters and an engaging plot, this was a quick and entertaining novel. More than his Gabriel Allon novels, this novel, with the evil, super-powerful organization working behind the scenes, had a Robert Ludlum feel. That's different but not necessarily a bad thing. Ludlum created some great stories. I enjoyed this book!

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy #3)Fair Warning by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Veteran reporter Jack McEvoy gets dragged into a murder case when the police question him as a suspect. As he pursues the case himself, he finds himself dealing with a brutal serial killer whose evil is fueled by mishandling and misuse of DNA tests. For anyone with a concern about sending DNA samples in to one of the many companies who promise a personalized analysis, this story could quickly take you from general privacy concerns to outright fear.

I am a big fan of Michael Connelly's writing, and he delivered a good story here. Not his best, but still pretty solid. I tore through it in a few days.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

19421942 by Robert Conroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've occasionally read "alternative history" books, but I've found a number of them poorly done. Not so with this one. Robert Conroy has a solid enough grasp of actual history to have been able to put together a compelling story. This book isn't for the squeamish, as there is graphic violence and descriptions of torture and murder, as well as graphic scenes of rape as well as consensual sex.

I actually listened to an audiobook, but the version I have (narrated by LJ Ganser) isn't among the audiobooks listed in the editions here. In any event, the audiobook was well done. The above scenes that weren't for the squeamish had me cringing, as did the multiple uses of "knots per hour." That should simply be knots (no "per hour" in an expression of speed in knots). A small point, I suppose, but that made me cringe, too. A knowledgeable author should know better, especially for a book that's so navy-focused.

But back to 1942 overall. The premise is that the Japanese Navy followed their attack on Pearl Harbor with attacks on the dry docks and oil storage facilities, attacks they didn't actually carry out on that day of infamy. They then landed troops and took over the Hawaiian islands.

From there, the United States must determine if and how it can respond. The entire war shifted from the outset, and the real risk existed in this alternative timeline of the Axis powers getting the upper hand permanently. The plot and characters are interesting, and I found this entertaining.

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

One Minute Out (Gray Man, #9)One Minute Out by Mark Greaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thought provoking? No. Educational? Not a bit. But that's not why we read Gray Man books. Rather, this is a fun romp, as our hero kills very bad men who are engaged in very evil doings. It's brain candy. Don't expect any more than that, and it's a very enjoyable book.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

BrokenBroken by Don Winslow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my fifth Don Winslow book, so his ability to delve into painful-to-read brutality isn't a surprise. Sometimes I feel like it's a bit overdone, going for shock value as he ruthlessly kills off good people, but for the most part he writes excellent books.

Broken is a collection of novellas. Not all of them are completely distinct from the others, as there is some limited overlap of characters, but the storylines are distinct. While some of these novellas went in directions one might find uncomfortable, part of that is driven by Winslow's ability to write characters you will care about. The characters are flawed and relatable. Some are repulsive and others downright charming.

Overall, Broken is a good book, one that made me anxious to keep reading, even when it was late at night and I really needed to get my sleep. I didn't find it to be quite on the level of The Border or The Force, but it still was quite good!

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Monday, May 25, 2020

The City We Became (Great Cities #1)The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you'd told me about The City We Became in general terms, I wouldn't have thought it would be my kind of book. I would have been very wrong. This is a terrific book. It's a sci-fi/fantasy novel, and it's also a love note to New York City.

I felt that way for much of the book, where the city, manifesting itself through human representatives, is fighting off an existential threat from other universes, and I was certain of my view when I read one character saying this: “'Yeah, well, you know New Yorkers—everybody except the new ones—always say that. It’s dirty and there’s too many cars and nothing’s maintained the way it should be and it’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter and it stinks like unwashed ass most of the time. But ever notice how none of you ever fucking leave? Yeah, now and then somebody’s elderly mom gets sick down in New Mexico or something and you go live with her, or you have kids and you want them to have a real yard so you bump off to Buffalo. But most of you just stay here, hating this city, hating everything, and taking it out on everybody . . . But then you meet somebody fine at the neighborhood block party, or you go out for Vietnamese pierogies or some other bizarre shit that you can’t get anywhere but in this dumb-ass city, or you go see and off-off-off-Broadway fringe festival play nobody else has seen, or you have a random encounter on the subway that becomes something so special and beautiful that you’ll tell your grandkids about it someday. And then you love it again. It glows off of you. Like a damn aura.' She shakes her head, smiling to herself a little wistfully. 'I get on the train to go home every day, and sometimes I look around and see all these people glowing. Filled with the beauty of this city.'”

