Thursday, September 30, 2010

October - Coming Attractions

    posted by Donna MacMeans

    Prepare yourself for a wild time in the lair this month. We have loads of guests, a launch party and Halloween to celebrate. I've had to restock confetti, streamers, champagne and chocolate - just so we can make it through the month.

    We'll start with Lorraine Heath on October 4th. Lorraine and Suz talk about a brand new series Lorraine has titled, LONDON'S GREATEST LOVERS. They'll discuss the series and the first two books, PASSIONS OF A WICKED EARL and PLEASURES OF A NOTORIOUS GENTLEMAN. Don't miss these very sexy brothers!

    Tighten the bolts on the chandelier! Christie is launching SCANDAL OF THE SEASON on October 5th. Talk about a hot cover! Our launch party might well be the scandal of this season (grin).

    On Wednesday, October 6th, Anna Campbell hosts debut historical author Tiffany Clare. We'll be talking about Tiffany's sizzling October release THE SURRENDER OF A LADY. (I do love meeting new debut authors, don't you?)

    On October 7th Banditas Kim Howe and Jeanne Adams will talk about their fabulous experiences at Writers Police Academy in Greensboro, NC.

    Lair favorite Kate Walker will be back on October 8th to talk about her new - and slightly different - Harlequin Presents Extra novel THE GOOD GREEK WIFE? She'll be telling us why the question mark is very important and why this novel is a bit different - and rounding out the celebration of her 25th year in publishing. (Yay Kate!)

    October 12th, another bandita favorite, Dianna Love, returns to the lair with a prelude to the spooky Halloween season and things that go bump in the night, as we talk about the unexplainable and give a sneak peak of her latest colaboration with Sherrilyn Kenyon, BLOOD TRINITY, first in the Belador series.

    Madeline Hunter joins us on October 16th to chat about her new release, SINFUL IN SATIN. (That heroine sure looks sinful in pink!)

    Breaking News Janet Mullaney will join us on October 17th to talk about Jane Austen and vampires - what a perfect month for her to guest blog! (sorry no cover picture)

    My old friend, Cathy Mann, will join us again on October 19th. THE MAVERICK PRINCE will be out in November, so we're diving a little ahead, but look at this cover!!! Well worth the anticipation!

    After talking about Cathy's November release, it won't be much of a stretch to look forward to Christmas and WICKED WONDERLAND. Luann McLane will join us on October 21st to talk about this fun anthology. Three bestselling authors steam up the pages with sexy tales of women who earn spots on Santa's naughty list...

    Desire author Jules Bennett will take us FROM BOARDROOM TO WEDDING BED on October 23rd. Priorities becomes skewed when faced with blackmail...will Cole Marcum risk his heart once again to confront the truth from the past?

    All in the lair know about the Adam's legendary Halloween parties. With a name like Adams, can we expect anything less? We'll close out October with a bang as Jeanne Adams invites us to celebrate her favorite holiday, Halloween.

    This month's contests:

    After the huge success of Anna Campbell’s last contest where she gave away a pile of signed books, she’s doing it all again in her latest website contest. The question is really easy. Other than English, please name three languages in which Anna’s books are available. You might just find the answer on this page of her website: She’ll choose TWO winners at random and those lucky entrants will receive signed copies of:

    MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by Anna Campbell

    DARK AND DEADLY by Jeanne Adams


    THE WICKED MARQUIS by Miranda Neville

    PROOF BY SEDUCTION by Courtney Milan

    Either WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON or THE DUKE AND I by Julia Quinn

    Good luck! The contest closes 30th November, 2010. Email your answers For more information, please visit Anna’s contest page:

    It's a full exciting month in the Lair. Don't miss a day of it!
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My view at 6:30am

    Early morning is one of my favorite times with Toby. He's super mellow and talk-y, and we "chitchat" about lots of fascinating things while he plays in his crib. When Toby was first born, I was so anxious that I was doing everything right (he was so teeny), but these days I'm thankfully settling in, feeling more confident and just enjoying his awesome company. Oh, Toby, I adore you and your Jack Nicholson eyebrows!Source URL:
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Baroness Warsi and election fraud

    Baroness Warsi has been interviewed in the current issue of the New Statesman by Mehdi Hassan. I have not read the article (it not being online and I still not feeling quite my best and thau with no plans to leave the house today) but going by his New Stateman blog it is clear that Warsi has made some serious but unsubstantiated allegations. about Labour electoral frud

    …. the chairman of the Conservative Party and minister without portfolio, in this week's New Statesman, she makes a remarkable claim about the extent of electoral fraud at the last general election and

    "At least three seats where we lost, where we didn't gain the seat, based on electoral fraud. Now, could we have planned for that in the campaign? Absolutely not."

