Friday, February 5, 2010

The Gifted Cat is Able to Detect Near Dead Someone

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401323235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323233
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
Oscar is one of several cats who live at Steere House nursing home. All of these cats provide companionship and love for the residents, but only Oscar has the special talent of being able to sense when people are nearing the end of their lives. The nurses were the first ones to figure it out as they noticed how frequently he showed up just at the right time.

No one knows how he does it, but when he detects that someone is near dying, he takes up residence on their bed and usually stays until the funeral director comes to collect the body. During this time, he also offers comfort to the family who are there to be with their loved one during this transition. When there's no one to sit with the patient, Oscar maintains a solitary vigil. No one dies alone on Oscar's watch.

People who love their pets probably won't question Oscar's abilities, but one of the doctors who works there was a bit of a skeptic. This book is the result of his interviews with family members and staff who shared their experiences with him. Over and over they told Dr. Doza how much the gift of Oscar's presence had meant to them during a very difficult time. Most people who have cats know the comfort they can bring when they curl up next to you in bed and share their warmth. It's as if Oscar's being there normalizes the events and removes some of the fears.

All of the patients on Oscar's floor are in the final stages of dementia, usually due to Alzheimer's. Experience and research have shown that two things are often able to break through the haze that envelops them - music and animals. In the process of telling Oscar's story, Dr. Doza also gives us insight into this very scary disease. If raising a child is about watching them learn skills, living with an Alzheimer's patient is the opposite - they are slowly unlearning them. Each loss is a form of good-bye. While this book doesn't make the disease any less scary, it does offer comfort and hope for those affected by it.

We may never know just how it works - how Oscars knows just the right time to show up. Maybe all we really need to know is just that he does. (M&M, customer review of

For Further Info:

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat

Thursday, February 4, 2010

French Cooking Easy Tips - 524 Recipe

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 13th Printing edition (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375413405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413407
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.5 x 1.7 inches

This is the classic cookbook, in its entirety—all 524 recipes. “Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for more than forty years, has been teaching Americans how.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking -- as review, is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This beautiful book, with more than 100 instructive illustrations, is revolutionary in its approach because:
• it leads the cook infallibly from the buying and handling of raw ingredients, through each essential step of a recipe, to the final creation of a delicate confection;

• it breaks down the classic cuisine into a logical sequence of themes and variations rather than presenting an endless and diffuse catalogue of recipes; the focus is on key recipes that form the backbone of French cookery and lend themselves to an infinite number of elaborations—bound to increase anyone’s culinary repertoire;

• it adapts classical techniques, wherever possible, to modern American conveniences;

• it shows Americans how to buy products, from any supermarket in the United States, that reproduce the exact taste and texture of the French ingredients, for example, equivalent meat cuts, the right beans for a cassoulet, or the appropriate fish and seafood for a bouillabaisse;

• it offers suggestions for just the right accompaniment to each dish, including proper wines. Since there has never been a book as instructive and as workable as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the techniques learned here can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely more usable. In compiling the secrets of famous cordons bleus, the authors have produced a magnificent volume that is sure to find the place of honor in every kitchen in America. Bon app├ętit!

For Further Info:
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061583251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061583254
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
This book is part memoir, part thinking person's self-help book. I like the fact that it draws not only on recent research in the new field of positive psychology, such as the work of Martin Seligman, but on the wisdom of thinkers as disparate as Samuel Butler and the ancient Stoic philosopher, Seneca.

Many wonderful and wise quotations are included in the text. Gretchen Rubin has done a lot of research and reading, and distilled it all here, attempting to answer some vital questions. Is it possible to become a happier person? Is happiness a meaningful and worthwhile goal? She comes to the conclusion that while we may have a happiness set point, and a great deal of our mood is--researchers believe-- determined by heredity (50% or so), to some degree it is under own control (perhaps 30%). It may seem that someone who is not suffering from a painful mood disorder should be focused on other (more worthwhile?) goals than mood elevation. But happiness, after all, is something just about every human being wants, the goal that motivates much of our day to day striving. And rather than suggesting a life of self-centered hedonism, research indicates that the very factors that make for a meaningful life--good relationships, acting in a loving and generous way, engaging creatively with the world--contribute to happiness.

