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Recent blog posts

Q&A time with the readers.

Posted by on in Email of the day

Q: Why do you like chocolate so much?

A: The answer, clearly, is because I've tasted chocolate.

This place is the pits

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 28, 2012 is


(noun) A rocky place or pit outside the walls of ancient Athens, into which criminals were thrown.

(noun) The abyss; hell.

(noun) Anything that swallows up or devours; the belly; an insatiable glutton or extortioner.

‘Barathrum’ is Latin in origin, and is also the name of a Finnish ‘black doom’ band.


“The gallows” perhaps is the English term most nearly corresponding to the barathrum, as commonly spoken of in the Athenian popular language.

Good places to hide in plain sight

Posted by on in TOP SECRET

Here are some water towers cleverly turned into domiciles. The perfect places to hide out in plain sight, and get those 360 degree views - that way you can keep an eye on all sides. Great positioning!

Click on the images for more.




Neil Armstrong 1930 - 2012

Posted by on in NASA images

Space Medal of Honor

Astronaut Neil Armstrong received the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter, assisted by Captain Robert Peterson. Armstrong, one of six astronauts to be presented the medal during ceremonies held in the Vehicle Assembly Building, was awarded for his performance during the Gemini 8 mission and the Apollo 11 mission when he became the first human to set foot upon the moon.
Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012, at the age of 82.

Image Credit: NASA


Garden of decaying books

Posted by on in Book Recommendations

Check out this garden of decomposing books in Quebec.

We can only hope that some copies of the Secret Series are decomposing in such a beautiful way - and NOT being read!

The garden was designed by Berlin landscape architect Thilo Folkerts of 100 Landschaftsarchitektur and Canadian artist Rodney LaTourelle.

Books were piled up to create walls, rooms and seats which are slowly rotting to become part of the forest.

Click on the images to see and read more (though you won't be reading the books in the garden).


Posted by on in NASA images

By any other name

Posted by on in writerly advice

This question comes in from a Secret reader who also likes to write:

Dear Mr. Bosch. I wrote a book and I have given the characters aliases. I'd like to know, should I also use a pseudonym when I am done writing the book?

Mr. Bosch says, the short answer is:

Using a pseudonym depends on how good the fake names of your characters are. The better they are, the less you need a pseudonym (but still use one). But scrimp in one department and you'll have to overpay in the other.

when stars collide

Posted by on in NASA images

do they have to wait 30 minutes?

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 21, 2012 is


(noun) A bit of bread eaten by those who have been swimming, to prevent shivering or the chattering of their teeth with the cold; a shivering-bite. Also called chittering-crust and chittering-piece.

‘Chittering-bite’ is Scottish in origin.


It was the earliest warm day that spring; some of the boys had ventured a dip among the grey rollers and the heel of a loaf - a discarded chittering-bite - lay in the master's way to his desk.

A list of great YA series

Posted by on in Book Recommendations

Here is a list of great YA series. We always pay extra to keep the Secret Series off of these kinds of lists. We don't want to endanger anyone.

Click on (the fantastic) Encyclopedia Brown for the list maker's top 10. 

Galactic Island

Posted by on in NASA images

Meow this is a Mayor we can all get behind

Posted by on in Bad News

This is a political catastrophe.

Reporting by Amy Friedman

This time, Alaska may have really found a way to fix American politics. The mayor of Talkeetna, Ak. boats sky-high approval ratings, a 15-year winning streak and, with over 6,000 subscribers, more friends than you on Facebook.

His secret? He’s a cat.

Fifteen years ago, the citizens of Talkeetna (pop. 800) didn’t like the looks of their candidates for mayor. Around that same time resident Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley’s General Store, saw a box of kittens and decided to adopt one. She named him Stubbs because he didn’t have a tail and soon the whole town was in love with him.

So smitten were they with this kitten, in fact, that they wrote him in for mayor instead of deciding on one of the two lesser candidates. Mayor Stubbs has held his position ever since.

Many citizens are genuinely happy to allow a kitteh to rule the roost. “He doesn’t raise our taxes—we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest,” said Stec, who converted her store into a part-time mayor’s office when Stubbs claimed victory. Not even the dogs seem to take issue with their new boss, even though there are reportedly more canines in Talkeetna than there are people. “I’ve never seen a dog mess with him,” a local business owner said.

If only our own resident cat, Cacao, would leave to go start a political career - elsewhere! I'd vote for Cacao to get that thing out of the house.  -Quiche

Amazing Advertising work ... of Dr. Seuss

Posted by on in Email of the day

We all know Dr. Seuss as the writer and illustrator of fantastic children's books. He also did a lot of illustrations for advertisements, in the way only Dr. Seuss could. Click on the image to see some more.

savor this word

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 15, 2012 is

bonne bouche bouche

(noun) A choice mouthful of food; a dainty morsel: said especially of something very excellent reserved to the end of a repast.

‘Bonne bouche’ translates from the French as ‘good mouth.’


