Archive for 2007

My Business Trip to Aruba 11.12.2007

December 05th, 2007 | Category: Geographical,Vacation,Work

The video:

Though the quality of the video is low, the source material is not. All of the actual trip photos are here. Everything was taken with my Canon SD800 IS.

I was there on business trip that they needed a Sales Engineer for. I’m a Systems Engineer for Identix–a biometric company. They were all out of Sales Engineers and I happily volunteered. It seems I have excellent “soft skills”. My wife and I frequently talk about the fact that I’d make a great Sales Engineer. My job requires me to play a Sales Engineer from time to time, so this was a chance to really do it–not just play one on TV.

The Aruban government is implementing a sophisticated passport system which will be tied to a watchlist and used for collecting tourist information. Tourism is their largest export. The biometric system that Identix specializes in will provide them with live biometric searches of the watchlist for suspected criminals or fraudulent passport usage (including RF ID passports).

Aruba a small 19×5 mile island (about the size of Bloomington, MN) very very near Venezuela. (30-40 minutes by plane.) It’s a Dutch colony (still owned and operated by). The national language is Dutch but all natives speak English, Dutch and Papiamento. The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin, which not unlike the dollar is divided into 100 cents. Just like American money, they are in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, one florin and 5 florins. The square shaped 50-cent “yotin” coin is Aruba’s most recognizable coin. However, you never see their money as the American dollar is readily accepted (and ironically will worth more than the Florin). They also accept Euros of course.

Map of Aruba

The beach you see in the photos was private to the Renaissance Hotel where I was staying. You in order to get to the Beach, you had to go down to the first floor, get in a boat and drive out of the hotel, under the water to get to it. It’s 5-8 minutes away from the hotel by boat. There were two beaches when you arrived: Family and Adult. It wasn’t spring break so the “adult” beach consisted mainly of flamingos and old people. The beach and the ocean were beautiful and the water was as warm as a bath.

Notes on items in the video:

  • The bar, simply named “blue”, was very pretty the first night so I snapped a shot. That pool shortly after is behind the bar. It’s a horizon pool so when you’re in it, all you see is the ocean.
  • The blue blobs on the black background are live jellyfish that were behind the concierge desk at the hotel.
  • The first restaurant is Gambero Rosso an Aruban Italian fusion restaurant. Great food, fresh sea-food and a large wine list.
  • The second restaurant is “Scandals“. It’s a theme restaurant in which the walls and menus are plastered with (mainly) American news scandals.
  • The rock stacking is an Indian tradition that has held over the years. It’s said if you stack the rocks your prayers will be answered, or for the tourists: Good luck will follow you and you are sure to return to the island. There is a close-up of two rock formations. Mine is on the left. 😉
  • My colleagues from my company and our Aruban colleague who was giving us a tour of this Suburban sized island saw tour after tour on ATV, snorkling off Eagle Beach and several other beaches throughout. There was a “safari tour” you see in the video and the landscape on the north side of the island is visited often for the gold mine tour, the tour of the collapsed stone bridge and other “rustic” Aruban tours.
  • The weird looking ruins-type structure you see after the Aruba Ostrich farm and the collapsed stone bridge is an old gold mine. Shortly after that you see the Malta Balashi sign is for the local brewery. It’s their “native” brew. Ironically, they have to import all the hops and everything.

I worked 14 hours the first day in a small dark cold room, but I was able to get out on the 2nd and third days for little tours here and there. I would DEFINITELY return to Aruba for a vacation. I loved it! Although it’s no K’auai, it’s better than the Bahamas (at least Nassau). It’s really expensive during tourist season (which began Nov. 14) but if you book it a at the beginning of November you will have a nice private vacation without the herds of college kids getting drunk–oh they’re still there… just not en masse.

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We Were Smacked Down!

September 21st, 2007 | Category: Close to Home

The storm that hit Olympia Street on September, 20th 2007 in Golden Valley, is recalled by local residents as the worst in 40+ years. The local news stations covered the devastation poorly. Had Keith Marler (our favorite local Meteorologist and fellow sci-fi nut) not been on vacation, I’m sure he would have covered Golden Valley! More than 20,000 Minnesotans are without power as I write this and we’re on generator power with a power line down in our back yard.

Last night Heather called me inquiring as to whether or not I was hearing “the sirens”. I was not. However, I had seen some big drops and decided to move my SUV into the garage. As I was talking with Heather I suddenly realized I could hear them off in the distance–and then the hail began. I said to Heather, “There is hail…” and we were suddenly cut off from each other. I wouldn’t hear from Heather for another 20 minutes.

VOIP Phones were dead. Cell phones were dead with the message “Radio path could not be reached…” For the first time as a homeowner I was actually scared of a storm.

We were hit with wave after wave of straight line winds and hail from both directions. During a moment of calm, I wrangled the cat up and we hunkered down in the basement. After the third wave I went outside and saw swirling winds–no single direction for any cloud movement. It was a giant swirling mass. Heather got caught in the middle of the storm in her car. She was scared to death and quite emotional when I finally was able to reach her by cell phone again. I watched and waited and manually opened the garage door so we could get her inside as soon as humanly possible.

It was a heck of a storm.

This morning Heather and I grabbed cameras and headed out the door to survey the damage. Here is the link to the aftermath photos I took this morning.


Matt Sparby, my long time friend and neighbor to Heather and I, also lives on Olympia Street. He took photos and blogged as well. Here is his account. He was an integral part in helping us recover power with a new generator that I bought from Home Depot. There is a story about that too. But I’ll save it for a little later…

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Where in the World Have I Been?

August 27th, 2007 | Category: Geographical

View Larger Map

This is every place I’ve been. Click the link to view the larger map and check out the locations closer up. Google maps has a little feature where you can save locations on a map of your choice. You can “pin” them with comments. It’s pretty cool. Just login to your google account then go to and click on the my maps tab.

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