Having wheelchairs ready and waiting is good customer service (Supersizing too + Radio Frequency Identification #RFID)

 How many wheelchairs does your facility have? Do you know where they all are?
Keeping track of wheelchairs may be a low priority on busy staff members’ radar screens, but it keeps the hospital’s operating costs down and customer service ratings up.
sam-and-ranaSam and Rana
Assets like wheelchairs tend to be ignored. Misplaced, hidden, or stolen, when the hospital has to buy replacements (conservative estimate: $300–$500 each), these disappearing items can cost time as well as money.
Mobility. I don’t take it for granted. Depending on someone else to wheel you to health care appointments sounds almost as scary as a hospital stay for a claustrophobic agoraphobe like me.  How can we make procedures less stressful and traumatic for patients? Volunteers seem to be the #1 resource we have in a nation of budget cuts.
No care center has enough LARGE chairs to accommodate large patients. Like it or not, America’s health care system is full of big people.

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Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair, 24″ Wide Seat, Desk-Length Removable Arms, Swing Away Footrests, Chrome Frame

Stores have plastic devices attached to countless items that set off alarms if carried through the door. Chicago stores have grocery carts with wheels that lock up if the cart gets too far from the door. In today’s world of apps, bar codes, surveillance cameras, and more gizmos than the average employee could ever keep up with, it seems there has to be a better way to keep track of what’s what, and where.

The best way to prevent wheelchairs from rolling out the door used to be to keep an eye on them. “We tell our associates to be observant and watch them as they would any other property item,” says Roger Schlies, director of guest services for Centegra Health System in McHenry, IL. “Preventing wheelchair theft is the entire staff’s responsibility.”

 How expensive can it be for wheelchairs to have bar codes, GPS chips, or other IDs? Not much money up front – just the valets and security guards to respond to beeps, and the volunteers to wheel misplaced chairs from one entrance to another.
It’s all online if you google it:

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) saves hospitals time and money due to misplaced or lost wheelchairs. According to a white paper by IPM Asset Solutions, Inc.,

–A hospital with 500 wheelchairs loses up to $25,000 per year in wheelchair inventory alone
–Add $28,000 per month for employee time spent searching, trying to find wheelchairs
— How many are left in some patient’s van?
— How many get left outside the hospital until a vagrant starts using it to haul around possessions?
–How many are on the premises, but no one knows where?
— Some hospital employees hide these items in their unit so they will have them when they need them. Some cover them with sheets or towels to hoard their resources.
Misplaced, hidden, or stolen–the hospital has to purchase more
— Electronic Asset Management is almost unavoidable. Barcodes help assess inventory.
With barcodes, no one is alerted when an asset leaves the property. No one knows if it ever comes back in. Unless strict processes are observed, many of the same problems still exist.
If adherence to processes could be guaranteed, the problem wouldn’t exist to begin with.
With RFID, hidden assets within the hospital would still be a potential issue, but over time, hoarding should subside because the assets are not as difficult to find. Staff members won’t feel the need to keep a stash of wheelchairs or IV racks if it isn’t difficult to put their hands on them when they need them. The increase in efficiency and loss prevention coupled with the lower cost of implementation will make the return on investment easier to achieve. check out processes could be automated.
–Many caregivers know all too well the frustration of searching for a wheelchair to transport a patient.
–Wheelchairs are used by multiple clinical departments, outpatients, volunteers, families and even visitors.
–Often like a grocery cart, wheelchairs are picked up in one location and dropped off somewhere totally different.
–Until recent increased awareness to prevent the spread of infections, wheelchairs and grocery carts were often not cleaned between uses.
In one survey,
–only 1% of staff felt wheelchairs were always available when they were needed.
–Audits found that only 69% of the designated locations had the available par levels of wheelchairs.
–More importantly to the patient and despite intense emphasis on infection prevention practices, observations of wheelchair use found that only 7% were actually cleaned between use.
–The event team took cultures from a sample of wheelchairs and found 4 out of 10 positive for bacterial growth.1 comment: Kel Mohroron April 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      … Regardless of size, a provider can find credible guidance on designing and implementing wheelchair cleaning and availability management practices. These will improve patient, family member and visitor satisfaction. Just as important, the practices enable nurses to significantly reduce time and aggravation lost due to wheelchair searching and decontamination.

