February 1865, 150 years ago was when 17 year old Richard Clow reenlisted as a regular for three years in the 56th Mass. Volunteer Infantry. That one month during which he signed up, spent two weeks in a holding camp during the frigid winter of 65, (18 degrees or more below zero) and then was transported in the filthy stinking hold of the ship Demolay to Petersburg, VA set the stage for his baptism under fire on the front lines at Fort Hays. His letters home to his sisters have always been an inspiration to me. Trying to tell what has been happening, while not sharing all the really gruesome details which his sisters would not have been able to understand back in Boston. His observations on the battlefield, close encounters with death, and his own hopes and dreams for the future all come out over the ensuing months leading up to Lee’s retreat to Appomattox, Lincolns death and finally demobilization in July of 1865, well after the final battles had become history. Read the book to get an understanding of what a young soldier did and saw, in comparison to what the officers we all hear about did or didn’t do. It gives one a broader understanding of the whole span of the war and the persons deeply involved in that conflict.
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A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is not the Author’s best work by far. The thesis behind the novel is excellent and I was absorbed with that once we got to the actual story. The first 200 pages are very slow in setting up the story. In fact, so slow, that this section of the of the 479-page novel could have been covered with more concentrated action in about 50 pages without losing anything. I found myself skipping through the boring parts. After those first 200 pages the pace picks up and our protagonist, John Puller and the apparent arch-enemy, Paul Rogers, get down to business near Ft. Monroe and the affairs of secret building “Q” on that base. I would have liked a better description of Rogers’ bone and muscle enhancement job as well as the brain manipulations done by the mastermind Claire Jericho to make Rogers into a warped human super warrior, but that was not to be. Other than the initial boredom factors, my main reasons for downgrading an author as strong as Baldacci were his flaws in what should have been simple technology and physics. First, in a tale in which someone can take over the ignition, steering, and acceleration of your car to the point of causing a fatal crash, one would think that having Puller use his cell phone and computer to do research and to contact big brother, Robert, would be a dead giveaway on locating our hero to knock him off. This never happens and it isn’t until about p. 400 that our author acknowledges the easy traceability of cell phones. Yet, having noted the flaw, he never goes back and has Puller using a landline, library computers and other more clandestine methods to conceal his whereabouts. The second error which really floored me was the author’s lack of understanding of the basic physics of water pressure on a sunken car and that by letting the water rise above the door level, one can quite easily open the car door and simply swim to the surface. The hilt of a Ka-bar knife is also pretty efficient at breaking a windshield on a car if necessary in an emergency of doors not opening. Even so, I still enjoyed the read and will continue to go back to those older well thought out novels by Mr. Baldacci and look for more fertile efforts. All in all, I like his style of writing.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Here’s an award-winning level of a story by an author who has done an amazing amount of research on the women who ran and participated in, the spy newwork of occupied France during the both WWI and WWII. Although author Kate Quinn has filled in a lot of gaps in the historical record with her fictional character, Eve (Mme. Le Francois), her depictions of the other members of the spy network from their true memoires is amazing. The reader can feel the tension of the characters in their clandestine border crossings into Belgium, and their constant fear of recognition and capture. The courage and determination that flows between euphoric moments when a prime piece of information is overheard, followed by the depths of despair as the British Command ignores vital clues to troop movements or the attacks is handled extremely well. Author Quinn has also done a magnificent job of alternating chapters between the two main characters, Eve and Charlie and in ending each chapter with a ‘hook’ that keeps the reader moving on to the next chapter consecutively, rather than trying to skip ahead for clues that will lead to the mysterious collaborator, Rene Bordelon. It’s a tale of love, hate, terror, revenge, courage and betrayal in which the author makes the characters come to life and show both the worst of human behaviors and the very best. It will go down as one of my all time favorites.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Picture Me Dead” although I felt that I could have chopped out the central 100 pages and still had a great read at 323. The boathouse to apartment play between Ashley and Jake is too much back and forth for me. I got a bit bored out in the middle of the book. Fortunately, if you feel ennui sneaking in, or you start to yawn, just skip to the next love making scene. You’ll come away with new learning! The “Prologue” really pulls you in at the start of the book. Then the love-hate cycle between Ashley and Jake make for a good fallback in between the intrigue of the mystery. I kept wondering if Ashley was going to drop out of the Police academy. The author obviously came up with a better solution. Everglades scenes and the death on the motorway scene are a bit contrived, but lay the groundwork for other things to come in the book. My wife was totally absorbed with the book. It took me ten days to do the reading of the 400+ pages while she only took two days, so there you have it ladies, it gets a higher rating from the gals, but that’s OK because men have been getting all the good parts in books for eyars and now it looks like some smart tough women are stepping forward in novels to equalize the filed. A very good book, enjoy the reading.
If a velociraptor looked at me with the same geam in the eye that this hungry pair of Iguana are giving me, I’d know I wasn’t long for this world!
Enjoy your day!
Playa Lagun is another one of those great places to dive on Curacao. A lot of people don’t go there because you have to swim way.. out there.. before you go down, or you’ll use up half your air over white chrystaline sands.
So– 9:30 AM we make up our gear at Patrick’s Wederfoort Dive shop and hop in the pickup for a 20 minutes dive up towards the NW end of the Island. Throw on our gear and walk down through the sunbathers, already beginning to stake out places on this small secluded beach.
Swim out! Glad the water is cool! Here we are offshore 300+ yards looking back.
Jill looks at me, we all look at the cliffs with houses and high-end resorts, Patrick gives an OK and down we go….. 35 ft. down is a sloping plateau loaded with tube spongers, corky fingers, and pillars of coral.
A glass eye snapper just a bit deep to show off his vrightred coloring, brain rose and starlet corals, a pale phase of a stoplight parrot with a blue tail, a blue male phase of a sergent major, flowing fungus coral, blue tube sponges, a herd of grunts above some goat fish, a blue wrasse, and finally the Giant Vase Sponge big enough to swallow a person.
Back at the beach an hour later, we stop for a coffee while we get out top-time, pick up more tanks at Patrick’s dive concession at Lagun Resort, look down off the cliffs from above where we have been diving and head for the next dive. Enjoy!
One of the most untouched spots on Curacao for diving is Pos Spano or Spanish Well, which is only accesible by boat or through a locked gate if you know where to get the key. Eric Wederfoort, probably the most decorated diver and instructor on Curacao can occasionally get groups in to this restriced area!
Pristine white sand beaches, azure blue water and corals that drop your jaw await, along with a plethora of fish and invertebrates like shrimp and crabs.
We went down next to the Elkhorn Corals which jut out of the 8 ft deep water at low tide, and swam out slowly savoring each new type of coral and the fish that accomany it.
Juvenile Slippery Dicks over white sand, smooth Starlet Coral, Colonies of Yellow Pencil Corals with tube shaped Branching Vase Sponges and branching Sea Rods projecting upwards from crevices. Then deeper are more humps of Star Coral with bright yellow Juvenile Blue Head Wrasse swimming around while forktailed Chromis fill the background. Finally, before we hit the reek proper, we pass over upright plates of Leafy Stinging Corals protecting more juvenile Wrasse, including Juvenile Rainbow Wrasse, beneath which, near the sand you see a Bicolored Damsel. WOW!
Now we drop down further to the waving fronds of Sea Rods surrounded by Brown Chromis Fish. The direction of the waving fronds tells us which way to go as we want to swim against the current until we reach half – tank and still have enough air to come up a bit and get back (Usually about 30 minutes each way for Jill and me. Eric has gills after 50 years of teaching and guiding.). Then Netted Barrel Sponges appear followed by big Orange Elephant Ear Sponges and then from between the leaves of a clump of sparkling Lettuce Coral we see the head of a Golden Tail Moray! Cute? Finally, more Branching Tube Sponges with swarms of Blue and Brown Chromis.
On the way back we scare up one of the BAD GUYS on the reef: A LION FISH imported from SE Asia, released in Florida and now infesting the entire Caribbean! The only reason Curacao isn’t overrun with them like Bermuda, is because the peopel here took an active role in capturing these spiny poisonous creatures and cutting off their spines and eating them in restaurants! 5 years ago we saw 20 – 50 of these fish on a dive and Eric could spear 200 kilos of fish per week to sell for eating. Now we see only 5 fish in a total of 15 dives and Eric says he’s lucky to get 15 kilos a week to sell. That’s just fine with him and also with us. See the hand in the picture? Don’t do this unless you are an expert! A single sting from the barbs on these fish can put you in the hospital!
By For now! Hope you had a great dive! Enjoy! Rick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Here’s a really excellent book for those of you who like a bit more of the morbidity/mortality side of the picture as explained and described by someone who has actually worked in the Forensic Anthropology field. Lest you think that this means you only work with the long dead bones, get a grip! This is right down the line of the body, long concealed in the crypt by some murderous psychopath, or stashed a month in the trunk of your car. The details can be a bit off-putting if you have too good an imagination. For me, with a biology background it was very interesting and links to several articles I read in the past about the actual places where researchers study this sort of thing. Someplace like the inside of a fenced off, research facility. Learning things like how long it takes for bodies to actually decay in the open, or when buried in a shallow grave, etc. A bit gruesome, but the story line is excellent! It’s got a truely evil psychopath who obviously has learned how to connect with other psychopaths through the internet. A semi-senile lady in a care center who has the ability to use the internet to a high degree for her own investigative purpses… A good on-going love story with make-up and resolution, and of course, the suspense of who is going to get it next, or what will be revealed when the next back-yard is dug up. One slight error by the author which you might pick up on when it comes to the police trying to resuscitate a dead man, you can’t then be taking photoes of the corpse insitue, because they certainly woudn’t prop it back in the original position just for the photographer. I can live with that, a detail which most readers will never pick up on. Read it, enjoy it, knowing that there really are people like that out there who do these things, both on the crime side as well as on the investigative side. I hope the good gals and guys always win!
Just finished another dive this AM at Snake Bay, St. Michael’s, Curacao. Last three days have been a whirlwind. 2 Dives on Thursday, King’s Day Celebrations all over he island on Friday and one dive today with another to be done in about an hour.
After 14 years of diving here you’d think we’d seen all the fish, but no…, there always seems to be another one that pops up as you are cruising through the blue.
Here’s the latest, a Queen Trigger Fish! What a beauty!
Look Closely! Those eyelashes can’t be beat!
This fish is related to a lot of other trigger fishes, notably the two Hawian reef and lagoon triggerfish which both share the common name Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Another beauty – Click here for link
Not to be put off, the rest of the reef came out today with these pics of the day: Corky Fingers, Ocean Surgeon, Four-eyed Butterfly Fish, Blue Translucent Sponge, a lined phase of a Princess Parrot Fish, a herd of Goat Fish with a sneaky Trumpet Fish sticking his head into the photo, and a very nice Porkfish.
Then of course just as we are getting out to the dive buoy tied around the old car axel, Here comes a nice red phase of a Stoplight Parrot Fish to say goodby!
Enjoy your Day! Time to make up my gear for the next dive!
Diving the tugboat is a fun hour’s dive with lots of friendly fish to enjoy. Not deep, but great lighting!
When you are 74 and can still lug you weights, tanks and gear into the water for walk in dives, swim for an hour under water at 75 – 80 degrees F and not get cramps, or use up your air, then you begin to understand how scuba diving is not just a sport, but a calorie burner!
Heres a picture yesterday near the Tug Boat site in Curacao, our Guide Patrick (Divecenter Wederfoort) with my wife Jill in background. Don’t know about the “cat’ in the background.
Today I looked up Calorie calculations for Scuba Diving. There are a couple of calculators for the average energy used per hour of diving. “FitDay” , “DiveBuddy” , and “ScubaDiverLife” . All qualify their answers because of the many variables: water temp., currents, walk-in versus boat diving, age, suit thickness, etc. Here’s their take on it!
Basically an hour of jogging will use up about 400 kCalories of energy. An average diver in temperate waters (65F) will use up to 600 kCalories per hour of diving. In tropical waters (75-80F) the diver uses about 350 kCalorise per hour. On a three dive day, a diver would use over 900kCal. extra in that day, which is 40% more than the average male human sitting around and doing moderate tasks.
WOW! Weight Loss Here We Come! More pictures below!
Ooops! The Caveats! Most divers increase their caloric intake because of the energy use,and some divers actually gain weight because they indulge in massive sugar or carbohydrate binges.
OK, so it’s like a lot of get trim quick stuff moderation in all will probably do most of us better than thinking we have a one style fits all.
Now to the best pics for Yesterday!
Down to wreck with a yellow tail snapper
Sponge with School Master resting inside
Goatfish near rudder
Off into the Deep! Beats Curling!
Enjoy your day!
The Island of Curacao, one of the former Dutch Antilles, is a gem often overlooked by Americans looking for a week or two in a foreign country but afraid to travel beyond the English speaking world. You’re in luck! Most Dutch people and all of the schools in Curacao teach English along with Dutch and the local lingua franca, Papiamento, from about age 12 through high school. With tourism as the main industry, it’s not uncommon for locals to speak up to 5 languages fluently.
What to do? Great Food and resaurants, Great shopping in duty free areas, Old Plantation Houses to visit, Natural Caves, Fishing expeditions and more :
Not your bag? Try Diving in some of the best places on earth and with some of the friendliest instructors and guides!
Float in sublime warm water! Learn about the fish!
Flounders, Porcupine Fish, Balloon Fish, you’ll see them all here.
A wonderful paradise Island
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Seymour is in his groove with this one and once again he’s got it right with his characterization, situation and the plot. War isn’t really about our morals and higher values, Queen and Country, Mom and apple pie and making the world always a better place. War is like that highschool rugby, hockey or football game, only with weapons that are just a bit more nasty and deadly. I like the way Harry puts it several times during the book when he explains the “Why?” of his situation and the hunt to kill the IRA assassin of British Social Services Minister, Mr. Henry Danby. “They put the glove down—-to make us react and see how effectively we could counterattack. —- We have to get the man and the team that did it—-or they’ve won.” The words ring so true as we look at the selection of our military officers, the men and women who didn’t know when to quit on the field even when they were in that soccer game and down two goals. The Americans see it in the strategy of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The Brits see it in Malaysia, Dunkirk and the Kyber Pass. The collateral damage doesn’t really matter to those who are in the driver’s seat. You lose a man or 50? “He’s already had the MC—we could make it a bar to that—- personally I would favor the OBE—-the George Cross is a bit more than we usually give in those circumstances—” This is a book we need to ponder. One that should be discussed in our war colleges on the why, or is it still a part of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you—-” Read it enjoy it, but internalize the message. That’s what makes Gerald Seymour a great author.
Here’s a great little touchscreen app. that I developed for my book: Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean. I call it: Shells Caribbean Book snapshots . It will show you some of the contents, pictures, diagrams and keys for the book which is generally sold as an e-book, but can also be purchased in paper form See my author site. This app. is touchscreen in operation so whenever you find a “blue” icon or line, you can touch it and go to the menue or key. With the Keys, you can touch the pictures and go to that section of the book that shows the actual individual shell pictures and the descriptions. Lots of see here, Hope you enjoys it! The e-book is not touchscreen, but works the same way. I have the whole book in this app. form, but haven’t found anyone to publish it yet.
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