The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make All Preparations For Getting Underway

It's a sad day today. All good things must eventually come to an end and I have to leave this tropical paradise and return home. I've met some really nice people while I was here and made some cool new friends. I'll definitely be coming back again someday and highly recommend Barnacle Bill's Beach Bungalows if you ever make the trip yourself.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got some packing to do. 2 o'clock  Puddlejumper to Belize City, 737 to Houston and another 737 to DFW. If all goes as planned, I should be back on the South 40 before midnight.

Wish me luck!

Blue Hole

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oh The Pain, The Pain!

Guess what happens when you take a 6 hour fishing trip in the Caribbean and forget to put on sunblock? I can barely walk my legs are so sunburned. I'm slathering aloe vera on my knees constantly but it ain't helping. Last night to get some sleep I took 2 damp washcloths and stuck them in the freezer until they were frozen then put them on my knees. I could have sworn I heard them sizzle when they touched the skin.

Today it's raining so I blew off the Monkey River tour. Probably a good thing because I'm not sure how far I could hike with these lobster legs.

I Went To Promote The Country, Too!

So far I haven't run into these gals...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Update

I didn't make it to the ruins up north today It was going to be an all day trip driving and not much time to spend exploring. Plus, I was still give out from hiking yesterday. (I swear I use my treadmill!) Last night I was waking up every hour on the hour with leg, arm and back cramps. I had really dehydrated myself so I decided on R&R this morning. Afterall that was the reason I made this trip in the first place.

I went into Placencia for lunch and ate at Wendy's. No, not "Where's the beef?" Wendy's. THIS Wendy's and  it was awesome! I dined alfresco and watched tourists and traffic filter thru the narrow street. I also met a very nice couple from Germany at the table next to me and we chatted after our meal. They rode the bus down from Belize City and it was notta good. I quickly informed them Maya Air was the only way to go. After hearing their tale I'm glad I didn't go with my usual preference for riding the bus to capture all the local flavor.

After lunch I did some souvenir shopping and spent a couple hours photographing kids and beachcombers while I sucked down rehydrated with "Reef Juice" at The Tipsy Tuna. Then I headed back To Barnacle Bill's to set reservations for my fishing trip tomorrow and wound up getting some free photo lessons from Bill shooting bats. I'll share those later after I get home and edit. I was actually embarrassed that I didn't even know how to adjust all the settings on my camera for the tips Bill was giving me. It was like Star Trek without a Universal Translator. I am such a noob.

Now I know why everyone keeps commenting on how light my camera is. Bill brought his Nikon out and it's easily 5 times heavier than mine. Then he brought out one of his lenses that by it's self weighs more than my camera and lens put together! I could just imagine how big a PITA it would be to lug that weight around. But I also imagine his Nikon is 10 times more durable than my Canon T3.

Ooh, forgot to mention I ate dinner last night at Mango's in Maya Beach. Great food! I chose the broiled lobster special and it was dee-lish.

That's all for now, I've got an early wake-up for deep sea fishing. The weather is supposed to turn crappy after tomorrow so it's going to be my last chance. There's no way in Hell I'm going to come all the way down here and NOT go fish and snorkel the World's 2nd largest Barrier Reef.

And if I haven't been perfectly clear, Barnacle Bill and Adriane are the greatest hosts you could ever wish for. You've got to come here and see for yourself! This place is awesome!

A Quick Update

I got an earlier start yesterday and did indeed make it to the ruins (2 of them actually) before they closed. I took tons of pics. I also discovered that I am the only person that drives the speed limit (55) in Belize. I finally said screw it and tried to run with the locals. The Ghettomobile wasn't quite up to the task so I kept it under 70 and still was getting passed like I was sitting still. The main highways here are like county roads at home with the exception of speed bumps entering and leaving town. The road on the peninsula has huge concrete bumps about every mile. Brake, clutch and suspension repair is probably a lucrative market here.

I may have overexerted myself hiking thru the ruins yesterday. After finishing the second one I was soaking wet. I made sure to bring some Gatorade and water with me, but last night I was cramping up something fierce. Hydration is my main focus for the rest of this trip.

I've also discovered that all of the videos I've preloaded to post are not viewable outside the US, so I hope they are working. Neither is Hulu or any of the other sites I usually watch commercial programs on. Odd.

Several of the expats living here keep wanting me to join their nightly floating poker game. The last thing I need is to be the outsider that  a)wins big  or  b)finances next month's living expenses for the expats. I tend to think it would be "b". No offense fellas. Maybe next trip!

I did discover that a lot of "local handmade art" is mass produced crap that probably comes from 1 source. I bought a couple trinkets from a woman that wandered up on the beach yesterday morning who claimed "I made these myself" only to discover the exact same trinkets being sold by little kids at the ruins 2 hours away. I should point out however that there are genuine local artists like Lola's Art. That my friends is the real deal.

I've also discovered that roughly 99% of the grocery stores in Belize are owned by Asians. Odd. The locals call them "Chiney stores".

La Isla Bonita

Madonna - La Isla Bonita by Warner-Music

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Used To Hate This Song: UPDATED

A brief update. My accommodations weren't quite what I was expecting. They are right on the beach and very secluded. You want peace and quiet? This is the place. But there's no A/C, no TV or radio. I'm not going to break into a karaoke of Gilligan's Island, because to be honest they never said there was any. I just ass/u/me'd there was. And to be quite honest, the longer I'm here the more I appreciate it.

The cool Caribbean breeze keeps things comfortable enough and I made sure to bring my laptop and some DVD's for something to listen to going to sleep.  Hell, I wasn't expecting the Hilton, especially at these prices! This isn't just a bargain, it's the Deal of The Century. You couldn't ask for more congenial hosts, plus they obviously have great WiFi. It's also within staggering distance from several fun little bars so I give it 8 out of 10 9 out of 10. If you were on a Honeymoon, 10 out of 10 without a doubt. This would be THE place to stay. After all who needs TV on a Honeymoon, right?

If I wanted to stay at "The Hilton", I would have gone to Francis Ford Coppola's uber-exclusive resort down the road. It's literally a couple of minutes away! But, I'm not sure my credit rating would pass their muster and who really wants Charlie Sheen and his Tiger Blood entourage staying next door?

Plus, I always thought Coppola was over rated as a Director and definitely as a winemaker.

Sorry, Francis.

The only semi-complaint I have is the car rental situation (which is completely separate from where I'm staying). I'm paying $85 a day for a ragged out Isuzu Rodeo that has the Check Engine light flashing like it's a refugee from Studio 54 (Pay no attention to that!), a busted radio and on again / off again power windows. Just beat on the door long enough and it will eventually work. (No illegal immigrant worker jokes, please)

I took the Ghettomobile (honestly, that's what the rental place called it) and headed south to the Lubaantun ruins. After driving 2 hours I got there right as they closed. It wasn't a completely wasted trip, tho. I got to see a couple small villages smack dab in the middle of BFE. The dirt road was barely passable in dry conditions. All I could think of was "I really don't need a hole in my oil pan right about now" while "It's a Long Way To The Top If Ya Want To Rock and Roll" was on terminal repeat in my head. Funny what songs will get stuck in your head when the radio doesn't work... I can't imagine how they get thru in the rainy season. I wasn't even sure if I was heading down the right dirt road until I started meeting delivery trucks and school buses coming back from the villages. That is one driving job I do not want.

I'm just ass/u/me-ing they were delivery trucks for the village. The Guatemalan border wasn't far and both you and I know that cocaine isn't going to cross the border by itself!

And the next time I hear somebody bitch about how bad things are in Wise County, I'm whipping out those village pics. Hard times? You ain't got a clue, Brutha! It's been a long time since I've seen a "Town Pump" and I ain't talking about Mary Jane Rottencrotch. No wonder they want to sneak into the US illegally.

Unless you are an Ex-pat or living in a tourist area, this place is pure hell. I'm sure there's worse living conditions on this planet, but I haven't seen them. It really touched me.

Tomorrow I'm getting an early start and heading for the larger ruins up North. Hopefully, I'll see where Jaguar Paw narrowly escaped death thanks to an eclipse... I may just  run a zig-zag pattern from the ruins back to the Ghettomobile in his honor.

If I see this kid anywhere along the way I'm on the next F'n flight outa here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

View from my front door

Yeah, this could get habit forming...

They Filmed My Arrival

Actually, it was more like this...

FYI, that's not a taxiway at the end of the runway. That's the main highway!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Autopilot Is On

I've got a 6am flight in the morning. If you know anything about me at all, you know it's more likely I'll be awake at 6am because I've been up all night than it is I woke up that early. I don't do mornings well at all. Too many overnight jobs has done a number on my sleeping habits. This early reveille is for a good cause, The South 40 is sending a representative on a delicate diplomatic mission to Central America. We are also sending 2 battery free fire alarm systems as a good will gesture.

If all goes well, we may install an Embassy there. Did you know you can live in Belize tax free if you are over 40? It was listed as one of the Top 10 places in the world to retire by Maxim Magazine. We'll see...

In the meantime, I've loaded the turntable with a few posts to keep you occupied until I return. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On The Radar: Archer Season 3

Season 3 of Archer starts tonight on FX. I was completely out on this series in the beginning because it looked like a duplicate of Adult Swim's "Frisky Dingo" (which was absolutely awful). But Archer is funny. Seriously funny. 

Definitely DVR worthy.

Don't take my Kodachrome away..

From The Financial Times:

Eastman Kodak’s long battle to remake itself for the digital age ended in failure early on Thursday morning as the company that was instrumental in turning photography into a popular pastime filed for bankruptcy.

The 131-year-old company said that it had filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code, along with its US subsidiaries, but that units elsewhere were not affected by the action and would continue to meet their obligations to suppliers. The move gives the company protection from its creditors while it seeks to reorganise its finances and is intended to result in a reorganisation of the US operations in 2013, Kodak said.

In a statement issued in the early hours of Thursday morning, Antonio Perez, chairman and chief executive, said the company now generated 75 per cent of its revenue from digital businesses.

However, its overall sales have collapsed faster than it has been able to replace them with new businesses, and successive rounds of cost-cutting have failed to bring costs down fast enough to keep pace with its shrinking operations. Mr Perez said that Kodak had shed 47,000 jobs and closed 13 manufacturing plants and 130 processing labs since 2003.

Wow, who would have ever imagined Kodak going bankrupt? The industry standard since the film industry began. Now they are suddenly out in the cold after technology changed. It's the classic horse and buggy blacksmith scenario. Learn to fix cars or go out of business.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Zooey Deschanel

I have our candlelight dinner all planned!

On The Radar: Justified

Everybody's favorite U.S. Marshall Rayan Givens (apologies to Matt Dillon and Rooster Cogburn) returns tonight in the Season 3 Premier of FX's Justified. Based on the works of Elmore Leonard, Justified is undeniably one of the best drama series on TV.

Many fans were outraged when outlaw matriarch Mags Bennett (played by Emmy Award winner Margo Martindale) committed suicide in last year's Season Finale. Fear not fans, Executive Producer Graham Yost has a pair of aces up his sleeve in the form of  Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers) and Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump's "Bubba") to keep the coals stoked for Season 3.

Expect a hair-raising rollercoaster ride down Copperhead Road thru the Harlan County, Kentucky hills on the new season of Justified.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stock Show Parade

Took a few pictures at the 2012 Fort Worth Stock Show Parade.
(Click to embiggen) 

 TCU's Flying Tubas

That's a long bus ride!
Even these guys couldn't save Tim Tebow from The Pats

 I need to work on light balance.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Somebody needs to tell Fox 4's Lauren Przybyl that the Fort Worth Stock Show Parade does not go "right thru Downtown Dallas". She grew up here, right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Zombie Cheeseburger

WINDSOR, Ont. — Whenever Melanie Hesketh's kids get a hankering for junk food, all she has to do is point to the kitchen counter.
That's where she keeps an unwrapped cheeseburger that celebrates its birthday Thursday, and it looks pretty much the same as the day it came off a McDonald's grill 12 months ago.
Mould, maggots, fungi, bacteria — all have avoided the tempting meal that sits in plain view.
"Obviously it makes me wonder why we choose to eat food like this when even bacteria won't eat it," said Hesketh.
The meat patty has shrunk a bit, but it still looks edible and, with a faint but lingering greasy, leathery odour, she said it "still smells slightly like a burger . . . it hasn't changed much."
As a professional nutritionist at Windsor's Lifetime Wellness Centre, Hesketh was already armed with the education and all the proper facts and information to steer her children — ages 13 and 15 — toward the best food choices.
But what self-respecting teen is going to listen to well-meaning lectures from mom, especially on a product sold by the millions annually?
The Internet and social media are filled with tales of fast-food products made for quick consumption but seemingly immune to the ravages of time, and that's how Hesketh got the idea on how best to educate her own kids.
It's worked marvellously. Despite peer pressure to hang out at the cheap and fast burger chain outlets popular with young people, Hesketh said her oldest son has been back "maybe twice" to McDonald's over the past year.
"It's made him more aware, and he makes better choices, definitely," said Hesketh.
The experience has triggered other healthy changes around the Hesketh household, including the family's decision this year to create a garden and start growing some of their own fresh food.
The tough cheeseburger travels well and Hesketh has brought it to work to show off to those, like her teens, who need visuals for extra convincing.
"It's a great eye opener . . . We use it to educate our patients that what they're putting into their bodies may not be healthy," she said.
"I think most people who see this are swayed," said Michelle Prince, a chiropractor who runs Lifetime Wellness Centre.
Calls Wednesday to McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd. went unanswered, but the world's top-selling burger chain, whose menu is increasingly populated by healthier meal choices, has lashed out before against similar criticism.
"Despite the myths out there, our meat is very real!" the company says on its website, adding McDonald's Canada "uses only 100 per cent Canadian, CFIA-inspected beef."
The patties are "sprinkled with salt and pepper at the restaurant during cooking. That's it. No additives, fillers or binding agents," the website says.
But Hesketh points to the "astronomical" salt content in many fast food products when asked to explain how a burger can last so long and still look so good. A McDonald's cheeseburger weighs in at 115 grams at the time of cooking, but delivers 200 calories and 750 milligrams of sodium.
Meat patty aside, Prince points to the perfectly preserved bun and the slice of cheese as areas of concern.
What's described on McDonald's "Food Facts" webpage as simply "regular bun" can actually contain 32 or more ingredients, including everything from polysorbate 20 and sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate to calcium propionate and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, many of them long names to describe additives, preservatives and emulsifiers. The processed cheese slice has 15 ingredients.
"Ideally," said Hesketh, she would have liked to have seen some mould eventually growing on that still-perfect (yet hardened) bun. At the time of purchase, she ordered her cheeseburger plain, without ketchup and mustard, but there's been no special handling or storage over the previous 365 days.
Asked what she plans to do now with her yearling burger, Hesketh responded: "I'm going to keep it forever — it's a good conversation piece."
Prince and Hesketh said a lot of the patients they see at their Windsor clinic suffer from high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and diabetes.
"All of it can be attributed to what they are eating," said Hesketh, who hopes her burger helps serve as a reminder for people to "take more consideration" in what they consume.
"People forget what real food is," said Prince.

Read more:

Personally, I've been out on McDonald's since I watched "Super Size Me" and "Food, Inc".

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On The Radar: Chronicle

I'm a sucker for good sci-fi and this story intrigues me. Reminds me of the classic Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" with Billy Mumy.

While I've got my reviewer's soapbox out, I need to issue a few quick DVR Alerts.

Pan Am returns tonight on ABC. The show is on shaky ground ratings-wise. Unless the writing makes an improvement the series may be grounded permanently. While a stewardess/ CIA courier bit may be plausable, the revisionist history and absolute suspension of reality isn't. The show still has possibilities. Give me more Karine Vanasse and less save the world...

Super is a surprisingly good quirky little film starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Unfortunately, it was immediately labeled as a rip off of "Kickass" and this low budget indie film didn't even recover 1/6th of it's $2.5 million budget at the box office. I understand it's a hard sell, but "Fry cook talks to God and decides to become a masked crimefighter with no superpowers" actually works.

Super also features a fantastic supporting cast with Nathan Fillion, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Linda Cardellini and Michael Rooker. You can catch it this week on Showtime.

Speaking of Showtime, tonight marks the return of two very funny series, Shameless and Californication, plus the debut of House of Lies starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell.

I may have to clear some drive space on the DVR...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Have a Special Purpose!

While Golden Globe nominee Zooey Deschanel's career has hit a high note, her personal life is a bit more bittersweet.

 The New Girl actress, 31, filed for divorce on Dec. 27 from Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard, 35, according to court documents.

 The papers list their date of separation as Oct. 31 – Halloween – and cite irreconcilable differences.

I would like to officially announce my campaign to win the heart of Ms Deschannel. Unfortunately, my chances are slimmer than Rick Perry winning the GOP nomination.

We're Number 4! We're Number 4!

Rick Perry facing reality for the first time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello 2012!

I predict a joyous year. We're due.