A wheelchair cleaning/availability system to improve patient/visitor satisfaction, save staff time/aggravation now being lost due to daily, inefficient, wheelchair searches and let’s not forget the need for decontamination.

I would suggest a fund raiser for new wheelchairs (plenty of Extra Large) and…. recruit some volunteers, maybe, to make Pediatric wheelchairs less scary looking and more fun. Magic Wheelchair is one nonprofit organization that makes epic costumes for children in wheelchairs, at no expense to their families:  “Our goal is to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming them into magical rides.”

proxy You call this a wheelchair? Check out the handles. YES!
Then again, I will more likely retreat into my hermitude and just write about stuff, rather than try to make things happen. I’ll let someone else can donate time and energy to one of the many causes I call attention to, never knowing if anyone listens or cares, except on the rare occasion someone hits like or share or leaves a comment. Not that I expect anyone to read my blog. Every author has blogs, newsletters, and social media pages, and we’re asked to subscribe, follow, like, share – if you’re reading this now, you know you should be tending to other, more important, tasks.
1452455_10202352959375259_2065312821_nAlas, that’s not me in the photo. Johnnie Boor, a giant pig, was my childhood buddy, but no one photographed him. I love this rhino!
Vicki in New York, David in Dublin, “KoolAidMoms” in Michigan, and “American novelist/ outlaw traditionalist” Mord McGhee (friend of New Yorker Sam, pictured at the top of this blog), you’re the only ones who’ve left any evidence of seeing this blog post. Thanks for reading. 🙂 I checked with my next-door neighbor, family members, and friends. Nope, they don’t read my blog unless I specifically ask and post a link for them.
P.S. I’m very happy to report that Sam is no longer relying on a wheelchair to get around. Go Sam!! What a trooper! What a survivor!
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“Death in Venice” Björn Andrésen

600full-bjc3b6rn-andrc3a9sen Björn Johan Andrésen is a Swedish actor and musician idealized as 14-year-old Tadzio in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella “Death in Venice.” Watch it if only for the fabulous opening scene with Mahler’s 5th playing. In the film, Björn embodies an ideal of beauty that the avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) has long sought to capture through music. The pedophile with mustache (pedostache) spends most of the movie staring at the boy, infatuated.

bjorn Beauty is something that no language can describe as it is found in the eye of the beholder. But there is little universal doubt that Björn Andrésen is beauty personified. But what most see as nature’s random blessing has brought great pain to a man who was once arguably the most beautiful man in the world. People are enchanted at the first sighting of his amazing, beautiful face – both men and women. He was dubbed “the most beautiful boy in the world” after he appeared in the movie ‘Death in Venice’ thirty-odd years ago. But he was camera shy and he rarely appeared in the media, creating an air of mystery about his looks and his life. This Adonis was born on January 26, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden, out of wedlock, and was never thereafter to learn the identity of his father. He was raised by his grandparents. In the year of his birth, his mother married a Norwegian man and divorced him four years later. Then, in 1965, she disappeared and was later discovered to have committed suicide.

“… After the role of Tadzio, his career as a boy actor declined due to mismanagement by his agent. Like many high school boys of his age, he had aspirations of founding a rock band. Later, as a classically trained musician, he was responsible for the musical arrangements of a Swedish stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, and he played John Lennon in a short-lived show about The Beatles. In 1978, he performed in the Swedish movie Bluff Stop. But nothing worked for him, and he had become a virtual has-been by his twenties.  When he was thirty, he acted in King of Smugglers (Denmark/Sweden) and five years after in Lucifer-Indian Summer: Yellow and Black (Norway). However, both movies failed to make a universal impact. Tragedy has trailed him. He lost one of his children and as a result, his happy marriage broke up, though he has been reunited with his wife and daughter.

“Now entering his fifties, his face has appeared again on the cover page of ‘The Real Tadzio: Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and the Boy Who Inspire’ – a book by Gilbert Adair. His face is also on the front cover of ‘The Boy’ by Germaine Greer. Perhaps it takes a beautiful person in this cosmetic world to offer a cautionary tale to those who seek eternal youth and good looks…  ”One of the diseases of the world is that we associate beauty with youth,” said Björn. “We are wrong. The eyes and the face are the window of the soul and these become more beautiful with the age and pain that life brings. True ugliness comes only from having a black heart”.

