Tag Archives: books

Day 132: Kiran Bhatraju, author of Mud Creek Medicine

Photo: Kiran Bhatraju

Photo: Kiran Bhatraju

I met Kiran at an event last October here in Washington, D.C. He’s the co-founder of Arcadia Power, a business and residential utility provider that invests in clean energy. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, I learned that he had authored a book about a healthcare pioneer from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky where he grew up. He mentioned a place called Greasy Creek – which was not unfamiliar to my ears. My mother, who grew up in the coal-mining hills of Virginia’s panhandle, used to talk about Greasy Creek. I thought for a moment that it was the same place, but I now know that it’s not.

Kiran told me about how a woman named Eula Hall overcame tremendous challenges to establish a much-needed health clinic in the area. He talked of the miners, the poverty and the isolation from the rest of the country. And while he was talking about Kentucky and not Virginia, the land and the people sounded the same.

Eula married McKinley Hall pictured here. There's something about this image of him that reminds me of my family from Richlands. Photo: Mud Creek Medicine

Eula married McKinley Hall pictured here. There’s something about this image of him that reminds me of my family from Richlands. Photo: Mud Creek Medicine

I read Mud Creek Medicine and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are interested in that part of the country, have family from there or have just driven through, you will identify with Eula’s story. And if you don’t have a connection to Appalachia, all the more reason you should read it. The story that Kiran shares is quintessential to a part of America that seldom finds its way into the minds of people in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.


Day 132-2


The stack of books on my “to read” shelf was reduced by one recently. I finished reading Mud Creek Medicine – a book that touched me profoundly.

You see, my mother grew up in Richlands, VA – a sleepy Appalachia coal-mining town less than 90 miles southeast of Mud Creek on route 460. Through your words, you brought life a familiar yet foreign place that I’ve heard about all my life. One of six children, my mother grew up the daughter of a coal-miner. Her relatives were a cast of colorful characters right out of Mud Creek Medicine who lived “down in the hollers”, “around the bend” or “over the bluff” in Tazewell County. I grew up listening to stories of my mother’s aunts Carmie and Okie and uncles Ralph, Byrd, Ulys, Trinkle, Otis and many others. And of course my grandparents Flora Belle and Gillis. The photographs of McKinley on page 185 remind me of photographs of some of the men I mentioned above – a few of which were no-good drunks like McKinley.

Day 132Eula’s story and the struggles of Appalachia are important stories to be told – they go to the quick of our nation. Eula’s stubborn commitment to make a difference in a time and a place where women weren’t welcomed to do such a thing is inspiring. Thank you for telling her story so beautifully.

Reed Sandridge

P.S. I’d love to get together for coffee or a beer sometime, talk about the book and get you to sign my copy.

mud creek medicineMud Creek Medicine is available on Amazon.

Sunday Notes and Letters for Week 19

Today I want to share a letter I received this week. You may remember that three weeks ago on Day 100 I wrote to Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, the 100-year-old cardiologist that was interviewed recently by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

He wrote me back! How cool is that. You should watch the link above with Dr. Sanjay Gupta – you’ll be inspired by Dr. Wareham.

Dr Wareham letter

Dear Read-

What an achievement – to write a letter a day!

Concerning prevention of coronary artery disease, I refer you to 2 books: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn and The China Study by Colin Campbell. In summary – you must not eat animal products. 

I think the material in these books is scientific and highly reliable.

Remember all tastes are acquired except for breast milk. Your taste buds can be changed in 3 months, so you can learn to like what is healthy. Just start eating healthfully.

All the best,
Ellsworth W.

Day 122: Amy Wilkinson

It’s been ten years since I moved into my apartment in Dupont Circle here in Washington, DC. For much of that time, my neighbor Amy Wilkinson has been working on a book. In the last couple of years, as I started working on my book about the Year of Giving, I began asking more questions to her about the process she went through to take her book to publication.

You caught me rereading Chapter 5, Networking Minds, recently to help inform some planning for a project that I'm working on.

You caught me rereading Chapter 5, Networking Minds, recently to help inform some planning for a project that I’m working on.

It’s been a long five years – she’s had all kinds of surprises along the way and often tells me the things that she would do differently if she writes another book. As a rookie author, I have listened intently to her advice.

