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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


 Today I made the decision to place my mother in hospice. She's been ailing since the middle of August. She's moving in with my family, and I have ten days before having to have all her belongings moved into storage from her apartment.

All that I'm going to have to do when she's gone is staggering. I expected my brother would be able to came and help, but he's out of state and New Mexico has a 14 day quarantine. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

WC 091620


This week is a book or books where you had to look up the most words.

My college professor, Mrs. Carter, in American Literature cautioned us when reading Emily Dickenson's poetry that "She wrote with lexicon in hand." It wasn't hyperbole.

Each book in the First Man in Rome series comes with a glossary at the end. Read it first. So much of the terms and Latin words and town names are explained there. Even after reading the glossary while going through the story I would check on some words and town or province names.

A fellow Wayland graduate, a couple of years ahead of me. He was a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and fired as too liberal when the fundamentalists took over. This was his response. Typical professor using a ten dollar word when a fifty cent one says the same thing.

This book is another one where the author is impeccably impressed with the longitudinity, magnitudnity and importnatudnity of his own verbosity.

I also hate it when the author writes pages on the nuances of a foreign language word by bloody word of a sentence. He makes his case on Socrates's reasons for staying and dying instead of going into exile. I always assumed it was to get away from Xantippe's nagging tongue.  

Friday, September 11, 2020

TTT 091520


Today's topic is about book covers.

There are some books I bought because something caught my eye on the cover.

A pretty face in uniform, a space epic with sailing ships in dark matter. I've read six of them so far and waiting for the seventh. The face is what caught my attention.

What caught my eye on this one was the color.

I bought this  one because I like the title.The cover made me wonder what it was about.

I also blog with the author.

Sometimes some cleavage sells me the book. The subject matter interested me too.

Sometimes book covers get updated. They can be quite different. Which one would you buy?

Some authors have a theme going on in their book covers.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

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Topics I never get tired of talking about.


Hmmm, I taught history for 27 years. World history, U.S. History, New Mexico history, military history. I write historical novels. My wife rolls her eyes and tells anyone around us if history comes up and says, “Don’t get him started.”


Books: Why I love Top Ten Tuesdays and Wednesday Challenge is it’s all about books and talking about them. In fiction there’s: children’s books, young adult, science fiction, fantasy, murder mystery, thrillers, horror, romance, erotica, historical and more that all of us share our likes and dislikes.

Non-fiction: the topics are as endless as topics people are interested in. I like history, science, psychology, sociology, how to, gardening, and others as they pop up and catch my eye.


Faith: I’m willing to share my faith, if asked or the topic comes up, but I don’t force my beliefs on others and resent when someone tries to force theirs on me.


Here’s a tip to all the women who wonder, “How do you get a man to talk to you and share what’s on their mind?” My mother told this to my wife, and I wish she hadn’t? Mom told her to, “Put a paint brush in my hand, and while we’re painting the outside of the house or the inside, I’ll talk my head off.”

Do you have any idea how many times we’ve painted the house in the last forty years? It would have been so much cheaper and less time consuming if she’d said, “Pick a topic, ask a question and let me pontificate.”

Monday, September 07, 2020

TTT 090820


Books I wish I'd read as a child? 

This one stumped me for some time. The only children's books I can think of is Dr. Seuss.

Green Eggs and Ham, The Fox in Sox and the others I read to my kids and grandkids. They're great, but if they were around in the early 50's, my parents didn't read them to us. I vaguely remember The Cat in the Hat in grade school, but it didn't make that big of an impact on me.

Three children's books that came out as I was older that I like:

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Little Engine that Could

Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day.

Mom and Dad read to us plenty. When we would take long rides Mom would start a story, Bruce (my brother) would continue it and Dad would finish it. It helped pass the time.

 We had fairy tales and a children's poem book. I looked up the one I remember most:

This Is the Way the Ladies Ride

This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tree,
Tri, tre, tre, tree!
This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tre, tri-tre-tre-tree!

This is the way the gentlemen ride,
This is the way the gentlemen ride,

This is the way the farmers ride,
This is the way the farmers ride,

Sunday, September 06, 2020

 My backyard flowers:

Gladiolas before blooming.


Fox Glove

Gladiolas in full bloom

Two planters with various flowers

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

WC 090220


Topics that make me stop reading.

These are some things that make me put a book down.


1.     Gross descriptions. If it makes me want to throw up, forget it.

2.     Gore. Why I avoid most horror stories.

3.     Excessive description of clothing, flora and fauna, food, furniture, etc.

4.     Repetitive sexual encounters. It spices up a story, but if there are multiple episodes it gets boring. Doesn't apply to erotica.

