Thursday, July 31, 2014

SPLINTERS: Loving deeply A review of the novel!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SPLINTERS: Loving deeply

Is this story foremost about love? It's in the romance genre and love is the primary experience around which everything is organized in that genre, so it would be a reasonable assumption to make, right?

Yep, everything in Splinters is definitely organized around love. But what I loved about this book is how we get to see, pretty much first-hand, how the lead character (the star and diva model/actor of the story) experiences that love.

But notice I said it's a story "foremost" about love because I think it's a lot more than that. In many ways I identified with Al, one of the main characters in this story. I loved watching him bring all of who he was to the experience of loving and being loved. It's really hard for me to express this any other way.

Even though Al was full of life and open to loving and being loved, there was somewhere, maybe deep inside, a little bit of sadness. I remember feeling some of that sadness when he was giving us a tiny glimpse into his early family life -- the distance he felt from his mother and father, and how for them, he was probably easier to love from afar. I guess maybe I over identified a little with him.

But the very best part of this story was seeing the courage and determination he had to bring all of who he was to the experience of being in love. And he did this with fierce courage and conviction.

I know this is not much of a traditional review, but it really was hard for me to discuss this book without getting teary. And those tears were mainly tears of joy because I kept wanting to stand up and celebrate this young man's wonderful heart and his willingness to risk just about everything as he gave himself over completely to love.

I know that last paragraph might sound a little sentimental. But make no mistake, Splinters is not a sentimental love story. Sentimental love stories don't appeal to me. But I don't mind being moved to tears if something real and genuine and honest touches me deeply. And that's how I felt throughout this story.

I know Al is a fictional character, but I kept wanting to know him in my real life -- to spend time with him -- laugh with him -- cry with him -- celebrate life with him. He was that real.

This is an important story and it moved me deeply and I can't stop thinking about it. Sorry I didn't do a better job of describing the plot and discussing how the story developed and all the other things you're suppose to do when reviewing a book. I tried to take that approach initially but just couldn't pull it off with any justice. All I can say is this story touched some very deep places in my heart. And very, very few books do that.

I have a very small selection of books I like to go back and reread. This book is now in that selection. I highly recommend it if you want to see someone living honestly and openly and bringing all of who he is to the love of his life. There's great strength and courage in doing that. This story, to me, is about loving deeply and honestly. And that, in my opinion, is what real love is all about.
SPLINTERS: Something new and exciting
When I finished reading this book, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say in my review and exactly how I wanted to say it. So I went back over every single sentence I underlined (there were more than I realized) so I could decide which one or two I wanted to use to illustrate the beauty of the language.

And while I was thinking about those sentences, I found myself thrown right back into the wide open space of a stunningly beautiful Texas range landscape. The same landscape where we find Al, one of the main characters, trying to make sense of where he is and how he got there. And he's not just wandering around like some lost tourist, but is just regaining consciousness and trying to remember how he wound up alone, naked, and bound to a rough plank.

The story is told in first-person present tense, which allows us to experience what Al is thinking, feeling, and observing as it happens. Some books told in this tense just don't work for me because it seems the author is trying to cram every single detail of the story through this one character and the other characters sound rather two-dimensional. But it completely works here. Al's internal voice is pretty uncensored and refreshingly honest, and you get this haunting impression that the author is letting Al write this story, rather than the other way around.

Without giving too much away, Al (who is a twenty-three year old diva model/actor) is rescued by Duke, this cowboy who happens to ride up just as Al is regaining consciousness. Al's thoughts are all over the place, but he's able to zero in on this cowboy who is "...pretty good looking in that sweaty, rough, bite-this-leather-strap-so-you-don't-scream-too-loud kinda way..." Then he's thrown back into the reality of his predicament and his panic returns.

We start getting glimpses of Al's witty humor during these opening scenes, which you wouldn't think would really work well considering the rather disturbing -- and still unexplained -- trauma he's just been through. But having been through a very brutal attack myself where I was ambushed and roughed up, you go in and out, and back and forth between lucidity and normalcy. Then you go from panic and anxiety, to humor and familiarity. It was very realistic and totally worked for me.

