Skinny House

Skinny House, a memoir of family ISBN: 9780995877718 Skinny House Productions copyright and written by Julie L. Seely.

In the Forward, the author very adroitly describes this book; “Despite its title, this book is no simple story about an odd, narrow-built dwelling. It’s about the family who lived in the house and the patriarch who built it.” The dwelling referred to is a ten foot wide, three story house among full-sized homes and now on the National Registry list, situated in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The basic story is of an ambitious black carpenter whose entrepreneurial abilities built a successful construction business in the early 1920’s with a grand house and all associated amenities for his wife to whom such ‘arrival’ met all of her expectations, only to have it snatched away by advent of the ‘Great Depression and subsequent devastation that followed well into the late ‘30’s. It follows the loss of the business, the house and all other amenities in a period when everyone was struggling just to survive in a time ‘when black men were the last to be hired and the first to be let go’. It also is of a period of time when ‘the man was the breadwinner, and the woman was the stay-at-home wife’ and a man was ashamed not to be able to work, and a wife should not be in a position to have to do so. The tale also provides quite graphic details of the carpenter’s attempts to salvage his pride and that of his wife, and of the gradual but insidious manner in which it failed and gradually slid into destruction of the family as a whole and to an extent, the individual personalities.

Discussion: Little more needs to be said. The author has used the house, how and why it was built and of what happened to the builder, his wife, children and grandchildren to provide a fascinating tale of a wild and highly explosive period in the history of America, its demoralizing fall-out and the residual effects on a man, his wife, children and grandchildren. The author readily admits her mistake of underestimating a family’s legacy. The lesser importance of physical versus “the colorful tapestry of memories and anecdotes handed down” and “intangible wisdom handed down from one generation to another”; “the spiritual binding”.

5* Captivating family memoir painstakingly, scholarly assembled by a loving granddaughter.

The Robot and Automation Almanac

The Robot and Automation Almanac 2021 ISBN: 9781946197719 Prestige Professional Publishing edited by Jason Schenker, Chairman of the Futurist Institute.

Sub-titled “Between Robocalypse and Robotopia COVID Edition” This volume is another in the series of Futurists Association attempting to keep readers abreast of the phenomenal yearly development in Robot technology and associated AI advances. It includes a Preface, Introduction. Discussions on “The Year Ahead and Beyond” and “The Future is for Futurists” by the Editor. Following his remarks are succeeding chapters of explanation and discussion of various aspects of the subject, each by ‘authorities’ on their version of the subject with pertinent references at the end of the presentation.

Discussion: This little volume presents a most worthwhile in depth update on Robots, their future, interaction with humans and with respect to the forward movement of artificial intelligence per se for the person not personally involved. From this reviewer’s perspective, one of the most illuminating remarks offered early in the book by one of the contributors was a simple example of how far we have travelled in a short time. Simply stated, he pointed out that today’s smart phone has a million times the memory and more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computer used in the Apollo 11 Mission. Another interesting fact is the belief in the necessity to next proceed to investigate in depth the neural networks in individuals in order to define how small nuances may be discerned and how they may be incorporated. A third point of interest is establishment of ‘boot camps’, along with ‘just-in-time’ learning from random opportunities – coffee break, commuting and similar – result in aptly termed “upskilling”, to provide somewhat knowledgeable people with further training so that often more ‘formal education’ is not required. Further fascinating subjects are extension of robotic usage in numerous different fields is predicted that will physically interact these ‘creations’ with humans directly and safely in a shared workspace. The great need that has been demonstrated for them by the covid-19 pandemic especially in the consumer and ‘cleaning/sanitizing’ areas and, especially in health fields where a true type of intellectual human-robot interaction is required. The book wraps-up with the book’s Editor explaining The New, New Normal; a brief description of The Futurist Institute; About the Editor that presents Mr. Schenker’s extensive qualifications; a list of Institutes’ publications and forthcoming titles;  Jobs for Robots; The Future after Covid; a disclaimer from the Publisher and the Institute and a repeat of the Copyright completes the book.