5.     Gratuitous violence. There doesn't need to be an excessive body count. A person's death need to have emotion about the person.

6.     Excessive internal dialogue. Someone thinking things though for pages and pages before asking a question or answering one.

7.     Angst. Pages and pages of self-doubt, guilt, recriminations.

8.     Rant books. Someone going on and on about how they feel life is so unfair and how hard they have it.

9.     Historical novels with faulty history. Know the time period. Do your research.

10.  Formula. Every detective gets suspended just when they're about to solve the case. When in a small space someone has to have claustrophobia and flips out. Splitting up in a haunted house. False scares.

Monday, August 31, 2020

TTT 090120

Today’s topic:

Books that Make Me Hungry (They could have food items on the cover, foods in the title, be about foodies or have food as a main plot point… they could be cookbooks or memoirs, etc.)


The Miracle of the Moringa Tree. Every part of this fast-growing tree is edible.

It has 7 times more Vitamin C as there are in oranges.

3 times more iron as spinach.

3 times the potassium as bananas.

4 times more Vitamin A as carrots.

4 times the calcium and twice the protein as milk.

The oil from the tree can be used for cooking, and/or fuel. Even as diesel fuel. The leaves can be eaten, put in salads and crushed into flour. The roots taste like horse radish. The seeds make a tasty snack. It is truly a miracle tree.

Take a plastic two-liter bottle, put crushed seeds in the bottom and pour water in. Leave it set in sunlight for two hours. Strain the seeds out of the bottle and you have drinkable water.

In Kenya women have taken 50-gallon drums, made a layer of seeds, then sand, another layer of seed and sand up to the top of the drum. They pour in water and drain from the bottom. They then sell the purified water. When the barrel becomes polluted, they sell what’s inside to farmers which they use it as fertilizer.

In Honduras they have small shelters filled with two-liter bottles of fresh water for use after a hurricane.

In the Philippines, because the trees grow very tall, they plant them around the edges of coffee plantations. They provide shade for the coffee trees and food for the workers.

The trees are being grown in California and Arizona. The roots have water and freeze in cold weather. They are a tropical plant, but it’s the tropics that have the greatest world hunger.

Apple of Success:

Does a young woman stay in a small town teaching 2nd graders or use her talents to make it in the big city and rise up the ladder of success. Will she find love, happiness and success. Had to sneak my book into this.

Random book titles.

This one's free with unlimited



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Human Sacrifices free e-book.


Starting tomorrow, 08/27/20 this book will be available for free at Amazon

Wednesday Challenge: 082620


Today's challenge is the strangest thing or things I've eaten.

I remember trying dirt once. I had a Bic pen in my mouth one time while thinking and the ink came up into my mouth. Made me barf.

Once my mother cooked a Sunday dinner with what we thought was a nice pot roast. She asked how we liked it and we all said it was great, then she told us it was Beef Tongue. We didn't eat a single bite afterwards.

I tied sushi once, sorry too raw for my taste.

A secret Santa gift one year was green chile and red chile jam. Not bad. A burger joint here has green chile in their tartar sauce during Lent. It's really good. A pizza parlor has green chile ranch dressing. Yum. Freddie's hamburgers has a jalapeno French fry sauce, it's got a bite.

Hank Bruce has a book about the Maringa Tree and had his wife bake Writers2writers chocolate chip cookies made with Maringa flour, they were delicious. Wal-Mart has Maringa flour in the pharmacy.

I like Calamari in tempura.

For a while my father raised rabbits and we dined on them. Their legs have a lot more meat on them than chickens, and I like drumsticks.

Had frog legs once in Juarez. Also on the other side of the border had a dish with three round browned balls. It was meat and mushrooms fried in beer foam. They were the size of small meat balls. I thought why so much for three bites. Two of them filled me up.

When I was in Junior High the school system had a scandal. It was revealed that for six months the hamburger meat they were serving was actually horse meat. I couldn't tell the difference.

 Costco sells buffalo burgers, and they're tasty, but a little too expensive.

The only way I like venison is in barbeque sauce.

Elk tastes like beef.

Never adventurous for antelope, did have a restaurant that served it. Same with bear meat.

Family member that lived in Alaska sent down some caribou meat. She said to eat it with Russian dressing. The only thing close was French dressing around here, and it was pretty good.

Monday, August 24, 2020

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This week is 10 questions you’d like to ask your favorite author or one question for 10 authors.

I don’t have any questions that I’d like to ask. Instead I want to tell ten authors how much their writing affected my life and helped me grow as a person and as a writer.