Then there's the connection you feel with the characters, through their flaws and their nobility, and the tension of whether they can deal with this scary alien invasion.

The City We Became is a great novel, and I look forward to reading more from N.K. Jemisin.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Well said

In <i>The City We Became,</I> a character is observing her right wing, Staten Island father. "Evil is other people [in his misogynistic, bigoted, violent view of the world]. She will leave him this illusion, mostly because she envies his ability to keep finding comfort in simple, black-and-white views of the world."

The author, N.K. Jemisin, has painted this picture so well. In a time when political divisions are stark, one thing worth recognizing is that these people who hold hateful views of others also think that they are righteous. That's a hard thing to fight. 

We must fight it, but if our goal is to change their minds, we're unlikely to win that battle. Rather, we have to pool our support of those who can steer society in a better direction.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6)Walk the Wire by David Baldacci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amos Decker is back, in a puzzling murder mystery with national security implications. And another Baldacci character, Will Robie, joins him. The story has tension, close calls and plenty of bad guys. It also continues to allow Decker to develop as a human being, struggling through the damage he's endured over the years, from his brain injury to the loss of loved ones. I tore through Walk the Wire quickly, and I'm looking forward to whatever is next for both Decker and Robie.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Caliban's War (The Expanse, #2)Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great, entertaining novel, combining sci-fi with horror (not my usual thing) in the form of an alien life form that seems to threaten humanity's very existence. If you're going to read this, start with the first book, Leviathan Wakes. This series definitely has me in its grip!

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Iceman: A NovelThe Iceman: A Novel by P.T. Deutermann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great page-turner of a WWII novel. Following Malachi Stormes from submarine service with the Atlantic fleet to his new command in the Pacific, we see a dedicated, smart sub captain who brings brutal efficiency to his work. This book is written with both the technical knowledge of a veteran naval officer and the writing skill of an author who creates characters we care about.

Well done, Captain Deutermann. I'm looking forward to reading your other books!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The WarehouseThe Warehouse by Rob Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a disturbing book. A dystopian nightmare combining today's behemoth retail companies (Amazon being the main example) with a century+ ago company town where you were a worker who never went home, because home was right there where you worked, did your shopping, found your relaxation, and all with your money going right back to your employer.

Told from the points of view of a new employee, a corporate spy, and the dying CEO who founded the company, The Warehouse paints a picture of a badly damaged world dominated by pure capitalists willing to use people as nothing more than drones. Take the worst article you've read about working conditions in one of the giant corporations of today, then imagine another 50 years of lobbyists buying favorable regulations, those companies skewing things to crush out every little bit of competition, and employees becoming desperate beyond measure for any way to survive, and there you have the world of "Cloud," the beyond-measure behemoth dominating warehouse-based, online retail sales and crushing the soul out of the world.

I don't want to say too much here, for fear of giving away something I shouldn't. But this novel has elements that should be very recognizable to anyone staying on top of the current state of our world, particularly in comparable business models. It wouldn't be hard to see things heading this way, and that's very disturbing!

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Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thinking, Fast and Slow is an interesting book that explores the way our brains work and the way we make decisions. The information shared in its pages is worth knowing and considering. With that said, this is a book in desperate need of a strong editor. Any number of times, as the examples went on and on, I felt like begging the author to stop. The book could have been half its length and conveyed the concepts with sufficient examples to makes it points.

I went to an excellent university, and I had classes taught by people at the very top of their fields, including Nobel laureates like this author. A number weren't the best at conveying information in interesting ways. I'm afraid that's this author's affliction as well. A solid editor might have cleaned this up and made it a better book. As it is, Thinking, Fast and Slow has worthwhile information, but prepare for a long slog to get through it.

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Thursday, March 05, 2020

Artificial sweeteners are poison

Yes, I know. That headline is so shrill. I'm not a fan of people who make such pronouncements and think they have better knowledge than what many have told us (i.e., artificial sweeteners are safe). Bear with me!