5* Easy to read, current/future status of Robotics and AI for the interested but uninvolved

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind ISBN: 9781999279479 Pearson Press, copyright and written by Alex Neumann, MSc.

The author’s intent has been to provide a strategy that will lead individuals plagued with anxiety, self-hate and/or lack of confidence to a position of success and happiness. His thoughts and suggestions are set forth in ten chapters and a conclusion. He begins by discussing diversity in general terms and provides examples of individuals who are taught how to control a perilous situation such as a Maasai boy or Khoisan children and follows with other famous persons including famous sports figures, such as Michael Jordan who had made numerous mistakes early in his career that he overcame with perseverance; Albert Einstein who was labeled as not too bright as a child, as was Sir Isaac Newton; Statesmen such as Winston Churchill, and music composer Beethoven. Also included are an author by the name of Richard Bach and his interesting story of a huge number of repetitive rejections through which he persevered finally to publish the book in 1970 that sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone. The narrative continues and with succeeding chapters provides more complete stories of additional well-known individuals who conquered monumental odds to attain true success. The discussion additionally explains the difference between “market successes” and “true (inner) success” and how pursuit of the former can trample attainment of the latter. Again he illustrates with an example. This time with that of a simple fisherman who was confronted by a Harvard MBA who explained how he could grow his business and become wealthy before retiring when he then could do whatever he wished to do – something which the fisherman knew was exactly what he was doing The author’s discussion extends to stress how “marketing success” and what it is doing to the world, its forests, oil, water and its people is an “illusion success” rather than the “real success” that lies within. He further admonishes “Demagoguery is the new norm. Fascists, Nazis, racists, chauvinists, sexual harassers and other such dehumanizing malfeasants have been planted into the highest offices, albeit in disguise.” “Has our society lost its value?” and describes how marketing education is driven by the premium on labor that is based on “market” not “real” success. Instead you should play the game to enjoy. Love what you are doing to attain true success which is composed of four factors: compassionate service to others, a life fully lived, an achieved vision and eternal joy. Often you need to take risks, but if you fail, learn from your mistakes and attack the problem again. Originality often is lost by the time education has been finished. It is necessary to stop whining and start thriving. He describes further a time-frame within intent as being the critical ingredients that may be required to unwind mentally from entanglements in the matters that are causing the grief. He prescribes repeatedly the need to persevere and to turn obstacles into opportunities.

Discussion: The author has set forth a prescription for success that has been presented by many CEOs and entrepreneurs in numerous areas of endeavor. However, he has specifically targeted the individual plagued with anxiety, self-hate and/or lack of confidence. Here, he has suggested steps that such a person can, and actually must take to rid themselves of this overburdening weight that such persons carry. A weight that affects every part of the body both mental as well as physical. His thoughts, suggestions and advice are set forth in a simple straight forward, albeit repetitive manner that in itself may be helpful to the troubled reader looking for a way out of the morass in which he/she abides. Specifically, at least one of the messages with its different approach set forth with even different examples may provide the spark that is necessary to ignite the fire required ultimately to help the burdened person to throw off the oppressive yoke under which they have been carrying.

5* Advice for the angst-ridden; highly repetitive but helpful from different perspectives.