Will revamping your life and taking a systematic approach to seeking happiness work? Research indicates that it may. "I really am happier," says Rubin after a year of following through on her own personal happiness plan. She goes into enough specific detail here about how she got to her more happy state that I have no trouble believing her.

Very responsibly, Rubin points out that her intent is to help people who are well become happier, not to treat a medical condition, i.e., depression. I can imagine her book, however, being an aid for those who are mildly depressed, perhaps as an adjunct to medical treatment, though perhaps they need to be a bit easy on themselves and not follow the plan in a perfectionist, pressured way.

I'm with Rubin when she says that even though we are all very different, learning about someone else's successes and failures can be a better catalyst for change than studying ideas in the abstract. She is generous about revealing the details of her own life--her own "happiness project." What is most transferable is not the specifics--particular actions she decided to experiment with in order to become more happy--but the idea of identifying potential sources of joy, designing steps to take to become happier, making monthly resolutions, carrying through and being accountable--i.e., quantifying the results. The average reader is not going to be as thorough and focused as Rubin was--but in my view that does not negate the value of this book. I'm into progress, I guess, and I believe that even a couple of changes modeled on the plan could make a difference in people's lives.

The book is written in an open, engaging, often humorous style. There is no posturing--Rubin is if anything self-deprecating-- but the writing crackles with intelligence. I found the THE HAPPINESS PROJECT a pleasure to read, and I can imagine people reading it with enjoyment even if they are already happy as clams and have no desire to get with the program. Rubin includes a specific guide for those who want to construct their own happiness plans, and also directs the reader to tools on her web site--nice helpful touches. All in all, a terrific book.(Phyllis T. Smith, costumer of amazon)

Further Info:
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun ~ Gretchen Rubin :

Guidance Manual For Writer, Editors, Students, Educators in Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: American Psychological Association (APA); 6th edition (July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433805618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433805615
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.9 x 0.6 inches
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, and educators in the social and behavioral sciences. It provides invaluable guidance on all aspects of the writing process, from the ethics of authorship to the word choice that best reduces bias in language.

Well-known for its authoritative and easy-to-use reference and citation system, the Publication Manual also offers guidance on choosing the headings, tables, figures, and tone that will result in strong, simple, and elegant scientific communication.

The sixth edition offers new and expanded instruction on publication ethics, statistics, journal article reporting standards, electronic reference formats, and the construction of tables and figures. The sixth edition has been revised and updated to include: new ethics guidance on such topics as determining authorship and terms of collaboration, duplicate publication, plagiarism and self-plagiarism, disguising of participants, validity of instrumentation, and making data available to others for verification; new journal article reporting standards to help readers report empirical research with clarity and precision; simplified APA heading style to make it more conducive to electronic publication; updated guidelines for reducing bias in language to reflect current practices and preferences, including a new section on presenting historical language that is inappropriate by present standards; new guidelines for reporting inferential statistics and a significantly revised table of statistical abbreviations; and, new instruction on using supplemental files containing lengthy data sets and other media.

This book includes significantly expanded content on the electronic presentation of data to help readers understand the purpose of each kind of display and choose the best match for communicating the results of the investigation, with new examples for a variety of data displays, including electro physiological and biological data. It offers consolidated information on all aspects of reference citations, with an expanded discussion of electronic sources emphasizing the role of the digital object identifier (DOI) as a reliable way to locate information. It features expanded discussion of the publication process, including the function and process of peer review. It contains a discussion of ethical, legal, and policy requirements in publication; and guidelines on working with the publisher while the article is in press.

