Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Puppy Pix II

Here are some more puppy pix.
Hopefully, a couple years from now, we'll look back and say, "awwwww... I can't believe he was that small..."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Northern Bonaire Scenes

Last week I did some biking, hiking, and climbing in the vicinity of a trail that goes around the north side of Dos Pos. I think may not have blogged about the cool trail that goes around the back side of Dos Pos. It is nicely cleared and well marked with pink rocks. You can see rock formations and views similar to those found in Washington Park, without actually having to drive through Washington Park - good for those who don't have an "off road" ready vehicle.
Here is a panorama with Slagbaai on the left, Brandaris in the middle, and the interesting rock fields near Yuwa Pass on the right. I also posted this pano on another site, in case Blogger shrinks the picture too much. The original is about 3000x768 pixels or so.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's a Boy!

Ha ha, last week our daughter in law, Nancy, called us on the phone and said, "Richard and I have exciting news". You can imagine what we were thinking. Then she said, "we're getting a kitten." It appears to be a non allergy inducing type of cat and pretty cute to boot.
We heard about this puppy on Saturday. A friend of Sandra's, who knew that Mac had died, talked the owner into letting us have one of the pups he had been planning on keeping. We brought him home today. He is a cutie and is very well socialized. I was enjoying the peace and quite around here lately, but I think the dogs were bored without Mac around.
All that should change I'd say.

Dog Days

We've had a pretty windy and comfortable year so far with lots of wind and very few bugs, but the dog days of summer are upon us I think. The winds have died down a lot and it is raining from time to time.

Here are a couple dog pix to go with the dog days. Things are going to be anything but boring around the house this year, what with the new puppy, as you can see from the facial expressions here. I kept the thumbnails small so that non dog lovers don't have to wait for them to load.

WEB Happenings

Not the worldwide web, but the water and electricity utility here on Bonaire. Back in Feb. I wrote about the plans for wind power in Bonaire's future. There is a shiny new wind turbine out by Sorobon. It looks pretty sophisticated compared to the old one, which by the way, can be found in a lot across the street from the Lisa Gas station. Recently I noticed that work is underway to dismantle the big generator building in Hato. In the above photo, you can see that the big muffler units and the tall left side of the building are already gone. Half of the modular generator units, some of which can be seen in the foreground, have been moved to the WEB power plant at the TWR transmitter site as well.
Of course, we still have the occasional power outage. We were setting up for the morning church service yesterday, when the electricity went off. Walt brought in his portable generator, which had recently seen service powering our kid's camp, so we had lights, fans and the PA system.
Rich West had previously wired the building's power panel to make it easy to switch from WEB power to standby power. Here we see Ernie and Walt double checking the circuit breaker settings before plugging his generator into the system.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 11 Milky Way

The skies were clear and dark back on July 11, so I went out to my stargazing spot near Sorobon. Unfortunately, clouds started floating by before I was able to take many pictures.

The picture here is a single five minute exposure at F4 and ISO 400. I think the corner stars are indeed rounder than the pictures I took a week earlier at F2.8 and ISO200. You'll have to click on the picture and make it bigger to see much detail. I made the thumbnail small so that non-star buffs don't have to wait for it to load. It shows some of the same part of the Milky Way (towards the left side of the picture) that has appeared in some of my previous posts, but also includes many more stars farther to the Southwest.

This picture seems very contrasty to me, but I didn't really do that awful much tweaking to it. It may be that the sky was just extra clear that night. I could pretty easily see the Pipe Nebula with my naked eye, which is pretty rare I think. The pipe nebula is the dark shape that looks like a pipe smoker's pipe, or the head of a golf club, a little to the upper left of the middle of the picture. It is made up of interstellar dust that is blocking the visible light from the Milky Way stars behind it. Like the "coal sack" in the Southern Cross, it is known as a dark nebula.

Saturn is shining really brightly at the top middle of the picture. An airplane made the yellow streaks towards the lower right of the picture. I drew in the outline, in black, of part of the Teapot in Sagittarius along the lower left edge of the picture. I also drew in the outline of Scorpius (in faint yellow.) The main stars of Scorpius run from the middle top, just to the right of Saturn, down to a little below the middle of the picture. It looks like the body of a scorpion or maybe a big fishhook.

Camp Pictures

I've previously posted a few pictures from the Light and Life Club camp that we had three weeks ago. I just put all my pictures from the weekend camp on the photobucket dot com web site.
I figure some of the parents may want to have some pix of their kids. Also, I've never used this site before and wanted to test it. It seems somewhat slow at times, but otherwise may be ok.

Now that Clubphoto has closed up shop, I may end up putting my pictures at Smugmug. Meanwhile I've got stuff at a few different sites and I'm getting confused with all the links and passwords etc.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kids Camp

We recently had an end of the year overnight camp to wrap our church's Friday night kids club. We were able to enjoy the facilities of the APEM (CEF) campgrounds, pictured below, on the weekend before the week long APEM kids camp. Crafts, organized games, eating, and just general goofing off were the main items on our agenda for the weekend. The kids decorated kites and then had a go at flying them.
A number of the games involved water balloons. There was lots of screaming when the balloons burst, but the water actually felt refreshing. The final game was to see which team could find and pick up the most balloon scraps.
The name of the "Light and Life" kids club comes from Psalm 119:105, which reads, "Thy Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my Life." Attending the camp was the reward for kids who memorized 27 Bible verses from the Navigators' Well Versed Kids booklet.
I had my telescope with me Friday evening, in order to try to observe the International Space Station pass in front of Jupiter. (I wrote about that in some previous posts) After my ISS session, the kids got to look at Saturn and Jupiter. I also brought the scope out to the campgrounds the following week so the APEM kids could do some observing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Starry Starry Nights

The sky has not been super clear here on Bonaire, but I've been out looking at the stars anyway, since the moon isn't around. It is surprising what sort of detail the camera can pick out of less than perfect viewing conditions.
Back on June 20, I posted a couple pictures of the Southern Cross. The above picture is a wide angle shot of the Southern Cross and some of the stars of Centaurus. I drew some faint lines to outline the SC in the lower middle of the picture. Note the round dark area that starts at the lower left side of the SC. It's known as the Coal Sack.

