Picture: Our family

A friend took a couple new pictures of our family. Enjoy.

081024 Garriss Family

Book: The Heavenly Man

The Heavenly Man is the autobiography of a Chinese Christian who started house churches all over China. The most riveting parts of this excellent books are the many times and ways he was persecuted for his faith in Jesus. Bible verses on persecutation and suffering take on a whole new meaning when viewed from a world where Christianity is still persecuted, as opposed to my American Christianity which is still (for the moment) tolerated. I highly recommend this book.

An engineer at the ballet

I took Ann to the ballet this week, a last date of sorts before too many transitions catch up with us and prevent us from going out. We saw the Carolina Ballet's performance of Don Quixote at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. It was the first time either of us had been to a ballet.

How should I describe my reaction? Two thoughts: One, ballet is an incredibly inefficient medium for communication. It often took 5 to 10 minutes to convey even the simplest of thoughts. Entire movements were devoted to saying "I love you" or "Will you marry me?" or "Yes" or "Leave me alone, slimo, I love that other guy instead!" Definitely inefficient. (What? What did you expect from an engineer?) Two, the story of Don Quixote was pretty interesting. It actually made me want to go and read the book. Have you read the book? Was it interesting? Was it more efficient than the ballet?

Book: St. Patrick of Ireland

If I had to estimate, I would say that about 10 percent of "St. Patrick of Ireland" by Philip Freeman is fact; the rest is speculation and tangential information. To be fair, there really isn't much factual info about Patrick available; much of what is recorded about him is fictional (with the occasional smidgeon of truth tossed in). So Freeman does a good job with what he has, but I didn't much enjoy reading a biography that had so little biographical information. I don't recommend this book.

Photos: Trip to the beach

We went to the beach this past week and spent a few days with my side of the family. I took some family pictures, and they turned out better than expected. Enjoy.

081002 Family picture

What's your offsite backup plan?

You do have a plan for backing up your data, right? You've heard the saying "it's not a matter of 'if' your computer crashes but 'when'." Personally, I use Chronosync to automatically backup my iMac to my Time Capsule. I hope you do something similar.

But what's your offsite backup plan? I had a friend email me last weekend. Someone broke into his house and stole his laptop and the external harddrive he used for data backup. He lost everything. He had no files left from seminary. So what's your offsite backup plan? From time to time I burn my data to a DVD and sent it to my father's house. If thieves steal my stuff or a fire burns my house down, I'll at least have my most critical data available to me.

If you've got a good idea for an offsite backup plan, leave it in the comments.

Fortune Cookie

The message in our fortune cookie tonight? "Relish the transitions in your life - they will happen regardless." Heh. There's the understatement of the week.

Book: Ayn Rand

I knew a little about Rand. I knew she was a philosopher and was from Russia, but that was about it. So I decided to try this biography by Jeff Britting and found it to be very interesting. She immigrated to America in her 20’s. She wrote books, plays, and movies. Her writings, even her fiction, always had an agenda, advocating her personal beliefs and philosophies. She opposed socialism and communism. She believed in objectivism, which asserts that reality is objective and outside of man (a good thing) and individualism, which asserts that man can determine the nature of reality using his mind, thus bringing glory to man (which is not such a good thing). Her beliefs tended towards being self-assertive, egotistical, and very man-centered. She believed she had the mental capacity to live like she believed, and unsurprisingly this made her rather arrogant; she was critical of most everyone who didn’t believe like she did. She had little use for family and had few friends, though she had some very close friends and was married for 50-some years.

This biography is very well-written. It shares her beliefs and works without being particularly approving or critical. The pace flows well through the various stages of her life. Perhaps the best feature of this book is the various pictures and memorabilia included. Instead of being jammed into one section all in the middle of the book, they are interspersed throughout the book, co-located with the pertinent sections. This makes for pleasant reading and viewing. Even though I personally disagree with much of Rand’s beliefs and philosophies, I highly recommend this book.

How cool is Skype!

I installed Skype last week for the first time. I’ve known about Skype, and I’ve used AIM and Google Talk for years (and ICQ before that), but I’ve never used Skype before. Setup was simple and quick. Adding friends who have Skype as new contacts is painless. So now I can chat, talk, and video conference with people anywhere. One day I was talking with friends in Brazil, the next day friends in Indonesia, and the day after that a friend in Senegal. How cool is Skype!

If you've got Skype and would like to talk, leave me your Skype name or send me an email with it.

Surf fishing

We're at Nags Head for a bit hanging with our family. I went out onto the beach this morning to do a bit of surf fishing with my dad. Now dad really likes to fish, and I've done a lot of fishing with him. Most of time we either stand safely on the shore or sit calmly in a boat while fishing. No problem. You pay attention to your rod and your bait and that's all there is to it. But when you're surf fishing, you've also keep to keep an eye on the waves. The waves relentlessly try to knock you down or pull you in, and when that doesn't work, they pummel your feet and shins with shells and rocks. So, it's challenging. Dad caught a couple small speckled trout this morning, but I got nothing. We'll try again later.