Home History 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2007 2006 2005 2004
Pictures Words Travels Contact
Unity against others is not true unity.

Individual life is not a duality — it is a matter of degrees of awareness and relationship with others.

Personality is not fixed at maturity.
However long you live, seek the best characteristics in others and emulate them to the best of your ability.

Life is better lived by understanding and following supernatural laws than merely following natural laws.

It is better to live a life that inspires than to use inspiring words.

"Strive ye with all your hearts to make the heedless conscious, to waken those who sleep, to bring knowledge to the ignorant, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restore the dead to life."
~'Abdu'l-Bahá

When there are enough wealthy people
the government will often ignore the effect of unfair taxation on the poor.

I cannot choose that everyone will be my friend,
but I choose to be a friend and not be an enemy to everyone.

Humanity does not have sides — we are one family with incredibly diverse characters
and should not be divided by ideologies.

There may be great danger in using free will, but there is greater danger in not using it.

You cannot fight for free will, nor demand it from others — you can only use it.

Technology is not the answer — it's just a tool along the way.


Completed the first prototype of the vibrationg tumbler and ran it dry. It looks and sounds good. Now waiting for Lindea to try it and see if it works.

The operation was flawed with excessive vibration transferred to the motor which was mounted on the support frame post.

I'm considering making one or two variable speed pulleys to see what effect can be had from different vibration frequencies.

When the large vibrating tumbler Lindea has for polishing rocks failed due to a burned out motor, I deduced that the basic design of having the motor mounted to vibrate with the tub was a fatal design flaw. I understood that the system was good for her needs so I decided to rebuild it in a way that I deem to be more suitable for long term use. I bought a new larger motor with a 100% duty cycle and then cogitated on how to create a new design.

As with most of my mechanical creations the final product will be quite different from what I originally imagined. The design always evolves during the acquisition of materials and assembly. This case especially so. Although I am using most of the materials obtained the final configuration will be more compact and elegant. Perhaps also more durable and simple.

Progress on customizing the tumbler is continuing and the operational method is apparent. I'm hoping to have it in test mode in the near future.


So far, other than getting a busy signal on calls to California, the fibre optic service into our home is pleasing. I'm happy with the quality of TV images and speed of the Internet connectivity.


My coffee making at home became easier today.

I found and used the hack that gives directions on how to cut the pod sensor wire on a Keurig coffee machine. I no longer need to use older methods.


The stress of facing the unknown conditions of this trip have taken a toll on my nerves and I've run out of the niacinamide that relieves the itch. I haven`t found any here in Xiamen. Hope to in Nanjing.


Wandered in the areas near the hostel contemplating life and taking pictures.

I am hoping to share some of the "how to" experiences on traveling alone in China. It may also be useful for those traveling not alone. I'll likely post them on assistanceinchina.com


I'm trying to get some work done on the Internet here in the hotel but the service is lamentably poor. The TV reception is also sporadic, so I think the communications system is inadequate. The power to the first room is also insufficient to operate the air conditioner (it's hot here) so I have been moved to another.

I've spent the first 2 days looking around the city. There is plenty of evidence that Typhoon Mujigae ripped into the city causing a lot of damage. Trees everywhere have had branches torn off and many were uprooted or knocked over to some degree, hoardings around construction sites are in shambles, signs are shredded, windows are broken and facades are missing. I've seen a few building cranes knocked over onto the buildings or missing. Much of the cleanup has been done yet there is still quite a bit to do.


What an uncommon experience for me in this city. When I arrived while trying to find the hotel I couldn't find any sign of addresses, so I asked a couple of policemen on the street. One looked up the address on his mobile phone and they showed me to the hotel about 100 metres down the street. I thought it to be very thoughtful and kind. Little did I know that it would be among the few pleasant moments during the first 30 hours in the city.

There is an exceptional degree of beauty and fashion among the women and the men are also mostly good looking. However it appears to be mostly skin deep. Whenever I am looked at I get a look that is somewhat less pleasant than the look of one that has just bit into a bitter lemon. Try as I may to evoke a friendly response, there is little to show for it — with a few notable exceptions.