    This is the first time a senior minister has made such a blunt and specific allegation about the impact of electoral fraud on the general election result.

    Can she reveal the names of those seats?

    "I think it would be wrong to start identifying them," she says, but adds: "It is predominantly within the Asian community. I have to look back and say we didn't do well in those communities, but was there something over and above that we could have done? Well, actually not, if there is going to be voter fraud."

    I asked Warsi if she believed the Labour Party in those three seats had benefited from the alleged fraud. Her answer?


    Hmm to say “I think it would be wrong to identify them” is simply not good enough. If she has good evidence of fraud then it is her absolute duty to ensure that the evidence is presented to the police forthwith. If this is a case of hearsay or just sour grapes then she should not make such allegations.

    I’m not saying that Warsi is lying. There were indeed cases of alleged fraud at the last election: for example in Two men were arrested in April on suspicion of electoral fraud in April, This took place in Halifax, a marginal seat where Labour did win.

    And it is not hard to find example of convictions for electoral fraud here are a few from the last two years or so:

    In 2008 Tory activist John Hall was fined £1000 after duping people to fill in proxy voter forms during the 2007 Winchester City Council elections.

    Last year six men were jailed for sentences varying from fourh to forty months for election fraud during an election in the Slough Central ward in May 2007 where . Labour councillor Lydia Simmons lost her seat to Tory Raja Khan.

    In April a former Tory councillor was found guilty of election fraud at Bradford Crown Court. Mohammed Saghir had fraudulently applied for five proxy votes in other people's names in the May 2008 local election.

    Just a few weeks ago Five men, including two former councillors, were jailed for their parts in a failed postal votes scam intended to get a Conservative candidate elected in the 2005 general election. A newspaper investigation and police inquiry had unearthed a plot to get Tory candidate Haroon Rashid elected in the marginal Bradford West seat using hundreds of fraudulent postal vote applications. The five were jailed for between 11 and 31 months.

    Hmm seems like there is a problem after all!Source URL:
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Laughter yoga

    Have you guys heard of laughter yoga? Indian physician Madan Lal Kataria encourages people to get together in small groups and start fake laughing; after a while, he says, the laughter will become genuine and euphoric. Dr. Kataria believes that laughter can cure physical and psychological ailments. It sounds nutty, but my friend Scott recently tried it with a group of friends and said it was surprisingly awesome. Would you give it a shot?

    P.S. Also, marshmallows!Source URL:
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Golden Gate Bridge dinner party

    Whoa! Our girl Jordan just hosted a four-course dinner party on a beach underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It must have felt so magical to be eating parsnip soup in the cool breeze beneath the twinkling lights.

    Read her full story here.

    (Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day)Source URL:
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Aria Pro II RSB Deluxe Modification

    David from Canada sends in pics of a beautifully modified 1985 RSB Deluxe bass. David says the bass, originally black, was damaged slightly on a plane trip. Although the damage was not severe, he took the opportunity to give the bass a complete makeover using exotic woods. The result is a bass that looks like it came out straight out of the Aria Pro Custom Shop!

    David selected Imbuia (Brazilian walnut) for the 'wings' and and the lighter shaded Zebrano (Zebrawood) for the middle and headstock. The bass also looks terrific under stage lighting. In addition to the woodwork, David also had EMGs installed.

    Unfortunately, David sold the bass but hopes to one day buy it back or even have another bass modified with exotic wood tops. Send in the pics if you do, David!

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Even more fascinating Exoplanet news

    Back in 2007 I put up a post about the discovery of an exoplanet Gliese 581c. At the time it was one of three planets discovered around the red dwarf star Gliese 581c which is just 20 light years from earth ( Just down the road in astronomical terms but for the foreseeable future it may as well be on the other side of the universe in terms of getting up close and personal).

    Gliese 581c is close to the star’s so called Goldilocks zone (aka the Habitable Zone or HZ - the band around a star where water can exist in liquid form and thus amenable to life…. or at least life that may be remotely earth-like). At the time it was the smallest know extra solar planet was considered a possible location of extrasolar life.

