Friday, August 31, 2007

Rob Gets a Camera

Ok, it has been maybe three or four years now that Rob has been emailing me, and asking questions about this camera, and that camera, this lens...that lens....

WELL, it happened. He actually went out, and BOUGHT A NEW CAMERA. We are all amazed. Congratulations, Rob....the news is so big, it deserved an entire blog entry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August House Update

Lately, the house doesn't look very different other than just a few things. They have been working on smoothing out the cement on the walls throughout the house. You can see that in the photo below. The roof material is supposed to arrive the next couple of days, so the roof will be going up soon. That will dramatically change the look of the house.

Tika's brother-in-law came up from Joja to take measurements for our windows and doors. He is in the wood business, so will be buying all of our wood and assembling the windows and doors. We are happy he is able to help us out.

The front of the house continues to be worked on. There will be very large windows placed in those large gaps you see with the bamboo.

The front entranceway is also being smoothed out along with the fish ponds. We haven't really decided yet what to do with the cement area to the right. We are thinking a simple gazebo, or maybe just a table with an umbrella.

Financially, we are doing just "ok"....we are over budget already due to some changes we made, and since we decided on ceramic tiles for the pool instead of the green rock that was originally planned (ugly), it will cost us almost 4 times the price of the green rock. That will hurt, but in the long run, it will be much nicer with the ceramic tile. They will start installing that maybe next month. It is really starting to look like a house now, and will be even better once the roof goes on.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Friends of Web" Golf Tournament

We had our second annual "Friends of Web" golf tournament in honor of our good friend, Rob Weber, who was killed in Malaysia when he fell into a deep hole. He was a great guy, and loved golf, and always had a big smile on his face. We all miss him deeply.

I played decent golf shooting a 91, and my drives were straight for a change. Maybe I will keep that new driver afterall. Our group came in at minus 11, but it was not good enough to win as the winning group came in at minus 17 net. Oh well, it was a good, fun day, and we all know Rob was up there watching every minute of it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

NAPP Image of the Week

I got a pretty surprising email Friday night from Larry Becker of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) saying that the above photo was chosen as the Image of the Week. This is very exciting for me as the NAPP site is one of my favorites, and the members of NAPP are respected to be praised amongst this group of photographers and graphic artists, it is a real honor.

These other two images, above, were earlier selected as "Editor's Choice" awards by NAPP in August and July of 2006 respectively.

Pretty cool. I am happy. By the way, if you want to see my image displayed on the NAPP website, click on the NAPP link to the right...once there, click on "on-line portfolio", then click on "view NAPP member portfolios", and you will see my photo there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Last Two Photos From Bromo

Here are two more photos from our weekend trip. The top one is of Kayla, of course....having a blast running around in the volcanic sand. The second shot is of Malang, a small city about 3 hours from Bromo. Look carefully at the bottom of the photo, and you will see a guy....well, take a look.

Did you notice the new look to the blog? I figured out how to change the header....pretty cool, heh?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Shot of Bromo

It was just another day at work. Kayla has had a bad cold the past two days, so hasn't gone to school. I have been spending the past two hours or so going through my photos from Bromo. in the other room I hear Kayla crying and Tika yelling.....not pretty sounds....I think I will hybernate in my office for another hour.

Anyway, I like this shot of Bromo. It is from a different angle and shot later in the morning as we were driving down the mountain.

Ok, I am being beckoned to calm the much for hiding in my office...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The PHOTO of Bromo

And here it is.....the photo I was after when dreaming of going to Bromo. Click on the photo for a bigger version.

We got up at 3;30 in the morning to drive to the top of the mountain for this view. The sun rose to the left of the photo. When we got to the top, there must have been literally a thousand people up there. There was only a small area at the top of the sheer cliff for people to stand, and it was really about 5 people deep from the railing. I was VERY disappointed as I needed to set up my tripod, and I wanted a good shot.

I decided to do some exploring in the dark for a spot. I managed to climb over the wall to a small trail just right of the cement standing area. The trail was a very small trail on top of a VERY steep cliff. Just in front of the standing area (about 50 feet below where people were standing) was a nice tree, and a small spot just large enough for me to sit and place my tripod and camera. The view was flawless. So, I climbed back up all excited that I found a spot, grabbed my camera, carefully climbed back to my spot, set up my camera, and got this shot....just as Mount Semeru blew a nice plume of smoke from it's top. Mount Bromo is the short steaming volocano in the front left of the photo, and the mountain in front is an extinct volcano.

This is truly a unique location in the world....not sure you will ever see a view like this anywhere else. A very special day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Day at Bromo

We started the morning by waking at 3:30 in the morning to climb in a jeep with our winter clothes on to drive to the top of the mountain. I will show you a photo of the view we had in tomorrow's blog entry. After viewing the sunset, we rode horses across the "sea of sand" to the bottom of Mount Bromo. Then we climed 250 steps to the top of Bromo and had a peak down the steaming crater. Kayla loved riding the horses...

We then hired a jeep to take us to the more remote parts of the "sea of sand". It was really a cool ride...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Drive to Bromo

Our drive to Bromo was a long one. It was a national holiday (Independence Day), but the traffic was still a nightmare. The worst was when we got near the site where massive hot mud flows from an oil exploratory site had completely drowned a small village a few months ago. Below is a photo of the village under the mud.

We arrived at Mount Bromo at about 4:00 in the afternoon. We were up high in the mountains, and stayed in a hotel on the caldera of Mount Bromo.

This is our hotel, the "Lava View Hotel"

We had to buy some warm hats as it was cold up there. We got to bed early as we had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to take a jeep up to the very top of the mountain to see the sunrise.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Leaving For Bromo

It was a last minute decision. Three days off....what to do. I really didn't want to stick around Jakarta for Indonesia's Independence Day, so we decided to head to Mount Bromo, which is an active volcano about 3 hours from Surabaya. Scott Chamberlain has taken middle school kids there the past 5 years, so I met with him, and he set up some plans with his contact, Edy, in Surabaya.

The trip started out with Tika furious with the airline. When we arrived at the airport, the plane was delayed a couple of hours. We got in line to check-in, and the woman at the counter, after maybe 15 minutes of waiting, waved us to the other counter. So, we moved to the other counter. After 20 minutes of more waiting, we got to the front. The guy then told us we couldn't check-in there because we had baggage. I thought Tika was going to hit the guy. Then, when finally boarding, an announcement was made that there would be no seat assignments as something happened with the computer. So, it was a mad rush for good seats. We were last on board, and had to sit in the very back row next to the bathroom (our original seats said row 3).

All was good when we landed in Surabaya, and dropped off at our beautiful hotel (pictured above).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Link to Replace Wrong Link

Just so you know, I have had the wrong link all along for my friend, Mark Murnane's blog. I have now corrected the link. Mark, if you are reading this, sorry about that.

The photo above is of my buddy, Tom Bartlett. He is a very animated young man, and would probably give me that face knowing that I have screwed up the past few months with the wrong link to Mark's blog.

Can you tell I had nothing else to write about in today's blog entry??

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ocean Park Re-Visited

Well, Tika went to Solo to take her Mom home.... So, Kayla and I were stuck in the house by ourselves. A few friends were taking their kids to the new Ocean Park, so we decided to join them. Kayla had a good time. It was not really that crowded to my surprise when we got there, but at around noon, the crowds began to invade, so we just packed up our stuff and left.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kayla Goes to School

Ok, it was pretty dang cute. Kayla actually got up early enough to make it to her first day of school on time. Tika and I were both able to stay with her for most of the class. I had to leave a bit earlier to go to work. We can follow her again tomorrow, but on Monday, we will have to drop her off at class and leave her there...that will be the challenging day.

Kayla's teacher is Sue Sietsma who is a good friend of ours. She was absolutely amazing with the kids. It takes a special kind of person to deal with a class full of three year olds. We are very lucky to have such a professional as Kayla's first teacher. Thanks Sue for teaching our little are amazing.

You may have heard on the news about the earth quake last night. Tika and I felt it near midnight. Our bed was shaking...I thought it was Tika moving in bed, but then we both woke up and realized it was an earth quake. No damage in Indonesia that I have heard of, but we did hear that it was a pretty big quake....around 7.5 on the Richter scale....but we heard it was pretty deep down in the earth so no real damage. Tika's sister sent a message saying that everyone in her town got out of their house in fear that it was the other "big one" like the one that killed thousands last year in her town.

If you get the chance, read Butch's blog....there is a good description about what it is like sleeping when the electricity goes out in is really funny. His link is on the right.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ibu Returns to Solo on Friday

Above is Ibu (Ibu means "mom" in Indonesian), Tika, Sri (Tika's niece) and Kayla

Above is a view of our house from the backyard. The big open window is our masterbedroom. Above the master bedroom is my office, and to the left of the bedroom is our outdoor part of the master bathroom.

Ibu leaves on Friday, and she wanted to go out to the house today and sit by her favorite tree one last time before going home. She is always a real pleasure to have around the house, and we will miss her when she goes home. Tika will fly with her home, and then fly back on Saturday.

Today was my last day of work without students. Tomorrow the real deal starts. There will be an opening assembly, and then I will teach two classes. I am all prepared for the onslaught of students, and look forward to meeting them all....that is always fun.

The big news is that Kayla starts tomorrow as well. I will let you know more about that in tomorrow's blog entry....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Office Taking Shape

This will be my office (below)

If I look out the window on the right side of my office, this is my view

If I look out the window in the front of the office I see the pool below...

And finally, If I look to the left from the front window, I can see our living room downstairs...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back to Work

Well, back to work today. The students don't show up until Thursday, so we have meetings to attend, lesson plans to write, and our classrooms to set up. This is my classroom above. Notice the new smartboard to the left. The smartboard is a pretty cool thing. When you project the computer image onto it, you can use your fingers like a mouse....very cool. I have to learn how to use it, but it will be a fun toy to play with while teaching.

In other news....Tika went to go see the invitro doctor today. She will have some x-rays taken tomorrow, and we should be able to give this thing a try next month....wish her (us) luck!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Last Weekend of Vacation

Mariska, one of Kayla's best friends, came over for a visit today. They had a blast running around the neighborhood and making a mess in the house.

Today was our last day of vacation. School starts tomorrow. Yuck. I played golf today....or should I say I "tried" to play golf today. I did not play well, but I still won some money due to my partner, Dave Tarcy, who was on fire.

The medical in Singapore went well. I still have a diseased colon, but there was no sign of dysplacia (pre-cancerous cells). I was given a different medicine (a steroid) to bring down the swelling, and I still have to take my old medicine as well. I am very relieved though to know that I am good for at least another year with my colon problems....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

House and Diet Update

This is the front entranceway. The guy is sealing the fish ponds. Those steel beams are sitting on what will be a small balinese gazebo. We decided today to use large stones to cover the outside of the house.
On the left is Burhan, our architect, and the guy on the right is Tony, one of our main construction guys. Burhan came to the house today to make changes to our master bathroom, and to answer some questions the builders had.

So, update on the house....we are going to re-design our bathroom. We didn't like the original plans that had a smallish bathroom, a glass wall, and a garden. Instead, we want to utilize the entire space and make a somewhat outdoor bathroom. Instead of buying a traditional bath tub, we are going to have one made for us.....a huge Jacuzzi type. We will have two sinks, and an outdoor shower....all will be incorporated with a nice garden. It should be much better, and actually cheaper than we originally planned (I think).

My diet is going well. I have not slipped once. I have completely cut out all cookies, candies, chocolate, cakes, Kryspy Kreme Donuts, ice cream, sodas, pasta, rice, and potatoes from my diet. So far, so good....but sure crave one of the above every once in a while. Tika says I look skinnier, but I still feel fat.....I will keep it up until I get down to 165 pounds....I am at around 175 that is 10 pounds. As promised to Dad, I will give you a weekly update.

I am off to Singapore tomorrow morning for my colonoskopy on Friday. I don't mind the procedure itself, but I sure hate the prep. I get nauseous just thinking about that terrible stuff you have to drink.....yuck.