Saturday, December 29, 2012

And ANOTHER snowstorm

Most unusually we have yet another snowstorm occurring in Toronto for the second time in one week!!

The above photo was taken at 10 am EST on December 29, 2012!!!

The right hand side of the balcony is shown below - photo taken at the same time.

As you can see - the gap in the fence is the gate which has been left open - but you cannot see the sidewalk beyond the fence.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The morning after (the snowstorm)

Its now Dec 27th, and its finally stopped snowing. The temperature outside is -6 degrees Celcius. And this is the view out of my balcony door.

As you can see, there is Snow on the balcony - something we haven't seen for quite some time. The TV says that the last heavy snowfall that happened in Toronto, was way back in March 2011 - some 21 months ago.

Below is another photo that someone took last night while the storm was raging. It shows the Flatiron building which is not too far from my home.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that you will have a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Snowstorm

It is now the evening of Boxing Day (December 26, 2012) and we are currently in the middle of a very heavy snowstorm. I opened the balcony door, stuck the camera outside in the cold and snapped this picture.

You can just see the balcony railing - despite the snow pouring down. There is at least an inch or two of snow on the ground already.

This is the first decent snow we have had in the last 4 years. 

If there is any snow on the ground in the morning, my son wants to go out and play. I will take some more photos.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Snowed!!!

I don't care what they say about global warming - they are WRONG!!!

They kept saying things like "Snow will disappear completely." and "Your grandchildren won't know what snow is"

Well guess what - It SNOWED today!!!

In DOWNTOWN Toronto!! Right down on the shore of Lake Ontario.  I mention the lake specifically, because the snow still piles up every year, way up in Scarborough - about 10 miles away!!!

It has not snowed downtown for years!!!  It's been a good 4 years since I last saw any decent amount of snow on the ground.

This view is out of my balcony door today (December 22nd, 2012)  - this photo was taken less than half an hour ago!!!  Sure the snow is not deep, but it is there!!!

The TV weather channel says the temperature outside is -2 degrees Celcius.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Poseidon's Arrow - Book Review

Poseidon's Arrow (A Dirk Pitt Novel)
By Clive Cussler
Published - Putnam Books - November 2012


For Xmas I purchased my first E-Book - Poseidon's Arrow by Clive Cussler. I read it on my new Kobo E-Reader. Despite the prescence of several plot holes and continuity errors,  I still enjoyed it just as much as any other Dirk Pitt Novel.

The basic story is the US Navy making a new kind of submarine engine using high powered magnets and water propulsion (which kinds of sounds like the caterpillar drive from the Tom Clancy novel & later the movie - The Hunt for Red October (1990). This engine will make for a much quieter submarine so that the Russians and Chinese cant hear anything.The high powered magnets for this type of engine can only be made using elements called Rare Earths.

This engine (being made by the US Navy)  is stolen by a team working for an Austrian man named Bolcke, who owns a number of mines and intends to corner the market on rare earth elements. He starts by pirating several ships whose cargos are rare earth ores. He then makes a deal with the Chinese to sell them the engine that the Americans made (that he had arranged to have stolen), along with the plans and designs which show how to make more. He also asks the Chinese to halt exporting their rare earths so that Bolcke can build up both a scarce world market and a black market (unbeknownst to the Chinese).

When the Chinese discover that Bolcke is stealing some of their own rare earth ore and selling it back to them (selling the Chinese their own ore), they are incensed with the idea of putting Bolcke out of business as well as obtaining the engine and the plans.

When several ships go missing after their ore cargos are pirated on the high seas, Dirk Pitt and Al are both called in to find the ships and try and find out where the  hijacked cargos end up. They end up being caught in the middle of one such hijacking, and are tied up along with the crew.The ship is taken to Bolcke's ore mining facility in Panama where Pitt and Giordino are put to work as slaves.

In the meantime, Pitt's children, Summer and Dirk Junior are in the Indian Ocean looking for ways to prevent Tsunami's from causing so much damage. Somewhere off the coast of Madagascar, their submersible comes across a newly scuttled ship (with its named obliterated from the stern) and a mining outfit that buzzes and eventually sinks their submersible.

Summer and Dirk do escape from their submersible but are forced to swim to the mainland of Madagascar. The NUMA ship that was their base, quickly locates the sunken submersible, but has trouble finding the bodies or persons of Summer and Dirk Junior. However, after a little adventure on the island - the twins are eventually rescued and returned to the NUMA ship. During this time, they receive word that their father has gone missing in the Pacific.

