Tag: General

When I don’t know where else to put it!

Great Auto Service Can Still Be Found!

Atlantic Tire & Service

auto service

This is not the type of post I typically put up on my blog, but I feel I need to share this with any of my readers in the Cary/Raleigh, NC area. If you need to get your vehicle serviced, Atlantic Tire and Service is the place to get your auto service done.

I get my vehicles serviced and repaired there, and have done so since moving to Cary about three years ago. First it was my Ford Escape and now my Nissan Xterra. I have recommended Atlantic Tire & Service to several others friends and they have all thanked me for doing so.

Examples of great Auto Service

Here is an example of what I mean. My 2011 Ford Escape had an ongoing problem with the air conditioning. It was most inconvenient! I had it checked at three different auto service centers beginning on Hilton Head Island where it first quit working while on a vacation and sitting in a traffic jam on a very hot day. It was not a happy experience! Later, a service center in Knoxville checked it several times, and finally a Ford Dealership checked it when I moved to Cary.

Each time it cost several hundred dollars and would work great for six to eight weeks. Then it quit cooling again. I knew it was leaking coolant! Each shop recharged the system. Each shop said they put dye in the system but could not find a leak. I later learned that this probably meant the leak was in some kind of condenser under the dash and they just did not want to fool with it. The Ford dealer charged me $500 and changed a lot of parts under the hood, but eight weeks later … no AC!

Enter Atlantic Tire & Service

After the Ford Dealership flop, I tried Atlantic Tire & Service. They found the leak right away. It wasn’t a condenser under the dashboard. It was the lower connection on the compressor unit under the hood. Parts and labor turned out to be about $400 … but it worked great thereafter!

During the oil change Atlantic Tire and Service did for me just yesterday, I asked them to check an annoying rattle I had been hearing lately to get an estimate to have it fixed. I was pretty sure it was the heat shield over the exhaust. They looked and found it was just loose. The mechanic tightened it up free of charge. No more rattle.

On a last note. On several occasions I witnessed service technicians sitting down with women customers in the waiting room and explaining their repairs in detail, showing them the needed parts or the old parts, and giving priorities or options when budgeting was necessary. Atlantic Tire & Service really treats their customers right! As long as I am in the Cary area, I will use nobody else.

Shameless plug …

Also, check out my military action thriller, Serpents Underfoot, and my entertaining collection of true tales about encounters with black bears, Adirondack Bear Tales! Read other great blog posts here!

Cookbook Review: Gourmet Cooking for One or Two


Cookbook author and blogger: April Anderson

Full Disclosure

This cookbook by April Anderson is amazing!  But before I tell you more about it, I need to disclose the fact that April Anderson is an acquaintance of mine. We frequented the same dog park in Cary, NC for awhile before she moved back to New Mexico. While my German Shepherd, Sophie, and April’s Golden Retriever, Feynman, pretty much ignored each other (probably because Sophie is entirely focused on tennis balls), April and I shared a few interesting conversations about blogging, writing, writing tools, authors, etc. As I understand it, April got started with her blog called Girl Gone Gourmet in 2009 and this fantastic cookbook grew out of that original endeavor.

As far as the review goes, I solemnly swear that the fact that I know April in no way clouded my judgement when it came to reviewing this cookbook. That was entirely in the hands of my stomach … so to speak.

Back to the cookbook!

cookbook

I received my copy of April’s cookbook on November 29th and since then have tried three recipes. These were the One-Pan Chipotle Macaroni Beef, the Smoky Bacon Mushroom Soup, and the Steak House Dinner. All three of these recipes were absolutely delicious and perfect for me as a single adult parent of a GSD.

The fact that I did not share any of these three dishes with Sophie also says something about  recipes as well. Sophie still does give me the the “evil eye” over that from time-to-time.