    Gliese 581 seems to be a goldmine for exoplanets: In 2009, 581d, a “super-earth” was found to be in the HZ; 581e, although beyond the HZ is at 1.9 times the mass of the earth the smallest exoplanet so far.

    And there’s more!

    According to today’s Guardian there is yet another planet , Gliese 581g , which is potentially habitable (being in the HZ) and of a similar size to Earth.

    Gliese 581g, has a mass of three to four times that of Earth and takes 37 days to orbit the star. Astronomers believe it is a rocky planet with enough gravity to retain an atmosphere.

    One side of the planet is always facing the star, much as one side of the moon constantly faces Earth. This means that the far side of the planet is constantly in darkness. The most habitable region of the planet would be the line between the light and dark regions.

    The average temperature on the planet is estimated to be between -31 to -12C, but the ground temperature would vary from blazing hot on the bright side and freezing on the dark side.

    "Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet," said Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."

    "The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably on the order of 10 or 20 percent, and when you multiply that by the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, that's a large number. There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy,"

    This is utterly fascinating stuff. I can imagine that such discoveries will be come more and more commonplace.. I can only imagine what newer and more advanced telescopes will reveal.

    Shame that we will never see them in the flesh thoughSource URL:
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At last!

    Beginning to feel more human today. Colds are one thing but methotrexate and a bit of asthma thrown in makes the cold experience rather less present. At least I'll be back to work to sort out the month end accruals and transfer journals for the budgets I deal with. Strange to feel that it will be the last time as a civil servant....Source URL:
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


    by Jo Robertson

    I’m very envious of those male bonding stories. You know the ones -- those about soldiers during battle, Jack Kerouac wanna-be’s, motorcycling across America or backpacking through Europe,or motocycle gangs like the fictional Sons of Anarchy on FX.

    Even men gathered around a wide-screen plasma TV on Super Bowl Sunday foster feelinga of envy in me.

    You see, I’m convinced that men are by far the SIMPLE sex. They rose out of that primordial sludge with the single-minde
    d focus of hunting prey. They tuned out the wails of infants, cast off the chills of winter, and set aside the circling of buzzards to either kill the animal they stalked or escape the one stalking them.

    This fall football dominates television and the men in my family watch with avid interest. Nothing detracts them from the kickoff or the run to the end zone on that HD wide-screen TV.

    It’s the same thing during basketball or baseball season, of course. The same basic instinct that allowed the strongest of mankind to survive
    their caveman era keeps their minds focused on the basketball game, oblivious to any sensory stimuli outside their narrow circle.

    But the nifty thing about men is they get to give those really cool speeches like St. Crispin Day’s Speech from Henry V – “we happy, happy few, we band of brothers.” And they get to pat each other on the ass and sling an arm around a brother’s neck in manly affection.
    I love that speech where Henry V, against overwhelming odds leads his soldiers "once more into the breach," where he talks about how those not there will consider themselves "accursed" not to have been part of that lucky group, the "band of brothers" who fought that day. "He who shares his blood with me this day shall be my brother." Gives me chills!

    And here’s the real thing I’m jealous of: men's bonds, almost entirely nonverbal, can be the most powerful ties that bind people together. They transcend love and family, careers and religion.

    the stories, the really great ones, portray those bonds. Shakespeare scholars call it “manly love.” They get to go to war and watch sports events.

    Medical science has pretty much determined that women are the stronger sex, regardless of the antiquated notions of many people. Women outlive men; fewer female infants die than male ones. In some villages that still practice the outmoded notion of female infanticide, they have to import brides for their sons. Yeah, women are pretty hardy.

    Psychological and sociological studies regarding men and women are interesting, particularly one such study that involved recordings in which the subjects were presented with three separate, unfamiliar stories read aloud simultaneously. They found that the men quickly focused on one of the stories and shut the other two out. The women, however, tried to listen to and comprehend all three stories at the same time. Resulting, as you may imagine, in a lot of headaches for the women!

    I mention this because it underscores one of the great differences between men and women and one, I believe, which leads to a great source of contention between the sexes.

    When men are engrossed in a project, large or small, their focus is immutable, much like their primordial ancestors hunting prey. If they’re watching football on television and you stomp angrily by three or four times, hoping to get their attention with your not-so-subtle annoyance, they really DON’T notice.

    Women, on the other hand, really CAN talk on the telephone, cook dinner, and know precisely the exact moment when a toddler is on the brink of grave mischief.