A rather quick romance develops between Al and Duke. And I loved how the author made this work instead of just throwing it in there and hoping we didn't see how fast it developed. Three things in the story made this so believable:

First, Duke takes him out on the range to show him the vast landscape and they go up a little incline and Al is all of a sudden in the presence of this unique tree... the tree you see on the cover (which was beautifully painted by the author), and Al has this breathtaking realization. "All my life, I've been the leaves on this tree, shaking in the wind, trying to hold on... Duke is the roots." We get a brief, but revealing, glimpse into how shaky Al's life has been up to this point, and his realization that in this short time with Duke, he feels a rootedness he's never had before.

Second, a little later on, Al reflects on his early family life and how distant he feels from his mother. She seems puzzled and a little guilt-ridden about why Al never outgrew his interest in wearing women's clothes. And he reflects that his father couldn't connect to him because Al never liked sports and always seemed embarrassed by him when he was just being his campy self. And how I ached in my heart when he realizes, "I do believe they love me, but I'm easier to love from afar." Never having a stable grounding from his family, it becomes more believable that he's falling for this man nine years his senior and, unlike other men he's known, "...there is something new and exciting in Duke's eyes. Like he sees more." If I was in Al's shoes, I'd probably start falling hard rather quickly.

Third, there were also a number of times when we see Al's self-awareness and self-reflection, which show his depth and make the unfolding romance all the more believable and real. It may feel to him that this romance is going at high speed, but he's aware of it, thinking about it, and on top of it. And I loved his ever caring agent/manager Elsie, who keeps a close eye on him and genuinely has his best interest at heart. She's almost like a second mother to Al and I trusted her to not let anything harmful come to Al.

There are three (if I counted right) sex scenes and they are written somewhat differently than I often see. I've read so many erotic novels that I often feel I have "erotic overload" and my eyes start glazing over and I just quickly skim through them. There was no way I could -- or wanted to -- skim these scenes. Again, it was breathtakingly haunting to be inside Al's head and feel -- really feel -- all the emotions he was having. And that is what made me do something I never, ever do, which is actually go back and re-read those very scenes. Not for the sex -- as hot as it was -- but for the sex and the emotions. Breathtaking. Hauntingly breathtaking.

If you like cowboy stories, I'm sure you'll love this one. If you're not particularly drawn to cowboys, I strongly urge you to give this one a chance. You might just change your mind. I've only read a few cowboy stories myself, and I loved these two together. Hands down, Five Stars!

SPINTERS: Loving deeply
Is this story foremost about love? It's in the romance genre and love is the primary experience around which everything is organized in that genre, so it would be a reasonable assumption to make, right?

Yep, everything in Splinters is definitely organized around love. But what I loved about this book is how we get to see, pretty much first-hand, how the lead character (the star and diva model/actor of the story) experiences that love.

But notice I said it's a story "foremost" about love because I think it's a lot more than that. In many ways I identified with Al, one of the main characters in this story. I loved watching him bring all of who he was to the experience of loving and being loved. It's really hard for me to express this any other way.

Even though Al was full of life and open to loving and being loved, there was somewhere, maybe deep inside, a little bit of sadness. I remember feeling some of that sadness when he was giving us a tiny glimpse into his early family life -- the distance he felt from his mother and father, and how for them, he was probably easier to love from afar. I guess maybe I over identified a little with him.

But the very best part of this story was seeing the courage and determination he had to bring all of who he was to the experience of being in love. And he did this with fierce courage and conviction.

I know this is not much of a traditional review, but it really was hard for me to discuss this book without getting teary. And those tears were mainly tears of joy because I kept wanting to stand up and celebrate this young man's wonderful heart and his willingness to risk just about everything as he gave himself over completely to love.

I know that last paragraph might sound a little sentimental. But make no mistake, Splinters is not a sentimental love story. Sentimental love stories don't appeal to me. But I don't mind being moved to tears if something real and genuine and honest touches me deeply. And that's how I felt throughout this story.