52 Smart Habits to Manage your Money & Grow Wealth

52 Smart Habits to Manage Your Money and Grow wealth. Assumed published, copyright and written by Joann Lindsey.

Sub-titled “Discover how to improve your Finances in 10 minutes a day”, and after a lengthy disclaimer, the book opens with an introduction and eight chapters that contain 52 suggestions that provide substance to her proposal. A Conclusion, Resources and a listing of “My other books in This Series – ‘10 minute Habits for a Better Life’”, conclude the presentation. The Introduction explains that the first book aimed at achieving a better life and “discussed, in detail, the habit formation process, how your habits influence you, and how and why to form many small, 10-minute habits” to attain health, wealth, happiness and prosperity. It then explains that this present book provides a series of suggestions specifically focusing this process of ‘habit production’ on using money wisely, saving more, investing, getting out of debt, and achieving financial independence. She stresses that it is imperative to achieve financial independence “because it brings forth an enormous amount of freedom in your life”. AND she stresses how important it is to gradually build the right set of habits to achieve your goal. The succeeding chapters provide instruction on how to acquire habits for managing your cash flow, increase your savings, reduce your spending, decrease your debt, improve your investment portfolio and grow your net worth. Specific suggestions include importance of an emergency fund, spotting ‘money leaks’ and how to seal them, admonishments to plan shopping trips so as to not get ‘side-tracked’, importance of shopping alone to avoid ‘impulse buying’ and to wait for 30 days before buying something you want (to see if you still want it as much then as you did originally). Retirement considerations also are discussed as are a number of other, often unthought-of subjects especially if approaching the subject relatively early in your personal career. A short conclusion and number of references concludes the presentation.

Discussion: The author has set forth a set of suggestions that many individuals entering the work force will find to be most helpful. A word of caution with respect to Investing in the present volatile market – Obtain dependable advice!

5* Recommended especially for individuals entering the workforce.

Independence

Independence ISBN: 9780998386782 Bryson Taylor Publishing copyright and written by Deb Landry,

This is a memoir by the author of remembrances over a considerable number of years of Secrets, Discovery & Forgiveness. It is a story not of physical abuse per se, but of a more subtle and damaging psychological or mental abuse applied to a growing child. It is one of constantly mixed messages of love and hate and shifting rules that offer no opportunity for the child to ‘gain a footing’ on this slippery footing. Generally the family situation appears to be one of normality but wherein ‘something is missing’ and they gradually lose any self-confidence they have been able to generate.  The child constantly believes he/she is wrong with attendant shame and greater desire to please the abuser, something that never can be done because the offending parent feasts upon the humility they cause and the dominence they possess that is an unrecognized need their twisted ego requires. The author certainly has provided an extensive list of offenses she had suffered that provide a complete picture of how such activities proceed and the subsequent effect. She also has set forth the superb manner in which she has ‘risen above’ the years of degradation and has acquired a position of importance that incidentally has derived from the long-standing period of degradation.

Discussion: Regrettably, as is the case with most severely abused children, physical removal from the situation offers little or no actual release. The author has demonstrated this fact with a plethora of examples. She can remember even small details of many features of the incidents she had suffered even in her earliest years.  It is only when the individual discovers some inner strength to face facts, a status usually acquired only with aid from a trained and understanding counselor, that healing can take place. And yet, as demonstrated here, the stories still remain to haunt, even after success and such a catharsis has been acquired.

4* Often sad, poignant, humorous, disturbing tale with ultimate victory.

7 Principles of Becoming a leader

7 Principles of Becoming a Leader assumed published, copyright and written by Riku Vuorenmaa.

Sub titled “The definitive guide for starting and building your management career”, the author has provided a Forward followed by his suggested 7 principles. In order: 1. Own your work and start to lead; 2. Know yourself: Master your inner game; 3. Know your company and industry; 4. Know the people you work with; 5. Know your opportunities and manage your career; 6. Prepare yourself; 7. Decide and commit, and a Conclusion.

In his Forward the author sets the stage for his quite lengthy discourse by stating this is “By no means a scientific book or research report” and acknowledges the fact that most of the large number of books on the subject of business leadership are written about the inspirations and actions of CEOs and founders of multi-million dollar companies. Instead here, he is concentrating on how to rise through the ranks in the company in which you are employed and that “It emphasizes career building, cultivating a high-performance mindset, and mastering your inner game, in addition to building a solid set of leadership skills.…if you can’t perform very well on a personal level and don’t know how to advance your career, you never will have any people to lead”. He presents further details describing why he has written a book like this, including a description and answers offering insights from his own career; from experience he has gathered from those with whom he has worked; from that of one who has been functioning in a position of leadership with his own employees; from that of a coach and mentor to others in careers not necessarily related to his work. He appears to have one distinct advantage and that is the fact that he admits to having absolute focus He had been a martial arts instructor who slipped a spinal lumbar disc and had to give up his passion of martial arts. However, his ability to focus helped him eventually to decide what he wanted and applied these same abilities. All the books he has read told people how to proceed once they had the job. Nobody said how to get the job in the first place. He admonishes that it is necessary to make a decision, plan your course and make necessary preparations and follow with steady execution and continuous learning. He further believes that external rewards that will accrue are fine, but the intrinsic ones gained are even more rewarding.

