Sunday, February 27, 2011

ALA 2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Do you know a teenager who absolutely hates to read? Are you that teenager? It's understandable that you might not like what your teacher assigns (who does?), but if you never, ever pick up a book or magazine on your own, check out this list: 2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. I dare you to choose just one book and read it all the way through, then decide whether you still hate reading. You might surprise yourself by choosing a second, maybe even a third book from the list.

You have my permission to scroll through the boring first few paragraphs and get straight to the list, fiction first, then nonfiction. The descriptions are extremely short, but hey, you hate reading so these should be perfect. There are definitely no wasted words here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Healthcare Blue Book

Did you know that medical procedures can vary widely in cost depending on where in the US you live? To compare those costs, check out Healthcare Blue Book.

To use the site, you put in whatever procedure you need and click "Search Prices." You can be as general or specific as you want, but you may be asked to fine-tune the results. Also on the results page you can enter your ZIP code--or any ZIP code really, for comparison purposes.

You can also browse topics by using the tabs across the top of the screen. There are separate tabs for Dental and Hearing Aids, although dental procedures may show up in your results if you search on a general topic, like X-rays.

The Resources for Patients tab is useful. There's a section on using the website, plus there are tips on finding insurance, understanding treatment options, negotiating your bills, getting a pharmacy discount card from Healthcare Blue Book, and more.

The next time you feel overwhelmed by something medical or insurance-related, try Healthcare Blue Book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review - "The Ascent" by Ronald Malfi

Whoa. That was my initial reaction after staying up late one night to finish The Ascent. It might sound cliche, but it really is a roller coaster ride of a book.

Whatever review I read must have made this book sound just fabulous, because when I got it and was reading the inside flap, I almost put it back. It's about extreme mountain climbing, specifically a place in the Himalayas called the Canyon of Souls that no one has ever seen. Or rather, no one has seen it and returned to tell about it. I have no interest in mountain climbing, but since something in the review made it sound interesting in some fashion, I decided to give it a try. And, wow, am I glad I did.

The Ascent isn't just about mountain climbing. It's also about art and inspiration, marriage, friendship, and really wacko minds. It's very much a suspense thriller but an intelligent one. The characters are three-dimensional, the scenery unfolds like a video as you trek through the mountains with these guys, and the plot is well-paced and intricate.

Tim's past has bearing on his present and is the reason why he goes on this crazy trip, and the reader finds out what happened at the same time as Tim processes the events. It's a wonderful blend of how we can never escape our choices because they are always in our minds influencing every other choice. We meet his wife Hannah and eventually find out why she left him and how she ended up going over a cliff in a car with another guy. We see how Tim and Andrew meet and wonder why Andrew would invite Tim on a wild journey in the Himalayas. We meet the other members of the climbing team and root for them as their strength and will are tested beyond what they ever imagined.

There is a touch of the supernatural in this book, but the region the guys are walking through is a sacred place, so it's not unexpected to have some contact with souls that have gone before. Don't let that aspect of the story stop you from picking up this book. It's much more than just a suspense novel or a story about mountain climbing. It will haunt you after you read the last page, giving you that delicious chill as you wonder whether what seems to have happened really did.

How to Stop Getting the Yellow Pages Phonebook

I saw a Wired blog post recently that explains how you can opt out from receiving the yellow pages. (Be warned that the author really doesn't like getting that brick of bound pages on his door step.) If you too would like to discontinue delivery, simply go to the Yellow Pages Opt Out website and put in your ZIP code. You do have to register, but it's free and then you can select which products you want or don't want to receive anymore.

Also on the site you can find out how to recycle your yellow pages and learn about how the book gets made. (For anyone who is curious, Yellow Pages does its best to be environmentally friendly before and after printing the books.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011