The Smoky Bacon Mushroom Soup would serve two, but I have to confess I did not get two meals out of it. Only because it was that good. The Steak House Dinner and One-Pan Chipotle Macaroni Beef each nicely serve one person. And again, both dishes were excellent and plenty filling. The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and the prep times are very reasonable, even for someone with a busy life-style.

The great thing is that many of the recipes also include the entire meal. For instance the Steak House Dinner included instructions for the steak and the two sides … roasted potatoes and blue-cheese spinach.

All three recipes I have tried so far easily deserve 5 Star ratings. And, I am immensely looking forward to trying other recipes in this amazing cookbook! I heartily recommend this cookbook to any single person or couple who loves good food. You no longer have to eat out at restaurants to get it. Gourmet Cooking for One or Two will make preparing wonderful meals in your own kitchen a snap. Leftovers will be a thing of the past!

More information

April Anderson foundedhe blog Girl Gone Gourmet in 2009. Her recipes are featured on CountryLiving.com, Chowhound.com, Self.com and Buzzfeed.com, among others. You can order this cookbook from Amazon.com.

Check out other great blog posts here!

A guide to positive life transformation!

Habits: Your life-changing guide. How to transform your mind, body & life. The 21 Day Plan

transformation

Wouldn’t it be great to see a positive transformation in your mind, body, and life in just 21 days?
Can you succeed in 21 days? While it certainly can take longer, depending on circumstances and personality, to form lasting habits, studies show that 21 days is a reasonable minimum to begin establishing your new healthier lifestyle. Just view these 21 days as the first in a series of small consistent steps toward a new, happier, and healthier you.

At its core, transforming your life is about taking responsibility for the areas of your life over which you have control. However, this book is not about quick fixes. Real transformation is about working through your “storms” to become stronger. It is about developing an attitude of mastery over yourself.

Dr. Vidhya Kumaranayakam has developed a robust program designed to kick start your personal transformation!

In Habits: Your life-changing guide, How to transform your mind, body & life, Dr. Kumaranayakam shares her professional perspective as an experienced Doctor and Clinical Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities on creating positive habits in your life. As a Board Member and Lecturer for the esteemed Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr. Kumaranayakam brings real expertise to her 21-day kick start program.
In this fantastic book, Dr. Kumaranayakam outlines her remarkable program. This program is designed to help the reader develop new positive daily routines, better self-discipline, and healthier eating habits. It is a program she developed, tested, and succeeded with herself

In Habits: Your life-changing guide, you will learn:

• How to achieve a transformational mindset.

• Secrets to reducing stress.

• Training habits designed to awaken your inner warrior.

• Guidelines and recipes for deliciously healthy eating.

• Keys to creating new and healthier life habits.

• How to leverage your new habits to maintain your transformational process.

My thoughts …

While I have not actually tried the author’s program, it does seem to be practical, and based in real medical science blended with a holistic approach to healthier living. I may give this program a try and see what happens!


About the author

transformation

Dr Vidhya Kumaranayakam is a Medical Doctor in the UK with over 10 years of clinical experience. Vidhya trained at Barts and The London Medical School. She has a background in Academic Medical Education, and has served as an Examiner and Lecturer for several London Medical Schools.

Currently, Dr. Kumaranayakam is a practicing GP and works in the National Health Service (NHS) based in London, previously having been a Partner for 5 years. Vidhya sits on the board and is a Lecturer for a Faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Dr. Kumaranayakam also serves as the Clinical Director for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Audit, London Hospital contracts, Medicines and Research and other disciplines, for a North West London NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

She is passionate about promoting mental health, a healthy lifestyle, functional and integrative medicine, and practices mindfulness regularly.

In addition, Vidhya enjoys spending time with her family, cooking healthy food, dancing, singing, and travelling.  When not researching resilience and positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and lifestyle medicine, she enjoys watching re-runs of the Fresh Prince of Bel-air.

Coming soon! A link to buy will be posted as soon as available!

Another Five Star Review for Serpents Underfoot

Yep! That’s another five star review!

