Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Family Fun on Bonaire

Our son, Richard, and his girlfriend, Nancy, are here for a couple weeks. I'm taking a few days off from work and we're hanging out and having fun.

I'm working on the new green Suzuki too, so it will be ready for action once we register it next week. You haven't lived until you have taken tubeless tires off their rims with a couple big screwdrivers and a sledge hammer. I've wire brushed the rims to get the rust off, and painted them. Now I'm trekking all over the island to see if I can find a couple of the right size tires. So far, no good.

We went fireworks shopping this morning. New years eve is a big fireworks time and this fireworks deprived New Jersey boy really gets into it. Here are some photos of the plus or minus 15 minute long string of firecrackers that two local businesses set off in front of the Napa store last year last year. We'll be there again this year. I may bring a sound leval meter this time instead of a camera.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas from Bonaire

It's 8 am Christmas day and here I am at my desk in the office. What is wrong with this picture!
Well, I just dropped in to change the backup tape in our computer server room. Each tape holds 100 gigs, uncompressed, but we need two of them to back up all our audio files. So we got half last night and then we'll get the rest tonight. Then I can let is slide for a day or two, 'cause we won't be downloading or editing any radio programs until Monday. Boxing day is a holiday here on Bonaire. hooray!

I got outside at 6 today, to let one of the dogs answer the call of nature. The stars were great, with Scorpius coming up in the south east, the southern cross pretty high in the south, and Jupiter right overhead.

Since I was up, I decided what the heck, and fired up my trusty Cateye lights and took off around the north end on my bike. So now I can be a Christmas couch potatoe with a clear conscience.

Then showered and stopped at Buddies grocery and picked up a can of peanuts so we'd have something to munch on while watching those Christmas specials on TV. (we are christmas cookie impared)

It really great having the transmitters and studio operations computerized and automated these days. We all always had to work extra on Christmas to air the special programming. Now we can set it up ahead of time and hang out at home with our families. Here is a picture of what the program log for part of Christmas eve looks like, and here is one of Maggie setting up the log that is airing right now on Christmas day.

First we load the programs into the computer and edit them. Then we tell the computer where to find them to play them on the air, and voila, we're good to go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Pasku Briante Update

On Saturday, Sandra went to Curacao with Dennis and Luca, and the Bonaire Youth Outreach Foundation kids. They had a great time and distributed gift boxes to some 300 kids. They divided the kids up by age group for activities and had group meetings as well. The team also used short dramas to communicate the Christmas story and the plan of salvation.

They were assisted in Curacao by a church youth group which, at the end of the day, expressed a desire to set up a similar outreach of their own for next year.

There is a writeup about the project in today's EXTRA newspaper. Scroll down to page 2.

If the EXTRA takes too long to load, I've also posted some pictures from Dennis on our club photo site.

Sunday was Pasku Briante day on Bonaire, with more kids, games, activities and gift boxes. It was a great success but Dennis and Luca will probably need the whole Holiday Season to recuperate from all the hard work they put in on this project.

Suzukies Multiplying at TWR

I recently wrote about our newly acquired Suzuki long body vehicle. TWR just bought one too, of the short body variety, to use it as a transmitter site rigging work beast.

The plan is to save a lot of time and effort during next year's tower painting project by using the Samurai, a looooong rope, a pulley, and seat to raise and lower people and equipment up and down the towers. You rig the pulley and rope on the tower and use the Samurai in 4wd low range like a pull on one end of the rope, which raises and lowers the lucky person on the other end of the rope.

Rich West has successfully done this on Guam and on Sri Lanka and says it works great. You can just idle along in first gear or reverse in these vehicles at a walking pace to lift and lower the load on the tower. I'm glad I'm not going to be the one dangling from that rope some 460 feet in the air.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Pasku Briante

Christmas time on Bonaire is usually warm, sunny, and windy. This year promises to be no exception. So what makes Christmas Christmassy when there are no Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire? Well, I guess once one has lived here long enough, one develops new traditions and Christmas associations.

One is the short simple Christmas Eve service at the IBCB. (International Bible Church of Bonaire) We sing a bunch of Carols, enjoy a number of special music selections - especially from students who are home from College, and listen to a short devotional by the pastor. To wrap it all up, we turn off the lights and fans, and all sing Silent Night while standing around the perimeter of the room holding lighted candles. Here's a picture of Sandra and some friends getting ready for a morning worship service at the IBCB.

Dennis Martinus is at the piano in the picture. He's a son of Alejandro Martinus, who you Bonaire old timers will no doubt remember. Dennis and his wife, Luca, have a youth ministry to teens on Bonaire. One of their annual activities is Pasku Briante. During the whole year, their high school age kids collect shoe boxes and seek donations of various types of toys and fun stuff for young kids. Each evening this week they have been packing and wrapping the shoe boxes like Christmas presents. Tomorrow (Saturday) they head to Curacao to distribute these Christmas gift packages to needy children in three of the poorer barios. They'll be distributing boxes next week to kids on Bonaire too. Besides receiving the cool shoe box gift packages, the kids will learn about God's love Gift, given that first Christmas 2000 years ago.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Rainbows sighted on Bonaire

I think I mentioned recently that we have had a lot of rain here on Bonaire recently, well, at least a lot of rain for Bonaire. It's gotten cooler too. We've seen temperatures of 78 and 79 degrees at our house first thing in the morning. That kind of temperature, together with a 15 mph trade wind, is VERY comfortable, especially compared to the really hot and muggy October and November we had.