First, I acknowledge that artificial sweeteners probably don't affect everyone the same way. Granted.

Now some background. Over 20 years ago, my doctor noted that, among my annual bloodwork, two liver enzymes were high. Not dangerously high, but still high. He ran tests, and we eliminated the various, scary possibilities, but we never nailed down a cause. Maybe it was because of my obesity, but it never really was nailed down. Still, I didn't worry because he--and subsequent doctors--said it wasn't a big deal. It just happens that way for some people.

Recently, I went to an endocrinologist, and I like her a lot. She's smart, clearly skillful, and she makes sense and respects what I have to say. (Some doctors are a bit condescending.) When we came to this issue, she had a different point of view. Yes, the numbers aren't very high, but having them a bit high for so long can start to do liver damage. In the end, I could wind up with cirrhosis in old age. Okay, so now she had my attention.

We talked about things that could cause this. Being heavy can be a problem, but, even though most people probably haven't noticed it because it's happened slowly, I've lost a lot of weight over the past several years. No change. So we talked about a lot of possible liver irritants, and nothing seemed to match up. Then I thought of something and asked, "Could artificial sweeteners be bothering my liver?"

She then said she wasn't sure, but it was possible. She added that, even if that isn't the cause, she would rather I stop using them, if I can manage it, or at least reduce the amount I use. But now I needed to know. Could 20+ years of my liver complaining be because of little packets of sweetener in my morning coffee and the stuff in soda?

So a couple of months ago, I stopped using them. No diet soda, no Sweet & Low, Equal or Splenda (the name of this blog notwithstanding), and I checked some of the products I consume (like FairLife protein drinks) and cut out those as well if they had artificial sweeteners.

Today, I went for follow-up blood tests. The one enzyme was down markedly and almost to the official "normal" range, while the other was fully down in the normal range. Neither number has looked this good in a very long time. Of course, that's just one round of tests. Hopefully this continues, but I'm convinced already--because nothing else changed (and the area of my liver that had been firm is now softer... yes, you can feel these things yourself), and suddenly a multi-decade problem has receded.

Please, if you can't completely cut out artificial sweeteners, cut back on them. I'm going to be one of those annoying people, because I'm convinced, they're poison!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Empire of LiesEmpire of Lies by Raymond Khoury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book. Driven by a secret incantation, one man has managed to go back in time and change history. This has led to a world with firmly entrenched religious empires, including the modern version of the Ottoman Empire that rules Europe, now led by an autocratic religious ruler.

Some good people get caught up in bad events, and good people are hurt. But can these bad things be changed with the same incantation? If they are, then what? What becomes of the world? And what comes next?

This was a thought-provoking, interesting book. I liked it.

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Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was pretty disappointed in this book. Somehow, I never read Breakfast at Tiffany's. Since it's such a famous book, with the iconic movie based on it, I felt I should remedy this.

In short, I wish I liked this book more. I suspect it was considered very racy and revolutionary for its time. Since that was over 60 years ago, things have changed. Now that nothing in it is racy at all, based on today's standards, we're just left with the characters themselves, most importantly Holly Golightly. Ms. Golightly, whose wild life may have raised eyebrows back in the late '50s, is now just a selfish, annoying young lady. She really has few redeeming qualities.

At least the book is short. So it's a very quick read.

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We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1)We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. So much science fiction is either poorly thought out or very dark. Yes, there's a dark, dystopian future for humanity, followed by major calamity. Even so, there is hope and more importantly, since it's fiction, there's a lot to make the reader think and imagine what might be on other worlds.

I wasn't sure if this book was for me when I first read about it, but now I'm ready for the next in the series. Well done, Mr. Taylor!

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Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Night Fire (Harry Bosch #22; Renée Ballard, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #32)The Night Fire by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Night Fire is another great book by Michael Connelly. His writing and stories are so good that I get mixed emotions as I approach the end of a book. On the one hand, I want to see how everything turns out. On the other, I don't want it to end! While this generally is the case with his books, this one was exceptionally good. He's managed to keep an aging Harry Bosch going while continuing to build his compelling new character, Renée Ballard. Bravo, Michael Connelly! And thanks for another great read!

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