Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our House

It was so nice to see the sun yesterday afternoon, after a very stormy weekend. When I got home from my after work bike ride, I ran out and snapped few pix of our house with the trees all green.

I was a few minutes late, so the setting sun was on the trees, but the house was in the shade. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

A bigger version of the picture can be found here.

Lunar Eclipse

We had windless, rainy weather all weekend here on Bonaire. So, when the skies began to clear up Monday afternoon, I started thinking that I might catch a glimpse of the eclipse of the moon on Tuesday morning after all. There were scattered clouds this morning, but I got to see the moon become completely eclipsed before it sank into the haze along the western horizon.
I played around with framing the moon between the arms of a friendly cactus.
The next time we have a total eclipse at dawn, ha-ha, I'll have to find a suitable cactus that is further away, so it is more in focus. I think that would be interesting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lasting Fruit - Changed Lives

During the thirty years that I've been associated with Trans World Radio, I've observed a number of attempts at summarizing what it is that TWR is attempting to accomplish as a ministry.

The current TWR vision statement is, "To reach the world for Christ by mass media so that lasting fruit is produced." This image of lasting fruit is probably drawn from Jesus statement, recorded in John 15:16, "You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last..." TWR used to talk about "changed lives" which is probably a similar concept.

An example of lasting fruit, is seen in this letter from a young woman from Peru, who recently wrote to the Petrito el Pulpo radio program for kids.

Hello! I just pass by to greet you and tell you that your programs have been a blessing in my life. I have been listening to them for a number years and I never get tired. Now I am not a child any more, but still wait anxiously to hear your stories, and even more, they are an inspiration in my preparation of the lessons for the children in my church. (Now I am a Sunday school teacher). Keep going onward!!! May God bless you richly!

Hola! Sólo pasaba a saludarlos y decirles que sus programas han sido una bendición en mi vida, los escucho desde hace ya varios años y no me canso. Aunque ya no soy una niña, los sábados espero con ansias escuchar sus historias, además de que ahora me inspiran para hacer la lección para los niños de mi iglesia (ya que soy maestra de escuela dominical). Sigan adelante!!! Y que el Señor les siga bendiciendo en gran manera!!!

Of course, changed lives can take many forms, in widely divergent circumstances, as this letter from Africa illustrates. “My family has rejected me since they found out I am HIV-positive. I’m a Christian, yet my life has become a heavy cross to bear. But today something has changed—God is answering my anguish through your counseling and educational program. My hope is renewed.”

The TWR initiative Africa Challenge, launched in 1986, focuses on topics like agriculture, HIV/AIDS and other relevant issues. One of my early posts in the fall of 2003 covered some of the these topics. Unfortunately, all the links in that post are broken now. Here is some current information from the TWR-Africa web site.

In a related note, TWR announced this month its associate membership with the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations (AERDO). AERDO is a professional forum for nonprofit Christian agencies and individuals engaged in relief and development work. TWR also participates in the AERDO HIV/AIDS Alliance, a group that pursues collaborative involvement in HIV/AIDS projects around the world.

Indoor Windsurfer

It hasn't been very windy lately, here on Bonaire, so it seems like an indoor windsurfer is just the ticket. In fact you can use one too, even if you are living far from the inviting waters of Sorobon.

All you need is some card stock, some aluminum foil, a computer printer to print the template from this web site, and a wireless router. The indoor windsurfer is a parabolic antenna that you can use to focus the signal from your wireless router. I don't know why they called it the Windsurfer, but it is a clever design, easy to assemble, and actually seems to work. Sandra says she has "lots of bars" out in the living room now.

So it appears that the signal from our router is now concentrated in our living room instead of splattering all over the place, including the apartments next door and the Golden Reef Inn behind us. We're running WPA encryption, of course, but controlling the signal has to be good thing too.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google Earth Does It Again

Every once in a while I find myself moved to wax eloquent about some new feature of or use for Google Earth.

Well, they've done it again. If you download the newest version of Google Earth, you can now see the night sky above your location.

I played around with it last night and I must say that this new feature certainly enhances the time wasting allure of GE. The basic view when I started it up was dark and blurry. Not at all impressive compared to some of my other online and offline astro software. I don't think I'll be using GE to find my way around the night sky...

BUT when I zeroed in on a patch of sky and started to zoom in by rolling my mouse wheel, well .... my mind was boggled. Pick something like the Andromeda galaxy (you can probably do a search if you don't know where it is) and slowly zoom in. It pretty seamlessly goes from a naked eye view to a Hubble Space Telescope quality view.

