Friday, May 30, 2014

Captain Don Remembered

I just got back from a viewing downtown for Captain Don Stewart, who passed away this past Wednesday.  I joined with many many people, from all walks of life here on Bonaire, to say goodbye to Don and to express our condolences, love and heartfelt prayers to Janet.
Here is a brief obituary from the Bonaire Insider.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sunset Hike

As part of the 45th anniversary happenings, Washington Park held a Sunset hike up Brandaris yesterday afternoon.  It was really fun.  I took loads of pictures, because the sun was in the West, instead of in the East, like it was every other time I've ever climbed Brandaris.

Here is one of the friendly Washington Park Iguanas that was hanging around the parking area at the start of the climb.

We went down the hill in two groups.  I went in the first group so I could stop and take pictures without falling behind.  The shot below is looking back towards the top of Brandaris from the ridge line below the peak.
I took zillions of pictures, so I might be posting more later this week.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Flying Disks

I hosted a couple of mini astronomy evenings during the past month.  We looked at the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in a telescope.  Also looked at Omega Centari, during the second session.  It was quite awesome at about 100x.

By the way, the Moon was right next to Venus this morning at about 05:30.  It was a very nice pairing.

Whenever I have the telescope out, someone inevitably asks me if I've ever seen a UFO.  I have to say, no.  But we did witness a most amazing re-entry into the atmosphere of a Soviet satellite, one New Year's eve.  It was a UFO, until we found out what it was. :)

In an homage to The Wizard of Oz, and Independence Day, my colleague Dave Pedersen and I are pleased to present the following two images.  In the first shot, Dave encounters a UFO when it lands smack dab on him.  Miraculously, he survived the accident and veteran pilot that he is, was able to take the controls and put that baby through its paces, as seen in the second shot.

Kibrahacha Tree II

Here is the same full moon nighttime shot of the Kibrahacha tree that I posted a week or so ago.  I boosted the contrast and didn't crop it.  It looks more like a late afternoon shot with the long shadows, and you can see the stars more easily, especially in the full size image.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Swanson Car Update

I recently wrote that we'd probably be selling the Buggy soon.  Well, I've had a change of heart, for now at least.  It is so peppy and fun to drive with the new exhaust system.

But we did sell our trusty 1991 Suzuki Samurai this week.  It is almost 23 years old and still going strong but there were a number of little issues that i didn't want to have to deal with.  The McGurks bought it, so we still see it at the TWR office every day.
We replaced the Samurai with a 2006 Brazilian Chevy S-10 pickup.  2006 seems pretty new compared to 1991.  There are loads of these Brazilian Chevys on the island, and they seem solid and durable.  This one began its life in a rental fleet, so it has loads of scuba diver induced rust to deal with.  I'll work on that over the next weeks and months.  It runs great and looks reasonably good, and the price was right. (you can't see the rust unless you look underneath the pickup)

I love being able to toss my bike in the back and zoom off somewhere.  It will also be much easier to haul all my telescope gear to dark sites with the pickup.  If feels huge and heavy compared to the little Samurai.

The other morning i had to zoom in to the office at 3 am to rescue the Portuguese feed from Brazil.  The transmitter kindly calls me on the phone when there is "dead air."  I hopped in the pickup and turned on the lights, hmmm, hi beams.  So i clicked the lever to get the low beams and got, total darkness!  Turns out both low beam bulbs were burned out.  It was an easy fix, but quite a surprise at 3 am.  The plastic covers over the headlights were so yellowed and cloudy, that even the high beams weren't very bright.  The previous owner probably just used them all the time.
When I was at our friendly NAPA store buying the headlight bulbs, I also bought a Turtle Wax brand headlight restoration kit, and spent a fun couple of hours hand polishing each headlight housing cover.  Here are before and after pictures of the passenger side headlight.

The difference when driving in the dark is like night and day, ha ha.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kibrahacha Trees

We had some rain last weekend and a few of the colorful Kibrahacha trees popped on Thursday. 
The ones in the Sabadeco area and along the dirt road to Rincon, north of Sabadeco were at their peak all day yesterday.

The trees on the hills to the east of Antriol, and the trees around Goto Lake and in Washington park were still dormant.

Here is a shot where I tried to capture how dramatically the bright yellow Kebrahacha trees contrast with the gray rocks and dark olive cacti.

I'm always trying to figure out how to get a different kind of image of kibrahacha trees blooming, 'cause the same trees bloom every year.  I've got pictures from most every year since 2004.  You can do a search on this blog to see them.  Someone, maybe my nephew Dan, or maybe Doug Britton, once suggested doing a full moon Kibrahacha picture.  Well, the moon was just full on Wednesday afternoon, so i zoomed out about 10pm. Thursday night to have a try.  I lit the tree with our pickup's headlights, so i could focus, then killed the lights and took the shot.  Here is the result.

This is a 20 second exposure.  The clouds moved some during the exposure, as did some of the colorful kibrahacha branches.  If you click on the picture to see the larger size version, you should be able to see stars in the sky.  I used the daylight white balance setting in the camera and did not tweak the colors in Photoshop.  As Chuck Roswell once commented, moonlight is reflected sunlight, so it makes sense that the colors will come out pretty well.  The clouds are a teeny bit reddish, which could be reflected light from Bonaire.

I was browsing my picture folders on my photo archive hard drive and noticed that the Kibrahacha tree events, and hence the weather here on Bonaire, has some clear patterns.  Kibrahachas only bloom when there is a long dry spell, followed by a good rain.
Here are some dates, based on a quick search of my blog posts.
May 24 and Aug 28 2004
April 20 and June 12 2006
April 27 and June 17 2007
July 03 2008
July 13 2009
April 12 2010
April 19, 2011
April 19 and May 10 2012
May 01 and May 10 and Aug 02 2013
May 15 2014