Friday, December 18, 2009

diploma, graduation cap, graduate schoolTO OUR FINANCE PROFESSOR
Dear Keith: Thank you for a course well done.

Students will learn many things in a course but realistically, only several things will be remembered with the passage of time. One of an instructor’s goals therefore should be to facilitate that.

An instructor must make a decision concerning his teaching philosophy. Should he try to teach them everything or should he teach them only enough? The answer makes a significant difference.

The first approach, in my opinion, is full of complications. How can one reasonably expect to teach students everything, even when the topics are defined by a set of Terminal Course Objectives (TCOs)? Consider the students’ attitude. Many of them probably enrolled in the class because it was necessary and not because the subject interested them. This approach has a tendency to lead an instructor who believes that these TCOs are set in stone to evaluate the performance of his students against his personal standard. An instructor, by definition, is a master of his subject. Consequently, everything that he teaches, he knows very well. That poses a dilemma, whether the instructor realizes it or not. How can a student, no matter how diligent, understand much less master, the nuances and aspects of each TCO? I contend that this approach creates a hurdle so high that students will not be able to measure up. Every nuance of each TCO counts. Every time that mastery of each nuance is not demonstrated, it counts against the student.

TCOs should serve as a guide, I think. A prudent instructor, in my mind, will use the TCOs in a flexible manner. He could, for instance, at the start of the course, survey the students in order to learn their academic objective. Someone pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Project Management would have a different perspective than someone pursuing a Master’s degree in Project Management. A survey will give the instructor more insight into the needs of his students. This might sound absurd but like anything else, instructional style can be dogmatic. To dogma I contend that one size will not fit all. Address the needs of the customer and realize that the customer is your student.

Focus on the essentials. Follow the Pareto rule. Twenty percent of what you teach will account for 80% of what is important. Might it not be wiser to focus on that 20% then? The challenge in fact is determining the content of that 20%. This is where your expertise and experience as a subject matter expert will help you.

Your method was certainly different but I think you exhibited an uncommon touch in focusing on that 20%. Thanks to this course I am more cognizant of the importance and operation of the finance side of the house.

Within the healthcare sector, my field, hospitals are a key institutional player. Since the 1990s their environment has become more competitive. Looking back I now realize that there are still plenty of managers who don’t appreciate why creditworthiness, for instance, matters. Creditworthy organizations, as you taught, enjoy improved capital market opportunities. A higher credit rating means lower interest costs. A small decrease in the capital rate will, over the life of a bond, translate into significant savings. Creditworthy hospitals also enjoy less restrictive covenants that, in turn, extend their financial flexibility. Creditworthy hospitals also experience lower costs associated with their bond issues. I did a cursory study of the performance of A-rated and C-rated hospitals and noticed that the stronger organizations tend to consolidate markets by acquiring weaker competitors. Apparently, the latter can’t compete because they lack access to cost-effective capital. One author pointed out that winners in the competition for capital are hospitals and systems that can invest in their future. Capital-poor organizations are forced to sit on the sidelines, unable to expand or upgrade their facilities. (Coile 2002).

In the face of ongoing reform initiatives, the environment will only become more turbulent. Hospitals must adopt EMR or face reductions in their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Rising bad debt and charity care are becoming contentious issues as several lawsuits filed by the IRS demonstrated. Commercial health insurance payments are in flux as more and more cost shifting related to consumer-directed health plans take root. A substantial number of hospitals with aging facilities are facing new financial and operational challenges. Tight labor markets continue to exert pressure on salaries and benefits. Regulatory compliance has multiplied and become more complicated. This has increased compliance costs. And competition continues to increase due to industry consolidation and the growing presence of physician-sponsored niche operations in the most profitable service areas. In the face of these sweeping challenges, my education will certainly prove useful!

Thank you again.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The ball will change color if you can click on it.

This is an interactive game that uses Adobe Flash. You control a ball that dangles from a string. If you can click on the ball, it will change color. Click here to try it.