I know Al is a fictional character, but I kept wanting to know him in my real life -- to spend time with him -- laugh with him -- cry with him -- celebrate life with him. He was that real.

This is an important story and it moved me deeply and I can't stop thinking about it. Sorry I didn't do a better job of describing the plot and discussing how the story developed and all the other things you're suppose to do when reviewing a book. I tried to take that approach initially but just couldn't pull it off with any justice. All I can say is this story touched some very deep places in my heart. And very, very few books do that.

I have a very small selection of books I like to go back and reread. This book is now in that selection. I highly recommend it if you want to see someone living honestly and openly and bringing all of who he is to the love of his life. There's great strength and courage in doing that. This story, to me, is about loving deeply and honestly. And that, in my opinion, is what real love is all about.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Two New Mysterious Holes Discovered In Siberia


The Huffington Post  | By Sara Gates
Posted: 07/29/2014 1:12 pm EDT Updated: 07/29/2014 5:59 pm EDT


The mystery deepens.

Just days after a passing helicopter spotted a giant hole in northern Siberia, two more mysterious holes have been discovered in the region.


Scientists have yet to explain the first curious crater, and now they have more work on their hands.
(Story continues below.)


One of the newly discovered holes was spotted by reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula, where the first hole was spotted, The Moscow Times reported. It resembles the first hole and has a diameter of nearly 50 feet.

Herders also spotted the second newfound hole. It's hundreds of miles northeast in the Krasnoyarsk region and measures about 13 feet across, according to The Siberian Times.

Researchers who examined the first hole will now be dispatched to the other two formations to collect more data.

Scientists with the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of the Earth Cryosphere, which is leading the investigation, suspect that the first hole formed when melting permafrost triggered an explosion of methane gas. That theory was bolstered when an icy lake was found at the bottom of the 230-foot-deep hole.


Yet researchers have been reluctant to conclude definitively that a reaction spurred by climate change is what caused the hole.


"Undoubtedly, we need to study all such formations. It is necessary to be able to predict their occurrence," Marina Leibman, the institute's chief scientist, told Russian-language news site URA.RU, according to The Siberian Times. "Each new funnel provides additional information for scientists."

In the meantime, other possible explanations have been offered -- from a meteor impact to a collapsed heap of soil-covered ice.
 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

http://www.wikihow.com/Choose-and-Wear-a-Protective-Cup-for-Sports


Many men choose to leave themselves vulnerable by not wearing a protective cup while playing sports. This is likely a result of cups being considered uncomfortable and restrictive. This article will explain about the two different styles of cups and about how to wear a cup so that it is comfortable and non-restrictive.


 
STEPS

  1. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 1.jpg
    1.  Always wear a cup in a cup-jockstrap, cup-brief, or cup-sliding short that's designed to hold a cup. The jockstrap, brief or sliding-short will have a pouch to house the cup. There will be elastic, metal snaps or a Velcro closure to keep the cup in place in the pouch.
     
  2. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 2.jpg
    2. A cup (inside a cup-jockstrap, cup-brief, or cup-sliding short)should be worn without anything underneath (don't wear underwear underneath). This maximizes their protectiveness by completely encasing the male genitals and allowing the genitals to be held tightly against the body. However, if you want to wear something underneath, only a thin pair of nylon/spandex briefs should be worn. EXAMPLE: Under Armor Compression Shorts.
  3. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 3.jpg
    3. For a cup to work properly, it must fit tightly and firmly against the body. A loose fitting cup will allow the impact of a blow or hit to slam the cup into the testicles, causing pain and possible injury. If your cup-jockstrap or cup-brief does not hold your cup firmly and tightly against your body you can wear a pair of tight fitting nylon/spandex athletic briefs over them.

Put on the Cup

  1. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 4.jpg
    1
    Step into cup-jockstrap and pull elasticized leg straps up around legs, and the waist-strap firmly around waist with the hard cup at the front of your body and over your genitals.
  2. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 5.jpg
    2
    Insert testicles into bottom and narrower end of cup.
  3. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 6.jpg
    3
    With triangular-shaped cup, lift penis up and lay across inside top of cup. With banana-shaped cup, allow penis to hang down.
  4. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 7.jpg
    4
    The cup should obscure genitalia.
  5. Choose and Wear a Protective Cup for Sports Step 8.jpg
    5
    Remove when finished and clean. Jockstrap can be washed in machine but should be air-dried to not damage elastic. Cup should be washed by hand with warm water and soap and never in machine.

