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Reviews Written by
Mr. Richard D. L. Sargent "joyousmonkey"

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Ghost pro tactical entry lock pick set
Ghost pro tactical entry lock pick set
Offered by WALO
Price: £31.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good second set - need to be GENTLE, 4 Nov. 2014
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This set is worth getting for the slightly unorthodox pick profiles and the pry-bar!

The picks are REALLY THIN and need to be treated very gently indeed - especially the Bogota type rake. For this reason I would not recommend them as a first set for the beggining locksport (to quote waddac2 and BosnianBill: KEEP IT LEGAL!) practitioner. Get the Southord slimline first, and when you reach the stage where you're not bending and breaking these, try the Ghosts.

Tension tools: an excellent if small selection of small-medium to medium sized... good for Euro padlocks over 40mm and above, but the pry-bar is wonderful and worthy of praise.

The hook is a bit too large "out of the box", so to speak. However, it is easily filed down to a usable size - I filed mine to approximate a Peterson Gem profile, for example.

The Bogota is perhaps a little jagged, not quite as smooth as I'd like, but if treated gently, it has worked well enough for me with non-security pins.

The various "reach" tools have been really helpful for locks with staggered bitting. Sometimes you need more than one pick type to tackle a lock! The S-shape reach pick (bottom in the picture for this set) is nice and comfortable. All of these picks are excellent transmitters of feedback.

The Prince and Princess. Aah! The idea behind these two picks is that they mimic the most commonly encountered bitting patterns - but in (erm?) Yin and Yang or Female and Male profile. You insert one, and then apply some tension... if that doesn't work, release the tension and move the pick slightly deeper (if starting from the front of the keyway), and so on. If that doesn't work, repeat, but with the counterpart pick. When these work, the lock pops open as if by magic. I believe most locksporters use these when conventional picking/raking isn't producing the goods.

Overall a brilliant additional set, especially for intermediate and above pickers. I'd avoid these as a first set, and probably not suitable for beginners. I cannot stress enough, these require a very gentle and subtle approach, but the trade off means phenomenal feedback for the conventional-ish picks, and the joy when the Prince/Princess tools work is delicious.

20 piece Champion pick set
20 piece Champion pick set
Offered by WALO
Price: £25.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good all round selection, 4 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: 20 piece Champion pick set (Misc.)
These picks are not as thin (and Euro profile friendly) as the Southord Slimlines, but they are thinner than the Goso, Majestic and non-Euro Petersons. I have had very acceptable results with the majority of them.

The hooks are good, reasonably robust and the all-metal (including the comfortable handles) provide tactile feedback.

I really like the diamond and diamond/hook hybrid (sorry, don't know the correct name). These two are fantastic for feeling which pin has set or wants to set where one has to apply slightly heavier tension.

As regards the standard city rake in this set, it seems slightly shorter in height than the Southord or Majestic city rakes, and it doesn't work as well for rocking pins. There is an even shorter in height city-esque rake - no idea what it's for!

The jiggler type rake has lovely smooth bumps, and is satisfying to use for a scrubbing action.

I'm not a huge fan of snowman rakes, and don't often use worms. As for the dimple tools - I apologise but I do not have any dimple locks and cannot comment.

There is a good selection of medium to thick tension tools. Some of the thicker tools here have been life-savers for locks which have reasonably large keyways in which conventional sized tools seem to slip and slide. The "zero tension tools" can be useful in teaching beginners how gentle the tension should be in the majority of locks.

Finally, the case. I like it. It's a simple zip case with an elastic strip sewn inside to provide individual compartments to hold each tool, and a small section in the middle to hold the thinner tension tools.

Overall - a reasonable first set, or a very good second set. If there were one or two smaller/thinner tension tools, this would become a good first set, with the proviso that really small Euro locks are off limits. But for 40mm padlocks and above, it has been a good investment. Lastly, to quote waddac2 and BosnianBill - KEEP IT LEGAL!

Majestic 13 piece lock pick set and free "How to pick cylinder locks guide"
Majestic 13 piece lock pick set and free "How to pick cylinder locks guide"
Offered by WALO
Price: £19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well made, robust and provides good feedback, 4 Nov. 2014
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This USA-made set of picks is perhaps just a little bit on the thick side for European profile locks, hence 4 stars. They are similar to the Southord picks, in that they are all-metal (including the handles) and this helps produce good feedback.