Key to this edition of the Publication Manual is an updated and expanded Web presence. Look up additional supplemental material keyed to this book. This book lets you test your knowledge of APA Style with a free tutorial on style basics. It lets you learn about the changes in the sixth edition with a free tutorial reviewing key revisions. Sign up for an on-line course to enrich and enhance your understanding of APA Style. Read the APA Style blog and share your comments on writing and referencing. Consult frequently asked questions to sharpen your understanding of APA Style. This title lets you examine additional resources on such topics as ethics, statistics, and writing. It lets you familiarize yourself with submission standards for APA books and journals. (source: product description of editorial review Amazon)

Costumers Review:
I just received my copy. As a psychology professor, this text is required for my bookshelf--the same is true for students in this field. However, I was upset to learn that APA has already issued 7 typewritten pages of corrections to this manual, and they will not exchange the first printing for a newer print. This is a resource that you will use for years! Wait to purchase until the kinks have been ironed out and they are on a second or third printing of the manual! I am also disappointed that they do not clearly delineate the changes from the 5th edition. It looks to me that there are few important changes (2 spaces between sentences, etc.). Save your money for at least a few more months! (Josie Wags)

Easier to read with a lot less pages. The 6th edition is a mere 272 pages vs. a whopping 439 pages in the 5th edition. This improves its portability and lap-use. ( I never could understand why a book that insists on 1 inch margins all around used 1.5 inch margin on the outer margins and left so much wasted unused space on the pages).

Material has been streamlined to reflect more of the electronic resources currently being used and the more obscure material has been consolidated. The newly added chapters on ethics, the publication process and journal article reporting standards are quite helpful. Some reviewers complained about the elimination of the chapters on writing for publication. Since each journal has it's own specific criteria for manuscript submission, I don't consider this a huge loss. Still has lots of sample for various references (and even includes video blog sources like you-tube) and information on how to display data results (Including radiologic and imaging data like MRI images)

So glad I bought the newest version, especially since it's currently half the price of the old version and a lot more user friendly and up to date. If you required to use the APA style, I strongly suggest buying this book. (jessica farrone)

Further Info:
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, True Story about Idealism and Faith in Science

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052172
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks brings to mind the work of Philip K. Dick and Edgar Allan Poe. But this tale is true. Rebecca Skloot explores the racism and greed, the idealism and faith in science that helped to save thousands of lives but nearly destroyed a family. This is an extraordinary book, haunting and beautifully told.”—ERIC SCHLOSSER, author of Fast Food Nation  

Equal parts history, psychological drama, expose and character study, Rebecca Skloot's gripping debut is a deeply affecting tour de force that effortlessly bridges the gap between science and the mainstream.

Her subject is the multilayered drama behind one of the most important--and in many ways, problematic--advances of modern medicine. Captivated by the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells (dubbed HeLa) were the first immortalized cells grown in culture and became ubiquitous in laboratories around the world, Skloot set out to learn more about the person whose unwitting "donation" of the cells transformed biomedical research in the last century. Her research ultimately spanned a decade and found her navigating (and to some extent, mediating) more than 50 years of rage over the white scientific establishment's cavalier mistreatment and exploitation of the poor, especially African Americans.

Skloot deftly weaves together an account of Lacks's short life (she died at age 31) and torturous death from an extremely aggressive form of cancer; the parallel narrative concerning her cells; and the sometimes harrowing, sometimes amusing chronicle of Skloots's own interactions with Lacks's surviving (and initially hostile and uncooperative) family members. Moving comfortably back and forth in time, the richly textured story that emerges brings into stark relief the human cost of scientific progress and leaves the reader grappling with many unanswered questions about the ethics of the scientific endeavor, past and present. While the goals of biomedical research may be noble, how they are achieved is not always honorable, particularly where commercialization of new technologies is at stake. Skloot offers a clear-eyed perspective, highlighting the brutal irony of a family whose matriarch was a pivotal figure in everything from the development of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine to AIDS research to cancer drugs, yet cannot afford the very medical care their mother's cells helped facilitate, with predictable consequences.

