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Pope Francis - The Name of God is Mercy

on Mon, 05/23/2016 - 14:40

The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was born and raised Catholic (though today I go to my wife's Lutheran Church to worship) and only 7 years old when Pope John Paul II was elected as Pope. So most of my very formative years and young adult hood were during his time as Pope.

I became fascinated by how historic and different this Pope was from those who came before him.

In only a short time, Pope Francis has struck me in the same way. When I saw "The Name of God is Mercy" at the Library, I quickly looked it over and thought it would be a good weekend read.

I was

JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

on Sat, 04/02/2016 - 17:01

J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read Tolkien's standards and they have always appealed to me and in some ways it was more a feeling than an actual understanding of why. I moved on to HoME and many of Tolkien's translations, such as Beowulf, Sigurd, and the Fall of Arthur with more to come, such as Kullervo and Sir Gawain.

I recently read Shippey's "The Road to Middle-Earth" and followed it up with "Author of the Century".

These books helped me better understand in some ways that feeling.

I always understood that there was a depth to his work.

Book Review: Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 19:19

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tatiana is the 8th installment of the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith. The series started with 1981's Gorky Park.

I've always greatly enjoyed these books, because of the character of Renko. He is a police detective in Moscow, whose father was a ruthless World War II General. His mother committed suicide in the lake by the family dacha and did so using rocks collected by Renko then a young boy. Renko, like everyone, has issues.

In college my history courses were split between Soviet/Russian and the Middle East.

My Online Footprint

on Fri, 02/05/2016 - 22:18

Every once in a while I'll Google search myself to see what is on the first page or two and then I go deep and always find pages I've probably visited before, but had forgotten all about. Today, I did that and here were some of my finds:

Green Geeks provided an overview of the 2015 NYC Drupal Camp, in which Nick Vahalik of Commerce Guys and I managed the Business Summit.

Lehigh Valley Live is the website for the Express-Times our local daily. This article quoted me when I was serving as the Business Manager of our local Arts Center.

Talking Books, Book Series, and Authors

on Wed, 01/27/2016 - 18:48

Last night my daughter and I were up talking and we got on the subject of books. We spent the next ninety minutes talking about our favorite series, authors, and books. I had my Chromebook so I was scrolling through my Goodreads, which reminded me of many.

 When she was about 5 she first saw the first Harry Potter movie and she loved it. The movie is what drove her to want to learn how to play chess. I taught her chess as best I could and she ran with it from there. I wouldn't read her the book though, until we read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, first.

So each night I'd read to her and

Book Review: Demons

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:14

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dostoyevsky is not for everyone. If you like a fast, exciting, page-turner, this is not for you.

The demons in this book are the ideas entering Russia in the late 1800's from Europe and are expressed by a range of characters living in a small provincial town outside St. Petersburg.

The book is organized in three parts. Part one introduces most of the characters and brings many of them together in the parlor of Varvara after Marya begs for help outside the church and is brought to the home.

The second part is focused on Stavrogin and then Peter

Book Review: Beowulf

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:13

Beowulf by Unknown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a huge Tolkien fan, so last year I got his translation of Beowulf, but I'm not in a good position to rate this book. For whatever reason, while I consider myself a reasonably avid reader, I hadn't previously read Beowulf. As a result of not having read it before I really can't say if it is a good translation or not.

There is the translation, then Notes on the text of the Translation, Commentary, Sellic Spell, and the Lay of Beowulf.

Beowulf as a story is enjoyable, reads well, and provides some potential insights into the impact on Tolkien's own

Book Review: It's True, It's True

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:12

It's True! It's True! by Kurt Angle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was published in 2001 as a part of what appears to be a World Wrestling Federation promotional effort featuring bio's of some of its stars and major events.

I read it this week, because I live in Pennsylvania, my father was from Pittsburgh and was a hall of fame wrestling coach. It was his copy of the book I read.

Kurt Angle won the PIAA state wrestling championship, two national titles at Clarion (a small state school in western PA), a world title, and Olympic gold in Atlanta.

Reading the book was personally engaging for me

Book Review: Images of America: C.F. Martin & Co.

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:10

C.F. Martin & Co. by Dick Boak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a part of the Images of America Series and focused on the C.F. Martin & Co. located in my hometown of Nazareth, PA.

The author is Dick Boak, who I got to know during the time that I helped run a local art and music center in town.

The book, as the series indicates, presents a history of the company through pictures and the captions provide context.

The book begins with the Martin family's immigration to America and follows their story from New York City to Nazareth.

Digital Analytics Association Webinar 11-18-15

on Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:39

Today, I took in a 30 minute webinar hosted by the Digital Analytics Association on Data Visualization.

Lea Pica and David Millrod took questions.

Below are my notes, please note, not direct quotations, my summary and any mistakes are mine, not theirs.

How do you walk the line between reporting and data storytelling?
Lea: what is the venue in which the data will be presented? Is it the boardroom or a dashboard? Audience, venue, and what ultimately the story is make that determination.
Some of the latest developments in data visualization?
David: Everybody kind of