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Archive for the ‘Self-Help Study Guide’ Category

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Defender of the Texas Frontier is a work of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century America, which was penned by author David R. Gross. As the title suggests, this Texas-based novel focuses on the exploits of the Texas Rangers, who defended the ordinary people from raids by Comanches and bandits from the Mexican badlands. At the center of this group is real-life soldier John Coffey Hays, known as Jack, who joined the Rangers at a very young age and rose amongst the ranks until he became a fearless and admired captain. The novel follows Jack Hays’s exploits and supposes his psychological journey, and why he became such a pivotal figure in Texas history.

Mixing fact with fiction is done in such a skillful way by author David R. Gross that non-fiction fans are still sure to enjoy this retelling of Captain Hays and his rise to fame and reputation. I enjoyed the peppering of the text with authentic and well-researched history, but there are also moments when the author allows himself to play, especially with the younger Jack in his formative days amongst the Rangers. Military buffs are sure to enjoy the many defensive exploits which are recounted, and the camaraderie amongst Hays’s men, who would later go on to be reputable heroes and leaders in their own right. Overall, Gross has produced an immersive and interactive history novel which stays true to life but also heightens the action. Defender of the Texas Frontier is a recommended read for all history and western novel fans.

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David R. Gross

Defender of the Texas Frontier: A Historical Novel

iUniverse, 242 pages, (paperback) $13.99, 9781532071560(Reviewed: August, 2019)

Review by Blueink reviews:

John Coffey (“Jack”) Hays was the most famous and charismatic of the Texas Rangersduring his tenure in the mid-1800s. In this meticulously researched novel, David R.Gross brings Hays’s story to life as narrated by his best friend, John Caperton andvarious other friends and enemies of the heroic lawman.

At 19 years old, Jack and John leave their homes in Tennessee and arrive in Nacogdoches, where Jack begins to establish his reputation by killing the town bully in self-defense at the local saloon. The bully is the first of many to meet their maker shortlyafter making Jack’s acquaintance.

This is a violent time in Texas, as settlers advance on lands previously held by the Comanche and/or the Mexican government. After joining a group under the command of respected leader “Deaf” Smith, Jack quickly rises through the ranks to captain, thencolonel, of what became known as the Texas Rangers.

By copying the tactics and violent cruelty of the Indians and Mexican military, Jack and his men are successful in wiping out many threats to the encroaching settlers. One ofthe amazing facts the author discloses is how Jack’s troop kept being disbanded because of insufficient funding; yet, when they were needed, the same men who hadn’tbeen paid before came back repeatedly, just to serve with Hays.

Some of Hays’s and his Texas Rangers’ exploits in this episodic novel are so similar that they border on repetitious. However, such similarities merely emphasize Hays’s remarkable career and make one wonder how he possibly survived. Gross doesn’tmince words when describing the atrocities Jack and his men visited on their enemies,and some will be shocked that the “good guys” were every bit as sadistic and vicious asthe Comanche warriors and Mexican army.

In all, Defender of the Texas Frontier is a fascinating window into a little-understoodperiod in America’s past, as well as an absorbing story about one hero’s westward expansion.

Also available as an ebook.

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Fifty years ago, this was our favorite restaurant in all of Mexico. It’s located in Cuernavaca. So, we took another bus trip, a little over two hours from our apartment, by Uber, to the bus terminal in the south of Mexico City, then by another very comfortable bus about an hour and a half, to Cuernavaca. There was a different movie shown on the bus going and returning. Here is the exterior of the inn as it looks today:

My sons loved the place because they could get close to all the tame birds wandering free in the garden. That hasn’t changed. Here is a view of the outside patio seating for the restaurant, under the green umbrellas, as seen from the garden. That’s a white peacock in the grass.

Then there are the birds:

 

 

 

 

 

The meal was as good as I remember it, and the service first rate. I told the head waiter, who couldn’t have been more than forty years old, that we had eaten there fifty years ago. His response was; “Don’t wait another fifty years.” This sign is a new addition since our last visit. If you click on it you should be able to read the English translation:

 

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It’s been a long time between visits. It was 1967 when I came with my wife and two sons, ages four and six, to work for one year for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. They had a project at the veterinary school of the University National Autonomous of Mexico (UNAM) and my job was to organize an ambulatory clinic service for them. My family spent a wonderful year here learning about Mexico, the language and the people, especially the people. The experience was transformational for me and, I believe, for my family. Since that time, I have not returned and the city is different, very different.

When we were here previously there were about eight million people living in Mexico City, estimates now are roughly thirty million. Much has changed, but after two full days here I believe the people are still the same. They are patient, and seem pleased that I’m trying while they struggle to understand my fracturing of their language, I don’t have the opportunity to practice much. It’s not just the servers in the restaurants, it includes people on the street. When Alexis or I have a question about a building, or something that arouses her ever curious mind they take the time to respond, in detail. I do my best to translate. They love music and have a great sense of humor, laughing at any remark I make that they perceive is a jest. Even if my Spanish is all wrong they don’t correct me, I guess that would be rude.

Yesterday we walked the short distance from our Airbnb apartment to Parque Mexico, a beautiful oasis in the Colonia Roma Norte neighborhood. Here’s a photo of the park.

In the middle of the park was an unexpected find, a well-maintained dog park of considerable size.