The LA Times book review section named Skloot one of its four "Faces to Watch in 2010," an honor that, based on "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is well-deserved.(Daffy Du, Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program)

For Further Info: 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Hindu Javanese Tengger and Islam Indonesia: Robert W. Heffner Perspectives

by Alpha Savitri

I am Javanese and often visit Bromo Mountain and the Kampoong of Tengger people. I think, Robert W. Heffner gives worthly contribution for myself and others to know well who is Tengger People, how about the history and how about their culture. Heffner also explains how Tenggerese maintains their tradition in the modern era, how Tenggerese live among different religion people especially the Islam. The last is most interesting topic for me.

Tenggerese are the descendants of the Majapahit princes. Their population of roughly 600,000 is centered in thirty villages in the isolated Tengger mountains (Mount Bromo) within the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East-Central Java.

Some Tengger people believe that they are directly descended from the Majapahit Kingdom, with the name of their tribe having its origin in the legend of legendary Majapahit nobles Roro Anteng and Joko Seger. The legend says that Joko, a young man of the Brahmana priestly caste, and Roro, a lady from a noble family during the reign of the Brawijaya dynasty, got married and opened up a settlement in Tengger area.

The Tenggerese generally profess Hinduism as their religion, although they have incorporated many Buddhist and Animist elements. Like the Balinese, they worship Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (Roughly "Big Almighty Lord") for blessings in addition to other Hindu and Buddhist gods that include the Tri Murti, namely Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu and Buddha. (A. SAVITRI)

How Experts Say About The Book?

The most important study of Javanese religion since Clifford Geertz's Religion of Java (1960). An ethnographically rich and historically detailed portrait of the last Hindu enclave in Muslim Java, Hefner's work is also a compelling account of the symbolic processes involved in religious conversion. . . . This is a brilliant study which is certain to appeal to readers concerned with post-structuralist theory as well as specialists in Asian Studies, Hinduism, and Islam. (Choice )

Elegantly written, convincingly argued, and painstakingly researched, this study of a Javanese mountain people is the most paradigmatic work in the anthropology of religion to appear since Nuer Religion. (E. Valentine Daniel Religious Studies Review )

[T]he description of ritual, the priestly role, and prayer in the contemporary setting is careful, subtle and original. The challenges from and reactions to Islam are well delineated.
(R. H. Barnes Times Literary Supplement

Hindu Javanese: Tengger Tradition and Islam

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Help: Kathryn Stockett

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; 1 edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155345
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.9 x 1.7 inches
Southern whites' guilt for not expressing gratitude to the black maids who raised them threatens to become a familiar refrain. But don't tell Kathryn Stockett because her first novel is a nuanced variation on the theme that strikes every note with authenticity. In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, she spins a story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.

Newly graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in English but neither an engagement ring nor a steady boyfriend, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan returns to her parents' cotton farm in Jackson. Although it's 1962, during the early years of the civil rights movement, she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town.

Skeeter is in some ways an outsider. Her friends, bridge partners and fellow members of the Junior League are married. Most subscribe to the racist attitudes of the era, mistreating and despising the black maids whom they count on to raise their children. Skeeter is not racist, but she is naive and unwittingly patronizing. When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the "help" to use the toilets in their employers' houses, she decides to write a book in which the community's maids -- their names disguised -- talk about their experiences.

Fear of discovery and retribution at first keep the maids from complying, but a stalwart woman named Aibileen, who has raised and nurtured 17 white children, and her friend Minny, who keeps losing jobs because she talks back when insulted and abused, sign on with Skeeter's risky project, and eventually 10 others follow.

Aibileen and Minny share the narration with Skeeter, and one of Stockett's accomplishments is reproducing African American vernacular and racy humor without resorting to stilted dialogue. She unsparingly delineates the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War.

The murders of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. are seen through African American eyes, but go largely unobserved by the white community. Meanwhile, a room "full of cake-eating, Tab-drinking, cigarette-smoking women" pretentiously plan a fundraiser for the "Poor Starving Children of Africa." In general, Stockett doesn't sledgehammer her ironies, though she skirts caricature with a "white trash" woman who has married into an old Jackson family. Yet even this character is portrayed with the compassion and humor that keep the novel levitating above its serious theme. (Source Review: The Washington Post's Book World/ Reviewed by Sybil Steinberg)

For Further Info: