Monday, June 29, 2009

Avenging Angel - Review

About a year ago Esther Carney, a doctor/author, found my blog. She found the book review I did of L'Avion de Gaston She contacted me and asked if I'd review a book she had written. Of course, I said I would.

The book, called Avenging Angel, is an action packed book about a girl, Angie Ryan, who was raised in South America in a camp full of mercenaries. Angie was raised as the daughter of the head mercenary, Colonal Morgan. Just before her mother passes away, she tells Angie that Morgan isn't her real father. Her real father is back in the States. Angie's mother dies before she can tell Angie her real last name, or the name of her father.

Angie escapes to the United States to find her real father. Doing so turns Morgan into her enemy. Her training as a mercenary allows her to do some Special Operations work with the FBI. But, it also gets her into trouble with the law at times. The book follows Angie's growth from a girl into a woman as she goes from town to town looking for her real father, running from the law, running from Morgan's goons, and beating up men who are several times her size.

What I liked
Angie seems to be a combination of Batman, Superman, Jason Bourne, Ferris Bueller, Jack Bauer, Parker Lewis, and a beautiful teen-aged girl. She seems able to do anything - even without Cloe's help. The book, at 642 pages, was a page-turner. I was never bored when reading it. It never made me fall asleep. There was lots of action. It was full of hand-to-hand combat, guns, aeroplanes, motorcycles, explosives, aeroplanes, terrorists, and a wee bit of romance...and aeroplanes. I like aeroplanes.

There were many characters in several subplots. This made the book seem, at times, like reading a bunch of short stories all strung together to make a longer story. Kinda like a TV show with an over-arching storyline. The only problem is if you forget someone's name, and the appear later on several chapters later, you're not sure if you should know them or not.

What I didn't like
Angie seems to be a combination of Batman, Superman, Jason Bourne, Ferris Bueller, Jack Bauer, Parker Lewis, and a beautiful teen-aged girl. She seems able to do anything - even without Chloe's help. She appears to have no weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Both incredibly smart and physically capable. I think the reason I like Spiderman is that you see his vulnerability. You don't see that with Angie.

The author is a doctor. There was some medical terminology in the book. I had to take it on faith that it was accurate. She had a weapons expert to consult, so I assume all the weapons stuff was accurate too. There was a lot of aeroplane/flying content. As a (student) pilot I got the feeling that some of those parts were written by someone who's read a lot about flying, and probably taken the controls of an aeroplane a few times, but never actually studied flying.(But that's the nitpicking pilot in me.) However, it does have a lot of accurate aviationisms.

The only other thing was the book was pretty big. It could have been two books. I think that was the original plan. I'm not sure why it was condensed into one.

In Summary
If you enjoy a good book full of action, head on over to Zeus Publications, or Fast Paced Fiction and pick this book up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Phone Scam

Today I want to talk about two phone scams. The first one is where someone calls you, lets the phone ring a couple of time, and hangs up. You see the number on the call-display. Even though you don't recognize the number, you decided to call it back. The number turns out to be an adult entertainment line in a foreign land.

If you call a number back, without knowing who it is, just because it shows up on your call-display, you deserve the $1000 phone bill that goes with it.

The second phone scam is a much more serious and widespread one; one which you may have already fallen victim to. I know I have. It's called "Paying for Text Messaging."

I remember once upon a time, texting was free. The technology was already built into the phone system. It seems the phone companies noticed that people were texting and they decided to make a quick buck out of it.

I'm with Bell Mobility. They charge me $3.00/month for unlimited incoming text messages, and 30 outgoing messages. Any outgoing messages beyond the 30 is 15 cents per message.

How much does it cost the phone company?

According to this article, "Srinivasan Keshav, Canada Research Chair in tetherless computing at the University of Waterloo, told lawmakers probing text messaging rates and the state of competition in the wireless telecommunications industry that the maximum cost of a single text message "very unlikely" exceeds 0.3 cents."

The author of this article, calculates how much texting costs compared to talking on his cell phone, assuming data transfer costs the same for each method. The talk-plan he assumes ($40 per month for 400 minutes) costs about $1.75 per Megabyte. Texting, at 15 cents per text works out to $786.43 per Megabyte. If texting were charged at the same rate as talking, it would be 0.33 cents per message, which is about what Srinivasan Keshav calculates.

What can you do about it? All I can think of is to get a Skype account, or some other Voice Over IP system and start making phone calls that way. If enough people do this, then the phone system as we know it will die.

My answer requires Net Neutrality to be in place. Otherwise, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will just charge for emails and instant messages. They might do that anyway, so it's important that we get Net Neutrality laws in place to prevent that sort of behaviour.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (120)

This guy in a body case and wheel chair is on the stage to audition for "So You Think You Can Dance" thinking he might be that shows equivalent to Susan Boyle, the woman who surprised everyone with her phenomenal singing skills.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Church Hopping - Part 3

So far, since February, I have blogged about the following churches: a Catholic Church, Beaver Creek Baptist, Bedside Baptist, St. Arthur's Church, Golgotha Baptist, Blackbelt Baptist, Over-Easy Wesleyan, and even returned to Yahoo! Baptist for Good Friday Service. And that's where I left off.

