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Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Feature: Pauli The Musical Pumpkin by Pamela O. Guidry




Title: Pauli the Musical Pumpkin
Author: Pamela O. Guidry
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Format: Ebook

This is an inspiring story of a family whose characters depend on each other's unique personality traits to see them through life's little journeys. With Luis, the strength and leadership is dominant, and Erin's motherly love is profound. The two boys are very different both in looks and in spirit. Dominic is adventuresome, and the outdoors is his passion, whereas Donovan's love for beauty and music is his motivation. Pauli, different from any of his family, is talented and musical and brings forth a feeling of magic when he plays his beautiful music. In the end, the family is reunited and reassured. Each of us is special in our own way. As long as we have each other, anything is possible.


Pamela O. Guidry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1960. My parents were the most loving and wonderful parents. I grew up in a family of six children. With three sisters and two brothers, an adventure was always just around the corner. Because family is the most fundamental purpose in life, the experiences we have shared have shaped my life. At an early age, I developed a passion for music, as well as a love for art and creativity. As an adult, I further pursued the imagination and use of colors and textures in my work as a decorator. And now, my passion is to travel the world so that I may experience the beauty of nature and the people I meet along the way.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Feature: Unlocking the Natural Born Leader's Abilities by Salar Khan, MD., MBA







Leaders orchestrate commands to people in order to accomplish objectives pertinent and in accordance with their personal principles and intentions. This book sets to identify the qualities and abilities of a certain kind of leader, which I refer to as the natural-born leader (NBL). The NBL possesses innate traits, refined and perfected over time with education, training, and experience. I will attempt to illustrate these traits by drawing from my fifty years of personal experiences and hope readers will look at this as an opportunity to introspect. I have also designed a self-assessment tool so you may self-evaluate the presence of these NBL abilities and identify where you ultimately fall on the spectrum.
Today, there is widespread lack of confidence in leadership whether in business, government, education, or elsewhere. The vision of a confident leader, that of an NBL, is needed for the betterment of the world.






Salar Ahmed Khan, MD, MBA, FACA, FCCP, DTCD, MCPS, worked as an Internist and Pulmonologist at Karachi, Pakistan from 1985-87; as the Chief of Medicine, the Acting Director of Medical Services, and Acting Hospital Director at Al-Midhnab General Hospital under the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia from 1988-93; as the Associate Professor Medicine at Baqai Medical College and Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan from 1993-94; as a Surgical Assistant, Material Management, and Acting Central Processing Supervisor at Edge Water Medical Center in Chicago from 1996-2000. He is working as a program specialist at Chicago, Illinois since 2000. He was nominated and won several awards at national and international levels. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, photography, and watching sport, like cricket. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and two sons.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Interview with Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes, authors of Iniquities of Gulch Fork











In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean's home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha's father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town. 

THE INTERVIEW

Do you have a daily writing routine?

Yes, we've heard over and over that successful writers have one thing in common and that is strictly keeping with a daily writing routine.

Where do you do most of your writing?

At the computer in the den.

Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about it?

Bob - I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, started working at a corner drugstore when I was ten and worked seven days a week until I graduated from high school. This kept me out of trouble I suppose. No, I'm positive, because I didn't have time to get in trouble. Consequently, when I started college it was much easier to spend all my time studying.
Sara - I lived in Alaska most of my young life, moved to Arkansas when I was almost 14 years old. Alaska was the most beautiful place I've lived. The summers were short, but very pleasant. We fished and camped all summer.

What is your motto in life/writing?

Bob - If it feels good, do it. If it sounds good, write it.
Sara - Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?

What inspired you to write your book?

Bob - Writing this book kept me from giving in to my deep-seated rage and resentment.
Sara - A quest to understand my childhood and my father's PTSD.


Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father's battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes








This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Feature: Great Objectives by Robert Finch








In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill refers to the great objects of human life. We may assume that that what Mill calls an object is the same as an objective in modern parlance. The examples of great objectives that Mill cites include power, fame, and money. One wonders how seriously Mill was actually endorsing such aims to be the overarching objectives of living or whether he was simply expressing his finding that many people actually do take such aims as these for life. The contention is that Mill was indeed recognizing that people do choose such goals in life. After all, happiness has been recognized as an objective of life at least since the time of Aristotle, and virtue has a similarly ancient pedigree. It is quite common for ordinary people to adopt such mottos as “Healthy, wealthy, and wise” as aims for life. But we know that having more than one such value can lead to conflicts. This had been a concern to Sidgwick as well as other nineteenth-century moralists. A resolution to the problem was found by the time of the twentieth century, when it was realized that we should not try to achieve definite objectives, but instead look to some other procedure, such as a variety of evolution, to shape our objectives. In that case, we make plans and evaluate them, as we proceed. We should use our values, as Dewey recommended, for guideposts. The book discusses the methods of arriving at such plans and weighs some of the ethical and moral problems an individual or a society might face at the present time.



Robert Finch is the author of five collections of essays and co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing. He broadcasts a weekly commentary on NPR and serves on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. He lives in Wellfleet, MA.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Guest Post from Dr. Patrick Mbaya, author of My Brain is Out of Control







Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.

