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Reviews Written by
Charles Ashbacher (Marion, Iowa United States)

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Exploring Geometry With the Geometer's Sketchpad
Exploring Geometry With the Geometer's Sketchpad
by Dan Bennett
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for teaching basic geometry, March 26 2015
Geometry is an area where diagrams are critical to learning and understanding. It is the most visual area of mathematics and in some ways the least abstract. Like all mathematics, it requires significant logical reasoning skills, but those skills are helped when high quality diagrams are used.
This book contains a series of basic exercises where the student can use Geometer’s Sketchpad version 4 to work through examples and visually see and understand the consequences of operations. The software is very easy to use, the modern student with technological aptitude will have no difficulty in using Sketchpad.
I strongly recommend this book for either a traditional class, a directed study class or working independently. The exercises are easy to understand and they are very directed in the sense that clear instructions are given. There are also options for some freelancing on the part of students if they decide they want to try something not officially in the book.

Corona (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Corona (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to believe that a computer could control the Enterprise, March 26 2015
The Enterprise is on a mission to rescue a Vulcan science team on an asteroid where they are observing some protostars as they evolve to full status as a star. The Enterprise contains the regular crew and some significant additions. Mason is a female reporter who grew up on a small planet where prejudice against non-humans was prevalent. She is along to chronicle the performance of the monitors, which is a set of computer program created using the knowledge and experience of experts in several fields. There are separate sets of Star Fleet commanders and medical doctors encoded in the program. However, the programs are not there in an advisory role only, but are capable of taking control of the Enterprise’s function in their area if the situation is judged serious enough. This can occur even if the captain or chief medical officer is still in full control of the situation.
This premise was one that was very difficult to accept. Space exploration is full of unknowns where you don’t know what you don’t know. To apply reasoning that has been effective in the past and to override the command judgement of the human in control and on the spot seems too far beyond what would be acceptable in Star Fleet. You would have thought that the lesson of the “The Ultimate Computer” would have lasted longer than it did. Of course, the monitors override Kirk at a critical point; in fact much of the storyline was based on whether altering or bypassing the monitors was accepted command procedure. Veblen is a crew member who is obsessed with maintaining the functioning of the monitors, even when it is evident that it is not in the best interests of the Enterprise or the Vulcans they are trying to help.
When the Enterprise arrives at the asteroid, the Vulcan science team has been taken over by Corona, a sentient force in the protostars. It is the goal of Corona to unleash another Big Bang, returning the universe back to an earlier time. The new Big Bang would wipe out the previously existing universe, destroying all life in the process. After some initial setbacks, the Enterprise crew learns the truth and manages to convince Corona not to move forward with its plans. This is due in large part to the information Corona receives when it enters the personality of Mason, taking partial control of her actions.
I found this episode to be good, but there were spots when I grew tired of the debates over the monitors. A large part of my fatigue was due to the fact that I could not suspend my disbelief over their very existence. I simply could never reach the point where I could believe that such a system would be installed on a Star ship. Install it and have it act in an advisory role would be acceptable, but to have it capable of taking total control with no manual override was far too much for my tastes.

Mpow® iSnap Pro Extendable Self Portrait Wireless Bluetooth Remote Camera Shooting Shutter Monopod Selfie Handheld Stick Pole w/ Smartphone Adajustable Holder Specially Designed for iPhone 5S 5C 5 4S 4 Samsung Galaxy and More Other Mobile Cell Phone
Mpow® iSnap Pro Extendable Self Portrait Wireless Bluetooth Remote Camera Shooting Shutter Monopod Selfie Handheld Stick Pole w/ Smartphone Adajustable Holder Specially Designed for iPhone 5S 5C 5 4S 4 Samsung Galaxy and More Other Mobile Cell Phone
Offered by Patec
Price: CDN$ 19.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A simple device that will improve the background quality of your selfies, March 26 2015
This selfie pole comes in two parts, the pole itself collapses to a length of 8 inches and expands out to 39 inches (one meter). The phone holder is easily attached and detached in a few seconds using a simple screw. Once the holder is attached, there is a knob that can be loosened so that the holder can be moved from parallel to the pole to perpendicular on both sides. Once the holder is in the desired position, the knob is tightened down so the position is maintained.
Since the pole is Bluetooth enabled, it takes power and a charging cable approximately 18 inches long is included with the other end being a USB connector. Once the Bluetooth connection is made with the phone, a button on the handle is pressed to activate the camera.
The holder is padded on the points of contact with the camera and they are soft so that the grip on the camera is more secure. Sections of the holder can slide in both the horizontal and vertical directions to adapt to phones of many different sizes. A rubberized tip can be placed on the hook on the top to further grip the phone and keep it steady. A light on the end of the pole informs the user when the pole is charging and fully charged.
This is an effective and easy to use selfie pole that will allow you to get more of the desired background into your shot and provide the perspective that you want.

