Early Computers and the Like

A career centered on improving the effectiveness of computers

 Irene Gargantini Strybosch, professor emeritus with Western University, IEEE senior member

The first contact I had with computers left me with an unforgettable impression. It happened at the Politecnico di Milano where I followed a course offered by, among others, Drs. Luigi Dadda and Lorenzo Lunelli. Could that machine with blinking diodes and triodes produced results? I joined the group who worked steadily on the CRC 102A,* an early computer by the Computer Research Corporation (later bought by NCR). The input was via a punched tape, it understood instructions written using numbers in base eight (000, 001, …,111); direct instructions included store, add, subtract and multiply, but not divide. It was a challenge to write short programs like the evaluation of a trigonometric function or finding the inverse of a 3×3 matrix.

The knowledge I acquired there was invaluable. It got me a job with Agip Nucleare first, followed by one with The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Here I was involved in the calculation of the neutron flux, an essential task in this field, since a controlled amount of neutrons has to be produced at all times in order to keep a nuclear reaction stable. Numerical calculations played an essential role and these were done with computers of the IBM700-series (not using transistors yet). The importance of finding new methods that could speed up the massive computation while saving memory hit me as an essential task that should be pursued with consistency and vigor. At that time, neutron flux was evaluated by slices; the output (under the form of punched cards) of one layer became the input of the next one, each slice aligned along the vertical axis. One of the time-consuming computations was centered on the integral of some modified Bessel functions, known as Bickley functions. This raised an interesting question: could these functions be evaluated mathematically in forms other than the usual polynomials? I talked over with the group I was working with, but only one member seemed interesting in the issue. The first thing was to explore which approximations were available in the literature outside the polynomials: I encountered articles on Padé approximants, continued fractions and, in a recent paper by Fraser and Hart, a method resulting in very compact rational functions obtained by using the equalization of maxima, a procedure known as Remez algorithm. So T. Pomentale and I applied this novel approach to the functions essential to the evaluation of neutron flux. Once this done, one had to prove that the numerical values arising from the new approximations were correct. To this end I performed exhaustive (and exhausting) visual checks using the existing Mathematical Tables. Once convinced that our approach produced correct results in a fraction of the time used by methods on the market, I searched a journal interested in publishing our paper. One of the few journals available at that time was the Communications of the ACM. Our paper was accepted in record time.

As I advanced my career by joining The IBM Research Laboratory in Rueschlikon (Switzerland) I came across other interesting research topics; some concerned other forms of approximations of complex mathematical functions; another was to research constructive methods for the determination of polynomial zeros, as the lab was offering a symposium on the subject.

The next advancement in my scientific career was to accept a position with The University of Western Ontario, where I was able to conduct research amidst heavy teaching. The course overload was due to the fact that the university was offering the first undergraduate program in computer science (first in the country), which attracted a far more number of students than the department could handle. It was at that time that I investigated the iterative methods used to calculate polynomial roots. Was there a way to improve the convergence, i.e. making the evaluation faster? Computer time was still at a premium in the early ’70. This resulted in a seminal paper (Circular Arithmetic for the Solution of Polynomial Equations) that was the foundation of the several hundred articles that followed. I introduced a very original idea for iterative methods: given an approximate value, iterate not only on the starting point(s), but also on the error bound(s). In several occurrences, like in Newton’s and Laguerre’s, this approach improved the order of convergence by one unit (from quadratic to cubic, etc). This paper was the result of my own thinking, in spite of the coauthorship.

When the ’80 came, other exciting fields emerged; one of these was the demand of representing and searching spatial data effectively. My paper, entitled An Effective Way to Represent Quadtrees won the cover of the Communications of the ACM. This technique was used in structuring geographical data and, later on, applied effectively to the display of images—something extremely useful, since computer graphics was coming of age. While teaching this topic, I was approached by Dr. Uldis Bite, a medical doctor extremely interested in adapting some of my findings to medical imaging. He supplied me and my graduate students with several digitized tomography images; in 1988 one of the first software packages, “CTpak: An Interactive Utility for CT Data” was produced as part of the Master’s thesis of one of my students. It became routinely used at the Robarts Research Institute. Uldis was very busy, with his work and because of an incurable disease that hit his little girl; meanwhile I became chair of the computer science department and thus we never got around to publish together a scholarly paper on the subject. When Uldis left for a research post at the Mayo Clinic, I didn’t find a replacement of his caliber—an essential element to continue to be at the frontiers of this field.

Mandatory retirement was on the horizon; I tried to see if my expertise could be useful in other activities, like spreading the gospel about how important science and engineering are to the wellbeing of our daily life; my attempts didn’t find any interest within the university.

Meanwhile my husband’s health started to deteriorate; he was very happy I stayed home.

I found other interests—but this is another chapter of my life…



A Nice Review

by KasieMiehlke — Lemoncella Cocktail by Rene Natan

Post Number:#1 by KasieMiehlke » 19 Mar 2017, 20:12

[Following is a volunteer review of “Lemoncella Cocktail” by Rene Natan.]


Patrick is down on his luck. He has just been fired and on his way home his car broke down. He suddenly hears a cry for help and plunges into an icy river to save a young girl’s life. A case of mistaken identity throws him into a massive police investigation. Danger is lurking around every corner. Kidnappers, murderers, terrorism, and trafficking become a constant presence. Can Patrick remain level headed as the investigation forces him to face his past? Can a family survive the terrible tragedy that envelopes them?

The author, Rene Natan, has turned her love of storytelling into a prolific career. She has won multiple awards and has several books published. She has an amazing ability to capture the reader’s attention and Lemoncella Cocktail is no exception. She created multidimensional characters that are extremely relatable. The precision that she describes the locations and events throughout the book transported me into the story. This book has inspired me to read more of her works.

The best and worst qualities of humankind are present throughout this book. Greed and wrath drive the antagonists while the protagonists make their choices based on love and morality. Desire is a force that is present on both sides of the characters. Desire to find the criminals and the criminal’s desire to escape creates a battle of wills. The good versus bad aspect of the book will allow the message to survive the test of time.

Two major crimes that are becoming more and more prevalent seem to be the major factor in Lemoncella Cocktail. Natan does a great job at showing how trafficking and terrorism are often intertwined. She also shows the dangers that are faced by both the people committing the crimes and those who try to capture them.

I give Lemocella Cocktail by Rene Natan 3 out of 4 stars. It is a gripping thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. There were several incorrectly used words, flu instead of flew, and also several missing words. I believe that another round of editing would correct these problems and would allow for a perfect score. Natan does a great job at making her characters relatable and creating realistic events. Overall I found this book to be extremely well laid out. This was a fantastic read and I will not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great who-done-it story.


A Success Story


Interviewing Legend Claude Mario Victor Pensa

by Irene Gargantini Strybosch


Interviewer’s preamble. As an immigrant and a writer I have a keen interest in gathering information on how first generation Canadians manage/d to tread between the culture they absorb/ed at home and the customs of the society in which they are/were called to live.


The Pensa Family is a success story.


Enrichetta Gianotti and Filippo Pensa, Claude’s parents, came to Canada separately around 1910, when Italy, called the sick man of Europe, was in a depression. Enrichetta was 20 (came with a sister) while Filippo was only in his early teens. The two sisters wanted to make a bit of money and return to Italy as soon as that goal was achieved. It didn’t work out that way—the outbreak of World War I (1914) probably being one of the reasons Enrichetta stayed in Canada and long enough to marry Filippo.

A girl, Mary, brought cheers to their family; unfortunately the infant suffered a bad fall and succumbed to an ensuing infection. The Pensa family then adopted Florence, a 7-year girl from the Mount St. Joseph orphanage in London. She stayed with the family even when two boys and a girl came along.

Filippo, who had adapted well to the new country, started a successful cigar factory, while Enrichetta worked for a seamstress specializing in fur coats. Filippo was a sport man, playing curling in the winter. Of very sociable nature, he became president of the Marconi Club and ran for London City Council.

Their own three children went to college; the oldest became an economist, the young woman a teacher and the youngest, Claude, a lawyer.

When the father, Filippo, retired, he had a hotel in Port Stanley; he hadn’t miss a thing of the Italian culture; on the contrary, the mother, Enrichetta, spoke with nostalgia of her country of origin. On the total, she took three trips to Italy and upon her return she would tell everybody how lovely things over there were.

It was in this formative two-culture environment that Claude Mario Victor grew up.

In 1958 he married Elaine Wettlaufer and the couple was blessed with four children: Christine Anne, Victoria Marie, Marc Anthony, and Jonathan Pierre.

Claude’s career and accomplishments are countless. Below I’ll mention a few.

In 1962 he formed the law firm Giffen Pensa; in 1999 the Harrison Pensa (which as per today comprises 55 lawyers); from 1991 to 1993 he was Chair of Western’s Board of Governors; in 2003, together with his wife Elaine, he founded the London Lawyers Feed the Hungry, which as per today has raised over half a million dollars.

In 1991, Western conferred him the degree of Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) and an honorary diploma from Fanshawe College is in the making at the time of this interview. Claude is in the process of writing a book about his parents and the extraordinary adventure they lived when, very young, they crossed the Atlantic. From what I gather, it wasn’t smooth sailing, but it was surely a great landing.

What impressed me most of Claude, together with his positive attitude in general, was what he said about growing up in a two-culture environment: it was a gift.


London, May 27, 2016

From Archway Publishing

Rene Natan narrates thrilling story bleeding with reality

‘Lemoncella Cocktail’ follows young man whose fate takes sharp turn after he saves girl from drowning

STRATHROY-CARADOC, Ontario – Published author Rene Natan returns to the literary scene with another thrilling story she titled, “Lemoncella Cocktail” (published by Archway Publishing). Natan invites readers to visit Northern America and learn of the unfortunate reality that involves terrorism and weapon trafficking.


Involved in a murder at younger age, Patrick Carter, now 25, plans to stay out of troubles and live a life without confrontations. Being a lifeguard during the day and a bartender at night is his ideal way to spend a summer on the shores of Lake Huron.

Unfortunately, one day, as he walks along the Ausable River on his way home, an unmistakable cry for help makes him plunge into the river, fight the strong current and pull a girl to safety. But his good action is not without consequences, since the 14-year girl, thought to be a witness to a massive weapons exchange, is marked to death – and so, it seems, the man who saved her.

Patrick is not keen on cooperating with police and is reluctant to move from his comfort zone to a world of suspicion and violence even if his life is at stake. He wavers – and his hesitation could be costly.

As readers follow the journey of Patrick, they will get to learn more of the ugly reality of trafficking and terrorism. Colored by the hand the media plays in the development of the story, this tale not only excites and entertains but also informs and inspires.

“Lemoncella Cocktail”  By Rene Natan
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Rene Natan (aka Irene Gargantini Strybosch) is the author of several short stories and 10 novels, in genres varying from thriller to romantic suspense. Some of these have gained international recognition. “The Blackpox Threat” won first place in the 2012 Dragonfly Book Awards and was a finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; “The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton” got Silver in the 2015 Global Ebook Awards; “The Woman in Black” won Second Place in the 2015 Five Star Dragonfly Awards. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. A former professor of computer science with Western University, she lives in Strathroy, Ontario. Readers can visit her online at http://www.vermeil.biz.

Keyword 1.       Lemoncella Cocktail

Link: http://bookstore.archwaypublishing.com/Products/SKU-001075718/Lemoncella-Cocktail.aspx

Keyword 2.      Rene Natan

Link: http://bookstore.archwaypublishing.com/Author/Default.aspx?BookworksSId=SKU-001075718

Keyword 3.      trafficking

Link: http://justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/tp/

Keyword 4.      terrorism

Link: http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-scary-reality-of-terrorism-in-canada/

Keyword 5.      Northern America

Link: https://www.ethnologue.com/region/NAM

EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:

Marketing Services, Tel: 888-242-5904, Fax: 812-961-3133

Email: pressreleases(at)archwaypublishing(dot)com

(When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)


Shameless Bragging 2016

Merry Christmas

A bit about myself…

Early in the year I got news of another award, “Second place, the Five Star Dragonfly Book Award for The Woman in Black.” The awards I have accumulated so far make me feel dec10-irene-alone-antlersgood about myself and my writing; they do not translate in substantial sales, unfortunately.

John Grisham once wrote, “When A Time to Kill was published twenty years ago, I soon learned the painful lesson that selling books was far more difficult than writing them. I bought a thousand copies and had trouble giving them away. I hauled them in the trunk of my car and peddled them at libraries, garden clubs, grocery stores, coffee shops, and a handful of bookstores.”

And he was John Grisham!

Regarding my former carrier in computer science at the IBM Research Laboratory in Rueslikon (Switzerland) and with Western University, a got another recognition… I received a letter from IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) announcing that I have been elevated to the grade of IEEE Senior member, “an honor bestowed only to those who have made significant contribution to the profession.”

Hurrah! Hurrah!

I spent most of the 2016 winter months in Arizona, where I played golf every other day. In the other time I looked after my new novel, Lemoncella Cocktail (published last summer). Now I’m working on its promotion, writing blogs and tweets. Not that I believe much in these, but I’m following the instructions of my publisher.

Once again, Merry Christmas and have a wonderful 2017!

Rene Natan aka Irene Gargantini Strybosch

Digital Pornography and the Children

Comments on the book “Digital Sexual Victims: True Cases”

by Charlene E. Doak-Gebauer


The author poses a big question: How our society protects children under the age of 16 from the dangers that lurk in the digital world? Electronic devices such computers and cell phones offer access to a huge amount of information–some very detrimental to the well-being of children.

At the beginning, the author describes a tragic case at length and then reports of two incidents of which she was the victim.  After this kind of prologue, she depicts the different phases of child pornography: how sexual predators lure very young people; how they acquire and distribute pictures with sexual content; how parents unknowingly supply information, mostly through Facebook, on the household, school, children’s friends, their children’s accomplishments and activities; how all this can help a predator build a profile of the targeted victim and initiate him/her to visual sexual activities. All this information can also help a predator to stalk a child in the vicinity of the school or playground and ultimately can provide a means to abduct the child.

Parents are the natural and primary “defenders”; the author lists a number of suggestions for the parents to be in control of how their children communicate with friends via social media—mainly using computers hooked up to the Internet or cell phones. Some of these suggestions require a bit of computer knowledge, others are elementary. To start with, she suggests to keep the family main server in a safe place out of children’s reach (the parents’ bedroom for instance). If there is some computer knowledge, the parents can install software that routes what is on the child’s cell phone and/or personal computer (messages and pictures from friends, downloads from the Internet) onto the family server where it can be easily checked. If there is limited computer knowledge, then protect the children from late-hour communication; this is the time predators prefer for contacting potential victims. Just turn off the Internet (router or modem) at night and have the children’s phones turned in.

Finally, a section at the end explains what child pornography consists of according to The Child Protection Act of the Canadian Criminal Code. See:

http:// laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-163.1.htm

This book is an incredible source of up-to-date facts, strategies and suggestions to protect children from predators with digital expertise.


Announcing Nomination



A Snapshot at the Plot. Lemoncella Cocktail is an action-based novel. Nobody believed that Patrick Carter, a shy young man once accused of killing his father, would come out of his comfort zone and be part of the bloody fight against arms trafficking.

The Background. Weapons trafficking is an occurrence that has always been going on in the country but has intensified in recent years. See, for instance, the reports of the RCMP Commissioner of Firearms. It’s surpassed, internationally, only by the trafficking of immigrants, a topic Rene Natan used as central theme in her previous novel. Lemoncella Cocktail, however, while illustrating how weapons can be smuggled across provinces, territories and countries, aims primarily at entertaining the reader.

More on the plot. Patrick Carter is a young man with no specific trade; in the holiday season he serves as a barman and lifeguard on the shores of Lake Huron. The season is not over yet when his boss lays him off. Disheartened, he’s heading back to London, Ontario, 9781480832350_COVER.inddwhen his old pickup truck dies. He’s walking home when he hears a scream for help. He doesn’t hesitate. He rushes to the river shores, plunges into the waters and pulls a drowning girl ashore, safe and sound. The criminals are upset. Now they have to eliminate not only the girl but also the good Samaritan who may have seen them. The plot thickens. The head of the criminal gang is Oscar Calander who deals in weapons trafficking. He uses his father’s transport company as a screen for his illicit business…

The Author. Rene Natan authored ten novels, three of which won international recognition. The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton got Silver in the 2015 Global Ebook Awards (contemporary romance/erotica); The Woman in Black won Second Place in the 2015 Royal Dragonfly Award (romance); The Blackpox Threat (a spy story) was a Finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award and won first prize in the 2012 Five Star Dragonfly Award. Her books are available at Amazon.com as ebooks and in print. Her most recent thriller, based on underage prostitution, Fleeting Visions, was chosen to be included in the Timeless Anthologies of The Reader’s Guild (2016).

Rene Natan likes to hear from her readers. If anybody has a comment or a question, write to: irenegargantini@aol.com. See also http://www.vermeil.biz

About the Global Ebook Awards. The Global Ebook Awards honour and bring attention to the future of book publishing: Ebooks. Now in its seventh year, the Awards are in over 100 specific categories. They are open to all publishers large and small so that a winner is the best in its category not just the best of small or regionally-published ebooks. Most ebooks are also available as printed books.

Ordering information. On sale on Amazon.com. Ebook price: $4.57. https://amzn.com/B01IO4H182. http://www.vermeil.biz; email: irenegargantini@aol.com; video trailer: https://amzn.com/B01IO4H182

Why the Police Kill

In my recent book (Lemoncella Cocktail) the protagonist (Patrick Carter) reports having heard some policemen commenting on a recent killing. The conversation runs as follows.

Why the media doesn’t explain clearly what the prescribed procedure is for us to follow? Once we free our gun from the holster, we do so to kill. And we aim at the head—the hostile party can wear a protective vest of some sort—and it’s three shots and a round of three. That’s the rule.” “I know,” had replied his friend, “It’s all fault of the movies. They get a policeman intimidate an opponent by pointing his gun at him and hope that the bad guy will surrender. People believe that it’s what we should do. But if we did, there would be more police killed than criminals.” Patrick remembered asking to repeat what was, and they did, adding that those rules were almost the same around the world. “Basically, once you get the gun out, you do so to kill.”

I remember two instances describing the procedure one should follow while carrying a gun. When a friend of mine became a widow, she went to apply for a pistol permit. She had been a good shooter at the target range and felt that carrying a weapon would make her feel protected. Before she could get an application form, the officer in charge wanted to ask her a few questions. One was: “Where would you carry the gun?” My friend answered “In my purse.”

The officer had no hesitation in replying, “It would be totally useless. By the time you fish your gun out, you would be held up if not beaten or killed. The weapon has to be readily accessible, and there should be no hesitation in using it, otherwise it becomes an extra weapon in the hands of the opponent.”

The second instance is the one of a security guard who had passed all theoretical exams and had to face the practical test. In the room where this was taking place, the officer in charge of testing him entered with a knife over his shoulder in the gesture of throwing it. The student didn’t move and therefore flunked the exam.

When there is danger to the life of a policeman or of other people, the police are instructed to shoot—and to shoot to kill. The weapon is used to kill, not to intimidate a subject. It should be aimed at the head, and fired more than once.

The movies depict the use of weapons by officials in a completely different way: ON GUARD, IT IS FICTION!

Chapter 35: An Excerpt From My Book

Patrick Carter closed the desk computer the task force had lent him temporarily. He’d worked on the grade 12 math course all afternoon, and now he felt he was entitled to some form of rec- reation. He couldn’t think of anything of the kind. He should go out looking for work. If he couldn’t find a bartending job, he should try assistant cook. He liked cooking, he wasn’t bad at it, and he could learn more.

When his phone rang, he prayed it wasn’t Justin. The boy was distressed by the constant presence of an agent in the house and the lack of freedom; if he was invited to a friend’s house, somebody went with him. Patrick would have liked to go see him, but he didn’t want to defy Des Pres’s order. He understood that, to some degree, he constituted a danger to Justin and his grandmother. If they decided to eliminate him as a dangerous witness to the attempt at Samantha’s life, the criminals wouldn’t care if they had to kill a couple more people. So it was with some reluctance that he opened his cell.

It was Emy. “Hi, Patrick. I was wondering if you were free tonight.”

“I’m free, but I can’t go out with you. Express order of Mr. Des Pres.”

“But you don’t work for him. You’re free as a bird.”

“I gave him my word. The man is under a lot of pressure, and it seems that he got even more pressure from higher-ups because of my presence.”

“I see.” She was silent for a moment. “But we can talk on the phone, right—or is it also forbidden?”

“No, we can talk. Actually I’m very happy you called. I finished five lessons on an online course, and I was thinking of what to do next. I needed a break. Do you have Skype on your computer? We could talk and see one another. My personal cell is very basic. Doesn’t have any of the fancy stuff.”

“My computer belongs to the task force. I can’t use it for frivolous things.”

“Well, we can talk to each other about our likes and dislikes. I’d like to know you better, emy.” He heard a giggle.

“I like dark-haired men. I like to dance—I really love to dance—and I like flicks with a love story.”

“I like science fiction movies, and I watch a lot of sports.” “Like most men. How do you like your girls?”
“Beautiful and nice.”
There was another giggle, and then she asked, “Have you ever been in love?”

“Hmm. Yes, a couple of times.” He really didn’t want to explain what had happened, because he didn’t want to divulge his very personal stories to a woman with whom he had no chance.

“I’ve been in love many times,” emy said as an invitation to open up. “First, there was this football player—it was in high school. We went together for more than a year, and he gave me his nice ring.” She sighed. “When my father saw it, he asked a lot of questions; then he gave me a sermon about how dangerous it was to date so young and with a man who had no future.” She paused. “To be in sports was almost a sin for him. I don’t know what happened, but the boy dropped me. He had no problem finding another girl.”

“And you didn’t get another boyfriend?”

“Not until later, when I was already in college. I was in love, but it didn’t work out. But now tell me about yourself.”

“I was in second year of high school, and there was this fine girl: not too tall, blonde with blue eyes. She came to all my games; I played in several sports. I felt I was melting when she looked at me. I think she felt the same.”

“Then what happened?”

“The family got wind of my past. The school principal called me in and told me to stop dating her; he also called my foster parents to be sure I’d follow orders. I thought I was going to die. I didn’t play well for almost two months. I missed her looking and smiling at me.”

Advice for new authors

Advice for new authors

First of all I am going to pass on the obvious:

  • Read a lot
  • Write a lot

Then there is the advice Mark Coker gives in one of the manuals he makes available for free (in Smashwords.com):

  • Study the work of authors in the same field you want to write

Another suggestion I found useful is to give the manuscript to a friend-author and search her/his advice; this doesn’t mean that you have to follow what she/he says; only that you have to ponder the criticism thrown at you. Your friend may have found an error (thank and correct right away). In the case she/he wants to change your story, your plot or the reactions of your personas…be careful. You, the author, is the one in charge: it is your story!

  • Submit your novel to competitions; the judges are quite competent and often offer free comments. I list some of the best: NIEA (National Indie Excellence Award), Global Ebook Awards, Five Star Dragonfly Book Awards
  • Competent reviewing is also very useful: Midwest Book Review does it for free and has an excellent reputation.

Analysis of a bestseller

A few years ago I offered a successful seminar, called “Learn from the Masters” in which I analyze in graphics from, the essential components of bestsellers. An example is the anatomy of Rick Mofina’s “Six Seconds”: Several stories run in parallel, often interlacing.


Mountie Daniel Graham risks his job to solve a murder that hit close to home…the next blog offers a graphic representation of my analysis.

In fiction, we distinguish three essential blocks: the beginning, the major event and the ending. Of course, the start has to ignite the reader’s interest, so at times is referred to as the dynamite stick; its function, however must have a prolonged effect. Figuratively speaking, its conflagration had to leave some burning embers; you can resort to them if or when the story suffers a sudden stop. Example: did you use a killing as your dynamite stick? If yes, introduce an unwanted witness, somebody who should not be there but who, unexpectedly has lingered around the premises. He may come handy, later on…

In the middle, you should place the extraordinary event that leaves dramatic consequences.

The ending, naturally, should answer all the questions that you have raised at the beginning.

Here is what happens in Six Seconds in big blocks (I would not hint at the ending, of course)

The beginning consists of two major concurrent events (the dynamite sticks):

• A woman plots a sophisticated terrorist attack
• A mother spares no efforts to find his kidnapped nine-year-old son

The middle: The pope’s imminent visit.

Children of a school choir who have been chosen to sing for the pope; they will receive a rosary from the hands of the Holy Father. (Time: six seconds)
Due to personal reasons Mountie Daniel Graham doesn’t care much about his job and this allows him to challenge his superior’s orders beyond normal police procedures

Relevant fact: The US National Security Agency, with its advanced technology in signal intelligence keeps the skies under constant surveillance
Another relevant fact: Special fabric incorporating explosive and micro-receptors are woven and shaped into fancy clothing—thus constituting a potential, above-suspicion and hardly-detectable weapon that can be ignited from any point of the earth.

THE BIG CONFLICT: the explosive is ignited

The end is a kaleidoscope of actions that keeps the reader glued to his seat.
By analyzing closely a successful novel, one can appreciate (and maybe absorb) some of its structure and style.