Blog Archive 2012 Jan
My Christmas letter for 2011
Sun 1/1 - On DuetAZ's website I logged my December hours helping Mildred.
Mon 1/2 - My drips are giving problems. Unbeknown to me they have been running continuously for the last few days. It turns out that a minimum flow is required for the automatic battery-operated valve to shut off, so I increased the flow on six of my drippers, reprogrammed the timer and then shut the system off for several days cuz everything is soaked.
Tue 1/3 - This morning I went to my allergist's office for a lung-function test (better than last time), and canceled my World Health Travel appointment. After checking with
- Rose Anne
- my world-traveling X
checking on the CDC website I concluded that I did not need to pay them $50 to tell me I did not need any shots before my trip.
Wed 1/4 - Got my shaver packaged up to send in for warranty replacement. It only lasts 1 or 2 days on a charge, the head is getting a little loose and the on/off button cover is broken. Good thing I got to it, as the shaver would be out of warranty by the time I got back from the Philippines. That was smart. Not quite as smart was boxing it up three times - each time in a smaller box, until I got it down for a $5.00 USPS Priority Mail delivery (less than half of what UPS would have charged.
- This morning I met with Dr Michael Hayyeri for a second opinion regarding my anticipated
- Photoselective Vaporization of the Prostate
surgery and biopsy. Conclusion: ease up on my anti-antibiotic position, as my thinking was probably a little far out on the balance of risks.
- Gangplank in Chandler was awesome tonight. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to drive the 80 miles there and back, but this time it was definitely worth it. I took my little helicopter to fly around about 8 minutes until its battery ran down. I shot both of its missiles and never did find where one of them went. Fortunately, spares came with it.
- Making my website sparkle was my evening's project. I shifted some things around on my LOCATIONS and KEYS pages so images and graphics are near the top instead of just text. Moving both page's contents to a drop-down menu. Check em out and see what you think.
Thu 1/5 - I went to Mildred's 96th birthday celebration at her community's club house. I met a number of people I knew from last year's party. It was cool and Mildred certainly enjoyed being the center of attention. She had only two candles to blow out: a
- My new fancy
- bluetooth headset
- Plantronics 38885-01 Voyager PRO UC B230 (Standard)
arrived today. Although it is not small, with its little boom mike, it has the best noise canceling ability and clearest send and receive sound quality of any that I have had so far. It has a fancy price to match!
Fri 1/6 - Got more organized today. It started at 3am. I was not sleeping anyway so got up and organized my 3-ring binder, my
My brain had started getting a little frazzled with the details of the Philippine kiteboarding trip. Hopefully the organization is not over kill and will prevent me from overlooking an important detail. Since I did not have time for a helicopter run all day yesterday, I flew it a charge (about nine minutes) then crawled back into bed.
- Dr Hurm
- my urologist
phoned and we organized a tentative schedule leading up to the
- Photoselective Vaporization of the Prostate
and biopsy after I return from the Philippines.
- I organized my research information for buying a new camera. It turns out the top contender is Panasonic DMC-FZ150. It has about all the features I want in a camera, including several good burst settings, which eclipses my current Canon Power Shot SX20-IS.
- The last organizational feat today was reading reviews on and ordering a money belt, which is highly recommended for foreign travelers.
Sat 1/7 - My camera research peaked out today with a trip to Best Buy and Fry's Electronics. Also at Fry's I exchanged my helicopter for a new one. The old one tends to turn to the right even with maximum trim, and its battery is only lasting eight minutes, down from its original 14 minutes.
- I learned something this evening at the Ham Feast in Scottsdale. It was a good group, as usual in the little Seattle's Best Fish & Chips
. I took my little helicopter to show off. I flew it outdoors for the first time. It was after dark so sunlight would not interfere with the
- operated by an InfraRed remote control
. As I got it a little too close to the roof of the building it caught an updraft and went over the roof in the dark. At that point I could not see which direction it was heading. I did not want to have it crash up there too far out of reach, so I sort of crashed it gently down on the roof tiles at the bottom of a V
- out of sight. I almost gave it up for lost until a combination of suggestions lead to the little copter's rescue. I backed my van up to the building, climbed up on top of it and, with a long whip antenna someone loaned me, I got the helicopter down - headlight still beaming. See, that's what happens when you try to show off.
