Earlier this year, the Lovely One and I were walking along the beach near our house. We came across a friendly woman with two friendly dogs. The dogs were potcakes -- wild dogs with a long history here. They are called potcakes, because they were fed the fried cornmeal sticking to the sides of the pot -- or potcakes. The original potcakes came over on the pirate ships of the Caribbean.
As we were talking to the woman, we discovered that she was an airline stewardess who had moved here to this tropical paradise. She was born in the same town as the Lovely One back home. The potcakes were rescues who were of the same litter, even though they look different. The dominant one is the short hair female named Criss and the long hair male is named Cross.
We were responsible for exercising the dogs along the beach. Their owner, the airline stewardess had a flight to Europe and after that a few days of emergency training.
The beach is a few kilometers long, and the dogs run with exuberance and joy through the surf. When the Lovely One and I go for a dip in the ocean, they swim out to us. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, except for one aspect. The dogs shed hair all over the Lovely One's Beamer. The car was full of the stuff. When the Lovely One had her own dog, she had a poodle because it didn't shed. The Lovely One doesn't like dog hair at all. Me? To me a dog is a dog, and the hair is a part of the joy of having a dog.
Some of my most notable beachcombing finds come just after a hurricane blows through. For example, I now have a spare snorkel mask -- a dandy US Divers low profile mask with tempered glass lenses and silicone fittings.
Sunglasses are a big find. Usually they are pitted from being sandblasted in the surf. Just today, I was walking to Snorkeller's Reef with the Lovely One and came across a pair of Oakleys lying on the beach, but the lenses were so pitted from the surf that they were unusable. However I did find a pair of Sergio Tachinni sunglasses that fell off a boat in deep water. They were not tossed around in the sand, and they are in perfect shape. I wear them today. I googled them, and they cost 80 English pounds -- over $150 dollars. I find a lot of broken sunglasses with the lenses popped out as well.
The most amazing thing that I found this week, was single pill, undamaged and not wet. I went to a pill identification site on the internet, and it is Forte Oral. This medication is used for the temporary relief of runny/stuffy nose and other symptoms (e.g., ear congestion, watery/itchy eyes, itchy throat) that may be caused by allergies, hay fever, the common cold, sinus inflammation (sinusitis), and other breathing illnesses. It is pictured inset.
I believe that if I wait long enough, the ocean will bring me any object that I desire. It may not be in working condition, but it will arrive at my feet courtesy of the waves. Unfortunately this is true for a lot of garbage as well.
The thing was massively huge -- at least 8 inches from wingtip to wingtip. I hurried snapped three or four pics and only one turned out. It is above.
One of the roof tops offers a view of the entrance to Magistrates Court #8. The court is a hell hole located on top of a cheap greasy burger joint. The court sees as its traffic, the dregs of humanity.
With my camera, I caught some human misery of someone awaiting their day in court. The unhappiness is extremely evident in the photograph. I know that I would not relish waiting to appear before a draconian judge in a tropical country.
I immediately contacted my friend who is a ship's captain in a major shipping concern here. He told me that the boat was a RoRo -- Roll on, Roll off ship that carried automobiles.
He also told me that automobiles are relatively light cargo and the high freeboard makes the thing tricky to navigate in winds.
This was the press release for this relatively new ship which held its maiden voyage on June 30th, 2008:
Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Company of TSUNEISHI Holdings Corporation (Head Office: Fukuyama-city Hiroshima, CEO: Katsushige Kambara) held a naming and hand-over ceremony on June 27th of a 5,100 car carrier for the NYK Line corporation, which was ordered by United Ocean Singapore (CEO: Vipan Sharma) at the Tadotsu Factory (Tadotsu-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture). The ship was named “LORD VISHNU” by Koji Miyahara, CEO of the NYK Line Corporation, and his wife cut the ribbon for the ship’s maiden voyage.
