Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shiloh Labradors

I've been spending some time lately doing some minor website updates for I'm planning a complete revamp of the entire site for sometime in 2010. In the meantime, I've created a Facebook page. The primary attraction at the moment is the album of puppy pictures.
More pictures will be coming soon on Facebook. More dog profiles and pedigrees will be added in early 2010. 2010 will also bring lots of new puppies!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NKF Pro Am Surf Festival, Labor day 2009

The National Kidney Foundation of Florida held their Pro Am Surf Festival this past Labor day weekend.I was able to catch the tail end of the awards ceremony on Labor Day, but the rest of the weekend I was busy doing my own surfing since the waves were so good.

Hurricane Bill hits the Space Coast

Category 4 Hurricane Bill passed just off of the East Coast, past Bermuda, and up towards Eastern Canada. Here are some shots from 2nd Light at Patrick's AFB.

A daunting paddle out into the overhead+ waves.
Good looking non-set waves.
Preparing for take off.
Another wave hits the rip and turns into a torrent of whitewash.
Surfing high on the face of a 12 footer.
Dropping into an 8 footer.
and shredding it!
Lots of empty waves breaking down the line.The part of mother nature you want to avoid: 12 foot closeout!

Pictures taken by myself. Surfers unknown. This was on Saturday morning of Bill after I got rejected from paddling out (at another smaller break). Friday night was even bigger (ahead of forecasts) but I didn't have my camera and the best of it was near Dusk when the lighting was poor.

I didn't get any shots of Danny (mostly because I was surfing it). Waiting on Grace now...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fantasy Football 2009!

I'm looking for about 4 more players for my Yahoo Fantasy Football league this year. Live scoring is free this year as is the entire league.

You don't need experience and you don't need to be a football expert, just a casual fan. It only takes about 15 minutes a week to set your players. Please message me for an invite.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

I found this to be so appropriate for issues that are being seen today in the US and Peru.

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man can't make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey"

- John Ruskin, 1819-1900.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Factoid of the day

Mark your calendars for the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies! It is our closest neighboring galaxy at only 2.5 million light years away. It is the farthest away light that you can see with a naked eye from Earth (binoculars or home telescope).
Image of Andromeda Galaxy (M31) taken by Spitzer in infrared

The Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are approaching one another at a speed of 100 to 140 kilometers per second (223,200–313,200mph). The collision is predicted to occur in about 2.5 billion years. In that case the two galaxies will likely merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy. Such events are frequent among the galaxies in galaxy groups. At least one scientist believes the collision could destroy the earth or hurl the Solar System out into inter galactic space.

For a general sense of the time involved, it is believed that Earth and the sun are around 4 billion years old and that the measurable universe is around 13 billion years old.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Factoid of the day

In Saudi Arabia, they found the fossil of a giant mushroom that was 20 feet tall. It lived 350 million years ago. Scientists believe it was the largest living thing on the planet at that time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuk Tuk USA!

If you've ever traveled internationally, you have no doubt seen a Tuk Tuk before. You perhaps even dreamed about owning one and driving it down your hometown streets. Well now that dream can become a reality!

Tuk Tuks have come to the USA!

Just don't let the police or taxi cab drivers see you cruising around for fares.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Atlantis ready to launch tomorrow

The shuttle program has been extended a bit longer. Today they announced that there is a "a 90 percent chance to launch Atlantis at 2:01 p.m. EDT tomorrow". This mission is to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

During the 11-day mission's five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.

In addition to the originally scheduled work, Atlantis also will carry a replacement Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit for Hubble. Astronauts will install the unit on the telescope, removing the one that stopped working on Sept. 27, 2008, delaying the servicing mission until the replacement was ready.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. The outnumbered Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army that had not been defeated in almost 50 years.

Cinco de Mayo is not "an obligatory federal holiday" in Mexico, but rather a holiday that can be observed voluntarily.

