Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moon and Planets on NY Eve.

The fireworks are popping and sparkling here on Bonaire tonight. The Moon, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter are lighting up the sky as well.

The moon and Venus are near the top of the picture. Mercury and Jupiter are towards the bottom. Mercury is to the left of and slightly higher than Jupiter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Moon and Planets Dec 28

The sky was just clear enough tonight to see Jupiter, Mercury and the Moon in low in the West.

Jupiter is near the top of the picture. Mercury is half way down the picture and a little to the left of middle. The moon is towards the bottom of the picture, just above the cloud bank.

Tomorrow night, the moon will be above Mercury and Jupiter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Out With a Bang

The last echoes of the Christmas Carols have barely died away here on Bonaire, when other seasonal sounds are beginning to appear.

It's fireworks season on Bonaire. New Years Eve is a big blowout in more ways than one. To help get in the spirit of things, I've posted a video clip of the monster firecracker string (tapeit) from the Napa / Budget Marine parking lot on New Years Eve of last year.

I had problems uploading it here, so it is on YouTube.

Planetary Parade Coming

Yesterday evening, Sandra and I were stuffing ourselves at the Christmas Buffet at the Divi Flamingo hotel. This sumptuous buffet is fast becoming a tradition for us here on Bonaire.

We watched the evening sky darken as we sat there at our waterside table. Venus was high in the sky and very bright. Jupiter was lower and quite bright, and then... yes there was Mercury below Jupiter.

I was surprised how far Mercury was from Jupiter because those two planets are going to be putting on quite a show, beginning Sunday evening. On Dec. 28th, Jupiter and Mercury will be much closer together, and a teeny tiny moon sliver will be below them. On the 29th, the moon sliver will be to Mercury and Jupiter's upper left.

THEN, on the evening of the 31st, when everyone on Bonaire will be outside shooting off fireworks, Jupiter and Mercury will be at their closest point, and the Moon will be stationed right by Venus.

Any of these groupings would be great to see, and I'll attempt to photograph them as well. We're sure hoping for clear skies on the 28th and 31st.

I fired up my ancient astronomy charting software, Skyglobe, today and checked out what we had seen last night. I learned that 22 minutes after sunset on Christmas night, Mercury was 11 degrees above the horizon, Jupiter 17.5, and Venus 40.

On the 28th, when the Moon joins the picture, at 22 min. after sunset:
the Moon will be 9.4 degrees up, Mercury 12.7, Jupiter 15.8, and Venus will be 40.5 degrees up.

By way of comparison, for those brave enough to be outside 22 min. after sunset in northern New Jersey:
the Moon will be 6 degrees above the horizon, Mercury 8.7, Jupiter 12.1 and Venus 29.3. So spotting the Moon and planet grouping could prove to be more of a challenge up North than it will be for us in the Tropics.

But if I were up there in the frozen North, I'd still pop outside on the evenings of the 28th, 29th, and 31st, just to see what I could see.
You can see nice illustrations of what the planet and moon groupings will look like online here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cheer

As someone who grew up as a fan of a recording of the barking dogs performing "Jingle Bells" I guess I was bound to fall for this rendition of Jingle Bells by 49 microwave ovens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Programs

We've got loads of Christmas music on the FM station here on Bonaire. In fact, we've got a 50 minute cantata playing without interruption right now while I rebuild the music hard drive on the FM play-out computer. We've got umpteen copies of our audio library stored all over the place, so we can quickly recover from most computer glitches. The Sunday School youth and kids were involved in the church service on Sunday. They did a great job and some of them were even more angelic than usual!
We're also having a Christmas Eve candlelight service in the High School auditorium on Wednesday evening at 7pm. If you are on Bonaire, we'd love to have you join us.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fun Foods

We returned to Bonaire just in time to enjoy the fun local holiday foods, which run mostly to spicy cookies in my case. Our son, Richard, has found a place on the Internet where he can order them from his home in NJ.

We just zip down to Cultimara and stock up. Yum!

Anyway, it's a good thing that we're enjoying these Christmas treats so much, (I'm munching on some Kruidnoten as I type this) because it means that we won't be missing the delicacies that we had to leave behind in N. America, such as the ones pictured here!

You may need to click on the picture to get the full effect.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Yacht Fire Pix

For anyone who is interested, I put a bunch more pictures of the recent yacht fire on my Winkflash page.

TWR India Celebrates 30 years

From the TWR E-Snapshots comes this story.

The year 2008 marks the 30-year milestone for TWR-India, Trans World Radio’s partner ministry in the spiritually needy subcontinent. TWR’s fruitful ministry in India comprises church planting, evangelism and discipleship. The ministry in India began in five languages in 1978 from a single AM radio station with one 400,000-kilowatt transmitter. Thirty years later, in thankfulness to God, we rejoice that TWR-India broadcasts from various locations in 56 languages over AM, shortwave, FM, podcasting, television audio feed and Internet audio streaming. Some 383 programs are broadcast for 148 hours per week. On average, TWR-India receives approximately 20,000 listener responses per month.

Vinita Shaw, CEO of TWR-India, says, “In the last 30 years of broadcasting to the Indian subcontinent and the 20 years that I have had the privilege of being part of, there is one thing that has always stood out as TWR-India continues to broadcast the Good News. There is something that has been a part of every letter received, every phone call made or every visit made to our follow-up offices … Hope is what keeps them going … And this hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is living hope …”

Please pray that God will continue to move in TWR-India’s powerful life-changing ministry. Visit TWR India’s Web site at

TWR Website Updated for December

The monthly feature on the Trans World Radio web site for December is Christmas traditions around the world. Perevious month's feature storys are still available, as it streaming audio, video clips and other goodies.

Low Fares to Bonaire from Continental

The Bonaire Insider reports that the Continental Airlines website has some pretty attractive fares to Bonaire, from Houston and Newark.
Check it out here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ISS Puts on a Show

The International Space Station has made some great passes through the early evening sky here on Bonaire this week. On Thursday night, it appeared to pass right through the planet Venus.

I receive alert emails about ISS passes, as well as other astronomy events, from Arnold Barmettler's excellent CalSky Web site. The alert for this week mentioned a close approach to Venus. I then used a neat program by Ed Morena to find out where on Bonaire I needed to be stationed to see the ISS cross over Venus, as opposed to pass near by Venus.

I've also used Ed's Transit Prediction program to successfully station myself to watch the ISS pass across the moon. The ISS may pass across Saturn as seen from Bonaire, on Dec. 17. It will be a pre-dawn event, so I may or may not get up in time to see it. Stay tuned.... ha-ha

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pedrito el Pulpo on the Road

Our Trans World Radio partner in Venezuela has finished up the year with Pedrito el Pulpo rallies in Barinas and Maracaibo. The Pedrito el Pulpo radio program is broadcast from here on Bonaire. It's also heard on 38 stations in Venezuela and 53 stations in Bolivia. There is also a Pedrito web site, and then the team from the Radio Trans Mundial office in Maracai travels all over Venezuela to hold Pedrito rallies such as those pictured here.
You can just get a glimpse of Pedrito peaking out over the shoulder of one of the leaders in the photo below.
Each kid receives a packet with a few "goodies." These rallies in Barinas and Maracaibo were in jeopardy because the team didn't have the funds to prepare the handout packs for the kids. One of Sandra and my New Jersey churches came through with a missions project offering which ensured that the Maracaibo event would happen. The TWR - Bonaire staff helped purchase the supplies for the Barianas kids. The team's travel expenses were picked up by the schools that they visited.

A boy at one of the schools visited this year prayed, "I am happy that Peter is at my school, please ensure that the doors of this school are always open for them, Amen." Actually he said, "Estoy contento que Pedrito este en me escuela, por favor has que las puertas de esta escuela esten siempre abiertas para ellos, Amen."

There are more pictures from Maracaibo and Barinas on my Winkflash photo site.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Yacht Fire

I happened to look outside this morning and saw a big plume of black smoke, which I just had to investigate. It turned out to be one of the many yachts moored along the Playa Pabou waterfront. I don't know the name of the yacht. The back end was all charred and the mast had toppled by the time I got there. A fire truck arrived shortly after I got there. They tried pumping water on the yacht from the shore but just couldn't quite reach it.
A tugboat had some success in spraying water on the burning yacht, but wind shifts kept blowing the (probably toxic) smoke back onto the tug, and they eventually had to abandon their efforts.

Eventually some Marine Park rangers towed the yacht out to deep water, where it continued to burn. I'm not sure if it eventually sank or what. I had to get back to work.

There were two cruise ships in port today, each with something like 3000 passengers.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back on Bonaire - moon and planets

We're back on Bonaire, after ten weeks of travel and reporting back to our ministry sponsors. It sure is wet and green here. There seems to be a good crop of mosquitoes, but our trusty "Cactus Juice" repellent is keeping them at bay.

The Moon, Jupiter, and Venus made a small triangle in the western sky tonight. It was striking to look at, but I don't think any of my photos came out due to a high haze in the sky.

Here is a picture I took last night, when the Moon was lower than the planets. The moon was above the planets tonight and much closer to them than last night.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TWR's New President

While we were in North Carolina last week, Sandra and I dropped in at the Trans World Radio office in Cary for a brief visit. Sandra happened to be at the reception desk when her dad phoned in from Africa, so she got to say hi to him. What great timing.

I "bumped into" TWR's new president Lauren Libby in the hall. He seemed really nice.

Fun Run

Here are a few shots of some of the runners in the 5K fun run in Greensboro. After going around the pond, they entered some great woodsy trails.

I got in some fine road bike rides while I was in Greensboro, but I saw some really interesting single track trails that have set me to scheming on how I might bring a mtn. bike along the next time I visit.

Suprised Pumpkin

We were in Greensboro, NC on Halloween. Our hosts, Josh and Katie let Sandra carve her first ever Halloween Pumpkin.
Sandra actually enjoyed scooping all the gucky stuff out of the pumpkin. Josh salted and roasted the pumpkin seeds for an additional treat.

Mural in Greensboro

As part of their Fall Global Celebration, Westover Church had a family day in a nearby park. There was a 5k run, food samples from around the world, (we brought Dutch licorice), and a big mural that everyone could paint on. Sandra was the brave one to paint first and contributed a Bonaire flamingo.


I like pretzels. They are not always available on Bonaire, so I chow down when we are in the States. Here is a picture of pretzel nirvana at a farm show in Pennsylvania. Sandra and my mom also tried their hand at making some large soft pretzels of their own.
They were quite tasty, and chewy the next day, just like the pretzel stand pretzels. So I think they got the recipe right. We'll have a go at making these on Bonaire from time to time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fall Global Celebration 2008

Sandra and I are at Westover Church, in Greensboro, North Carolina all this week, as they celebrate 60 years of Global Ministries.

There was a picnic and 5k run on Saturday, all sorts of meetings on Sunday, and they are keeping us busy each day during the week too. We've had lots of opportunities to present the world wide outreach of Trans World Radio. We've seen a bunch of old friends and made many new ones too.

If you have a high speed Internet connection, check out this video of the opening of the "Fall Global Celebration." We appear briefly by the Bonaire flag that we brought along with us, about 2/3 of the way through the video clip.

The video was edited to shorten in some and the opening remarks that provide a context for all the drumming aren't there, but take my word for it, it was a great kickoff for a special week.