Thank you, DD Gott, for the fantastic five star review of Serpents Underfoot. 


What did I like? This is the first book that I have read from this author, but I was struck with the realism of the storyline. He truly knew his subject and characters and brought them to life with the stroke of his pen/computer. The reality of the storyline hit me like a ton of bricks. It seems like this was written as an episode of today’s life. Being an animal lover and knowing a little about working dogs, I was very impressed with the information and the use of his K9 partner, it was awesome.


What will you like? Extreme action, passionate characters, powerful storyline, well written, strong and yet touching with many lives put into action and learning curves. Well thought out and shows the intense research in every page from the martial arts to the life of the military. Action and reality make this an explosive action thriller for your next read.

 
~ DD Gott
five star
Have your ordered yours?

How’s that for a great five star review!  You can read the whole review here.


Adirondack Bear Tales

In addition, keep an eye out for my upcoming new release! It is a wonderful collection of Adirondack Bear Tales based on real life encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York.  These delightful family stories are enjoyable for adults and suitable for all ages. They would even make great bedtime stories for young children. It is not a long book … 11 short stories … but the stories vary between humorous, exciting, and even sad. Above all, they are very entertaining. 

Likewise, if you have the time, I would love to get your help on selecting the cover for this book. I have two versions and like them both.

Please click here to tell me which cover you like better.

Home Front recipes from WWII by GP Cox

What a fantastic post!

Check out this great post by GP Cox over at Pacific Paratrooper! A collection of Home Front recipes from WWII. I think I remember my grandmothers making some of these … or at least something very similar.

via Home Front recipes from WWII

Book Review: Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter

Welcome to Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Author Kent Wayne!

Author Kent Wayne does a good job with this first book in his Echo series titled  Echo 1: Approaching Shatter. His writing style is lively and at times humorous. The characters are well developed, and it is truly a compelling story.

Shatter

His book is an interesting look at a futuristic version of humanity. Global warming has made Earth uninhabitable, and now humans live on similar planet called Echo. Governments and corporations have merged and created the Department of Enforcement to crush the Dissident rebels who are fighting to make their lives better. Much of Echo is in a rapidly deteriorating state, but the elite live up in the sky where they can ignore the chaos below … that is threatening to destroy Echo.

In Approaching Shatter, the main character, Atriya, is one of the Department of Enforcement’s highly-trained Enforcers. As a good soldier, he follows orders. However lately, he has been having second thoughts and strange ideas. He wonders about things that he shouldn’t and wants to do something, but is unsure of what path to take. This is the source of the story’s conflict and the narrative unfolds from there.

I do not usually read a lot of science fiction, but I do like military fiction, so I took a chance on it. This book was pretty darn good because it is not just about the action. It also explores the ideas of humanity, courage, strength, bureaucracy run amuck, war, and even religion.

I have one minor comment/complaint. I’ve always loved westerns, especially Louis L’Amour. But I could never get into Zane Gray. That was because Zane Gray included way to much detail. I have an imagination. Let me use it. Echo 1 is kind of that way. Maybe not as bad as Zane Gray!

But I must admit, whether or not there is too much detail, often depends on the reader. Many readers loved Zane Gray westerns. In my novel, Serpents Underfoot, a couple reviews complained I gave too much detail on things like military weapons or tactics. Then again, some readers eat that stuff up.  I guess the point is that a lot of this is subjective and depends on the readers personal preferences.

I haggled over 4 or 5 stars for this book for a few days, and settled in on 4.5 … which rounds off to 5 anyway. Military science fiction readers will love it!

Don’t forget to check out my novel as well!

Adirondack Bear Tale #10: The Bear Trap

Family Traditions

Family reunions and joint camping trips to Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake were a big tradition for our entire family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together in adjoining campsites for a week or  two. These are some of my fondest memories growing up. One such particular camping trip also involved a couple of guys from New York City, and setting a trap for a mischievous black bear.

My grandfather, Irwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner Klippel, had two campsites that were not quite adjoining. A couple of younger men from New York City occupied the spot separating their two camps sites. The two men had driven up to spend a week in the Adirondack Park. Being very friendly, and since they were camping between two contingents of our family, they just naturally kind of joined in. They’d brought all the best camping equipment money could buy, as well as a great selection of food including steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and bacon. They were set for the week. It was late in the day, so we all sat around a campfire and visited a bit. When the fired died out, everyone headed off to get some sleep.

The mischievous bear …

trap

That next morning the two city men arose to discover that during the night, a bear had raided their cooler. They stored the cooler under one end of the park-provided picnic table. The cooler’s mangled cover was now laying a few feet from the cooler, which was quite empty. The bear ate everything. Everything, that is, except the hot dogs, which now lay discarded near the cooler’s cover. It must have been a very hungry (and stealthy) bear. Amazingly, nobody had heard a sound! We had a lot of fun joking about the fact that the bear would not eat the hot dogs.

After the initial excitement wore off, the two young men took off Indian Lake to restock their supplies at the Grand Union. They also decided that it would be better to put their new cooler in the trunk of their car when they went to bed at night.  While the two men were off getting groceries, we sat around talking about the bear. The focus of the discussion was what could be done to discourage this bear from conducting future raids on our campsites. By the time the men were back from the Grand Union, we had devised a plan. The two city guys thought our scheme was a pretty slick idea as well.

The spaghetti trap!

That night after supper, we gathered up all the dirty pots and pans from cooking the various family supper meals. We then stacked them up, one on top of the other, on the picnic table in the two younger men’s campsite. With several large family units, the supply of dirty cooking pots more than adequate and they made a quite an impressive, however slightly unstable, tower. My grandmother (we called her Nanny) had made spaghetti in a big metal pot (much like the turkey fryer pots of today). That big pot, with the left over spaghetti and grease from cooking the ground beef (used to make the spaghetti) went on the very top.

Then, my Uncle Wagner tied a length of twine to the handle on the bottom pot and strung the cord all the way over to his car, where he planned to sit and wait. His idea was to turn on the car’s headlights after pulling the string at the opportune moment. All the kids gathered up flashlights and climbed into cars. We all planned to stay awake and see what happened when the bear came!

The trap is sprung …

All of a sudden, we heard a loud crashing, bashing sound. We had all fallen asleep, but the horrible noise woke us up quickly. Several flash lights snapped on and pointed toward the picnic table. Uncle Wagner flipped the headlights on in his car. There, right in the beam of the headlights, sat a big black bear with a very befuddled look on his face. There were pots and pans scattered all around him. Greasy left-over spaghetti covered his head and hung from his ears. The bear let out a bawling kind of  grunt and took off running into the trees. Our bear trap had worked!

My grandfather later told me that he had talked to a park ranger at the campground sometime after that, who had told him that they did not see that particular bear in the campground for at least six months after we sprang our trap.

If you liked this Bear Tale, check out this story, and check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com.

A Writing Tip: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Writing is not a get rich scheme!

So you want to write? That is great! Here is a great tip. Don’t quit your day job. Success can come, but it is a marathon, not a sprint!

Writing is certainly very cool!

don't quit

I love to write! And, the fact that I have a published novel, a counter-terrorism action/thriller, selling on Amazon.com amazes me to this day.  It is pretty damn cool!  Serpents Underfoot has been on the market for a little over a year now. It has gotten a lot of great reviews. I believe it currently sits at about 17 reviews. And they are mostly five star.

There have been a few 3 and 4 star reviews as well. And, one 1 star review. (This reader objected strongly to the fact that there were a couple of adult scenes in the book. But hey, sex is a part of life as well. However, most people I have talked to thought these scenes were tastefully done.)

Success takes time and hard work.

So far, I have managed to sell about 100 books through Amazon.com. This does not count books I have sold myself at book signings, or have given away for promotions. I work hard at marketing. I am working with a marketing consultant, spending time using Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blog posts, and other media formats trying to promote my book. The point here is that it is a lot of hard work. It takes patience and dedication. I put in some long nights, because in addition to all this, I also have a day job. Why am I doing this? Because, I am going to succeed!

Don’t quit your day job.

So, to repeat, I have sold 100 books through Amazon.com over the last year. Given that the average number of sales for a self-published book is 20 copies, I think I am doing pretty well.  The point to all this is that, if you are looking for a get rich quick scheme, this is not it. The chances of writing that instantly successful novel that sells millions of copies in the first six months is about a good as hitting the powerball in a state lottery without first buying a lottery ticket.

The people who self-publish full time will tell you that they spent years getting to where they are today. So, it’s better that you don’t quit your day job! Just keep plugging! Write, learn from your mistakes, and don’t quit!

Etchings in Stone, Moving Beyond Belief …

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also referred to as The Wall, in Washington DC, is a late but wonderful first step in welcoming home Vietnam Veterans. Etchings in Stone is an unbelievably moving play written by Ron Harris about The Wall from a very unique perspective.

Ron Harris, Playwright and Vietnam Veteran

etchings

I met Ron Harris, a North Carolina Vietnam Veteran, at the Raleigh Museum of History during a Vietnam Veteran’s Day event. This event featured the mobile “Wall” exhibit, a Huey (bringing back my own fond memories of my time with the 101st Air Assault Division), and other Vietnam War memorabilia collected and displayed by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Chu Chi Tunnels and a conversation 

While looking at a great 3-D diorama of the Chu Chi Tunnels of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), a man came up and asked if I had any questions about the diorama. We began to talk about the Chu Chi Tunnels and other dioramas he had built and that were on display.  During the conversation, I disclosed that I had written a novel that begins with the story of my main character’s father fighting in Vietnam, titled Serpents Underfoot

Ron then told me that he’d written a play called Etchings in Stone about The Wall, and  that it was showing every hour in the museum auditorium. I decided I needed to see this play. We talked a bit more before I headed toward the auditorium to see Etching in Stone. I was not entirely prepared for what I was about to experience.

Twenty-one Etchings

The play features about twenty-one segments, or stories, about visitors to The Wall.  Ron took the unique and extremely moving perspective of placing the audience inside The Wall, and giving them the ability to hear what the visitors were saying as well as their unspoken thoughts. The effect was moving beyond belief.  

etchings

Each visitor approaches The Wall looking for a name … a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, or a fellow soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. You hear their words as well as their thoughts. One emotional soldier thanks a medic for saving his life. Then there’s the widow who misses her husband dearly. And, the father or mother missing their son. We meet a  woman missing her older brother. There’s even a soldier apologizing for accidentally shooting his buddy because his buddy had not given the countersign when challenged upon entering the defensive perimeter. The anguish was very real! It was palpable!

You are all my father …

The last segment blew me completely away. It featured a young Amerasian woman, who I later learned she was played by Ron Harris’s adopted daughter. The young woman approaches The Wall. We learn that she is the daughter of the an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. The soldier planned to marry her mother, but is killed in action before that could occur. The mother, with little chance of making a life for her daughter, puts the baby up for adoption. The baby is adopted and raised by a wonderful American couple. While the young woman loves her adoptive parents very much, she wants to know who her real father was.

She seeks help from the U.S. military but they have no records of who he father might have been. She contacts other Vietnam Vets, but they are unable to help her either. The young woman then returns to Vietnam and locates an aunt who tells her that her mother died and never talked much about her American fiance. He aunt is very sorry, but she cannot help her.

The young woman finally comes to The Wall to pick a name … a name to be her father.  But, when she sees the number of of names on The Wall, she is completely overwhelmed. How can she choose only one? The woman decides to choose them all … they will all be her father. And that way, in the future, if anyone should ever asks if her father’s name is on The Wall, she can answer truthfully … yes.

