Friday, September 29, 2006

Rock Paper Scissors? Who Knew?

With the 2006 World Rock Paper Scissors Championships coming up in November in Toronto and $10,000.00 on the line (not to mention bragging rights of being able to call yourself "World Champion of RPS"), trying to get some sort of edge on your competition is becoming a focal point for a lot of players.

Little bit of background. Contrary to what you might think RPS is not simply a game of luck or chance. While it is true that from a mathematical perspective the 'optimum' strategy is to play randomly, it still is not a winning strategy for two reasons. First, 'optimum' in this case means you should win, lose and draw an equal number of times (hardly a winning strategy over the long term). Second, Humans, try as they might, are terrible at trying to be random, in fact often humans in trying to approximate randomness become quite predictable. So knowing that there is always something motivating your opponent's actions, there are a couple of tricks and techniques that you can use to tip the balance in your favour.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Blogging In The Blackout!

Greetings from southern California. I am currently sitting in my pitch dark hotel room while crews replace a downed power line and possibly a transformer.

From what I have learned, this is the story so far. Power line snaps, falls across street, starts fire in field right in front of hotel, (I watched that part) an 8 x 8 block area then goes dark. The police block off the whole area not letting any cars in. Anyone out in the world eating dinner are now trapped on the outside of the line. I am stuck at the hotel with not a single source of light. The emergency hall and stair lights have exhausted their batteries and it is just flat black everywhere! The last estimate is that it will be at least 6 more hours until they get the lights back on. The hotel does not have any flashligts or alternate source of lighting for the guests. I don't care myself, but you know that there are people down at the front desk right now demanding their money back as I type this.

It is at this point you start to realize just how much we depend on electricity. A shudder runs through me as I try to imagine life after my cell phone goes dead! It being my only entertainment and source of light makes it pretty important right now. "Why the hell am I typing this to you guys???". "I need to save the battery for myself!"

Someone just tried their key in my door!

Well, I guess I will do the only thing left to do... Call 911 and tell them how uncomfortable I am sitting here in the dark!

Or... Go to sleep.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Changes In The Yard

The path between the shop and the house is complete.

The back yard has berms, plants and we watch for the grass to start growing from seed. This is the right side of the back yard.

This is a berm on the left side of the back yard.

The water feature is complete. We are going to bring in some more plants for the bed around it, sometime before winter sets in.

Latest On The Shop

Here's how it looks completed.
Yup, I'm filling it up quickly. This is looking through the right garage door.

Even more stuff through the left garage door.

New Chairs For The Kitchen

They even swivel.
If you wish to belly up to the kitchen counter... go ahead.

Never, EVER, Talk In The Mens Room!

Why It Took So Long...

Here is a fine example of why things take just a little longer than you think they should. I will say that this was a lunch break and all, but still! We are now so close to being done with builders and landscapers! There will be a party I assure you.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

100% Free Games!

These are all free, not shareware or crippleware.

A Whole Week In One Place!

I must say it has been nice staying in one place for the last week. It's an extra bonus that it has been at home!

The shop is complete with just a few minor touch up jobs left to do. I put up the wall racking, so Deb and I have begun to transfer all of the stuff from boxes and piles in the garage to shelves and cupboards in the shop. It will take some time to complete the move but it will be nice to finally park the cars in the garage. Here is what goes in the shop: ATV's, Waverunner, ATV trailer, utility trailer, Jeep Wrangler, and there is still room left.

The yard is done! Not sort of done, or kind of done, but really done. We watch the back yard closely as the drill seed grass is beginning to come up, and even mowed the front yard where the sod has taken hold. We intend to bring in some more plants and do some things here and there, but we will do that ourselves as landscaping can get expensive fast!

It is finally getting cool here in Idaho and no one is happier than we are. The house is sitting right at 65 degrees with no air conditioning or heat running for the last week. Of course it still has not rained a drop since we arrived in July, but you can't ask for everything! The air is finally starting to clear of smoke from all of the forest fires. We had some days that were so bad, they cancelled all out door activities for schools and public sports fields. I thought I was back in Hong Kong! It smelled like one giant camp fire outside.

I will shoot some photos of the completed shop and yard tomorrow.

The Panama Canal


Welcome To The Panama Canal!

You can't believe how big!

We pose for this photo just moments before a big rain squall arrives.

Top of a 12 story tall set of lock doors.

These trains do not pull the ships through the locks, they only guide it. The ships are under their own power the whole trip through.

Moving from one lock to the next.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Last Night In Panama

Deb and I are currently hanging out in the Ceasar Park Hotel here in Panama City. Tomorrow starts early with a trip to the Airport at 6:00am. We then get to spend the whole day traveling, only to be stopped short at 11:00pm in Portland. That's right, no flights into Boise are available until Monday morning... 9/11. I am sure security will be high and all will be well, but even 5 years later I think most would rather avoid air travel on this day. I see that the cable news channels will be running their actual coverage from 9/11 as it was broadcast that day in 2001. Deb and I discussed this and we both think we should record and watch it, but feel it will have an emotional effect on us. I still remember standing in front of the television talking to Deb on the phone as she was in a Hotel in Astoria for work and I was at the house in Vancouver. We both watched the first tower fall live on television during that call. It was not a moment I think I will ever forget. It would be nice to undo that day, put it back the way it was. I think it is safe to say, if there was any way to do it, any way at all, we would.

The Dance

This shot was taken just moments before I really put my moves on!

Journey To Panama


BOI To PDX Distance 344 Miles
PDX To DFW Distance 1616 Miles
DFW To MIA Distance 1121 Miles
MIA To PTY Distance 1152 Miles
PTY To MIA Distance 1152 Miles
MIA To DFW Distance 1121 Miles
DFW To PDX Distance 1616 Miles
PDX To BOI Distance 344 Miles

Total: 8465 miles

Locations:

BOI Boise [Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field], ID, US
PDX Portland [Intl], OR, US
DFW Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, US
MIA Miami [Intl], FL, US
PTY Panamá City [Tocumen Intl], PA

Looking For A Retirement Getaway?

The Underground Fortress is an 8th wonder of the world! It is an unbelievable feet of engineering. The Fortress goes a total of 45 feet under the house! That is below sea level! The fortress has over 1600 sq. ft. of living area, plus hundreds of more square feet of passages and secrets rooms.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Panamanian Dancers

A Panamanian Dance Group came to our Hotel and put on a show in the lobby. Very colorful and with mucho gusto as you can see!

Deb & Rick Go Native!

Come on, you don't see this every day! Deb and I spent the day with a tribe of Embera Indians in Central Panama. The morning started at 8 am with an hour and a half van ride to the Chagres River. After a 20 minute canoe ride and a walk in the jungle we had the opportunity to swim in the Chagres River under a huge water fall. After that we were back in the boat and on our way to the Indian Village We were greeted by music and many handshakes. After being lead to the main hut, we had a lunch of Tilapia (fish) and Platanutres (fried Plantain Bananas) served up in a large leaf. We learned about their culture, crafts and even got a chance to dance with them. We picked up some very unique items made by the people we talked to.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Three Toed Sloth

All he wanted to do was scratch! Yup, hung there for 5 minutes and did lots of scratching.

Panama Update

Here is the latest news from Colon:

- I had a pretty good battle last night with food poisoning. Thank goodness for modern medicine is all I can say! My stomach was a tad bit sensitive this morning and I was sleepy from being up most of the night, but I just got done cramming a ton of rice and chicken into my gut and all seems well again.

- We are scheduled to go on a tour all day tomorrow to see the Embera Indians: This is one of the most popular local day tours.This is the real thing- right out of the pages of National Geographic- an authentic, unforgettable encounter with a living Indian culture. An hour and half from Panama City, take a motorized canoe (the only means of transportation in the jungle) to ascend the river to an authentic Embera Indian village along a river bank. During your stay, the Indians will share their native foods, perform tribal dances, show you how they weave their intricate baskets and explain their way of life, culture and beliefs. We'll keep you posted.

- Deb and I are starting to get a bit worried as both of us are running low on books to read! There is just something about sitting out in the rain (under cover of course) and reading, but this has consumed our stash of reading material and there are no new sources of books in the area. Trust me, we have looked.

- After a week of travel, we have now filled a huge duffel bag with shall I say used clothes. We attempt to allow the wettest of items to dry as best they can before we stuff them into the bag, but I don't think that has helped much. Let me just say that I pity the TSA guy who gets the job of searching that bag!

- We have been visiting a tree out by the pool for several days where we have been watching a 3 toed sloth. The trouble has been that every time we go out with cameras in hand the creature is all curled up into a ball. Well yesterday was the day, we get there and Mr. (or Mrs.) sloth is hanging upside down all stretched out and smiling for the camera. I will post a photo soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Panama Creatures

These guys came out every day at the Gambo Resort and munched on the grass. They seem to be some kind of large rodent like a Nutria to me.


Right at head level this leaf hung full of these wasps! Used the zoom lens on this shot I assure you!


This shot does not do this spider justice... It is huge! As big as a child's hand!


This Gecko showed up every night on our balcony.

"My what big teeth you have!" This shot took awhile to get... Since it was through a piece of glass! They have a reptile zoo at the Gamboa Lodge and this fine reptile was in a nice display there.

Gamboa Photo Flood

The view of the Chagres River from our room.


A Sulfur Butterfly that finally stayed still long enough for the shot.


Deb getting into relaxation mode.


The pool.

A Panama Photo

The entrance to the Gambo Rainforest Resort
We are currently in Colon, Panama staying at the Melia Panama Canal Resort. It is a nice place and we are having a great time. The only problem is that the internet connection is so antiquated that it takes 10 minutes a photo to upload. So, the photos will be scarce until I get to some place with more bandwidth.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Humidity…

Here we are on day four of our Central American get away, and I thought I would update you on the status of our clothes. “What? We don’t need to hear about your stupid clothes!” is ringing through your head right now, but you’re going to hear it anyway. I estimate that the suitcases are gaining around a half pound a day each. All of the added weight is water, being absorbed by our laundry! Humidity; it is the constant fog that coats the outside of all the windows, it is the line of water under our room door due to a bad weather seal, it is the reason I have to leave the camera outside on the deck, so I don’t stare at a ‘DEW’ warning all day instead of taking pictures. Now all this moisture absorption is happening inside the air conditioned room, the stuff we actually wear outside our climate controlled living area is another thing completely. After awhile you start to get used to the constant sheen of sweat that ends up coating your body every time you head out into the world. There is not a dry piece of skin or clothing on you within a few minutes of leaving the sanctuary that was A/C. Now this is all well and good until you come back to your room. It starts with an “Ahhhhh.” As the cool air hits you, and then the next moment you are cold… and wet. It is 75 degrees inside and you are freezing your sweaty ass off! You wrap a blanket around yourself and pick up your book. The once flat packet of words has expanded into a sprung accordion! The cover is curled forever and it looks as if the whole thing has been fished out of the toilet and allowed to dry… almost. Not that you could read it because your glasses have fogged up from the steam rising around your neck as you warm up from the blanket. So here I sit typing this with my water glass sitting next to me on a towel, being careful not to drip the condensation on the computer when I take a drink. I am thinking you all must think this sounds awful. Nope, it’s actually quite fun, and when we eventually do get dry, it will be great! Nothing worth typing 402 words about, but nice none the less.

The First Night In Panama

Deb and I arrived late in Panama, arriving at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort At The Panama Canal around 9:00pm. We were dog tired after over 15 hours of travel but we were even hungrier! After a nice dinner we hit the sack and quickly passed out. At around 1:30 am we were both awaken by a great flash of light followed by loud thunder. We headed out to our covered patio and watched a great rain and lightning storm. Directly above us there was a hole in the clouds, and through it the stars were impossibly bright. Added to the mix were fire flies pulsing all around us the whole time. On the stucco around us chameleon lizards matching the color of the paint they clung to helped to round out the experience. It was at that point I realized that I was definitely on vacation!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hola! From Panama!

Deb and I are just back from our trip through the Panama Canal. We are currently staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort located in the middle of the Country right along the canal path. So far we have seen many Jungle animals, rode the aerial Tram, watched a few lightning storms, rode through all of the locks on a day long boat ride through the canal, and the rest of the time has been spent eating or reading in the hammock! Tomorrow we head to Colon on the Carribian side of Panama to try out our timeshare there.

Hugo de Mango (A mango smoothy) has been the taste treat of the trip for me so far, but all of the food here has been very good. The Gamboa Resort is located right on the Canal in a protected rainforest and offers beautiful unspoiled views of the jungle covered mountains in all directions.

We are heading off to dinner soon...