While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. A common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day, which actually is September 16 (dieciséis de septiembre in Spanish), the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

From Wikipedia.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tampa Rays

I managed to get over to Tampa last weekend to see the Rays play the White Sox. It was part of Championship week for Tampa, a celebration of their American League Championship last year. They gave out replica American League Trophies.
Someone's car majorly caught fire on I-4.
The police and fire response hard at work.As you can see at the bottom, the Trop is in St. Petersburg, not Tampa.
After years of being the worst team in MLB, they claimed the ALCS trophy in 2008.The big screen in right center field, very good resolution.Tampa Rays taking batting practice.Chicago White Sox taking BP. They were jacking balls over the wall in LF.The hanging speakers and lights, where so many balls go wrong.The big screen and the sponsor of the Trop.Awki at the plate.The bullpen waiting for their turn.
The foul poul is normal. The 2 hanging foul "stakes" are pretty strange.

Scott Kazmir, one of Tampa's best pitchers, started the game with 10 straight balls and walked the first 3 batters. There was a huge cheer when he actually threw a strike. He was extremely lucky to get out of the inning giving up only 2 runs. He only made it through 4 innings after 6 walks and 6 earned runs.

Needless to say things were ugly for the Rays. Perhaps they are looking to return to the cellar again for 2009. Chicago cruised to a fairly easy win and showed a good bit of power with homeruns from Quentin and Konerko. Game Recap and Box Score here.

The Trop was pretty comfortable. It is great to have AC on a hot Tampa Bay day. My biggest complaint was the $15 parking for a game that was only $20 to get into. They had a stingray tank, but the line was pretty long. I didn't want to miss BP or the game to see more stingrays. Some of the food was good (rice and beans, empanadas) but the cheesesteak was horrible.

Overall a decent trip and a good ballpark considering where it is located. The Rays are really not starting strong this year though. Hopefully I can catch a RedSox game later on.

Happy Earth Day!

Take a look at this article that lists a number of surprising and terrifying predictions about climate change in 1970!

We still do not understand how the sun works. We still do not understand how the oceans work. We still have extremely limited data on most all natural events on this planet. It is like a young child trying to predict the future of NYC accurately 200 years in advance. The planet is billions of years old and we've been around less than ten thousand years.

We are learning at a rapid rate. With new knowledge there is always a deluge of people who want to twist it to press their agenda and prophesize the future of mankind. That is why things like Wikipedia, Discovery, History Channel, Itunes U, etc are so powerful. They keep a small portion of the population from monopolizing knowledge, something that has always caused problems for mankind. Of course it is still a problem for a portion of mankind (Cuba, North Korea, and others).

Hopefully everyone survived Earth Day without having a heart attack or break down caused by fear mongering speculators.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Locked Up Abroad: Cuzco

National Geographic has begun the new season of their show Locked Up Abroad. In the last few weeks they have aired two shows about people (US and UK) who have been thrown into Peruvian jails. A couple of weeks ago they aired the story of Simon Burke. It was titled "Locked Up Abroad: Cuzco".

In December of 2008, I was surprised to see this article on Living in Peru. I wasn't sure of the details at the time, but getting thrown in Peruvian jail because you were a boyfriend/girlfriend of someone who did something illegal without your knowledge seemed pretty scary to me. At the time, Living in Peru reported that "British citizen Simon Burke can now go home a free man and spend the holiday season with his family".

This statement was mistaken and published a bit too soon. Simon was released from the overcrowded prison in Callao. Before his passport was returned and he was allowed to go home, the prosecution appealed (I have no idea on what grounds). This appeal is expected to take until May 2009 to be heard and ruled on. During that time, Simon cannot leave Peru and the government of Peru continues to hold his passport. As far as I know, he does not have a work Visa for Peru. So he may be stuck in Peru; unable to legally work to support himself.

You can find some of the videos that cover the show here. But the basic idea is that his girlfriend of some number of months, invited him to Peru with her. Drug smuggling by single women is very common in Peru, so she brought him to reduce suspicion.

