Friday, November 30, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 8

Allie really wanted to go to the pools today. She was afraid I was too burned to venture out. I just told her I'd cover up and have a lot of sun lotion on. We got to the pool area and got some extra towels. When I was relaxing in the patio chairs, I just had the towel over me. I did feel comfortable with going on short inner tube underwater slide a few times, and spend some time in the pool. Allie spent a lot of time in the pool. It very relaxing time. Not too much else happened this day. We did have dinner for too much money at one of the higher end buffets again. Mostly, I just wanted a chill day because the next day was going to be the long trip back home.

Overall, Atlantis turned out to not be worth the money. It was fun and all. It's just not as valuable as it costs. Plus, spending 8 days there is just too long. 4 days would've been better. But from California, travelling a whole day to go somewhere and a whole day back, 4 days isn't long enough. Given that, it's not worth going to Atlantis if coming all the way from California.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Information Age and Fine Art

One thing about the new Information Age that we live in is that all the collections of art and information from all times previous is now literally at our fingertips. One such example is the fact that accurate replicas of ancient (and more recent too) art is available on eBay. One eBay store in particular is Artmasterworks that produces replicas that even capture the paint stroke of the original works on canvas for prices that are easily half that of simple replica prints just a few years ago. I haven't ordered any myself yet, but there's a couple I have my eye on.

I started seeing this type of replica in the art stores a few years ago. I'm not sure how long they've been available, but the fact that are available does amaze me a bit.

Ordinary, Not So (stream of consciousness)

Looking at the past, the whole first quarter of my life seems to be as though I was not the person I was supposed to be. It invariably was essential for me to live that portion of my life to become who I am today. Though, it seems I should’ve been able to develop much faster to be me sooner. I know what was holding me back. I know why. It was really something holding me back too. My experiences where indeed limited by my willingness to venture out of the safe cave. When I finally did, it was one wild ride, as though I was being taking along a course to catch me up with where I was supposed to be. I'm living an ordinary life with not so ordinary events that got me here.

Now that I’m well into the second quarter of my life, I am comfortable with who and where I am. Maybe I am too comfortable. I like who I am. I know a lot of people wouldn’t though. I tend to ignore the little things, not taking others seriously when they trip up over them. Little mistakes amount to nothing in my mind, yet for some reason some others hold them over my head. On the other hand, I’m more concerned by the big picture, where others don’t seem to notice or care. I feel limited by my lack of resources to affect the big picture to improve things for everyone. Now that I’ve come this far, it seems I know I have so much farther to go, but can’t seem to find the path. Am I trying? It’s hard when the day-to-day distracts. How does one start something big when the space of time left between the little things is barely enough to recover from having to take care of the little things? Hell, what would I set out to do if I had the resources? I know enough to know I don’t know enough. I do know I’m not into fighting for causes. Too often, those are too focused on too little.

I want to make the world just a little better than how it was when I entered it. Some sort of legacy. Maybe for the time being this is why I write this blog with its articles about so many different topics, from astrophysics to specific details of my own life, from the politically incorrect to religious foolishness, from dreams had to hopes yet to be realized. And yet, there is so much I don’t write about. My words in this site are the tip of the iceberg. There are memories of loss that I dare not pen down. There are experiences that most would not understand that I don’t bother to explain. And there’s mundane details of my daily life that wouldn’t be worth talking about, even on my most bored of days. (I also don’t write about details of my work.)

I’m not asking “is this all there is?”, but I am wondering how I can make more of what I have. It’s almost as though the great adventure is behind me so many years go. I am a better person now, but does that buy me a more difficult task, or a period of reprieve? I don’t ask about the meaning of life. Knowing that doesn’t make life any more meaningful. (What is the meaning of life? To live.) There’s the feeling that perhaps there’s an unfulfilled promise or perhaps some task left undone. Or perhaps I’m impatient. I do have what I want at this point. What is there for me to complain about? Perhaps the choices before me from this point on preclude each other once I take the steps towards one? I want all aspirations to be fulfilled, but feel only one can be pursued at a time.

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 7

Did I mention I got a major sunburn on our speed boat adventure the other day? It was across my back, my shoulders, belly, and around my legs. It wasn't any deep burns, but it was intense. There was minor blistering that would appears in spots and heal up in a short time as the burns went through the healing process. Par for the course for my white ass. The only issue on this day was that as part of the healing process, a lot of my burns went through the itchy phase all at the same time. I feel like I had it mostly under control. I know not to scratch the itches with fingernails, but I still had to scratch by gently rubbing with fingers. I had to take a couple of cool showers to help too. Between all this, Allie and I did do some exploring around resort again. Some portion of the day was also occupied by applying aloe cream to the burns. In fact, this was also part of the fun from the previous day too.
Here's the amazing part. I wanted to get burned to some degree. I kinda like getting the freckles, especially across the back of my shoulders. It's kinda like a cheetah pattern. ::Growl:: hehehe
Allie, with her darker skin, went through the itchy stage of her burns on the previous day sooner, and I took care of her. So on this day, she took care of me.

Our plan for the evening was to rent a hotel movie that was recently in the theaters, and have a room service dinner. Well, room service fell through and blow the plan for the evening away. I was not happy. We ended up going to one of the rest'rants in the Marina (which is part of the resort). Having the evening plans blown, I later complained to the front desk. We ended up getting the Marina meal comp'd.
Did I mention that Atlantis kinda turned out to be a disappointment? It's a good place, but not nearly worth the money. I'm perfectly willing to pay for high end items and experiences, but when I do so, I will want to get my money's worth. I don't really feel Atlantis lives up to the hype or is worth the costs. The grounds of the resort are great, but do not come up to the level that even comes close to making the expense seem earned.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 6

The rain fell for much of the Saturday. We lounged around, and explored the resort. For the evening, we planned to go to the high end rest'rant in the Great Hall of Waters. The rest'rant was very nice. Surprisingly, the food was great. We've been a bit disappointed by Caribbean cuisine so far. Of course, this was likely the most expensive rest'rant on the island. We still had the issue of not really being able to tell who was assigned to wait our table. We settled in on making sure we got the attention of one particular assistance waiter. It's called the Great Hall of Waters because one side is the aquarium from The Dig. It is huge and beautiful. The night flew by quickly, so after dinner, we headed back up the room and called it a day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SolidWorks Blog (more self-promotion)

Well, I've been busy recently building a new blog. It's not a personal site. It is a professional blog that is a collaboration between myself and currently two others. The topics will cover anything that is even remotely related to the 3D CAD application SolidWorks. We are getting ready for launch, sometime after Thanksgiving. The site is here: SolidWorks Legion. This has been in the works for awhile now, too long in fact. Now that I have a body of material to discuss before the big SolidWorks World 2008 conference in January, which I will be attending for the first time. All this to advance my contacts and career.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 5

This is the day I had planned for awhile. We had a speed boat ride to a private island in The Exumas. The Exumas are a large group of tiny islands about an hours ride south of New Providence. The ride to the islands where fun. We made a quick 30 minute stop at a very small island with a rare and protected species of iguana. The staff gave us grapes and had everyone feed the iguanas by putting the grapes on sticks and holding them out. Those critters were everywhere. Supposedly the island had over a thousand iguana, but I my estimate is that no more than a hundred were on the tiny beach with us. It funny, in the U.S., a protected species means you steer clear, neither help nor hinder. I guess in the Bahamas, it means you keep the species alive by giving the critters a daily meal that in no way could be mistaken as part of their natural diet. :)

We then hopped back on the speed boat for a quick and thrilling ride to the main island where we'd be staying for the day. I had the impression that the island would be a bit bigger. Part of the trip was to provide snorkelling opportunities, but this turned out to be a 1/4 mile guided water tour that required everyone to walk back up to the beach to get back to the main area. I settled for some close to the beach snorkelling instead. The main problem is that the they operators tried to cram too much adventure into one location. See, they organized a stingray feeding (more feeding of wild animals. OK, stingrays aren't terribly dangerous. But they capped off the fun with a shark feeding. So, that was a thrill to watch too, but here's the rub. They where feeding the sharks on the same beach where we were relaxing and swimming. Hmmm. Well, Allie wasn't much up for snorkelling under those conditions. I spent some time in the water, but spent most of my time on the beach relaxing in the sun. I'll say it was great to be somewhere away from the crowds. It was not a relaxing as I had hoped for though.

The ride back was met with more aggressive driving of the speed boat by the staff. They took 1 hour to get to the private island, but shoot for 45 minutes on the return. The ride was wet and bumpy. It was fun for a little bit, but then got old quick. The speed boat adventure trip was fun, but didn't live up to expectations, as I was finding true for the Bahamas in general.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 4

Thursday was the day I had planned to go to the main part of Nassau. The plan was to spend the afternoon and perhaps evening there. We took a small ferry across the channel from Paradise Island to Downtown Nassau. There was a tour guide of sorts on the ferry who talked about the Bahamas and Nassau and some of the mansions that were visible from the boat on Paradise Island throughout the ferry's 15 minute ride. Sarcasm may not be noted except by those who've taken the same ferry before, so I'll say directly that but I'm being sarcastic.
Once in Nassau's downtown we headed for a Starbucks to get some iced tea because it was hot. The Starbucks is right next to the ferry docking area. (I'd dare not actually call the point a dock. It is simply a spot where it looks like a good place for the boats to stop.) After Starbucks, we headed to Bay Street. Bay Street is the main tourist shopping spot in Nassau. As such, it was crammed with traffic, had very poor air quality, and felt as safe as a bad side of town in any large American city. After about an hour of this and some very minimal shopping, we decided to just head back to Atlantis.
On the ferry ride back, there was another supposed tour guide. The tour guides were entertaining. They worked for tips only. They were also completely unnecessary. Once back at Atlantis, we tried to spend the rest of the day at the pools, but the outdoor services all closed at 6pm (just as we got out there), so we decided finish exploring the Resort grounds, including having a rather expensive buffet dinner.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 3

We headed to the pools. Actually, the main goal was to get on the river ride. I forget what it is called. It starts out high up in this tower. You get in your innertube and go down this long tubular water slide. Once you are through the slide, you can meander in your innertube along the river ride's many courses. Some points are kinda rapid, and other are chill. If you want, you don't have to get out of your innertube to start over at the top of the tower. There's a conveyor that takes you right back up for another drop. I would have pictures of Allie and mine adventure on this ride, sep we haven't taken the waterproof deposable camera in to have the water shots developed.

In the evening, we explored the Marina and had dinner at one of its rest'rants that supposedly offered local flavors. I know we didn't have much in the way of authentic local food, but what we did have didn't inspire. I believe I can safely say neither Allie or myself are going to go crazy over Bahamian cooking.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"The Bible Way to Heaven"

The North Valley Baptist Church just recently left a little card stuffed into my front door. I must say at this point, all these religious people forcing their personally delivered junk mail through the door crack is annoying, and bad for my door frame's paint. If you feel you must leave something, just do what everyone else does and leave the item at my door step.

OK, so this card has a message. On one side, there's a directive to "Join us this Sunday!" for "Helpful Bible Teaching", "Christian Friendships", and "Exciting Gospel Singing". There's a picture of a life preserver with a sailboat in the background. The life preserver says "Lifeline Bible Class". There's also a lovely photo of what I guess to be the pastor and his family. Another photo below that shows what I guess to be the congregation that meets in "Room 214" at church. The only critical comments I'm going to say about this side of the card is that it is specifically geared to someone who is already Christian, yet most of the people in my neighborhood are more likely Buddhist, Hindu, other or nothing at all. The church isn't doing a good job at targeted marketing. It's the back side of the card that really drives this point home though.

On the back, there's 4 points that I guess are meant to cause someone to pray. At the end of the last point is a sample prayer. So, here's the review:

Point 1: "Recognize your condition". It quotes Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Then it makes an assumptive insult, "No one is good enough to go to Heaven on his own merit. No matter how much good we do, we still fall short." To someone that doesn't recognize Christian mythology (namely Buddhists, Hindus and other), this first point is both pointless and insulting. First, it assumes everyone has detailed knowledge of the Christian Heaven. It then says "Hey, you suck!" to anyone that wants to get into this Heaven. But, it assumes that anyone would want that. Without knowing much about it, I'm sure most readers of this card could care less. The card itself offers no reason to care, and in fact would put off some people from wanting anything to do with the Christian Heaven.

Point 2: "Realize the penalty for sin". It quotes Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death..." It then makes a barely comprehensible statement, "Just as there are wages for good, there is punishment for wrong." Who gets paid for being good? Is this some one's job? If so, I want in on the deal! Wow, can you imagine getting a nice big, fat paycheck each week just for helping old ladies to cross the street? Of course, this is a nonsensical statement to try to draw some sort of contrast out of the bible quote. It continues, "The penalty for our sin is eternal death in a place called Hell." That's funny. Whoever wrote this card previously assumed a universal familiarity with the Christian Heaven, but now presumes a complete universal ignorance of the Christian Hell! It does all this by skewing the words of Romans 6:23 way beyond their intended meaning too! Romans Chapter 6 is speaking of one's life and death in a spiritual metaphoric sense (that is, you are called alive if you believe in Jesus, and you are called death if you don't). It's not talking about a literal life or death condition. If one finishes reading verse 23 one will find, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is obviously a metaphor since almost all Christian religions believe that one must die (in one way or another) in order to get to Heaven, so one's life cannot be literally eternal. It's funny how they didn't quote that part of the verse at this point, instead opting for dot dot dot (...) to leave the reader with the wrong impression.

