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Suhail Zubaid AHMAD "Suhail Zubaid-Ahmad" (Mississauga, ON, Canada)
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Pentax K-5 IIs 16.3 MP DSLR Body Only (Black)
Pentax K-5 IIs 16.3 MP DSLR Body Only (Black)
Price: CDN$ 899.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 729.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust factor - quality of product, pricing and delivery, Jan. 2 2014
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I was looking for upgrading to a new enthusiast level camera to match my lifestyle. I tend to hike and trek with my dog in all seasons. I love doing photography and was looking for a dslr camera that was weather resistant and user friendly. Unlike other camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon, Pentax offers weather resistant cameras in intro level K-50 and enthusiast level K-5 II, K-5 IIs, and the recently introduced K-3. After doing much research and seeking advice from many camera users I decided on buying K-5 IIs.

The only matter was finding a good price. I kept on looking for good holiday season offers and when amazon offered one for the lowest price, I jumped on it because of the trust factor of both pricing and delivery.

Needless to mention, the camera was delivered on time allowing me to start using it during December 2013.

Note on Camera itself:
If you need a camera for tricky light situations and rugged weatherproof option for hiking or other rigorous outdoor activities, the Pentax K-5 IIs together with one of the company's weather resistant lenses is a natural choice. This combination is not submersible in water, but it's splash and rainproof. Also, the weather resistant camera and the lenses are capable of operating under -10 C. I worked with it recently at -15 C.

Innate UMBM550 Fjord Folding Trekking Umbrella, Fog Blue
Innate UMBM550 Fjord Folding Trekking Umbrella, Fog Blue
Price: CDN$ 30.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Promises to be a good lightweight asset as a hiking gear., Jan. 2 2014
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The umbrella is exceptionally lightweight and looks pretty. I had thought that because it is called Fjord Folding Trekking Umbrella, it would appear very strong and sturdy, but it doesn't. It appears to be frail like every other common umbrella.

Lightness and folded size are definitely a huge advantage. I don't even notice the extra load that I am carrying in my Lowepro Sport camaera bag.

The biggest disadvantage is that its canopy cannot be folded back to half its size easily. In order to fold the cover back, one has to flip each spine backwards. My children and I have attempted to do it, but it seems that the spines would break. If there is a special technique to do so, the little instructions provided on the plastic cover that umbrella came in are insufficient. In fact, there are no instructions as to how to fold the spines backwards. We have given up and are now stowing it in full length position.

I haven't tested the umbrella yet, but the worst weather is coming up. It will surely get tested soon.

I will update this review shortly.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.50
44 used & new from CDN$ 14.50

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from a person who came from the same region as Malala did, Nov. 20 2013
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I grew up in the same region, in a much more advanced and developed district of KPK province just 60 kms south of Swat district and was able to relate to cultural and religious nuances and many of the events described in the book graphically. Furthermore, I liked the style of writing as it seemed to be clear, straight-forward, eye witness account that is a s honest as could come from a young person of a particular background (her father supports the nationalist, anti-military Awami National Party). When it comes to narrating fact beyond grasp of her age, she attributes them to her father, which she does a very often. However, she shares her feelings a number of times to bring an emotional touch.

Nobody can, in their right minds, deny the facts contained in the book and as narrated by a young lady, although the views expressed from Awami National Party's point of view hurt many a people.

Pakistan, and especially its military and intelligence service, has earned heaps of criticism recently in the West and in India in its role of aiding the Taliban, exporting terrorism, and radicalization of its own masses. This book is an excellent attempt to bring respect back to innocent Pakistani citizens by clarifying that they have suffered heavily at the hands of benevolent military dictatorships, corrupt dictatorial politicians, terrorists, western and Indian media, and even huge relentless natural disasters. Malala, therefore, has tried her best to bring Pakistan back on the map of respectful countries that need world's help.