Since then we've gone back to Blackbelt Baptist, Life Area Pentecostal, The Gathering House, and a Reformed Presbyterian church.

Life Area Pentecostal was my first Pentecostal service. It was like going to a rock concert on Sunday morning. The music was good, and tight. The light show was good too. As a Baptist, I tend to worry that people go for the show, for the emotional charge, instead of for worship. It can become about the show when it should be about Christ.

When the pastor got up to speak, you could see the Andy Stanley influence - the way the pastor dressed, spoke, had a bottle of water beside him on the table beside his high stool. I'm surprised he didn't slip into a southern drawl.

The following week, we went to The Gathering House. That's a church that's based out of Southern Ontario, and they have satellite churches set up around other Ontario locations. The satellite churches are in a theatre. They have a live music team there, and a local pastor. They let you bring food and drink into the theatre. The seats are really comfortable.

On the other hand, the morning we went was Mother's Day. Instead of taking time to have a mothers oriented message, or anything special about mothers, they had a status report! "This is how far we've come, and this is where we have yet to go." That was disappointing. They could have had that any other week. We decided to give that church another chance when Bruce got home. That service was much better. It was very culturally relevant.

We also went to a Reformed Presbyterian church. It was different, mainly because they didn't sing modern praise and worship music. They just sang the Psalms using only their voices. No other instruments. At one point we were singing an imprecatory psalm. Pastor Jack elected to not sing the bit about hating people who worship idols.

We also went to McDonald Baptist in Kanata. The pastor there is a Friend of Pastor Jack's. Unfortunately, he wasn't preaching that morning. So I can't comment on the preaching that morning. I have heard that pastor speak at night before. He always gives something to think about. The music at that church is done well. They are missing drums, which is unfortunate. They have some really good musicians on the music team. Drums would really add to it. The people are friendly too.

For the next three weeks Jack is preaching at Blackbelt Baptist. So that's where we'll all be.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Could Make Beautiful Music Together

According to Today's Article the same gene that correlates with musical ability "codes for a receptor for the hormone arginine vasopressin and has been linked with bonding, love and altruism in people." The thought is that people who are good at music are also good romantic partners.

I have nothing to say about this except "Fascinating!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Busy Month at Chez McQueens

This month will be a busy month at the McQueen residence.

Tonight, a bunch of people are coming over for a BBQ. That's always a lot of work.

Last night I heard Jane talking to a friend on the phone. This friend is moving to Ottawa. Jane agreed to help her move into her new place. I think I heard her say she could stay over at our place on Friday night; cat included. Now, I like cats, but I'm not sure how the dog, Max, will feel about sharing the house with one. Jane suggested that the cat stay in the basement because Max doesn't go down there. That also happens to be Bruce's room. Bruce came to visit me last year when I was taking care of someone's cats while they were on vacation. He was there for about 20 minutes. Then it took him a few days to completely get rid of the allergic reaction brought on by the cats. Maybe he got over his allergies since then? This will be an interesting weekend.

We need to re-shingle the roof. Hopefully Arthur can help us out with that. The challenge so far has been to find a weekend with good weather. Ottawa weekends have had particularly bad weather lately.

On Saturday Pastor Jack's brother and sister, and his sister's three young boys are coming to stay for about a week. The idea is to do some much needed household repairs. Robin's heading into exams. She has declared she's not giving up her room. So, the question is: Where will we put everyone? I know where I'll want to be: at Uncle Joe's house — away from the craziness.

I may get my wish for at least one weekend this month. My parents are coming up for a family function. I told my parents I'd go with them to the function. My parents will be at Uncle Joe's while they're in Ottawa. When they're there, I'm usually there too.

I also plan on dying from Swine Flu sometime in June. I haven't been infected yet, and I don't know anyone who has been, but it is on my to-do list.

At least we know which churches we're going to every Sunday in June. Pastor Jack is booked to speak every Sunday this month. He's at Resurrection Church for one Sunday, then at Blackbelt Baptist for three consecutive Sundays.

I'll write further to let you know how things go. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Should Have Seen In Coming

In December I blogged that the RIAA announced they were going to stop suing citizens for downloading music. I wasn't sure if I was going to start buying CDs again. I still thought they were evil, but I thought maybe their new way of being evil would be better than the last.

It turns out, according to today's article they they launched 62 law suits in April alone. The boycott continues! Let the downloading keep going!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I'm An Artist Too (118)

This guy is meditating thinking "I'm going to achieve inner peace if if kills me!"