1.    Isaac Asimov: Your stories transported a 13-year-old boy living the worst year of his life (7th grade) into worlds of wonder. Your stories in Nine Tomorrows helped me escape the hell I was living. The Foundation Trilogy helped me see the world of Vietnam and the civil rights movement and that it would always be that way even in the future galactic empires. Times change, but mankind doesn’t. It was a major step to understanding history.

2.    J. R. R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings helped me grow as a reader. They were the first books that not only told a story in a fantasy world with Orc and dragons, but did in not only prose, but also poetry. They make my fondest memories of the summer when I was 15.

3.     Edgar Allan Poe: He opened me up to the world of imagination with The Pit and the Pendulum. The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell Tale Heart.

4.    Mario Puzo: As a sophomore in high school I have page 28 of The Godfather forever etched into my memory. Almost all boys at that time did too. Years later your book Fools Die made an impression when you mentioned the protagonist leaving a books store with and arm full of books and his father-in-law who was helping him pay bills screams and yells at him as a dead beat. You justified this by saying that the more a writer reads the better he becomes. This was obviously autobiographical and as a struggling writer it struck a chord. I’ve never felt guilty about how many books I own or read. They are my textbooks.

5.    Mikey Spillane, Lance Horner, Harold Robbins, Anne Rice, Jackeline Suzanne, Erica Jong and others. These writers impressed on me the importance of including sexuality as part of the human condition and not to be ashamed of reading it or writing it. It is perhaps the most important part of the human condition to consider it dirty or to belittle it or leave it out demeans us all.

6.    Harlan Ellison: Of all the writers this man had the greatest impact on my life and as an author. I was in the deepest depression of my life. A wonderful lady in a books store recommended Darkbird Stories. The book starts with a caveat to not read it in one sitting as the stories a too dark and upsetting to handle all at once. The first story The Whimper of Whipped Dogs, blew me away, the second one Along the Scenic Route, spoke to my failed marriage. The other stories were dark and depressing. The more I read them a strange thing happened, my depression lifted. It worked for me I don’t recommend it as therapy to others. There was also a way that Harlan told the stories. His writing style, how he communicates the ideas, turns of phrase that makes the reader visualize the scenarios. The way he can describe people, places and feelings that grab you by the eyelids and force them open and burn the image forever in your memory. It has impacted my writing to this day.

7.    James A. Michener: The first book of his I read was The Source. I started it in 8th grade, got to the short story about the writing of the Talmud and gave up. I picked it up in college and fell in love with the best stories in the book. So much so that I scoured used bookstores for copies of the book. I wound up with ten hardbacks and around 60 paperbacks. I used them for ten years while teaching world history. When we covered pre-history, the students read The Bee Eater, and progressed through the year with a short story to help the students visualize what it was like to move from a cave into a house to a castle. When covering the different religions, the stories showed the evolution of faith. I don’t know how many times my wife threatened divorce when I came home with a sack full of the same book. Paperback fall apart after three or four classes a day are reading them.  

8.    James Clavell: He taught me that you can write historical fiction while being true to the time period and include not just the movers and shakers of the time period, but also the common people and how what was happening affected them. Shogun just blew me away. Tai Pan opened my eyes to the philosophical gulf between China and Europe. Noble House made high finance entertaining and understandable.

9.    Tom Clancy: Opened up the world of entertaining spy thrillers. I’d read a number of other writers, even Ian Fleming, but none hold a candle to Clancy.

10.                 Ray Summers: No singe book changed my life as much as Worthy is the Lamb. Until I read this book, I would have preached out of Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth. The only way to interpret Revelation and the end of times was Premillennialism. This book changed my entire theology from that day on. I explain this in detail in my book Human Sacrifices. I see the evangelicals that hold to Rapture Theology and are blindly following Trump down the road of death and destruction, because this will cause the second coming of Christ.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Book Review: Into the Dark


Think of Horatio Hornblower as a girl of 15. Think a sailing ship with masts, sails, roping, open gun ports, broadsides, pirates, war. Now think of it in space, and in the future.

The ships in this future have a regular propulsion system for in regular space. Distances between solar systems are too far for conventional travel so they shift into Dark Space. In Dark space the laws of physics don't apply, and they have winds and storms, hence the need for sailing ships. It's a masterful way of suspending disbelief to establish 18th century sailing vessels into space.

Alexis Carew is a 15 year old girl on a fringe planet. It's only been colonized for three generations. Her grandfather has large landholdings and mining rights to asteroids. Her parents died in an accident when she was three, and the laws won't let her inherit. Strictly male primogenitor.