He then explains that one should read through the book, then stop to absorb Chapter or Principle One and put it into play. Then go on to #2, and #7 if you’re ready, and follow by using the other chapters again when you are ready; i.e. use the entire presentation as a reference book picking up what you need when you need it, returning over and over as required. “If you want the best results, this book should be read and thoroughly executed and then later used as a toolbox to pull out tools and strategies as you need them.”

Discussion: The author certainly has provided a volume far different, from the plethora of those presented by entrepreneurial CEOs and the like. Here the reader finds a large volume of material including often little thought-of details that describe how best to enter a work force and multi suggestions for advancement in position within that group. Many of the same principles exist – honesty, trust, respect, empathy and the rest in the books presented by the CEOs. However, this author describes not the entrepreneurial attempts that have been advanced in large numbers, but rather the more usual individual’s needs for self fulfilment and how to attain them.

5* Highly recommended read for those looking for personal job/life fulfilment.

When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way we Hoped it Would

When Life doesn’t turn Out the Way We’d Hoped it would ISBN: 0791973719830 Create Space Independent Publishing Copyright and written by Tom Wick.

In this 3rd book the author details his tour of duty as a young enlisted sailor aboard the USS Gridley CG-21 (West Pac 81-82 Cruise Book) that took him into the Indian Ocean during the Iran Conflict and beyond. It first presents the frequently repulsive antics engaged in by ‘old salts’ indoctrinating pollywogs into Shellback status as they “Cross the Line” (Equator) for the first time. He also describes levels of Shellbacks awards for particular crossings and certain ‘Fraternities’ for other types of crossings; e.g. crossing the Arctic Circle, Antarctic Circle, International Dateline, etc. After this test, he was awarded ‘Ship’s Liberty’ in their first port to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Pattaya Beach, Thailand in 1982. Next he describes Thailand in general, its travelogue features and those of its capital Bangkok. Numerous pictures are provided here as well as in the pages following. In the beach area, Kickboxing shows are offered at several beer bars. Go-go bars, nightclubs, and discotheques are in abundance. Sexual, as well as authentic, massage parlors also are numerous and he describes World-famous Walking Street as the center of night life, although seemingly the rest of the area was well supplied. Additionally, the reader is informed that Pattaya Beach had the second largest concentration of gay oriented enterprises in Thailand with Bangkok the largest. Besides Tuk-Tuk busses (pictures included), there was cheap public passenger pickups called songthaews or baht-busses because Thai currency is the baht and they’re cheap. Repeated accounts of his amorous escapades with his 3 lovely Thai prostitutes are provided as well as other similar escapades in the other ports covered. These other ports are Hong Kong with description of weather, demographics and points of interest as well as nearby Kowloon. Sasebo, Japan, again a complete general description and year’s weather report as well as an overview of Sasebo with a post-WWII note preceded by brief historical notes on beginnings of WWII. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is next where travelogue descriptions again are set forth. The final port of San Diego ultimately is reached and he is met by family. The descriptions of his sexual and drug/alcohol activity, of his shipboard tasks, how the USS Gridley was named and lessons on the Geographic Coordinate System are so prominently and repeatedly described it becomes a bit annoying.

Discussion: In my review of the first book by this author (June, 2020) I wrote: “The material covered in this first book in the series presents, in quite explicit detail, quite lengthy descriptions of the repetitiously indulgent activities of the author, his family, friends and acquaintances as he moves among several locations. However, there is an overlying tone of a man somehow repentant of much of his activity and, as a result of some unnamed factor, ultimately realizing the ‘error of his ways and being ‘born again’ as a Christian. Although the causative factor is not mentioned per se, when he failed 1st grade a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This long-standing dysfunction, in combination with being brutally beaten, raped and suffering a degree of PTSD could have left him totally repentant for the meaningless sex, constant drug and alcohol abuse and the rest that caused him intense feelings of alienation, isolation, and loneliness.”