It tends to rain first thing in the morning and then clear up. So it is not unusual to see rainbows. Once it rained at night when there was a full moon coming up and we saw, and I think I have a slide of, a moon rainbow. But I digress....

There have been nice rainbows that we've seen while at Church two Sundays recently. Last week, it was so cool that the pastor mentioned it from the pulpit and everyone turned around and checked it out. It was a double rainbow. The back of the church building is pretty much wide open when the two big roll up doors are rolled up so it is easy to see what is happening outside.

Here is a picture taken on the tennis courts behind the church building a couple Sundays ago. The fuzzy black shape framing the picture is the chain link fence through which I was shooting. The cool thing about this rainbow is that it seemed to terminate right by the Hato Branch of the Maduro & Curiels bank, which brought to mind the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" traditions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Family Stuff

We bought a new used Maruti longbody. It is sort of like a Suzuki Samurai, but longer. It will come in handy for hauling Awana Kids, bikes, dogs, yard stuff etc. It needs quite a bit of work and brake and wheel parts, so that will keep me out of trouble for a while. Of course there is about 34% tax and duty on car parts, so we'll try to keep the rebuilding to the critical stuff for now. Here are a couple pictures of the car known as "the frog" for some reason.

There is also a picture of Sandra and a lapdog wannabe.

You can click on the thumbnails to see a bigger picture and click on the picture to see an even bigger picture.
Ah, the wonders of technology.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Rainy Season TX site photos

We had some really heavy rains a bit ago. It is cooler out now and the mosquitoes are swarming.
I took some pictures at the transmitter site. The antenna fields are pretty much under water now.
Some of the shots show where the new Medium Wave towers are relative to the buildings.
One picture shows the old TWR generator plant building, with it's new roll up doors on the west side. In the background is the big generating plant that the local power company, WEB, has installed out at the site.
You can click on the thumbnails to see a bigger picture and also click on the pictures to see the full size images.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Wind and Windsurfing return to Bonaire

A blizzard is blustering today in the northeastern USA but the weather here on Bonaire couldn't be nicer. We had a very hot and windless fall, but the tradewinds kicked back in this week just in time for the second annual Professional Windsurfing Association's King of the Caribbean freestyle meet. This is the second year that the PWA freestyle champion has been decided at the final meet of the year, on Bonaire.

Bonaire is ideal for learning to windsurf because of the onshore winds and the shallow waters of Lac Bay at Sorobon. It turns out to be great for learning and showing off the advanced moves of freestyle too.

Here are some pictures of Saturday's action. Click on the thumbnails to get a bigger image and click on that image to get an even bigger one if you want to.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Bowling and airport update

Rich Fuller went to the bowling meeting last night and there are some 17 teams that want to do the bowling league thing, so we will definitely get to know more people in the community through this. We'll be bowling on Tuesday evenings, starting in January.

Three planes landed at our little airport within about a half hour on Wednesday afternoon. I saw Air Jamaica land when I was out at the transmitter site and even shot a picture of it. (not posted)

Then when I was passing the end of the runway on my way back to the Studios, a BonairExcel plane and a KLM plane were on the way in. I stopped and snapped one as it passed overhead and the other from further away.

I had the camera on full wide angle for both shots because the planes come in low and close. In the second photo, you can see that the fence and the runway lights have all been repaired after the private plane hit them a few weeks ago.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Bowling Alley opens on Bonaire

Yes, bowling has come to Bonaire, and the owners are organizing a business bowling league. The "TWR Ten Pins" are planning to participate in it as an "out of the salt shaker" initiative. The last I heard, there are five teams signed up. We'll know more after tonight's organizational meeting.

Since it has been many many years since we have lived in the land of fast food, overcrowded shopping malls, bowling, and all the other things most people take for granted we expect to bowl poorly, but have lots of fun, and make new friends.

Here is a picture of the new bowling alley, which is located in the building that used to house the movie theater in downtown Kralendijk.

It is actually pretty dark in there, with "black light" illumination and fluorescent bowling balls. I guess we'll need suntan lotion for bowling as well as all our outdoor activities here on Bonaire!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Swansons featured in the "Bonaire Reporter"

The weekly English language newspaper on Bonaire did a story on us in this past week's edition. It was a good chance to let people on the island know a little more about TWR and why we are here. You can get the Bonaire Reporter online. The annual subscription of $35 isn't worth it just to read this week's story about us, but if you are really interested in what is happening on Bonaire, I'd certainly recommend it. Would make a great Christmas present as well. There is a sample issue online that has a great picture of the Kibrahacha trees blooming last March.