Her book finally came out in February – I preordered it so I had it on my doorstep the day it was released. It’s easy to say that The Creator’s Code should be required reading for anyone interested in entrepreneurism, but that lessens the value of the book frankly. I would say that anyone passionate about making a difference, achieving an aspirational goal, or just being more effective in an area of their life will benefit from the book – we can all be “creators.”

The moving truck came today to move her belongings to California – Amy is headed to teach a course at Standford. My loss – Stanford’s gain. Join me in wishing her continued success and get your copy of her book here.



Congratulations on The Creator’s Code. It’s such as terrific book and I’m ecstatic to see it doing so well. And while I know that I don’t even know the half of it, I know that you worked tirelessly on it and that your journey to publication wasn’t without its share of challenges and pitfalls. But as a creator, you managed to keep your eyes on the horizon.

A handcrafted card I made at Paper Source's workshop Thursday night.

A handcrafted card I made at Paper Source’s workshop Thursday night.

Sadly it seems that all this success also means I lose a great neighbor! Best of luck with teaching your course at Stanford and I look forward to following all the exciting places you will go.

This is just the beginning!

Day 70: Leigh Anne & Sean Tuohy

TuohyBookMost people are familiar with the film The Blind Side – the movie based on Michael Lewis’ book about NFL football tackle Michael Oher and his journey to professional football. Part of that story is him being adopted by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who live in Memphis, TN.

In 2010 Leigh Anne and Sean wrote their own book In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. One day my brother called me and said that his mother-in-law had mentioned that I was mentioned in the book. I got a copy and sure enough I’m mentioned in regards to my Year of Giving project. Pretty cool.

I’ve always meant to thank them – so here goes. By the way, I just read this week that Oher signed a $2.5 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. I hope he has a great season for them – they could sure use a good blocker on their offensive line.

Day 70

Dear Leigh Anne and Sean,

For several years I’ve meant to send you a note to thank you for your thoughtful mention of my Year of Giving project in your book In a Heartbeat. It was a pleasant surprise to come across.

Your personal story is inspiring and I’m looking forward to reading your forthcoming book. 

All the best to you and thank you for everything you do for your community and for others.


PS. I recall that you own some Taco Bells – I sure hope that you’re offering the Sriracha Quesarito down there!

Day 29: Lazlo

An exchange between Lazlo Toth and TIMEX from The Lazlo Letters

An exchange between Lazlo Toth and TIMEX from The Lazlo Letters

Years ago my dad bought me a book called The Lazlo Letters. It’s a collection of real letters sent by an overzealous and awkwardly patriotic crusader named Lazlo Toth. The man behind this persona was Don Novello, a comedic genius who wrote for Saturday Night Live for several years and later returned to the show as Father Guido Sarducci.

Anyway, the book is full of letters that this seemingly caring yet inappropriate citizen writes letters to companies, political figures, celebrities, etc. with uncomfortable praise and often laughable suggestions. They’re hilarious. I later bought his second book: Citizen Lazlo.

With enormous respect and admiration for Lazlo Toth, I penned the following letter.

Lazlo Toth

Dear Lazlo,

I recently embarked on a journey of writing handwritten letters every day for a year – you are Day 29! In a way, your books, The Lazlo Letters and Citizen Lazlo, inspired me to take on this adventure. I understand you have another book called From Bush to Bush, but I haven’t read that one and can’t find it in any bookstores. Pehaps you should try to place your books in stationery stores since people who read your books probably like to write letters! I give you that tip for free.

You always used to say, “You send out letters, you get back letters, that’s for sure!” I actually think you should consider changing your quote slightly because my experience is that you don’t always get a letter back. Perhaps these would work better:

“You send out letters, you might get letters back if you include return postage”

“You send out letters, you will definitely wait a long time to get a response”


“If you forget to write someone and lie about having sent them an email, they probably won’t believe you that it got lost in cyberspace, but if you say that you sent them snail mail, there’s no telling where that letter is at!”

You can use all of them for free.

Lazlo Toth-2By the way, I was disappointed you didn’t throw your hat in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election ring. You would have won. Your history with Richard M. Nixon would have trumped any power move that Schwarzenegger could have thrown your way. But I saw Conan the Barbarian and get it if you were intimidated by him.

Keep writing, don’t give up on us now – when we need you the most!!

Your fan and friend,
Reed Sandridge


PS  Happy belated birthday – you’re the only person I know with a birthday on New Years Day.
PPS  Go Lakeside Dragons! Fight! Fight! Fight! 

Enclosed: Forever Stamp

Lazlo Toth-3