Sunday, May 16, 2010

Off topic but family related

This post has nothing to do with books, although a book will be published later this year. Rather it is a very proud family related moment so I am going to mention it. Besides it's not every day that I have a family member who walks (or in this case sails) into the world record books.

For those of my readers from Australia and New Zealand, you will of course know who Jessica Watson is (see photo above). Just 2 days ago Jessica sailed into the record & history books by being the YOUNGEST person ever to sail (circumnavigate) the world (yes this entire planet) in a sail boat on her own and UNASSISTED. She is just 16 years old. Tomorrow (Australia time - May 18th) she turns 17.

BUT what none of you outside of my own family, will know, is that Jessica Watson is a distant cousin of mine. She is my second cousin once removed. Jessica's mother Julie is my second cousin. Julie's mother and my father are first cousins. And yes this is all true. This proud moment naturally fits my profile as a genealogy enthusiast (I am nuts about genealogy if you don't already know). Finally I can say that I have a famous relative!!!!

I grew up spending my summers visiting with and playing with Julie and her siblings in the 1960's and 1970's. We lost touch after 1976 when my family moved overseas. I dont recall that I personally have seen anyone from Julie's family since then. I know that my parents have seen Julie's parents regularly, and as recently as just last week right before they flew to Sydney to welcome Jessica home.

Anyway after I left home and moved to Auckland New Zealand and then later to Toronto, Canada, Julie and Roger were living in Queensland and had access to sailboats. Their 4 children grew up going out on the water on a regular basis. While I am somewhat comfortable on the water, I had very few opportunities to sail in any small sail boats as a child.

In October 2009 Jessica Watson left Sydney harbour (on her second attempt) to sail around the world with the intention of being the youngest person (as of 2010) to ever sail around the world unassisted.

UNASSISTED means a vessel may not receive any kind of outside help or take on board any supplies, materials or equipment during the attempt. Jessica can still be in radio contact with her support team every day, but she cannot stop anywhere along the way, no food is dropped to her and she has no company whatsoever. If anything breaks down, she has to fix it on her own and she carries all her food and water with her - 7 months worth of food and water.

Two days ago Jessica sailed back into Sydney harbour and was greeted by hundreds of thousands of proud Aussies as a hero. Jessica herself says she is no hero - she is just a girl who had a dream and did something about it.

Aussie's Youtube Channel

This Youtube channel has all 10 parts of the official TV program to welcome Jessica home. It was broadcast live on TV, May 15th, 2010. While the parts are not in any numerical order, they are all there.

Jessica has a book deal already in the works and the book is expected to be published before the end of 2010.

This is Jessica's Website & Blog

These are Roger and Julie Watson, Jessica's parents. (photo taken January 2010). They have 4 children - Emily, Jessica, Thomas and Hannah. Julie's maiden name was Chisholm. She is my second cousin.

Taken last year in Cromwell, New Zealand, this is Jessica Watson with her grandparents. From left to right are grandmother Margaret Chisholm, Jessica Watson, Jessica's aunt Wendy Taylor, and grandfather Gordon Chisholm. Wendy is my second cousin (as is her sister Julie). Margaret is my dad's first cousin. Margaret's dad and my grandfather were brothers. (photo source - ODT)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daemon - Book Review

by Daniel Suarez
Signet Books 2010
Authors website

In this modern 21st century, we frequently forget how much of our lives are tied up in computers and how much of our lives are not really as private as we like to think. Since the internet explosion in the 1990s, our individual privacy has been eroded down to almost nothing.

Thats why there is a few areas in which I choose to keep my privacy and my family's privacy. I like to keep my privacy in my movements around town, my location, in my communications and with my fake names. I value my privacy a lot.

That's why in this blog my son's name has not once been mentioned. I have to keep his privacy too. This is also why I use false names online in my blogs and on Facebook. I choose not to own a cell phone with GPS. If anyone wishes to contact us, they can leave a message on the (landline phone) answerering machine - we will get the message - eventually.

My spouse and I dont have a modern car with any GPS tracking system in it. In fact our car is older than the internet. I dont drive in Canada. I can drive - I just havent gotten around to getting a Canadian drivers license yet. Besides, whats the point of driving in heavy traffic and having to pay huge parking fees, when there is perfectly good and cheap public transit available. I use the public transit to go anywhere and everywhere - when I am not walking, that is.

As you can tell, I really do value my privacy. Anyway, back to the book.

Technology controls almost everything in our modern-day world, from remote entry on our cars to access to our homes, from the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can't always be said for the people who design them.

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer - the architect behind half-a-dozen popular online games. His premature death depressed both gamers and his company's stock price. But Sobol's fans aren't the only ones to note his passing. When his obituary is posted online, a previously dormant daemon activates, initiating a chain of events intended to unravel the fabric of our hyper-efficient, interconnected world. With Sobol's secrets buried along with him, and as new layers of his daemon are unleashed at every turn, it's up to an unlikely alliance to decipher his intricate plans and wrest the world from the grasp of a nameless, faceless enemy - or learn to live in a society in which we are no longer in control....

There is a sequel to this book - called Freedom - out now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers day for those of you who are mothers.

The Botticelli Secret - Book Review

The Botticelli Secret
by Marina Fiorato
St Martins Press 2010
Authors website

This is the (fictional) secret of the Primavera - the painting by Alessandro Botticelli painted in 1482. This painting plays a huge part in this novel. In fact it is the map of the journey taken by the 2 main characters.

The year is 1482. Ludovico de Medici (Il Magnifico) of Florence has hatched a plan to unify seven great city states into one empire just like the old Roman Empire.

Luciana Vetra is a 16 year old whore in Florence. She accidently discovers knowledge of this plan to unify the city states and also finds a guide to help her - a monk called Brother Guido. Guido and Luciana journey to each of these great city states to uncover the truth and to prevent the unification.

One city state stands alone outside and against this plan. Only one city state can prevent this catastrophe. These cities are named in the painting by Botticelli - the one called Spring or Primavera.

The cities represented by the figures in the Primavera are (from left to right) -
1 Milan
2 Genoa
3 Pisa
4 Naples
5 Rome
6 Florence
7 Venice
8 Bolzano

The order of the journey however was different. Luciana and Guido travelled from Florence to Pisa, Naples, Rome, Florence again, Venice, Bolzano, Milan, Genoa and finally to Pisa again.

This story is told from Luciana's point of view. Luciana is a smart and feisty girl. She learns fast and she picks things up in groups of three. All through the novel she tells us of things, items and facts she has learned - always in groups of three.

Two other famous historical characters are also mentioned in this novel - Cristoforo (no last name) a map maker from Genoa, and Leonardo da Vinci, an engineer designing war machines.

An excellent story - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Starting to feel old now....

May is the month of birthdays in my family. All three of us (me, husband and son) have birthdays this month. Mine is first - obviously. My husbands is next and my sons birthday is the last. Technically if you want to go by signs, my husband and I are both Taurus and my son is a Gemini.

Today is my birthday. I have been writing this blog for 3 years now - and today I turned 46 years old. I didn't used to feel old. My hair turning grey doesnt help. I think having a son still in elementary school helps keep me thinking young - except when someone asks if he is my grandson. My husband will also turn 46 this month. I am the older woman - but only by 2 weeks!! My son will turn 8 this month.

But this year I feel old. In January I was tentatively diagnosed with Graves Disease. Now, that diagnosis has been amended to Hyperthyroidism - of which there are 2 possible outcomes. Graves Disease and Multi Nodular Goitre. I have to have more tests to find out which one for sure. And I have to take medication every day to keep this under control.