Book Review: Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest 5/5*

I loved this trilogy. It is a police thriller with compelling character development. It tells a story that is great, makes excellent fodder for screenplays and will be in the movie theaters before you know it. At its core it is a great yarn told by a skillful storyteller. It is best read in series, one after the other with parts one and two of the trilogy, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Girl who Played with Fire. This third book of the trilogy is a tour de force conclusion that was well done and compelling. The only problem I had with it is the storyline is quite complex and at times I felt I had to play catch-up with my list of characters in hand to tell what person the author was talking about. I kind of feel it was my failing not his but other readers may find it unclear.

The series begins with Lisbeth Salander, the perhaps semi-autistic computer hacker genius who is profoundly disrespected by everyone. The first book gives us some semblance of her character and it is chilling. With no people skills but lot of technical skills, she navigates through life as best as she can. She ends up in this book giving all the bad guys their comeuppance and then some. It strikes a chord with readers as something they would like to have the guts to do. If you ever fantasize about round house kicking your boss in the teeth you will enjoy this series. One warning though, I found it necessary to read this book with a list of characters nearby. There are probably 50 names in the book. (This is also a Swedish book and the names are a little hard, not like Bob or Jane.) If you are not into writing things down, it is OK to read it and just have a foggy idea of who is talking because you will remember the main characters. That is the only criticism I have as I truly enjoyed these three books. Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: Girl Who Played with Fire 4/5*

This second book of the trilogy continues the story of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The same characters continue Steig Larsson’s great police thriller with more plot twists and amazing storytelling. The main purpose of this book is to build your acquaintance with all the characters started in the first book and developing the plot for the third and final book. I dinged down the ratings on this one since it is the middle sister and isn’t quite as good as the first one and not as compelling as the last.

I read this book on my Kindle and used my portfolio’s notepad to keep track of the characters. I feel a little like I’m trying to keep up with this author’s character list and had to write down the principle ones. Good job, Larsson, I’m a fan.

Movie Review: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3.5/5*

I loved the book by Steig Larsson as you have probably read in my other post. I got the movie on Blu-Ray and enjoyed it very well. I had to downgrade the star rating a little because it is in Swedish with subtitles and because I felt that if you had not read the book, it would not have been as good. That being said, the core story to this twisted criminal/police thriller is one of the best yarns I have ever heard spun.

A warning will be given here as to ratings. It is rated an R due to violence, grisly scenes, sex, smoking and other inappropriate things. If you can get past that, you will love the girl with the Dragon tattoo, because she is deliciously vindicitve. Bad guys beware, you are going to suffer. Hard.

The story is about Lisbeth Salander, a 24 year old possibly Asbergers girl with a photographic memory and remarkable computer hacking skills. She has no people skills. I won’t go into the mystery that is the topic of this movie because I do not want to spoil it for you. It is a closed room mystery where the possible murderers were all physically isolated on an island. One of the 20 or so people in a photo taken that day is the bad guy or gal. I like closed room mysteries and this one is good.

The cast is good in this movie version too. Mikael Blomkvist, the investigative journalist who teams up with Lisbeth is a little ordinary looking for a ladies man, but does an OK job of the role. The casting director got Lisbeth spot-on with the Swedish actress who played her sullen stares to perfection. No names from Hollywood, I think they are all European actors. If you like mysteries and a good tale, and can take some squeamish scenes, you will like this movie. Recommended.

Now a little about Potassium

After discussing Nitrogen and Phosphorus, we come to the third essential element for plant nutrition, Potassium (K). Potassium exists in most soils and minerals that are naturally occurring. It is rarely deficient in plants at normal pH levels. It is used by all cells in the sodium/ potassium balance across cell walls; just one of its many uses. Like Nitrogen and Phosphorus, it is essential in many processes in all living things.

Chemical fertilizers contain Potassium as a soluble salt usually in the form of potassium chloride (KCL), potassium sulfate (KSO4) or potassium nitrate (KNO3). It is usually mined out of the earth and purified from high potassium containing minerals. I learned this about potassium from Wikipedia and just had to share it.

“Into the 19th century, niter-beds were prepared by mixing manure with either mortar or wood ashes, common earth and organic materials such as straw to give porosity to a compost pile typically 1.5×2×5 meters in size.[3] The heap was usually under a cover from the rain, kept moist with urine, turned often to accelerate the decomposition and leached with water after approximately one year. Dung-heaps were a particularly common source: ammonia from the decomposition of urea and other nitrogenous materials would undergo bacterial oxidation to produce various nitrates, primarily calcium nitrate, which could be converted to potassium nitrate by the addition of potash from wood ashes.

A variation on this process, using only urine, straw and wood ash, is described by LeConte: Stale urine is placed in a container of straw hay and is allowed to sour for many months, after which water is used to wash the resulting chemical salts from the straw. The process is completed by filtering the liquid through wood ashes and air-drying in the sun.[3]”

The old name “Potash” comes from the ashes cooked in a pot with some form of Calcium nitrate could yield potassium nitrate and could be used as fertilizer. Nowadays we do not need to save our horse’s stale urine as potassium is commonly available in any complete fertilizer inexpensively.

A note about the old system of saving ash from a fire is due here. Many gardeners still believe that wood ashes (KCO3) are good to put in the garden straight from the fireplace. The form of potassium right from the fire is potassium carbonate and is a soluble salt which acts very similarly to sodium chloride which is table salt. Imagine table salt put on your plants in the garden. It would not take too much to get a salty solution floating around the roots in the soil moisture. When the concentration of salts is more intense outside the root, than inside the root, the soil draws water out of the root to try to equalize the concentrations. This leads to dehydration of the root as water is drawn out through the cell membrane. Plants will look wilted and droopy even though the soil appears moist. You do not want to use wood ashes much around plants for this reason. When the wood ashes (KCO3) are mixed with a form of Nitrate (ie. CaNO3) , such as the animal urines noted above, the soluble salts switch cations and become potassium nitrate and Calcium carbonate.
If you do not want to take my advice and skip the wood ashes just be aware that it can be very strong and at times harm the plants.

As we touched on already, one of the characteristics of potassium is that it comes in the form of a soluble salt. As such, it dissolves well in water and may leach away. Potassium is needed when the plant is making fruits especially, so be sure to use a complete fertilizer in the vegetable garden.

Now going back to the first post about plant nutrition, this whole topic was suggested by an alert reader who had a friend who was watering her flowers with Propel brand sports drink to give them potassium. I think by now we are ready to do the math on how much potassium she was getting in the drink and whether that was a kooky but not ill-advised thing to do.

Propel water contains potassium citrate which is about 38%K. Each bottle contains 100 mg of potassium citrate which equals 38 mg of potassium. A bottle of Propel water costs $.75. The Potassium in the sports drink costs .00000837 pounds for $.75. Hmmm. I think I’ll go buy some Rapid-Gro.