Thursday, December 10, 2009

Trip to Costa Rica - 5 Villa Caletas and Pacific Ocean

We have made it back to Massachusetts after a wonderful trip that included an avoidance of Montezuma’s revenge.  Our last stay was on the Pacific coast in my favorite hotel / resort of all time.  The Villa Caletas,  was opened in 1992 and resembles an ancient Spanish Villa perched on a high ridge with stone work and buildings climbing up, down and along the ridge.  It  overlooks a rain forest that drops precipitously to the blue waters of the Pacific.  Each room has a different motif with most being individual villas, some with their own Jacuzzis. Ours was one of four in the main building.   Coming back from a hike we found two elephants on our bed with red flowers everywhere.


The plantings of flowers, bushes and trees wrapped the buildings in a colorful blanket.  There were many steps,  twists and turns on the paths that wandered around the resort.  This is no place for physically challenged individuals.  Our room had a spectacular view with trees nearby than housed Toucans, scarlet Macaws ,  hummingbirds, butterflies, bromeliads, and a slow moving iguana that hung out on a dead branch just beyond the edge of our balcony.  I never figured out whether it was looking for lunch or just getting a few rays.  Other wildlife observed during this section of the trip included crocodiles, Agoutis, howler and spider monkeys, two toed sloths, leaf cutter ants, really big spiders, kingfishers, herons, spoonbills and many other birds.    


This part of the trip included yet another personally guided hike through the rain forest with one section containing a plant that put me in a sneezing fit on the way out and on the way back.  I never figured out which vile plant caused this distress.  In the afternoon I took an ATV excursion on back roads, main highways, deep streams and the beach.  We actually saw some wildlife that included two Toucans in a one Toucan tree.  There was quite a kerfuffle.  These vehicles can go through very rough terrain with our having to put our feet on the fenders so that when crossing deep water the steam from the partially submerged engines would not burn our legs.  We used only 4th and 5th gears.  The road to the hotel was very narrow and winding.  Although it was sad to leave the Villa Caletas, I was happy to have made it down the road again without tumbling a thousand feet down the side of the ridge.


Our drive back to San Jose was over narrow mountain roads that provided spectacular views and some white knuckle driving.  Next year the interstate that avoids this should be completed.  I think I would take the old route.


On the way to the Villas Caletas we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant and encountered the following:


All the best




We encountered these Xylophone players at a restaurant / bar near Bahia de Caldera / Bahia de Barranca Costa Rica. Their bar included saddles to help you stay upright after too may margaritas.



Costa Rica - 4 Areal volcano and Tabacon resort

Costa Rica has one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Areal. We stayed at the 5 star Tabacon hotel and Spa that included a 42 inch flat screen in our room. The Spa was something very special. It was a garden filled with tropical plants and two streams that wandered down the hill through the foliage. One was warm and the other hot with numerous pools for soaking and several waterfalls for sitting under. They ended in a large pool with a bar and water flowing into additional smaller pools. A very good restaurant overlooked the pool. We were in the water until we wrinkled. Tropical plants were everywhere.

We also enjoyed a hike up the mountain to through a rain forest to a lava field. We could almost see the top and did hear it erupt. This volcano seems to throw out a lot a rocks in addition to lava. In the evening we ate at a restaurant with a panoramic view of the mountain and the man- made lake Areal. It is a major source of hydroelectric power and reminded me of lake Como in Italy as it was long and nestled between the mountains. The next day was bright and clear and as we drove south to the Villas Caletes on the Pacific ocean we had a very clear view of the mountain with steam emanating from the caldera.

More later.

Trip to Costa Rica - 3

We are now at the Tabacon resort near the Areal active volcano about to hike the rain forest in the rain.

I have posted a video of our horseback riding, zip lining, swimming and butterfly watching at the Sueno Azul resort two days ago on YouTube at the link listed below.