Point 3: "Believe Christ died for you". It again quotes the book of Romans at 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Commendeth again? hehehe Again, they aren't doing a good job of knowing their audience. Most people in this neighborhood are not impressed by the gratuitous use of older English since they know English as a second language. Now about their comment, "Christ's great love for us was shown when He died on the cross to pay our sin debt." Huh? OK, here's the deal, when a Christian capitalizes a pronoun like "He", it means they think they are talking about God. So, Christ is God? God died? Why would God need to kill Himself (or allow Himself to be killed), effectively committing suicide? Wouldn't He just use his power to make things right without killing anyone? Why is suicide the solution to having a "sin debt" paid. Should I handle my credit card debt this way? What is sin anyway? This isn't explained by the card at all. It makes it seem like everyone sins and that sinning is bad. However, there is no qualification for what sin is. Even less explained is "sin debt".

Point 4: "Trust Christ alone as your Savior" It quotes the rest of Romans 6:23 (notice how it does this out of order to try to make the bible seem like it is saying something which is really isn't) "...But the gift of god is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." It then immediately quotes Romans 10:13 (again, out of order) "For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." The comment on the card is, "Everlasting life is a gift purchased by the blood of Jesus and offered freely to those who call upon Him by faith." I'm not so sure I'd put my faith in anyone that thinks suicide is a solution for anything. Besides that, everlasting life is not desired by the Buddhist or the Hindu who are more focused on living each life in succession to be free from this world once and for all (including both its associated "heaven" and "hell" attributes).

I guess the writer of the card thought they moved the holy spirit (a Christian reference that isn't important if you aren't/weren't a Christian) into the person reading the card because they had the audacity to put a prayer at the end. "Let us help you word a prayer (Realize it's not mere words that save, but your faith in Jesus Christ)". Here's my prayer "Dear Lord!" That sentence has so much arrogance and assumption piled in it, it's hard to pin down a single point to criticize effectively. I'll just say that the card is too poorly written to do what its writer thinks it is supposed to do. The prayer only compounds this, so I'm not going to bother quoting it.

This card is a classic example of what most Christians think. 1. Everyone wants what they want. 2. Their path is the only way to get what they think everyone wants. 3. Other belief systems have so little merit, people caught up in those systems are looking for a way out of them. 4. Simply talking about their faith (no matter how poorly or incoherently) is enough to convince others that their particular version of Christianity is the right (and only) way to live. 5. The bible has all the answers to describe this life path even though they don't research (instead of just reading) it themselves.

So sad. The truth is that this card only remotely has a chance at catching a positive response from someone who already identifies themself as Christian. This is a sort of cannibalism among the Christian faiths. They don't know how to talk to non-Christians in order to attract them to join because they are so caught up in their image of this world and have so little understanding of others within it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Some of our Photos from Atlantis

Photobucket Album

This photo album spans the eight days we spent at the Atlantis Resort. I'll have more day by day journal entries in my blog about our honeymoon over the next two weeks.

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 2 (Part 3)

As night approached, Allie and I arrived at Fathoms. Allie kept calling it Phantoms. Fathoms is one of the high end rest'rants at the Atlantis Resort. After a short wait, we where seated. We were approached by one waiter. I ordered a sparkling water of a particular brand. I didn't realize that I had mispronounced it in a way that sounded like pinot grigio. The waiter asked if I wanted two glasses or a bottle. I was like, "A bottle." This excited him. As he walked away, his question confused me because the misunderstanding wasn't obvious to me yet.  
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We where approached by two other waiters. All three waiters said the same thing when they came over, "I'm sorry that you've waited so long. May I get you a drink?" Well, we didn't really ever wait long at that point yet. :)
Anyway, Allie hear me misspeak, and we where both a bit puzzled, so it soon it me that he thought we ordered wine, instead of sparkling water. Fortunately, we got that fixed. Though it is ironic that I did end up ordering a glass of the pinot for myself with the meal.
Fathoms has a nice atmosphere. Two of the main walls are windows to The Dig Aquarium. They've got the most massive Sting Rays I've ever seen in the Aquarium.
The main courses where great, but the appetizer was surprisingly not so good. Lobster, crab, mussel and other critters where prepared local style. It really wasn't to our taste.
At the end, I was almost, but not quite hit with sticker shock with a nearly $300 bill. About 1/3 of these was the apetizer that we didn't enjoy much. Otherwise, the rest was worth it. We tried to take pictures of us within the dining area, but it was too dark. We ended up taking the above pic in the bar.

We had a nice, restful night in our new room.