Thanks to my former boss for referring me to the site.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Since a nephew pointed it out, I’ve watched this YouTube video time and again without tiring of it.

Click here and enjoy!

About this video: In this promotion, more than 200 dancers danced to “Do-Re-Mi” at the Central Station of Antwerp. It took the morning commuter crowd of 23 March 2009 by surprise. It was organized by a Belgian television program that was looking for someone to play the leading role in its version of “The Sound of Music.” This video was even noted in Wikipedia.

It is truly a feel-good video!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


If not for his record, I wouldn’t give this a second thought. Immortality! Most people would like that I think.

Scientist Ray Kurzweil claims humans could become immortal in as little as 20 years’ time through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the body works.

The 61-year-old American, who has predicted new technologies arriving before, says our understanding of genes and computer technology is accelerating at an incredible rate. He says theoretically, at the rate our understanding is increasing, nanotechnologies capable of replacing many of our vital organs could be available in 20 years time.

Mr Kurzweil adds that although his claims may seem far-fetched, artificial pancreases and neural implants are already available.

Kurzweil’s version of immortality may not fit most people’s vision though.
Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.

Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen. Heart-attack victims—who haven’t taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts—will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive.

Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes. If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go. Virtual sex will become commonplace. (It better be as good as the real thing!) And in our daily lives, hologram-like figures will pop in our brain to explain what is happening.

So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs.
I’ve followed Mr. Kurzweil for the past two decades. According to Wikipedia, among his accomplishments are:
  • a statistical processing program that he wrote at age 15 that was later used by IBM.
  • a pattern-analysis program that analyzed classical music and synthesized its own. Because of it, he appeared on national television, was recognized by the prestigious Westinghouse Talent Search (now known as the Intel Talent Search), and was personally congratulated by then-President Lyndon Johnson.
  • the first successful OCR software. In turn, this required the invention of two other technologies...
There’s more and you can read about it at Wikipedia.

In my opinion, he’s a first-rate genius. He has that rare ability to visualize possibilities and actually make them happen. If it requires tools and techniques that don’t exist, he creates them.

His genius is similar to that of Sir Isaac Newton whom I think deserves as much, if not more, praise than Albert Einstein. (By nature, we tend to be more cognizant or aware of events that happen more recently.)

Mr. Einstein, who is undoubtedly a first-rate genius, made his mark in the first half of the previous century. At least one of his discoveries assumed practical importance during the Second World War. This was his famous equation that identified the relationship between matter and energy.

This equation served as an important theoretical foundation for the development of the atomic bomb.

Sir Isaac Newton, on the other hand, lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. He was, according to Wikipedia, a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, alchemist, and theologian. Two of his accomplishments impress me personally: his invention of a new type of telescope and his creation of a new form of math, calculus.

Consider that these accomplishments were just by-products of his pursuit of other goals.

The new telescope design came about due to his research into color. He was trying to prove that the color of light does not change whether it is transmitted or received (i.e., whether it originates from a flashlight or is the green that we see in leaves). His theory, for example, explains why the sky is blue. (It is not blue because it is blue. Rather it is blue because air molecules scatter blue light more than any other color. In space, where there is no air, the sky is black. Black is the color by default, i.e., the absence of color leaves only black. For more on color, click here.)

He created calculus, the new math, to help him understand the movement of bodies. The reflecting telescope (also known as the Newtonian telescope) is the most popular telescope design. The famous Hubble telescope is a reflecting telescope. The world’s largest and most modern telescopes are all Newtonians. Calculus, on the other hand, is the bane of many students. I hated it myself. On the other hand, all physical sciences use calculus to some degree. What is calculus? A good and simple definition is provided by
Calculus is the study of the “rates of change.” There are two main branches of calculus: Differential Calculus and Integral Calculus. Differential calculus determines the rate of change of a quantity, integral calculus finds the quantity when the rate of change is known.
For more on calculus, click here.