Type: 5,100 car carrier
Name: “LORD VISHNU”
Length: 179.9 meters
Width: 32.2 meters
Depth: 34.8 meters
Gross Tonnage: 51,917 tons
Main Engine: MITSUI MAN-B&W7S60MC-C
Service Speed: About 19.3 knots
Class: Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
As they say in these islands "Mudda sic, dat's one big ship!".
Every Monday the prison bus arrives for court. The prisoners are dressed in stripes and chained together. Crowds gather to watch the human spectacle. Relatives of prisoners shout encouragement. They exchange quick shouted messages. Some prisoners do public service like cleaning the yard of government house. They shout this news and mothers bring their prisoner sons some lunch and drinks and leave it on the wall so their prisoner sons can eat home cooking. You often see the prisoners washing the police cars.
One thing that I have learned by being here is that capital punishment does not work. It is not a deterrent to crime and murder. The most valuable insight that I have gleaned, is that the single biggest reducer of crime in society is social, personal, economic and financial empowerment.
Pictured above is the Supreme Court building. It exemplifies Georgian Colonial Architecture with the big pillars and balconies. The balcony is never used.
When I was atop another building in the Parliament Square area, I got a good peek of the balcony. To my surprise, someone made a little secret sitting place. They took an upholstered chair from inside the building and made a little hidey hole. The chair is obscured by the palm trees, and besides nobody ever looks up. It is a secret little retreat, probably for a security guard, where he can go and sit and catch the breeze and watch the world go by.
The secret isn't secret any more.
I popped my head into the shop and noticed that the quality of antiques had really decreased. The back room was full of illustrated books taken apart for the graphics and the pages were sold separately as frameable antique pictures.
However, I rummaged through a box of vintage postcards and came across the above gem. I paid a dollar for it. It is a fruit stand in Panama. I will quote the back of the post card:
A typical native fruitstand, of which many are found along the Inter-American Highway through PANAMA INTERIOR.
Un ranchito tipico, donde se venden frutas. Hay gran numero des estos a lo largo de la Carretera Inter-Americana en el interior de PANAMA
The card also has the following on it:
REPRODUCCION Y DISTRIBUCION EXCLUSIVA
PHOTO FLATAU - APARTADO 391 - PANANA - R.P.
I bought the postcard because it is a funky thing, and who knows, one day it may be the subject of one of my paintings.
So, my job today is to help you talk like a pirate. I went to a popular website and it had a pirate generator name. It called me "Shark Bait Jack Sparrow". That's Hollywood Pirate talk.
If you want real pirate talk, you have to slip in these terms. Here is a list of ten terms:
1) Letters and Marques from 'er Majesty. This is essentially a pirate licence granted by the English kings and queens. In modern day talk, this can be your law degree, your cab driver's license, your NBA contract, or your used car salesman business card.
2) Ruin, Revelry and Buried Treasure. You could call Wall Street this, or your basement.
3) Privateer. This is a legitimate pirate, so if you are a plastic surgeon, a banker, a stockbroker or a cab driver, you are today a privateer in pirate talk.
4) Woodes Rogers. Name of a real pirate that went straight and became a governor of an English Colony. In pirate talk you would say to your date "fancy a tot of grog and a keelhaul with Woodes Rogers?".
5) Black Beard. Used to describe a person. Like "He's a regular Black Beard". Let the context decide the meaning.
6) New World Gold -- short selling in stocks.
7) Ann Bonny -- a woman in a man's world.
8) Swashbuckle -- My IRA has been swashbuckled by Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch
9) Avast ye scurvy scum -- How to greet McCain or Obama supporters
10) Spanish Galleon -- your gas guzzling SUV.
There you have 10 pirate terms. There are many more on tee shirts around town in the souvenir shops, but my mother reads this blog and almost all of them are unprintable.
I have learned to open coconuts without the water splashing out. You gentle tap the coconut around the top until you get a hollow sound and keep tapping. A crack develops and the coconut opens up.
I got a bright idea about a new food product, and I decided to experiment. I chopped up the coconut and put it in the jar. I then topped the jar with as much confectioners sugar that it would hold, and filled the jar with white rum. It is in fact, coconut pickled in rum. I put it in the fridge and after a suitable pickling period, I will try the new food product out. I am anxious to see what it tastes like. It might be good baked in muffins or a cake.
As for the coconut water, last night the Lovely One put out my dose of vitamins. She makes me take vitamins and supplements. I didn't have anything to help me swallow the handful of tablets, gel caps, herbs and such, so I got a glass of coconut water. After I swallowed the pills, I still had some coconut water in the glass. I was looking for an additive to jazz up the taste.
I immediately remembered the song "Put the lime in the coconut" and so I got out the bottle of lime juice and mixed in a healthy portion. Without tasting it, I decided that I should sweeten the mixture so I dumped in a bunch of Splenda sweetener. I watched a minor chemical reaction take place, and after the solution turned extremely cloudy, I took a sip. It tasted like vomit. I had to dump it down the sink.
I was also tickled by some lateral thinking in my C# programming. In our system, I have to transfer data by ftp back to our servers located in our money transfer location. To transfer the data, I have to be connected by wireless. The Personal Digital Assistant computer in this case connects to our wifi setups.
I cannot start the transfer until I know that I am connected. I could go through a whole bunch of code to see if I am connected, or I could take a lateral thinking approach. If the network card is connected wireless, that means that I have an IP address other than 127.0.01 which is the IP address for localhost when you are not connected. So with a few lines of code checking for an IP address of anything other than localhost address, I am off and away to the races. Here is the source code snippet:
///////////////////// *********** AM I WIFI ENABLED TEST METHOD
/// signals that WiFi is enabled
/// does this by checking out dhcp. if the ip is anything
/// but 127.x.x.x then it is localhost and not connected to server
/// but if it is something different, then wifi is connect because the
/// network adapter is funtionally addressable with an IP address
public bool amIWiFiEnabled()
bool ret = false;
string hostName = Dns.GetHostName();
IPHostEntry hostEntry = Dns.GetHostEntry(hostName);
string hostIPAdd = hostEntry.AddressList.ToString();
ret = hostIPAdd != IPAddress.Parse("127.0.0.1").ToString();
// try turning wifi on
int crap = 1;
bool turn = iPAQSetWLANRadio(ref crap);
catch (Exception nn)
// dummy assignment
ErrorString = nn.Message;
In a future posting, I will tell you of the lateral thinking that I came up with involving rum and coconut and a new food product. I will race you to the patent office on that idea as well.
I am off today for more of the same with the installation crew. So far I have learned a lot by watching things from the rooftops.
For example, I have learned that people never look up. I have learned that if you are a cabinet minister, especially the minister of education, you can illegally park anywhere all day. I have learned that line of sight is really important when it comes to WiFi communications.
I have also learned that most tourists are fat. I have learned that taxi drivers harass the tourists. I have learned that the main drag looks exciting when you first visit, but under scrutiny it does not hold up. I have learned that a lot of work is required downtown, on all buildings including government buildings.
I have learned where to buy the cheapest yet best food. I learned this by watching where the police knock off for lunch. I have observed from the rooftops, how bad the drivers really are in this place.
The most important thing that I have learned, is that the best way to put up antennas and such, is to pay someone else to do it.
I then automated the who process in the application. Using a separate thread, I would check every second to see if WiFi was available. If it was, I would then generate a ping to see if my server was up. If that was up, I would initiate a file transfer from the buses. That was the theory.
We then went and bought some big honking Hawking antennas, put them up, and expected all sorts of communications with the buses. It didn't happen.
The first antenna (pictured above -- located on the balcony of a jewellery store) would connect to the buses that were parked. Ironically, a bus with our equipment is parked in the picture. It wouldn't pick up quick enough for a moving target.
The second one, was a super big antenna high up on the Gucci store near Parliament.
When we did a spectrum survey, we found that there were a gazillion hotspots, and they all interfered with each other, including ours. Our prime signal strength was the area behind the fence in the pic. With the big antenna on the Gucci store, we found that we were giving the cruise ships in the harbour excellent coverage, but the street below was getting minimal signal.
We had to swap out the omni-directional antennas. Yesterday we put in the directional horns pictured above. We are moving to static IP addresses and a meshNet topology. I will let you know how that works.
I then thought about Bloom County, a syndicated cartoon series from the 1980's, and how the smart kid, as a computer hacker wore a pirate outfit when he prepared to "board" other people's computers.
There may not be stuff to plunder legally, thought I, but I can plunder Google traffic. I got the idea when in an earlier blog entry, I casually mentioned that I was humming a Tom Waits song "On the Nickel" when I saw tropical storm Hanna blow in a nickel on my patio. Well I got a pile of hits from a Tom Waits fan site. The interesting thing is that when I did a similar thing with Jimmy Buffett -- nada! I guess Tom Waits has a bigger following than Jimmy Buffett.
So I plundered some hits from Tom Waits fans. I decided to act like a Pirate of the Caribbean and see how many hits that I can plunder from Google. I went to google's most popular trends and search terms and came up with "Tina Fay as Sarah Palin", flurge, cankles, vacations to go and other stuff.
So Google, prepared to be boarded. The following sentence should light up the search engine traffic: I am going to flurge your cankles with vacations to go. Tina Fay will act as Sarah Palin to lure some more hits to my blog. There, the previous sentence contains all of the latest, hottest search terms.
I will report later on how my hit plundering is going. I may be on to something here.
I can see the search engine referrers to this site. Although I have had the odd visit from Yahoo and AOL search engines, the vast majority come from Google. People have visited this site looking for answers to questions. I suppose that they did not find the answers, so I will provide them. I had these two queries visiting my blog yesterday:
The answer is: a BOHIO. Here is a picture of a bohio.
The second question is:
2) How to get a smooth palm tree trunk?
Many palm trees grow smooth, but if you want to smooth a rough one, there is only one method that I know of. Here is a pic:
The Haitian gardeners here wield the machete (or cutlass as it is called here) with dexterity, and they smooth up the palm trees quite well.
I realize that these answers are a day late, but I figure that someone else will google these terms again.
Here are the last 10 search terms that visited my blog:
- Google Search (how to get a smooth palm tree trunk)
- Google Search (WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE HOUSE THE LUCAYANS LIVE IN)
- Google Search (grand turk devastation)
- Google Search (The Lucayan Indians)
- Google Search (Woven Palm Tree)
- Google Search (veneer of civilisation)
- Google Search (cosmological cabbage)
- Google Search (Lordeus Haiti)
- Google Search (Montry Haiti)
- Google Search (how to tie cabbage)
The hurricane shutters are still not taken down at our office. The above is a pic of the steel shutters covering the big window that provides a lot of the daylight. All of the other windows are similarly shuttered with the same steel material as well.
My snorkelling schedule is back on track after the storms blew through as well. The ocean has quieted down enough and the riptides are gone. However tons and tons of sand have been removed from the beaches, and in some places, it is down to the bare beach rock.
My favourite places on the reef are all silted in, and the familiar underwater landscape is familiar no more. It looks like a vast underwater desert with sand dunes made by the waves. People tell me that the tides will eventually clean out the reefs again. I took my Hawaiian sling in the off-chance that I would see a fish worth spearing, however all of the game fish are gone -- driven further off in the ocean. However, I did find 26 golf balls rolling around in the bottom of the ocean.
I took this pic in the rain as Hanna was finishing up blowing everything around. We cleaned off our patio of all of the furniture, because we didn't want our table and chairs blown into the harbour. So the patio was bare, but it was strewn with wet twigs and flowers, and the detritus that the storm blew in.
My eye was drawn to some found money that the storm had apparently blown in. Sitting smack dab on the patio was a coin. At first I thought that it was a penny. It was waterlogged and had a huge bead of water on the surface. I photographed it (above). On closer examination, it was a corroded nickel -- US currency.
I didn't think that nickels corroded, but this one did. And it brings up the further mystery of how it got there. The nickel came riding in on the storm. It certainly was gusty enough with Hanna blowing through, but a nickel ??
The only neighbours that we have were not home, and it is too far from the street to be thrown. The Lovely One did not drop it, nor did I and throughout the storm period we didn't have any visitors. It wasn't there before the storm and it was there afterwards.
The nickel has provided more than 5 cents worth of mental entertainment.
I previously detailed how I have competition from another resident of this island. He is a Dutchman, retired from a shipping and investments company, and we compete for the balls at the reef.
His girlfriend however holds great sway over him. They have a condo overlooking the harbour, and she gave him an ultimatum -- either the golf balls go or I do. So he contacted me and gave me roughly 500 golf balls. They sit in bags in my closet.
I am writing a book on golf balls. This provides fodder for my book. One of my finds was a golf ball personally autographed by Jack Nicklaus. They are going for around $250 on the internet. If I sell the ball on eBay, I figure that I may get a payback on all of the hours that I have spent collecting golf balls. I figure that I have made at least 2 cents per hour.
Hurricane shutters are still up all over the island, but I will imagine that they will be left up for a while. Hurricane season does not officially end until November.
The other good news is that is looks like Tropical Storm Josephine has either dissipated over the Atlantic or moved off toward Europe.
The beaches are all eroded down to bare rock. The sand has been taken into the ocean. Snorkeller's Reef is a mess. The entire reef is silted in and the ocean floor is two feet higher with tons of sand all over. People tell me that the natural motion of the tides will put all of the sand back on the beach within a month or so.
I was in the water for the first time in a week, and it was nice to have the waves small again and no rip tide. I tried shooting a fish for dinner, but the normally clear ocean is silted up and visibility is quite poor. I saw a few decent jacks, but because of the silt, I didn't see them until they were right at me, and then they zipped away. Several large fish motored by me, and I couldn't recognise the species. They were just grey shapes that went whizzing by.
Today, for the first time, I will try my normal daily exercise as well. I have a bad back, and normally I swim about 150 yards to the bouys and back to exercise my spine. I tried it last week, and the waves were almost impossible to swim through and when I came up for air, I was swamped with water up my nose and down by throat. The ocean is a lot quieter. And the air is a lot cooler after the hurricanes.
So it is onwards and upwards in this island paradise. Back to the task at hand. One thing that I will miss from the hurricanes, is the friendliness of the people, which I suspect will evaporate. There is nothing that makes people more friendlier, than the idea that you might need them to rescue you when the 'cane a-comin'.
The kitties were not pleased with Hanna at all. Being feral cats, they are not necessarily buddies, however Ginger and Big Guy were huddled under the foliage, not enjoying the storm or rain for one minute.
Flowers were ripped from the plants by the wind, but this being the tropics, they will be back by next week -- if Ike doesn't make a mess of things.
Only one coconut came down. We were supposed to have the gardeners come to remove them from the tree in our backyard. These things can be flying missiles. However the gardener never came. These are jelly coconuts. The water in them is exceptionally sweet, however they do not have the white coconut copra that we know as coconut, and use in baking etc. However the coconut water is superb. When this one came down, it smashed and the coconut water leaked out.
The above pic is our neighbourhood, just as some gaps were starting to appear in Hanna's cover.
So as my friend says, Hanna was just a warm-up for Hurricane Ike. Ike is a killer category 4 and we watch and wait.
The president of our company flew in last night, and he said that the last ten minutes before landing were pure hell. The plane bounced all over the sky. It reminded me of the old saying:
I am a believer in terra firma,
the more firma, the less terra.