Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Preparing for my dive trip in November - A review of Dive Locator.

So it's coming closer now. My dive trip with Lorenz and Marc to South Africa.

With our vacation to Hurghada, Egypt, now being a mere memory (more on this in a future post), I'm looking forward to what the near future has in store. Apart from a trip to Cairo tomorrow and some days with my wife to celebrate our anniversary, the big trip will be November 19th to South Africa. And I've decided that I want a new camera and a new watch.

New Gear
The camera will probably be a Canon Powershot G10 as I read great reviews on it and it's affordable. The watch is probably going to be a Suunto X10, which sports a GPS (which is useless underwater, but great to track my travels). Since I already have a Suunto Vyper2 as dive computer I'm all set. Although I'm tempted to get me the new Vyper AIR, which integrated the air pressure into the dive computer. Maybe next trip as I'm already overspending a bit... But that's only good for the economy, isn't it.

New Apps
On a slightly different node, I've been looking into applications to track my dive log and stumbled upon a few that also have some sort of counterpart on my Touch. I bought Dive Log from moremobilesoftware as it integrates, supposedly, nice with a log application for Windows that can read from my Suunto.

Dive Locator
While browsing in the Apple AppStore I stumbled upon Dive Locator, an application that lists dive sites around the world, which currently is limited to 4 regions (Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, USA and Western Carribean, but nothing in the Red Sea or Asia). Although there are 900 sites according to the documentation, it doesn't feel that much. But there are means to update the database by email and through the web. Adding new locations in the application itself is not possible, so you need one way or another internet access.
The tool is very simple, which is excellent by the way, as its purpose is simple: List a multitude of dive sites and provide relevant information on your selected site. That information by the way is very limited, any thing else than a simple address and longitude and latitude coordinates. Something I'm missing is information regarding the site itself. Is there a wreck, at what depth, how long is the transfer to the site when it is in open sea. Is the site a regular for live-aboard trips etc. And very important, what kind of dive can you do at that location and what is there to see, like special marine life.
It doesn't tell you that. On the other hand, there is an interface with Google Maps, so you can see the site and its surroundings on GoogleMaps, but the sites in its vicinity are not shown. Which is unfortunate because in most cases I know where I've been, but don't know the name. Or I know where I want to go, but don't know the name. Also very handy is the possibility to show current weather conditions.
Considering the price this is an application that you should consider. It works well, has interesting and handy information regarding geographic location (Google Maps) and weather conditions, but insufficient information regarding the dive site itself. I'm looking for updated information on the sites, and hopefully there will be a way to add these additional information as well in a future release.
Find iPhone apps at AppStoreHQ


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What happened in 2008 (part three in a series...)


Not too long ago, I blogged about our family vacation in 2008. That was in September.

Right after that vacation I went to see our doctor because I was feeling dead tired all the time. I was sleeping 16+ hours a night and still I was exhausted. According to the doctor this was due to a lack of adrenaline. I was underworked! She suggested I should go sporting, so I picked up swimming and things went better.

In November 2008 I went to Egypt with two buddies of mine, scuba diving in the red sea. The high lights were seeing a group of turtles grazing underwater and a little fight between two of them as well as spotting Hamer head shark. The trip in general was just great and relaxing.

The end of 2008 was marked by a Christmas in bed. I had an ear infection that resulted in nausea and dizziness. Every single move of my head resulted in throwing up. After a couple of days all was fine again, but it was scary. So I spend Christmas alone in bed instead of with the loved ones.

New Years eve was great though and the kids loved the fireworks. Jay was all up-n-go with the fireworks, and Ray, well Ray was just Ray; all into it.

That more or less concludes 2008. This year has been a year of excellent stuff so far... well it would've been if I wrote this a week ago, which I didn't so next time I'll tell you what happened a few days ago, that wasn't excellent.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What happened in 2008 (part two in a series...)


So last time I blogged, I could still call it 'What happened the last 12 months...' but let's call it 2008, shall we?

So what did happen after I was released from the hospital? Obviously Jay turned 3 and I went just before that to San Francisco for a slightly over a week... JavaOne 2008.