She is wooed by the wealthy landholders eligible sons, and she finds them wanting nothing more but a brood mare who knows her place. The last suitor who visits gets her mad enough to douse with a pot of tea. An aside her, think original Star Trek episode Trouble With Tribbles. Kirk is trying to find out who threw the first punch in a bar room brawl. He when finds out its Scotty he tries to find out why he threw the punch. It takes some time for the punch line. The same thing happens here as Alexis's grandfather tries to find out why she upended a pot of tea on the boy's head. It's a good laugh.

Back to the story. A naval ship orbits the planet and the captain lands trying to enlist men to man the ship. The landholders naturally hide all their indentured laborers. Alexis is present when the captain comes calling on their land and she enquires if she can enlist. She's told women can enlist, but usually in core space. The fringe is a little too rough, with pirates and all. Only she has to be 16. She then asks about becoming a midshipman, they're taken on as young as 9. The captain of the ship has a talk with her grandfather, who tells him where to find other landholders men. Captain Grantham takes Alexis on as a midshipman and there the story takes off.

There's a little bit of miscommunication as she's learning the ins and outs of naval tradition and terminology. Especially as Captain Grantham is only a commander, but is referred to as captain, but that's not his rank, but then again it is.

The book is well written, entertaining and when the ship encounters pirates turns deadly serious.

 J. A. Sutherland has just become one of my favorite authors. He has many more books to keep me entertained.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

WC 081920


This week is favorite movie or book quotes.

The Lion in Winter: Geophrey to Eleanor concerning Henry. "We know. He knows. We know, he knows. He knows, we know he knows We know he knows we know. We're a knowledgeable family."

Henry to Eleanor: "You're like a democratic drawbridge. Going down for everyone."

Eleanor: "At my age there's not much traffic anymore."

Friendly Persuasion: Friend Purdy tells Jess Birdwell to pick up a gun and fight the rebels that are burning farms. Jess says he's not prepared to do that. Purdy tells Jess that war time calls for a change of thinking. Sam Jordan, who's not Quaker says: "Times may have changed Purdy, but you haven't. Last week you told my son he's going to hell for fighting. Now you're telling Jess he has to fight. Whatever's right for Purdy has to be right for everyone else."

Fifth Element: The police make a raid on an apartment complex. The police ask Corbin Dallas if he's human. He answers: "Negative. I'm a meat popsicle.

Corbin Dallas is looking on the computer in Phloston Paradise. Cornelius asks what he's doing. Corbin says he's looking for Leeloo. Cornelius asks if Leeloo is in trouble. Dallas says: "When is Leeloo not in trouble."

King Lear: The king is told his bastard son wishes to speak with him. Lear says: "Why not, there was sport in his making."

TV show Moonlighting, episode Atomic Shakespeare. Patruchio tells Katarina, "Where there's a will..."

Katarina replies: "There's a won't."

Patruchio tells Katarina she's his property. Katarina replies: "Try to ploweth this acre and thy blade might get broken."

Romeo and Juliet: Romeo: "But soft, what light through window breaks? It is the moon and Juliet is the sun. Arise fair sun and quench the envious moon."

Juliet: "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Citizen Kane: Mrs. Kane at the breakfast table speaking to Kane: "What you said in your editorial yesterday, what will everyone think?"

Kane: "What I tell them to!"

Gone With the Wind: Rhet Butler to Scarlet: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Princess Bride. Wesley to Buttercup: "Life is pain. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something."

Monday, August 17, 2020

TTT 081820


Today's topic is books you'd want to see on a Netflix or movie.

Top of the list: Casca: The Eternal Mercenary.

There are now 50 books in the series started by Barry Sadler. This could keep a series going practically forever. Unlike Conan which is in the same time period and location. Casca is all over world history. From the Roman Empire to China, Middle East, Northern Europe, Russia, India, you name it Casca is there even Medieval Japan. He rides with Genghis Khan, on the Russian front in tanks, in Vietnam, at the Little Big Horn, with Napoleon in Russia... Get the idea.

Here's a great idea for a daytime drama (soap). Colleen McCullough's First Man in Rome series.

It starts around 150BC with the rise of Marius, goes through the civil wars between Marius and Sulla, covers the life of Julius Caesar from birth to his death, and the rise of Octavian and deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra.

As a daily soap opera it would be a refreshing change from the ones like Days of Our Lives that my wife watches. The history channel could make a killing off of it in advertising. Each book could take years and years before getting to the next one. It doesn't have to be done as fast as I Claudius. The success of I Claudius would indicate this is entirely feasible.

Books that would make good movies: