Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cast Anchor

Two very Interesting days touring Ushuaia. Great mtns all around. Went to historic ranch on Beagle channel and to national park. Some rain. Snow two of three days. Will come again. Now on our luxury ship Corinthian II. We sail into Beagle channel then south soon. Very little posting expected.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buenos Aires to Fin del Mundo

We joined our tour group by moving to a top luxury hotel. Emprador was nice but Palacio Duhau is well above it. And in one of the best neighborhoods. The city tour sampled the neighborhoods. La Boca has houses in a variety of strong colors. The Recoleta cemetary has hundreds of ornate crypts I guess. Small buildings with underground entry burial places. Several interesting styles and ornate Today we flew to the south tip of So America to Ushuaia. Like SE Alaska. Rainey. Steep streets and lack of la d to build on. The ship we were to go on was damaged so Travel Dynamics added two days at their expense - room, meals and tours. Today fles and just walked the town. Different, but lots of tourist shops. A tour tomorrow. Another Sat. Then on the ship. It's not easy to type and to correct on the IPhone.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hola! Buenos Aires

A great city. We - four of our family - Are here on our way to Antarctica. Three days now and one at the end. We are in a luxury hotel near many of the top sites. Many cafes have free wifi but not this hotel. I am using At&t data roaming on my iPhone. Hasta ...My Spanish is very weak. Hey... They use different words than the Latin Am Spanish Rosetta Stone teaches - gaseosas vs refresco for soda pop. Update. I bought hand-made leather shoes for $35. We had dinner for four with six kinds of meat with wine, grilled veggies, salad and aperitif for $100 including service. OTOH In our hotel anything but dinner is very expensive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sweet new Mac

Following the sudden death of my Mac in the Pacific Ocean, I set off Monday morning for a quick post mortem, knowing it would end with a purchase. I was going to buy another MacBook. After two years they are a little more capable - especially the track pad - and a bit cheaper for more memory. My external backup hard drive uses the firewire interface and - surprise - the MacBook is less capable there; no longer offered. So - throw me into the briar patch - I had to buy a MacBook Pro. It's very nice and only $200 more. It's aluminum instead of plastic, like my PowerBook G4 of the past, has backlit keyboard, firewire 800, and probably better graphics processor. The display looks great. Sweet. But firewire 800 has a big disadvantage versus 400. FW 400 uses a sturdy connector with a metal sheaf that clicks firmly in. FW 800 has a cheap plastic connector that comes out easily. Data can be lost if the hard drive becomes disconnected. Bad design decision. --- I am frantically restoring my data from the Time Machine backup. It's strange because I have two administrator accounts that block each other from accessing their files. I am making slow progress. There must be a better way. I am even reading about the whole area of accounts and file permissions. Desperate, eh?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Death" - not really - in Cabo

Posting while in Cabo stopped suddenly. I had plenty of time and had found free internet for the price of a cup of espresso Americano. But my Mac tried to swim in the Pacific Ocean. Dead. Monday I am off to buy another. Two weeks of tropical sun was pretty nice. By the end I had enough of "sun by the pool." Actually I have never done that during our more than 20 trips to the tropics, except for the few trips I had to watch kids in the pool. I like long walks on a firm beach and I watch for whales while sitting in the shade. I will just have to adjust my activities. Learning Spanish did make it more interesting. I even used just a couple of words or a short phrase here and there - even our room number - in Spanish to keep up my practice.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

President Obama violates campaign promise for transparent healthcare debate

The health care revolution will not be televised despite what President Obama promised you two years ago. We are supposed to understand that campaign promises are temporary - just to fool us to vote for him. But then Nancy Pelosi takes over. President Obama falls short on campaign promise for transparent healthcare debate -
Obama has broken his campaign promises to make the health care debate a transparent process after saying he would do so on at least eight ocassions during his 2008 White House run. Instead, Obama prodded House and Senate Democrats to get him a final health care bill as soon as possible -- encouraging them on Tuesday night to go behind closed doors and skip the usual public negotiations between the two chambers in the interest of speed. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly told voters that the health care overhaul would take place in a public forum, most notably on C-SPAN, conservative bloggers pointed out today. In a video montage posted on, Obama is seen promising voters -- on eight different occasions -- that the health care debate would be transparent. For example, during a meeting with the editorial board of The San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 20, 2008, Obama said, "These neogtiations will be on C-SPAN, and so the public will be part of the conversation and will see the choices that are being made." In another clip, dated Nov. 14, 2008, Obama told voters that the process would be transparent. "We will work on this process publicly. It'll be on C-SPAN. It'll be streaming on the Internet," he said. This comes as Republicans seized on a Dec. 30 letter from the head of C-SPAN on Tuesday calling on congressional leaders to open the final talks to the public and cited Obama's campaign trail pledge to do just that. But Democrats have reacted defensively to criticism that they are taking the most crucial stage of the debate behind closed doors, contending they've conducted a transparent process with hundreds of public meetings and legislation posted online. Asked about that promise, Pelosi retorted, without elaboration, "There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail."
See a video at the link above and more at

TSA at SeaTac airport arrests blogger Yon for no reason

Michael Yon has been providing excellent, independent journalism from Iraq and Afghanistan for the past several years. He doesn't work for anyone. He asks readers to donate to his support. His blog Yon was questioned by the TSA at Sea-Tacoma International Airport. They asked him questions that have nothing to do with security and he didn't answer. Good for him. So they arrested him. Well, they say they didn't arrest him, They just handcuffed him and detained him. What's the difference? Big Government: Yon was returning to the United States from Hong Kong to visit family when TSA officials stopped him during a routine security checkpoint. “Officials asked me what was in my bag—nothing wrong with this question,” Yon said in an interview with “I told them it was normal stuff, clothes and toothbrushes.” At this point the TSA officials escorted Yon to a designated screening area where they examined the contents of his bag. “Then they asked me how much money I make,” Yon said. Yon suggested to the TSA officials that the question was inappropriate and unrelated to transportation security. The award-winning blogger noted another TSA officer approached Yon: “he asked who do I work for.” ”I did not answer the question which clearly was upsetting to the TSA officers.” Yon was escorted to a room elsewhere in the airport where he said he remained silent during much of the questioning. According to Yon, “they handcuffed me for failing to cooperate. They said I was impeding their ability to do their job.” Yon described the TSA officials as noticeably frustrated by his refusal to answer their questions: “I always assume everything is being recorded. I was trying to be professional.” Yon continued, “They said I wasn’t under arrest, but I’m handcuffed. In any other country, that qualifies as an arrest.” Ultimately Port Authority police released Yon; according to Yon, the police were “completely professional.”

This year's Darwin Award - double winner

The Darwin Award is for a person who removes his genes from the future gene pool by stupidly killing himself. It should only apply to those of the child-bearing age. I don't know if they use that criterion. Seattle Times Newspaper: The winner for 2009 was a rare Double Darwin, says Wendy Northcutt of the Darwin Awards, and is awarded for a crime gone awry in Belgium. On Sept. 26, a pair of would-be thieves hatched a plan to withdraw cash from an ATM machine by using dynamite. "They overestimated the quantity of dynamite needed for the explosion," the citation notes dryly. "The blast demolished the building the bank was housed in." Rescue workers rushed one bomb burglar to the hospital, where he died on arrival. They assumed the second got away until finding his body in the rubble hours later. No one else was in the building at the time of the blast.

Monday, January 04, 2010


We came to Cabo San Lucas Saturday. Our second trip. It's a beautiful place. But complex, being in Mexico. So you either spend a lot of money or figure things out on your own. My recent study of Spanish is helping already us with resort staff and out on our own. Eating in a restaurant for the locals we got breakfast with table service for $10 including tip. Top photo [has been removed] is the arch at the end of Baja California, which is less than a mile from our resort. Bottom is Playa Grande, our resort, at sunrise on the beach which is on the Pacific Ocean.

Update: The water of the Pacific Ocean is not safe for swimming. The Sea of Cortez is safe. But from Playa Grande, even though the harbor is within a few blocks, the nearest swimming beach is a 4-mile drive or $5 boat ride across the harbor. Click photo to enlarge.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Russia in the last years of the czars

Make an online visit to this stunning photographic portrait of early-20th Century Russia. Denver Post: Color Photography from Russia in the Early 1900s The photographs of Russian chemist and photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, show Russia on the eve of World War I and the coming of the revolution. From 1909-1912 and again in 1915, Prokudin-Gorskii travelled across the Russian Empire, documenting life, landscapes and the work of Russain people. His images were to be a photographic survey of the time. He travelled in a special train car transformed into a dark room to process his special process of creating color images, a technology that was in its infancy in the early 1900’s. Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution had destroyed the Empire he spent years documenting. To learn more about the Prokudin-Gorskii, the process he used to create the color photographs, and see his collection, you can visit the Library of Congress, who purchased his glass negatives in 1948 after his death in 1944. The photo is labeled "Dagestani types, Man and woman posed outdoors; between 1905 and 1915 Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection." Click to enlarge.

The poorest defense of a poor performance

David Broder wrote the lamest defense of a policy person I have ever seen today. Washington Post

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went on at least three of the Sunday snoozers last week to proclaim "The system worked." It didn't. The traveling public saved the aircraft, not the thousands of well-paid, full-time civil servants she employs. Her system failed.


The next day she was backtracking saying "My comments were taken out of context." They were not. Of course she moved the playing field. Monday she said that Sunday she was talking about the response after the attack - not preventing it.

Then she flipflopped: "the system didn't work."

Broder mentions her Sunday performance in passing. He doesn't look at how ridiculous her words were. But he went on to observe how cool she looked. She must have been up half the night; tired. But she looked good.

If you want cool in front of the television cameras instead of competent, you have it - 0bama and Janet Incompetano. But get used to attacks on our soil and successful ones followed by cool responses from politicians who take no responsibility for their own actions. And they will still blame President George W. Bush.