Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Wisdom of Swine: The Top 10 Things Pigs Can Teach Us, on the #MINI


There's just something about pigs that makes them fodder for expressions and idioms from all over the world. My father was especially fond of porcine proverbs, and I have included several of his favorites in my top ten. Without further ado (this being the #MINI and all.) here they are:


Number 10: Happy as a pig in mud.

Where's your mud? Wallow in it.



Number 9: Even a blind pig sometimes finds a truffle.

This explains why even I have a good round of golf once in a while.



Number 8: Bring home the bacon.

Not to be confused with 'bring home the soy bacon.'

Number 7: Living High off the Hog.

Life's short, eat the bacon.

Number 6: You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig, but It's Still a Pig

Keep this in mind when you watch Fox news...



Number 5: Don't buy a pig in a poke.

I don't want to buy a pig in anything... The B-B-Q place down the street handles all that quite nicely.

Number 4: Pigs Get Fat; Hogs Get Slaughtered

Keep this in mind next year when you fill out your tax return.

Number 3: There's too many Pigs for the Tits

The last couple of piglets will end up Sucking Hind Teat.




Number 2: You Can't Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

You can't really make anything out of a sow's ear, they are as worthless as a sow's ear.

Number 1: If you want to get the Mud out of the Water, you got to get the Hog out of the Spring.

Or out of the White House... #justsaying

Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Don't Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz: A Book Review on the Thursday Afternoon #MINI



If you have read a lot of thrillers, you will be familiar with the premise of Gregg Hurwitz's Don't Look Back: Eve Hardaway, every day woman, having lost her husband, her career, and her inner self to the tedium of every day life, goes on a vacation to the jungles of Mexico to find herself, only to become the target of a deranged terrorist determined to kill her. Sound familiar? It does, and that's because it's a working formula for thrillers; ordinary people with ordinary problems put into extraordinary circumstances. Who couldn't relate to that?

The extraordinary circumstances? Here's where the problems begin. It just so happens that one of the world's most wanted terrorists lives right next to the Eco-lodge that Eve and her fellow adventurers are staying in. When Eve happens to glimpse the man--an Islamic extremist--as she uses the toilet, he goes on a mission to kill every man, woman and child at the lodge in order to protect his identity. Every thriller has to have a turbine to drive the action, a reason for the protagonist and the antagonist to do what they do, and this unlucky event is it. A not overly-complex plot such as this needs superior prose and characterization to make it work, and Hurwitz certainly delivers with his outstanding prose, which is flowing and descriptive, if sometimes over-descriptive to the point of distraction. The characters aren't there, however: the MC falls flat, and her recurrent flashbacks about promising her young son she will always be there for him make her seem whiny rather than provoking sympathy; and the antagonist is improbable (a jihadist in the jungles of Mexico?) and cliched to the point that I had to skim over paragraphs on a repeated basis.

I did enjoy the story, however, reservations aside, and it moves along quite nicely, thank you, albeit within the parameters of its limited structure.  Hurwitz is a talented writer, and you will enjoy this quick read depsite its flaws. (I can also highly recommend his Ophan X series.)

As always with the #MINI, I include a few reviews from other sources (as if the Washington Times can be trusted!), and the link to the amazon site in case you want to buy the book:

Washington Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews

Amazon Page: Don't Look Back

Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Millers All Day: A Dining Review on the #MINI


Millers All Day is the kind of restaraunt that makes you want to be hungry. My wife, daughter and I were strolling down King Street in Historic Downtown Charleston and we just kinda ran into the place at a time when my wife was hungry (and therefore everyone was hungry, if you get my meaning.) So we went in.



The first good sign was that queue was good and long. As I tell my patients when I'm running late: When you're going out to eat, you pull over when you see the line of people spilling out the door, and you get in the back of the line. <Patient gives confused look as to why I am telling this story> The moral of the story is that people will wait for good food. We waited.

When I go out to eat, I like a place with a good vibe. Millers All Day has a real good vibe; there's a good buzz of conversation, but it isn't too loud, and people were having a good time. I like good food as much as the next guy, but I don't like places that are so reverent about their food that they don't allow laughter. (Also, I can't afford those places.) Millers All Day hits the sweet spot between spirited atmosphere and mosh pit loud. And the waitress was perfect; friendly and hip without being too chummy or demanding you eat something you don't want to, like grits.