While in Cuzco, she had people line her bags with cocaine (not his) while she distracted him. She was caught while checking her bags onto her flight in Lima (they were not detected on the flight from Cuzco to Lima). They found her kilos of cocaine and a fake passport and arrested her. They also arrested and questioned Simon because he was seen entering the airport with her. His bags contained no cocaine and his passport was legal.

She was thrown into a minimum security woman's prison in Chorillos (the kind that has fashion shows). Simon was thrown into an overcrowded, extremely dangerous prison in Callao. Gangs run the prison and assaults are common and not punished. Mostly the guards just make sure that no one gets out... needless to say white meat is very rare inside those walls.

Simon's family and friends have a Facebook page here. I wouldn't encourage anyone to donate money, but certainly it is a frightening story. Anyone traveling abroad should take notice. It has been over 2 years since Simon left the UK for a short vacation to see Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

I have requested that Living in Peru post another news update to correct their previous mistake and update this story. But that has not happened yet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Discovery Shuttle Launch!

On March 15th, I was able to get over to Cocoa Beach to see the STS-119 mission launch. Discovery is scheduled to land here at Kennedy Space Center once again on March 28th.

There was a last minute surprise for the launch team. A free tail bat landed on the foam of the shuttle's external fuel tank. Apparently from the report, the bat did not get scared off by the lights or sirens designed to scare away birds and animals before the launch. They decided to go ahead with the launch as the bat posed no serious problem.

They had infrared heat sensors watching the bat on take off. I guess he didn't cook as expected though. Pre-launch he remained at 60 F and post-launch it only heated up to 70 F. I guess the speed and thrust of the shuttle and pushes the heat a good distance away from it. There are pictures here.
I surfed in the morning, but the afternoon winds picked up.
People lined up for 20+ miles along the beaches to see the launch. South view.
There was a bit of humidity in the air, which limited the visibility. North view.But it was a beautiful night for a launch. Jets passing by.Yes, it did look as bright as the sun!It wasn't as loud as I had expected though.But that might have been in part to do with the strong winds out of the south and the nearby waves breaking.The trail finally reaches up into the sunlight.Many of the NASA ground crew commented in later interviews that this was the most beautiful shuttle launch that they had ever seen.Here it switches to the primary booster tank which burns bright white.The previous two tanks, which burned the bright orange, fall away (left) from the shuttle (right).The smoke trails remained in the sky for over an hour. They were beautiful in the sunlight.Everything went right.
The last shot with the shuttle visible (barely), somewhere around New Jersey.The show was over pretty quickly (30 mins at most).

A lot of people treat it like a football game. They find their parking spots hours in advance and break out their BBQs and coolers. It would be a good idea for leaving too, the traffic and parking was also like a football game.

There must have been at least a few hundred thousand people watching the launch in person. I heard that you can see the shuttle launch from Orlando and up much of the East Coast.

Part of the draw for this event was that it may be the last ever space Shuttle launch. The program is going to be re-engineered. They have learned a lot from these shuttles and they want to build newer, more sturdy, more reliable, more efficient space vehicles. The International Space Station will continue to be manned, supplied, etc via rockets.

In addition it is Spring Break now. So many families and their children are here in Florida enjoying the beaches.

The shuttle landing will be at 1:43 p.m. EDT, so I doubt there will be much to see. Most of the fire and light display will be somewhere over Texas and Louisiana. By the time the shuttle reaches Kennedy, it should be flying just like a normal plane.

It was quite an experience and I am extremely glad that I got the chance to see it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Peru registers 5,000 cases of dengue fever in past two months

Xiong Tong

Peru registered 5,000 cases of dengue fever during January and February, which has become a public health problem, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte said on Monday.

Ugarte told the press that 13,500 people were infected last year.

He announced the launching of a campaign against dengue designed to raise public awareness of the importance of clearing stagnant water or hidden water deposits where the Aedes egypti mosquito, a dengue carrier, breeds.

"We have an enormous responsibility to combat dengue because it is lethal ... a high social cost on human lives," Ugarte said.

He said combating dengue was easy. Daily actions were needed to avoid water stagnating in topless containers, and replacing water in flowerpots with humid sand both at home and at public places.

