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Friday, April 27, 2012


Why do phones start with the numbers 1-2-3 at the top while calculators start with 7-8-9 at the top?  Wouldn't it be easier if it were the same on both?  Who made the decision to invert the numbers on calculators which were obviously invented after the telephone?  What would Alexander Graham Bell think?

And that brings me to dear Mr. Bell.  As schoolchildren in the U.S. many decades ago, we were taught that he invented the telephone, definitively.  Our government has even issued commemorative stamps in his honor.  However, if you pose the question, "who invented the telephone" on Google, there are various and sundry possibilities.  

One is Johann Philipp Reis of Germany.  In 1860, Mr. Reis was the first to produce a functioning electromagnetic device that could transmit musical notes, indistinct speech, and occasionally distinct speech by means of electric signals.  He's credited with introducing the term "telephon" for his device.  The first sentence Johann spoke on his telephon was apparently "Das" which translates to "the".  No one seems to have documented what the rest of Mr. Reis' transmitted sentence was.  According to a source on Wikipedia, "Thomas Edison tested the Reis equipment and found that "single words, uttered as in reading, speaking and the like, were perceptible indistinctly, notwithstanding here also the inflections of the voice, the modulations of interrogation, wonder, command, etc., attained distinct expression."  As you would expect, Mr. Reis was also honored by his country in the form of a postage stamp.

Other American inventors had also claimed the invention as their own, including Daniel Drawbaugh, Elisha Gray and Charles Grafton Page to name a few.  Interesting that American schoolchildren never learned these names.  Numerous inventors worldwide have been credited with inventing the telephone as well,  hailing from such locales as Italy, Denmark, Hungary, France, England and Canada, just to name a few. 

I'm not even going to segue into that other train of thought....that history as we each know it, is only as it's presented by each country to it's citizens.  There's not enough room in my blog to cover that subject!

Despite the other inventors mentioned, Mr. Bell has been honored with postage stamps commemorating "his" invention by many far-reaching countries, including Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Bulgaria, as well as an exceptionally suave image of dear old Alexander as depicted on the Grenada commemorative stamp!

So what are we teaching our young children today when they innocently ask, "Who invented the telephone?"  Do we give them the stock answer that it was Alexander Graham Bell?  Or should the answer be, "Well, honey, common lore has it that it was a man named Alexander Graham Bell, but it was actually a collaborative worldwide effort that included many bits and pieces that were improved upon along the way, by many different inventors, as well as a fight to the finish to see who could get the credit first?"  Now tell me, what curious six year old is going to be satisfied with the second answer?  But I guess if they're curious enough to ask the question, the answer should probably be, "Don't bother me with such complicated questions, just go Google it yourself on your iPhone!"  Which roughly translates to, "How the hell should I know, honey?!"


by Carsten Stroud

"Something is wrong in Niceville" is the title of the overview of this novel on B&  I have to add that something is wrong with NICEVILLE because the book never seems to gel.

There is an enormous cast of characters, none of whom are completely fleshed out or particularly engaging and the story line is very muddy, jumping between protagonists.  There is an underlying tone of horror or the supernatural, but even this is muddled and not fully clarified or solidified, simply running like a dark thread throughout the novel.  It's like the author couldn't decide between writing a mystery or a horror story and decided to do both.  Kind of a Stephen King-ish feel, without ever satisfying.

When I start reading a book and invest my time, I feel compelled to try to at least give it my best shot and finish reading to the end.  However, with NICEVILLE, I was tempted to walk away more than once, and, after laboring through the story, I wish I had.

ISBN 978-0-307-95858-9
Pub. Date:  To be released June 12, 2012
400 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


You've all heard the expression that begins with "the best laid plans..."  Well, I had what I thought was a great plan, but it sure didn't work out too well.

I'm sure most of you are seeing rising bundled services for phone, internet and television.  I recently decided to unbundle our service at our summer home in Connecticut.  Unfortunately in Southeastern CT, there aren't a lot of options.  You can use Comcast (which is what we've been using) or you can switch to AT&T or SBC.  Comcast is the only one with the so-called triple-play since AT&T and SBC don't do TV service.

AT&T is a good old household name, so I chose them to switch the phone and internet service to.  Mind you, this was not because there was anything wrong with our very reliable Comcast service, it was simply a financial decision.  After numerous phone calls I realized that I could save hundreds of dollars every year!  Why wouldn't I want that!?

About a month ago, I spend endless time on the phone and switched over the phone and internet service.  My friend and I proceeded to install the AT&T high speed internet service following the instructions provided.  Included with the new modem/router were three plug in filters.  The instructions were very clear and we installed one of the filters on a phone line that wasn't directly hooked up to the modem or my computer.  Everything looked good and worked great, for about an hour.

I was talking to my husband on the phone in New Jersey when there was a loud sizzling static sound on the phone, a popping sound coming from my computer and my house alarm went off.  For a minute I thought the house blew up!  I immediately called AT&T from my cell phone and didn't get too much advice, so I unplugged the modem and computer completely and went back to New Jersey.