In the end, though, a place to eat lives and dies but the food it serves. I sampled several different offerings (I had to get a feel for the place, right?). The BLT salad was perfect: perfectly cooked (meaning crisp and not overdone) shrimp and warm bacon over a bed of butter lettuce and heirloom tomatoes, with sunflower seeds and a vinagarette that had just enough (but not too much) vinegar. For a guy that had just had a gelatto in the Farmer's marker, I ate every but of it. The quiche my wife ordered was also excellent (she didn't intend to give me any but she excused herself to go to the Ladies Room and didn't take her dish with her) in particular the side salad of fresh asparagus and portabellos topped with a citrus dressing and goat cheese.

I could go on, but (you don't want me to) and the rules of the #MINI are clear: Short and Sweet, Mister. The bottom line is: If you are hungry (or your wife is hungry) and you are in Downtown Charleston, Millers All Day is offering great food and convivial atmosphere All Week.

 Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.








Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Sixth Extinction: A Book Review on the #MINI


There are good books, there are great books, and then there are great books that change the way you think. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, is a great book that can not only change the way you think but how you live as well. Simply put, The Sixth Extinction is a chronicle of the five major extinctions that have occured on earth and the sixth extinction that is occuring right now, the so-called Anthropocene Extinction. It is fascinating subject material, made even more fascinating by the personal way Kolbert tells the story and her fluid, often humorous prose.

It is so often the case with books like these that there is a moral to the story. The moral to this story: Although previous mass extinctions have been caused by forces beyond human control, such as asteroid collisions and volcanic eruptions, the relatively recent megafauna extinction and the current amphibian extinction are directly related to human activities. Having said that, Ms. Kolbert manages to make her case with fairness, equanimity and, often times, light-heartedness, which is a diffcult task given the subject matter and her implication that, unless we start doing things differently, the human race is going to be one of the victims of the next mass extinction.

Ms. Kolbert does a particularly good job in making real the abstract and the theoretical. As an example, we have all heard about the acidifying ocean and the consequent effects on the biodiversity of marine life; the author found a way to see what the acidified ocean of the (unfortuantely not that distant) future will look like by finding an ocean vent off the coast of Italy spewing acid into the ocean water. The barren waters in the neighborhood of the vents are an excellent example of Ms. Kolbert's point about the effect of the massive amounts of CO2 we are dumping into the atmosphere (1/3 of which is absorbed into the oceans, lowering the vital pH) as well as a fine example of the way she goes about making her point to the reader, using real people and real places.

I'll leave you with a sentence from the book, a good illustration of both Ms. Kolbert's lucid prose and her deft reasoning. Speaking about some sketches found in a cave in France attributed to early humans, Ms. Kolbert writes: 'With the capacity to represent the world in signs and symbols comes the capacity to change it, which, as it happens, is also the capacity to destroy it.'

As always with the #MINI, here are a few links to some other book reviews of The Sixth Extinction, from some of my (less well-known) and (not as deeply trusted) book reviewing competitors and the link to Amazon:

New York Times Book Review

Washington Post Book Review

Amazon: The Sixth Extinction


 Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.



Friday, March 2, 2018

In the Wake of the Storm: Tortola after Hurricane Irma.

On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma--the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall--battered Tortola with 215 mile per winds. Six months later, my family and I flew down to see how Tortola and the other 'Nature's Little Secrets' of the British Virgin Islands had fared. 


Look in one direction (above) and it's hard to believe a catergory 5 hurricane devatastated Tortola less than six months ago. Look in the other direction (below) and it isn't.



220 mile an hour sustained winds were hard on this palm grove.



Neither motor boat nor monohull was spared from the tidal surge that stacked the boats at Soper's Hole up like plastic toys.



Since the mangroves were decimated, a school of minnows is using this inboard boat for protection. Nature is clever.



If you are trying to calculate the cost of this storm, this 28 foot inboard boat goes for about three hundred thousand dollars; it's a total loss, and there are hundreds more like it. And that doesn't include the cost to replace: the countless roofs which blew away in the wind (most not repaired yet); tens of thousands of windows (plastic and duct tape in their stead) blown out; legions of crumpled cars (almost all still sitting in the same spot); and the list goes on.


This pelican doesn't seem to be perturbed by the loss of the magroves, but the water quality will suffer, as mangroves clarify the water by trapping sediment and filtering pollutants. Their strong root system is also a major buffer against erosion.




The hurricane was hard on the island's feral goats. This one--a kid named Betty--followed me around for a few hundred yards until we found the man who raised her by feeding her bottles of cow's milk after her mother died. 



Fluffy, as the locals called her, followed me around on my hikes all week. Like all the other locals, she was happy and carefree despite the destruction of her island. I hope she's doing alright.



