I am here in Athens to ring in the new year. Here’s the view out the window from my desk.
While I have been here, I have walked down the streets of the agora where Socrates and Plato walked. I have thought, “That is absolutely amazing that they had such an advanced view 2500 years ago.” They thought that pretty much anything was open for discussion and analysis, and that logic and reason ought to prevail. That’s a pretty good ideal…let’s have more of that.
That’s what they call an antique car in Europe – Old Timers. In the states, I drive a 50+ year old car (a ’62 Volvo P1800). I was pleasantly surprised by having the opportunity to have a number of car shows occur while I was visiting in various cities (Tilburg, Krakow, and Dubrovnik). I photographed quite a few vehicles for my car buddies, but I will post just a few here.
British Hillman (Won 1st place in Tilburg show)
’65 Volvo P1800
Bug-eye Sprite or Austin Healy (I can’t remember)
Fiat Barilla (Red)
Opel and Volvo 144
Mercedes (Dubrovnik clock tower at end of Stratum)
We have moved to Oahu, and are now living near Diamond Head in Honolulu. It’s a quiet community between Kaimuki and Kahala, and we have a three bedroom home with one room as a guest room! Let us know if you want to come visit!
Here’s a photo of the closest beach to us, about a 1 minute drive. This Kahala beach is quiet with few tourists visiting it. We have not yet snorkeling around in the water, but we have gone swimming as the waves break about 400 yards off shore.
My days off in the settlement are usually spent at the beach or hiking the pali (cliffs) to go to topside for groceries and errands. Today, however, John invited me to the coast to assist him in photographing rare, endemic Hawaiian plants that are being reintroduced into the landscape. I have heard about “geocaching”, finding treasures with gadgets but never experienced first-hand how it works.
John has a wrist device that looks like a watch with a large red dial. This gadget is a GIS unit which reads the satellite broadcasts and outputs it via Bluetooth to his tablet. Thus, with an inexpensive device, any tablet or phone can know the exact location of where we stand. On his tablet, he has a mapping application which displays where we are on the map along with the location of the plants. Getting to the plants is easy because as we walk closer to the plant, the dot on the screen that represents the plant gets closer and closer to where we are on the map. This allows us to walk right over to the area, within a few feet, of where the plant is. Without the equipment, it is a painful process to walk around in circles looking for small plants on the rocky, wind-swept coast that is covered with many other plants. Once we find the plant we are looking for, I photograph the plant and call out the tag number. He enters the tag number and time into a notebook. Some of the plants have flourished while others have perished in the harsh elements. It takes several hours to record the data which is similar to going on an Easter egg hunt except the prize is a healthy, thriving plant.
What I enjoy about the day is being outdoors on the beautiful wind swept peninsula and searching for and recording endangered species plants. The coast reminds me of the tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park; the harsh conditions providing hospitality only to plants and trees that have adapted to harsh winds. Late in the day, we see a juvenile monk seal resting amongst the lava rocks and carefully bypass her siesta as we search for shells. Joining John in his volunteer work for the National Park has been rewarding and fun, and a great way to spend the day in Kalaupapa National Park.
Spring in Hawaii is different than the mainland. The temperature is pretty much the same, but the rain showers are less frequent and shorter, and there is less moisture in the air and so the sky takes on a different quality. More blue, less grey.
Anyway, I’ve been working hard on concepts like Mallow’s CP and linearizing regression algorithms for non-linear equations. Kate went to the beach to look for shells, and she took this photo.
A rare and endangered nene bird came to Kalaupapa Molokai. The biologists were discussing its arrival and I thought it might be nice to take a photo of this rare event. They haven’t yet started to inhabit the settlement though the thought is that the conditions are good for its natural introduction. It is an evolutionary derivative of the Canadian Goose from about 500,000 years ago.
On our last day in Penang, we had our driver takes us to the Snake Temple near the airport. It is not an attraction I would normally see, but hey, it’s on the way and we have the time. We pull up to the front of the temple, I get out of the cab, enter (after removing my shoes) and ask John “where are the snakes?” He replies, “right in front of you,” pointing at a small set of branches on the altar table. I look up and indeed four vipers are curled around a wooden post, right above my head. John assures me they are fed well and generally, don’t eat tourists. It is an interesting wrap up to Penang – city of many surprises.