The author again has presented a book that presents a maximum amount of thought. Here he still participates in abundant sexual and drug activity “we shot some heroin, smoked some pot, and made love again.” “After our shower, we smoked some pot, got dressed and had some breakfast.” And similar phrases and sentences repetitiously are supplied, but in this volume he does not exhibit any of the repentance shown in the first book. However, the fact that a young man just barely out of his teens and with the background of family psychotic behavior, dysfunctional acquaintances from childhood, and personal problems he has encountered from a very early age, should have the tenacity of purpose to attempt to write a series of books is, at least to this reviewer, amazing. It is most unfortunate that he has not encountered an editor or other sympathetic person who would have been able to aid in his endeavors. His attempts really show promise.

3* Extremely difficult to rate; 2*- 4* dependent upon degree of analysis.

Getting Unstuck

Getting Unstuck assumed published, copyright and written by Cara Stein.

This is a book similar to a growing number of others published with suggestions on how to be happy with your life and life’s work. The difference in large part is the author’s approach. It is bubbly, as seemingly is the author, and her modus operandi is to ignore the one common thread that appears to ‘hold back’ most persons from moving forward – fear of failure or making mistakes. One must remember mistakes are human, everybody makes them. The answer is to learn from them and not worry about any past faults. In other words, don’t be too hard on yourself. Start with a good session of introspection and follow up with more to find your strengths opposed to your weaknesses. She then attacks a large number of common faults that keep individuals in an unhappy and often most confused state. Too many blow things out of proportion. Some keep avoiding something that must be done, an action that just makes the task that much worse. Other persons stay detached to “avoid being hurt”. Often persons get upset by matters not under their control. Do you have a lot to do? Make a list – don’t try to remember it all. She admonishes the reader to avoid and/or get rid of these faults and provides suggestions on how to accomplish this goal. She suggests, among other moves, making a list of tasks you don’t want to do and then begin doing just that, stop doing them. Start with the little ones and gradually move further up the list. The author’s suggestions are accompanied by a list of 40 references at the conclusion of the book.

Discussion: The author appears to be amply qualified to write this book. She has dabbled in a large number of tasks including obtaining a PhD while “overcoming fears had been my chief occupations for a few years, between career change and completely remodeling my life.” She quit her well-paying job and started her own business. Then “When she experienced how much easier it all is than it looks, I realized I had to spread the word.” Thus, “Whether you’re stuck, lost, or just looking to enjoy your life more, I’ve been there! I can provide advice, guidance, and vision. I’m a big believer in self-reinvention and sculpting your life into what you want it to be. I love guiding people to do the same.”

5* Much material similar to others, but refreshingly different.

The NO Limits Enterprise

The NO-LIMITS Enterprise ISBN 9781946633279 ForbesBooks Copyright and written by Doug Kirkpatrick.

After an unusually large number of strongly supportive statements by individuals of prominence, the author’s book subtitled Organizational Self-Management in the New World of Work, the author’s introduction, Life is a Concert (or it should be), presents overall tenets with respect to self-management and the importance thereof. He quotes Kahlil Gibran: “Work is love made visible”; presents Buurtzorg, a highly prosperous Netherlands-based health care company (initiated by Jos de Blok) where 9000 health care nurses work remotely delivering care. They work for the company but make decisions as they see them; he explains that people (most prominently the millenniums) want their creative, innovative and passion about their work to be appreciated and understood; briefly speaks of Morning Star, a Tomato products distributor company (where he initially became involved in the business) which probably is the most well-known for self-management company success. The book’s content is presented in 2 Parts. Part 1, the promise of self- management consisting of 4 chapters covering the breakdown of bureaucracy; 15 unavoidable challenges found within; the power of self-management; before you plan: self-management considerations. Part II, the self-management roadmap, consisting of 6 chapters covering new ways of working; determining where your organization fits in the self-management continuum; establishing your self-management philosophy and principles; self-management implications (or what to expect); making the case for self-management; bringing self-management to life: 12 real-world components; A conclusion – making “no limits” your reality; About the Author; A passion for freedom and accountability at work; Our services. Extensive Acknowledgements follow immediately, leading to an explanatory Forward and ultimately, the Introduction as briefly summarized above.