However, I have some concerns in that Malala and her beautiful mission of educating Pakistani girls will be hard to accept by the people she most wants to help.
1. Due to her criticism of her own culture and showering accolades on western icons, she seems to have already been rejected by a majority of Pushtoons.
2. It is co-authored by Christina Lamb, who is well reputed to have a dislike for Pakistan. This is a proven fact, Hence, most of the material will not be assimilated happily by Pakistanis.
3. The way this book is written and the topics it touches and the way it touches it seem to prove to many critics that Malala has been used as a tool for marketing the product, i.e. it is a book written by Ziauddin Yusafzai in the guise of his daughter Malala Yusafzai, and via assistance of Christina Lamb.
4. Malala has been very ungrateful to the military and many people who helped the family in times of their greatest need. Her views expressed on the Pakistan military are typical of Awami National Party that was resoundingly beaten in the 2013 elections by emerging Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

As far as I am concerned, I am totally bought in by the book and have resolved to generously donate to Malala Fund. However, I do have one honest submission to make. I am utterly astonished at the fact that a girl hailing from such a backward district of KPK, had better English at age 14 to 16 than anybody in the same age group had in my generation, although we got educated at the best schools from much more advanced districts of the same province. It goes to prove that Malala is truly a blessed child from Pakistan who ensured that she overcomes the adversities of the worst nature to accomplish her dream.

The Hidden Life of Wolves
The Hidden Life of Wolves
by Jim Dutcher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
42 used & new from CDN$ 15.18

5.0 out of 5 stars A great argument for protecting wolves against antiwolf lobbies, June 19 2013
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This is only one of the few books I have read more than twice. It is both a coffee table book and a serious read on a critical issue, i.e. protecting wolves in today's world when in countries like the USA and Norway federal governments are surrendering to the demands of anti-wolf lobbies.

I liked the book because (1) the authors have included gorgeously beautiful pictures of the wolves under their observation taken from a close range in an almost natural environment, (2) the authors have provided a research oriented and a scientific rebuttal to anti-wolf lobby's arguments on hunting the wolves down, (3) the authors have provided ways to protect livestock against wolves predation, although they did not mention the universally acclaimed effectiveness of livestock guardian dogs, and (4) The authors have described how protection of wolves as apex or top predators ensures healthy ecology.

As a lover of wolves and having written an article on `How to protect wolves and livestock alike', which has been called a balanced article, all of the above makes sense to me.

There is a minor, almost negligible, weakness as well in that the authors have built their observation of wolves in the light of now discarded dominant and submissive wolf theory. Some of the observations reported in this book emanate from the environment in which the wolf pack was kept. It is possible that the alpha, middle status and omega wolves in the pack emerged due to resource limitation issues. However, even here, a majority of observations reported are true to a totally wild pack now believed to be consisting of a breeding pair and their off springs of various age groups.

The book is easy to read, because of the pictures, illustrations, and the font size. The only negative here, albeit a minor one again, is its landscape format, which is difficult to open up in crowded places like commuter trains and buses.

All in all, it was a great read and I am sure I will be reading it over and over again.

I highly recommend it for reading and watching some awesome pictures.

Malamute Man: Memoirs of an Arctic Traveler
Malamute Man: Memoirs of an Arctic Traveler
by Joe G. Henderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.63
6 used & new from CDN$ 15.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrill of travelling in the Arctic with te help of Alaskan Malamutes, April 8 2013
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I may be a little biased in my review of this book, because I love dogs, hiking, dog sledding, and reading about extreme adventures. This book contains all of these ingredients.

First of all, hats off to the adventurer/writer for putting to work a dog breed, i.e., Alaskan Malamute (and actually 22 dogs representing the breed) for what it was designed - carrying huge loads across the arctic region, rather than keeping them as a pets only.

Second of all, I salute him for restricting himself to minimum of technology. The team of dog and one man are on their own deep in that frozen hostile region.

The book is written in a very interesting and involving manner, giving details of his various dogs, their characteristics and events associated with some of them. He also presents, in a very lively manner, various thrilling incidents (and accidents) he faced during his many forays. Stories about his experience with wildlife are both thrilling and engaging.

The book is easy to read and contains many pictures to give the readers an idea of what his dogs, sleds, and hostile environment looked like.