Sun 1/8 - Trying something new at my tender age: I have read that one should trim their toenails straight across, but never had the guts to do it due to the sharp corners that remain. Well this morning, I did it. We will see if I scratch myself or put holes in my sockx as a result.
- I finally made my final camera decision
today, to not buy one, after entirely too much research. I found my top choice, the Panasonic DMC-FZ150 was out of stock everywhere. That's not all bad, since it's pretty expensive. I'll be left with my Canon Power Shot SX20-IS. The good news is my Canon takes better pictures. The bad news is it only has a burst rate of one frame per second. At least I can get off the camera research and focus on preparing for the Philippine kiteboarding trip.
- Big yard work this afternoon. My goal was to put incandescent Christmas lights in my Natal Plumb shrubs to keep them from freezing when it gets cold. Freezing is a a particular concern when I'm on one of my tropical kiteboarding trips. Before I could do that I had trim the shrubs and remove the lights from my house, which I did. Before I trimmed the shrubs I wanted to inflate and check out the two kites (8 & 12m) I'll be taking to the Philippines. I needed to do that on the driveway before trimming the shrubs to reduce the chance of a thorn finding its way into a kite.
- This evening I went to the Rainbow Cactus Saloon and caught up on my blog, enjoyed the performances, of which my Alaskan Pilot story was a part.
Here is a worksheet of features I am looking for in a new camera, like the Panasonic DMC-FZ150:
NICE TO HAVE Features
* spec for my current Canon Power Shot SX20-IS
- MUST HAVE Features:
- Burst rate at least 4 fps *1fps
- w autofocus
- w/o autofocus
- Shutter lag, minimal
- with auto focus
- with prefocused
- Zoom ratio of 15x (24-420) *20x (28-560)
- Wide 35mm equivalent
- Max zoom 35mm equivalent
- Video Recording, quality
- Video Recording, MP4 format
- Video Recording, other formats
- Stereo sound recording
- Electronic Viewfinder
- LCD Screen, large flippy *2.9"
- Battery, proprietary w External charging or AAs
Cost of camera around $400
Cost of Spare battery maximum $20
- Quality still images
- Fast lens (F-stop wide/zoom)
- Optic image stabilization
- Remote Control
- Mic input jack
- Hot shoe
- Small ( SLR–like (no interchangeable lens due to blowing sand)
- Light weight w batteries *23.7oz
- Video 1080i or 1080p
- RAW/DNG + jpg file formats
Mon 1/9 - First thing this morning I took my van to Auto Tune for an oil change. They also replaced the top radiator hose, which was cracked.
- The charger block for an old reciprocating kite pump I have has a good 3-stage charging feature with a tri-color LED indicator light. Cool, except its plug is for foreign outlets. By the time you add an adapter, it is falling out of the electrical socket and pretty ungainly. I took the charger apart, having to cut out the screw slots for a flat-blade screwdriver, sawed off the plug and installed a Cord in its place. It is a good 1-amp charger for any lead-acid battery and will be good for charging up my new dual-mode kite pump.
Honda Acura NSX
Tue 1/10 - Today I rode in a yellow Honda Acura NSX: a real sports car. Steve, whom I met at
Fitness took me around the block. What a ride!
- For my van's
battery, I reattached the rear fuse block. This time securely with toggle bolts rather than the plastic anchors that were not designed to hold on a thin surface.
- I have been toughening myself up for my Philippine kiteboarding trip. That involves rubbing my feet and toes where they tend to get blisters from footstraps, hanging and jiggling around in my harness from the lag screw in my master bedroom ceiling, beating my chest and ribs, wearing my booties and sandals around the house and working out at the gym (which I do year-round anyway).