Somewhat surprisingly, there is only one hook in this small collection. It is flat-ended (not at a slant like the famous Peterson Gem) and one can definitely feel excellent contact with the pins using this hook. It works best with a Peterson type of pry-bar, or maybe a really thin tension tool, owing to its relatively large thickness. I have enjoyed using it for non-security pins as well as spools. It also feels robust.

There are two diamond picks. The larger is too large for Euro locks, but the smaller has elicited reasonable results.

The majority of the picks in this set are rakes, including a nice city rake. The other rakes are fairly sharp in their contours - I'm not a huge rake fan (other than Bogota rakes!) but can get a non-security pinned padlock to pop within 10 seconds using these. (Not sure about the upward sloping rake, though.)

A snowman is also included. I have not got many wafer locks and don't tend to use this type in cylinder pins.

Finally, there is a broken key extractor. Again, given the fairly thick profile of this tool, I am unsure as to how useful it could be in Euro locks.

The tension tools consist of a really thin one - rather like the thinnest one in the Southord set, a medium thickness double-ended bar (not flat like the Peterson) and (almost bizarrely) a tweezer type of tool for wafers which actually fits Euro sized wafer locks.

Last, but not least, is the leather case. This is a nice case, fastened by a popper stud. At first I was a little concerned that the pressure exerted in closing the popper would be harmful to the picks underneath. But so long as all the tools are held within, the "strength in numbers" principle is in good force.

Overall, for UK and European locksport practitioners (to quote waddac2 and BosnianBill - KEEP IT LEGAL!) this would be a good additional set. I'd still recommend the Southord slimlines for starters - I've got two sets of these for their all round quality - but one has to be GENTLE with them. If you keep breaking picks or bending them, ease off the tension!

by F Jonsson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The poetic forms in Old Icelandic - no English at all, 14 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Saemundar-Edda (Hardcover)
This publication contains the Poetic or Elder Edda in Old Icelandic. There is not any English commentary or translation - it's all in Icelandic or Old Icelandic. It's a very handy size, and contains 37 poetic forms, including the Havamal, Lokasenna, Voluspa and Baldrs draumr. It is exactly what I wanted: the original poems in the original language.

There are numerous translations, but I've always wanted to try my hand at reading them in Old Icelandic and prefer books to any electronic media. The book itself is very comfortably hand-sized, hardback and with lovely, old-fashioned, thick pages - they built them to last in 1905, it would appear.

Small Odin and his Wolves (Geri & Freki) Viking Pendant Necklace
Small Odin and his Wolves (Geri & Freki) Viking Pendant Necklace
Offered by Interesting Times
Price: £5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Small but exquisitely detailed., 14 Oct. 2014
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Although fairly small, this is a very pleasingly detailed reproduction in pewter of the Sutton Hoo purse clasp which is traditionally said to depict either Woden (it's an English find, after all!) or Tiw being eaten by two wolves. I rather fancy it might be a moon deity (the moon was usually masculine in the Anglo-Saxon/Norse mythologies), with the wolves' mouths denoting the waxing and waning of the "face" of the moon. Just a wee thought.

The pendant comes with a fairly basic thong which is tied to the desired length. I really like it.

Teach Yourself Maori
Teach Yourself Maori
by K. T. Harawira
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A small but effective introductory book, 5 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Teach Yourself Maori (Paperback)
As stated on the front cover - this is a reworking of K.T. Harawira's original. And immediately a warning - the Beginner's Maori: Beginner's Maori (Beginner's Guides) contains an older version of this text, but without the markings for long vowels, and is therefore somewhat useless. The revised version is definitely the one to get.

The Austronesian languages, of which Maori is a member, are not exactly complex as regards inflection and polysynthesis, but this does not mean they are necessarily easier to learn. This book takes the reader through pronunication, nouns, adjective, pronouns, prepositions and so forth, all the way to some short stories (from a paragraph to a whole page). A bilingual glossary completes the book.