Following Marco Polo's Silk Road
Following Marco Polo's Silk Road
by Brian Lawrenson
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from CDN$ 45.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Travelogue that can be used as a guide even today, Feb. 15 2013
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I had ordered this book through Amazon.ca and read it in May-June 2011. I decided to read it again and found that I have no memory of reading it, except for some errors that I had underlined and for a nice chapter of The Love Lukla Club. And I have a pretty good reason of why I don't have a memory from this book.

I am giving this book 4 stars, because of the information contained in it. I am 100% positive that the information is still good today. Therefore, it makes the book a good reference source for travelling in the regions it covers. They not only went to more easily accessible touristic resources, but also tried their hands on many off the beaten path kind of events and attractions. I also liked the husband and wife team for their positive attitude. Their ability to relate to the regions, the peoples, and the heritage is exemplary. They were appreciative of, friendly with, and helpful to whoever they met on their journey. They were never condescending to the local residents. They faced the adventure ordeals like true adventure travellers. Therefore, they can be a role model for the rest of us. This compared very favourably with the attitude of those 3 travelling girls of book `The Lost Girls'.

The book is more of a travelogue with author covering destinations after destinations in a very detailed manner. However, the book has two distinct flavours to it. The parts where he employed a travel writer's tool of 5 senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching) and the `dialogue', especially with his wife, in a vivid manner, make it a very interesting read. The parts where he does not employ these tools, read very dull. It seems that in the latter parts the writer was going through writing trying to cover every destination and attraction he and his wife went to without putting emotions into it.

I was disappointed to see that although the book is titled `Following Marco Polo's Silk Road', it really never connects that great traveler of the past with the husband and wife team of the present. The writer and his wife went on a journey that only minimally crisscrossed with the route that Marco Polo took. Even in this scenario, the writer could have made the book interesting by adding excerpts from or giving references to already published accounts of Marco Polo and some history of the destinations they traveled to. They didn't do it, except briefly in few chapters.

The book is divided into chapters by destinations they journeyed to. The font size is good. The language is easy to follow. There are some factual errors like naming the cities and cuisine incorrectly. For example, time and time again, he calls the sheep of the region as flat-tailed sheep, whereas the correct name is fat-tailed sheep. Also, it would have been great if the writer had added a few pictures from his repertoire. Unfortunately, he told us that they lost a bag full of their camera equipment and pictures towards the end of their journey and that actually caused a terrible depression immediately afterwards that prevented them from travelling for many years. I can relate to that, as that calamity has struck me twice on my micro-adventures.

Overall, this is a very good book to read as a reference book to some of the regions where travelling can only be called adventurous.

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
by Alexandra Horowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
232 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Knowing your dog much better, Feb. 1 2013
First I was inclined to compare this book with Stanley Coran's `How to Speak Dog' with the former being the theory behind the practical aspect put in the latter. I found both the books useful, but the theory part in `Inside of a Dog' impressed me a lot.

Admittedly, it is a controversial book with reviewers having all sorts of comments from most positive to extreme negative. I read the book based on the premise that one should try to learn the most from reading and should absorb what one likes and discard the rest.

Let me say it straightaway. This is not a dog training book, although one can use concepts from it to train dogs better. This is mostly `how the dog thinks' book and `a memoir about a beloved dog' book. In my opinion, the `memoir' part was the best though.

As regards, `how the dog thinks' part, I can safely say that I know my dog at a personal level now. My knowledge about senses of dogs has increased many folds. For example, I didn't know that olfactory sense and taste senses in dogs take priority over other senses. The author explained `Vomeronasal' organ to explain why dogs like to taste everything.

Among other things, the author also explained why dogs find no interest in watching TV, why some guard dogs bark at everything and everyone, can they predict changes in weather, whether or not they have qualities to rescue their owners in survival situations, do they observe us, whether or not they are less intelligent than wolves, if they can hunt like wolves, so on and so forth. All of the things she said made sense to me.

There are weaknesses in the book too. For one, it rambles on and is hard to finish in one or two attempts. However, reading one chapter a day, this book turned out to be very informative. It has brought some drastic changes in my dealings with my dog. Overall, because of this book, I know my dog much better.