This item was made available for free for review purposes.

Undiscovered Country (Star Trek Movie 6) (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Undiscovered Country (Star Trek Movie 6) (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Doohan can still do voices, March 25 2015
This is the review of the audiotape read by James Doohan.

Fans of Star Trek know that James Doohan (Scotty) began his career doing voices. He was the voice of some of the alien creatures that appeared in the original series. In this case, he is reading an abridged version of the book and movie of the same name. The reading is enhanced by sound effects and an original score.
Since this is an abbreviated version of a movie I have seen several times, my review will deal only with the quality of the reading and the additional sound. While his ability has no doubt been reduced by age, Doohan is still capable of a wide range of voices. His approximations of the voices of Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy are pretty good; there is a good deal of similarity. He adds emphasis when it is needed, which enhances the dramatic effect. The additional sounds are excellent. I listened to the tape in my car and the “explosions” startled me. One time, I thought the humming of a phaser was a problem with the heating fan in my car.
While there is some loss of quality due to the abridgement, this is still a tape well worth listening to. It is well done; the dramatic qualities are preserved by Doohan and the extra sounds add a great deal to the excitement.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier [Import]
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier [Import]
Offered by marvelio-ca
Price: CDN$ 12.48
17 used & new from CDN$ 11.12

3.0 out of 5 stars The worst in the feature film series., March 25 2015
It has been over fifteen years since I last viewed this movie and my opinion hasn’t changed. It lacks so much of what the other Star Trek movies starring the original cast members have. There are jokes, but they fall flat. There is camaraderie between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, but it seems stiff and unnatural. The acting of the other members of the Enterprise crew is often awkward and with the exception of Sybok, the guest stars are uninspiring.
The Enterprise is undergoing a major refit, with only Scotty carrying out the repairs. There is a hostage crisis on a planet jointly administered by the Federation, Klingons and Romulans. The Klingon representative is a former powerful commander who is now a drunken sop. All of the main members of the Enterprise crew are recalled and still understaffed, they set out for the planet. The rescue attempt is futile, although there is a bright moment when Uhuru distracts nomadic tribesmen by conducting a fan dance.
Sybok takes over the Enterprise and sends it to a planet supposed to be the home of God. They do find a powerful being, but it is a prisoner on the planet and wants the Enterprise so that it can escape. Sybok distracts the being long enough for the Enterprise to fire a torpedo and kill it.
A Klingon vessel arrives and wants to capture and kill Kirk. Spock manages to persuade the Klingon general to order the commander of the Klingon vessel to cease his attack. Kirk is rescued and the movie ends where it began. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are in Yosemite Park sitting around a campfire and singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.”
In my opinion, this is the worst Star Trek movie of the series. It fails in so many ways that it is hard to list them all. The only positive feature is that it is Star Trek, and even when it is bad, it is good enough.

Love Sayings: Wit & Wisdom of Romance, Courtship and Marriage.
Love Sayings: Wit & Wisdom of Romance, Courtship and Marriage.
by Bradford Gordon Wheler
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.17
2 used & new from CDN$ 31.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Great artwork amid humorous quotes from famous people, March 24 2015
Wheler has an excellent strategy for providing artists with publicity for their works. He actively solicits contributions from artists on his BookCollaborative web site and then selects those that most correspond to the theme of his latest book.
The general style of this one is a color image of an artwork that takes up roughly two-thirds of the page with the artists name in red script underneath. The balance of the page is then a small set of short subject statements by famous people. As the title implies, the theme of this book is love, romance, sex and the consequences of humans doing all three.
While none of them is all that new, almost all readers will have read or heard some of them before, their value as humor or validity as a description of human foibles is not diminished. Yet, what makes this book so interesting is the quality of the artwork. There is a wide variety and some of it is quite stunning, it is easy to envision some readers contacting the artists requesting the opportunity to purchase the piece appearing in the book.
While the textual content can be extracted fairly easily via online searches, Wheler is to be commended for doing a great service to the artist community. Through his books, he is giving many artists exposure that they otherwise would find it very difficult to acquire. I have little in the way of artistic sense, yet I was impressed by what I encountered herein.

This book was made available for free for review purposes.

