Showing posts with label BarbRad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BarbRad. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason: Mother Gorilla with Baby
 Image by Curtis Yancey from Pixabay 

The Open House


It was obvious to Grace McKenna that Neema, the mother gorilla, was worried and getting closer to a melt-down. She and her baby Kanoni weren't used to so many humans around.They weren't used to hearing blaring music, seeing and smelling popcorn carts, and having reporters and cameramen constantly in their faces. They really hated the smell of the portable toilets that had been brought into the area surrounding their compound for the day.

Gumu, the huge father gorilla, was the most upset of all. He had retreated to his "nest" --  a bunch of tangled blankets at the top of his two-story enclosure. Although Gumu was twice Neema's size, he was much more afraid of strangers than she was. When he was a baby back in Africa, he had watched helplessly while poachers shot the rest of his family and cut up them into pieces.

Neema, Gumu and Kanoni trusted very few humans. Grace McKenna and her staff and volunteers were about the only humans the gorillas would let get near them. Grace was studying the ability of the gorillas to learn language. Neema knew about 500 words of sign language. She could use her sign language vocabulary intelligently with humans and with her gorilla family.

The local college was funding Grace's studies, and the board had insisted on this Open House as a prerequisite for continuing their funding. Grace had a splitting headache, there were rude children teasing the gorillas, and Grace just wanted the whole event to be over.

She was glad when her boyfriend Detective Matt Finn and his helper finally ushered all the visitors out. They had volunteered to handle security for the event. Matt invited Grace to relax at his place for the night. The staff had a party on their trailer on the compound.

Back in the Gorilla Enclosures

Image by m k from Pixabay 


After the humans were gone, Neema ate some strawberries and wanted to play. She went in search of Gumu, but he wasn't in his nest. So she took Kanoni back to her own nest in the barn to see if Gumu was there. But he wasn't anywhere. Instead all she found was a big wet spot on the floor.

"Creeping closer to the big dark wet, holding Kanoni tight, she looked at the spot out of the corner of her eye. Red wet. She leaned close. Meat smell. She touched her fingers to the red and tasted the wet. Meat wet. Red meat smell. Bad, hurt, she signed."
Where was Gumu? She wondered if Gumu was meat and was never coming back. She turned to the back of the barn and saw the wall was open a crack. It had never been open before. She pushed the wall away, grabbed Kanoni, and went outside to search for Gumu.

The Next Morning


When Grace went to feed the gorillas the next morning, all was quiet in the barn. She called them to breakfast, but no gorillas came. They were gone. Someone had removed the padlock from the outside of the door. Matt began to look for evidence, since the animals could not have escaped by themselves. Then Jon Zyrnek, the staff member who got along best with Gumu, discovered the huge puddle of blood and called them all over.

Matt immediately wanted to put out an all points bulletin, but Grace nixed it. Many of their neighbors in their town of Evansburg opposed having the gorillas in their neighborhood in the first place. They had gotten out once before and they were almost closed down then. Word of the escape getting out would endanger their funding, as well.

Grace finally talked Matt into investigating the the disappearance by himself and the staff promised to keep quiet. They canceled all the volunteer shifts, saying that Jon had the flu and they'd all been exposed. They couldn't chance passing it to the gorillas.  They also made up a story about a valuable missing dog that had been at the open house. They needed to report some case involving an animal to get the blood they had found tested at the lab. Jon and Grace continued to search outside, calling and naming the gorillas' favorite foods, but no gorillas responded.

The Undercurrents


Matt doesn't like Jon because he and the volunteer staff are all part of the Animal Rights Union that has been freeing lab and other animals they believe are mistreated. They've all been arrested and Jon had served time. They had begun their volunteer work with the gorillas as a community service sentence. But they enjoyed the work so much they kept at it.

Matt is sure Jon and the others are involved somehow. The gorillas are very valuable, especially since they can sign and paint. The sale of their paintings has helped fund the work. Jon's father recently got out of prison. Matt also considers him a suspect. 

Grace is worried about whether her gorillas can survive on their own in the woods, if that's where they are. She's convinced at least one of them has been killed. When you read the book, you will also be concerned for them and wonder what happened. I couldn't stop reading.

My Review  


I recommend this book to those who are interested in the intelligence of gorillas and their ability to talk to humans. They would find the book fascinating even if there were no mystery. I read this, the second book in the Neema series, because I had enjoyed the first book so much. Now I see a third book is also available and I plan to read that one, too. I like learning more about the capabilities of gorillas. But I also like trying to solve the mystery.

I would recommend this to any animal lover who likes mysteries  It's full of not only gorillas, but also dogs and Neema's two pet cats. The human characters are believable, though Matt seems to have a stereotyped view of Jon. The animal characters are also well-developed.

