Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Going swimming, 20080730we2126

I'm going swimming and then to bed.

Hotel Cats, 20080730we2119

These are the hotel cats. They live here. It's nice having pets
roaming around at a hotel. You can see their white food and water bowl
in the background (left).

Cab Ride Back to Hotel, 20080730we2020

Back at the Hotel. As I was walking in the desert, I heard a voice call to me from the darkness. I turned around and it was the cab driver. The driver and his wife had come back to see how I was doing and asked me if I needed a ride back to the hotel. It was really nice of them to come back. They actually were really nice people. In my writing earlier, I was using a little bit of creative latitude in describing the cab ride to the zoo. I'm back at the hotel, text-chatting with Makur, and getting ready to go swimming after a little while before the pool closes at 10:00 PM.

Going West, 20080730we1945

I'm walking west now, still in the desert, toward North Galvin
Parkway. My iPhone GPS is working flawlessly, guiding me back to
civilization. I met three bicyclists in the desert. One had just
returned from Iowa, having ridden across the entire state with RAGBRAI.

Yesterday, I met a 45 year old man who swims in ocean waters as cold
as 45 degrees Fahrenheit. He said there are people in their 80s who go
swimming with him. They also swim in the harsh rip currents under the
Golden Gate Bridge. I was inspired.

As I return to the hotel, I'll keep posting updates along the way.

Killer Bees, 20080730we1916

After hiking a distance, with no sign of life, I saw a truck
approaching. As the truck came closer, I could see it was a park ranger.

"Where is everyone?" I asked.

"The zoo closes early because of the heat. It's still 106 degrees.
Nobody stays outside in this heat," the ranger replied going on to
explain that people are hospitalized when they stay out too long in
this extreme dry heat. One needs plenty of water, the ranger
explained. I'd had a glass of water on the plane, but none with me.

Still, I wasn't pursuaded. I wanted to go climbing up the face of a
rock that I saw in the distance, so I thanked the ranger and continued
on my way. I thought it would be fun to look for venomous snakes in
the rocks. As I got closer to the cliff, I saw a sign warning of
killer bees. I'm not someone who's afraid of a few bees, so I
continued on my way.

(To be continued...)

Desert Wilderness, 20080730we1910

The cab zoomed away like a Nascar racer out of the pit. When the dust
cleared, I got my bearings and began walking. I wasn't about to lose
more money on another cab. Although I was in the middle of nowhere,
and the cab ride took a long time, I figured I could use my outdoor
survival skills to make it back to the city.

Phoenix Zoo, 20080730we1842

As the taxi cab approached the Phoenix Zoo, my enthusiasm increased.
I'd heard a lot about the zoo, and was looking forward to seeing it. I
was surprised that a zoo of such great reputation would have only a
few cars parked in it's huge parking lot.

My excitement about the zoo diminished slightly when I saw that they
closed at 2:00 in the afternoon on weekdays. Apparently "Banker's
Hours" and "Zoo Keeper's Hours" were about the same here.

The zoo was like a ghost town. The cab driver just dropped me off
saying, "Phoenix Zoo. That'll be thirteen dollars." I gave him a
twenty. "I only have three," he said handing me three crumpled one
dollar bills from his pocket.

(To be continued...)

New Itinerary, 20080730we1810

I'm now checked-in to a local hotel. The photo above is of the swimming pool. I'll plan to go to bed very early tonight so I can wake around 3:30 AM to catch a 4AM shuttle back to the airport. I'm on standby, and was told that I should arrive as early as possible.

The flight I hope to catch leaves around 6:30 in the morning. If I catch the flight, I'll arrive in Minneapolis in the afternoon, and then return to Cedar Rapids around 2:30 PM. I don't have the specific details in front of me, but those are the general times.

It's about 6:15 PM and I'm planning to go visit the local zoo here (about 2 miles away) to see the sites and take some photos. The pool at the hotel closes at 10PM. I hope to be back by 9PM to go swimming before going to bed. I'll be checking email between now and then.

Visiting Phoenix and Tempe, AZ, 20080730we1718

Visiting Arizona. After giving it some thought, I decided to stay over in the Phoenix / Tempe, Arizona area to enjoy the sites and do some photographing. My decision to stay over came shortly after missing my connecting flight and being told there were no other flights out of Phoenix going to Minneapolis/Cedar Rapids until tomorrow. So, that circumstance largely influenced my decision to stay.

Temperature. It's now 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit).

Night Sky Photos of Stars, 20080730we1535

I just finished uploading the two night sky photos of stars.

Late Lunch, 20080730we1434

I'm at the Phoenix Airport waiting for my next flight, scheduled to leave at 4:30 PM. I'm having a veggie burrito for lunch.

La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz

The above photo is from the Hotel Angeleno, but it seemed to fit this journal entry. I'm sitting in the Phoenix airport, at a nice mexican restaurant (Tequileria) listening to La Vida Es Un Carnaval. Last year I posted the lyrics to this song on my journal.

It's warm in Phoenix: 41 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit).

Last night, after visiting (text chatting) with my FiancĂ©e (who is now in India), I went outside to look at the stars. As soon as I looked up, there was a shooting star. This was similar to the experience I had in the mountains of Aromas, California. I'd looked up to immediately see a shooting star.

Last night, in the silent and dark hills of Sebastopol, the night sky was very clear and radiant. I could see the Milky Way, and numerous stars. I decided to test the manual setting of my camera and slow down the shutter speed to about 30 seconds (the slowest setting). This setting, with a lense opening of F 2.8 (focal ratio / relative aperture), was ideal to capture the night sky. I'll try to post those pictures later.

My food just arrived...

Airline Travel, Sudden Cabin Pressure Change, Ear Comfort Protection, 20080730we1252

During takeoff and landing, and even while traveling, sudden changes
in cabin pressure can result in ear pain.

Wearing expanding foam ear plugs can help buffer dramatic changes in
air pressure. Air can still enter and escape from the ear canal, but
at a much slower rate. In this way, a sudden drop or increase in cabin
pressure, may not even effect the pressure on the ear if the pressure
returns to normal again.

This technique may work for babies or small children, but safety,
advisability, and results of effectiveness are unknown (by me).

Quality ear plugs are usually available at hardware stores and drug
stores, as well as being available online.

I'm currently using Howard Leight ear plugs. I've used other brands
that seem to work about as well. When removing the ear plugs, it's
possible to keep them clean and fresh (slightly moist and not dry) by
wiping them with a Huggies Natural Care baby wipe (or similar product).

When choosing ear plugs, I usually select a product that has high
noise reducing capabilities. It seems that these are more dense, and
tend to be reusable longer.

Most ear plugs can drop the sound level by 30 decibles (db) or more.
This is a general figure. The frequency response while listening to
the ambient surrounding noises will generally be lower across the
entire spectrum of frequencies. It may be possible to still hear
people talking. High frequency noises will have trouble penetrating
the ear plugs. Lower frequencies will have less trouble.

Ear plugs can be very useful in other circumstances, venues, and
situations including:
• When at a live music concert, amplification of the music is usually
too loud to enjoy
• Reducing noise while traveling in a car
• While using outdoor machinery such as mowing the lawn, tilling
soil, operating a tractor, using a weed trimmer, using any device with
a small gas motor
• While using a vacuum cleaner
• When trying to sleep - for greater comfort, consider softer
earplugs for sleeping

Caution should be used when sleeping or engaging in activities to
ensure you can be alerted to any nearby dangers. For example, you
should be able to hear a smoke alarm.

Advertising on Airline Seat Back Tray Tables, 20080730we1236

This U.S. Airways flight has advertising on the seat back tray tables.
I wonder how much it costs to advertise on the trays. I also wonder if
commercially subsidized airline travel might one day be available for
free (like television programming) or if the extra revenue from
advertising will simply just go to the upper management in the airline
industry without benefitting us (the customers) or the hard working
crew and airline workers.

I expect to pay for advertising free experiences. For example, some
websites that are free (with advertising) offer paid options to
experience the site without advertising. Television programming with
advertising is free, but pay channels typically have little or no
advertising because the revenue comes from paying customers.

I think people feel it's unfair to pay for something, and then still
be advertised to. The tendency to put advertising everywhere, just to
make more money, is not well received by those who are exposed to it.

Boarding the Plane, 20080730we1141

Instead of posting a sign, I wonder why they don't just remove the

At the San Francisco Airport, 20080730we1129

I'm at the San Francisco Airport waiting to board. My flight to
Phoenix leaves at noon.

Airport Express Shuttle Bus from Santa Rosa to SFO, 20080730we0839

I'm riding the Airport Express shuttle bus that goes from Santa Rosa
to the San Francisco airport. It takes two hours and fifteen minutes
to reach the airport from here. We're scheduled to arrive at the
airport around 10:45 AM.


I'm up for the day and will be leaving soon for Santa Ross to catch
the bus going to the SFO airport.

New Photos Online, 20080730we0120

I got back home from dinner around 10PM and then stayed up for a while after that. It's now about 1:20 AM, and I'm ready for bed. I've posted some new photo collections which bring the online galleries up to date. The new galleries are: Mexican Border, San Diego, California Plains, and Wind Power. Slide shows are below.