Thursday, August 6, 2009


Besides riding my Harley Road King, I'm also a paraglider pilot. We are lucky here in the Northwest to have many places in the mountains where we can launch and soar on pockets of rising air, which is what you see soaring birds do.

Paragliding is the closest thing to flying like a bird, and I can't believe everyone doesn't do it. There is nothing as magical as sharing a thermal with an eagle, and many other raptors as well. They seem to recognize us as kindred spirits. At least they aren't bothered by us, unless you happen to accidentally fly too close to a nest, which I have never done. I have seen another pilot being attacked by a hawk, probably for that reason.

I fly regularly with about a dozen other pilots who are all great friends. I've been flying paragliders for eleven years, safely, with no injuries. The longest I've flown at one time is over five hours, but usually it's more like an hour. The highest I've flown is 9500', almost two miles up.

Ordinarily we launch from mountains, but we can soar along a ridge, like an ocean bluff, where laminer winds, say off the ocean, strike a ridge and are deflected upwards. With rige-soaring you can usually only get a few hundred feet above the ridge before the wind flattens out again or begins to sink, so you have to stay forward, within the lift ban. But you can fly horizontally for as far as the ridge goes.

If you're interested in the sport, you can find all the info you need to get started, on the internet. You will need some instruction from a certified instructor, but you will be flying the first day under the radio control of your instructor. Like anything, practice is needed to become proficient and to fly safely.
Holy friggin' fangs, has it really been a year since I blogged here? How did that happen? Must be the change. Okay, well my August resolution is to blog more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bitten By Books

Review of: The Seattle Barista Killer by Murdoch Hughes

Review by Rachel

Categories: Book Reviews, Shapeshifters, e-books

Here I am again with another book set in my favorite hometown of Seattle! The second I saw this title, I knew I had to read it, and am so glad I did. Seattle, home to the coffee mega corporation McBuck’s (this reminded me of a beautiful twist on name play, Starbucks and McDonald’s lol) is in an uproar when some of it’s barista’s come up brutally murdered, and nary a clue to be found as to who the perp might be. SPD calls in their super (on the sly) sleuth Harley Wolf to help them sniff out a clue. Harley’s got a knack for getting the job done when nobody else can. The guys down at the cop shop think he’s psychic, but really, he just has a keen sense of smell. So keen, he’d put a blood hound to shame.
You see, Harley’s a
werewolf. Not your average run of the mill rip em up shred em up fur ball, but one with an ethics code that made even this reviewers head spin. Not only is Harley a whiz bang private investigator, he’s a vegan. Yep, a vegan. A soy latte drinking, non bunny killing werewolf. The guy doesn’t even wear real leather when he’s riding his hog (that would be the bike not the pink squealing variety).
The storyline is fast paced and has more twists and turns than a single short, decaf, breve, sugar free, no foam, no whip 140 degree latte (with a recycled sleeve if you please). Harley really thinks he’s onto the real killer when a series of even stranger events starts to unfold that throw him for a loop. Will he be able to unravel the truth before another barista loses their life?
Murdoch Hughes has combined, a crime thriller, werewolf storyline interwoven with a great environmental message that will have you laughing and on the edge of your seat throughout the book. Not to mention leaving you with your mouth hanging open at the end when the real killer is revealed. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in quite some time. You will definitely want to pick up a copy of The Seattle Barista Killer today. I cannot wait to see what Mr. Hughes has up his sleeve for another book in Harley Wolf series.
Book Stats:
Paperback and e-book: 216 pages
Publisher: Mundania Press LLC (July 26, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594264864
ISBN-13: 978-1594264863
To purchase a print copy of The Seattle Barista Killer click
here.To purchase an electronic copy of The Seattle Barista Killer click here.
To visit the author’s website go
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

They cannot shoot wolves...

They cannot shoot wolves, for now.

A federal judge recently reinstated endangered species list protections for wolves, preventing the hunting of wolves in the Northern Rockies…for now. It means the 500 wolves they intended to massacre—one-fourth of the estimated 2,000 wolves in the area—will live to roam wild and free. Well, free within certain boundaries. They can be legally shot if they are found in the vicinity of a dead calf.