Wed 1/11 - Most of this morning was spent preparing for my big afternoon/evening trip. I read some of its instruction booklet (from my computer's Instructions
folder, of course) practiced set-ups and taking pictures with my
- fancy camera
- Canon Power Shot SX20-IS
(the old one I decided to not replace).
- For the trip, I stopped by a Goodwill looking for a ribbon cable, on the way to the Desert Botanical Gardens where I took a bunch of photos - of me with a desert/cactus background. Hopefully one will provide me with an update for my website photo. Then on to Circuit Specialists
in Mesa to pick their brains some more and get some parts for monitoring my van's
battery. They certainly have been helpful and I would recommend them. Then on to LA Fitness on Southern, and then on to Gangplank. The neat thing there is a group had their Makerbot operating. Last week it was just a kit with a bunch of pieces. Tonight it was making things like a bottle opener and a small human scull.
Thu 1/12 - My new Liquid Force
bag arrived today. At 7 lb 14 oz, it is 1.5 lb lighter than my big Cabrinha bag (the one I use with my surfboard) and 3.3 lb lighter than my Liquid Force bag (my oldest one). Although the new bag is a little smaller, will hold more weight and hopefully make my air travels easier.
- I know I am getting too busy when I start forgetting things. This time it was poor Mildred. About 5pm I scooted over to her house to help her with her computer after I received a voice mail from her wondering why I had not showed up at 3:30 as scheduled. (Ugh)!
Fri 1/13 - Big day today, including oral surgery. I was ahead of schedule the whole day and did not forget anything. Here's the way the day went:
- 8:20 to Ace Hardware to exchange three 2" toggle bolts for 3" ones
- Stopped by Safeway for oranges that were on sale - enough to last me until I leave for the Philippines
- 8:50 to of Tod Barlow's, where I had time to use the toggle bolts to anchor the shunt in the back of my van before knocking on his door at exactly 9:00 as scheduled so he could help me fabricate a custom ground cable to the shunt.
- Home to fix lunch
- To my oral surgeon's, eating lunch on the way (don't worry, I can eat a sandwich and focus on my driving at the same time) and arriving early enough to floss and brush my teeth in my van before going in early for the 12:30 an implantation where he took out my baby tooth on November 21st. We are doing this without systemic antibiotics, which I appreciate: using an antibiotic mouth rinse instead.
- Home to take it easy the rest of the day and to make smoothies for supper: green beans, a hot dog with all the trimmings and a PBJ sandwich.
Sat 1/14 - Today I payed off four credit cards: two that I use twice a year, one I use for online purchases and one for walking around purchases. I will not be using the walking around card (Capital One) until the Philippines. I am saving its entire credit limit for the Philippines because the card has a zero foreign currency exchange rate, but not a very high credit limit. I got my checking account resolved, a thorny task this time.
Sun 1/15 - Website improvements: 1) On my Lessons web page I added a photo of an amputee kiteboarding on Laguna Madre; 2) On my Smart Stuff web page I worked on a new FICO section in preparation for a presentation at Gangplank Wednesday.
- I phoned my nephew, Che, and I owe him and Edith $100 for doing Christmas for cash. That was my $100 challenge on Thanksgiving Day. They accepted the challenge and were successful!
- I converted the schematic diagrams to semi-pictorial for my van's
Mon 1/16 - Did the final grocery shopping before my trip - with Mildred. This is the first time she actually bought lots of groceries, having said her cupboards were empty. In the past she has said she goes shopping just to get out of the house, which she calls her prison.
- I believe my allergist office is having a little trouble keeping it together. The office staff had insisted on scheduling me for another
- Pulmonary Function Test
test, in spite of having taken one less than two weeks ago. Today I received conflicting phone calls, one saying I would not need to come in for another PFT as scheduled and then second phone call confirming the PFT appointment which the first phone call said I did not need. At least my allergies and asthma seem to be under control.
- My countdown-to-kiteboarding went into high gear today, with only a week until departure.
Tue 1/17 - Mostly getting ready for my trip with things like backing up computer files and imaging the drives to hard drives I keep in fireproof boxes in different closets around the house on a rotation schedule.