I found myself looking for clues right along with the detectives. The author shows us not only what the humans are doing, but also what Neema is doing. We know just enough to hope that the story will end happily, but we still have to wonder until the very end.

You might also be interested in my review of the first book in the series: The Only Witness.






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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord: A Review

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.

Released from Ravensbrück with a Message for the World

Corrie ten Boom's family worked for the Dutch Resistance when the Nazis occupied their land of Holland during World War II. Corrie wrote of their activities and their consequences in her first book, The Hiding Place.

Until she was fifty years old, Corrie had lived with her family above the watch shop her father owned. After the Nazis took power, the ten Boom family helped hide persecuted Jews in a specially built hiding place in their home. But an informer betrayed them. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned the entire family.

Corrie's father died after a few days. Some family members were released. But Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Germany and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück women's labor camp for several months, where Betsie died. A clerical error caused the Germans to release Corrie a week before all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-0417-15, Ravensbrück, Konzentrationslager
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)]

While imprisoned, Corrie and Betsie had tried to encourage those who had lost all hope. The picture above shows the kind of work these women in Ravensbrück did. The photo above was taken at Ravensbrück a year before Corrie was imprisoned there. This link leads to more photos taken of the prisoners in this camp and their life there. You can see why most had little hope. Most did not leave while alive. They saw the smoke from the crematoriums as they worked. Could anything be more depressing?

In The Hiding Place Corrie explains how God was able to work among the women--even in the barracks of the concentration camp. The book was made into a movie. I recommend it. I saw it when it first came out in 1975.




Corrie's Life After Release

After her miraculous release, for I believe God was behind that clerical blunder, Corrie spent some time regaining her health and reconnecting with the remnants of her old life in Holland. Then, for about twenty more years, she traveled the world spreading her message of God's love and forgiveness. She called herself a tramp for the Lord because she circled the world twice, living out of a suitcase, with no real home to call her own. I call her an ambassador for Christ, for she carried his message of reconciliation wherever she went. She chose the title for her book because it reflects her lifestyle during those years. It is the sequel to The Hiding Place.


Corrie's Message Was Consistent


Corrie had suffered hardship and betrayal. She had watched as her sister died due to conditions in the concentration camp, illness, and the cruelty of a particular guard. She had slept with fleas and lice. She had almost starved to death. But still she spoke of God's love and faithfulness to her.

During nightly Bible times  in the barracks, she gave hope to many women without any. She had managed to sneak a Bible in and she used it for spiritual strength for herself, Betsie, and anyone else who wanted to participate. (That story is in this book.)

Corrie's message was one of reconciliation. She told stories as she shared the convicting and healing words of the Bible. One of her most frequent themes dealt with the bitterness that many have when they believe they have suffered injustice or betrayal. She taught that the cure was forgiveness. On p. 59 she says, "If we forgive other people, our hearts are made ready to receive forgiveness."

But God has a way of testing us so that we will know ourselves. Corrie was not exempt from that testing.

One night Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness at a church in Munich. She had told the assembled Germans that when we confess our sins, God casts them into the deep ocean and they are gone forever.

And then she saw a man approaching her in an overcoat and a brown hat. Except she suddenly saw him as she had known him before -- in a blue uniform and a visored cap with a skull and crossbones. The man had been one of the most cruel guards at Ravensbrück. As he thrust his hand out he said it was good to know all his sins were at the bottom of the sea. He seemed not to recognize Corrie. He told her he'd been a guard there, but had become a Christian now.

He said, '...I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips, as well....will you forgive me?' Out came his hand again.

All Corrie's memories of the terrible times and the way her sister died flooded her mind. Corrie wrote: "And I stood there--I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven--and could not forgive."

She wrestled with God internally over the hardest thing He had ever asked of her. She wrote "For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. 'If you do not forgive men their trespasses,' Jesus says, 'neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.' I refer you to Chapter 7 in Tramp for the Lord to see what happened next.

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.
Each chapter of Tramp for the Lord is short, but Corrie doesn't need a lot of words to share what she has learned through her suffering and from the Bible. I was impressed most by the fact that Corrie was an ordinary Christian quietly making watches and doing her best to obey God when she was arrested. She had learned to trust God before prison, and she kept trusting Him during those months at Ravensbrück in spite of the horror of her surroundings and the cruelty she suffered and witnessed.

She continued to trust him on a daily basis as she traveled the world as a tramp for the Lord. He remained faithful in providing her needs until her death on her 91st birthday in 1983. When she said "He made me rich" she didn't mean materially rich. He supplied all her needs so she would not have to ask for money. He gave her peace, forgiveness, and the victory that comes with obedience.





