Friday, April 27, 2007

Kebrahacha Mico Burst

We had a teeny tiny bit of rain the other day, barely enough to notice. But a few Kibrahacha trees located at the South East corner of the Sabadeco area noticed, and promptly burst into bloom.

The flowering trees cover an area of probably a half a mile by a half a mile, and some of them, like the one pictured here, only partially blossomed.

The rest of the Kibrahachas on Bonaire are saving themselves for a real rain storm. I hope it will be a big one, so all the trees pop at once like they did last year.

Hotel Bonaire Beach

Last night, Sandra and I enjoyed a great evening with some new friends who own one of the apartments in the new Den Laman building. We had a great view of Klein Bonaire, the Bonaire waterfront, and later after it got dark, Orion and the other winter constellations as they set in the west.

Here is an overview of the beach area that is across the street from the TWR studios. I worked the night shift the first few years I lived on Bonaire and spent many an afternoon swimming, snorkeling, and diving off the floating docks at this beach.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Betty Ratzlaff hits the big 80

I wrote about Betty Ratzlaff a month or two ago. She taught many of us Papiamentu back in the day, and created a English Papiamentu / Papiamentu English dictionary that is widely used here.

This is bird month here on Bonaire, with a number of special lectures and activities. Well, a little birdie just told me that Wednesday, April 25 is Betty's 80th birthday.

So if any of you who know her, or have enjoyed her dictionary want to send her a greeting, her email is bbhenriquezATshawDOTca Hopefully you can translate that into her real email address. Just don't want some spam bot to pick up on it. :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Venus and other Bright Lights

We've been watching Venus for some months now. It has moved quite a bit to the North as we look to the West after sunset and is more obvious to people living up north of us. Here is an article with interesting info. about viewing Venus these days.

There are occasionally some other bright lights in the night sky. A week ago tonight, Sandra and I saw two of them on the same night. The International Space Station (ISS) passed overhead around 7:15 pm and then around 8:30, one of the Iridium satellites did a bright flare of reflected sunlight.

Venus shines at a magnitude of about -4 these days. The Iridium flare we saw last week was at -6. We saw one a few weeks ago at -8. These stellar magnitudes are logarithmic, so -8 is really intense, compared to Venus at -4.

Satellites are a thorn in the side of astro-photographers, but we're casual enough stargazers that we still find them fun to watch. I get customised emails every day from calsky dot com that tell me what is going to be happening each night, as seen from our back yard here on Bonaire. I also go to heavens-above dot com regularly to see what sort of interesting things are happening in the night sky above Bonaire.

The processing power of today's PCs, together with the Internet makes it possible to observe things I never would have even known about back in the old days. I'm still intending to try imaging the ISS with a telescope and webcam some day. If I ever pull it off, you'll be the first to know, ha ha.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another Year, Another Tower

This intrepid crew recently finished painting this year's antenna tower. We have four towers and the plan is to paint one a year, for ever and ever....
We had a fun food fest at the transmitter site to celebrate a job well done. Here Benny is presenting each of the guys TWR contracted for the job with a Papiamentu Bible. One probably thinks a little more about life and death issues when one is working almost 500 feet above the ground.

Queen Mary 2 visits Bonaire

I happened to have my camera along when I went to the Ontvanger's office last week, and lo and behold, there was the QM2 looming over the building.
The ship has bow thrusters and was able to mover away from the dock quite nicely all by itself.
Cruise ship season is drawing to a close here on Bonaire. I think the last one comes here on May 2.

Windsurfing and Power Tools

With some notable exceptions, it seems to have been pretty windy this year. I'm going to try getting back out on the water in the next month or two. I haven't done much of any windsurfing for about 6 years or so, but it's a great complimentary exercise to cycling and I did have fun the last time I went out. (about 1.5 years ago)

So, as step one of my return to windsurfing, I'm reviving my windsurf trailer. The frame had a lot of rust and the dogs ate the lights. So I'm going to fix all that. Above, is a shot of the old faithful trailer up on the lift, with the rust all removed, and primer and paint starting to appear.