The city likewise has an ancient and strong cultural beauty but is suffering from serious social neglect, except for the commercialism. The place is the noisiest marketing environment I have ever experienced, even louder than Manzhouli. The streets and public places are mostly grimy and need a commitment to care and upkeep. The situation reminds me of the ideas in the PLA manual for life-cycle financing that was being implemented. It is not enough to provide good infrastructure. The full lifetime cost of cleaning and maintaining the facilities must be financed and carried out in order for the people to enjoy living.


My sixth trip to the DPRK, this time with my wife and an American, Cheryl Petty.


The coincidence of a supermoon eclipse will occur starting at 5:11pm PDT and continuing for about 72 minutes. Unfortunately I'll be in China where the event will not be visible.

Now when will there be a coincidence of a supermoon, eclipse and blue moon?


Smoke likely from the fires near Omak, Washington, 160km (100mi) away fills the valley and obscures the view from our home.

It was impossible to get a full moon picture around the end of August. Click on an image to see enlargements.


The smoke filled valley

A typical view

The west side fire caused by a lightning strike at Shelter Cove as seen from Skyland Drive.


A bright, hot, sunny day in Kelowna with beautiful cumulus clouds over the mountains to the east.



Click for Enlargements

Three bucks came down into our back yard this morning for a fine breakfast of shrubbery. We have seen one or two does at a time do likewise throughout the years but this was the first time we have seen males.



Click for Lindea at work

Lindea works on polishing rocks in the back yard. The new awning I am making to protect the kitchen from the hot sunshine and to provide a comfortable atmosphere hangs over the deck. More sewing is needed to add Velcro fastenings and fit the fabric to the framework. The awning fabric is supported by galvanized electrical conduit attached to the eves and standing through holes drilled in the top of the railing posts.


Booked flights to China for 24-25 September return 16 November.


Went to Prineville Pow Wow, Madras Rock Show and a few rockhounding sites including Hampton Butte and McDermitt area.


I've spent the past while leisurely catching up on tasks around home, preparing for summer travel, assisting Lindea with her rock hobby, promoting the idea of a visit to Canada by the children's music and dance troop of North Korea, developing the new web site for the Okanagan Gem Show, improving the web site slide show operation on this site and the rock clubs, designing and building a rotating platform for the solar panel on our trailer, completing the tool compartment in the back of the pickup truck, updating and improving the rock club web sites, having a few cups of coffee and watching TV.


I have completed my east Asian travel: 27-31 March, Nanjing; 1-4 April, Beijing; 5-25 April, teaching English in Pyongyang, Korea; 25-26 April, Dandong, Liaoning; 27-30 April, Qiqihar, Heilongjiang; 1-4 May, Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia; 6-9 May, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia; 10-17 May, Nanjing; 17-19 May, Shanghai.


Google maps is blocked here in China so I've learned how to use map.baidu.com to show city busses. This makes my travel easier.

I went to a nearby bus stop to check the buses that go to the train station for when I leave on Saturday.

The image to the right is a possible route in Nanjing when I arrive Sunday morning.


The train arrived just after 8am so I had breakfast at KFC across from the station and decided to walk to the hotel (probably 2-3km).

The weather is cool and cloudy but not bad.


Visited the Russian border crossing this morning by bus. Didn't realize it was 2 kuai but added the extra 1 when the bus driver let me know when we reached the point where the extra was required. The shop at the border was selling highly priced luxury items and collectables — no bargains that I saw, but many excessively priced polished and carved jade, ivory and semi-precious stone pieces.

On the way back to town I got off the bus at the new Wanda Mall and had a McFlurry and cup of coffee, then walked the rest of the way to the hotel.

There is obviously no effective noise pollution measures in the city of Manzhouli. Many of the shops and malls use eardrum bursting levels of music and sales pitches to compete for clientele — levels capable of flooding a sports stadium with sound. In some cases the noise level is so loud that even industrial grade ear protection is likely inadequate to attenuate it to a bearable volume. It even penetrates my hotel room during business hours. Add the incessant honking of drivers demanding the right of way or merely announcing the fact that they have a car to drive and one realizes this is not the place to come for peace and quiet.

The most noisome offender I endured (with my fingers in my ears as I passed) was the new Wanda Plaza's entertainment program whose light dimming power consumption PA sound system was likely intended to draw the attention of consumers in the city more than a mile away.

As for the weather, it has been mild since my arrival with a hint of winter frigidness remaining in the wind out of the north from Siberia. The vegetation has yet to show any hint of verdure but for a slight budding barely perceptible on the bushes and there remains a few scattered mounds of unmelted snow protected by dirt and straw in a partly developed park-like area, likely from the piles removed from the city during the winter. Jacketed spring weather wear is suitable for the occasion.


I arrived in Manzhouli by train before 8 AM. There was lots of time to get to the hotel so I decided to take a bus and started walking out from the station in the direction of the nearest thoroughfare where I found the bus stop. To get there I steeled myself to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers insisting that I procure their services. Once I reached the bus stop I found there were only 2 buses to choose from (#3 and #10) and while I was making up my mind as to which one to take I saw only three #3 buses. I pointed in the direction of downtown and the driver affirmed he went that way. All I wanted to do is get across the tracks to the core of the city, so I got on with only a few other passengers and took my chances. After all once across the bridge what difficulty could there be since I have a screen shot of the Baidu map marking the location of the hotel and a working version of maps.me with GPS support (which doesn't recognize the address I have).

The route we went on was a circuitous one of course (later I found that #10 is more direct and stops near the hotel) but finally we went where I thought I should be. I got off at the second stop after the bridge across the tracks and started wandering in the direction of where I thought the hotel should be (turned out I got off a few stops early, but no problem). I'm deficient in the use of both Chinese and Russian, which are the only languages used on the building signs, so it was quite a challenge to guesstimate where the hotel is. I circled in on the location I deemed it to be in but didn't see it. Finally after over-shooting directions of 2 locals, I grasped where the third was pointing to and managed to decipher the Chinese characters and entered the premises. Now I can relax in my room (which I do by writing this). The weather forecast is for cool and wet for the weekend I'm here.

The atmosphere is crystal clear and the colors on the roofs and wall of buildings are vivid and clean — remarkable in contrast with most of the rest of China that I have seen. The rubbish on the landscape, however is as gross as anywhere else in this country — greatly at odds with the landscape of Korea where even the byways evince a pristine natural beauty and there is a social culture of neatness and order.


On my first foray out of the hotel I went to the nearest bus stop to list the buses that stop there and then went for a walk around the block. It was a long walk as the block is about 1 km per side.

On the second day I took a bus to see where it would go and got off when I saw a large park like area. I walked along the east shore of the lake until I came to a crowded area where there were rides and much dancing. I went on the large Ferris wheel to view the surrounding area and took a few pictures. There appears to be no more than a few mounds of earth in the park with no other rise of the ground out to the horizon in all directions. The city is quite large with lots of high-rise buildings.

Took a different bus and went to the park again today and was asked to dance (walked to the music). Also took some pictures on my phone as my camera battery is dead and the spare battery and charger were probably left at home.


I'm safely back in China. Spoke with Lindea for a while and let Roger know I'm back. Now I sleep.


Picture album from the trip to North Korea.



Click for class pictures

I have been in Pyongyang for 17 days teaching English to the final year high school students at Pyongyang #1 High School which is located in the environs of the national government institutions. Today there was a ceremony with school leaders, teachers and class representatives to plant a Ginko tree on school property to honour my teaching at the school. Mr. Kang has bought my train ticket for my Saturday departure to Dandong paid for by the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.



Click for more pictures

A few snapshots as I wander in Beijing passing time while I wait for the train to Dandong.


Today I obtained my visa to visit the DPR-Korea.