Ugarte also called on Peruvians to clear roofs or yards of tires, empty bottles or boxes where rainwater can accumulate.

"It is a national campaign. If we do not take measures now, we will have an epidemic," he said.

I posted about the dengue outbreak in Bolivia in January. Now some surprising numbers are coming out of Peru on dengue. If you are planning travel to the eastern side of the Andes, you better study up on the symptoms and treatment of dengue fever. Better yet, wait until winter (June-Sept) before heading into these areas.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Students celebrate science at Disney

From the Disney Portal:

Students from Orlando's Pineloch and Richmond Heights elementary schools enjoyed a special treat at Epcot Feb. 19, in celebration of National Engineers Week.

The children learned about careers in engineering and the use of engineering technology in everyday life by participating in several demonstrations and experiments, and riding several attractions.

For the last nine years, Innoventions at Epcot has been the site of this annual event, with IBM as the oldest partner. The program included presentations from IBM, Underwriters Laboratories, Velcro Companies, General Motors, Raytheon and the University of Central Florida.

"This is the longest and strongest program here at Innoventions that touches many Guests, especially children, and I believe we really make a difference," said Linda Reda, IBM exhibit manager. "IBM is committed to continuing this very important program, hoping to inspire a love for math and science, and cultivate the future leaders of the engineering world."

This year was also the first time Orlando's urban schools were invited, with the mission to spread the excitement of engineering, math and science among children who don't normally receive the opportunity. The children learned how to make their own polymers, and used mathematical and engineering principles to make their own snow.

For many of these Disney first-timers and future engineers, the highlight was riding Mission: SPACE.

"My favorite part of riding the ride was when we turned backward and saw Earth from space and then we saw the future," said 4th grader Marquis Gonzalez. "I want to be the person who makes rides like that."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lack of rain could lead to 35% loss of harvest and blackouts in Arequipa

This article can be found here. Apparently many areas, especially the south, in Peru are seeing are large reduction in rainfall this year. This could be caused by a cooler ocean as most of this rain comes directly from the Pacific and the Humboldt current.

They are predicting that this lack of rainfall could lead to the loss of 35% of this summer's harvest (the primary harvest of the year).

They have also stated that they are only able to produce 30% of the normal hydroelectric energy at this time. If this continues there may have to be blackouts in Arequipa. As seen on this blog in the past, I have constantly criticized the electric company in Arequipa. It is a government run agency that has a complete monopoly and provides horrible service, worse than what was seen in the US 50 years ago. There have also been reports that they have hundreds of people on their active payroll that are either dead or retired. It is just a mess and needs to be denationalized.

They need to start looking at more sources of power like solar. It is sunny almost every day in Arequipa, there is no reason that solar power should only be used for heating your bath water.

The government needs to encourage companies to sell batteries and solar power systems that can be used to power an entire house. They also need to look into constructing solar power plants in these mountains.

Hydro power disrupts the local ecosystems that depend on the rivers. This leads to extinctions of species. It also is not reliable enough as the water supply is a constantly changing thing. This is especially true in Peru where past cultures like the Nazca people disappeared due to a change in their water supply. Another example where people need to learn from their own history.

Troopers in Peru now allowed to give out speeding tickets on the highway

Well after complaining about the safety of Peru's highways for months, it looks like something is finally changing. More information can be found in the article here. But the basic idea is that previously Peru's highway police (State Troopers called Carreteras in Peru) were not empowered/allowed to give out speeding tickets on Peru's highways. There is currently a push by the transportation ministry to make this happen. It is about time.

Normally on Peru's highways the speed limit is 90-100 Kmph, but I have frequently observed cars going over 200 Kmph right in front of the police. I previously blamed the lazy police who were always half asleep in their SUVs. They also did not patrol the highways. They just sat in small towns on the side of the road.

Apparently most all of these problems are caused by the government. The government only gives these highway police a very limited amount of gas/money for each day. So effective patrols are not possible. Also the troopers were not allowed to give out speeding tickets on the highways and they were not equipped with radars (no reason to use them). Finally there are very few troopers for such a large country.

