1 Down, 1 on Tow, 1 Soaring

November 19, 2017

Glider Tracks - 19 Nov 2017

Haven’t been this excited about relearning to soar since I booked the class. When I left the sport hand held GPS trackers made such maps possible. The price:fun ratio was too high so I never used one. Now in Australia all aircraft fly with transmitters and can be tracked on the web. Maybe I’ll be tempted to email or post (tweet? what’s that?) the registration numbers before an afternoon flight, so those who like watching paint dry can follow along.

Back when I was flying a hang glider and learning more about GPS, I found a site where people posted 2D tracks of their hikes, bike rides, boat trips, etc., like the one above. Such ground tracks were done with the only decent freeware program. A fellow hang glider pilot was also a rocket scientist at JPL. Using MATLAB (very expensive software) he posted 3D perspective views of his flight tracks on the club’s website. With his permission, I posted 2 on the GPS users site. “HOW CAN WE DO THIS?!” they asked.

The next day the creator of the freeware program posted a new version that did it. Only took changing a value from Zero to 1. Originally, he hadn’t implemented it because of the additional processing power needed. He changed it because he was a former hang glider pilot.






Adventures in Smartphone Shopping

October 12, 2017

My electronic retail experiences in Thailand have usually had some combination of random weirdness, salespeople lying blatantly, after carefully checking the features of a display model being told there is no more stock except the display model, etc. I wasn’t looking forward to buying a new phone.

On day 2 in Portugal, I managed to step on the earbud cord while moving self and phone from chair to bed. Earbuds survived, the headphone jack hasn’t worked since. Knew the phone I wanted was current version of my mute 2 year old phone. Knew I wanted a warranty valid in Thailand, so waited until jet lag wore off before buying one in Hua Hin.

Samsung made it difficult (with tongue in cheek). Where once there was one model, now there are four variations: Core, Prime, Pro, Plus (say that fast 3 times). Samsung’s website price for the Pro was 10,900 THB (~330 USD), but a promotion for the month of October dropped it to 9,900 (~300 USD). All the stores I checked had the 10,900 price, except 1 of the 2 official Samsung stores. I was wary because the 9,900 price was on a sign at the shop entrance, while the display model was the only one that didn’t have a price tag. First thing I did was ask. Answer was 8,900 (~270 USD). I didn’t understand. Didn’t have to because I’ve long since learned the meaning of the common expat one size fits all explanatory phrase: ‘This is Thailand’.

Fit to Travel?

September 18, 2017

Some expressed concern about my traveling so soon after getting off crutches. I’ve had zero problems with or limitations from my ankle.

As expected, there has been more fatigue than usual because I couldn’t do my usual pre-trip hill walking. So, also as expected, I’m doing less than usual each day. An unexpected benefit of the fatigue is I can’t remember the last time I had this many nights in a row of long, deep, satisfying sleep.

A word to you java junkies. Don’t think I’ve lessened my intake because of excellent sleep. Can’t pass up the wonderful blends of Brazilian and African coffee here. Can’t pass up one of the world’s best morning food combination, a Pastel de Nata (a egg tart pastry) and Uma Bica (an espresso) because, in the words of Elvis Costello:

Pump it up
until you can feel it
Pump it up
when you don’t really need it


Traveling Again

September 14, 2017

The irregular posts of questionable quality on this blog will be suspended for the duration of my current trip. Instead, I’ll be posting photos and descriptions of questionable quality on my 2 Project 365 albums.  One album is more of a travelog, the other is more pretentious. At this point, both suck equally. Once I stop spending most of my energy inside places that don’t allow photography, either the photos and descriptions will improve or I’ll find a new excuse.

Should I Stay or Should I Go, Round 2

September 6, 2017

I already know the answer. It stopped being a question this morning. I will cancel everything. I would have done it by now except this morning the internet is so slow the only pages that load, eventually, are 99% text.

So what changed my mind? What overruled my optimistic view of lack of fitness from walking only trivial distances without hills in the last 2 months, tight muscles and loss of range of motion in my right hip from using crutches, and not enough Spanish flash card practice (it’s widely useful at a basic level in Portugal)? I was either being realistic or pessimistic. I’ll never know which.


I wrote the above yesterday morning. After the usual morning stuff and a late breakfast out, I came home, looked at what I’d written and thought WTF? What was I thinking? For the want of some bandwidth, a trip was saved.

Oh goodie, because my fantasies about visiting this place once a day for the 5 days in Vienna were not wasted: Cakes and Pastries and Tartelettes, oh my! And I won’t forget the Strudel. It’s 300 meters from my hotel.


But wait, there’s more. Yesterday, between cancel related decisions, I revived the idea from last year of relearning to soar during a week in Australia. Gliders this time, not hang gliders. Only reason I didn’t do it last spring was they were sold out. So, today I booked airfare, flight school, and, as two 3 night bookends to the 7 day flight school, lodging in Melbourne for early Dec. Why? It will be fun. I can afford it. You can’t take it with you. And every year the unknown number of circles around the Sun you have left decreases by one, so carpe diem.



Should I Stay or Should I Go?

August 29, 2017

On the planned trip, that is. Decided to stay before I decided to go. Between a rapidly improving ankle, but almost no walking to build some endurance, it was iffy for a few days. Didn’t stop preparing because most things learned this time could be used next spring. Then I bit my tongue so bad it needed stitches.

Two of my heart meds are anticoagulants. My arteries thank them. When I am cut, I curse them for S L O  W clotting. Or should I say when I cut myself as when shaving. Or when paying so little attention while chewing that incisor met tongue when it was returning from dislodging food. After 20 minutes of non-trivial bleeding I decided it’s time to worry and started a stopwatch. An hour and 40 minutes later I was talking to an ER nurse. Doc sent me home with 2 stitches, meds, gauze pads, and instructions not to eat ‘hard’ foods and said the stitches would fall out in 2 weeks.

Doc should have told me, or I should have known that eating soft would have been better than not eating hard. Or maybe he’s bad at stitching tongues. Or it was a tough cut to stitch. Anyway, bleeding began during breakfast today, despite chewing only on the side away from the cut. Thirty five minutes of pressure with a gauze pad stopped the bleeding. Traveling with such bleeding potential was nuts, so the trip was off.

Then I realized the stitches had come out. Now it seems bleeding and clotting happened as expected because the holes were small. Twelve hours later and 3 small meals produced no more bleeding. I remembered and confirmed the tongue is the fastest healing part of the body. With 11 days left before the trip, I’ll check the healing daily and revisit the stay or go decision as needed. In the meantime, the trip is a Go.

Adios Photobucket

July 6, 2017


Somewhere in the Photobucket terms and conditions is says users can’t host photos for display on another website. Like this one. Recent photos and the oldest one, posted 8 years, 7 months, 24 days ago, display as expected. The others I checked were replaced with the above notice.

Photobucket seemed the best choice for my needs in 2008. In the early days of this journey, I didn’t have – or didn’t think to have – physical backups of my photos in the cloud. However, a change in their business model in 2012 made it obvious their user base was shrinking. So I downloaded everything and, since then, only sent copies to cloud photo services.

It would be easy to upload this blog’s photos to a different service. Changing the links on 511 photos, not so easy. I’m as likely to do that as I am to clean the floor of my apartment everyday. With a toothbrush.

There is another option. Pay $399 a year for a different Photobucket plan. Riiiiiight. Such pricing strikes me as an indirect way to rid themselves of unprofitable users.