I'll leave Beijing Saturday and arrive in Pyongyang Sunday. I'm looking forward to this visit to see what can be developed.

I will be out of communication with the rest of the world for the 21 days of my visit.


I received the outline for my visit to DPR-Korea today.

I'm invited to teach at Kumsong Secondary School No.1 in Pyongyang during a 3 week visit from 5 to 25 April.

Now I have started the task with the help of my friends and contacts to arrange the travel and accommodation requirements for the trip which will include a visit to Beijing to get my visa from the Embassy of DPR-Korea.



Click for more pictures

We went to the Hastings center rockhounds rock, gem and jewelry show in Vancouver. Lindea's rock display was extensive and attracted a lot of interest. Bonnie and Dave put on soapstone carving classes for children. There were many visitors to the event and it was very successful. The weather was fine on Friday and Monday for driving but it rained Saturday and Sunday during the event.

I suffered another bout of iritis that started on Sunday and didn't have my medication with me so had to go to a clinic to get a prescription to begin treatment. I'll need to continue the treatment for a few weeks including the time I'll be traveling in China and likely DPR-Korea.


I thought I would contribute to Wikitravel yesterday.

This morning I found that my personal page was deleted, my recommendation for a picture was questioned without any evidence of understanding and an attempt to email the moderator got this
"User email disabled
You cannot send email to other users on this wiki"

I decided the impediments to contributing to the site are too repressive to deal with and just turned away. I then found that the history of the site has little attraction to me so I'll look other places to contribute.


11 March I put in the final screws and the job of installing the stairs and deck railing is finished.

22 February was the third day of working on installing the stairs and railing for the rear deck of our house. Since it is not a regular type of work for me it is necessary to study each step of the task as I go. Mistakes are plentiful but not preventing suitable progress and I'm expecting to complete the job. It is necessary to learn what tolerances are necessary and what corrections need to be made. As an example, I squared up the stringers with the joist they were attached to and fastened the bottom step. I later discovered that the stringers were closer together at the bottom and decided to redo the alignment to make the top and bottom equidistant. After installing the first plank of all the other steps I discovered that one of the stringers was bowed. I must accept that there will be some small discrepancies in the project. It's just a challenge to keep them to a minimum.

I bought a new drill press to make drilling the holes in the boards easier and more accurate. I discovered that 30 of the bolts for the steps are too short and two of the 90 nuts are missing. The installation of the steps got half done today.

I'll continue tomorrow and see how long it will take to complete all the work. Probably a few more days.

The weather has been cold but above freezing and reasonably comfortable for working during the day with freezing during the night. The forecast is for similar weather for the next 3 days.

23 Feb. I completed the assembly of the steps.


There are so many breaches of privacy in the world today that I decided to experiment with digital signing and encryption of some of my email.

For anyone wishing to engage in this with me I have created an email address and public key for experimentation.


I got dirty today. I was called to help her husband and father deal with a large amount of water seeping into my step-daughter's basement (happening while she and her infant son are in Dublin trying to get back to Canada and her husband's mother was dying down in Oliver).

When I got to the house water was flowing through the crack between the foundation wall and the basement floor. We agreed the problem was likely due to a rise in the water table caused but the recent heavy precipitation.

The husband went for the last time to see his mother as she passed on.

An excavator and operator were brought in and a large hole was dug near the weeping pipe drainage point and the water flowed out. Pumps were suspended into the water in the hole and it was pumped out to drain away.

Sounds simple but the whole process was difficult and time consuming to find the way to work together and effectively deal with the problem.


The year has begun for Lindea and I in Quartzsite, Arizona, on a rockhounding trip with a little golf and visiting friends and family planned.

The first few days were cold but the weather became comfortable.

The price of gasoline was down and continued to fall almost daily from about $2.169 to about $1.90 while we were there and start to go up as we were leaving.



click on picture to see Arizona album

Lindea, Jim and Margo pose at the tailgate of the pick-up after collecting specimens of amethyst and fluorite from the mining claims of Ed Davis near Eagle Eye Road in Arizona.