Here I am, a month later, ready to tackle the problem with renewed vigor.....HA!  I arranged beforehand to have an AT&T technician come to the house last Thursday to find out what was going wrong.  He showed up as scheduled and proceeded to put a whole-house filter in the basement, telling me that the three filters that were mailed to me were nothing but junk and never work.  Interesting.  "All set", he said when he packed up to leave.  I tried to give him back the three plug in filters (definitely pieces of equipment I had never seen before and didn't want) and he told me to throw them away since that's all he would do with them anyway!!!  This might be one of the reasons that the prices of all of these services are going up; let's just throw equipment away!

He left and everything was fine for about an hour at most and then I had no internet again, but the phones worked fine.  I called AT&T on Thursday evening and the representative who answered the phone said she could see that we were "dropped" 14 times in just a couple of hours.  I could have told her that since the only way to get on to the internet was to unplug the equipment totally, reboot my computer, wait 15 seconds, plug everything back in and start all over.  All the pretty little flashing lights on the modem came on green, signalling that it was good to go.  Signed back on to Google and maybe five minutes later, POOF, the internet service light turned red.

I called AT&T again and the rep said that there were problems with the line and it would be fixed by Friday morning.  Okay, one night  was doable, my husband and I could spend time talking to each other for a change, all good.  Friday morning rolled around and same thing, intermittent short-term internet service.  I called back and another rep told me that I'd get a recorded message telling me that everything was fine within five or six hours on Friday, which would have been in the late afternoon.  What do you think happened?  You're phone call and no message and no internet.

So I called back again on Friday evening and I think I reached someone in Guam.  I was told that they were aware of the problem and that I shouldn't be so impatient, I'd get a call back.  HAHA!  Not!  Amazingly, AT&T customer service is not open in the evenings or on Saturday or Sunday.   Nice that they get the weekends off, isn't it?

First thing Monday morning, I called Comcast and begged them to take me back!  And quickly, please!  They were wonderful.  They waived the reinstallation fee and had a technician here today to set everything up.  Of course we wound up with a temporary phone number for five to seven days, while Comcast wrestles our original number back from AT&T's clutches, but we can live with that.  What we do have is internet service.....glorious wonderful internet service!  I can even finally load a book onto my Kindle again without having to drive to the local Starbucks and I can finally blog again, so I'm a happy camper.  My husband can check his office email, too.  Wonderful!

I'm not going to tell AT&T that I'm switching back until I get my original phone number back, so that will be our secret.  Sad that such a once-prestigious company is so unreliable.  My advice to you is to be careful when you're looking for savings on these's not as easy as it looks and it's really hard work!

Monday, April 9, 2012


by Harlan Coben

I have to preface my review of Harlan Coben's newest book by reminding everyone that I have been a long time fan of his, having read and enjoyed every book he's written.  This includes SHELTER,  the first in the Mickey Bolitar young adult series that was introduced in September, 2011, and which was terrific.

Sadly, STAY CLOSE is not terrific.  It's not even close to terrific.  In fact, STAY CLOSE is pretty mediocre.

My disappointment didn't arise from the entirely different cast of characters, and definitely not because I was looking forward to settling down with a new Myron Bolitar tale.   My disappointment arose from the convoluted story and the addition of two minor characters who added nothing to the story other than to be ridiculous and annoying, diminishing an already muddled and far-fetched plot. Perhaps Mr. Coben was just trying to poke fun at the plastic Ken and Barbie, but presenting them as preppy bible-spouting killers was absurd.

I would recommend you pass on purchasing STAY CLOSE.  It's not worth your time or your money.

ISBN 978-0-525-95227-5
Pub. Date:  March 2012
387 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Happy Easter everyone!

After a much needed break, a time to reflect, I'm back and ready to blog!  I needed to put my book reviews and blog into perspective.  I found myself facing expectations that, quite honestly, made me uncomfortable.  I realized that I needed a "mission statement" for what I do.

My blog was intended as a small vehicle to share my reading interests with family and friends.  Much to my surprise and delight, I received hits from almost every corner of the globe.  The downside was that I began to take myself and my blog a little too seriously, feeling guilty if I took a few days off and feeling a little awkward in writing my own little insights apart from book reviews.

But I'm a curious and off-kilter person by nature and things and words strike me differently than they might other people.  I have one friend who often tells me that I "think too much!"  Is that even possible??

Just last week I had to replace a light bulb.  When I looked at the GE packaging, I noticed that my 60 watt incandescent bulb packaging also included information about the number of life hours of the bulb and 630 lumens.  For many decades, I never noticed how many lumens were in my bulbs.  Try to look up lumens, the noun, and this is the definition.....

1.  The Sl unit of luminous flux, equal to the amount of light emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform....blah blah blah.            
2.  The central cavity of a tubular or other hollow structure in an organism or cell.

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not a rocket scientist and don't feel I need to know the lumens of my bulbs, or that I even have a better understanding of lumens, but my bulb works great.

The upshot of my meanderings is that I'm going to continue to provide the best and most honest reviews of the books I read from my point of view.  I'm also going to have a little more fun with my "Lynn's Blog" entries so I hope you'll come back often to visit and read what I write.

We're heading to the Jersey shore today with our son Robert and our daughter-in-law Stacey for a day of boardwalk french fries and skeeball...the REAL Jersey Shore!  I hope you all enjoy this beautiful and sunny Easter and get to spend time with people you love.

Happy Easter!