    The crux of romance stories is the relationship, conflict, and reconciliation between a man and a woman. Often the characters appear horribly unsuited to one another or have some basic differences that make their coming together seem nearly impossible. While we may not have such conflicts in our real romance lives, my experience has shown me that there's plenty of drama between men and women, often because of the way they think, approach situations, or react to them.

    Do you like male bonding stories? If so, what's one of your favorites?

    What's your favorite male-female conflict in a story? What kinds of romance stories do you like best? Least?
    Do you think the relationships between men are less or more complicated than female friends have?
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Aria Pro II SB-1010

    elfreda ica
    from Wisconsin has obtained a very rare version of the SB-1000 called the SB-1010. His is from 1985. It's a medium scale version of the SB-1000. Fellow Aria fan Yutaka was able to translate the 1986 catalog info on the SB-1010. There isn't a photo of the SB-1010 in the catalog, just a short description. The SB-1010 has the same BB Circuit as the 1000. However the bridge is not brass, and does not have the narrow string spacing like the Sb-1000. The 1010 has a chrome bridge found on other SB models such as the SB-R60. The body and headstock are noticeably smaller on the SB-1010. Yutaka explained that it was designed for the smaller Japanese players. Although the catalog states they were available in black and padouk red, I've only seen black versions. Here are some pictures from elfreda ica. You can see the difference between the 1010 and the 1000, and the shorter headstock:

    Another example of the SB-1010 can be found on Graeme's SB pages.

    Thanks again to elfreda ica for sending in pics of this rare model. You can see more photos of his basses here.
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Wednesday giveaway!

Iranian "King of the bloggers" sentenced to 19 1/2 years

    For me Hossein Derakshan falls in to the category "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". From what I have read of his work ( mainly his Comment is Free articles in the Grauniad) he could certainly write utter rubbish.

    What he certainly doesn't deserve is a huge prison sentence. 19 1/2 year prison sentence followed being convicyed of "cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities,".

    He had been in detention in Evin prison in Tehran since his arrest on November 1, 2008,

    Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, condemned the sentence. "This is the longest sentence issued against a blogger in Iran, and it is solely because of his opinions and blogging. The sentence is meant to send a chilling message to the Iranian youth to stay away from the internet in practicing their freedom of expression,"

    A journalist working on a reformist newspaper before emigrating to Canada in 200,Derakhshan set up a blog , titled Editor Myself on It gained worldwide attention, particularly for his blog start up guides for fellow Iranians.

    He was no stranger to controversy: in 2006 he became what must have been the traveled to Israel on his Canadian passport.

    Shortly before his imprisonment Hossein Derakhshan began writing in support of of the regime, However this was not enough to save his skin.

    To get an idea of Derakhshan's later work try this index at Comment is Free. Proof positive that a volte face will not save you from a regime like Iran's.

    Even if I think much of the CiF writings are utter drivel (check out his critique of Persepolis for a corker of twisted logic!) there is no way the man deserve 19.5 seconds in custody, let alone the appalling sentence handed down by the regime.Source URL:
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Been a while since I posted some Darya Dadvar

Helmet style

Burmese elections will be free and fair – official!

    Burmese foreign minister keeps straight face when declaring elections will be free and fair!

    Well according to Burma's foreign minister U Nyan Win who has declared that the junta is committed to a "free and fair'' vote in the upcoming national election on November 7; one which will be "a critical phase of its (Burma’s) political transformation process.''

    In a speech to the UN General Assembly he said that more than 3,000 candidates from 37 parties would take part in the vote for 1,171 parliamentary seats.

    "Such a large participation made it crystal clear that the elections become virtually inclusive,'' the minister said. "With its ample experiences and lessons learned in holding multiparty general elections in the past history, Burma is confident in its ability to conduct the elections in an orderly manner.

    "Whatever the challenges facing us, we are committed to do our best for the successful holding of the free and fair general elections for the best interest of the country and its people.''

    Well there you go. I bet you’re all convinced by U Nyan Win’s reassuring words… I know I am! I daresay some fellow leftists will continue to view the junta as a good anti imperialistic, anti American bunch, while, as usual, solipsist libertarians will not give a damn… Hiho

    When I say reassured, I mean reassured that the man is talking bollocks. There are four words missing from this election: AUNG, SAN, SUU and KYI.