The summer didn't have a lot in store for me, mainly because my MR2 had a small problem with its transmission. The problem being that I couldn't use it. And of course those very few sunny days in 2008 I didn't have a convertible. Anyway, they fixed it and it cost me a lot less than initially thought. That was good.

The summer of 2008 was also the first time the four of us went on vacation all together. We went for a whole week to Asten-Ommel, a small town in Brabant. The park's name is Prinsenmeer. I've got to say that the week was great, to be with the family and all without the daily routines from around the house. But th little bungelow we thought we had booked was a big caravan without wheels and it was kind of like not really well cleaned.
On the uptake, the pool they had was nice with two nice water slides, that Jay dared to do all by himself. Jay and I also went for a trip on the waterbikes. That was fun. One of the nicer trips we took that week was to a zoo nearby, which was just big enough to walk all day and see everything. But it was also very well maintained. And the Cheetah's were great. Also our daytrip to Toverland was great. Jay was barely big enough to be allowed in one of the many rollercoasters and he loved the bobsled and the wild-water ride. Unfortunately Ray was too little for most rides. Well, being only a year and a half old... this was to be expected.

More on the proceedings in 2008 of me and my family later (this year).


Friday, March 06, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

Does Mickey Rourke deserve an Oscar based on this performance? I don't know, although his acting is quite good, it's not great. Well maybe it is, because during the movie you're starting to feel for his character. The story is quite predictable. There are no surprises or twists in the story. But that's not a problem, since the story doesn't require any mysteries or suspense to be involving.

The story though is about a man who's lost contact with his daughter, who's in love with a stripper and considers a paycheck with more than 10 bucks on it a good day. And when you're asking me if I can relate I'ld have to say 'No', but still the acting is such that you understand why things are going the way they are, and you'll be finding yourself against better judgement, hoping for events to take different turns.

The Wrestler is a slow moving story. The action scenes in it are there only to underpin the story, not to blow you away. But on top of it all, the movie captivates at times, and is interesting overall. And not to forget Marissa Tomei, who shows some wrinkles, but is still damn cute.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What happened the last 12 months (part one in a series...)


As promised in an earlier post (I'm too lazy to figure out which one) I'm going to tell about what happened the last 12 months or so. Since quite a bit happened, I'll be posting a few blogposts to cover the period. This is part one in the series.

Last year as you might have read, my brother and his wife lost their pre-maturely born daughter Bindi. That pretty much marked the last blogpost of me in 2008.
In April right before Easter I got really sick. Sick enough to be hospitalized. Yup I spend a few days in the hospital. But no operation or anything else, only a very strict diet. I could only drink apple juice and eat some shakes. And I had an IV in my hand, probably just to keep me from running away. Now I have to say that those shakes weren't too bad. Especially the banana flavored were rather good, and efficient. Only 5 or 6 shakes a day and I had all nutrition of the day. No chewing involved.
Ok, I had to spend like 4 hours in the ER, and suffering from really intense pains in my abdomen. As it turned out I had a problem with my intestines. Hence the diet. After 2 days all pain was gone and I was allowed to drink coffee again. That's right, I wasn't allowed to drink any coffee, or an espresso. So that sucked.

Easter Sunday I was back home, which was good. Hospitals aren't too nice a places, so I intend not to go there too often.


PS: I was told that I should eat whole wheat bread and lots-n-lots of fruit by my doctor. So nowadays I have whole wheat bread and eat lots-n-lots of fruit. Do you?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back from the Maldives


So I'm back in the Netherlands and already missing the serenity and quietness of Kandooma. But obviously I'm really happy to be with the boys again. And so is Olcay, who's suffering from a flu at the moment. I guess it's best to be sick when you're at home.
Jay and Ray had a great time at my parents who made sure that they wouldn't be thinking about anything else than doing fun stuff.

The flight back was not too good as Air Berlin appearantly doesn't care about leg-room, which is really not much more than a few cm I estimate. And 10.5 hours folded in a chair is not cool... and not to mention the fact that they don't have adjustable headrests on their seats. That sucks.

Last Sunday was Ray's birthday (8th of feb) and we had a great day. Although he's suffering from a serious ear infection. The goo is literally dripping from his ear, no kidding.

Yesterday was my first day back at my main customer at the moment and the last 2 weeks some interesting things had happened. And a lot of realization took place as well. 


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Words from the Maldives (7)


So this is going to be a mixed feelings blog... Today was our last day on Kandooma :'( but also the last day we have to miss Jay and Ray.

So what was done today? Not much, or maybe quite a bit. We went snorkeling this morning on two sites, both not as impressive as our snorkeling trip yesterday, but we saw a turtle and there was a nice current, that allowed for a nice drift. Still the fish weren't as bright and numerous as yesterday.

This afternoon we spend soaking up more sun, and we had some nice talks with some of the guys working here. This night we had diner at The Kitchen, where Olcay had 2 deserts. Yup and both times the Almond Fried Ice. And we got the promise that we would receive the recipe by mail.

All-in-all this vacation has been tremendously cool and relaxing and Kandooma is really a great place to spend your time when you just want to relax and want to be amongst the friendliest of people. Although everybody is trying their best in serving you as good as they can, it doesn't feel as if they're trying... it feels as if it all comes naturally. This added to the experience and whenever you are thinking about the Maldives, but don't know which of the islands is the best place to spend your time... go to Kandooma.

Well that is about it, for now the last Words from the Maldives. Maybe in a couple of years we'll be setting foot on the island again, for now, we're longing to see the boys again.

Next time, Words from the Netherlands and I'll try to get you up to speed about what happened in 2008.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Words from the Maldives (6)


Today we actually did something significant... we went on a Catamaran trip to another island close by to snorkel. It was great. Olcay saw a turtle and we also saw a Gruper and a Morene.

The rest is pretty much the same... soaking up the sun, although yesterday and today the sun was really burning during the hours around noon.

When we got back we were pleasantly surprised by Rasheed (we think) who had our bed decorated with red flowers... a true romantic. That was really nice, he's been very forthcoming all week, which added to the whole experience.

So tomorrow is our last day here. Wednesday we're probably off really early as our flight is at about 11 AM. We're going to miss Kandooma, but we still have a day to enjoy life here on the island. Tomorrow more snorkeling on the menu and good food at The Kitchen, the a-la-carte restaurant on the island.

Until the next blog...


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Words from the Maldives (5)


Another post from the Maldives. It's Sunday and that means a quiet day... well just because we're at the Maldives where it is more or less a quiet day everyday. Not much happened since we're here to relax, but I went on a night dive, my last dive here this time. As you might expect, it was dark, and fortunately I had two torches, since my primary went out after 24 minutes.
We saw two octopussies, octopuses, octopy (?), anyway, we saw two of those fighting. I think about territories, but that doesn't matter, it looked great. Never saw it for real.

Tonight we had a nice diner, although the duck wasn't really good. I left it where it was. We did see a Chinese movie (Curse of the Golden Flower), which seems to be a nice movie (soon to be found in my collection I guess).
Later on we went for fried ice with almonds for Olcay (her favorite desert as it turns out) and some lounging with an espresso (Illy) and a cognac (Hennesy VSOP) and a Shisha. That turned out to be a nice finalle of the day. Monday and Tuesday are left for us before we're leaving paradise and getting back to the real world, where there are Jay and Ray, who we really miss.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Words from the Maldives (4)


Another day on this paradise like island. Today not much happened apart from the fact that I went diving this morning and we saw sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks to be exact. Like six of them. Which was really cool. First time I saw so many sharks. We also saw a fairly big Napoleon fish. After the sharks (deco time at 5 minutes) we took a current and drifted for a while, which was also really cool. Unfortunately we couldn't spend that much time drifting. And on top of this all, while drifting, we heard dolphins. Yup, we heard the squirking (I really have no clue as to this is really called) by the dolphins. Unfortunately they were to far away, and we only saw them while back on the boat. But cool it was, some of them made some nice jumps. My guess is that these are trained dolphins, set out to entertain divers, and to make them feel bad that they didn't encounter the dolphins while diving :).

Nothing much else happened, although not to me anyway. Olcay on the other hand saw a turtle while snorkling. And considering that Kandooma doesn't have much of a reef, that truely is a sight to behold.

Until the next post...


Friday, January 30, 2009

Words from the Maldives (3)


Today I've got something to tell, as promised yesterday, because today and last night stuff actually happened in this paradise of total relaxation.

So what happened? First of all last night we had quite the rainstorm here on Kandooma. Well maybe it was just your average everyday tropical rainstorm, but we woke up from the rain, which especially in my case means something as I don't wake up usually until it is time according to the alarm clock (or Ray). But rest assured, the Water Villa we're staying in is build very well, and apart from the bathroom (which is partly open) no water came in.

Today I also went diving. First dive here with Euro Divers, which means you're not allowed deeper than 20 meters, which is cool. The diving site had a wreck at 30 meters, but the top of the wreck was at 20 meters deep. From what we could see, there was no way you could actually get in the wreck so not much lost here. After the wreck we saw an Octopus hiding its little cave and later on a turtle. Which in fact was small compared to the turtles we saw in Marsa Alam last November, about which I need to blog... still. That turtles crossed our path later on, but that was also because we went around a big rock a second time and that turtle was at more or less the same spot.
A bit later we saw some Morenes. Two to be exact, which weren't that big compared to the one that swam right in front of me in Oman last year, or rather 2007.
After hitting the 50 bar mark we went up and started our return to the boat. We now were over the rock we circled twice and Jerry, my buddy for the occasion pointed behind me. I looked behind me and saw a Triggerfish (see also Wikipedia) trying to bite me. Yup, it wanted to get a piece of my fins (I like to think that it wasn't after my butt). It was a bit intimidated by me and my mask as it hesitated everytime I turned around. After some distance it gave up, or maybe I left its territory or something. Anyway, I am still me, 100% and nothing was left of me in the belly of this terrible monster of the sea :) haha. Although I must say that its teeth were somewhat big and sharp, I have to admit.

So that was today on the Maldives. Soon there will be more.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Words form the Maldives (2)


Another day on Kandooma which started of with sort of a disappointment. I overslept, so I was too late to enter for the afternoon Scuba trip. Tomorrow another try. Everything else was really great and every day we enjoy the resort even more.

Since not much happened today because we've been sunbathing and snorkeling and having lunch and diner and stuff, there's not much to blog. So hopefully (for you as well) I'll be diving tomorrow, and I'm planning on going deep the day after as well. I'll then have something more to tell you.

Until then...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Words from the Maldives (1)


It has been a while, a real long while since I blogged last. A lot has happened in since then and I plan on getting you up to speed sometime. But the coming period I'll be blogging about our stay on the Maldives. Kandooma Island to be exact. That's why these words are from the Maldives instead of the Netherlands.

So today we arrived, after a rather uneventful flight from Dusseldorf (Germany) International Airport, which requires explicit mentioning, since my dad programmed the NavSat to get us to Dusseldorf Regional Airport, which is about 60 km away from Dusseldorf International Airport. Not to blame him, since I did something very similar the first time I had to program my TomTom to direct me.
The flight was okay, although LTU has rather small seats, and the couple sitting behind us was very chatty all night.

We were quite fast outside of Male International Airport. The passport control and the customs check was fast and we got our backs really fast as well. Nice done Maldivians!
But then we got our first scare. Nobody from Kandooma to pick us up from the airport. Fortunately there was a nice lady from TUI who knew we were looking for, and as it turned out, we were expected to arrive on the 31st instead of today. No harm done, and the Water Villa we booked was available. It just had to be readied.
After a boattrip of about 40 minutes we arrived on this really beautiful island. The website is really a great representation of the island, no lies there. We're enyoing our stay sofar to the fullest. Weather is excellent (28C, a bit humidity and sea water is excellent) and so are the two restaurants we had lunch and diner. Sofar everything is going great and besides sleeping and relaxing in the sun we didn't do anything yet.

So more tomorrow, when we've undertaken one or two things (like scuba or hanging around the pool soaking up more sun). Just to keep our minds of the boys (who are staying with my parents) and on the relaxing part of the trip.