Follow by Email

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough

I like David McCollough's biographies, and I think I have like this one best of all.  It is about the early days of Teddy Roosevelt.  The author tries to answer the question, "How did this extraordinary man become who he was?"

He shows the influences of his family, his poor health as a young man and how he just loved the natural world.  These elements shaped Teddy and inevitably shaped our country.  He believed in a very physical lifestyle, hence the title of the book.

The book was fascinating throughout, and if you like history and are interested in Roosevelt, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Book

My publisher is downsizing their warehouse.  Consequently, I now have several cartons of books at my house that I want to sell.  

“Trail Training for the Horse and Rider” is a highly readable, how-to book for trail riding.  I cover training the green horse, retraining the spoiled horse, negotiating difficult obstacles and terrain, conditioning, dealing with difficult weather and more.

It costs $20.00 plus $4.00 to ship.  If you are a local person, we could arrange to meet to save shipping costs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Life as a Mathematician

The Kahn Academy

I was always excellent at math, and I loved it.  In high school, I took it through Calculus.  Since I only went to a community college, I didn't need any math for my degree unless I was deficient.  When I went to take the placement tests, the woman in charge saw my transcript and told me not to take the math section because it was an insult to my accomplishments.  Even though it was required, I didn't take it and no one made me.

I ended up in a career that involved a lot of math, but not at a very high level.  Most was just arithmetic and some word problems.  I came to excel at the word problems that came my way at my job. and it was fun to try to solve them by turning them into algebraic equations.  (By the way, I was a printing estimator.)

I have loved math my whole life, and I even credit it for allowing me to retire early.  Knowing how math works, compounding interest and the "rule of 72" encouraged me to save and invest.

Then I retired--and found out I didn't miss my job, but I missed dealing with math every day.

In January, I signed up at the Kahn Academy website.  It is a free service that is for students in high school and below.  It has all kind of math courses.  There are videos covering everything and tests.  I described it to my niece, and she said it is a form of "mastery learning," and it has been found to be the most effective way to learn things.

I started with Algebra.  I mastered Algebra Basics and then Algebra I.  Much of it I remembered or almost remembered, but quite a bit of it seemed foreign--and it was tough.

Next came High School Geometry.  The early parts of it were pretty simple, but then it got very tough.  I am 98 percent finished with it.  From Geometry, it was a natural transition to go the Trigonometry.  I didn't remember any of it from High School.  Still, with hard work, I am 73 percent complete.  From there, I many work on Algebra II some more.  I am at 44 percent, there.  Eventually, I will tackle Calculus, and I am sure that will be as tough as can be.

Yes, I am a math nerd, and I can't believe how much fun I am having doing this.

If you know any students who are struggling with math, please, please direct them to the Kahn Academy--it is an awesome way to learn--and it really is free!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

This is an awesome, awesome book.  I didn't want it to end.  It was one of the books my niece recommended, so I'm not surprised it was good.  She has great taste.

A man takes up a job as an art instructor for a young lady at a house in the country.  On the way there, he meets a mysterious woman in white who is running from something.  She knew the mother of this man's new student, and when he arrives at his destination, he does a little detective work to find out more about her.

He tutors and inevitably falls in love.  Things then get complicated, fast.  The woman in white keeps appearing in the story--driving the plot.

Things happen.  I don't want to give anything away.  The book consists of various characters telling their part of the tale from their point a view.

Though the story moves slowly, it still kept me on the edge of my seat.   This is definitely a must-read book.

Book Review: "The Real Custer" by James S. Robbins

I like historical non-fiction, and I like reading about interesting characters.  Custer is certainly that.  He was courageous and flamboyant; smart and politically unsavvy.  He was a great general in the Civil War, without doubt.  After the war, in the cavalry, he struggled to find his greatness.

His time at West Point as a young man was particularly interesting.  The Civil War battles got a little boring for me, but they were well written and thorough.  Those who like that kind of thing would like how the author handled them.

I thought his relationship with his wife was one filled with much love and devotion.  As in everything--Custer went into love with both feet first--and conquered.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn is the tragic climax of the book, of course.  Since no one survived, the author admits that the details are sketchy and gives the most honest account, possible.

I liked the book.  Now the big question that I always have with biographies--did I like the man?  If I met him, I don't believe we could have been friends--he was just way too different then me.  Seriously, would anyone call me flamboyant?

Book Review: "Naked Prey" by John Sanford

Yes, I do read some contemporary novels.  I like police stories, detective stories and mysteries in general.

This was a good book.  It was fast-paced and had a creative plot.  Two bodies are found hanging in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The young lady who found the bodies is fascinated with the investigation and gets herself involved in it.  She was the best character in the book.

Before you know it, more murders occur and the plot gets more twisted and exciting.  It is an easy read compared to what I have been reading, but sometimes that is a good thing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review: "Anything for Billy" by Larry McMurtry

This is a totally fictional and totally enjoyable version of the story of Billy the Kid.  Truly, the story is more about the narrator, Mr. Sippy, a half-dime novelist who goes out west to experience the west, first hand.  He fails as a train robber and ends up meeting Billy.

Unlike McMurty's Lonesome Dove novels which were deep and sad, this is light and fun.  It is fast paced and filled with excitement.  A great western novel.