Below, is a photo of an air powered needle scaler. It made short work of the flaking rust on the trailer frame. I could get into tight places with this baby, and it didn't destroy the soft surfaces adjacent to the rust. I also used a really nasty knotted wire brush wheel on a electric angle grinder to get down to bare metal any where I could. It was dirty, nasty work, but these cool tools made a huge difference.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bike Tour Pix

Bonaire Wellness Connexions, located at Eden Beach Resort, sponsored their third Mountain Bike tour last Saturday. There were different routes for riders of varying abilities, but the routes crisscrossed at a few places so we could compare notes on the ride and stock up on fruit and energy drinks.
Thank you Miguel for these action photos from the ride. I kept the thumbnails small for quicker downloading, but you can click on them to see them bigger if you want to do so.
This month's ride included some of the not so well known "donkey trails" to the north of Sabadeco. They are lots of fun to ride, but they take their toll on one's tires and tubes, because of all the thorns scattered on the ground on these trails. Frank, owner of the Freewieler bike shop graciously performed trail side repairs of a bunch of flat tires.

The wet spots on my tire, in the below photo are all places where Slime brand tire sealant has plugged up a puncture. The green spatters all over my bike frame are from Slime that escaped before the tube was plugged.
The next tour is scheduled for May 13 and there will be a fun Race in June.

Monday, April 02, 2007

29th Annual Kite Contest

After a really quiet week, the winds kicked back in just in time for the annual kite designing and flying competition. It is a big deal here, and there were a LOT of people out there having a great time. I kept these pictures small for faster downloading, since there are five of them, but you can still click on them if you want to see them bigger.
This is one of the larger kites. I didn't actually stick around to see them fly this one, but I can tell you that they had the end of the "kite string" tied off to the frame of a car, in order to be sure that this beast couldn't fly off with any of its handlers.
There were loads of prizes in various design and construction categories and for various age groups. Here is a creative box kite. Light weight is not an issue because of the power of the Bonaire winds. Stability and control can sometimes be elusive however.
One key design element common to all the kites the tail. Really really long, often multiple, tails are necessary to stabilize a kite in the strong Bonairian winds. This kite, about to be reeled in after a test, flew great. Check out the gloves on the hands of one of the kite wranglers. Many of contestants sported hand protection.
Bonaire natives will probably recognise Archie, as well as some of the other Judges, pictured here discussing the merits of one of the entries.

Bonaire by Bike

It seems like there are more and more people out riding bikes for fun. I usually see quite a few on my Saturday morning rides, except for when I'm riding in Washington Park. I hope there will be a good turnout, this coming Saturday afternoon, for the group ride sponsored by Bonaire Wellness Connexion.

There wasn't much wind last week. It was great weather for tower painting, and the crew will probably finish up this years antenna tower tomorrow, ahead of schedule. I got in a couple road bike rides, which are always more fun when the wind is low. Saturday I did the whole island, at least as much of it as is paved.

It is a little over 46 miles around the island, and it took me a little under three hours. Ten years ago, I routinely did it in about 2:25 or a little less. I'm not how quickly I could do it now, if I really tried. Maybe some time if the wind really dies away, I'll go for it.... if I can psych myself up for that much pain. One of the above photos shows my route superimposed on the Google Earth map of Bonaire.

Riding around the island is a good way to keep up with things. For example, some group is building some sort of newfangled houses just east of Rincon. They have metal framing and either aluminum or vinyl siding. The structures are going up very quickly, but they better have some awesome insulation ready to go in those walls, or it's going to be really really hot inside those things.

I also noticed that the big power generating windmill by Sorobon is gone. I think it was there just two weeks ago. It looks like they are getting the foundation ready for the new wind generator, which will be a prototype for the planned wind farm north east of Rincon. One of the photos at the top of this posting is of the new tower full of wind measuring gear that is located in Morotin.

I also saw two cars that had run off the road and crashed. One car was backwards and in a ditch on the small hill just south of the wind sailing track on the way to Rincon. The other was upside down and in the salt flats just south of the Suzuki/Chevy dealer on the way to the airport. I'm not sure what was so special about last Friday night / Saturday morning to have two wrecks like that, but it wasn't very reassuring as I peddled along with cars whizzing by.