Friday, July 27, 2007

NYC 07

Jeannette and I had a great time in NJ on Tuesday and Wednesday with my cousins and grandma. We went to Point Pleasant, NJ and played some games at the arcade, and of course, bought taffy.

After some trials with the GPS, we found out how to get to the hotel in the Meadowlands. We're on the 16th floor, and have a view of Manhattan. It's a bit of a trick to get in and out of the hotel, but we're able to get to a PATH station pretty easily.

On Wednesday we hopped into Manhattan for one thing, Maxie's cheesecake. After our mission, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest. We got up at 6 AM, so I could get into the city, and meet up with the chairman of the company that acquired my company in Little Canada. For a billionaire, this guy is very nice. He's really down to earth, and honest. I was able to fix a problem on his laptop, but he's running on a four year machine which needs to be replaced. After the meeting, Jeannette and I went on the NBC studio tour and saw the studios for the Today show, Conan, and SNL. Their operations room was pretty interesting, it's fully redundant, and all of their processing is digital now, no tapes.

We ate quickly after that, went to Nintendo World, then hoped on a bus tour around downtown. After our tour, we ate at Junior's in Times Square, and then we saw Grease on Broadway. It was a pretty good production, defiantly better then any touring show we get to see in Minneapolis, at least for this size production. We've seen some good small shows, but nothing beats Broadway.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On the Road

It's day three of our road trip, and we're near Dallas, PA at Ocean Lotus Farm. Cleveland was alright, as far as Cleveland goes. It feels a lot like Minneapolis, maybe a little older feeling, but otherwise pretty similar. Last night we got in on time, but we neglected to ask if we could get dinner at the B&B, fell asleep at 6, and didn't wake up again until 9. Alas, breakfast was great, we went blueberry picking, and got rained on through quite a hike on the Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park. Jeannette is about half way through Harry Potter 7, and I'm about half way through listening to Oryx and Crake. We've liked each of our forms of entertainment so far, and have made the trip a little better. A note about the pictures, everything until the goats is in Cleveland, the goats and chickens, and such are at the farm, and the trees, and water is in the park, except for me in the tub.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cat Found!

No, we didn't lose either of our cats, but I was on my way to work on Tuesday, and outside to greet me is this fuzzy cat. She's very friendly, but is one of those cats who gets petted, then runs away, like she wants to be chased. Well, I was on my way to work, I'd be late if I helped out this cat, but I did anyway. She had a collar with a name and number. I called the owner, who was on his way to work, and had no idea his cat was missing. He called his wife to pick up the cat, which had run out last night as she was putting away groceries. It took a few more phone calls for her to find my apartment. In the mean time, Toto, was making quite a racket in the hallway of our building. She was meowing up a storm, and clawing at one of the wooden doors. Sooner or later, she just took to laying on her side and hissing at everything. Jeannette tried to keep her away from the door, and got some scratches. After about an hour after I first saw her, she was returned to her family. Good thing too, Toto was turning into quite the terror!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Company!

My company just changed hands this week to a new company called Indecomm Global Services. This means good things for the folks in Little Canada, as new business and projects will be funneled through our building, and through our servers.

Oh, here's another benefit, a Verizon Wireless Discount! That's right, I can save 8% on service, including all of the phones I have on the family plan! Ok, ok, so it's only about $10 in savings a month, but that covers text messaging plans, I guess.

Monday, July 16, 2007


We're really lucky to be able to get away on a vacation we've had planned for months. The ownership of my company changed this week, so it'll be good to get away while the transition is taking place. Then I don't have to worry so much about waiting for questions to get answered, everything should be settled by the time I get back. Tonight we just finalized our plans for the trip. Our itinerary is as follows:

  • We are leaving right from a midnight release party for the new Harry Potter book for Cleveland, OH. Cleveland Rocks!
  • Depending on how I feel after the twelve hour drive, we may visit a museum, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while we are in Cleveland.
  • The next day, we are off to the Ocean Lotus Farm Bed and Breakfast. This was the last addition to our trip, and should be the most relaxing. I wanted to find a vegetarian friendly B&B in Pennsylvania, and this is a great opportunity to get some great food, as well as a chance to hike a bit, chase chickens, and sky watch. We have two whole nights there!
  • The next night we'll be spending at my grandmother's house in Toms River. It's always nice to visit, plus we're by the Jersey Shore. It's great people watching, and I love taffy!
  • Jeannette has always loved Grease the movie, now we'll be seeing Grease the musical on Broadway. Actors chosen from a reality TV show play the leads, and the female lead is from Minnesota. We're staying in the Meadowlands, because we're cheap, and I hate driving into Manhattan. We get to spend three days in NYC. I want to visit the Cloisters again, go on a double decker bus tour, and see one more show then Grease. We'll see how successful I am.
  • Cleveland again on Saturday night, but this time, we'll see the Twins at Jacobs Field.
  • Sunday we slump back home, ready for work on Monday.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Some technology betters life for humankind. Some technology is Nabaztag. Send my Nabaztag a message at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

REVIEW: Leaving the Saints - How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith by Martha Beck

Mormon, atheist, Mormon and then spiritualist. How? Martha Beck, a Harvard graduate of Sociology, now a life coach, tells the story of her life growing up Mormon, leaving for Harvard, turning atheist, giving birth to her son Adam, who has Down syndrome, returning to Utah and the warm embrace of Mormon hospitality, and eventually leaving the Saints. An easy read, it may be a good break from deep theology, or philosophy. This book is for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. If you are curious about Mormonism, you'll find value. If you are Mormon, you may relate to the struggles of Beck, and even have the same concerns, but choose to practice Mormonism, to change things from the inside.

Forgiveness, hope and compassion are the strongest subjects Beck presents. It's these lessons which the author cherishes, despite the hardships described in her story. The book is more about forgiveness then it is about Mormonism. The opinion Beck has of Mormonism and Mormons is pretty positive. People in Provo, Utah, home to Brigham Young University, the place to go if you're a Mormon itching for higher education, are genuinely nice to each other. Beck recalls how amazingly nice everyone was, from the movers who moved her into their new house, to the members of her Ward and how they fawned over her little son Adam, who was headed straight to the best part of the Celestial Kingdom. If you don't know anything about Mormonism, this can be a good starter. You'll get a little glimpse of one person's family life, a greater view into the quirks of Mormon doctrine, and a peek at the end into the dark side of Mormonism.

While in Utah, Beck embarks on a serious spiritual quest. Driven by experiences she had while pregnant with Adam, she seeks to find the source of this overwhelming feeling of compassion. She began to explore the universal myth of a spirit world, diving into Eastern religions, practicing meditation; earnestly praying to a God she is sure is there. Throughout her story, she has several supernatural experiences, mostly in childbirth, or under anesthesia. It's these experiences, her lust for truth, and finally her reconstructed memories of sexual abuse which urge her to pack her bags, and leave the Saints.

As quickly as she fell in love with Mormonism and its Saints, she turns on them. She grew tired of the censorship at BYU, the efforts to control what people could learn, especially about Sonia Johnson and the Equal Rights Amendment. She felt she could not be open about criticism of BYU, even outside of campus, without being "called in." While she only taught part-time her coworkers had more to lose. The thought was that once you had been at BYU for 5 or 6 years, you were tainted, and no school outside of Utah would hire you. She does leave the school, but not because she is unhappy there. Her exodus is triggered by "lost memories," which resurfaced after an examination by a gynecologist. Her recollections involve her father, and herself, when she was five, mumbling in an ancient language, and sexual abuse. She was her father's Isaac.

The method Beck uses to tell her story is to weave the retelling of an uncomfortable meeting to confront her father in a hotel room, before he dies, and the rest of her experience. The telling is tragic. You really feel envy for Beck's life when she first moves back to Provo. Everyone is genuinely nice. But, by the end, you feel that women are treated as second-class citizens, the LDS employ ex-CIA to spy on members who go astray, and there is a giant cover-up of sexual abuse in Utah. The intent of the book is to tell a story, not to bash Mormonism, or convince others to leave. She does take the time to show Mormons whose love and compassion embodied everything good about Mormonism, and are values she believes are worth emulating.

While Beck used to be an atheist, you could view her as non-religious. There is no serious mention of her deciding she was atheist. However, her spiritual questioning, and quest for truth is noble. If you are atheist, you may find yourself skeptical of her supernatural experiences while her body is under extreme stress, or under chemical influence. If you are not atheist, you may find truth in a belief that everything is connected, and hold out hope for a place where, "all our hearts will sing in unison."

Monday, July 2, 2007

REVIEW: The Compton Effect by Greydon Square

Atheist hip hop? You bet! Greydon Square's, "The Compton Effect," is packed with lyrics, with beats which are just as fresh. Square changed his tune from more traditional hip hop, to something a little more clever, a little less vulgar (he doesn't swear on this album), and all atheist. He's putting to music what has been written back and forth on blogs over the last couple of years, Pascal's Wager, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and The Rational Response Squad. This isn't an album for the masses, it's for atheists. "Your God is fake, like Thor, so bite me." "Christianity was a great idea, but it was poorly executed, if New-Nazi's can use it." "You wouldn't even believe in this God if it weren't for slavery." Are just some of the tough lyrics to be found.

Square's biggest gripes are creationism, irrationality, and people who don't get the fact that the reason decedents of slaves are Christian, is because that was the religion of their slave masters.

It's a great album, produced really well for such a home grown release.