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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Review of the Best Two Books on Prayer I've Ever Read

Review of the Best Two Books on Prayer I've Ever Read
Scan of my two books. Image created on PicMonkey


I'll Never Get Rid of These Two Books on Prayer

I bought these books back when they were published in the early 1970s. I began working at Logos Bookstore in Westwood in 1972, and as long as I worked there I could borrow and read anything on their shelves any time I wanted to.

We had three cases of books on Christian devotional and prayer life. I must have read half of what was in those cases during my nine years at Logos. Of all those books I read, these are the two books I bought about prayer. They are the keepers.

Hallesby Makes It Simple


I recently started rereading Hallesby's book. It's taken me two weeks to get through the first chapter -- 34 small pages. Why? Because every sentence is packed with important thoughts to ponder.  The chapter attempts to define what prayer actually is. Hallesby says, "Prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our parched and withered hearts."

Photo © B. Radisavljevic. Quote added.


If you're as old as I am, approaching my eighties, and have been a Christian for as long as I've been, since I was twelve, you've probably had a lot of teaching about prayer. You've heard why you should pray, how you should pray, when you should pray, and with what attitude. You've probably heard what topics you should pray about and in what order. You've probably heard you need to pray in faith with no doubting in order for God to answer your prayer.

If you're a bit like me, you've sometimes started to pray and gotten intimidated by all you've heard. Sometimes I get so tripped up by all those details and how-tos I can hardly pray at all. I feel quite helpless as I mentally check the details off my mental list. After all, I want to make sure I'm praying in a way that God will hear and answer.

Hallesby addresses my condition in his first chapter. He says helplessness is our best prayer,  and that the call of the helpless heart to the heart of God is more effective than any words we can utter. He compares our helpless condition before God to that of the helpless child dependent on his mother's care. A tiny infant cannot tell you what he wants and needs. He just cries. And a mother's heart is always tuned to hear those cries and help.

The prayer of an infant is his cry to his loving parent.
Created on Get Stencil from public domain image it provided. I added the quote.

I'm still rereading the  rest of the book but it does address some of the difficulties people encounter in prayer, prayer as work, what it means to wrestle in prayer, misuses of prayer, forms of prayer, and more. The book is practical and very readable. I believe this is the first book anyone wanting to develop a serious prayer life should read on the subject. Find reasonably priced used copies at Biblio, a site for independent booksellers. This link to one copy will also lead you to the others.  You can find a newer expanded edition for Kindle on Amazon.


The Hidden Life of Prayer by D.M. M'ntyre (or McIntrye)


If you want to go beyond what you've learned from Hallesby, it may be time to pick up The Hidden Life of Prayer. The author ministered in England and Scotland for over fifty years before entering Heaven in 1938. He led a life of prayer and in his book he often quoted other prayer warriors. These quotes are often in the footnotes, which I'm often prone to skip. But in this book you mustn't skip them or you will miss a lot of the treasure.

What some people today may find difficult about the book is the language the ideas are dressed in. The style and vocabulary may intimidate some of today's readers, especially if they are young. Academics may be more comfortable with it. But those who are willing to make the effort will find it rewarding.


It's full of quotes from historic Christian figures who accomplished much in their service for Christ. One quote I found on page 26 was from a book, Waiting on God, by Dr. A.B. Davidson. I'd like to share it will you.

Quote on what it means to wait on God in prayer
Image created on Get Stencil App with public domain photo it supplied. I added the text.


"To wait is not merely to remain impassive. It is to expect -- to look for with patience, and also with submission. It is to long for, but not impatiently; to look for, but not to fret at the delay; to watch for, but not restlessly; to feel that if He does not come we will acquiesce, and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that He will not come."
Contrast M'intyre's definition of prayer below with the one I shared near the beginning of this post from Hallesby:

"Prayer is said to be the gathering up of all the faculties in an ardour of reverence, and love, and praise. As one clear strain may succeed in reducing to harmony a number of mutually-discordant voices, so the regnant impulses of the spiritual nature unite the heart to fear the name of the Lord."  [sic]
 To find treasure, we often have to dig deep. We have to be willing to exercise our minds. This is not a book one skims like a blog post. But if you are at the right stage of your prayer life and your desire to have it mature even more is great, this may be the next book on prayer you should read. Its 94 pages are packed with spiritual nutrients. Like the Hallesby book, it is easily found used at a price anyone can afford. Find it  at Biblio or at Amazon.




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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack


A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack
Heavenly Hunks at Almost Actual Size -  © B. Radisavljevic

I Love to Snack


I tend to graze my way through the day. But I don't want to eat junk food. So I try to find healthy snacks. I often eat nuts or crackers made with whole grains or seeds. Whenever possible I prefer gluten-free or organic snacks. Heavenly Hunks meet my criteria. For those to whom it matters, they are also vegan and dairy free. They are good any time of day, but I most often have them for breakfast.