Shelley Xie | Beijing Today, 26.08.2005 | [http://bjtoday.ynet.com/] [Nella foto: Björn Andrésen] 

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Prince and Bear, Collies Extraordinaire


Prince, born 2-Nov-2015 (sable and white);  Bear, born 25-Jan 2016 (tri-color)



13240144_10209576385996410_8199786013913883364_n 15726820_10211671610135704_7162337843729589309_n

Who looks like an Ursus americanus aka American Black Bear? Our Bear!

blackbearusfw5 15723477_10211671610295708_159076516980471957_o

“Used Dog” or Second-Hand Puppy, much cheaper than a brand-new Collie 🙂 We adopted Bear and drove an 8-hour trip one Sunday to buy him from a young couple who found him a bit much to handle. The ad:

10 month old male long-haired collie for sale! He’s in his tween phase and is beautiful! Tri-colored (black, white, and tan) with black and tan markings. He’s very smart like all collies and can be easily trained! He’s great with people and loves everyone. The reason we’re selling him is that we have our own baby on the way and can’t take care of both! Looking for a loving home and family 🙂 He is up-to-date on vaccinations and has been neutered. Please contact for info and if interested! Price includes large crate, some toys, and food/water dishes. – (The 3 photos below are theirs) – http://www.petclassifieds.us


Bear comes from a Kansas City breeder, Bailey’s Collies, with a royal lineage: “Father has 6/15 points for his champion title. Mother’s bloodline was imported from Italy and is stacked full of International Champions and some American Champions as well. Both parents are simply gorgeous with great temperaments.”

Sire: Bailey’s World Class “Onyx”; Dam: Bailey’s “Mystic Steel Blue Dandy” – I don’t even know the names of Prince’s sire and dam, and he’s neutered anyway, but I have no doubt he’s “world class.” 15622684_10211603348229199_8236806785185708033_n


15895535_10211780363414468_5103344997174130184_o 15896201_10211780363374467_2657136835235786210_o Salt and Pepper shakers15800059_10211671610255707_1601921647463368953_oCutest PawPrints – I can’t wouldn’t have believed they were real but I saw them appear and disappear one damp day.

“Puppies come with • akc micro-chip• vaccinations• health guarantee• health records• puppy food• starter kit … ” http://www.nextdaypets.com/directory/dogs/aba4952a-4721.aspx




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Brave As They Come

First draft, hand written at age 15 15073331_10211207317488678_8552780541089342823_n  Literature 9 | Mrs. Tucker | March 2, 1972


 “Brave As They Come”bJulie Benning

Gina Carr opened her eyes slowly and gasped from the smelling salts. She had just been told that her daughter, her only child, had leukemia. It was a dream, a horrible nightmare.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Carr. I tried to tell you as best I could.” Dr Johns helped her to her feet. “Will you be all right?”

“I–I think so. Doctor, are you sure you haven’t made a mistake? Is there really nothing you can do for George?”

“I only wish there was something I could do.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I know that if there was a way to help, you’d find it. Two years, when she’s just begun to live! It’s so unfair!”

“Cancer doesn’t play fair.”

“Don’t tell her Doctor, please!”

“She’ll have to be told sometime, you know. The sooner the better.”

“I know. Goodbye. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

“I’m truly sorry, Gina,” he said, walking her to the door.

* * *

George Melissa Carr looked up thoughtfully from her book. She was a lot like this girl. They both had red hair, brown eyes, and a silly name. Wonder what Dr. Johns will say’s the matter with me? Probably nothing. Mom’s such a worrier anyway. There she was now.

“Hi Mom,” she called, sliding down the banister. “Nothing wrong with me, I’ll bet.”

How Gina longed to say no! Instead she said, “Well, nothing really serious. Just something about your blood not having enough red cells. You’ll have to be treated about every three weeks.”

“Will it keep me from sports?” One of George’s main interests was sports. “I have to be in that swim meet Sunday.”

“No, but you’ll have to take it easy a while.” Gina felt terrible telling these lies, but how could she mar George’s happiness?

George looked relieved. “As long as I can stay in sports that’s not too bad really. Mom? Are you okay?”