The goal of this book is to provide a basic ability to use the Maori language and not merely a few cute holiday phrases. In this regard it works for me. I especially appreciate the numerous example sentences throughout, and the delicious goal of being able to read Maori stories - and also to translate similar passages from English into Maori - is one heck of a carrot. I would definitely advocate a dictionary to assist here - English-Maori, Maori-English Dictionary has served me well.

So, a deceptively small book which contains enough to get started in Maori, and with a charming tone all the way through the linguistic journey.
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Comanche Dictionary and Grammar, Second Edition
Comanche Dictionary and Grammar, Second Edition
by James Armagost
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and very easy to use dictionary, 5 Oct. 2013
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Well, the second edition has been out for a while, and (at the time of writing this) not a hint of a review.

I've never seen the first edition, so cannot provide a comparison between the two, but the second edition is very good. Just to confirm, it is bilingual in that there is a separate section for Comanche to English and English to Comanche. These two main sections are separated by appendices on fauna, flora, body parts, months and personal names specific to the Comanche and their environment.

The Comanche section is notably larger than the English, as numerous examples of usage are given in the former part of the dictionary. This is obviously extremely helpful to the student. There's just enough coverage to begin to explore comparative linguistics, but I'd dearly love to have more. There is coverage of the modern world, e.g. bank (financial); airplane. But the emphasis is definitely on vocabulary relevant to the Comanche world, e.g. a fair amount of coverage of words associated with the peyote tradition.

Grammatical terms are used to help describe each entry. Many are more than just "verb", "adverb", etc, so a knowledge of basic linguistics is required to get the most out of this book. There is also a section on pronunciation - but it is always best to listen to native speakers (tragically fewer these days) and / or popping over to ye olde Youtube and searching for some video assistance there.

What really adds to this dictionary is the inclusion of a grammar: pp307 to pp393. Not enough to learn the language from scratch on its own, but the REALLY useful thing is the extensive use of Canonge's Comanche Texts for examples. Indeed, the authors state that using the Dictionary and Grammar in conjunction with Canonge will serve to provide a decent introduction to Comanche... and Canonge's full text is available for download (legally, of course) from SIL.ORG in pdf format. This is rather good, as the paper version is usually unavailable, and when it becomes available, the price is usually WAY too expensive.

The "Dictionary and Grammar" has had the additional benefit of making Jean Ormsbee Charney's "A Grammar of Comanche" really take off to the dizzying heights of being usable and even very useful. A Grammar of Comanche (Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians) This has gladdened my heart, as the information in the Grammar (Charney) was previously locked away, for all intents and purposes.

To sum up: in its own right, a splendid small to medium sized (vocabulary) dictionary with very helpful grammatic sketch. With Canonge's Texts - it is utterly delightful. The 5th star would be earned for a slightly larger vocabulary. I'm very pleased with it, and have no qualms about recommending it to anyone wishing to explore this beautiful member of the Uto-Aztecan family.
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Cree Legends and Narratives from the West Coast of James Bay (Algonquian Text Society)
Cree Legends and Narratives from the West Coast of James Bay (Algonquian Text Society)
by Simeon Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £69.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A highly satisfying and thoroughly useful reading book, 23 May 2013
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I have rated this book 5 stars as 4.5 isn't possible. It is (so far at least) the second best (for teaching purposes) book of Native American texts I have examined.

This is a well constructed book of durable and very clearly printed quality. It contains mythic stories and tales about life in general as dictated by native Cree speakers. Incidentally - recordings are available on C Douglas Ellis' Spoken Cree website. This book and the recordings online make a most inspirational combination in getting a feel for the language.

The texts are not parsed with literal, word-for-word translations (hence minus half a star) but the glossary of Cree to English is very helpful, and words contain page references where they appear in the stories. Moreover, the verbs are annotated as VAI, VTI, etc. There are also notes for specific, unusual occurrences.

All of the stories have English and Cree versions. The stories themselves range from how people came to live in the world to hero figures and the Windigoes. Others focus on daily life or how the modern world has encroached upon the Cree people. They reflect the dictated (into a tape recorder) stories fairly accurately, with even the umms and aahs and hesitations transcribed.

This is obviously not a book for learning the language, but one for aiding in one's improvement and journey towards better facility with Cree. It is also fascinating from a mythological and anthropological viewpoint.

