Monday, December 28, 2009

A list of books on my wishlist

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Angels

Snow Angels is the first in a new mystery/crime series by James Thompson. The protagonist and narrator is Inspector Vaara, a police chief in the most northern part of Finland: Lapland. This is a dark book, in more ways than one. It takes place in the weeks before Christmas when there is no sunlight in this part of the world. Vaara is called to the scene of a gruesome murder in a snow-covered field, whose victim is a film actress and a Somali immigrant to Finland. To solve the case Vaara has to confront his own past, including failed relationships. At the same time he must comfort his new wife, an American, who is having a difficult time adjusting to the Finnish language and life.

I was tempted to drop the book about a third of the way in as the situations of all the characters seemed so bleak. However, I was soon drawn in to the story. I developed sympathy for many of the characters. The plot is very well crafted. I did not see the twists at the end. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. I was impressed at how well the author, an American, seemed to understand the Finnish culture and character. And English readers benefit from reading the original, instead of a translation. Yet I would caution anyone who is squeamish that this is a very violent book.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Blog publish 12/08/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wildlife Encounters

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

While living in Burkina Faso and later Senegal Sheri and I really didn't come across much wildlife. Afer all, cattle and goats were too valuable to permit lions to roam around free. There were too many farms, too.

While visiting the National park of Po in Burkina Faso, on the Ghana, border with the forestry students, we came across this herd of elephants by the side of the road. Another instructor, Ben Bastyr, and I approached the herd with our cameras. We crouched low and took pictures. The mothers in the herd became restless as they had baby elephants with them. When we only had a few shots left we both stood up to get a final picture. As I clicked this female came after us trumpeting and flapping her ears. I have never run so fast in my life to get back to the side of the road. The students said that was the fastest they had ever seen a toubab run, too.

Fortunately, we later learned that the ditch between us and the herd saved us from attack. Also, if this were more than a warning she would never have trumpeted, just attacked. (1982 or 1983)

Hopping Hippo
Later, when Blaine was just an infant, Sheri and I drove up to a wetland area, La Ganguette, that was about a half hour north of Bobo Dioulasso. There was an old aluminum life boat that you could rent to go out to see the hippos. The guide rowed us out. It was about mid-day. Blaine got bitten by a fly or mosquitoes and stated wailing, as babies will do. This seemed to really upset the hippos. They started growling. Finally this one jumped up out of the water! At that point we decided to cut our trip short and go back to shore as quickly as possible. That was enough wildlife viewing for one day. (1983)