Mrs. Carr looked rather pale.

“Just a little headache.” She pointed at George’s jacket. “Put this away, will you?”

“Sure. Hey! I have to go uptown. All right with you?”

“Go right ahead, dear.”

George flew down the street and to the police station. She sat down and quickly combed her long, curly locks. As far as she could tell, she’d passed.

“Captain Williams will see George Carr now.” A young officer smiled over her, then looked surprised as she got up. “You’re George Carr?” I thought–”

“I know. My name is just plain George, not short for Georgette or Georgia, either. My father wanted a boy and got stuck with me. Okay?”

He grinned sheepishly. “George.” He shook his head. “Silly name for a girl.”

When she walked into the captain’s office she had to tell the same story.

“Well, well,” the captain said with a chuckle. “About your application. Sure you want to take it? It’s very dangerous most of the time. You could be murdered, even.”

“I could be murdered when I walk out of here. New York isn’t the friendliest city I’ve seen. I really want this job.”

“I’m willing to take you on. What have your parents to say?”

“I haven’t told them, but they won’t stop me. Anyway, I’m past eighteen.”

“Come in tomorrow at eight.” He stood up and shook her hand. “Welcome to the force, Miss Carr.”

“Thank you, sir.” Her voice trilled with excitement.

Wow! She thought, walking home. Me, George Carr, undercover agent for the New York Police, Precinct 950. If the kids could see me now!

As it happened, Mr. and Mrs. Carr were far from thrilled. In fact, they disapproved. Highly.

At least they consented. After all, what could they really do? She was old enough to know her own mind.

* * *

George was really happy these days. The guys at the station all loved her. She made everyone feel good with her silliness. She had an apartment all her own, to used when needed “on the wrong side of the tracks.” It wasn’t a very trustworthy part of town.

Already she had helped bring five nationally wanted criminals, numerous junkies, and petty thieves to justice. Her days had barely a moment free. Also, she had been attending Dr. Johns for treatment. Somehow, she knew she wasn’t being told everything.

The Carrs could never bring themselves to mar her happiness. They had decided they would never tell.

But today was different. George was tired of the sorrowful glances on people’s faces when they looked at her. Her mother’s eyes were often red. Bluntly she said, “Dr. Johns, what’s really wrong with me? I want the truth. Now.”

Dr. Johns looked away a moment and replied. “Your mother asked me not to tell. She said she’d do it herself.”

“Well, she hasn’t.”

He turned and faced her. “This may sound blunt, but there’s no kind way to say it. George, you have leukemia.”

“What!” Her voice was a barely audible gasp. The office reeled, and she caught the chair arm. “Leukemia? How can it be?”

“Nobody really knows.” He laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Don’t hold it against your parents for not telling you. They just couldn’t.”

A feeling of love for her parents suddenly filled her. Always, they thought of her happiness.

“I — won’t.” George was remarkably calm outside, but inside she felt choked. “How — how long have I got left?”

“A year, maybe two.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” She ran from the office and blindly to her apartment. She quite thoroughly cried herself to sleep.

* * *

The next morning, George smiled gaily as she walked into the office. She called hi to all the boys and walked into Captain Williams’ office. “Sir, are you sorry you took me on?”

He looked astounded. “Why of course not! You’re one of the most valuable people on this force. We never could have caught Scraggs without you, or half of the others. What kind of silly question is that?”

“Do you know I have leukemia?”

His eyes widened in sympathy. For once, his booming voice was gentled. “No lassie. I’m so sorry.”

“Will you release me now that you know?”

“Do you want me to?”

She shook her head.

“Then of course not. The reason I asked you int today was to ask if you could take on this case.” Carefully, he outlined a scheme to capture one of America’s most wanted men. They had a lead that he was in the city. He had a weakness for night clubs, alcohol, and women. This would be George’s most dangerous mission.

“What do you think?” the captain asked.

“I’ll do it.”

“If you slip up, it could be tragic.”

“I know, and I’ll do it.”

* * *

George was dressed in a slinky black gown that evening and looked very alluring. In her purse was a picture of Thomas Jenks, though he wasn’t hard to find. You don’t see such an ugly man often, she thought.

She walked over to his table. “Saved for anyone?”

