Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Venus and the Moon report

Well Venus and the Moon were very pretty Wednesday evening. I took a picture during game time at Awana - around 6:30 pm. I then took another one during council time at around 7:40 pm. I took a last one at home at about 8:40 pm.

When you compare the pictures, you can see that the moon is moving up (to the East) with respect to Venus, even during the course of a couple hours. By tomorrow night, the moon will be pretty far from Venus and near Mars.

Planets put on a show

We've been staring at the sky regularly after sunset and finally spotted the planet Mercury low in the west on Monday evening. Then it was easy to trace a line upwards (eastwards) and see Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.

You can use the moon to help identify some of the planets in the sky this week. Once you find them, it is fun to see how they move with respect to the star patterns, which don't change. I think the word "Planet" comes from a word that means "wanderer", which is exactly what they seem to do against the regular backdrop of the stars.

We can see lots of the sky, here on our desert island in the Caribbean, so we'll have fun keeping track of all these planets for the next week or so, until Mercury dips back below the horizon. Here is a writeup on what to look for.

Venus and the Moon will be close together tonight (wednesday). I posted a picture of a pairing like this a few months ago. Venus and the Moon should be easy to spot, even in a brightly lit suburban area. I'll be looking at it tonight, from the TWR activities building, where we hold our Awana club on Wednesday nights.

The moon will be near Mars on Thursday evening, to help you locate that planet, as well as the Pleiades star cluster, which looks like a teeny tiny dipper. You will need darker skies to see the Pleiades. By this time next week, Mars and Venus will have moved eastward and Venus will be near the Pleiades.

The moon will be near Saturn on Saturday.

The moon will be near Jupiter on Friday, April 2. But Jupiter is bright enough that you might be able to find it without the moon's help.

Instant traffic Jam

One of our couples was late to our staff meeting this morning. We were joking about how they must have gotten stuck in the fearsome rush hour traffic here on Bonaire. But then again, they could have been held up by a herd of goats crossing the road, or a construction crane in transit, or even a boat like this one.

I just wrote our April quarterly prayer letter before work this morning. We'll ftp it to the TWR offices in North Carolina and they will print it up for us and mail it out shortly. Most of what I covered in this quarter's letter has first appeared online here.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Bonaire Scenes for wallpaper

I posted three vistas of Bonaire, as seen in Washington Park, on my Club Photo site. One is kind of dark on my screen at work, but looked ok at home, so monitor settings do make a difference. If an image works for you, great.

If you click on the thumbnails and pictures, you will eventually get to a 1024x768 size image that you can download if you want to.

Root Beer

We are looking forward to my parents and Aunt and Uncle visiting us soon. A family tradition in the summer has always been to make home made root beer, so I mixed up a batch to get fizzy for their arrival.

The Hires Root Beer extract that we used to use when I was a kid has become impossible to find, even in New England, home of Root Beer lovers. Fortunately my parents have retired out in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and it turns out that the Amish make their own root beer too. Shanks extract tastes amazingly similar to the old Hires extract. Yippie.

Five gallons of root beer fills up about two and a half cases of the small bottles we found here on Bonaire. Maybe we'll look for a case of old Brookdale Beverages bottles the next time we are on furlough in New Jersey. Filling bigger bottles would speed up our root beer production process.

Action photos are here and here.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Innovative tech wizards

We have lots of UPS battery backup capacity in our studio building, so we are going to put most of our office computers on the UPSes. We want to distribute the load evenly so we needed a quick way to determine which AC power phase (there are three) each office computer system was connected to.

Udo and Rich used this high tech tool to do the job. Not the scopes.... but the red thing in the picture that looks like a heavy duty hair dryer. I'm not sure what it's called, but I use it to shrink heat shrink tubing when I'm making mic cables and the like. It blows REALLY hot air.
Maybe it's called a flameless heat gun or something like that.

Well, Rich went into each office, plugged in the heat gun, and switched it on and off a few times. Meanwhile, Udo was watching the volt and amp meters for all three phases. When Rich ran the heat gun, the meters for one of the phases reacted noticeably while the others all stayed calm. Udo then told Rich which phase he was plugged into via walkie talkie.

In a related note, after much head scratching and dedicated decective work, we discovered that the new standby generator doesn't like us having a Laserjet printer plugged into it the UPS system. When someone sends a print job, the printer has to heat up the part that fuses the "ink" to the page. That draws about 10 amps. When this hits the UPS, it in turn draws some 30 to 35 amps, on one phase. The generator didn't like that at all, so now the finance office Laserjet is just plugged into the house power, like the other laser printers.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Visitors from the Frozen North

Scott Hollinger and Joe Barker have been here on Bonaire this week. Both Scott and Joe, and their families, have lived here on Bonaire in days gone by. They are now operating out of Trans World Radio's offices in Cary, North Carolina.

The both are involved in a number of aspects of the ministry of TWR, but Scott is mostly wearing his English language Ministries Director hat this week while here on Bonaire.

Besides his Americas region Technical Director responsibilities, Joe has begun to function as a liaison between Bonaire Director Rich Fuller and TWR-Americas-Region head honcho, Tom Corcoran.

It's been great to see Joe and Scott again and to catch up on what has been going on in the greater TWR world.

Here are two more pictures of Scott and Joe.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

More Airconditioning work

Over the last few weeks, I've posted pictures of the airconditioning plant rebuild. Here is what the chiller barrel area looks like now that Udo has finished fabricating panels to close it all up. This unit used to hold the condenser coils for the old system. The new condenser unit is located directly overhead.

Here is a shot from the other side of the wall, showing the compressor, and controls that run the refridgeration plant.

On the other side of the same room are some of the pumps that circulate the cold water created by the plant. Here Udo and Rich examine out what happens when different pumps are switched on and off.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Painting Continues

Here is a shot of Ivan cutting in a window on the office wing. The unoccupied office wing I might add. We've pretty much all moved over to the Studio building, since there are only a handful of us rattling around the facility on any given day. We have more computers than people around here, but hey, they run the station for us.

Speaking of computers... we have a jazzy new firewall connecting our LAN to the Internet. The firewall is the teeny tiny blue box. The old firewall was the size of a normal computer because.... it was a normal computer. We can administrate the new firewall with a web interface, which is a lot easier than the old one, which was running a command line interface under Linux.

The really cool thing about the new firewall is that it lets us connect our LAN up to both our Internet connections at the same time. It performs load balancing and other magic to make sure we are always online and can get those radio program downloads as speedily as possible. It also maintains a secure connection to the TWR offices in Cary, NC for business info.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Paint is Flying

Here is a picture of Benny using what is the longest paint roller extension that I've ever seen. You know how paint speckles sort of fly off of a roller? Well when Benny rolled way up high on that wall and with the Bonaire winds, the paint was sailing to amazing distances. I still have paint on my jeans, and I was halfway across the parking lot.

We are beginning to spruce up the buildings and grounds, partly because they need it from time to time, and partly because we want to look our best when we celebrate TWR's 40th year of broadcasting from Bonaire.

The celebration will probably be either the weekend of Aug. 7 and 8 or the weekend of Aug. 14 and 15. It will depend on the schedules of the various luminaries who might or might not be attending. In other words, nothing is firmed up at this point.