All of these problems appear to be caused by the government rather than the actual police sleeping on the side of the road. It appears that they were asleep because they didn't really have a job that they could do. The only thing they could really enforce were dangerously overloaded trucks and actual collisions.

There are many bizare articles that come out of Peru, but for me this is certainly one of the most 'funny/sad/backwards'.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Emergency declared after 3 dengue deaths in Bolivia

The full news story is here. A few people have asked me about travel to Bolivia. I always caution against it due to the extreme political instability and lack of basic safety services. But if you are planning a trip soon, you will want to make sure you are familiar with the symptoms of Dengue Fever.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Apdayc Event Taxes In Peru

The website is here:

The observable interaction with this group for most foreigners is the following: If you have any kind of meeting or event w/ music (ie: company party, wedding reception, birthday party, etc), then you must register it with Apdayc and pay them a 15% flat tax for your event. The 15% is taken from the contracts you have with the music provider (band, DJ, etc), location (conf room, locale, site), and caterer (restaurant, caterer, etc).

Their website has a lot of information including some medical services that they provide for associates and workers of theirs.

They site Peruvian Law N° 822 which gives Apdayc the sole right to collect this tax. The law states that all musical works are the property of the author and composer of that work and anyone who uses that work must pay a tax to the author and composer. Apdayc is the only Peruvian entity that is allowed by law to collect this tax. Apdayc says that they represent 4,000 authors and composers in Peru. They also represent all other authors and composers in the world via their membership in CISAC.

Where does the money go? They say that most of it goes to Peruvian authors and composers and a small amount is used for administrative costs. This includes providing medical, dental, and funeral services to their members. They also mention payments to CISAC. They say that this money is monitored by INDECOPI.

Failure to pay this tax is punishable by closing down a locale after much legal paperwork. They say that legally they have the ability to close the locale and/or suspend the event if taxes are not paid. So any sort of restaurant, hotel, or other locale has an obligation to make sure that Apdayc is paid so that they don't get shut down.

Who pays? Of course this cost is directly passed off to the end user, you. In addition, the paperwork and transportation to/from Apdayc is also passed off on you. The locale simply makes you present your voucher from Apdayc when the event starts.

For what benefits are there in paying this tax? They list 'following the law' and the ability to use over 4 million musical works as the benefit.

Other parts of their site appear to propose/require taxes paid on music stored in cell phones, downloaded from the internet, or sold in MP3 format. They also have taxes that appear to be directed towards bus and airline companies who play music during transport.

How does this effect you?
From what I have read, seen, and been told, the only effect is that a locale will not allow the event to start without receiving the voucher from Apdayc that shows payment was completed. I don't see anything on their website directed at individuals, it mostly seems to be directed at extorting money from businesses and punishing them if they do not comply.

Helping hand to make sure poor artists are taken care of since copyright laws are not enforced? Or mafia using the law to 'legally' extort large fees beyond their rights?

You Can't Fire Me, I'm Drunk!

Wed Jan 14, 3:21 pm ET

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru's top court has ruled that workers cannot be fired for being drunk on the job, a decision that was criticized by the government on Wednesday for setting a dangerous precedent.

The Constitutional Tribunal ordered that Pablo Cayo be given his job back as a janitor for the municipality of Chorrillos, which fired him for being intoxicated at work.

The firing was excessive because even though Cayo was drunk, he did not offend or hurt anybody, Fernando Calle, one of the justices, said on Wednesday.

Calle said the court would not revise its decision, despite complaints from the government.

"It's not a good idea to relax rules at workplaces," said Labor Minister Jorge Villasante.

Celso Becerra, the administrative chief of Chorrillos, a suburb of Lima, denounced the ruling.

"We've fired four workers for showing up drunk, and two of them were drivers," he said. "How can we allow a drunk to work who might run somebody over?"

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Dana Ford)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cute Things Falling Asleep

Check out this blog to see some hilarious and very cute videos. What a great idea. As seen on CNN.