A Guide to Backpacking with Your Dog
A Guide to Backpacking with Your Dog
by Charlene G. LaBelle
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.15
22 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Intro reference book for hiking with your pal, Jan. 28 2013
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I routinely hike with my dog as a hobby. It was obvious that this book would be my first `go to' reference. It hasn't disappointed me.

The book has good advice contained in it, for example on, good hiking dog breeds, good dog backpacks, load carrying capacities, what to carry, trail etiquettes, etc.

There are some suggestions that I found extremely valuable. The writer, who has hiked with different dogs over a period of 30 years, suggests that during long distance energy sapping hikes, dogs be fed puppy food for its extra nutritional value. She again suggests that on a slope or decent, dogs should preferably be encouraged to follow behind the hiker. This is with a view to preventing its pulling one down the hill and causing a lost footing. Yet again, the author shows the way how to check dog pads for its ability to hike.

Overall, this is an excellent book for beginners. I found it user friendly and easy to read with many illustrations and many photographs to present the material in an interesting way.

The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife
The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife
by Sean Arbabi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.32
35 used & new from CDN$ 21.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have reference book for outdoorsy type, Dec 31 2012
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I purchased this book via amazon.ca to see the fine points of nature photography. However, since I am always on the move when outdoors, my main objective was to learn only those photography techniques that could enable me take good pictures of nature on the go.

The author-photographer Sean Arbabi has provided content that someone could only wish in his / her dreams. Not only has he provided techniques, but he has also backed them up with advice based on his personal experience and with a number of jaw dropping pictures. This book is a good read even if you are not aspiring to be a professional photographer. For an amateur photographer like me, the book offers learning along three major lines:

(1) Techniques that I grew up using, but forgot over a period of time. There is a refresher of all those basics for me.

(2) Highlighting many features of our digital cameras that we hardly use, but we can and should to improve the quality of our pictures.

(3) Preparations required to take great shots. It is not all about camera gear, but also researching the location and the subject beforehand so as to avoid any surprises.

This book is definitely going to be an asset for me for many years to come. I recommend this book highly.

Guardian Gear Vinyl Dog Rain Jacket with Reflective Strip, XX-Large, Yellow
Guardian Gear Vinyl Dog Rain Jacket with Reflective Strip, XX-Large, Yellow

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good value for money, Dec 28 2012
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I had reviewed this item first on Dec 28 2012 and had given it 5 stars. I have down-graded now and given it a 4 stars. My original review appears below the line.

The two elastic loops for rear side that appeared weak when I first started using the rain coat and kept me thinking that they are going to break easily, did break in the last week of December 2013. I am still thinking of finding a fix. They cannot be sewn because of the material of the jacket. The only alternate appears to be to attach them through a strong glue.

______________________

Since I hike long distances with my dog, a Kuvasz, in all weather conditions, I was looking for a raincoat just to prevent his fur from getting wet from rain, freezing rain, wet snow, snow, etc. I was also looking for just a raincoat, not a rain-winter jacket for my dog has a double coat that provides ample protection against cold / freezing weather conditions. For breeds with double coats, a winter jacket can become very warm indeed.

This raincoat turned out to be perfect. It snugs in over neck and spreads out over back and sides, providing total coverage. It keeps in place by tying an attached belt on the chest and two elastic loop bands that are hooked over the hindquarters. There is a slot on the back for tying leash to a harness, but I don't use it. There is a reflector lining on the raincoat and a small pocket on the back side too.

However, there are weaknesses as well. The attached belt has Velcro, but the placement on two sections of the belt is inadequate. I have to tie the belt instead of attaching the two Velcro sections. The two elastic loops for rear side appear weak and keep me thinking that they are going to break easily. Besides, putting the hind legs through those loops for a giant breed is a tricky exercise. However, I do note that this is perhaps the best solution to prevent raincoat from slipping away from the rear.

My dog seems baffled whenever I put the raincoat on him, but once he gets going, I don't think he minds it at all. In addition, we get compliments from other people all the time.

Finally, one compliment is in order here. The raincoat was delivered very quickly. I wasn't expecting that quick a delivery at all. My hats off to both the supplier and amazon.ca

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