Wed 1/18 - As part of my van's
battery project I temporarily hooked my Micronta digital multimeter to the shunt so it directly reads amps (on the 200 milliamp range). The highest current I have seen so far is about 42 amps when I started the van after running its refrigerator in freezer mode all night. After a short drive the current tapers off to about 15 amps, and then eventually to 3 A, with the LiFeMnPO showing about 13.8 volts.
- Cuz it needed it due to a film all over and to make me feel good, I scrubbed my van's tires' white letters and washed it - success on both counts.
- Gangplank is conducting Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University on DVD, which does awesome things to help people get out of debt with worksheets, accountability etc. It also encourages (actually requires) the participants to cut up their credit cards and close the accounts, which drastically effects their FICO credit score, typically leads to higher insurance premiums for auto, home etc., their ability to get bridge loans to help them get out from under car payments etc., and frequently effects their ability to get a job or to rent an apartment Tonight, in about five minutes, I presented
outlining the above. Don't get me wrong, credit cards are like a millstone around some peoples' necks. Just don't close the credit card accounts and only use the cards a couple times a year for piddly purchases. You can find my information on FICO here
on my Smart Stuff web page.
- Also I got my image uploaded so the new one appears at the top of all my web pages.
Thur 1/19 - Today did my last laundry before my Philippines trip and finally got my library futon ready with clean sheets for my next guests, whoever that may be.
- I had invited
- Harold Hayes
- my X brother-in-law
over his evening. so he showed up on his side-car Harley. We both are techies. I showed off my helicopter and we talked
monitoring circuitry. We had fun
Fri 1/20 - Today coveted page the contents to a pull-down menu and it only took 12.5 minutes! Also I edited a talk show segment in which Dave Ramsey gave a man advice on giving money and when it helps people. Look for the segment on my Smart Stuff web page in the future.
Sat 1/21 - Today was having an excellent lunch with
- George and Cindy
- younger brother who lives in Mesa and his wife
at Scottsdale Sweet Tomatoes (also exchanged external hard drives for my off-site backups), serious packing for the Philippines and the Hamfeast at a gyro's place
- I finally cleaned up one of the worst messes in history. A polyethylene bottle of oil-based ink let the tar component of the ink seep through by osmosis during my last spring/summer trip. The sticky, gooey substance was under containers on my workbench shelf, ran down the side of my power supply, around on the bottom of the power supply, then down a plastic drawer set, down to the workbench around the base of the drawer set into some wires and onto a sheet of note paper. Then it solidified - almost and became a substance that could not be wiped up with paper towels without tearing the paper towels. About two hours of wiping, rubbing, mineral spirits, rinsing and acetone finally took care of most of the mess. I decided that I was not going to come home to the sight
Sun 1/22 - Final packing and weighing my bags and scheduling for SuperShuttle pickup tomorrow morning at 4:25 AM
. Got $3.00 off with a coupon code I found with Goggle!
Mon 1/23 - What a messy way to start a trip, thanks to Hawaiian Airlines (HAL) I had packed my
bag conservatively at 52 pounds, and was way under my 70-pound allowance from Hawaii to Manila according to their website, and for the entire trip according to their phone agent who explained that the entire trip counted as international. Not so at the ticket counter this morning, where they said I was 2 lb over the 50-lb limit which had been in effect for about two years. Taking out two pounds was not easy. If I moved my 16oz sunscreen and two 6oz insect repellents to my carry-on it would just about make the two pounds, but then I would be over the TSA limit for liquids and gels! After about an hour I got it all worked out, but it wasn't easy. Here I am, now spouting off in Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal One at Gate 5 waiting for the flight.
Tue 1/24 - The rest of the flights went well, landing in Manila
at 6:03pm local time Tuesday, which was 3:06am Tuesday Phoenix time, about 23 hours after I left home. Immigration and customs went as smoothly as could be expected. I overpaid a little for a taxi to my overnight hotel, Pension Natividad, recommended by
- my niece in the Peace Corps here in the Philippines
where the night is
- 1,100 Philippine pesos, or $25 US dollars
for a single room with a fan and private bath and shower. Pension Natividad is where Peace Corps people, and back-packers go. They have cell phone SIM cards and lots of good information - espicially for the economy minded.