The "coat hanger" wasn't that impressive, but just about everything else I looked at was very very interesting. The "double double" in Lyra wasn't resolved, but the nearby ring nebula was great. There are bazillions of interesting objects labeled and worth investigating. Besides the great images, there are also links to pretty good text descriptions of the objects.

Monday, August 20, 2007

WEB Work Continues

The work of taking apart the WEB generator building near Hato continues. I'm not sure where all the steel is going, but I have seen a lot of generator parts, giant crankshafts, cylinder heads, engine blocks etc. behind the Consales building. Here are a couple big generator parts sitting on a flatbed trailer. One looks in pretty good shape. The other was obviously involved in the fire at the WEB site a few years ago.
Here are some more generator parts. I wish I could have included something to give a sense of the scale, but I was shooting the pix through a fence. These parts are on a 40 foot flatbed trailer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More Cheap Airfares to Bonaire

We are looking forward to having some of our family visiting us the first two weeks of November. They are taking advantage of the low low American Airlines fall fares I wrote about back a bit.

Well, if you missed out on American's fall fare fest, there is still hope. I heard just this very morning, that the daughter of a Bonaire friend of ours has just booked a round trip to Bonaire, from Newark NJ, on Continental, during Regatta Week, for $309 plus tax! This is a non-stop direct flight, and that price is amazing.

This once a week Continental direct flight from Newark, arrives on Bonaire early on Sunday morning, but it leaves Newark just before midnight on Saturday night. So if you are searching on the Continental web site for this flight to Bonaire, you would need to put in Saturday night departure dates and Sunday morning return dates.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Goto Lake Panorama

This panorama of Goto Meer is pretty big. The file I've posted here is about 900k in size. I'm not sure what Blogger will do to it so I've posted a 1.6 meg version here, for those of you with big monitors and broadband connections.

Feathered Friends

Sandra and I drove through Washington Park yesterday to see what we could see. This little bird seemed to really like our Samurai. He was pretty feisty too. These flamingos took off as soon as they saw us and headed over to the safety of the flock on the other side of the salina.
This Wara Wara wasn't as skittish as the flamingos. We stopped the car, but didn't get out, and after checking us out, he continued rooting around in the nooks and crannies of the coral. We saw another Wara Wara (or Cara Cara) by Yuwa Pass. This one looked like a juvenile compared to the other one.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mountain Bike Madness

The picture below is copyright David Swanson, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Miguel of Bonaire Wellness Connexions held a mountain bike race on the afternoon of July 29. Visiting freelance writer and photographer from San Diego, David Swanson, (no relation) hiked around part of the punishing course and took some action photos.
The race course plummets downhill from the start line. (four riders crashed on this hill during the first lap of last month's test race!) It then traverses on an extremely rough and bumpy donkey trail which beats up one's whole body. Finally it climbs back up some very steep pitches to the start/finish line. Take this yo-yo course profile, add in a hot Bonaire summer afternoon, and you end up with quite a workout. The yellow graph shows miles and feet. The blue one is in kilometers and meters. They show four laps of the course.
I was very happy to see about 12 kids riding in the one and two lap kids categories. In addition to the kid's race, there was a two lap class for adults, as well as a four lap one for those with more brawn than brains. I completed it in just under an hour, which is what I was shooting for. The fastest riders in last month's test race were just under an hour as well. This time, they didn't have to stop and fix a flat tire and Sam Williams of the Parrotwatch group finished in just under 50 minutes!

By the way, the winner of the one lap kids race was Siegal Francees, son of Steve Francees, who now lives on Aruba but grew up in North Salina.

The next race is scheduled for December 2. BWC is also hosting supported Mtn. Bike Tours on the afternoons of August 18 and October 6. I addition, there are mountain bike group rides leaving the Bonaire Wellness Center every Tuesday and Saturday at 5pm. Be sure to stop by BWC at Eden Beach Resort if you are on Bonaire and want connect with enthusiastic mtn. bikers of all ages.

You can rent Fuji bikes right at BWC. I also know of people who have been pleased with the Trek bikes they've rented from Andre at Cycle Bonaire, and the Giant bikes they've gotten from Frank at De Freewieler.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cactus and Star Fields

The recent rains and the low winds here on Bonaire have made for nice blue skies during the day time and inky black skies at night.
On Monday night, I headed out to a deserted clearing a little to the west of Kunuku Roi Limunchi to take some more pictures for my growing Milky Way panorama.

