Friday, January 31, 2014

As the glow of its tiny screen faded forever, I was gripped with both grief and fear--my beloved Blackberry had reached the end of it's life. The time had come for me to finally get a smartphone.

It was a steep learning curve. But now I can get the weather, find out where I am, take a picture, and miracle of miracles...make a phone call.  Then there's all those apps.

By far, the coolest thing my phone does is through a clever little app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Have you ever sat in a restaurant, looked at the fish selection on the menu, and wondered if your selection is good or bad for the planet?  I do, since I worry about such things. Consult this app and you can do yourself, and your planet a favor.  It's amazing.  Had I know about this one single app earlier, I may have pushed my Blackberry off a cliff years ago.

When I say I worry about these things I wasn't exaggerating.  My new thriller, Deadly Echoes features a ruthless group of eco-terrorists.  They're easily an example of extremism gone terribly wrong. (for a more complete synopsis click the Amazon link below)  The book is meant to entertain, and if the early reviews are any indication--it does its job well.   In the process of writing Deadly Echoes, my research opened my eyes to some realities, that in turn made me want to alter my behavior slightly.  It's not hard, and with just one app, and a few seconds, I can make an informed decision about what I eat.  The result is that somewhere out there, a fish, and possibly an entire ecosystem will be better off for the effort.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I'm very happy for my friend William Kent Krueger, and congratulations to the other finalists.  If anyone is looking for an outstanding reading list--start here.

The Edgar® Nominees   

Best Novel

Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook (Grove Atlantic – The Mysterious Press)
The Humans by Matt Haig (Simon & Schuster)
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin (Hachette Book Group – Reagan Arthur Books)
Until She Comes Home by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA – Dutton Books)

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Lassie Protocol

What is the ideal Flight Deck complement for a modern airliner? A Captain, a Co-pilot and a dog. The dog is there to bite the captain if he tries to touch the controls, and the co-pilot is there to feed the dog.

It's an old joke meant to illustrate the declining role of the human in the modern hi-tech flight-deck.  After the rash of what I would call, unfortunate, (read stupid) blunders by professional pilots lately, clearly we need to come up with another arrangement.  Obviously, the dog's duties need to be expanded. 

1.  The dog needs to have an unobstructed view of both pilots, the instrument panel, and what's visible out the window.  The dog will not be required to issue a warning bark before a bite.

2.  If either pilot looks up from the instruments and says: "What's it doing now?" The dog shall bite that pilot immediately. 

3. Dogs have been to known to find their way home after traveling long distances.  They don't make that trek only to end up at the wrong house.  If the dog recognizes that the flight crew are trying to land at the wrong airport, the dog shall bite the captain repeatedly until one of the flight crew can locate and land at the correct airport.

4. If below 10,000 feet, the dog notices that neither pilot is looking out the window, the dog is authorized to bite the captain, and then the copilot, alternately, until a sterile cockpit is regained.

5. If the dogs hears any audible warnings in the cockpit such as "Terrain!" "Check speed!" "Check flaps!"  Whoop, Whoop, pull up!" not followed by a mad rush by the flight crew to correct the situation, the dog is authorized to resort to the Lassie protocol.  The dog will bark an SOS, which in turn releases the cat.  This is the final warning that all hell is about to break loose.

Oh yeah, as always, cleaning up after the dog falls to the flight crew member with the lowest seniority.

We're going to need more dogs...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I wanted to share an article I wrote.  It's about living with Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is a form of autoimmune arthritis.  It's about dealing with pain--and I can promise it works--sort of.