“For you, beautiful,” he answered. Mr. Jenks was getting quite drunk. With each drink he became more talkative, and it wasn’t long before the condemning evidence was on tape.

George glanced at Howard the bartender, then nodded slightly. Surreptitiously, he slipped back to a phone. In minutes, the police were everywhere.

Jenks grabbed her arm. “Fools! You can’t get me, or I’ll kill her,” he slurred, drunkenly backing toward the door. He tripped on a chair leg and the gun went off.

With a groan, George slipped to the floor.

Jenks was handcuffed, and George remembered leaving on a stretcher.

* * *

When she awoke, her mother was bending over her, tears streaming down her face.

“Did we get him?”

“Yes. Yes, George, you did. Oh, darling, everything will be all right, and you’ll quit this job immediately.”

“No. Everything won’t be all right. I won’t have to quit, Mama. I’m going to die soon. I know about the leukemia. Thank you for, though, for trying not to spoil my happiness. It didn’t. Not really.”

She had rarely spoken of religion. “I’m not really dying, I’m just going to my father in Heaven, where there’s no pain or death. I’ll wait for you both there. I love you both so much. Please — give the boys my best. Goodbye Mama, Papa.”

A beatific smile crossed her face, and her eyes closed.

“Brave as they come,” Mr. Carr murmured, and they bent their heads in grief.


Teacher’s note: “An excellent story. Kept the reader’s interest every minute.” Grade: A


Julie sharply criticized not just the death penalty, but life imprisonment. In a May 8, 1975, high school newspaper editorial, she wrote:

“Murder is a horrible crime to commit and, of course the offender must be punished, but does that mean he should rot in prison until he dies? I don’t think so . . . nor do I think any person has the right to say someone should never be let out of prison, or give them the death penalty.” She urged her readers to “Put yourself in their shoes — the convicts are still humans, too. I hope people will be willing to help them and lend support in convicts’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves.”

Six months later, the “opinionated,” outspoken, and often censored teenager was murdered, three weeks before her 19th birthday. Drug traffickers in small-town Waverly, IA, are the primary suspects. Local police officers launched a smear campaign loaded with red herrings, rumors, character assassinations, and cover-ups.

6-member strike force to aid agencies in rural drug-busting By David Yepsen and Paul Leavitt  Oct. 12, 1975  5A

Saying “all indications are that there is an increasing drug problem, especially in the rural areas” of Iowa, the state director of narcotics and drug enforcement announced last week the formation of a six-member “strike force” to aid local  law enforcement agencies in rural drug-busting efforts. The agents will work out of offices in six Iowa cities: Sioux City, Council Bluffs. Des Moines, Mason City, Burlington and Davenport to provide, them easy access to rural areas. G. Hank Mayer, the director of the narcotics unit, said the agency recently obtained a $225,000 grant from the Iowa Crime Commission to finance the force.

Julie Benning with boulder-sized rock Iowa Cold Cases Jody Ewing says December 13, 2014 at 12:54 am   Julie was such a beautiful and talented young woman, and I’m certain there are still people out there who know exactly who’s responsible. They may hide (sometimes in plain sight), but at least we can serve as a regular reminder that these victims’ lives will not be forgotten and their unsolved cases won’t eventually just “quietly go away.” For many of these killers, the day will come when they get that dreaded knock on the door. I like to think of the wall plaque that hung on Warden Norton’s office wall (from Shawshank Redemption) proclaiming, “His judgment cometh, and that right soon.” The one(s) who “cometh,” however, will be bearing handcuffs and an arrest warrant. 

For more details click on Jody Ewing’s “Iowa Cold Cases” website. Thousands of unpaid hours of volunteer work on hundreds of unsolved Iowa murders have kept Jody too busy to get her own novels polished and published, but watch out – Jody is a writer of immense talent, passion, and story telling skill. Give her time, and Jody will deliver the sad, sordid truth hidden in these mysterious tragedies, all in the guise of fiction.
14955970_10211213833251568_6709528471570821599_nSome of Julie’s favorites – she was an avid reader and writer

1743699_10203349826176306_1226420212_n  222895_1927515181741_3251896_n[1]