    As for experience of multiparty elections, the vermin in charge of that blighted country have experience of ignoring any election they find inconvenient (to wit a 1990 landslide for Aung San Suu Kyi)

    Come 8 November I can predict that the Union Solidarity and Development Party will be major winners. That this party is headed by Thein Sein, the current Prime Minister and thus beloved of the junta is a mere coincidenceSource URL:
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Maine perfume

    A few years ago, my dad took my sister and me on a fall weekend trip to Bar Harbor, Maine. We stayed in a charming old B&B and made it our goal to eat lobster for every single meal, including lobster scrambled eggs, bisque, rolls, whole lobsters, and even a McDonald's McLobster...
    Even though it rained almost the whole time, the trip was one of the best I've ever taken. So I was psyched to discover this Maine perfume. Wouldn't you love to smell its sea, air, sun, pine and grassy scent?

    (Photos by 3191 Miles Apart and Between the Bread)Source URL:
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Buried Alive!

    by Susan Sey

    So I broke up with my old gym. We'd been happy together for two years or more but things had gotten stale. Boring. Expensive. It wasn't any one thing but sometimes you grow apart, you know? It's not you, it's me. These things happen. Maybe we should take a break.

    I decided to have a look around, see if there was an option that fit my life a bit better. As it happens, there was. The Community Center.

    The Community Center has a pool. My old gym did, too, but this pool is a zero-depth-entry, chock-full-of-slides-and-toys, warmer-than-bathwater type pool. Much better for my skinny children whose lips turn blue when they so much as stroll past the beach.

    The Community Center also has an indoor playground, access to which comes free with membership. A nice bennie when you live in The Land That Summer Forgot. Snow'll be flying up here pretty soon--an indoor playground will be nice to have.

    The Community Center is also next door to the library (this family's idea of nirvana), has a preschool (which my youngest attends), and costs less than half what my old gym did.


    However, the CC (as it will henceforth be known because I am a lazy typist) lacks one thing. TVs on the cardio equipment. Our old gym had TVs on all the treadmills & elliptical machines. You just plugged in your headphones, picked a station & off you went for your sweaty twenty minutes or whatever.

    At the CC, there's a bank of TVs hung on the wall & you have to tune your personal radio (who the heck has a RADIO anymore??) to the FM band indicated on the wall under each TV. That's the only way you can listen to the audio. Otherwise, you have to read the closed captioning they've conveniently turned on.

    Now this isn't a problem for me. I'm happy to read the screen. My husband feels this is a crime against fitness but that's a different blog. No, what I want to talk about today is the joy of being forced out of my usual TV watching rut.

    See, running isn't fun. When I run indoors, I need to be diverted. I need to be absorbed or I spend too much time thinking about how very unpleasant running is & wondering if it's over yet. (It's not.)

    So I need some gripping TV, & I'm not interested in taking a chance on an unknown quantity. I like shows I *know* I like: reality shows where talented people work under time & material pressure--Top Chef or Project Runway. I like a good soapy drama--Dawson's Creek is a big favorite. Or something clever and quick--That 70's Show still kills me. (I have a friend Kitty Foreman only wishes she were.) The West Wing is a good one, too.

    But at the CC now I have a whole smorgasbord of shows on at once & none of them are what I usually watch. It's talk shows (Ellen Degeneres), trashy talk shows (Maury Povich, I think), and soap operas.

    I went with the soap. Now I haven't followed a soap opera since I used to watch the Bold & the Beautiful in college and I have to say, it's nice to see they're still burying people alive. (And putting them in comas and having secret babies, all of which happened in the time it took me to log four miles.)

    My favorite was the buried alive story line. They'd sealed this woman (an exquisitely groomed sixty-something) into a crypt with a cell phone & a security camera. This allowed her to both see and rail against the idiotic young things who wandered by for some crypt-side musing, and have vitriolic chats with the villain who'd buried her.

    Watching a grande dame shriek, "I'M IN THE CRYPT, YOU STUPID COW!" at a clueless mourner remarking on the unlikeliness of her sudden death was awesome, too. We don't get enough scenery chewing from Women Of A Certain Age. I'm all for more of that. I wish they'd bring back the turban as a hairstyle, too, now that I'm thinking of it. Liz Taylor rocked the turban. More turbans!

    I think I'm going to like my new gym.

    So how about you? Do you follow any soaps--now or ever? What's your favorite storyline? Secret babies? Long lost lovers? Premature burial? Back-from-the-dead lovers? Evil twins? Do you watch TV while you work out? What do you watch? And if they brought turbans back, would you wear one? Source URL:
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