Wed 1/25 - My new little Remington MSC-140 Titanium 3v shaver that operates on two AA cells has no trimmer so long hairs on my neck and other places can be a problem. Attempting to catch the hairs before they get long, I am now shaving twice a day with the little $10 Remington.
- I walked about three blocks from Pension Natividad to a bank where I got
- 10,000 Philippine pesos, or $233 US dollars
What an interesting walk with all the street vendors and other sights and sounds in a third-world country.
- I knew the
ride back to the airport was going to be interesting when the driver had to tweak something under the hood to get his beat-up auto working properly and the transmission sounded like a grinding machine in low gear. I hoped we would make to the airport, even on time, especially considering the heavy traffic. We DID. My Philippine Airlines flight arrived at the Kalibo
- They were pretty well organized in Getting from Airport to Boracay; I paid Pp200 for a van (vs $300 for a bus) to Cataclan
. I was the only English speaker of the nine people in the van. The rest were Chinese with no knowledge of the English Language. We had a good time during the 2-hour drive. Later I realized it was the end of the Chinese New Year and that was why it seemed all the tourists was Chinese.
- After a security screening we walked a wooden plank to board a
- Banca Boat
- long skinny boat with outriggers
for a 20-minute cruise to Boracay
. Then by
- motorcycle with a side car
to the closest road to Surfer's Home. With short walk along Bulabog Beach I was home
with a warm reception. Above the bar they had a kite board hanging and on it was printed:
Surfer's Home team
Thu 1/26 - Some people drink the tap water here at Surfer's Home and some don't. For economy and convenience,I started a scheme for drinking the water. Every 6 to 12 hours I would increase my intake of the water as follows:
- Did a swish and spit
- Drank one cap full
- Drank two caps full
- Swallowed my pills with it
- Took two swallows
- Took four swallows, about 2 ounces
- Three ounces
- You get the picture
- After about five days I will be drinking tap water exclusively.
- Kiting? I went out for two sessions with on-shore winds with a slight left-side-shore component on my 8m Best Nemesis and 130 cm Lite Wave Stealth twin-tip board (the only board I brought with me on the trip). With an average wind speed of 22mph with gusts to 27, one of the shops recommended that I wait until a day with less wind before going out. Little did he know me. I went out in the gustier-than-average winds and had fun, working on my jumps and throwing in some kite loops.
- This evening I walked to De Mall. What a place - chock full of people and also (mostly little) shops. It is a mostly unpaved open-air mall with hundreds of shops of all sorts, and even a Ferris Wheel. For supper I had a delicious Fe-let Minion (their last one) and met a young (mid 20's) Chinese lad who likes to save up his money and travel the world.
Fri 1/27 - This morning I walked to De Mall, bought some groceries there at Crafts Market,bought a SIM card for Pp50, loaded it with Pp300 and activated my GSM phone with a little help from the PabloBros Cell Phone Store. How? by sending a text message from my phone to my phone - my first ever text message!
- Had a short, half hour, kiting session before sunset with my 8m kite and low tide, which means shallow water way out with coral scattered on the bottom. I scraped a little spot of skin off my left longest toe, which will require a little attention and an occlusive bandage, which I brought with me. Other than the wind being gusty it was a good session, with numerous kite loops with transitions. GPS showed me out 23 minutes, going 3.18 miles and a maximum speed of 17.0 mph in the choppy waters.
- Dinner tonight was refrigerator Fe-let Minion and salad left-overs from last night.
