Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Should Amazon be the Only Business on the Hot Seat?

Apparently, the New York Times article detailing Amazon's workplace environment has piqued more than the public's interest. Thousands of people are said to have posted responses to the NYT article both in favor of and in opposition to the description of Amazon as a "bruising workplace" environment. 

And now, the government is involved. I read in this Publisher's Weekly post after the article appeared, Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi paid Amazon HQ a visit to check things out and discuss the Equality Act. Maybe it's just to keep them in line, but an article and a trip like this doesn't go unnoticed.

Coming to his company's defense is Nick Ciubotariu, Head of Infrastructure and Development, Search Experience, writing this response

All this public back-and-forth is interesting. In my corporate experience, I felt first-hand the pressure to perform above and beyond, and work extra hours. Sometimes this pressure came directly from management, sometimes from peers, sometimes it was internal pressure to get my job done, and be a great employee, to advance in the ranks, or at times, to just keep a job. 

I don't know how you can put only one business on the hot seat for this. I hear people from companies all over talk about being tied to their job, or their smartphone, and struggling with work-life balance. Is it fair this goes mostly unwritten, but is expected? What is your take on this? Are heavy workloads and long hours Standard Operating Procedure these days, are Amazon's employees being treated unfairly, or other?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

'Sesame Street' to Air First on HBO (Yikes!)

This is news. BIG news. After 45 years with PBS, HBO will now air Sesame Street's first episodes. Something about a nine month run of new shows on HBO, then the 'newer' shows will run on PBS. We'll still be able to watch revamped reruns on PBS this fall. yay

This will last five seasons. 

I'll have to decide if it's worth the money to see the first-runs, or if we can wait for the PBS aired episodes on a nine-month delay. I know they need money to make the show, but it seems wrong on so many levels to make parents pay for what was free educational programming for decades. Let's hope the folks at HBO don't try to make it edgier by making Oscar's trash-can lifestyle a result of hardcore addiction, and renaming it 'Sesame: Life on the Street' or just 'The Street'.

You can read more of the The New York Times article here

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Reads: Kid Reads

Our family loves books! This week while searching for interesting kid books, I found some suggestions worth sharing from The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).

Kids can learn and get so much enjoyment from books, so read with them, it really does make a difference! I grouped these by age to make things easier for parents, aunties, and anyone looking for children’s books.

What do you like to read to your kids, neices/nephews, grandkids? Feel free to add to this list in the comments section. 

Listed with books good for grades K-2 (ALSC)

Like pandas? How about Haiku? Koo the panda is back and discovering each season through poetry.  This looks fun!


In a series of charming portraits, dinos of all sizes are compared to real-life objects in the modern world.

Listed under books good for grades 3-5 (ALSC)

Crime-solving chickens. Why didn’t I think of this?

Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are out to solve some mysteries. First in a series.

Twelve-year-old Rump goes on a quest to discover his true identity and to break a magical curse in this humorous take on the classic fairy tale.

Listed under books good for grades 6-8 (ALSC)

In an epic novel, three children find their lives changed through a magic harmonica and their own self-resilience.

Magic harmonica. ‘Nuf said.

So. Curious.

Flapjack, Elirio, and Lupe build a custom out-of-this-world lowrider car to enter in the Universal Car Competition. They hope to win the cash prize and open their dream garage. First in a series.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Reads: Five for Friday

This week I noticed a lot more back-to-school chatter. Summer vacation has ended for some, and is coming to a close for others. This is both good and bad news. Yay, school and learning! Boo, end of lazy, summer days (if you had a chance to enjoy any)!

There are still sunny days left before we head back. I want to spend most of them playing outdoors with the kiddos and reading great books long after sunset without an alarm at reveille. So, here’s a Five for Friday list in case you want more summer reading ideas.

Now go, pack in as much fun as you can, and squeeze in a few more good books before summer sails off into the horizon.


If the title and the cover are any indication, this is going to be an incredible book.

Inspired by a chance encounter with spinner dolphins off the coast of Maui, Casey decided she wanted to learn more about dolphins. The book is said to explore dolphin science and cultural meaning, but also discusses the importance of protecting the species from hunters.

This sounds like the perfect blend of heart and science. The kind of summer read that reminds us all of earth’s many wondrous creatures.

Kinsey Millhone is a pretty strong character. She’s a private investigator who’s seen her share of bad guys. In her latest installment of the alphabet series, X, Millhone has to identify and help catch a serial killer before he catches her.

Reviews are listing this as an “intense” and “chilling” novel. Grafton crafts Millhone with the characteristic pluck, intensity, and humor readers enjoy while creating a psycho serial killer to ratchet up the anxiety while Millhone works her investigative magic.

Looked so interesting, I may just have to buy it right now.

Excerpt of Amazon's Overview:

The acclaimed author of The Good German “deftly captures the ambience” (The New York Times Book Review) of postwar East Berlin in his “thought-provoking, pulse-pounding” (Wall Street Journal) New York Times bestseller—a sweeping spy thriller about a city caught between political idealism and the harsh realities of Soviet occupation.

This book delves into a CIA hostage rescue mission that went sideways. The Vienna agents on duty, lovers at the time of the incident, meet up six years later to piece together what really happened, and find out if one of their own had been compromised.

A man named Monsieur Perdu is a self-described literary apothecary. He runs a bookstore from a barge floating on the Seine, prescribing “novels for the hardships in life.” (Amazon) He just has trouble finding the right prescription for his own loss, until he reads a letter from a great, lost love.

This book is on Oprah’s Book List under the tab ‘Books for When Your Brain is Melted’. Sit back, relax and travel with Perdu as he ventures out to heal others, and possibly, himself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Reads for Your Journey

Photo Copyright: Windswept Sands by K.Gibson

I compiled this book list for a variety of summer readers. Here are three interesting picks for those who wish to take a literary journey; leap into pet-parenthood with their kids; or adventure with authors to new lands.

Whether you read one or not, I invite you to find and share your favorite summer reads in the comments.


Summer is the perfect time to get swept away. This Pulitzer Prize winner could do just that. Some of the reviews I read are saying this beautifully written book has well-drawn characters and a story that flows. If those aren’t good enough, the page-long overview on Barnes & Noble might help sway you.

Here’s part of the Overview from Barnes & Noble:

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Are your little ones asking for a pet? This could be a fun book to help you settle on the right one, or just get the conversation rolling in a fun way. Since our kids have been asking for everything from puppies to ponies, it’s time we pick this one up and read together.

Not sure? Here’s a brief clip from Barnes & Noble:

This never-ever-before-seen picture book by Dr. Seuss about making up one’s mind is the literary equivalent of buried treasure! What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can’t choose just one! The tale captures a classic childhood moment—choosing a pet—and uses it to illuminate a life lesson: that it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it!

Anthologies are a recurring theme for me this summer. I enjoy them because you can sample short stories from a variety of authors. It’s a great way to find out whether I like a writer’s style before committing to a longer length novel.

This anthology sounds just right for all those rushing to fit in last-minute travels before heading back-to-school.

Overview from B&N:

An Innocent Abroad: Life Changing Trips From 35 Great Writers is everything a travel anthology should be, ranging from funny to touching to heartbreaking while always remaining engrossing. The anthology features a diverse and wide ranging number of contributors, from writers Dave Eggers and Ann Patchett to seasoned travel chroniclers like Jan Morris.

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