Case # 76-00382 – Homicide

Julia “Julie” Ann Benning age 18
Disappeared From: Waverly, IA | Bremer County | Body Found in: Shell Rock, IA
Butler County
Investigating Agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation and
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
Date of Death: November 28, 1975 | Body Recovered: March 18, 1976

Like roadside trash, her body was disposed of in a culvert, under a gravel road like the one shown here, a mere six miles from home. Spring rains washed her out into a ditch, where a road grader operator spotted a muddy body stripped of all clothing and all dignity.1393501_10202177797116312_397306530_nHere, a gravel road Julie walked; here, the lone nephew and three of the seven nieces she never met. Life goes on. Julie lives on in our memories but it’s like the epitaph for a WWI soldier at the cemetery where Julie is buried:

 A loved one from us has gone,

A voice we loved is stilled;

An empty place is in our homes

That never can be filled.




HOW YOU CAN HELP: Anyone with information about Julia Benning’s unsolved murder is asked to contact contact Special Agent Jon Moeller at the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 712-258-1920. “Gone Cold,” a series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders, the Des Moines Register


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Flood, Famine, Mystery and “Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilizations” by Roger G. Kennedy

Most people do not know that for 5000 years, until as recently as the 18th century, the Ohio and Mississippi valleys were home to well organized, highly advanced civilizations.

Massive Mississippi Floods may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of the Cahokia civilization near St. Louis. Pictured: This is a modeled map of Cahokia and present-day St. Louis after the historic 1844 flood of the Mississippi River.  Sediment samples beneath two lakes in the Mississippi floodplain, Horseshoe Lake and Grassy Lake, show at least eight major flood events in the central Mississippi River valley. This may finally help explain the mysterious decline of Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis.The city rose to fame during a relatively arid and flood-free period and flourished in the years before a major flood in 1200, according to the study. But just 200 years later, Cahokia was completely abandoned.

American Indians built huge geometrical structures to precisely related dimensions across distances of hundreds of miles. They lived in cities such as Balbansha, near present-day New Orleans, that were filled with carefully planned buildings, plazas, and streets. And they walked on highways like the Great Hope Road, a causeway for religious pilgrims that was begun in the 13th century.  In describing their discovery by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers, this book holds a mirror to distant and recent ancestors, as well as to deeply ingrained misconceptions about the past of the American continent. Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilizations by Roger G. Kennedy  Publisher: Free Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (July 1, 1994)

From Library Journal

Kennedy, an architectural historian and director of the National Park Service, examines how certain of the Founding Fathers-particularly Washington, Jefferson, and Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin-set out to create a nation free from the prejudices and superstitions of Europe and how they became aware that they missed a great opportunity in the West. He uses their reactions to the mound architecture of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys as the filter for their views on the status of Native Americans and blacks. He also reviews the rationales others used in explaining away the mounds and considers why the mounds were built in the first place. Solidly grounded in archaeological and historical sources, this book requires some effort on the part of the reader to follow Kennedy’s argument; it will be most useful to those already well versed in early American history and archaeology. Recom-mended for specialists.
Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Kennedy, director of the National Park Service, does better in exposing the prejudices of whites who came across the monuments of prehistoric America than in elucidating the mysteries embodied in these New World Stonehenges. An estimated 30 million Native Americans died of European or African diseases during the century following the conquistadors’ appearance in the Western Hemisphere. They left behind significant traces of sophisticated cities, roads, and burial grounds in Memphis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and elsewhere in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. Later explorers and soldiers beheld these relics–which included bits of antiquities, earthen mounds and various geometrical shapes carved into the landscape–with wonder, confusion, and obtuseness. Kennedy (Rediscovering America, 1990, etc.) perceptively analyzes how attempts to preserve and interpret Native American arts and architecture often foundered on the ingrained prejudices of even supposedly enlightened whites. (Thomas Jefferson, for example, was slow to shed his belief that Indians were incapable of architectural achievement.) Jeffersonians and Jacksonians found it easier to deprive Native Americans of land if they could deny that the Indians had a culture worth saving. They failed to follow the lead of such respectful figures as Jefferson’s Treasury secretary, Albert Gallatin, described by Kennedy as “the first American statesman to employ the evidence of ancient American architecture to justify exertions to redeem the Republic from racial prejudice.” The American mania for development, combined with dismissive scholarship that credited Indian achievements to fair-skinned “Welshmen” who supposedly discovered North America in the Middle Ages, led to a cavalier attitude toward Native American artifacts. By 1948, 90% of the earthen Indian architecture noted in a Smithsonian report 100 years earlier had been lost. Best read as an exploration of colliding cultures rather than an examination of the riddles left behind by Native American builders. — Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Being hateful in the name of combating hate is not effective ~ Craig A. Hart

Who said it best, when everyone was saying what they thought of the 2016 Presidential election?  0bhbad0-_400x400 A novelist, of course!