The best has been kept to the last, a bonne bouche or savoury to end the banquet: though such a metaphor is a risky one, since it's inadvisable to eat while one is falling about laughing.

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 14, 2012 is

chrysography lawyer

(noun) The art of writing in letters of gold, practised by the writers of manuscripts in the early middle ages.

(noun) In Greek antiquity, the art of embroidering in gold, of inlaying other metals with gold, and the like.

‘Chrysography’ comes from the Greek ‘kahrysos,’ gold (which also gives us ‘chrysalis’) and ‘graphein,’ write.


Another method of ancient chrysography was this: 'Melt some lead, and frequently immerge it in cold water: melt gold and pour that also into the same water, and it will become brittle; then rub the gold filings carefully with quicksilver, and purge it while it is liquid. Before you write, dip the pen in liquid alum, which is best purified by salt and vinegar.'

It's a code ... sort of

Posted by on in TOP SECRET

This somewhat coded message came in from ... a few different agents we have in the field. See if you can read it.

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

i've got a mummy on my back

Posted by on in egypt

An Egyptian sarcophagus from the 21st Dynasty (about 1070 - 945 B.C.) in LACMA’s collection inspired this backpack of red plush. Cass would approve.

Hopefully it's full of survival gear.

And no mummy fingers!


Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 7, 2012 is


(noun) The art or science which treats of lighthouses and signal lights.

‘Pharology’ comes from ‘pharos,’ lighthouse, which is named after Pharos, a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria, Egypt, and the site of an ancient lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


The Princess, patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB), is thought to have ticked at least half the lighthouses off her list to date. The hobby, called pharology, has seen her visit about 80 lighthouses through her work with the board, and about 20 more with her husband Vice-Admiral Tim Laurence.

RED ALERT ... er ... scarlet alert

Posted by on in words of the day

The Word of the Day for August 7 is:
scarlet pimpernel   SKAHR-lut-PIM-per-nel   noun
1 : a European pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) naturalized in North America and having scarlet, white, or purplish flowers that close in cloudy weather
2 : a person who rescues others from mortal danger by smuggling them across a border
The refugees will always be grateful to the scarlet pimpernels who saved their lives by getting them out of the country ahead of the death squads.
"The scarlet pimpernel plant also disguises itself, albeit in a reverse sort of way. It appears to be the most docile and friendly of plants yet it contains toxins and its digestion by grazing animals may cause their death." — From a column by Joshua Siskin in The Daily News of Los Angeles, June 2, 2012
Did you know?
In 1903, Hungarian-born playwright and novelist Baroness Emmuska Orczy introduced the world to Sir Percy Blakeney, ostensibly a foppish English aristocrat, but secretly a swashbuckling hero known as "The Scarlet Pimpernel" who rescued aristocrats from certain death in the French Revolution by smuggling them to England. In The Scarlet Pimpernel, Blakeney's character used a drawing of a small, red, star-shaped flower known in England as a "scarlet pimpernel" as a signature of his involvement in an escape. The popularity of Orczy's novel prompted English speakers to start using "scarlet pimpernel" for any daring hero who smuggled those in danger to a safe haven in another country. Today it is also sometimes used more broadly for a person who is daring, mysterious, or evasive.

This is super

Posted by on in NASA images

Eta Carinae

Probing the Last Gasps of Doomed Star Eta Carinae

The signature balloon-shaped clouds of gas blown from a pair of massive stars called Eta Carinae have tantalized astronomers for decades. Eta Carinae has a volatile temperament, prone to violent outbursts over the past 200 years.

Observations by the newly repaired Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal some of the chemical elements that were ejected in the eruption seen in the middle of the 19th century.

STIS analyzed the chemical information along a narrow section of one of the giant lobes of gas. In the resulting spectrum, iron and nitrogen define the outer boundary of the massive wind, a stream of charged particles, from Eta Car A, the primary star. The amount of mass being carried away by the wind is the equivalent one sun every thousand years. While this "mass loss" may not sound very large, in fact it is an enormous rate among stars of all types. A very faint structure, seen in argon, is evidence of an interaction between winds from Eta Car A and those of Eta Car B, the hotter, less massive, secondary star.

Eta Car A is one of the most massive and most visible stars in the sky. Because of the star’s extremely high mass, it is unstable and uses its fuel very quickly, compared to other stars. Such massive stars also have a short lifetime, and we expect that Eta Carinae will explode within a million years.

Eta Carinae was first catalogued by Edmund Halley in 1677. In 1843 Eta Carinae was one of the brightest stars in the sky. It then slowly faded until, in 1868, it became invisible in the sky. Eta Carinae started to brighten again in the 1990s and was again visible to the naked eye. Around 1998 and 1999 its brightness suddenly and unexpectedly doubled.

Eta Carinae is 7,500 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

The Hubble observations are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations. NASA astronauts repaired STIS during a servicing mission in May to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.


Copyright © 2010-2013. All rights reserved.  Illustrations by Gilbert Ford