I also drew a line between Alpha and Beta Centaurus, on the left side of the picture, and a line from Beta Centaurus up to the giant globular cluster, Omega Centauri, located in the upper middle of the picture. I was surprised to see how bright Omega Centauri turned out in the picture.
Here we see the milky way from Saggita, at the lower left corner of the picture, to M16 and M17, up at the top right corner of the picture. I outlined Saggita, Aquila, and drew a box around "the coathanger", all towards the bottom left corner of the picture, but you'll have to click on the picture and make it bigger to see them well. I'm again amazed at how easy the coathanger is to see in this wide angle picture. You can detect it as a faint fuzz with the naked eye, but this shot with a 28mm lens resolves it quite nicely, even though it is in the corner of the frame and the stars are a little distorted. Actually I'm pretty happy with the quality of the corners, considering that the lens was set at F2.8, but I may try F4 next time around.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independance Day, July 5!

Today is Independence Day in Venezuela, so our Trans World Radio co-workers in the office there are enjoying a well deserved holiday. A bunch of them just got back from visiting seven schools and one church with Pedrito el Pulpo on the island of Margarita, so I'm sure they are grateful for a chance to recuperate a bit.

Of course, holiday or not, the TWR radio programs from Bonaire wend their way to Venezuela each morning. Well, except for when I goofed up the automation system logs and it played the same programs two days in a row. Arrrrrrg! We hear about it too, when things go wrong, so we know there are lots of listeners out there. TWR has been averaging about 240 responses a month to the Despertar RTM "wake up" program so far this year, but they aren't all in response to my computer mistakes, ha-ha.

I was just reading some extracts from the various letters, emails and calls received in the last month or so. There were a few young adults who reported that they've listened since they were kids, and their mothers had the station on at home. On the other hand, a woman who calls herself a new believer says she listens early in the morning and that the programs build her up a lot. Encouragement, and spiritual and personal growth seem to be common themes in many of these responses.

One person called the programs food for the soul. That has a nice ring to it. Here's how the original reads in Spanish. "Desde algún tiempo he querido comunicarme con ustedes para felicitarlos una vez más por sus programas, cada día son de alimento para el alma. El Señor los continúe bendiciendo, pues son muchos los hogares que son llenos de paz , gracias a este ministerio."

Cheap Plane Tickets to Bonaire

American Airlines has announce a big Fall sale on their fares to Bonaire, among other places. I got a fare like this last fall when I had to return to PA for a week to renew my drivers license. I almost felt guilty as I sat in San Juan waiting for my connecting flight, when I thought about how little I was paying!

Here is more information on the Bonaire Insider web site.

So, all you family members out there who've been waiting for a good time to visit us here on Bonaire, this is it. The travel dates are in the fall, but you have to buy the tickets soon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jupiter and its Moons

Here is what Jupiter and its moons looked like last Friday evening. Well, actually, I added the labels later.
I was expecting the International Space Station to come drifting right between Jupiter and the moons at about 7:50 pm, but I think it passed by just outside of the field of view of my camera.

The ISS did look quite impressive to my naked eye, about the same color and brightness as Jupiter as it crossed pretty much the whole sky that night.

Fire Follow-up

Believe it or not, that house north of Habitat (see the post below this one) caught back on fire Friday evening. I was out at a kids camp in the Bonairian boondocks between Amboina and Roi Lamunchi and missed the whole thing.

The really wild angle on this concerns Sandra's cousins, Bud and Nancy Ann Gillan, who have been here on Bonaire visiting us. They were enjoying a Savory Sunset Supper at the Lion's Den restaurant on Thursday when Nancy Ann saw flames spouting from the roof of that house. They told the restaurant manager, who called it in to the fire department. He said it took a little convincing before they believed him that it really was a serious blaze. But they responded, and the fire truck from Rincon came too, which made it a two alarm fire I'd say.

Fast forward to the next day, Friday evening, where we find Bud and Nancy Ann again enjoying a Sumptuous Sunset Supper, on the patio at Den Laman this time. Nancy Ann looked up and saw.... insert trumpet fanfare here...... flames sprouting from the roof of that same house north of Habitat. They again told the restaurant manager, who called it in, and the fire trucks responded again to deal with it.

Bud says it is getting to be like some sort of bad movie or something, where every time his wife looks at a house, the roof catches on fire. Bonaire homeowners can rest easy, Nancy Ann is back home now, so your roofs are safe. Now Bud has visited Bonaire probably a gazillion times since first coming here in the mid-sixties. I'll bet that this is one visit that will be indelibly burned in his memory. (pun intended-Bud is a master of the painful pun so this is pun payback)

Speaking of fires, one of my favorite bands, Relient-K, just had a close encounter with a fire on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They were in their bus when it caught on fire. They all got out safely, but lost most of their stuff, including their musical instruments, PA gear, all their personal effects, laptops with half written songs on them etc. You can read about it here, if you are interested in the band.

The article closed with a great quote about the twists and turns of life: With characteristic wit, singer-songwriter Thiessen assessed Thursday’s fire. “It’s funny to be onstage playing for 75,000 people having a great time, at the height of your element,” he said. “Then hours later standing outside by a burning bus with no shoes on, feeling basically like a refugee.”