Discussion: The business of running a business gradually has been changing since those establishing such organizations with advent of the Industrial Revolution. They had only the Army, its chain of command and its organizational abilities as a template. Humans became increasingly dissatisfied with their need to ‘slave’ for many hours a day to receive pay for their labor which they did not enjoy. Chapter 2 provides a list of 15 unavoidable challenges provided by bureaucracy employed by most businesses – Genetic engineering, nanotechnology, virtual reality, increasing information, and communication moving at speed of light, Robots, AI, all of this additional knowledge when much of business is still at the level employed when we moved into the Industrial Revolution. Thus the required Bureaucracy is wasteful of human life; simply stated, 8 hours/day of doing something not desired is just that, a waste of life.

Thus, gradual change has evolved and has gained increasing momentum with advent of new generations who are unwilling to spend long hours performing tasks which have no relationship to their personal thought patterns and desires. The increased level of interest has been initiated by a few future thinking entrepreneurial individuals and aided immensely by the arrival into the workforce of the millennials, a generation that seeks a work/life balance and have no fear of job loss, plus, a driving need to be engaged as part of a group (company) with a purpose and meaning that is part of the larger world. Repeatedly, the suggestion is made that to best run a business, it is best first to become a philosopher with the other necessities added as needed. Names of numerous prominently successful owners of self-managed companies are provided. Chris Rufer, a single truck owner fascinated by philosophy as well as an MBA was fascinated with human principles and management practices, established Morning star, one of the premiere successful self-management companies, by believing people worked best when they were free to manage themselves at work as they did in their daily life. He also believed they were happiest and most successful. Jaipur Rugs in India is another entrepreneurial self-management phenomenal success story as are Vagas, a Brazilian software company and numerous others blossoming throughout the world as well as here in the United States. In all, the book provides extensive coverage of every aspect of how “Strength of a self-managed organization, where every individual is part of a human network of accountability, responsible to everyone else in the enterprise itself” actually functions. These basic tenets, and philosophies serve to undergird the human network.

Summary: The author, partner in the full-spectrum international consulting firm, NuFocus Strategic Group, consults, lectures on self-management around the world and appears to be the present-day spokesman for a large group of advanced-thinking individuals in the rapidly growing movement toward self-managed business. His book covers every aspect of the subject and certainly is a must read for any person desiring to enter a business and become a success in this era of constant change and regeneration. For this reader, the redundancy and repetition typically exhibited here emulates the tendencies of all lecturers and would benefit from judicious editing for readers. However, the material, to reiterate is a must read.

The Apricot Outlook

The Apricot OUTLOOK of Katherine Koon Hung Wong ISBN: 9781734824018 Clever Clock Press copyright and written by Dennis W. C. Wong.

This is an unusual genealogical investigative book that opens with several illustrations, acknowledgements, and an introduction that leads to The Apricot Outlook which is a short recital of Katherine’s life in her own words. In turn, Beyond the Apricot Outlook recites the almost monumental task of attempting to discover the background of her and the author’s roots. An endeavor almost impossible to accomplish for Chinese natives who had immigrated to Hawaii at or around the turn of the 19th – 20th century. A huge part of the problem is that many came from small enclaves of several small villages within an overall larger collection within areas of this huge country and especially when one considers how children were named and the fact that Chinese men routinely could have as many as 7 different names.

The story is simplistically told and, although somewhat difficult to follow, must be a treasure trove of material for a sizeable number of people. It is most difficult to rate the reading interest/enjoyment for general readership.

5* for specific individuals and research accomplished; – ? * for other readers.