Thursday, March 31, 2005


Book: Decipher
Writer(s): Stel Pavlou

A rather remarkable book from a scientific perspective. Somehow Pavlou comes up with plausible science to back up a rather wild premise: that the people of ancient Atlantis were actually more advanced than us and they planted the seeds of language and myth and religion in all our cultures in order to send us a message to use the global machinery of Atlantis to save Earth from a pulsar wave that happens every 12,000 years. Storywise, it's a pretty good adventure tail, but the science is a little heavy-handed, slowing the action, and I found the anti-God aspects to be over-emphasized (similar to the awful The Davinci Code). But overall, not a bad, and impressive for a debut novel.


Friday, March 25, 2005

REAL World 2006

Excellent conference. It's so inspiring. It made me want to do more programming. So many brilliant people doing so many exciting things! It's just wonderful. In the keynote we heard about a couple guys who are building an entry to the DARPA Grand Challenge -- that's where you build an autonomous vehicle that can drive itself with no human control. Their entry has a budget of ten grand and the two guys are writing all their software in REALbasic. This to compete with university and other research labs with budgets in the millions! And already it looks like these two guys, in just a few months, are going to be very competitive. Really cool story.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Marc's Trip

Today I leave on my big trip. Grandpa's still at Oakwood but will be discharged next week -- my mother will stay with him at my house until I get back on April 4. Meantime, I'm heading to Austin, Texas, for the REAL World 2006 conference, then on to Houston to see my cousin Tami, on to Nashville where I'll rent a car and drive to Maryville, Tennesee to see my aunt and Alabama where I've got some cousins and an uncle. I fly back next Thursday via San Jose where I'll spend the weekend and come back home the following Monday. Whew! It makes me tired just thinking of it! But flying beats last year's driving expedition.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Stone Monkey

Book: The Stone Monkey
Writer(s): Jeffery Deaver

Pretty cool book, though it wanders around a lot, and the twist conclusion is a little too convoluted for my taste. Still, I liked the characters of bed-ridden Lincoln Rhyme, the detective, and his female partner. The story's about a Chinese criminal, a "snakehead," who smuggles people into the U.S., but when things go wrong, he murders them and sets out destroying all witnesses and connections to himself. Lincoln cleverly figures out where the guy is from hardly any information, but the guy's always one step in front (until the end, of course). Excellent.


Sunday, March 6, 2005

Pre-Birthday Party

Today we celebrated Grandpa's pre-birthday. His birthday really isn't until May 9, but two of my cousins, Tami and Philip, flew in this weekend as it fit into their schedules the best. Philip's in Manhattan, Tami's in Houston. Tami brought her 14-month-old son, Rowan, so Grandpa got to see his great-grandson and boy was he proud! I escaped Grandpa from Oakwood and he was at my house all afternoon and we had a great time of fellowship, fun, and way, way too much food (for some unknown reason I'd prepared for 50 people when we only had a dozen). It was a terrific experience and Grandpa really enjoyed it.


Saturday, March 5, 2005

State of Fear

Book: State of Fear
Writer(s): Michael Crichton

I haven't been that impressed by Michael's recent releases, but went ahead and got this. I purposely avoided any knowledge about it, but knew that it was somehow controversial though I didn't know any details about why. Turns out, it's an anti-environmentalist novel. Michael uses extensive research to show that most of the environmental science is hogwash. It's an interesting and educational read. While I consider myself very pro-environment, I'm also rational and practical, and I don't believe most of the riduculous assertions I hear (on both sides) and so I enjoyed this part of the novel. Unfortunately, as a novel, the book suffers. The story's about several eco-terrorists who plan a series of artificially-created natural disasters (including a tsunami) in order to provoke more environmental laws and donations to environmental causes. Michael does his best spy-novel imitation, but everything falls a bit flat, and all the heavy science thrown in constantly really drags things down. A non-fiction book would have been better, or perhaps a simpler, more linear plot. As it is, it feels convoluted, bewildering, and a bit boring. The science, however, is fascinating, and it's worth reading just for that (regardless of which side of the issue you are on).


Tuesday, March 1, 2005


Today I took Grandpa out of Oakwood to the doctor. He needed a local doctor, so I arranged a new patient visit and today I took him there. I was leary about transporting Grandpa and how he'd handle everything, but it turned out to be just fine. He managed to get into my van just fine -- the new hip has certainly minimized the pain he used to experience when getting in and out of vehicles. After the routine doctor visit, Grandpa didn't want to go back to Oakwood yet, so I took him to Shari's restaurant where he ordered the shrimp lunch and loved it. He hasn't been eating the hospital food very well, so I was delighted to see him add soup to the meal and eat most of it, eat all the shrimp and most of the fries, and ask for ice cream for dessert! It was a great excursion and something I think we should do regularly.