On the east side of the dog park a least eight or ten different pet adoption organizations had set up with displays of dogs and cats available for adoption. Puppies and kittens are hard to ignore and a considerable crowd gathered. All were seeking donations as well as trying to find homes for the animals. We emptied the coin purse that Alexis keeps for the coins, ranging from ten pesos down, that we receive in change from our cash purchases, almost always food. Each morning I go to the bakery/restaurant around the corner from our apartment where I get our breakfast para ir (to go), two cafe’con leche (coffee with milk) and two freshly baked sweet rolls. Total cost 95 pesos (less than five bucks). Take that Starbucks!

Some dogs waiting for homes.

I did notice that many of the dogs running joyfully untethered in the dog park were intact males. We saw at least one female dog in heat, her owner doing everything he could to keep all the interested males at bay.

We stopped for a glass of wine and an appetizer about five in the afternoon. Outside the extremely popular Trattoria across the street from the park, a young woman and a young man were singing opera arias, acapella, solo and duets, for tips. The woman went up onto her toes for the high notes. We gave them 50 pesos, about $2.50 for their remarkable performance. Most of the audience were passing over 20 peso notes, but one guy gave them a hundred. The currency is all different colors and easy to spot.

Each day we leave the apartment walking in a different direction, exploring the neighborhood. We have seen only one homeless person, so far. I expect they are to be found in the poorer sections of town, but maybe not. Perhaps they are taken care of, somehow. That will be my question for today’s walkabout.

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Received this review today, check it out.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/david-r-gross/animals-dont-blush/

AnimalsDontBlushCoverSide

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My dog goes ballistic from loud noises. What can I do?

Copied from January 12, 2012

Not all dogs panic when they hear loud noises and there does not seem to be any particular breed predilection for this behavior. Two separate and distinct areas of the brain are responsible for sensing then responding to loud noises. Cells that sense loud noises respond by increasing their electrical activity sending strong signals to cells in the response area of the brain. Those cells respond by conveying the information; LOUD, SCARY, DO SOMETHING! When your pet detects a loud noise, remember their hearing is significantly more acute than that of humans she/he/it cannot tune out the sound like hearing a ceiling fan, the TV or other common background noises.

The response cells process the received increase in electrical activity and send out signals that require the dog to do something. What the dog does in response to the loud noise input varies with the animal and can range from shear panic and panic behavior to a yawn and going back to sleep. What is confusing is that many dogs seem to develop the panic response in mid-life, perhaps having experienced something painful or uncomfortable associated with a loud noise. Most puppies and young dogs do not exhibit much of a response to loud noises, but there are always exceptions.

The pressing question, if you have a dog that panics at loud sounds, is what can I do about it?

When you go away put your dog inside in a safe place you have created for him/her. Many dogs will choose a room or area where they are most comfortable and where they go when unsupervised. Make certain they have free access to this area when you are gone. Encourage them to use a room with few outside windows and use blackout curtains on any windows in the room. This will dampen the noise level. Turn on an appliance that creates background noise, an air purifier, a fan, a TV, a radio tuned to classical or soothing music. This is not the time for hard rock.

Make certain the dog has a comfortable bed, hardwood floors and hard walls transmit loud sounds. I hesitate to tell you this, but it is a sign of the times. You can purchase “Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP)”. I saw it in a pet store as a plug-in that claims to be a species-specific calming scent. Can you see my eyes rolling back into my head?

If you are with your dog during Fourth of July firecracker season or a thunderstorm, try to establish a connection between them hearing a loud sound and something nice. Try to calm him with praise, feed him a special treat. Scared dogs will not eat and a dog eating something especially desired will not be scared.

If none of this works, ask your veterinarian to recommend a professional trainer or animal behaviorist who specializes in behavior modification. As a very last resort, your vet can prescribe a tranquilizer, but these work best if given before the loud stimulus so in anticipation of fireworks. Your vet may or may not approve of this use of drugs. I am hesitant in all but very severe cases where the dog is liable to hurt itself or others.

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Ernest Hemingway in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

It is early May, after a spring snow storm, Roberto and Maria are together in Roberto’s sleeping bag, outside, in the mountains of Spain.

“Then they were together so that the hand on the watch moved, unseen now, they knew that nothing could ever happen to the one that did not happen to the other, that no other thing could happen more than this; this this was all and always; this was what had been and now and whatever was to come. This, that they were not to have, they were having. They were having now and before and always and now and now and now. Oh, now, now, now, the only now, and above all now, and there is no other now but thou now and now is the prophet. Now and forever now. Come now, now, for there is no now but now. Yes, now. Now, please now, only now, not anything else only this now, and where are you and where am I and where is the other one, and not why, not ever why, only this now; and on and always please then always now, always now, for now always one now; one only one, there is no other one but one now, one, going now, rising now, sailing now, leaving now, wheeling now, soaring now, away now, all the way now, all of all the way now; one and one is one softly, is one longingly, is one kindly, is one happily, is one in goodness, is one to cherish, is one now on earth with elbows against the cut and slept on branches of the pine tree with the smell of the pine boughs and the night; to earth conclusively now, and with the morning of the day to come. Then he said, for the other was only in his head and he had said nothing, ‘Oh, Maria, I love thee and I thank thee for this.’”

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