My wife and I walking down the mountain to Soper's Hole to get breakfast at D' Best Cup Coffee Shop. 1200 feet elevation and 2.5 miles--in both directions--but well worth it for a great breakfast and... you guessed it, the best cup of coffee in the BVI. 

Want to help Tortola or the BVI? Go there on vacation and spend money. Rent a car, charter a sailboat, stay in a villa, go out to dinner at one of the fabulous resteraunts. Toursim accounts for approximately 95% of Tortola's economy. Tortola remains beautiful despite the destruction, and you can help get Tortola back on her feet. 


 Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.




Wednesday, January 24, 2018

5 Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety and Depression: The Vermont Family Doctor Says, Issue # 1


It's January, and for those of us in the northern hemisphere, that means short days and grey skiesespecially if you live in Vermont, which I (thankfully) do. Short days and grey skies, in turn, have a deleterious effect on mood--and that means for everybody, not just the approximately 1/3 of people at northern latitudes who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It seems timely, then, to write a post about the best ways to boost mood without medication.



1) Get your ass moving: I could write an entire thesis on the mood effects of Exercise (fortunately for your mood I won't) but it would take too long and I want to go hiking later this morning. Suffice it to say that exercise causes your body to release endorphins, a chemical that has the effect of reducing stress, boosting mood, and decreasing the perception of pain. The best part about endorphins is that, unlike morphine to which endorphins are related, they don't engender addiction or habituation. Hot Damn!! Talk about the perfect drug! And it's naturally produced and free--all you need is a pair of hiking boots (or running sneakers or swim trunks or a rowing machine, etc.) If that's not enough to get you headed to the gym, exercise is also a proven way to boost self-esteem, and the sense of the well-being that comes from regular exercise is an independent promoter of good mood. 

Here's a great article from the Mayo Clinic on the subject: Exercise and Depression
 2)Into the arms of MorpheusIt wasn't until I became a resident physician that I came to understand the importance of Sleep. Well, I wasn't getting any (minimum 80 hour work weeks and TWO kids, both born during my residency) and Man, Oh Man was it an effort to keep my spirits up. Every once in a while, Morpheus would toss two or three nights of good sleep my way and the effect on my mood and spirits (not to mention my irritability index) was dramatic. I don't want to put you to sleep <grimaces from bad pun> with the medical literature on the subject, but suffice it to say that studies documenting the link between sleep and mood are rife and irrefutable. Take home message: Turn your damn computer off (after you finish this article and share it with your friends) and shut off the lights. zzzzzzzzzzz

The Link between Sleep Deprivation and Depression 



3)Hit the Lights: As I referenced above, light has a lot to do with mood. I think most people would agree with this, but the issue is: What the heck can I do about itother than move to Southern California? (And who can afford to do that?) Well, in the mode of killing three birds with one stone, why don't you skip lunch (we'll talk about the role of food and mood next) and go for a walk: Exercise, daylight, and fresh air all at once. Talk about being in a good mood. If you simply can not get outside for the natural stuff, buy a bright light, and use it every day for at least 1/2 hour. 

 How to treat depression with Light


4) You are what you eat: To all of you people who rely on M&Ms (yes, me...) to get you through the day, this one is for you. While there is no doubt that Skittles gives you a boost when you chomp a handful (Just ask Marshawn Lynch) you have to realize that the boost is very short term. The big spike in blood Sugar you just got from eating that whole bag of circus peanuts (substitute Gummi Bears, Candy Corn, Jelly Beans, etc,) leads to a big spike in insulin, which then drastically lowers your sugar levels, making you feel like a nap is the best idea in the world. Even worse, fluctuating blood sugar plays havoc with the levels of serotonin in your brain, adversely affecting your mood. Plan: Stay away from simple carbs, such as sweets, juices, sodas, sugars, etc.

If you want to read more about it, here's the link to A WebMD article on Food and Mood


 5)Get Unplugged: The data is undeniable. Too much Screen Time causes depression, increased anxiety, irritability and loss of focus. Although the studies have been done mostly on children and teens (brains in formation) there is good evidence to suggest screen time has similar effects on adults as well. I can't imagine this surprises you, and it begs the question: How much is too much? This is still being worked out, and is probably the area where the distinction between forming brains and formed brains is most important. Keep something in mind: the frontal lobe (the area of the brain where decision making and judgment happen) doesn't stop forming until at least 25 years of ageSo turn off the TV, take a walk instead; put away the X-Box, play ScrabbleShut down the laptop, read a book instead (I can find the opportunity for shameless self-promotion anywhere).

Interested in moreScreen Time and Mental Health
The New American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on screen time limits.



Cheers, peter
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.