My Strange Breakfast Habits


I used to be a big fan of breakfast. As I entered my last quarter of life I began to feel a bit queasy when I woke up most mornings. My routines changed when my medication changed and I had to take my medication schedule into account when planning my meals, snacks, and sleeping hours. I have to eat something before I take my medication, and I often have to take it within a few minutes of waking up. So I need to put something in my stomach before I feel like eating. Sometimes all I can handle is a soda cracker, so I have it as soon as the alarm goes off, take my medication, and wait until I have more appetite before eating much more. If I feel up to it, I might have a banana or some grapes.

I used to have a Heavenly Hunk, but then Costco stopped carrying them. I was delighted to find them back in stock again last week, so I picked up a few bags. One or two of them with a banana makes a breakfast I can tolerate and it goes well with my morning tea.
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Each small tasty hunk contains oatmeal and dark chocolate chips as the first two ingredients. I get a gram of fiber, and a gram of protein. I admit I also get 7 grams of sugar, but they are good sugars. (Well, as good as any sugar can be.) I often balance those sugars with a handful of salted peanuts for another form of protein. It works for me. If I don't feel up to that much sugar, I have some BelVita Breakfast Biscuits, which I also keep on hand. They aren't quite as sweet.

Heavenly Hunks Are Tasty Snacks Anytime


They also are good for dessert when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling too guilty. You can always have a few nuts of your choice to accompany the hunks to feel more virtuous. Actually, an apple and a few walnuts would be perfect.

Heavenly Hunks are also a valuable addition to my emergency food shelf. The electric company has given fair warning that they may shut us down for days at a time during fire season. Hot foods or foods that require using dishes will be inconvenient, as will be freeze-dried foods. Water will be scarce.

So we are stocking up on nutritious snacks like the Heavenly Hunks, BelVita, dark chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, and trail mix. We will also have to rely on canned fish and vegetables more than we like. We usually have apples, oranges, and bananas that don't need refrigeration, and we keep whole grain crackers on hand. We will also have the protein drinks my husband likes and I don't like much. It will be a departure from our normal diet of fresh foods, but we won't starve. 

A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack
© B. Radisavljevic


You Can Now Find Heavenly Hunks at Amazon


I was happy to see this, since Costco is an unreliable source. That's a shame, since the treats are about half the price at Costco when they do have them. Amazon also sells smaller bags with different flavors, like peanut butter.

Wherever you get these, they are tasty morsels. If you get a chance, try them. Snack on them and keep them handy for emergencies. You won't be sorry.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Moonstone Beach in Cambria: A Review in Photos




Moonstone Beach Is My Go-To Place When it's Hot


I live about forty minutes from Cambria, California. When it's hot, Moonstone Beach is my favorite place to beat the heat. It seems people visit for a lot of different reasons. Most people just walk the boardwalk as my husband is doing in the photo above. Others like to play on the beach or visit the tide pools. Some fly kites. Some build things from the driftwood they find on the beach. And some hunt for jade left on the beach by the waves. I mostly walk on the beach and boardwalk and take pictures. Below is a another beach walker.

Man walking the shoreline at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic

Most of the people I see at Moonstone Beach are not sunbathers. The weather is generally cool and often windy, as you will see in some of the videos below. The people I see in the water are generally not swimmers, but surfers. Most people don't venture deeper into the water than knee high. A lot of people build sandcastles near the water's edge.


Moonstone Beach is a Family Friendly Place


We once saw a family having a reunion there. The activity of the day for intergenerational fun was flying stunt kites. I'd never seen one before, and it was fascinating. In case you haven't seen them in action, either, I took a video with the family's permission. The grandfather was teaching his teenage granddaughter to fly the stunt kite with him. In between watching the action in the air, there are plenty of views of the beach, the commercial/residential area across the highway from the beach, and the structures people have built and left on the beach. Enjoy.




Sometimes as I sit at my computer trying to tend to business, I remember how much fun this family had that day. It might be fun to try it myself. Here's the kite I might get if I had a grandchild to share it with. It appears to be simple enough for me and a child.




Nature is On Display at Moonstone Beach



I enjoy watching the waves and those trying to ride them. I also like to watch the wildlife -- especially the ground squirrels. They star in two portions of the video below. You'll also see a boy trying to figure out how to catch a wave on his boogie board and another climbing the rocks in the tidepools. It only looks like I'm in the water. Take a few minutes, unwind, and watch the waves with me.



As you saw in the video, there are quite a few ground squirrels, and they can put on quite a show. They aren't really tame, but they don't run away and hide until you get a bit too close for their comfort. I was happy to see and get to snap this.


Those two appear pretty skinny in comparison to the one below. I'll bet it does a lot of begging from beach goers. You can also see some of the  beach flowers in bloom.





In all seasons but winter there's usually something you can find in bloom or even dispersing seeds. When I was there in August this bush lupine was forming pods.



