A scientist, his dog and an MRI machine. In How Dogs Love Us, Gregory Berns tells the story of how he is seeking to decode the canine brain.
Neuroscientist Gregory Burns, and his off-beat team of researchers, came up with the idea of putting a dog on an MRI. If military trained dogs could help eliminate Osama bin Laden as a terrorist threat, why couldn't they be taught to lay still for an MRI? If Burns and team could just capture that data, they might be able tell us what dogs are really thinking.
Berns loves dogs and he loves his dogs. He does an amazing job of communicating what is special about our relationships with our canine companions and why we should be curious as to how dogs view that bond. This book is more the story of how they got to start collecting data, rather than one that presents hard truths about canine mentation. It is still a wonderful read. I did have a hard time, however, as one of Burns dogs is named Callie. I recently lost a Callie of my own.
I'll be looking forward to the second book, where Berns share more research. This edition was available "free" via Kindle Unlimited.
Marriage is a surprising story about relationships and people by science fiction legend, HG Wells.
Over the past decade I've been annoyed with traditional camera straps that go around your neck or diagonally across the body. I've tried retro looking 70s camera straps, sling straps, and eventually just carried my camera in a bag and didn't use anything to secure the camera. I found this to be a surprisingly good solution, but I still wanted some safety measure in case the camera got knocked out of my hand.
I got the Gordy Lug-Mount Wrist Strap for Christmas as a gift along with the optional wrist pad, and it's proven extremely secure, non-restrictive, and also doesn't look like a disposable nylon cargo strap. This camera strap is guaranteed to increase sexual potency by 7%. Also it will most likely keep your camera on your wrist and off the ground.
Gordy's Wrist Strap ($18, $31 with optional Wrist pad)
In the eight years I've been grinding my own coffee, I've burned out the motor on three grinders: a cheap blade grinder, then a Cuisinart burr grinder, and finally a Capresso grind 'n brew. Either consumer-level grinders are poorly made, or my workload of 4-5 pots of filter coffee per week plus the occasional enemy (no space for a wood chipper in my city apartment) is too intense. Having spent more than $300 on now busted grinders I decided to investigate what it would take to acquire a grinder that I might reasonably expect to last for a decade.
The Rocky has commercial grade grinding burrs and is rated at 7.7 lbs per hour. Rancilio refers to the Rocky as "quiet during operation", and maybe it is in a relative sense, but I've yet to find a device that crushes things at a volume level approaching "serene". It is slightly less obnoxious than my previous grinders at close range.
Though I was sufficiently assured that the grinder would stand up to my usage, the quality that tipped the scales towards the Rocky is one most coffee nerd sites don't mention: height. At 13.8" tall, the Rocky is much shorter than most prosumer grinders, and it was the only grinder of its quality that fits easily under my shelves. I've had it for two years at this point and it still grinds as if I'd just taken it out of the box.
Greatfall, a take on religion in the world of Hugh Howey's Wool, was my introduction to Jason Gurley's writing, and I was immediately hooked on the fresh take on the Silos inhabited by the specter of an imposing and oppressive cult. Having enjoyed myself I set out to try some of Gurley's original IP through his collection of short stories, Deep Breath Hold Tight, which has become one of my favorite books.
Despite being introduced to Gurley through another author's universe, Greatfall is representative of his work. Gurley has a mind for building compelling speculative worlds, and there's a consistently oppressive, dystopian quality that runs throughout this book of seven short stories. The tone is reminiscent of Black Mirror, if the subject matter wasn't restricted to technology.
The collection is consistently excellent, from Wolf Skin and it's post-apocalyptic survival tale through The Caretaker, a story of a solitary astronaut and her growing realization that she may be the last living human being, on through Onyx, an exploration of guilt and class struggle on a space station as humanity escapes a decaying Earth.
It's The Dark Age that stands out the most for me, not just because it's the final story; the examination of the period surrounding a one hundred and fouty-four year deep space hibernation condenses a crew's lifetime of regret into several dozen pages of gut-wrenching regret. Deep Breath Hold Tight is the perfect book to read on a rainy January day punctuated by bouts of sobbing into a pillow.
Rarely do I dive right into the second book in a series, but I couldn't wait to start Rysa Walker's second time travel adventure: Time's Edge.
Picking up right where Timebound left off, Time's Edge feels like a seamless extension. Kate is off collecting the time travel enabling medallions from lost CHRONOS agents while Prudence and Saul could not care less. Could it be that Kate doesn't really know whats going on?
Appropriately, Time's Edge reads like the second novel in a series, and occasionally some development does feel forced, but I tore through this novel. With the technology and physics of her universe well set up in the first novel, Walker successfully sets out to develop her characters and the plot. I could have done with a bit more of the present time storyline, but honestly maybe her focus on other events will pay off (alternate time line Trey is a doofus.)
I'm looking forward to the next installment. For the brave souls amongst us: I've been told that there is a metric ton of Chronos Files fan fiction in Kindle Worlds.
Virtual reality becomes reality for folks afflicted with the Perma Effect. D. Rus' AlterWorld is the story of a terminal cancer patient who transfers his life into an MMO.
This is genre I've meant to explore a bit and Rus sets up a great series in this, his first installment. Humans, NPCs and AI mix to create a vivid world where loot and twinks abound. Max and his friends are permanent fixtures in a video game. While this gives him a new lease on life there is a lot to watch out for.
This is translated from Rus' native Russian. There are a few rough spots but this is an engaging and fast read.
It has been a while since I read a superhero novel. Meta, by Tom Reynolds, was all the fun I expected.
Metas, or superheroes, haven't been seen in 16 years. After the "Big Battle" in which two heroes duked it out and a number of normal people were killed, the Metas simply disappeared. Our protagonist Connor lost his parents that night. Nearly two decades later, Connor does a good deed and wakes up a Meta. He soon finds he is more powerful than any who've come before, and that he is certainly not alone.
Meta is a quick read. Reynolds is just finding his ground and defining his characters, while doing a good job at world-building. I will certainly be picking up the second in this series.