Reviews and Comments

January 8, 2008

Ian Dunbar vs. Cesar Milan

The Dog Trainer’s TrainerWhile Cesar Millan is dazzling TV audiences, Ian Dunbar has been quietly gaining the respect of the people who really count — other […]
January 4, 2008

Two Reviews

Yet another example of nice writing, not to mention a place worth visiting....

My Manhattan: Epiphanies in a Medieval Courtyard
The Cloisters, while barely changing at all, has changed a lot for me over the years, becoming a more complicated and contemplative experience.

It is so nice to come across someone who still reads for the sheer pleasure--and is able to share it with the rest of us.

Editorial Observer: Life, Love and the Pleasures of Literature in Barsetshire
You read Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire novels, laughing, and want to do your best to protect her characters from any reality but their own.

January 2, 2008

2008 a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm

Absolutely fascinating--and maybe we are doing this with all sorts of other studies, including our own work?

In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm

I’d like to wish you a happy New Year, but I’m afraid I have a different sort of prediction.

You’re in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc

December 30, 2007

Thunder Bay: A Cork O’Connor Mystery (Cork O’Connor Mysteries) by William Kent Krueger

I have never heard of William Kent Krueger or his Cork O'Connor Mysteries.  I grabbed this book because I saw the title and picked it up thinking, Thunder Bay?  The Thunder Bay up the North Shore?  Yep the one and only.  Well, how could I not enjoy this book, set in the Iron Range and the North Shore of Minnesota and Ontario.  It was fun to hear the names of towns I haven't heard for so long, Aurora, Brandywine, Tofte, Grand Marias, and others.  Readers were treated to a bit of Thunder Bay history a new name for two old towns Port Arthur and Fort William.

Aside from the sentimental attraction I had for the setting of this story, I really enjoyed this book.  I found myself thinking about the story line when I wasn't reading and making time to get back to the book to find out the rest of the story. 

Krueger did a great job capturing the personality of Northern Minnesotans and Chippewa/Ojibwa Indians. It was very real and not affected. I will be going back and catching up on the other Cork O'Connor mysteries.  Ah yes that does bring up a point, a better name would have been, Lars Larson or Eric Nelson, Sven Johannsen, etc., many more Scandinavians then Irish up North.  At least Cork's wife Jo is Scandinavian.

December 26, 2007

My Family and Other Saints by Kirin Narayan

A book we probably should read, in all that copious free time...

Books of The Times: A Groovy Pad Full of Gods and Gurus
Gods, gurus and eccentric relatives compete for primacy in Kirin Narayan’s enchanting memoir of her childhood in Bombay (present-day Mumbai).
December 26, 2007

The Quest – book review

I couldn't wait to get my hands on Wilbur Smith's most recent book in his Egyptian series "The Quest."  I am a huge fan of Mr Smith.  His book "River God" is my all time favorite book.   So with great anticipation I was ready to get lost in ancient Egypt with my old friends.  This book, for a Wilbur Smith novel,  was a new experience for me; I had to force myself to finish the book.  I reminded myself how much I loved "River God" and surely this will get better. I bull-dogedly finished the book and was disgusted.  I have no idea What Mr. Smith was thinking? What did he do with the Taita? Is Mr. Smith going through a mid-life crisis and this is how he expressed it? 

Taita had been a eunuch since his teens and spending a lifetime of evolving above human fallacies and weaknesses, at the age of 170 Taita all of sudden succumbs to lusty desires and whims and through the fantastical theme of this book, Taita re-grows his "manhood" and takes up with the re-incarnation of Fenn/Lostrus who is only a young teenager.  Huh? When did the Egyptian series abandon the historical fiction and become a fantasy?

I think Wilbur Smith should claim someone assuming his name wrote this book while he was in a comma. This book is so bad it has even tarnished my memory of "River God."

December 25, 2007


From the movie "Akeelah and the Bee" a wonderful feel good movie.

"You know that feeling where everything feels right? Where you don't have to worry about tomorrow or yesterday, where you feel safe and know you're doing the best you can? There's a word for that, it's called love. L-O-V-E."

December 25, 2007

Pillars of the Earth

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I have read only a small number of the books that Oprah has put on her book club list (aside from the classics).  A few I have liked:  Where the Heart is, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, & The Poisonwood Bible.  And then there was Vinegar Hill, Here on Earth, these books, well, they didn't entice me to read any more from Oprah's list.  Oprah endorses The Pillars of the Earth as a book different from the type of book she would normally read.  Additionally it is historical fiction, a genre I enjoy.  So I decide why not...

The Pillars of the Earth, is a long book, yet at times I felt the author was rushing, I wanted him to slow down, not to skim over the years and events.  So what if the book would end up being 1,200 pages instead of 600 plus.  This is a great read.  
December 20, 2007

How to Rate Your Dog Food

This is making it's way around the internet. I have no idea where this originated, for all I know it was put out by Natural Balance--the food that scores highest.  The foods with tallied scores do not include several premium brands such as: Timberwolf Organics,  Nature's Variety,  Breeder's Choice, Fromms, Canine Caviar, or Merrick.

I am not sure about the deduction for not having multiple protein sources.  Nature's Variety formulates their foods specifically with one protein source only.  The purpose being you rotate the protein source, i.e. beef, chicken, lamb, venison, salmon.  Their foods are formulated so that the percentage of protein, fat, and carbs is exactly the same for each different protein source.  This, I believe, allows you to switch from protein source to another without a "break-in" period of mixing foods together.  The theory is allergies develop by over exposure to same foods, most commonly occurring with wheat and chicken. 

So here it is, but remember to read with a healthy dose of skepticism:

How to rate your dog food

How to grade your dog's food: Start with a grade of 100:

1) For every listing of "by-product" , subtract 10 points
2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat)reference, subtract 10 points
3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (I.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than
2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points
9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 and below = F

Here are some foods that have already been scored.

Dog Food scores:
Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 B
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A