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.






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.

This Blog Ain’t Dead Yet

June 26, 2017

Moribund, but not dead. I’ll revive it for a possibly too detailed account of the quest for a residence visa to where ever the next country is. Portugal looked good enough on first impression. I’m headed back for 2 weeks in Sept, by way of Vienna, to venture into the suburbs of Porto and Lisbon so as to simulate some day to day resident behavior.

In the meantime, here are Ideas for blog posts I rejected almost as fast as they appeared.


Also known as cholesterol in saturated fat.



No one cares this lie flat airline seat has a cubby hole for your shoes.



Top can has 3 big sardines. Bottom can has “12-22” svelte, pliant ones. They’ve only been sold in Hua Hin for a few months. They are far less likely to trigger my stomach acid problems, so I’m stockpiling them. Why? Calcium and heart-healthy oils.



Sprained my right ankle. Got a Slab put on today. It’s rigid cast material that runs down the calf to the heel, then across sole to in front of toes. Front is open so I can remove it to shower. It’s held on by an Ace bandage. Crutches are going to suck.



I passed on buying this in Portugal because I thought the fun would immediately wear off unless one was drunk enough.

2017 Shoehorned Sandwich

February 12, 2017

My trip folder names are boring. 2014 Fall – Japan, for example. I broke the pattern with 2015 Fall – Slovenian Splurge because it just fit. The trip formerly known as 2017 Spring – Portugal has become 2017 Shoehorned Sandwich.

May looked good for Portugal because it warms up and dries out as Spring progresses (duh, just like most places). My stopover city on the way home, Paris, is less desirable in late May because the French Open adds demand for accommodations. Who knew Springtime in Paris was a thing?

Google Images of Paris parks in Spring http://bit.ly/2kWhnSw

So I shoehorned the trip between the start of the Open, and a date reached by subtracting the number of nights I wanted in Portugal and Paris. I can’t remember doing such precise travel date setting since retiring, except when traveling with a friend from the US of A.

What about the Sandwich?  I’ve kept trying and failing to add more unplanned days to my trips. Actually, more nights without booked places to sleep. I started planning this trip with the best of intentions: book 1 night before and after flights. Immediately remembered budget places near metro stations in Paris sell out early. Booked all nights in Paris when I bought the airline tickets in early Dec.

OK, so first night Lisbon will be easy – but – the next day is a public holiday, so first 2 nights. The more I read about Lisbon, the less it seemed like a relaxing place in which to recover from let jag, uh, jet lag. Lisbon has an extensive light rail system. One line ends at Cascais, a former fishing town that became a weekend and day-trip destination from Lisbon. It shouldn’t be warm enough for beach goers in April, so I’m in.

Google Images of Cascais  http://bit.ly/2lEIzoD

The last night is in Porto. Easy. Done. Except the oldest part of the city, the one of most interest to tourists, is on steep hills.

Google Images of Porto http://bit.ly/2lEv2xE

Damn, my knees are older than the rest of my body. The best value budget sleeps nearest metro and bus stations were down to their last few rooms. I added 2 more nights. My knees thanked me.

Good, that left many unbooked nights – but – while putting the bookings on a calendar I saw I’d noted May Day when deciding on flight dates. Not just a big public holiday, a 3 day weekend. Plan was on the 3rd day to head south to the Algarve region on the Southern coast. It’s the warmest and driest part of the country. Plan was to stay 3-5 nights, but that meant moving on during a 3 day weekend. No thanks. I needed a Plan B.

OMG. Sintra is a 30 minute bus ride from Cascais and it’s on a rail line to the Algarve via Lisbon.

Google Images of Sintra http://bit.ly/2lEqO8T

I had figured to hit it in mid trip as I meandered north to Porto. It works better making it the second stop then doing a base camp over the long weekend in Faro as the third stop. Faro is a good transport hub for day trips in the Algarve and interesting in itself.

Sintra is on steep hills, budget sleeps in or near the flat area by the train station… you know the rest. Booked 2 nights in Sintra, 4 in Faro. Aargh.

Adding Faro and Sintra to my calendar removed the aargh because then I saw the filling of the sandwich: Ten unbooked nights in a row in a relatively small country. Woo hoo.

My Cost of Living in Thailand – 2016

January 11, 2017

I’m sorry Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this post here(1). Past cost of living posts were intended to be informative. Also, as I stated in the first post 8 years, 5 months and 15 days ago, all posts are for my use too. In 2016 my spending changed significantly and atypically, so it doesn’t seem like others would find it useful. Besides, most categories stayed the same.

Medical expenses increased, to be expected following a heart attack. The most expensive drug prevents the immune system from treating my stents as foreign objects. Yeah, that’s worth it and will be for the next 2 and a half years I’ll be on it.

Food costs jumped because ingredient labels in Thailand are mostly fiction. Replacing palm oil with heart healthy oils required shopping at the supermarket with imported goods, priced for those who just can’t face life without their favorite foods from home.

Camera spending increased because I picked up 2 more camera lenses. They’re faster and sharper ones which duplicated focal lengths of lenses I already had. Did I need them? Nope. Did I want them? Yep. Will my photos improve? Nope, though I will be able to shoot in lower light than without them. Now, because this blog has too many posts without images, the 2 newbies:


When I saw the average spent per month on travel I thought it couldn’t possibly be correct. It was, because I’d forgotten buying tickets in December for 2 trips this year. I hadn’t forgotten they weren’t Economy class tickets. I’ve always had trouble sleeping on flights. With age, that’s had greater impact on travel fatigue. As I suspected, upgrading has made sleep easier with less jet lag. Also, seems priority boarding and disembarking will be useful on one of these:


(1) Paraphrasing one of the best improvised actions by a guest on SNL disrupting a live show that had been timed to the second He wasn’t invited back for almost 12 years.

Old Man Squinting

December 14, 2016

I’ve finished what was to be the next post. There aren’t enough photos in this blog, so here is something barely worth posting.

Aging eyes and growing cataracts means to read my phone while wearing single focus lenses, I first slide them down nose, then peer over the top. Bigger fonts on a bigger screen was the answer for when I wasn’t wearing reading glasses.

My 3 smartphones: HTC 2011, S4 2013, J7 2016:


Believe it or not, the J7 is my fifth mobile phone in 20 years.