I think the pods look a bit like caterpillars. What do you think?

The buckwheat also blooms in August. It almost makes the beach look like a garden, unlike the beaches I used to frequent in Southern California.




Seagulls seem to be everywhere, but they seem to really like hanging out on the tops of streetlights.


Sometimes, though, they like performing close to the water. This is part of the Santa Rosa Creek Watershed you see on Moonstone Beach.



Now the gulls have taken to the sky.  The watershed captured the sky's reflection so that it looks like an island of sky surrounded by the sand.



Make Some Memories on Your Visit 

Then share them with somebody.








There's so much more to see than I've room to show you here. But there are a couple of things I should tell you before I post this. The beach does have some public restrooms. They are near the parking lot.



If you want a really private place to take someone special, this is not far off the boardwalk. Behind this tree is a lone secluded bench facing the ocean. You can see a couple enjoying it now.



Although one can usually find a place to park in the lot, if you're driving a long trailer, be careful. This lot, the one by the restroom, wasn't really designed to handle parking something as long as this man is driving.  He obviously got it parked, but  getting it out of the space he parked in presented a problem. You can see how much difficulty he's having. I had to go over and help direct him so he wouldn't hit anything or get stuck.





Our Central Coast is Full of Beaches

Our Central Coast beaches each have a distinct character and people visit them for different reasons. A lot of the sunbathers prefer Pismo Beach. Surfers especially like Cayucos and Moonstone Beach. You can see a how different Cayucos is from Moonstone Beach in Enjoying the beach at Cayucos, California. Get a brief look at most of our beaches and coastal towns here



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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Reviews of My Favorite Graphoanalysis Books

Image created on Fotojet.com

What Sold Me on Graphoanalysis 

I had my first experience with graphoanalysis in the 1990s. At the time I had an IBM clone  computer in the days before Windows and before I had the internet. I don't quite remember how I acquired the floppy disks I got my shareware programs on or how I even found out about them back then. But one of those disks had a program for analyzing people's signatures for their hidden meanings.

My friends and family weren't safe. I immediately used the program to find out all about them. Of course, I shared  my results and most people thought the results were correct assessments of their personality traits.

In 1990 the IRS decided to audit us. They asked for a ridiculous amount of paperwork and receipts over the course of several weeks. We'd go to an appointment and then the agent would ask for more. By mail. With her signature. Hubby said, "Why don't you analyze her signature?" So I did. That analysis gave us enough information to plan a strategy that worked and helped us win our case. After that handwriting analysis became a sort of hobby.

Later I Turned to Handwriting Analysis Books


As technology progressed, I had to upgrade my computer. I could no longer use a floppy disk. But I wanted to learn more about graphoanalysis. So I started buying books. My collection now includes six books on the subject. I will review my two favorites here.

My foundational book was Handwriting Analysis: The Science of Determining Personality by Graphoanalysis by Milton Bunker, founder of the International Graphoanalysis Society. He was a shorthand teacher who had learned and taught seventeen different shorthand systems. He began to research handwriting in 1910 and through his observations developed his techniques for analyzing it. He explains how he developed and tested his system. He believes it's as valid a science as psychology is. Not everyone agrees. My own experience leads me to believe there's something to it.

After the first chapter, every chapter teaches you a rule to use when evaluating handwriting. Each of these chapters is followed by an short exam so you can test yourself. All the answers are at the back of the book. There is a "Dictionary of Grapho Analysis" at the very end of the book.

The book itself was first published in 1959. I have the 1975 printing and its cover design shows it. The type style  and layout of the book are not as easy to read as more modern styles, but it's still worth what I paid for it and I'd buy it again because it's so interesting. The covers below give you an idea of the style. That back cover will get big enough to read if you click it.

My Scans of Front and Back Covers of Bunker's 1975 Printing, © B. Radisavljevic


See the signatures of the rich, famous, and infamous, as well as their analyses. Learn how the ability of someone to analyze another's handwriting prevented suicides.  Between the covers of this book are numerous stories I simply enjoyed reading. People have used graphology to settle court cases, help law enforcement, and protect loved ones from unhappy marriages and even murder.

Milton Bunker introduced me to the way graphoanalysis developed and its basic principles and techniques. He showed me how useful it is to learn it. Andrea McNichol provides a more modern book that makes handwriting analysis easy to learn -- Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You. Both books are entertaining and held my interest with anecdotes, case histories, and instruction.

Nuggets from Milton Bunker


Bunker calls the ability to analyze handwriting "an insurance policy." He says it can protect your wallet and even your life. He tells several stories where this turned out to be the case. Appearances are often deceiving. Some scoundrels are very good actors and convincing liars. But their handwriting doesn't lie. You can learn a lot about someone from their signature alone. I certainly found that was true as I dealt with the IRS agent during our audit. Graphoanalysis helps one look behind a person's facade.

Here is Bunker's advice for applying what you learn from his books:

  1. Study the rules
  2. Use them to study actual samples
  3. Test and prove your result
He says if you do these things, what you learn will stay in your mind even if lose your books. 

Bunker says analyzing your handwriting will help you get to know yourself better. It can also help you help your child. Sometimes it can uncover unrecognized family dynamics so families can deal with unhealthy situations. 

Bunker tells the story of a family that was about to "lose" their son. The parents knew he was headed for trouble and they didn't know what they were doing wrong. After an analysis of a sample from the parents and the child, they discovered the boy felt his parents didn't love him. They had both been so active outside the home they didn't give the son the attention he craved. The boy agreed that was the problem and the family was able to make changes and turn the situation around.
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What to Do with Your Discoveries


Milton Bunker cautions us to be ethical in the way we use what we find when we analyze someone's handwriting. He reminds us that we should not use it to judge people or as a basis for gossip. He offers this example. As you analyze someone's signature, you may discover its owner has a tendency to steal. But because a person has that tendency doesn't mean he has ever actually stolen anything or ever will. You should simply recognize that the tendency is there and not let him handle your money. Watch him carefully if he handles money or other things of value. Use the information to protect yourself and those you love. 

You may also discover things about yourself you don't like when you analyze your own writing. Bunker and many other graphologists believe you can actually change some traits you don't like by changing your handwriting. I have no personal experience trying to do this, but he does offer some guidance on the subject. 

A Fun Way to Learn Handwriting Analysis 


My Scan of My Book
Andrea McNichol wrote a workbook designed to help anyone learn to analyze handwriting for personal reasons. Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You is easy to use and makes learning enjoyable.

Ms. McNichol has sterling qualifications. She did her undergraduate work and got a teaching credential at UC Berkeley and studied graphology in Europe. She also participated in more specialized study and research related to substance abusers, mental patients, and criminals, some under the auspices of the University of California. She designed and taught the first graphoanalysis course at UCLA and went on to teach the course at seven other UC campuses. Her students have given her consistently high ratings in their reviews. As a professional consultant for law enforcement and businesses, she has used her skills in high profile cases such as the contesting of the will of Howard Hughes.

The book cover I scanned above gives you a good preview of the format and style of her book. My affiliate links above or below will take you to the book page where you can look at a few sample pages inside. They will give you a realistic idea of what it's like to use this book. You will see the introductory quiz that demonstrates how much just your common sense can discern.

McNichol defines graphology as the study of all graphic movement. She believes it applies not only to handwriting but also to doodles, sculpture, and painting. She says it gives insight into the writer or artist's physical, mental, and emotional state, but in this book she limits herself to handwriting analysis. She does devote a brief chapter at the end of the book to doodling.

When We Write We Leave "Brain Prints"


Image Created on Fotojet.com


Ms. McNichol points out that people's handwriting is as unique as their fingerprints. Our handwriting is like an x-ray that reveals what's in our minds. Scary? She says "Our brain prints reveal who we are and how we think, feel, and behave. The are an x-ray of our minds....No two people have the same brain prints."

The purpose of McNichol's book is to show us how to read these brain prints so  we can understand more about people than their spoken words and their actions may reveal. Her easily readable presentation is full of samples and illustrations that will engage you in actually testing what you learn as you go.

Two Approaches to Handwriting Analysis


McNichol offers two paths to interpreting handwriting.

  1. Look for the individual traits of a person's handwriting and determine what each reveals. 
  2. Start with an individual personality trait you want to check for and then see if the person's handwriting has signs of that trait being present. 

Suggestions to Increase Accuracy When Analyzing Handwriting



Don't jump to the wrong conclusion when you see one or two traits that point in the same direction. Look for several different traits that mean the same thing. If possible, use several samples of a person's writing that were taken at different times. 

Consider the conditions a person wrote under. In the introductory photo at the top of this post is a sample of my writing taken under abnormal conditions. I was writing with the "pen" that came with my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 smartphone. I wanted to use a handwriting sample as part of the image and the easiest way to do that was to use the pen to write on my phone screen and then make a screen shot to edit as part of the total image collage. I then used Fotojet to build the collage of cover scans and the handwriting sample. 

Writing on a phone screen is a bit like signing your credit card on one of those terminals that supplies the pen and allows you to scribble something that only faintly resembles your signature. On the phone screen I can at least see what I'm writing, but the surface is much different than paper and one needs to concentrate more. Handwriting samples are best taken when a person is not trying to concentrate on the writing process. The important part of an analysis is what a person is unaware of doing. Something written on paper at a table or desk is a better sample than something written on a computer train or while holding a phone in one hand and the pen in the other. You get the idea. 