How many motorists are shot after running into a cow crossing the road at the wrong moment? None, of course, silly question. But calves die all the time, from disease, the traumas of birth, lightening strikes and bad weather, to name just a few threats to a calf born on the open range. Ah, but let a wolf be found in the area of a dead calf, maybe eating the remains of calf that died of other natural causes, and the wolf can then be legally killed.

Another rationale for hunting wolves, culling they call it euphemistically, is that the wild game wolves prey on, like deer and elk, should be saved for the so-called sportsmen. Why shouldn’t it be the other way around? The deer and elk not killed by wolves may then be allotted to the sport hunter.

Most of this takes place on public land. Our land, belonging to us, the public. Land leased in many cases for a few cents an acre. We are subsidizing grazing cattle and the hunting of deer, elk, and small game. That is the way things are, but if we must hunt, why not the wolf?


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They Shoot horses!!!

The U.S. Interior Department is about to sanction another slaughter of wild horses on our (public) land. What is their excuse for this cruelty to some very fine animals? Overgrazing?!!

There are only about 37,000 wild horses, while there are over a million cattle grazing on the same land. The cattlemen complain about the horses, even though they run their cattle on our land with leases that are dirt cheap. These are the same people who constantly complain about wolves on our land, claiming they kill a walking burger occasionally.

Lightning kills more cattle by far than wolves do, but you never hear them talk about that. Cattlemen help spread disease by running too many cattle out there, and various viruses kill more cattle than anything. Then there are cold and drought and rattlesnakes. Shouldn't the incidental wolf kill be just another of the costs of doing business?!!!

And shouldn't the small amount of grazing competition from a relatively few wild horses, on "our" land, be accepted as the effect of eradicating the horses' natural predators, which is also demanded by...ranchers!!!

And if they don't like the natural risks of predators and a bit of sharing the grass with wild horses, then they can raise their cattle elsewhere. If that means less cattle, well the overweight population of the United States could use a few less burgers. And instead of the cattle business being subsidized by cheap leases and our taxes, why not charge what the grazing is worth in the marketplace, complete with wild horses, wolves and all?!!!

Murdoch Hughes
Award-winning author

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motorcycle Booksignings

I love to do booksignings for events that are different from the usual bookstore signings. Since I ride a Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle and have ridden motorcycles all my life, it follows that my detectives ride motorcycles. I don't think there is a more appropriate vehicle for a detective, which is a straight line through genres from the Western marshals riding horses. Motorcycles don't eat grass but they don't burn much gas either. And there's not as much coming out the other end.

For Memorial Day weekend I was the guest author at a Vintage Motorcycle Show hosted by the Old Strokers Motorcycle Works and Cafe in Everett Washington. Now you might wonder how that works out, considering the traditional stereotype of a biker as a skull and crossbones, itinerate mechanic who dropped out of school to ride the trails; and not a very good mechanic either since he seemed to be always working on the darn thing.

I don't subscribe to that stereotype. There is nothing better or easier to carry on a long ride than a good book. Unless of course it's a PDA of some sort that will store a thousand books, including a service manual and the "Motorcycle Guide to the Universe", as well as "Murder In La Paz", "Death Mask of the Jaguar" and "The Seattle Barista Killer"...must reads for any serious biker.

Bikers, like cowboys, have always read books, and they sometimes read the magazine articles before looking at the pictures they tear out and pin up on the walls of shops. Okay, maybe they look at the pictures first. But these days there is more time for reading because the motorcycles run better. Of course there are purists, but you throw away that pesky carb and replace it with fuel injection, and you have a recipe for a lot more riding and a lot less fixing.

And of course the ridership has changed, or more definitively, the biker community has expanded. It might include an emergency room intern studying Grey's Anatomy on his laptop in a roadside internet cafe in Baja. Or a retired couple in the Black Hills on a last adventure, with a copy of AARP magazine and a couple of paperbacks in their saddlebags. I was quite surprised when a local Harley-Davidson chapter did a group ride to go play miniature golf. Yikes! What's next, shuffleboard on vintage Cushman walkers? Well...why not?

So, you get all types at a motorcycle event these days, which is a good thing. Memorial Day weekend I had some great conversations, did a few readings when the bands weren't playing, sold many books, and even got to ride my Harley. Oh, and one more thing, there are more women bikers (and mechanics) all the time; it's the fastest growing segment of motorcycle owners. And they definitely read lots of books. Ride Sally, Ride.

Murdoch Hughes
Award-winning author