Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recent trip to Lancaster, PA

Well, of all the things not on my bucket list that I got to experience anyway, I woulda never have guessed that I'd passing an Amish horse-and-buggy on state and city roads.  Yet, there I was in Lancaster, PA, the heart of Amish Country. 

At Hersey Restaurant and Inn (no where near Hersey, PA)

I was in Lancaster, PA for a SolidWorks 2013 rollout event to show off the newest version of SolidWorks to our customers.  I don't normally talk about SolidWorks on this blog too much because it's a bit specific to my career, but this story would be incomplete without mentioning it.

SolidWorks 2013 rollout event

On some roads in Amish Country, there are special lanes where trails of horse "exhaust" mark the way, showing clearly which lanes are for cars, and which are for carriages.  There was a lively conversation on a my Facebook posting about driving through Intercourse, PA.

Amish horse and buggy

A funny thing about the Lancaster area are the references to Dutch culture.  This is a bit odd since Dutch influence on Pennsylvania is a bit light.  There is a substantial German population in the Lancaster region who are sometimes referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch, but this is a misnomer that comes from the archaic term that refers to people from Germany.  They aren't Dutch we know from the Netherlands.  Even still, images of old fashion windmills are invoked.  Maybe I'm missing something here.

Another thing that impressed me about this region as its beauty.  I took no pictures to demonstrate this beauty, unfortunately.  Rolling hills of farms and trees and rustic buildings meld together like a series of landscape paintings I've only seen in books.  Words (and even simple photographs) could not due it justice.

Would I go back to this region?  Prolly not going out of my way to visit it again.  I am glad I got a chance to see it, though.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Great New England Earthquake of 2012

Yesterday, some lake in Hollis, Maine was the epicenter of the Great New England Earthquake of 2012.   The best local news interview quote of the night about the little 4.0 earthquake?  Some guy really did say, "I felt my toes tingle a little bit."

Additional comments about this on Facebook here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Freedom of Speech not an excuse to incite because we are offended

Protection of the speech that we find offensive is critical to protecting our right to speak. If we ban our opponent's right to speak because we find their words are offensive, then we open the door to someone banning our rights (not just the right to speak, but perhaps even the right to worship) for the same reasons.  Second, each of us as a fellow human control our own selves, and it is our responsible to not harm others. Words by themselves are irrelevent to our actual actions unless we are part of a conspiracy to act together to harm others (such as in the case of gangs that are ordered by their leaders to commit crimes). The only people who should be held accountable for the actions of killing another are those who did it and those who told them to do it. Being offended by the words of our opponents is no excuse for harming others.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No clouds come

For whatever reason, when there's not a cloud in the sky in Massachusetts, there really isn't any cloud, even contrails. That always seems wierd to this California transplant.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

California Cape Cod and back again

In a bit of double irony, a Californian license plate that professes love for Cape Cod on the wall of a Cape Cod restaurant while California Dreaming played in the background.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Tobzilla's first Cape Cod Adventure

Allie and I went to Cape Cod this past Sunday, and we brought along Tobzilla.  We ended up a Nauset Light Beach, which is dog friendly.  It's been a long time since Tobzilla has been to any beach, so the adventure was like new to him.

After settling near the water, I walked with him to the edge of the surf.  A little nervous, he moved towards the small waves as though he intended to take on the entire Altantic Ocean himself.  He watched a tiny wave or two before he figured out the timing.  When the next tiny wave rolled up, he pounced on it and attempted to nip at it.  Instead, he got a mouth full of salty water and splashed up to his knees.  At that moment, he decided he had enough of the Ocean, and preferred sunbathing on the beach towel instead.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's taken forty years to realize just how deeply people feel criticism

It's taken forty years to realize just how deeply people feel criticism. A disagreement with one fine point can be taken as disregard for the person themself. On the flip side, it seems people that are very quick to dismiss the opinions and thoughts of others, then express frustration when they think those people are equally dismissive. To me, that is a vicious cycle. Lesson learned for me? "The only winning move is not to [critique]" in social settings, unless there is a very good cause.

I missed the boat so long because I've been in a state of mind of consistently wanting to be critiqued to improve myself, at least in my own eyes. I accept some statements, and dismiss others, and then move on. In this, I do not believe that I've often dismissed any persons outright. I value the person who critiques me because I seek constant feedback (whether I accept the feedback or not). But in this drive, I've very likely offended a great many people who are not like minded in this regard. Criticism of comments or challenging of opinions is not taken well by many people, regardless to how fine the point.

Ironically, this posting is a critique, but not directed any particular person. It is an expression of my own opinion about my own feelings and thoughts. In case someone comes across this message and thinks it's about them, it's not. It is about me. It is a lament that comes from the culmination of a great many experiences.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Proof that the Zombie Apocalypse is indeed coming

Are you trying to tell your friends and family that the Zombie Apocalypse is indeed coming? Are they not listening to your sane words of advice to prepare?  Well, now you have the evidence you need to show them that it is coming, in the form of recent news articles.

This Artificial Jellyfish Was Built Using Rat Cells goes into detail about recent success in the creation of an artificial animal.

Scientists Invent Particles That Will Let You Live Without Breathing shows a technology that may keep you alive when you are unable to breath.

If those stories do not convince disbelievers, this ScienceDaily article shows how scientists are working on reprogramming cells to "create completely new and useful forms of life":  Easily 'Re-Programmable Cells' Could Be Key in Creation of New Life Forms.  This is how almost every Zombie movie begins!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jumpin Jack sign on Highway 495 Southbound

There's a modest sign on the roadside of Highway 495 South, about halfway between Highways 2 and 111. It is simple, with an American flag, and the words "Jumpin Jack". I've wondered what Jumpin Jack was.

Well, he turns out to be a beloved local truck driver named Jack Albert McPhail, a local hero that died while saving others on fateful winter day in March 2007. The story was originally carried by the Boston Herald, but is no longer available.   I was able to track down a Boston Globe article on  It does not mention the nick name "Jumpin Jack".  An obituary still appears on this trucker's forum. It's a good read about the man who was apparently well liked in his community.

For anyone that can safely use Facebook on the road (i.e., a passenger of a car) while passing this sign on 495 S, I've added a place to Facebook to check-in at this location called Jumpin Jack Memorial, classified as a local business under Highway. Facebook is a little odd on how it handles places added by common users, so you may have to search a bit for it (which is why you should be a passenger to attempt the check-in).

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Salem Harbor

This past Sunday, Allie and I headed over to Salem, MA.  We had brunch at this place called Scratch Kitchen, where the theme seems to be that they make everything from scratch.  The food is fresh, with local (North East) sources.  I had this plate called the Frenched Elvis that combined french toast, bacon and peanut butter.  Surprizingly good.

We headed over to the harbor to catch a ride on the Fame.  Fame is a replica schooner that takes tourists on a 1.75hr tour on Salem Sound.  Though the tour isn't technically narrated, the captain tells the story of original Fame that captured many enemy merchant ships during the war of 1812.  If you are so included, you can also participate in some of the sailing tasks.

Here is Fame on the satellite map.

View Larger Map

After returning to Salem, we had an early dinner and then walked around.  There is a lot of charm to Salem.  Their harbor area is a little touristy, but not crowded with annoying people, at least on this weekend before the big 4th of July holiday. We had a fun and relaxing time.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How far off is the Zombie Apocalypse?

With a new particle that can enable your body to oxygenate without breathing, one is left wondering isn't this just the sort of technology that will bring on the Zombie Apocalypse?

Scientists invent particles that will let you live without breathing

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Ice Dragon and the Blue Rose (my first original work!)

Announcing the release of my first electronically published book (ebook) on called Decide My Quest: The Ice Dragon and the Blue Rose. This is an interactive adventure where you are a young man who must battle the Ice Dragon and find the Blue Rose in order to marry the Princess.

The new innovation of the Decide My Quest (TM) series is you get to see events in your quest from different points of view based on decisions you make. The challenge in writing an interactive adventure in electronic form was providing a method to allow the reader to make decisions on which actions to take in the story. This is accomplished by providing links at the end of each chapter. You can use the normal interface to click on those links, similar to how you click on the chapter links in an ebook's List of Contents.

This book was fun to write, and I hope fun to read and navigate. It is meant primarily for younger readers (9 and up), but older readers will hopefully appreciate it as well. It's $2.99 on That's a bargin for a book of its lenght. Similar style printed interactive adventures cost much more for less story.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Someone left their phone alone in a bar

The beauty of having a massively outdated handheld cell phone is that you can leave it unattended at a crowded bar without fear of it being stolen, much like this one here.