Make sure the person who wrote the sample intended for others to read it. We are often careless when we are taking notes just for ourselves, especially if we are trying to hurry. A grocery list may not be the best thing to use. 

Other Considerations 


McNichol tells us that children's writing is often undeveloped. We need to analyze their writing differently than that of adults. They often display traits in their writing that is normal for their age but would horrify us if we saw it in an adult's writing. This book is intended for analyzing adult handwriting only. 

It can also be useful to know which system a person learned to write with. Many people learned to write with the Palmer method and some parts of the book applies mostly to people who learned that way.  If you know how a person learned, it's easier to spot deviations from that method of writing. 

Why Not Learn to Analyze Handwriting Yourself?


It's not only an enjoyable hobby, but it's a great way to get to know people -- really know them. Most of the friends I asked were happy to give me samples. Of course, they also wanted to see the results. Most were surprised their writing revealed so much they'd never told me. 

Write a letter to your younger self and sign it. Or write a letter to anyone you don't intend to send. Don't think about your handwriting -- just what you want to say.  Then use one of these books or a computer program to help you analyze your writing. I have used all of the books below and found them helpful. Many others have been written since I bought mine that I'm also tempted to try. Sometimes it's better to learn from more than one teacher.

You may surprise yourself with what you learn from your handwriting.  And you will also begin to notice the traits you see in the writing of others. Have fun.






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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos
Photo of Elfin Forest from Boardwalk, Los Osos, California, © B. Radisavljevic

The Elfin Forest is a natural area in Los Osos. It's named for its "pigmy" live oaks which have been stunted by growing where they do. The forest looks out over the southeastern shore of Morro Bay and covers about 90 acres. 

Should You Visit the Elfin Forest?

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos
Sign at Entrance of Elfin Forest, Los Osos, Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Every traveler or tourist has unique interests. I, for example, am much happier walking a nature trail than I would be walking in downtown San Francisco. I know, because I've done both. I'd rather be surrounded by nature and have a camera in my hand.

One winter day we decided to play tourist while out doing errands. We had time to kill after our medical appointment in San Luis Obispo. It was too soon to take advantage of the lunch special at our favorite restaurant (now closed).  After twenty years in this area, we’d never stopped in Los Osos. I thought it was time. I wanted a photo walk, and Hubby couldn't take his usual swim at the gym because we were away. We both needed exercise. We decided to go see the Elfin Forest in Los Osos.

Before we left for San Luis Obispo that day, I'd checked the sites that listed tourist attractions. Although the AAA Tour Book for Northern California did not consider this attraction worth mentioning, I had passed signs along the road before. So I looked it up and discovered we could walk the entire trail through the pigmy oak forest in less than an hour. We decided to see what was there and walk off a bit of the buffet lunch we would eat afterwards.

We took the Los Osos Valley Road exit west from the 101 Freeway in San Luis Obispo. Below is a scene we passed on Los Osos Valley Road once we were out of the commercial area. I made my husband stop the car so that I could snap the photo I used in this canvas print. It's also available as a greeting card, poster, postcard, and iPad Mini case. In fact, once you are on the Zazzle site, you can transfer the design to any product you choose.



What We Saw at the Elfin Forest

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos
Shot from Elfin Forest, Los Osos, Photo © B. Radisavljevic


As mentioned above, we toured the Elfin Forest in winter, but Los Osos is on the coast and the climate is mild. The weather was just right for taking a walk outdoors -- not too hot or too cold. But the season did give us a different experience than we would have had in spring or summer. We were still experiencing the drought of 2014 when we took our walk, as well. 

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos - View of Estuary
Estuary, with Morro Rock in Distance, © B. Radisavljevic


 I took the photo above from a lookout on the trail called Siena’s view. It looks out toward Morro Bay, and you can see Morro Rock off in the distance. Do you see how the drought has affected the estuary?

This is another view of the estuary from the boardwalk, looking toward Baywood Park. I made a puzzle of it on Zazzle with the same design as the postcard below. The text is easy to remove with the customize button.




Fauna I Saw During My Visit


I'm sure there were probably some fauna around, but I didn't see anything in the Elfin Forest itself the day I visited. The creatures must have seen me first. In other reviews I've read, people mentioned seeing rabbits, lizards, and even a fox. All I saw was birds. In one of the photos above there was either a hawk or a vulture in the sky. There were many water birds I could see in the estuary from the boardwalk. To get a good view one would need binoculars. This is what I was able to capture with a zoom lens from quite a distance. It would have been better if I'd been zeroing in on the birds, but at the time I was more interested in the overview.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos- Water and Shore Birds in Estuary

Many people enjoy bird watching from the Elfin Forest. I recognize the ducks, but not the birds with longer legs. Here is a complete list of the birds that hang out here. Unfortunately, there aren't any photos. If anyone recognizes the two wading birds near the center of the photo below, please let me know in the comments.




Flora of the Elfin Forest


I have seen photos taken in spring when the forest's many plants are in bloom, but not much was blooming in January. I did see coyote brush in bloom. You can learn more about coyote brush here - Coyote Brush: Blessing or Curse.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos- Coyote Brush
Coyote Brush in Bloom,  © B. Radisavljevic
I did find something else in bloom, but I haven't been able to identify it yet. I'm quite sure it's a berry, but the blooming times and/or leaves didn't match what seemed to make sense from the list I checked of the flora of this forest. Or maybe my eyes are bad. If you recognize it, please let me know in the comments. 

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos- Flora
Mystery Plant in Bloom at End of January,  © B. Radisavljevic



Poison Oak also lurks around the Elfin Forest. Be careful of it, especially in winter when it's harder to see. In the photo below, the very bright leaves are oak leaves. The leaves that show some red are poison oak. Do you see their bare stems? Those are just as dangerous to touch as the leaves are. Sometimes in winter there aren't any leaves to warn you. So stay on trails and don't touch bare stems unless you know it's not poison oak. Find more help with poison oak identification in this article: Oak and Poison Oak in Photos - Can You Tell the Difference? 


The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos: Poison Oak
Oak and Poison Oak in Winter,  © B. Radisavljevic
The pigmy oaks are live oak trees that are stunted by their environment and can't grow as tall as the live oak trees you find in other places. It appears many of them are dead or barely alive. Some appear to be skeletons offering a place for Spanish moss to establish themselves. Below you see one such tree with what appear to be suckers or fresh baby branches near the bottom of the tree. A healthy tree sits to the right displaying branches full of deep green leaves. 

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos: Pigmy Oak and Spanish Moss
Pigmy Oak in Winter with Spanish Moss,  © B. Radisavljevic
To get things into perspective, here are some photos to help you gauge the size of the plants in relationship to the boardwalk. Usually when one thinks of walking through a forest, one imagines looking up at the trees which block the view of what's beyond them. The Elfin Forest is different. Everything that grows there is short -- elf-size. Here's my husband, a giant among the pygmies.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos: Hubby on Boardwalk
Giant Among the Pigmies,  © B. Radisavljevic


But sometimes the trees and shrubs along the boardwalk do grow higher, as did the oaks in the previous photo. The photo below shows that they can often go over one's head and block the surrounding view.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos
A Tunnel through the Elfin Forest,  © B. Radisavljevic
There are many other photos of the flora that I snapped from the boardwalk, but there is not room for all of them here.

Amenities in the Elfin Forest


There really aren't many to speak of. There are no restrooms or drinking fountains nearby. If you plan to stay long, bring water. Most people would not spend more than an hour here. The boardwalk loop is only 4/5 of a mile long. It is flat and wheelchair accessible. There are several benches for resting along the way. Here is one resting place. You can find out where the nearest restrooms are here.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos: A Resting Place
Benches along Boardwalk at the Elfin Forest,  © B. Radisavljevic
Some benches like these, do have backs.

The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos: A Resting Place
More Benches along Boardwalk at the Elfin Forest,  © B. Radisavljevic


Along the walk there are also signs to point out attractions or help identify some of the plants. Some just let you know where you are on the walk. I showed one such sign near the beginning of this post. Although sometimes as you go through a "tunnel" you may feel like you are in a maze, there is little chance you will get lost.

The Los Osos / Morro Bay Chapter of Small Wilderness Area helps maintain the Elfin Forest and also sponsors nature walks on the third Saturday of each month. You can find more information about visiting the Elfin Forest here.  If you are ever driving south on Highway 1 or 101 from Paso Robles or Cambria or points north, The Elfin Forest is a quick place to stop and stretch your legs and get a dose of nature. 

Hungry people can take a short drive to the San Luis Obispo Costco afterward for an inexpensive snack. Pizza, hot dogs, frozen treats, and more are available to the public -- not just Costco members. Purchase the food outside the store and eat at the picnic tables provided. There are also several restaurants nearby.  


If you are in the area with some time to kill and would like to take a quick nature walk or do some birdwatching, stop by the Elfin Forest. It's also a good place to walk your dog. And admission is free. I plan to go back in a couple of days when we again have a medical appointment. I'm hoping to find all the plants that were dormant in January in bloom in June.
The Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California: A Review in Photos:
This collage was created with Fotojet. See review by Contributor Dawn Rae

Related Posts


Dawn Rae reviewed one of my favorite places that also appears to be one of hers -- Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. She has done a lot of hiking there. I've only been there for a couple of hours at a time on my way to and from other historical sites. If you're ever near it, don't hesitate to stop and explore.

Contributor Mary Beth Granger reviews some tips for taking photos while hiking.


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