Male Athletes Are Obsessed With Each Other's Dongs


Madeleine Davies

 
If you ever wanted to pull a Porky's and spy into a men's locker room but didn't because it's both illegal and immoral (good for you!), Dr Christopher Morriss-Roberts, a podiatrist who specializes in sports sociology at the University of Brighton, might be able to shed some light on what goes on in there. Turns out, all it is is a bunch of men showering, changing and checking out each other's wangs.



For his PhD research, Dr. Morriss-Roberts conducted a study with eight subjects — all athletes, four of whom identified as gay and four of whom identified as straight — and interviewed them about locker room behavior.

 
What he found over the course of a year was that the men (regardless of orientation) were spending a lot of time checking out each other's penis size and that a player's dick size would have a profound effect on how they were treated socially or on the field.
 
Dr. Morriss-Roberts wrote in Outsports:The research suggested that men look at each other's cocks, as a gauge to see how big or small they are, comparing themselves to the rest of the team or men in the locker room. The activity of checking out each other occurred irrelevant of sexuality and the type of sport; all participants noted that they looked at each other's cocks in the locker room.

This knowing of who has a large cock and who didn't within a homosocial environment helped individual sporting males climb up a social hierarchy of importance. Those with the larger penises were revered and idolized by their teammates as a symbol of masculinity. These "large-cocked" individuals became a focus of camaraderie and team building within their sports environments. The cock became a focus on which to banter, create nicknames, and enjoy the fundamental basics of being a man. Two nicknames that were mentioned included "schlonger" and the "biggest dick in Scottish basketball."
 
Some of the straight athletes even admitted to intentionally getting half-boners before going into the group shower in order to appear more impressive.
 
As for those with smaller penises:
It was significant to note that those with a small penis were often seen as the admirers of the large-cocked guys, but not in a homosexual, or derogatory way...These athletes were placed at the bottom on this social hierarchy; it was suggested that they probably had to work harder to be part of the team.
 
Considering the very small homogenous sample used in Dr. Morriss-Roberts' research, the findings are up for debate, but considering how many times I've watched male friends play games of "tea bag tag" or punch each other in the balls for no reason, it seems pretty safe to assume that dudes — for the most part — are obsessed with wangs.

 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Foreskin Advantage


Benefits enjoyed by males who are intact (not circumcised)

 

1. Full penis length and circumference. The "prepuce" (foreskin) constitutes 50% or more of the skin system of the penis [1]. If unfolded and spread flat, the average adult foreskin measures 60-90 square centimeters (10-14 square inches) [2], or about the size of an index card [see illustration]. The foreskin creates a visibly longer penis, especially when the foreskin extends beyond the head of the penis. Also, the double-layered tissue of the foreskin engorges with blood during erection and creates a visibly and sensually thicker shaft and glans.When the engorged foreskin retracts behind the coronal ridge of the glans, it often creates a wider and more pronounced "ridge" that many partners find especially stimulating during penetrative intercourse. The circumcised penis appears truncated and thinner than a full-sized intact penis.

2. Protection. The sleeve of tissue known as the foreskin normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and environmental contaminants. The glans is intended by nature to be a protected internal organ, like the female clitoris [see illustration]. The effect of an exposed glans and resulting keratinization on human sexual response has never been studied. Increasing reports by circumcised men indicate that keratinization causes a loss of sexual sensation, pleasure and fulfillment [3, 4].

3. Ridged bands. The inner foreskin contains bands of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue [1]. They constitute a primary erogenous zone of the human penis and are important for realizing the fullness and intensity of sexual response [5].