I had been wishing for this book for a couple of years before finally managing to get a copy that didn't require remortgaging the house. I am enormously pleased with it, and wholeheartedly recommend it to those unfortunately rare people who have an interest in the original inhabitants of the Americas that extends beyond the Hollywood misinterpretations.

Three dialects are covered: Swampy, Kashechewan and Moose Cree. The Cree versions are in Roman letters only; no Cree syllabary.

Oh. Just in case anyone ever reads this review and wonders what the FIRST book on my list for containing the most helpful teaching texts... Dakota Texts. This is actually in the Lakota dialect, and the first few stories are parsed word-for-word, with grammatical notes for extra help with some of the more unusual occurrences.

Cree, Language of the Plains (University of Regina Publications)
Cree, Language of the Plains (University of Regina Publications)
by Jean Okimasis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good overview of Plains Cree, 23 May 2013
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In the unlikely event that anyone else in the UK was wondering what this book is like, here is a brief description.

Overall, it occupies the middle ground between a teaching grammar and a reference grammar. If anything, I should say it favours the reference end of the spectrum. It has a bilingual glossary of vocabulary, split into two main sections (non-verbs and verbs) for Cree-English and English-Cree (pp 165 to 208.)

The vocabulary contains words from the natural world, as well as things like microwave and aeroplane. There are numerous short sentences to provide examples of usage, but no exercises and no paragraphs or substantial text in Cree itself. However, the example sentences cover a vast swathe of the Cree grammar. Topics include:

Diminutives, Word Order, the various Pronouns, very thorough grounding in verbs with charts and full verbal paradigms, noun inflections, numbers, seasons, days and weather terms.

The verb system is deliciously complex, and given enough detail to reflect the ins and outs of a polysynthetic language.

Those wanting to pick up some conversational phrases will need to look elsewhere (e.g., although a different dialect, "Spoken Cree" by C Douglas Ellis).Spoken Cree: Level 1. Indeed, this book is probably most beneficial to someone with a good understanding of grammatical terminology and ideally experience of a Native American language, or highly inflected language like Basque or Finnish - although the Cree noun is nowhere near as inflected as in these two European languages.

Even with a good linguistic background, I doubt this book would aid the learner in acquiring the ability to speak and read Plains Cree without recourse to other sources. It is also entirely in the Roman alphabet - no hint of the Cree syllabary anywhere.

I have found it very useful in combination with the Alberta Elders Cree Dictionary Alberta Elders Cree Dictionary: Alperta Ohci Kehtehayak Nehiyaw Otwestamakewasinahikan and Bloomfield's Plains Cree Texts Plains Cree Texts. (although the latter uses a slightly different phonetic system.)

In short: a very useful and accessible overview to enable understanding of the nuts and bolts, but other books will be needed for constructing or reading longer sentences and texts. Recommended for linguists or Native American language fanatics.

Dakota Texts
Dakota Texts
by Ella Deloria
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Texts in Lakota and English, 26 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Dakota Texts (Paperback)
Bison version, University of Nebraska Press, 280pp.

As evinced by the "Look Inside" offered by Amazon, this is a collection of mainly LAKOTA short traditional tales. These are printed in the original Lakota language (there is one tale in DAKOTA for comparative purposes) with an English translation - sometimes with a literal translation.

The orthography used is not as precise as that contained in the New Lakota Dictionary, or Albert White Hat's "Reading and Writing the Lakota Language". Specifically, the unaspirated letters are not marked as such. However, the other qualities (aspirated, plosive, guttural, etc) are clearly marked, and the system in this book is easily transliterated into the more modern orthographies.

Where this book absolutely shines is that many of the stories have the aforementioned LITERAL translation. This is extremely helpful for the student of the Lakota language wishing to analyse and learn from authentically constructed sentences.

The stories are (as explained in the brief introduction) divided into two main groups: the unbelievable and the believable. They provide a glimpse into the mythic and cultural world of the Lakota.

The minor niggles for me are the lack of glossary - this would have elevated the book into the highest realms of excellence - and the "incomplete" method of conveying the sound system. There is also no index.

Overall, I have no hesitation in recommending this book for anyone wishing to explore Lakota myth and culture, and any student of the fascinating Lakota language.

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