Trip to Costa Rica - 2 Sueno Azul resort in Costa Rica


Yesterday we took a 2 hr boat ride on a river that paralleled the carribean shore and then turned inland to a dock where we loaded into a bus. It was another ride on a bumpy road through farms and banana plantations to a main road. We then had lunch and left the bus for our rental car. I signed a lot of papers and hopefully none will come back to bite me. The Costa Rica chip for my Garmin GPS worked well and took us right to the Sueno Azul resort. The final mile of this journey was over two rickety suspension bridges that were just wide enough for the shoe sized care we rented to fit through. The resort is in the jungle boarded on one side and by the juncture of two rivers on the other side. Our room looks into the jungle across a pond with many bird and one large brown Iguana on top of a tree. This resort was recommended by the horse trainer Paul Stirberry of Southern Pines. He gives clinics here in February. This morning we rode horses through the jungle to a Zip Line area and zipped through the tree tops on eight different lines. You sort of zip from one platform to another. Then we walked a short distance to a series of waterfalls that end in a very large pool with a water slide. After an hour’s swim we went to a butterfly garden with then flying all around us. In Costa Rica they have a large butterfly with bright blue wings and others whose wings look like a owl or snake to dissuade predators. After the butterfly exhibit Wendy road back and Carl because of hip problems road back in a truck with the crew. The horse was a lot smoother. Wendy and a worker who didn’t speak English seemed to gallop most of the way back. We had a great lunch overlooking the pool and rivers followed by a lot of just lounging about.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trip to Costa Rica - 1

We have made it to Costa Rica flying in on Nov 22nd. We had to catch a bus for a trip from the capital over the continental divide through the impressive mountain rain forest to the plain leading to the Caribbean. We toured a banana plantation and saw a lot of small farms including those with horses. Then we boarded an open boat for a trip to the shore and the Hotel Pachira Lodge near the Tortuguero national park for the preservation of sea turtles among other wildlife. The only way to this lodge is by boat or plane. We have taken a couple of boat tours into the jungle seeing much wildlife since being here. On the shore Wendy protected a young turtle hatchling from a local dog and we all watched it scamper to the shore and into the water. Good luck turtle. Only 2% survive. We also took a walk through the jungle that required rubber boots supplied by the lodge. They were needed but we saw a number of monkeys (howler and spider) among other wildlife. There also has been significant swimming, drinking and eating. Tomorrow we hop in the boat again for a two hour ride to a bus and then to a rental car office. I brought my GPS with special maps for Costa Rica and hopefully it will all work. None of the resorts we are visiting have a street address. That makes sense for the current resort as there are no roads anyway. We will drive to Hotel Hacienda Sueño Azul Resort, in Sarapiquí. a friend of ours Paul Striberry from Southern Pines gives riding clinics at this resort but will probably not be there during our stay.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rotary Grant for CCSN Bangladesh

We have a new chance to get this grant done before the end of the year. It seems that our district has enough money if we can jump through some additional hurdles. Next year Rotary will require that grants be larger and it will be much more difficult for small clubs like ours to make this happen. They say that the larger grants will be more able to justify the overhead required for management.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Measuring brain pathways by tensor analysis of MRI data

MRI does it again. Using advanced mathematical analysis scientists have developed a way to take pictures of water diffusing along nerve axons. This provides a picture of how the nerves are connected or the connectome. Different pathologies will result in incorrect neural connections in the human brain. This is different from all the studies one hears about today showing which areas of the brain are active under certain conditions. This technique doesn't show directly which areas of the brain are active how they are connected.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maintenance on a Can-Am Spyder motorcycle

Today I finally read the manual and found out how to check the fluids including oil, coolant, and brake fluid. All are easily accessible except the oil level which requires the removal of a side panel. Fortunately there are a couple of quick release things and you can bend the panel back enough to reach the filler cap without having to remove the remaining screw. The other level checks are more accessible but the levels are not easy to see. A flashlight is recommended.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Windsurfer for sale on Craigs list

My Mistral Pandera windsurfer is for sale on the MA Craigs List.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Singlehanding Downeast Maine

I just returned from three days single handing my 35 ft sailboat down east starting in South Freeport Maine stopping at the Sebasco Resort and Boothbay before returning. Lovely weather but light winds.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hot air baloon in Kenya over Masi Mara

While cleaning my desktop I found this picture from last years safari in Kenya. We are high over Masi Mara early in the morning viewing the wildlife. After a gentle touch down we all enjoyed a champagne breakfast.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Limulus lysate testing for pyrogens in pharmaceuticals

While cleaning out some things in the basement I found this copy of the Journal of the Parenteral Drug Association that includes a lecture I gave in 1977. In this presentation I provided an overview of the Limulus (horseshoe crab blood derived test) lysate test for pyrogens (fever producing chemicals). All pharmaceuticals must be tested for these molecules that can cause fever and in some cases anaphylactic shock and death. Before the crab blood was used the test involved measuring the anal temperature of rabbits. Racks of rabbits would have temperature probes in their rear ends to see if there was a temperature increase after the pharmaceutical was injected. This chemical test was a great advance over the rabbit test although it resulted in a lot of out of work rabbits. By the way, the crabs lived through the removal of a considerable amount of their blue blood. We marked their carapaces before returning them to Barnegat Bay. We actually retrieved some the next year.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Skeptics' Guide to the Universe

I am really into podcasts on everything from the latest science to history. It is much better than the junk on radio and is always with me on my iPOD Touch. One of my favorites is the Skeptics' guide to the Universe which debunks the latest pseudoscience. Led by a neurologist this podcast not only dumps on bad stuff but provides a weekly update on aspects of real science.

Click on the Blog title to go to the SGU home page.

Other great podcasts available on iTunes and via RSS feeds are:

Dan Carlin's Hard Core History

In our time by Melvyn Bragg (BBC 4)

Archeology channel audio news

Science in Action (BBC)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marijuana in the woods or potted pot

An acquaintance of my was just acquitted of felony possession of a class D substance because someone was growing marijuana in pots in the woods near his place. His place is on state land and leased by a fox hunt for which he and his girlfriend are hound caretakers. He was acquitted after the prosecution presented it’s case because they did not establish that the plants were his. The trial was attended by about 50 middle schoolers who listened in rapt attention and the policeman on the stand described in great detail how to grow marijuana in the woods in pots. Also, a sample was sent to the State toxicology lab who never tested the samples chemically but said the dried stuff (dried by the local police force) looked to them like marijuana. They also presented that the “drug” dog didn’t give a hit on anything in the area. It turned out but was not presented at the trail that the dog was not a drug dog but just brought in to unnerve the suspect.

Beware of folks potting near your property.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ONBH fox hunt poker ride Carlisle MA

Today the Old North Bridge Hounds put on a poker ride in Carslie Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day, the riding wonderful and the event a success. The Merrimack valley Rotary club provided some of the worlds best hot dogs, chips and drinks for the riders and friends.

Pam and Kathy provided refreshments half way through the ride

The Duggins cook hot dogs for the riders to support a Rotary riding program for physically challenged children in Massachusettes and a childrens clinic in Bangladesh.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Donate through rotary - 7910 District Assembly

I just attended the 7910 district assembly in boxford MA. There were presentations on The Rotary Foundation and how they amplify a donation 3.5 times through the matching grants program. This is a great deal. How many other organization can provide this degree of money amplification. We are working on a matching grant with a Rotary club in Bangladesh to expand programs at the Center for Children with Special Needs that treats children with crippling diseases. Clicking on the title of this Posting will take you to the CCSN web site.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Is is Sun cooling off?

Click on the title to be taken to the National Geographic article. Sun output is low and the last time this happened we went into the “little ice age” which among other things was responsible for the poor crop yields that resulted in the French Revolution. The reduction is low but is enough to have caused problems in the past. Perhaps we will have to dump CO2 into the atmosphere to warm things up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Horse driving event CDE 5 points horse part NC

We were watching the water jump at the event and saw this team do an excellent job of recovering from having their cart impaled on a jump timber. April 11, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Post polio survivors group meeting in Pinehurst

Today I helped Rotary Past District Governor Ray Taylor, a polio survivor, make a presentation to a local polio survivors group at a hospital in Pinehurst NC. In addition to setting up the projector I answered questions on the virology of polio. The group was older as fortunately there are few new cases in the U.S. Most had lived well with the disease overcoming many difficulties and operations. One man was over 90 and others were close. The sad thing is that the disease comes back as one ages re-crippling the individual.

Clinking on the title of this post will take you to the PSA website.

A video prepared by PSA can be seen below.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rotarians For Fighting AIDS - VCT clinics Kenya

I am a member of the Rotarians for fighting Aids group and have just received their latest newsletter. It includes a discussion of the Rotary Medical Mission to Kenya I attended last fall and the Voluntary Counseling and Testing process that is helping Kenyans to deal with the AIDS epidemic. This well designed process that can be accomplished where the people are and not just in institutions, is described in the video listed below by one of the counselors I met while on this trip.

If you click on the title to this blog you will be taken to a page that will allow you to sign up for the newsletter and hopefully join this important group.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cold fusion - why not helium 3

It may have been real! The major complaint in the original work was that they couldn’t detect neutrons from the reaction and some Navy researchers have done it using a new neutron detection technique . However, Helium 3 which is rare on Earth but abundant on the moon’s surface can fuse without the production of neutrons. A little contamination of the deuterium with helium 3 could result in the generation of heat without neutrons. So are both reactions going on?

Contact: Michael Bernsteinm_bernstein@acs.org202-872-6042American Chemical Society
'Cold fusion' rebirth? New evidence for existence of controversial energy source
Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society

IMAGE: An experimental "cold fusion " device produced this pattern of "triple tracks " (shown at right), which scientists say is caused by high-energy nuclear particles resulting from a nuclear reaction
Click here for more information.
SALT LAKE CITY, March 23, 2009 — Researchers are reporting compelling new scientific evidence for the existence of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), the process once called "cold fusion" that may promise a new source of energy. One group of scientists, for instance, describes what it terms the first clear visual evidence that LENR devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists view as tell-tale signs that nuclear reactions are occurring.
Low-energy nuclear reactions could potentially provide 21st Century society a limitless and environmentally-clean energy source for generating electricity, researchers say. The report, which injects new life into this controversial field, will be presented here today at the American Chemical Society's 237th National Meeting. It is among 30 papers on the topic that will be presented during a four-day symposium, "New Energy Technology," March 22-25, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the first description of cold fusion.
"Our finding is very significant," says study co-author and analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss, Ph.D., of the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, Calif. "To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from an LENR device."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Niece and family on vacation in Bahia Mexico – Whale watch

My oldest Niece and family (on right) took a camping trip to Bahia Mexico which is chronicled on their blog

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Research Channel on the Web - a new resource

This Internet service provides "hard" science lectures on a large number of topics to be able to learn about subjects without the filter of the news media.

Their description:
"ResearchChannel was founded by a consortium of leading research and academic institutions to share the valuable work of their researchers with the public. ResearchChannel is now available to nearly 38 million satellite and cable television subscribers and our Web site is visited by 2 million visitors each year. The channel is also available on more than 80 university-and school-based cable systems in the United States and in other countries."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rotarians in the Polio Survivor's Group

I have been working with some Rotarians in the Polio Survivor's Association ( ). They have put together the video listed below featuring a North Carolina past district govenor who is a polio survivor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rotary - Stop Hunger Now

Today I helped out filling food bags with Rotarians, Rotoracter and others for “Stop Hunger Now”. Each bag contains soy meal, rice, dried veggies and a “chicken flavored” pill that contains vitamins but no chicken. The meal is all vegetarian. Each packet will provide a school lunch for 6 children when boiled to rehydrate the mixture. Four people at each table add one of the four ingredients each while the fifth holds the bag under a funnel to collect the mixture. The bags are then taken to a weighting station to be adjusted in weight and then to a heat sealing station. The morning shift in which I participated filled over 25,000 lunches. The effort was headed by Dan Askins, a local realtor and Rotarian.

Kenya Medical Mission presentation to the Southern Pines NC Rotary Club

This Friday the 13th I gave a presentation at the Southern Pines NC Rotary club on the September 2008 Rotary Medical Mission to Kenya. This was the largest medical mission in Rotary’s history. Over 70 volunteers treated about 10,000 children in three slums in and around Nairobi during a two week period.

Because of my experience in the development of HIV test I visited several Voluntary Testing and Counseling clinics during this trip. These efforts are supported by Rotarians for Fighting Aids and the US government among others.

More information is at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A kitten I met in Kenya

It is always good to take a nap after eating a GNU. Too bad it wasn't a hedge fund manager.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Joined Rotarians for Fighting AIDS

Yesterday I received my lifetime membership pin for RFFA. Marion Bunch introduced me to this organization during the Rotary Medical Mission to Kenya this September. It is of special interest because of my involvement in the development of HIV tests that are used around the world. I encourage others to join.

Please check out their web page: and join.