Sat 1/28 Didn't get on the water until a little after five this afternoon. This morning I had the perfect plan to pump up my 14 m Cabrinha Contra and ride down the beach and visit the rest of the kiteboard shops to the south. The kite was unusable with a pulley that had broken, evidently on its last time out. I left my stuff out on the beach, mostly out of the way of other kiteboarders and the flooding tide, thinking I could find a pulley at a near by shop. Not smart because I ended up walking all the way down the beach, visiting the rest of the shops and finding stainless steel glides as a pulley replacement at the farthest shop: Pp1000 for a pair. I had to then walk back up to Surfer's Home to get my wallet, while my kite, board and lines were out in the cloudy sun. I DID have a pretty good session when I finally DID get out - jumps were puny, but I did most of my jibes with kite loops and even a couple jumps with kite loops.
Dinner at Pinoy Delight Rejto, a little nearby hole-in-the-wall restaurant opened almost a year ago by Dolly and her boyfriend, Benz: good, economical food. My table was nicely painted 1/4 inch plywood and 2x4's.
Sun 1/29 - Today was a good day to catch up on website stuff like gathering and correlating information about the 10 shops on Bulabog Beach for my Shops & Links web page. After breakfast the wind averaged 7, gusting to 8 mph. By early afternoon it had increased to 11, gusting to 13 - ideal for my 15m Epic Infinity and Naish Custom Fish 5’2” x 17.5” surfboard without footstraps - both of which are back home in Phoenix, Arizona. I tried it with my 12m Cabrinha Switchblade-4 and 130 cm Lite Wave Stealth twin-tip board but could not go enough to get away from shore, as the wind was its predominate direction of mostly on-shore with a little side component from the left. Also it was high tide, meaning almost no beach. Unlike one kiteboarder I at least kept my kite out of the palm trees, although it frequently got in their shadow and kissed one of the palm trees. After that excursion I took a shower and prepared for my evening outing.
- This evening I bought some plastic coat hangers, a pear of scissors and a two-pack of safety razors (to take care of long hairs on my neck and other places).
- Ate supper at Hobbit House
restaurant which is in De Mall. Enough good food for two nights. All the waiters and waitresses are midgets (short people, to be politically correct). I counted about six of 'em. My waitress/waiter (hard to tell which) was just a little over three feet tall. Later, to balance out my diet, I had a cup of
vegetables in my room.
Mon 1/30 - Today's wind was only a little better than yesterday's, but that was good enough to put around 50 kiters on the water, in spite of the non-existent but dirty beach, at high tide, cluttered with sticks, palm branches, coconuts that had been washed up. Instead of their usual beach, Tomog Kiteboarding had waves lapping at their retaining wall. Stretching lines, pumping up and launching was a challenge, almost against the palm trees. In fact three kiters did
get their kites into the trees. I rode almost two hours, covered a little over 16 miles and had a top speed of a little over 16 mph.
- Dinner tonight was leftovers from last night's Hobbit House.
Tue 1/31 - Today I mostly chased the wind and chased down the Internet.
- For the past several days I have been working on a new Philippines Boracay section for my Shops & Links web page, visiting the shops up and down Bulabog Beach, collecting names, phone numbers and URLs and putting it all together. I got the section complete enough to upload the new SHOPS page so the Philippine information would be usable to others and me after final testing of all the links, although the section is still
This could not be accomplished without an Internet connection and the WiFi at Surfers Home has been down for the last couple of days.
- Here's where chasing the Internet came in. I walked down the beach to the Timog Kiteboarding Center, the first one south, and used their WiFi until it went out due to a power failure. Then on down to Isla Kitesurfing, the next shop, and used their WiFi to finish checking out the links and get the revised SHOPS web page uploaded with the new Philippines section - still under construction. I also used the Internet connection to gather logos for the shops, catch up on my emails and check my checking account.
- Chasing the wind this afternoon was an exercise in futility, with a consistent but directly on-shore breeze of about 12 mph. My session took 23 minutes and covered 1.07 miles (much of that distance was me walking out from shore before trying again) and had a maximum speed of 13.7 mph. If the area was not cluttered with instructors giving lessons think I could have taken a long tack and could have gotten out to the open water. However, it was
a good day for students and instructors.
- Delicious dinner tonight was chicken/vegetable Curry and a fruit/vegetable salad at the Isla Kitesurfing restaurant/bar.