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A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bonaire Vacation - Day 5

The sun set today on our time in Bonaire. We have seen much of the island, eaten very well, and played hard. This isn't one of those vacations where you sit on the beach all day sipping pina coladas (though it could be). This is an active vacation with lots to see and do, and I much prefer it this way.

We had good wind today, so the morning was spent windsurfing. I had a little less luck than before, but it was still fun. Strangely, the entire bay was full of debris—mostly driftwood, a bit of garbage, and other miscellaneous floating objects. The locals seemed annoyed by it, so we assume it wasn't normal. It was so widespread that surfing became a touch harder. I would be sailing along at a decent clip, then get slowed down by three or more two-foot sticks hanging on my fins.

After lunch, we had our diving lesson. I must say that it was a lot easier than I anticipated. I had a little trouble at first getting my right ear to pressurize, but it soon fell in line. We got down to 40 feet, which I felt was deep for a first dive. The three of us must have been an accelerated class. Diving was great fun, and I'm sure I will do it again. Though Bonaire is well-known as a windsurfing destination, it is more well-known as a Diver's Paradise.

Tomorrow morning we fly back to Aruba, and have enough time for a long lunch at the airport before flying back to Chicago, by way of Charleston. It will be a tiring day of travel.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bonaire Vacation - Day 4

Today we had a few more missteps, but it turned into a good day. We got up early and almost missed our first destination of the day: A sailing and snorkeling tour. For a couple hours we sat on a beautiful sailboat and stopped for a bit of snorkeling at one point. At the end, fun turned to embarrassment when we didn't have enough cash to cover our trip. Between Carl and I, we would have been able to do it, but I had left my wallet in the room. We came within $5, but we felt pretty stupid.

While we were sailing, we had a good amount of wind, though it was changing directions a few times. By the time we disembarked, the wind was almost nonexistent. We called out to the surf shop, and they confirmed our suspicions: No wind. Instead, we walked through the downtown, shopping and sightseeing. We also bought tickets back to Aruba. So if all goes well, we'll get home as expected. We won't get to see any more of Aruba than the airport, but I think Bonaire more than makes up for it.

Today was our least active day, but the sail was fantastic. Tomorrow, we're getting up to look for more wind, and trying our hand at scuba diving.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bonaire Vacation - Day 3

Today was a mix of surf and turf. We began the day with a missed triathlon that Carl wanted to do, but we didn't find a bike quick enough. He also slept late, so my Dad and I drove around for a bit, and went in the hotel pool. We also scheduled a scuba dive for later in the week. Then, snorkeling peaked our interest, so we bought some snorkel and went off the hotel's dock. I as amazed at the abundant sea life so close to shore. It felt like I jumped into Finding Nemo.

Lunch at Kon TikiFor lunch, we drove to Lac Bay, the windsurfing area, and ate at Kon Tiki, a great little resort on the lake. From there, we went to the surf shop, but the wind wasn't great, so we decided to drive around the island and snorkel. We went all around, from the salt pools on one end of the island, to the hills on the other end. We stopped at a number of snorkel sites and had a try. Quite a lot of fun.

View over GotomeerToday was the day I started driving, though don't tell the rental company. It actually proved to be a very good change. Other than a few problems with a sticky reverse, my dad was doing fine, but I seemed to have a better sense of island orientation. Also, it freed him up to decide where to go, and read about everything on the map. Strangely, this all turned out to make everyone a bit happier.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bonaire Vacation - Day 2

Carl windsurfing at Lac BayToday was windsurfing. I forgot how much I hate windsurfing. Well, not hate it, exactly. It's a lot like golf. Golf is a very fun sport but I'm horrible at it, and when you play with people that are really good, you find nothing but frustration.

The windsurfing could not be more perfect, however. Lac Bay is knee deep as far as the eye can see, with the waves breaking over a large reef at the end. You have miles of shallow sandy water, with a ton of wind and no waves. I'm still no good at windsurfing, but I could enjoy it. I've decided that the sport is all about control; finesse. You have to know that sail like the back of your hand, exactly how it moves and behaves. My sail is like a insolent child.

My Dad playing in the windYou know you're in a different part of the world when the weather can be summed up in one question: "How's the wind today?" (More is better)

Before surfing, however, I had to go to the ATM. Though every place here will take US Dollars, we had mostly run out buying our flight from Aruba. My savvy traveler of a Father doesn't have an ATM card, so I became the bank. Fittingly, I found my horoscope in the local newspaper:
Be diplomatic but stem.[sic] Don't be too hard on yourself. Travel will be to your advantage; however, it might be expensive...
The diplomatic part definitely refers to my family. I find myself being the sole voice of reason too often. Even my limited traveling experience has proven to be invaluable.

Donkey by our carOne strange fact about Bonaire is that there are hundreds of wild donkeys running around—like deer in the U.P. Apparently, the government has rounded many of them up and put them in the Donkey Sanctuary (haven't been there yet), but many still run around (the ones they haven't been able to catch). Bonaire is also famous for pink flamingos, but they aren't in season.

After surfing until 5ish, we came back to the hotel and cleaned up for a fantastic european dinner at one of Bonaire's many great restaurants. Afterwards, while carl was cleaning out the small gash on his foot, I sat on a beach chair and watched the lightning on the horizon.

Unlike Aruba, which is its own country, Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles, which in my understanding is effectively a "protectorate" of the Netherlands. There are a lot of Dutch vacationers and workers here, but the common language is English. So I forked over some Guilders for a Heineken, at the beach-side bar, and watched the ocean.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bonaire Vacation - Day 1

Wednesday night, my Dad bought tickets to Aruba. Random, I know.

Today (Friday) my Dad and my Brother Carl woke up at 5am and drove from Holland to Chicago. Not really believing me when I said it would definitely take 3 hours to get there, my traveling companions didn't move in any great hurry. Traffic going to O'Hare and car trouble didn't help anything, and we only made it to our plane because of a 30 minute delay. Once on the plane, we had a good flight and I was able to work most of the way.

Plane to BonaireUpon arrival in Aruba, we quickly decided to try to get to Bonaire, a nearby island, boasting the best Diving and Windsurfing in the world. So my dad blew most of the cash he brought with him booking a flight on the cash-only airline. We sat around the Aruba airport for an hour before flying on to Bonaire.

Flamingo AirportWe arrived at Bonaire's Flamingo Airport (the island is also home to large flocks of the bird) and rented a pickup. From there, we drove directly to the windsurfing areas. By this point it was after 6pm, so the surf shops were closed, but we got our bearings, and drove back to find a hotel. Eden Beach ResortWe ended up at the Eden Beach Resort, which while a little pricey, is very nice and right on the ocean.

We had BBQ at the resort, except for Carl who went for a run and missed out. We went out and got him a queso, and we all had ice cream.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Apple x86? Nope.

There's a ton on speculation in the Mac community about Apple switching to Intel's x86 chips.

I just want to go on record saying that this is complete nonsense. Why? Nobody would switch to the x86 platform if they had the choice. Sure, it's a good family, and it's had a great run, but I'm sure even Intel and Microsoft would get off the x86 if they had the option. It has to support so many legacy instructions, that it is crippled. Intel is an amazing chipmaker, and they could do a lot better if they could start over.

Now, I'm not a chip designer, nor am I an expert, but it seems to be that I'd rather bet my company on a more modern chip (PowerPC or other). x86 is great, but it's aging quick.

So what are the real sources of this rumor? My guesses are either
  1. Some new product (iPod, wi-fi) using an Intel (non-x86) chip.
  2. Intel manufacturing PowerPC chips for Apple.
  3. Steve Jobs having a good laugh.
We'll see. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

Update: Daring Fireball does a good job debunking too.

Update 2: Well, it turns out I'm wrong. That's fine. I set myself up for that. I have to assume the folks at Apple know more than I (well, duh). It just seems strange that while the entire gaming industry is moving to PowerPC, Apple would move to x86. Damn it, I hate little endian.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ruby on Rails - Days 2 & 3

Friday night, I stayed up late to work with Rails for a bit. I purchased the first Rails book that doesn't even exist yet. A very cool idea called a Beta Book lets me pre-order Agile Web Development with Rails and get an incompletely edited version on PDF today. It seemed like a good deal, and it is a good book.

I made it through a few chapters on Friday, and spent a few hours Saturday morning working through it. Once I got to the MySQL example, I hit a roadblock with my installation that I haven't been able to solve. Rails doesn't see my instance of MySQL, and I'm finding that many other are having the same problem on OS X 10.4. Needless to say, this little problem is not exciting. I will have to see what part of the installation is broken and start reinstalling. My guess is MySQL.

I was thinking that it was just about a year ago that I decided to learn PHP. I had never touched it before, and I dove in and created a highly successful product. Now, I consider myself quite skilled at that language. I hope my experience with Ruby on Rails will be even more successful!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ruby on Rails - Day 1 (sort of)

Last night was my first night with Ruby on Rails.

Well, not quite. A few days ago I installed everything I needed. A month or so ago, I briefly looked through a book on the Ruby language to get a handle on the syntax.

But last night was the first day. So what did I do? Not much. I watched their fun introductory videos, and read a lot about the Rails community. But did I code anything? Nope. I didn't even try.

Ruby is truly exciting me. Since playing with WebObject a few years ago, Rails is the first framework that truly seems smart and easy. Sure PHP is fine, and it is quick, but the elegance (and rapid development) Rails provides seems unparalleled. Really, PHP's ubiquity is about all it has going for it.

My goal now is to find enough time between projects to dive in to Rails. It is laid out so well (compared to PHP) that the hardest part will be unlearning my PHP skills.

Ready, set, go!