4. Gliding action.  The foreskin is the only moving part of the penis. During any sexual activity, the foreskin and glans work in unison; their mutual interaction creates a complete sexual response. In heterosexual intercourse, the non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth and pleasurable intercourse for both partners [see illustration]. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, dragging vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for non-painful intercourse [6].

5. Specialized sensory tissue. In addition to the "ridged bands" mentioned above, thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors (Meissner’s corpuscles) constitute the most important sensory component of the penis [1]. The foreskin contains branches of the dorsal nerve and between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which are capable of sensing slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

6. The frenulum. This is a highly nerve-laden web of tissue that tethers the inner foreskin to the underside of the glans [see photo]. It is similar to the frenula found under the tongue, the upper lip and the clitoral hood (female foreskin). For many intact men, the penile frenulum is a male "G-spot" that is highly pleasurable when repeatedly stretched and relaxed during sexual activity [13]. Depending on the surgical method used, the frenulum is partially to completely destroyed by circumcision.

7. Proper blood flow. The foreskin contains several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this rich vascularization interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, damaging the natural function of the penis and altering its development [1].

8. Immunological defense. The soft mucosa of the inner foreskin produces plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies, and antibacterial and antiviral proteins [7, 14], such as the pathogen-killing enzyme called lysozyme [15 and see explanation]. All of the human mucosa (the linings of the mouth, eyelids, vagina, foreskin and anus) are the body's first line of defense against disease. This benefit of the foreskin could be one possible explanation why intact men are at lower risk of chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases [16-21].

9.  Langerhans cells. These specialized epithelial cells are a component of the immune system and may play a role in protecting the penis from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV (AIDS) [see explanation and 14-16, 18].

10. Proper lymph flow. The foreskin contains lymphatic vessels, which are necessary for proper lymph flow and immunological functioning.

11. Estrogen receptors. The foreskin contains estrogen receptors, whose purpose is not yet fully understood and needs further study [22].

12. Apocrine glands. These glands produce pheromones, nature’s invisible yet compelling signals to potential sexual partners. The effect of their absence on human sexual behavior has never been studied [23].

13. Sebaceous glands. The oils produced by these glands lubricate and moisturize the foreskin and glans, so that the two structures function together smoothly.

14. Dartos fascia. This is a smooth muscle sheath that underlies the scrotum, the entire penis and the tip of the foreskin. It is necessary for proper temperature regulation of the genitals (causing these structures to elongate in the heat and shrink in the cold). Approximately half of the Dartos fascia is destroyed by circumcision [7].

15. Natural texture and coloration of the glans. In the intact penis, the glans normally appears moist, shiney, and pinkish-red to dark purple. These visual cues often attract and excite a sexual partner. The glans of a circumcised penis is dry, rough and often light pink to bluish-gray in color [see photos].

16. Zero risk of serious infection or surgical injury.  Unfortunate boys who suffer botched circumcisions lose part or all of their penis from surgical mishap or subsequent infection. They are often "sexually reassigned" by castration and "transgender surgery." They are relegated to a life of hormone therapy and are compelled to live their lives as pseudo-females, the success of which has never been fully assessed [24-46].

17. Zero risk of death from surgery. Every year boy die from the complications of circumcision, a fact that the American circumcision industry ignores, obscures, or downplays [29-31].

18. Zero risk of delayed or diminished maternal bonding. Circumcision, even if anesthesia is used, causes unavoidable operative trauma and post-operative pain that has been shown to disrupt bonding with the mother, which in turn interferes with the first developmental task of every human, that of trust (trust in human contact, in personal safety, etc) [47-51].

19.  Electromagnetic "cross-communication." Anecdotal reports suggest that, without the mucosa of its foreskin, the penis lacks the capacity for the subtle electromagentic energy transfer that occurs during contact between two mucous membranes (the vaginal walls and the exposed inner lining of the foreskin). Such contact contributes to the full experience of sexual pleasure. These reports deserve further scientific study.

20. The foreskin is necessary for optimal health and well-being of the male, as well as contributing to fulfillment
in his sexual relationships.


Adapted for use by NOHARMM from a list compiled by

Gary L. Harryman (NORM/Southern California) glharryman@aol.com