Craig Hart posted today on Facebook:

Hillary supporters –

Listen. I support you, okay? I understand your pain, your fear, your bitter disappointment. But we need to have a talk. You need to stop pretending that everyone who opposed you is a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, or any of the other insulting labels you lob indiscriminately. Parading under the banner of tolerance does not give you the right to be intolerant. If you think everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot or an idiot, you live in an echo chamber of dangerously massive proportions. This is the same echo chamber that made you think Clinton was going to win over 400 electoral votes and 60% of the popular vote (which was never a real possibility). This is the same echo chamber that made you believe all bad things about your political opponent and dismiss all the bad things about your chosen candidate (they are both deeply flawed). This is the same echo chamber that is giving rise to the democratically illegitimate push to overthrow the Electoral College. And it is the same echo chamber that will lead to more defeat if you don’t…just…stop it.

Trump did not win the election because half of the country hates blacks, women, and gays. Trump won because a huge portion of the country felt ignored and left behind. They felt—and are feeling—real pain. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have large populations of people who have experienced real pain over the last twenty-five years. I’m from Michigan; I saw it happen. When my parents first moved to Michigan, it was still booming. Then began the Great Decline. Michael Moore’s film Roger & Me does an excellent job laying this out. And similar things happened throughout the Rust Belt. So tell me: did Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin—all of which voted for Obama twice—suddenly become full of racists and bigots? You know they didn’t. What they are full of, however, are lower-middle class people who are fucking tired of being ignored by Washington, D.C., and having elite politicians make destructive rules from which they themselves are exempt. It’s why Bernie Sanders won Michigan in a stunning primary victory. Clinton should have seen this coming, being one of these elites.

Are there unsavory people who voted for Trump? Certainly. And there are scary people who voted for Clinton. Bad, violent people are doing bad, violent things on both sides. There are reports of Trump supporters harassing gays and blacks. There are reports of Clinton supporters beating up Trump supporters. It Must Stop. However, exit polling data supports the fact that the vast majority of people who voted for either candidate just want their country to be a better place for themselves and their children. So, please: go ahead and disagree and exercise your rights. But don’t think that being hateful in the name of combating hate is an effective or excusable strategy. You are certainly welcome to continue opposing Trump. (Although I personally think it would be better to just begin the healing process.) But stop shaming the people. Okay? Just stop it. You’re embarrassing me.

– Your loving buddy

Bravo! Well said, Craig!

Craig and I met via Twitter…

#Writer, stay-at-home dad, author of the Shelby Alexander #Thriller Series #BookReviewer http://bit.ly/2ejaz2d  craigahart.com

…then face to face at a book signing. He’s even sweeter in person.(Yes, ironically, it’s possible for the author of a brutal crime thriller to be sweet.)

Check out his author page:

The Girl Who Read Hemingway is a collection of ten short fiction pieces. 51fa2sk6zwl In “The Diner,” it is a dark, rainy night and a strange man lingers at a cafe. “Route 9” introduces us to an aging writer with one last shot at success, while “Motel” tells the tale of a couple hiding in an abandoned motel. “A Paragraph on Love” relates the desperate thoughts of a lonely man reflecting on his obsession with a woman, and two lifelong friends go fishing in “The Lake” for the last time. These and other stories explore the bleaker side of humanity and take an unflinching look at the darkness hiding inside of us all.

Serenity (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 1) by Craig A. Hart

“Serenity” is anything but serene, as small towns and novels go. I had to man up and get past the young woman dying in the cold, in the opening pages:

A woman dies in his arms…a drug dealer offers him $10,000…a gunman is determined to kill him. And then everything goes to hell.