Trivia Quiz & Pub Quiz Book: InQUIZitive (Volume IV)
Trivia Quiz & Pub Quiz Book: InQUIZitive (Volume IV)
Price: CDN$ 5.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and entertaining trivia questions, March 24 2015
Although I was able to correctly answer many of the questions without peeking at the answer, the trivia questions in this collection stretched my mind. The subject matter is everything from word origins to the circumstances behind an invention of something that nearly everyone uses. There are some containing significant clues that lead you to the answer, but in other cases there is nothing in the manner of a hint.
The questions are split into groups of five with the answers appearing on the following page. There is no overall theme to a group, the subjects within the groups are just as disparate as the overall collection. I went through the entire collection of 100 questions in one sitting, once I started I found myself caught up in the chase of tackling even more of the questions.
If you enjoy stretching your mind by tackling trivia questions, this is a book that you will love.

This book was made available for free for review purposes.

Alzheimer's Killing Me Unknowingly: Jane's Story
Alzheimer's Killing Me Unknowingly: Jane's Story
by Jana Pryor
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.30
4 used & new from CDN$ 13.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book before you agree to care for an Alzheimer's patient, you need to know what it means, March 23 2015
This book is simultaneously extremely depressing and a bit uplifting. It is a chronicle of the author’s approximately five-year saga of caring for her grandmother as Alzheimer’s disease was very slowly consuming her body after her mind was largely already gone.
It is depressing because Pryor’s descriptions of the efforts it took to take care of an adult body having only a partially functioning mind take you there. The job was 24/7 and even a minute’s lack of attention could lead to a potential disaster. Her grandmother would wake in the night and engage in unusual actions or simply walk out the door. Pryor tried to include her grandmother in family activities but that did not always go well.
The story is uplifting because you are impressed with the author’s dedication to her grandmother, doing more than one could possibly be expected to in caring for an aged, incapacitated relative. Finally, there was no choice and Pryor was forced to place her grandmother in an institution when the companion physical deterioration was more than could be handled without constant medical attention.
Given the budget battles currently going on in the United States with health care costs one of the primary areas of contention, this story delivers a clear message, albeit indirectly. As other diseases are brought under control, delayed and even conquered, the rate of the elderly population with Alzheimer’s is going to continue to rise. As is clearly demonstrated in this book, the costs of this care will be enormous, even when relatives in the home deliver it. As the baby boomers age and their other ailments are cured or delayed, the costs of Alzheimer’s care will soar, some of which will be borne by Medicare. It seems likely that it will be impossible to ever reign in Medicare costs without somehow being able to slow down or control the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Robin: Search For a Hero
Robin: Search For a Hero
by Fabian Nicieza
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 39.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Too many plotlines and an overwhelming flood of characters, March 23 2015
Things are extremely unsettled in Gotham City, Batman is missing and may be insane, so the people of the city are looking for a replacement that will strike a similar fear into the criminal elements. Robin is the logical choice as a replacement, but he must earn the position in many ways. He must be able to generate fear in the criminals, trust among the population and work well with Police Commissioner Gordon.
This is of course difficult, but Robin has allies such as loyal butler Alfred, Nightwing, Spoiler and Bard. He also has the vast resources that are in the batcave, the advanced computers and other high tech equipment give him an advantage over his adversaries. Many different villains also make their appearance along with several warring street gangs and a couple of arrogant, crooked cops.
This mix makes for a complicated tale that is further muddled by the hints of behind the scenes machinations by both the forces of good and evil. The story is further complicated by the appearance of short snippets of dialog that often trail down the page. At times it is easy to miss them and that can make the subsequent action a bit confusing.
I found myself wishing that there were fewer characters involved in the story, there are times when it is very difficult to follow all the convolutions. If the number of characters and plotlines had been reduced, this would have been a much better story.

A Doctor's Journey: A Collection of Memoirs
A Doctor's Journey: A Collection of Memoirs
by M. D. Frederic Mendelsohn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.06
17 used & new from CDN$ 13.34

5.0 out of 5 stars I was reminded of the work of Lewis Thomas, March 23 2015
Reading this book reminded me of the books by the master medical storyteller, Lewis Thomas and that is the highest praise that I can give to medical memoirs. Mendelsohn is a practicing neurologist that has experienced the highs and lows of being in medical practice and he shares some of them in this book.
The parts that remind me most of Thomas’ work is when Mendelsohn talks about the influence of music in his life and how certain kinds can activate the brain in positive ways. Over two decades ago I did statistical work for the master’s thesis of a nurse. Her research was on the influence of music on post-operative recovery and there was a statistically significant conclusion that there were benefits, so this was something not new to me. Mendelsohn argues that musical skill is a trait that has a very positive influence on the quality of medical care one can provide, for it helps to make you more intuitive and better able to communicate.
No matter how sophisticated the technology or effective the drugs, medicine remains based on a personal relationship between two humans, empathy and understanding remain two of the most powerful tools in the treatment arsenal. Mendelsohn clearly understands that and communicates it very well.

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