Sunday, December 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI

Finally got my second dive in. It was much more interesting than the first one. There were an incredible amount of fish as well as a number of sea turtles. The turtles made my day, really.

Of course, I'm still pretty new at this, so I'm spending much of my time watching where I'm going, looking where my group is, concentrating on my breathing, etc. It pays off...unless you have no idea what you're doing. I hadn't really had any training using my Buoyancy Control Device (BCD). This resulted in me over compensating and therefore shooting up to the surface, followed by a quick drop back to the bottom...twice.

Lessons learned, though. I got the hang of it after the instructor gave me run down of the equipment again (at thirty feet below the surface). I did end up skipping the second dive planned for the day. I've gotten old enough to know when not to push myself.

Yeah, my right ear hurts like hell now. I'm told it'll go away in a day or two. I'll be back in the water after the Holidays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

From the Archives...

Originally uploaded by RobFargo
These ping pong tables are permanent structures in the Dortm√ľnd parks. All you need to provide are paddles and balls.

Not for the easily vertigoed...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wandering Tango

I was invited to add one of my pictures to a photo group on Flickr called Tango Errante (Wandering Tango). This seems rather fitting, considering my penchant for finding tango anywhere and everywhere (dancing tango at these found places, well, that's another issue all together).

It's nice to get a little recognition, even if it is a very little bit.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Word About Strays

La Serena, Chile.

I was warned about the stray dogs in La Serena. People had mentioned them, mostly with a tone of disbelief. Even the locals seemed to talk about them like they were a nuisance at best, and a menace at worst.

They certainly seemed wrong to me.

Maybe it's just me, but they seemed more like part of the scenery, rather than a problem. They simple wondered about, sniffing for food, and generally looking rather decrepit. Defeated might be a better term for it; they looked more like dogs which had been beaten for the majority of their life and, as a result, always looked at people with a guilty look in their eyes.

Not to say I didn't see any bad behaviour from the dogs, only amongst themselves. I did see a few dogs fighting, but not in a fashion that seemed overly violent. The fight looked more like an alpha dog reasserting his position in the hierarchy. The larger dogs did seem to travel in packs, the smaller ones on their own. Of these smaller dogs, they still would be considered a medium sized dog, were they a pet. I would venture a guess that most smaller breeds had either been run off, killed or were exceptionally good at hiding.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Hilo, HI

I feel pretty good about getting around to one of the new things on my list of things to try while I'm here in Hawaii: scuba diving. After last week's lessons-only day (the weather would not permit a first dive), we had our first dive yesterday.

I can't say that it was an amazing experience, given that most of the dive was spent practicing fundamentals. It was still exhilarating. You have to put a great amount of trust in the equipment[1]. Putting your face in the water and breathing requires you to overcome a rather powerful intuition that this should not be possible. Hence, it's a good idea to start breathing through the regulator before putting your face in the water.

Again, this was a dive that was practicing fundamentals: taking off the regulator and putting it back in while under water, using someone else's alternate air source, recovering your regulator, etc. Most of these things are important to know and practice in a controlled dive environment. Once you know what it's like, you are less likely to panic.

I'm looking forward to the future dives. There will be more fundamentals, but they should be more interesting as well. More depth, hopefully, as we only went down 15 feet on this first dive.

I'll be putting it off for a few weeks, as I'm headed to La Serena, Chile tomorrow night. It'll take two days to get there, so I'm planning on loading my laptop up with some pending tv shows.

[1] This is not to say that you do your own equipment checks on the rentals. The O-ring on my tank was looking a little used. It was fine for this dive, but the dive instructor made a note of it for replacement. Not to worry, I'm going to keep my eye on those O-rings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day at the Beach

Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI

I finally made it to the beach. I'm not a beach guy but it is nice. It's also the first sunset I've seen since I've been here.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Big Island Tango

Hilo, HI

There's tango here. It is a small community, but it's relatively new. There's about a dozen regulars, but a couple of beginners came this week. During the week, we have a lesson and a practica. Both are useful for retaining skills, but I do find myself surprisingly on the "skilled" end of the spectrum.

The other islands actually have pretty decent tango communities, even though the populations of many of the others are smaller. Apparently there is a workshop on the island of Kauai, which should have a decent turnout - it has a real Argentinian, after all.

This tango group is definitely giving credence to the idea the Big Island is the last place to get anything.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Promises, Moves, and Concerts

Hilo, HI,


First thing, first. Now that I'm settled, I plan on updating this blog every Friday and Sunday. Really, I promise, I'll do it.


This leads me into the part about being settled: I've found a permanent place to live. It's a recently renovated duplex. I live in the upstairs unit, and the downstairs unit is only temporarily occupied by my landlords. They're moving to Oahu (which actually seems to be pretty common with many rentals - the owners don't live on the Big Island), so they're hunting for a tenant. If I can find one soon, I'll get a free months rent.

I've been spending this and last weekend unpacking. I'm almost done with the major stuff - a couple of half-filled boxes of dishes awaiting their turns for the dishwasher, and a some boxes of clothes to put away. After that, I'll hang up my art pieces and I'll be more settled than I ever was in my Girard apartment. I'll post some pictures soon.


Last night was a three stage, six hour music festival of local[1] bands. It happens once a year and seems to draw about a third of the town. Since I've been here, I haven't seen so many people in one place. It actually made me feel a little uncomfortable. My expectations of small crowds has skewed my perception of big crowds. Back home, I would not have had a problem with fifteen thousand people, but here it just seemed overwhelming.

Needless to say, I didn't hang around too long. I had arrived late, due to unpacking, so I only caught the tail end of one band which had a good sound. Fortunately, on my way back to my car, I ran into some folks I met a few nights ago, and went back to the concert, stayed fifteen more minutes, and then went back to their place for cigar and some fine, Guatemalan, 23-year aged rum.


[1] It seems to me that "local" here means the state of Hawaii. The bands were from all over the islands, with a few from the Big Island. This seems true of most things - produce, furniture, art, etc. I'm getting the sense that there's much more of an affinity between the islands then there is between Hawaii and the Mainland.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

At Gemini

At Gemini
Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI

As far as programming jobs go, this one is a mixed bag. I've never worked in an organization that required so much in the way of documentation and meetings. My next six months will be less coding and more designing on paper. I try to keep my fingers in code, just to do a little testing of concepts, but I think my life will be dominated by writing words.

On the other hand, I did get to go to the army base and practice driving a four-wheel drive vehicle on dirt by weaving cones and doing donuts. That's not a perk in every job, is it?

It also involved driving up to the summit. I hadn't actually thought that I do it a second time, at least not anytime soon. It was much better than the first time. I felt great up there. A little light-headed durning the drive up, but that may have had to do with the road conditions (bumpier than all hell), then the altitude.

The drive down, on the other hand, was a pain. I drove from the summit, back to the office (about an hour's drive) in a very thick fog. Fortunately, this only started at the paved section of the mountain road, down. It would have been extremely white-knuckle otherwise. Of course, there are miles of construction on the Saddle Road which in foggy conditions is pain to drive.

The trip was made easier by my passengers: the two brits spent most of the time talking about how Captain Cook died. There's no better distraction than people discussing how an Eighteenth-centery explorer was dismembered by the natives.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Ready to Go
Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, Hi.

I checked out the Na Hoa Holomoku Yacht Club today. They have a little fleet of Sunfish, a couple of Hobie Cats and a pair of Volksboats. Well, without my life-jacket, hat, gloves, shoes, or really anything sailing related, I only took a couple rides on the Hobie cat.

I'll go next time, certainly. Since I should be getting possession of my car soon (the location of all the aforementioned sailing gear), I'll be set to practice tipping the boats, riding the swells (if I want to risk sailing past the breaker - which I do), and generally getting extremely burned.

I think a better sort of hat is in order.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Rest of Me

Hilo, HI

My things have arrived on the island. Not in my possession, mind you, they've merely arrived. My car is at the docks, some where. My container of personal belongings is also there, I imagine, stacked there like that warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark, never to be seen again.

The hunt for a more permanent residence has been a flurry of showings lately. I have seen a house a day for a week. Yet, still no luck. As I was told yesterday at a company BBQ, I need "to get used to a different standard of living."

Ah, crap.

So I'll keep looking. I'm headed to see another place this afternoon. Might be a good candidate. If it doesn't work out, I going to get a room in someone's house, pay a weekly rate until I can find a place of my own. There are a few options there, as well.

This weekend there is a intro meeting for the local sailing club. I plan on checking it out, sailing one of those little dinghies in the bay. It should be fun. I haven't sailed a really small boat since my UW sailing team days.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

If I Really Wanted Frequent Blog Posts...

... I could write them like this.

They are interesting, if short. It's almost like Orwell would have been right at home using Twitter.

A Little Sightseeing

Hilo, HI

I'm slowly doing a little sightseeing, here. I can't say that I'm getting out frequently, but I feel like I have plenty of time to see things. There's only so much to see, and I've got to pace myself.

It is an island, after all.

Well, that's not entirely why I haven't rushed out to see everything and anything worth seeing. I still not quite feeling settled, and that's limiting me to small excursions. I keep thinking that I'll get out and do something longer and more involved, once my car gets here and I get a permanent place to live. Once I have all my stuff, and I have permanent internet access.

Eh, excuses, excuses. Like not dancing because I don't have my shoes[1].

On the plus side, I don't have to worry about things closing down for the winter. Back in Minneapolis, I always have to be concerned about the limited summer season limiting my activities. There's only so little time, for so many things.

It's not going anywhere, and I'll see it all by the time I'm done here.

[1] Of course, as anyone who knows me, I don't need much in the way of excuses not to dance when I'm on my own.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Me on the Big Island>
Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI

I'm not sure this would be classified as travel, but I've relocated. Sure I'll come back to Minneapolis in the future, but for now I'm enjoying a change of scene.

In Hawaii, of all places.

More on the move and the job in future posts.

I've a little stretching to do to get back into writing shape. I need to rebuild the habit, so these entries may be slow in coming. Not to mention that I don't have access to internet outside of work...