Here is a picture of the Milky Way star fields appearing to rise up out of the cactus fields of the Bonaire mondi. The tail of Scorpius is at the top of the picture. The colored horizontal streaks are low lying clouds that were illuminated by the lights of town. I kept the thumbnail small but you can view a 1024x768 version by clicking on it. I'll be using it as desktop wallpaper for a bit.

A few stars can be seen peeking through the body of the cactus. That is probably because the camera moved as it tracked the stars during the three minute exposure, which caused the cactus to block and reveal several stars during that time. I could remove those stars in the computer but I haven't decided if "with stars" is nicer, or "without stars" would be nicer. Maybe you can place your vote in the "comments" section.
It is not unusual to spend a couple hours tweaking an astrophoto on the computer. I put about 10 minutes into this one, so I'll most likely go back and spend more time with this one, some day. I might be able to get rid of that orange sky glow from town for one thing.

New Moon and Perseid Meteors

The predawn hours of this coming Sunday night / Monday morning are the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Sunday also happens to be the time of the new moon, so the sky should be nice and dark here on Bonaire, which makes for good meteor observing.

Speaking of the predawn hours, people living in North America can see a nice total eclipse of the moon on the morning of August 28. Here on Bonaire, the moon will be setting in the west as it becomes completely eclipsed. If you live further West, the eclipse will take place earlier in the morning and the moon will be higher in the sky.

Here is some info. on the Perseid meteor shower that I've shamelessly copied from an email from Space dot com. During the predawn hours of August 13, make time to step outside and cast your eyes heavenward. The Perseid Meteor Shower should be at its peak. At an average of 60 mph (meteors per hour), you’ll be sure to catch a flash across the sky every minute or so, weather permitting. As you pan the early morning skies, you’ll observe white or bluish-white streaks of light, as the brighter Perseids enter the atmosphere at speeds up to 145,000 mph. Following their spectacular display, many of the meteors leave behind smoke trails that can linger for several seconds.

Over the years, I have occasionally set my alarm and gone out in the wee hours of the morning to see what I could see. Since Perseus is a constellation that is located in the northern part of the sky, the radiant of this meteor shower never gets all that high in the sky here on Bonaire. This reduces the number of meteors that one might see, and I must confess that there is a good chance I won't be out there this Sunday night, unless the sky is completely cloudless, and exceptionally transparent and haze free. On the rare nights when that happens, it is great to be out viewing the stars, meteors or no meteors.

Monday, August 06, 2007

First ISS photo

Well, I've managed to get a picture of the International Space Station as it passed over Bonaire last Thursday evening.

I was hoping to see it cross right over the bright star Spica. It missed Spica by a teeny tiny bit, but it did zoom across the field of view of the web cam attached to my Meade ETX 90.
The web cam caught three images of the ISS as it zoomed by. This is a composite of two of them. No you can't click on this one to see it bigger. It is a teeny tiny picture of a teeny tiny object. :)

I hope to get better images in the future, but I'm really happy to have gotten any image at all at this point.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Another Month Another Milky Way Picture

The moon didn't come up until about midnight last night, so I went out to my Sorobon Stargazing Spot and took some more wide angle pictures of the summer Milky Way. The sky was quite dark and clear, not as good as last month, but still above average. I also saw some great lightning to the South, and a very bright shooting star - fireball.

I kept this picture fairly small, but you can click on it to see it bigger. If you are into the Milky Way, you can pan around on this larger image and see all sorts of star clusters and dark nebula. My camera is quite insensitive to the light of the red emission nebulae. They show up in the picture, but don't stand out the way that they should.

This is sort of a quickie working copy. There is a lot more computer stuff like applying flat frames, bias frames etc. that I'll get around to doing some day.

If I get a chance during the next week or two, I'll try to take some more pictures that I can stitch onto the top and left side of this one. If you would like to see a really big panorama of the entire Milky Way, made up of 51 images taken over a period of three years, check out this site.

The Milky Way was actually positioned vertically last night. The right hand side of this picture was actually down by the horizon and the stuff on the left side of this picture was higher in the sky, like maybe 45 degrees up or so.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ivan's Birthday

Today was Ivan's birthday. He wouldn't tell us how old he is, but last month he celebrated 32 years of working with TWR so we figure he must have been born here. Benny was out at the transmitter site, so he missed out on the fun, but the rest of us got the famous five guilder lunches from China Nobo and had a party.