Moments of respite …

I do not know if it was intended this way, but between segments of Etchings in Stone there are power point slides that include interesting facts about the Vietnam War and The Wall. There is also music from the era, video, and still photos of the Vietnam War. There are interviews with veterans and songs about The Wall. The play is entertaining, extremely moving, and very educational.

A shift in America’s conscience.

This country always welcomed  its Veterans home with open arms. That is until the Korean War. Korean War veterans came home to simple indifference. However, when Vietnam War ended, that indifference became outright disrespect and even hatred. Far too many Americans spit on these veterans, or called them baby killer and other names.  These men and women only did the job their government had sent them to do. Therefore, in addition to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) some suffered due to the effects of combat, many suffered an additional layer of PTSD caused by this treatment. This treatment of these American veterans was a national disgrace. 

While the Vietnam War certainly affected the men and women who fought it, it also had a profound effect on those who stayed home. The mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and children, girlfriends, friends and strangers were all touched by the war. This play, Etchings in Stone, addresses the issues that affected all these people, veterans, family and friends. It is Ron’s hope that through this play, Vietnam veterans will come to realize that they are not alone in their feelings.

D.C. Gilbert

Adirondack Bear Tale #7: The Demise of Old Three-toes!

The Demise of Old Three-toes.

Old three-toes was a very grouch bear.Three-toes was a grouchy, old bear. He was also big for a black bear. Folks around Burketown who occasionally spotted him estimated he might weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. This is fairly large for an Adirondack black bear. You knew when old three-toes was poking around from his distinctive tracks. His left fore-paw was missing the two outer toes, leading of course, to his nickname. Nobody really knew how he’d lost those two front toes. Speculation was abundant. Maybe he’d lost them in a fight with another bear, or perhaps a near miss with some kind of bear trap. Whatever the cause, it almost certainly contributed to his sour disposition.

A couple of camps down Burketown Road from my grandparent’s camp and in the direction of Burke’s Marina, lived a friend of the family. A local contractor and handyman, he’d built the camp belonging to my other grandparents on the lot next to ours near the end of the road. For the sake of this story, I will call him Mike.

As of late, old three-toes had become the frequent topic of discussion up and down the road.  Folks spotted him on the prowl regularly and he’d been getting in to some real mischief, causing damage to camps, screen windows, front porches, etc. So far nothing serious had occurred, but many felt it was simply a matter of time.

On this particular morning, Mike got up early to go fishing. And, living alone, began cooking himself breakfast. He’d opened the front door to his camp to allow the cool, crisp morning air to pass through the screen door. Unfortunately, this also allowed the smell of cooking bacon to waft its way out through the screen door, and be carried along on the same morning breeze. The tantalizing smell of cooking bacon proved to be irresistible to old three-toes who happened to be passing by. The bear turned, and followed the enticing aroma right up to Mike’s camp screen door.

Three-toes decided that the screen door was not going to keep him from getting to that delicious smelling bacon!  Mike heard the crashing sound of three-toes clawing right through the screen door. He turned in time to see the big bear coming down the short hallway to his kitchen area. Mike quickly retreated from the kitchen area and in the opposite direction. He made his way to his den where he kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on his rifle rack.

Mike grabbed the 12-gauge and headed back to the kitchen  where three-toes was making quite a mess of things. He yelled at the bear first, hoping to scare it off. He did not really want to shoot the bear. Unfortunately, three-toes was having none of it. This was now his bacon and, as far as that went, it was also now his kitchen. Mike simply had no choice. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired.

While many in the Burketown area were saddened by the death of three-toes, a lot of people slept a bit more soundly at night. It is an unfortunate thing when black bears lose their fear of people. It never turns out well for the bear.

I hope this story touched you, and reminds you why it is so important to not feed the bears. While black bears can indeed be cute, they are still wild animals.

And, please take the time to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot.