Monday, October 16, 2006

Earthquake in Hawaii - update for travelers

Hawaii experienced a significant earthquake yesterday morning, centered off the west coast of the Big Island. The following update is from an email I received a few minutes ago from John Monahan, who's the CEO & president of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau:

"Hawaii is fortunate that the October 15 earthquake did not result in any loss of life or serious injury. The earthquake did cause a power outage, which temporarily disrupted air traffic and transportation systems. Electrical power has been restored and conditions in Hawai‘i have returned to normal.

All hotels and resorts in Hawai‘i are reported open and operating. Scheduled flights are generally operating; however, some flights have been delayed due to yesterday's disruptions, so passengers are advised to reconfirm their flights prior to going to the airport. Callers to airline reservations systems should anticipate that, with heavy call volume, they may experience a delay in having their call answered.

All main roads in Hawai‘i are open; however a rural highway on the Big Island of Hawai‘i (between Kawaihae and Hawi) is temporarily closed. Visitors who are sightseeing by car in that area are advised to check with their hotel for current conditions.

While media outlets carried pictures of isolated damage in Hawai‘i, hotel operations are unaffected.

Hawai‘i is welcoming visitors."

Great technical information and visuals are available at the USGS site.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Antarctica Expedition 2007

Antarctica is that cold white continent at the bottom of the earth. For some, to call it enchanting, beautiful, alluring and magical would be questionable. Unprepared it can be anything but this. I have spent two winters and close to 5 years of my life in Antarctica. I have seen much of this remarkable piece of the earth and I consider myself extremely fortunate.

My wife and I met at the end of the earth. For real, I kid you not. I met Torre in Antarctica in October of 1999. She was a scientist and I was part of the US Antarctic Program support staff. I can’t say it was love at first sight for either of us. But the first sight for both of us had a very large red parka involved, and mittens, and a hat and a full face mask and goggles too. My interactions with Torre
were limited that season (her first), as she rarely was able to come to "town". Torre is a marine biologist and her science team was studying the diving techniques and habits of emperor penguins. Her field camp was on the sea ice and is named “Penguin Ranch.” I lived in “town.” McMurdo Station has about 1000 people coming and going during the austral summer. Everyone in town wants to visit the ranch and check out the penguins. I was lucky since I dealt directly with the group. Some of the equipment they used was my responsibility and I would embrace every opportunity to help them out. This first season, I saw very little of Torre. The next season was different. When Torre walked into my shop and said “Hi, remember me?,” I admitted to her later that I thought “no, but I WANT to.” It must have been that clothing thing. A vibrant attractive lady had just walked into my shop sans that big red parka! This season was different for Torre. She was part of a group of 3 scientists this season and their project was closer to town. At Christmas, I offered to babysit a dozen rapidly growing emperor chicks so the three of them could enjoy a proper Christmas dinner in town together. Over the next two months our relationship gelled. We have been married since February of 2002. The past two seasons I have returned to Antarctica as part of their science team. I must admit, it is fun to tell people that I am a ranch hand at the Penguin Ranch as one of my jobs. Now, Torre and I have been approached to host a limited number of cabins for Azumano Travel on a cruise next February. We are excited to bring our world to others. In February it will quite possibly be nicer in Antarctica than your home. Remember, when Torre and I met, it was October and we were at a research facility. Ah, the luxury expedition cruise. What a fantastic way to see Antarctica and what a fantastic way for you to start your marriage. What a great way to begin what can be an exciting life of discovery and adventure.

Torre and I look forward to sharing this very special place with cruise participants. We have stories, photos, history, science, and information to share with all of you. With the issues of global warming and melting icecaps on the tips of our tongues this is the time to visit and understand our polar regions. We hope you can join us this next February.

Itinerary and more information here

-- Ed Stockard

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Your iPod is your personal translator

We discovered a cool new iPod application called Rambler Audio Phrase Books. Essentially it lets you look up common phrases in other languages quickly--very helpful if you're traveling in Europe, for instance.

Currently they've got French, German, Italian, and Spanish covered...and they've just announced a version for Japanese.

Show your honeymoon photos on your TV with Tivo

Got a Tivo box? You can do a slideshow of pics from your PC on your TV with a free downloadable application from Tivo called Tivo Desktop. It's pretty cool...and the pics come out sharp and colorful on the TV.

What you need to make this work: first, some sort of network connection to your PC (I have a wireless card on my Tivo box, which I finally got after the Tivo box drove me nuts dialing out at all hours of the day to get updated TV listings!). The Tivo box looks just like another computer on your network. Next, you download the free Tivo Desktop software to the PC that has your photos, then in that software you pic folders on your computer to share with Tivo.

That's about it. Sitting in front of your TV, you go through the Tivo menu to find the shared folders on your computer, then once you're inside the folder, there's an option to do a slideshow.

Let's face it--if you drag home your laptop and Infocus projector from work to show some friends your pics, you really look pretty nerdy :-)

-- Michael