Project Hannah

For the month of November, the Trans World Radio web site's home page features Project Hannah, a woman's advocacy movement, radio program, and prayer ministry that is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Founder, Marli Spieker says, "God has done amazing things in the past 10 years of PH ministry. It has progressed from a simple concept to a vibrant, worldwide radio ministry, prayer and advocacy movement in more than 104 nations, as well as numerous mercy ministries on the ground. There’s also been an astonishing growth from one radio program in English to 47 languages, and 15 more on the way."

There are links from this month's TWR home page to video clips, info. sheets, and downloadable prayer guides.

Project Hannah has much more information on its own web sites in both English and in Spanish.

The women in the picture are from Bonaire, and work together to produce a Papiamentu edition of the Project Hannah radio program.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Adventures in the New Jersey Woods

Sandra stepped on a snake when we were hiking the other week. She screamed and then Nancy stepped on it too. (it was under the fallen leaves and they couldn't see it) When Nancy stepped on it, the snake jumped into the air. I guess it was a friendly snake because no one was bitten. The colors in the woods were really pretty. We must have sounded like a herd of elephants walking through the leaves. Louis L'Amour would not have been impressed.
Richard drives under this walkway over I-287 every day on his commute. It is labled Cannonball Trail. So one afternoon we hiked in and walked over it. I rode his bike on part of the trail as well. The Cannonball Trail was used during the American Revolutionary Way to move supplies in secret from the British troops.

Some of the fallen leaves were yellow. Others were red. The colors on the trees and on the ground, and the filtered sunlight made the woods a beautiful place indeed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rainy Bonaire

The crew on Bonaire is painting another of our towers. They had to stop for a while because of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Omar. Sunny weather has returned to Bonaire, but the antenna fields at TWR are still flooded, as you can see here.
We've seen this before, but last year wasn't this wet.
Thanks go to George Zensen for these photos.

Sandra and I are hoping for a wet winter on Bonaire, so that the Olive bushes around the perimeter of our back yard, that we cut way back, will grow in nice and bushy.

An Apple a Day

Apples are one of the few raw fruits and/or vegitables that I can eat without various annoying allergic reactions. We've enjoyed some delicious (no pun intended) apples this fall, and had a great outing to the Cherry Hill Orchard, in Lancaster, to pick our own apples, fresh off of the trees.
The trees were fairly short and bushy. Some of them were really loaded with apples.

We picked a big bag full of Cortland apples and have been enjoying their crisp texture and slightly tart flavor. The Cortland apple trees were pretty picked over, so I had to reach waaaay high to get some.

Stained Glass Windows

My mom really likes stained glass art. I snapped these pictures at the First Baptist Church in Asbury Park, NJ.

Fall Foliage

It's chilly, windy and rainy here in PA today. But it has been a great fall up 'till now. We were in Perry Hall, MD last week. Had a good time with friends at the Perry Hall Baptist Church and got in a couple good bike rides on some very hilly MD roads. Here are a couple pictures of the views from NJ, not too far from where Richard and Nancy live.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

All new TWR Web Site

The Trans World Radio website was completely overhauled this past summer. The home page is changed each month to highlight a different part of the worldwide TWR ministry.

Browsing through the drop down menus will uncover a wealth of information.

The month of October features our broadcasts to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Other Side of New Jersey

I have to admit that some areas of New Jersey are less than picturesque, but during this past week we enjoyed some bike riding and hiking in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the state. The trees are beginning to get colorful and the weather has been perfect.
We could see the New York skyline in the far distance, but were far removed from its hustle and bustle.
Check out these overgrown ruins of the Van Slyke Castle located in the middle of the forest.

Swedish Coffee Bread

Here's a picture of Brad's mom, whipping up a batch of her yummy Swedish coffee bread. After all the secret ingredients are in the dough. It is rolled up and braided to make a loaf of the coffee bread.
These special snips seem to help the flavors mingle during baking.
Here's the final product shortly before is was consumed.