Summer and Dirk return to Washington DC. After looking at satellite pictures of container ships along the Pacific coast, a small clue is found to connect the mining outfit that Dirk discovered in Madagascar with Bolcke's business in Panama. So Summer and Dirk fly to Panama city on the Pacific Coast.

In the meantime, Pitt finds a way to escape from the slave camp and while forced to leave Al behind, he manages to get aboard a train going to Panama city. In a bar, he calls the NUMA HQ office, collect from a payphone. After explaining where he has been and where he is, he is soon picked up by his own children. They go to the Canal Authority where they explain what is going on, and with the help of the Canal Authority security force, a battle ensues at the slave camp. The slaves are all rescued and then comes an exciting chase on the Panama canal to stop Bolcke from getting away, so that the engine and the plans can be recovered rather than be sold to the Chinese.

The only thing about this story I did not like was the extra addition of an NCIS agent - presumably because the engine that was stolen was made by the Navy. This agent - one Ann Bennett - was totally useless in her job. She was kidnapped twice, along with the design plans, and really did not do much at all to help Pitt recover the engine.

Agent Bennett also tried to seduce Pitt as well - and was quite embarrassed when he said NO -  because he was married. I found that any chapters about Agent Bennett were really just plot holes (aka plot bunnies) just to add "filler material" if you will, to make the book longer. The story would have done equally well if Summer had been the one abducted and Dirk Junior was racing along behind to find and rescue his sister.

If you leave out the parts concerning Agent Bennett, the rest of the story actually was just as good as all of Pitt's previous adventures. I was especially impressed with the boat chase on the Panama canal as it was an unusual variation of the more normal car chase that comes at the end of most movies. In fact I found it so exciting, I could not put my e-reader down, despite making plans to actually go out.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars at the Kobo book store - it would have been 5 stars if Agent Bennett was not present - she really was totally un-necessary to the story. 


I posted the following comment at Clive Cussler's website - in the vain hope that future books do not have mile wide plot holes in them. (I used the Contact Page)

Have just finished reading Poseidons Arrow. Just wanted you to know that it was good - but not great.

Agent Ann Bennett was totally unnecessary and really she should NEVER have been part of the story. Other than being useless at her job (being abducted twice means she cant do her job) and trying to seduce a married man (which means she did not do her homework) - there is nothing that she did that the Twins could not have done.

Summer could easily have been the one abducted after she and Dirk Jr returned from their little adventure in Madagascar.

Ann Bennett is a plot bunny with a plot hole, a MILE wide. She was only present to make the book longer to make more money. The rest of the story was just as good as always.

Really Clive, you need to stop bringing in outside characters. I say this because the NUMA team are a close knit family, their members are already tied together by close friendships, and the entire team works like a well oiled machine.

Any new character like Agent Bennett just causes that engine to stall and stutter.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kobo Glo E-Reader

 Kobo BookStore

For the record, my husband gave me a Kobo Glo E-Reader yesterday for an early Xmas Present. I have been busy downloading several of free ebooks and have purchased one new e-book so far.

The book shown in this photograph is a Time Travel Series I have just discovered - the Out of Time Series by Monique Martin. So far I am enjoying the first book very much. There are 3 books in the series so far, and a 4th book will be available next year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Suicide of David Oliver Relin

Back in January 2008 I reviewed a book called - Three Cups of Tea.

In June 2010 I reviewed the sequel - Stones into Schools

Then came the news that the author - Greg Mortenson was being called a LIAR

Today comes the new that Mortenson's co-author - David Oliver Relin - supposedly committed suicide.

In the second and third paragraphs alone, there are contradictions.

Relin committed suicide in Corbett, Ore., outside Portland, on Nov. 14, said the deputy Multnomah County medical examiner, Peter Bellant, late Sunday. Relin was 49.

Relin died of blunt force head injury, Bellant said. He declined to provide other details.

Noone who wants to kill themself, ever hits themself over the head with a blunt force instrument.  Almost always, it is by a gun or a knife or gassing themself.

The blunt force is usually provided by someone else hitting you over the head with a large instrument - which means this should be called homicide or MURDER.

I only mention this because it is connected to books I have read and reviewed.