Shelby Alexander is an aging ex-boxer and retired fixer, whose activities often flirted with the wrong side of the law. Looking for a little peace and a slower pace of life, he moved to Serenity, the small Michigan town where he grew up. But trouble follows men like Shelby, and he finds himself embroiled in an underworld of drugs and violence that may prove to be his undoing. The first book in the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity is an action-packed read with a lovingly rendered cast, witty dialogue, and a main character who doesn’t know when to quit.

Even in a small town called Serenity, a “fixer” can’t escape his calling to tackle crime VINE VOICE on October 25, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

“Serenity” opens with a woman lying in the snow like a pile of old rags, quite the morning surprise for Alexander Shelby, a 60-year-old former boxer and “fixer” who finds Jenny Ellis dying on his property. She dies before anyone can get her to talk – not that the local law enforcement would have questioned her, anyway. Jenny was “mental.” She wandered off, got lost, and froze to death. Case closed.

Not for Jenny’s brother Harlan, one of many Ellis family members, who are at once a fixture of the community and a sort of community menace. Harlan offers Shelby $10,000 to play private eye and find out what really happened to Jenny. Shelby gets shot at by a would-be assassin who can’t hit a target. Bullets continue to fly and more people die before Jenny’s story is uncovered.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been a fan of this genre. When authors ask me to read their thrillers, I warn them I make no promises of getting past chapter one, given my squeamishness about crime fiction. Most people do not know my sister was murdered in 1975 at almost-19, and a less than a year later, a journalism major (same town) was murdered, and all these years later, both cases are as cold as the bodies left like roadside trash.

Hart’s story is compelling, and even if it should seem like the same old, same old, it’s like Willa Cather said: “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

If you love whodunnits and crime fiction, “Serenity” will not disappoint.

Becoming Moon by Craig A. Hart  Becoming Moon  “Written in a direct, cut-to-the-bone style, Becoming Moon drills deep into the turbulent mind of the writer at the center of the story as he grapples with a conservative upbringing, a successful career on the decline, and the very threat of facing his own existence. Hart exposes raw human emotion in all its glory, cringe-worthy and unsettling, which is a rare virtue today.” – Alex Schumacher, writer

  • Featured on NPR affiliate WNIJ’s Winter Book Series
  • Kindle Scout Winner
  • Readers’ Choice 5 Star Award Winner
  • Selected as Best Novel by Pinnacle Book Awards 

    From the Author

    Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
    A. I knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. When I was in my early teens, my mother would pay me five dollars for every little book I hammered out on our old word processor.
    Q. Why do you write?
    A. It is an addiction for which I have never sought treatment. I cannot imagine life without writing, in fact, and losing that ability has been my worst fear for the past twenty years.
    Q. What draws you to this genre?
    A. Literary fiction tends to go deeper into the human psyche than many genres. It examines character and grapples with the human condition like few others.
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New Bookcafe in Chicago: Entrepreneurial Sisters Are Living a Dream @volumesbooks

Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park is impossible for me to walk by.Though carrying groceries (raw chicken!) I had to pop in.

14992010_10211079528774040_4672625725727456933_nI reviewed an ARC of Hag-Seed for NetGalley before it hit the bookstores. Cool to see it on display!

Postcards, handwritten and signed by employees, give a quick synopsis of new books. What a concept! 14956652_10211080202950894_7964835073065737691_nIt’s the personal touch that makes Indie book stores so much fun. Add coffee and baked goods, and I could stay all day. Better yet, I’d start my own book cafe. For years I’d thought of doing it myself, but the perfect venue flunked the Location Location Location test. I’m no business entrepreneur, but a lot of young people are, these days.

Two sisters, having lived in Chicago neighborhoods for years, dreamed of creating a store that would complement existing niche bookstores. Rebecca and Kimberly had book-related careers in academia but dreamed of bringing their passion for learning and reading into the community at large. Now they’re living the dream.

nanowrimopicecca   Erin

They’re even hosting NaNoWriMo: Every day a new writer and a new chapter! Check back daily for the newest installment! Once the month is over, look forward to a printed copy and a party in the new year!

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

If my sister Julie were still here (she’d be sixty this year, not frozen in time at almost 19), she’d have been my writer-reader soul mate. Ah, Julie! Maybe there’s such a thing as life after death, and spirits guiding the living, and maybe you led me to this book cafe.


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