GUEST POST

CLINICAL DEPRESSION
 Clinical Depression is a common illness, different from ordinary sadness, which is a normal reaction. It can affect anyone, including doctors like myself, and indeed I suffered from this, during my illness. It is not a weakness.
It may occur spontaneously in vulnerable individuals, like someone with a family history of depression. Severe stress or traumatic events in childhood, may also make an individual vulnerable to developing depressive illness, later on in life. Recent research has shown that this could be due to the effect of stress hormone cortisol, on the developing brain. Severe stress or loss events (like losing a family member) can cause (precipitate) it. In my case the brain infection I suffered, affected the limbic/emotional brain (see below).
Emotions, and certain behaviours are controlled by the limbic (emotional) brain. This is like a circuit comprising of connections from the brain stem (stem of the brain), to the front part of the brain (prefrontal cortex, the part in front of the motor cortex), then to the medial (inner side) of the temporal lobe structures like amygdala and hippocampus. In my case, it is the left prefrontal cortex, which is next to the motor cortex (which caused weakness on my right side) and the speech (Broca’s) area.
There are different theories about the biological causes of depression within the brain. However, there is a lot of clinical, and research evidence that depression is associated altered levels of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control emotions, and behaviours. The two main chemicals (neurotransmitters) being serotonin and noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine). These chemicals are made by the brain from the food we eat, like bananas (I asked my daughter to get me bananas during my recovery phase). Emotions and behaviours like mood, sleep, appetite, enjoyment, concentration, short-term memory, energy, and some forms of thinking are controlled by these chemicals.
There is both clinical, and research evidence that these chemicals become imbalanced, causing symptoms of clinical depression including persistent low mood, tearfulness, poor sleep, lack of enjoyment, poor concentration, short term memory, reduced interest in things, poor appetite, feeling negative (like focussing on past traumatic or unhappy events, or being emotionally affected by current sad events) up to including suicidal thoughts. (Recent research has shown that amygdala become very active in clinical depression, negative traumatic past events tend to re-surface and the individual becomes pre-occupied with these events, feels hopeless, worthless, and has suicidal thoughts, and these symptoms are reversed by effective treatment of depression). These symptoms tend to be worse in the morning (diurnal variation, possibly related to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol) and can improve later on during the day. Like in my case, my mood was worse in the morning. “I was emotional and found myself crying without a moment’s notice.”
As depressive illness can affect confidence, energy, motivation, concentration, short term memory, level of functioning is impaired (the ability to carry out activities of daily living, even to the point of being unable to work, socialise or to go to school). The World Health Organization (WHO) found out in a study (1990), comparing medical illnesses, that depression was four in the league table, as a cause of health-related disability. They estimated that by 2020, it will rank second to heart disease!
Current research has shown that severe stress increases the levels of stress hormone cortisol, which in turn reduces serotonin, noradrenaline, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF, also known as brain fertilizer, which protects against cell death by cortisol), in the brain, causing depression.
Antidepressants work by increasing these chemicals/neurotransmitters (improving symptoms, and level of functioning), and may protect against severe stress causing depression. Psychological treatment like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), is also effective in depression, especially in combination with antidepressants. Current guidelines recommend psychological treatment for mild to moderate depression, and antidepressant medication, plus psychological treatment for moderate to severe depression.
Dr Patrick Mbaya MD FRCPsych.
www.drpatrickmbaya.com
References: Cancel reply
Duman Ronald. Depression: a cause of neuronal life and death. Biological Psychiatry, 1 August 2004, vol.56:140-145  Cancel reply
Global Burden of Disease, World Health Organization, 1990.
Mbaya Patrick. My Brain Is Out Of Control. Author House. September, 2016
Shimizu Fiji et al.  Cancel replyAlterations of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed patients with or without antidepressants; Biological Psychiatry, 1 July 2003,Vol 54(1): 70-75
Stahl Stephen M. Essential Psychopharmacology, Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications. Second Edition.  Cambridge University Press.
Stress and Plasticity in Limbic System, Robert M. Sapolsky; Neurochemical Research, Vol. 28, No. 11.


Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Feature: Dark Mind by Ian Douglas

 


Title: Dark Mind: Star Carrier
Author: Ian Douglas
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy


New York Times Bestselling Author Ian Douglas continues his Star Carrier saga as humanity unites against an ancient artificial consciousness powerful enough to exterminate every species it encounters

2425. The civil war between the United States of North America and the Pan-European Confederation is over. But before a new era of peace on Earth can begin, humankind must martial its interstellar forces as one fleet to engage in a war against an alien entity in Omega Centauri. Without provocation, it destroyed a Confederation science facility inhabited by 12,000 people, and it must be neutralized before it sets its sights on Earth.

Admiral Trevor “Sandy” Gray of the USNA star carrier America has his own mission. The enigmatic AI known as Konstantin has convinced him that humanity’s only chance for survival is technology found in a distant star system. Now, Gray must disobey orders as well as locate and create a weapon capable of defeating a living sphere the size of a small planet…





Ian Douglas is one of the pseudonyms for William H. Keith, New York Times bestselling author of the popular military science fiction series The Heritage Trilogy, The Legacy Trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy, Star Corpsman, and Star Carrier. A former naval corpsman, he lives in Pennsylvania.