At any rate, this is quite a prediction even coming from Mr. Kurzweil. For the moment, I just hope to be around in 2030 to learn if this or something resembling it comes true.

Links to several Kurzweil sites:
Kurzweil Technologies

The source article is here.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009


According to The Free Dictionary, a Web-based reference, a commendation is a message expressing a favorable opinion.

Creating webpages is detailed work. It can be frustrating. I looked around for an editor to help me write correct HTML code. (Microsoft WORD is a general-purpose editor. I was looking for a counterpart: an HTML editor.) I experimented with a few but I only rose up the learning curve after switching to Coffeecup Software’s HTML Editor. I’ve been using it since 2003.

Coffeecup’s homepage hints at the casual easygoing nature of the group. Their motto is “fresh software, warm people.” Their nature may be casual but their products are top-notch. And their prices are reasonable. The icing is this: buy a particular application and all future upgrades of that application are free.

Back in 2003, I downloaded a trial version of HTML Editor. It was a trial version so it didn’t cost me anything. Well one of their marketing points is that they would provide free support for their software even if they were trial versions. I took them up on it. I emailed them a request for assistance. And they responded. I was impressed. That’s how I became a customer.

At any rate, I was recently notified of a new version of HTML Editor. I clicked on the emailed link and was surprised that my account was not recognized. My account is my original order number. That tells Coffeecup the specific applications that I had purchased. That’s how Coffeecup knows the free upgrades that I’m entitled to.

I emailed them about it yesterday. Today, Sunday, I received a response from Suzanne Miller, their Sales & Office Manager. Apparently my original order was linked to another email address. Suzanne updated my account and took care of the problem.

It’s not often enough that I take the time to express my appreciation for good service so I’m going to change that. I want to thank Suzanne for her prompt response. And I want to thank Coffeecup Software for having employees like Suzanne. Way to go!

This links to their free software.

This links to the trial versions of their software.

This links to their About Us.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

conflict, resolution

I believe that one of the most important factors in a successful relationship (whether it’s between a couple, a group, societies, or countries) is the ability to resolve their differences constructively. Having compatible values is important but knowing how to resolve conflicts constructively is even more so. Regardless of how compatible the parties are, if either of them don’t know how to resolve the inevitable conflicts, their relationship is going to be difficult, if not doomed.

Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship regardless of the mutual interests or compatibility that brought them together.

There are five ways to deal with conflict:

1. Force the issue. One party forces the issue.
2. Acquiesce to the other person. Just give in.
3. Ignore the issue. Pretend there is none.
4. Compromise. Give something up in exchange for another.
5. Resolve it. Confront the differences.

The first three are obviously short-term palliatives. The fourth is the most common approach (probably because it seems most natural). But it frequently falls short of a win-win situation. I leave you to ponder that on your own.

It is the last approach that works. Seek to understand each other’s real needs and wants and develop your solution from there. I found Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” very useful in this regard. That, by the way, is one of the most influential and useful books that I have ever read. I highly recommend it.
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Monday, August 17, 2009


Available at Amazon

Click on any image to enlarge it. Use the back arrow on your browser to return to this page.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

kidney, bartter syndrome, pronove, NIHTHE PRONOVE-BARTTER SYNDROME

In 1960, a team of medical scientists working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) identified a syndrome that affects the kidneys. A syndrome is “a group of symptoms that collectively indicate a disease, disorder, or other abnormal medical condition.”

The kidney is one of the body’s vital organs. A vital organ is one that performs an essential life function. Total failure of a vital organ will cause death. We have six vital organs. These are the brain, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys.

We have two kidneys. Their function is “to keep the blood clean and chemically balanced. Wastes in the blood come from the normal breakdown of active tissues, such as muscles, and from food. The body uses food for energy and self-repairs. After the body has taken what it needs from food, wastes are sent to the blood. If the kidneys do not remove them, these wastes build up in the blood and damage the body.”

Persons suffering from this syndrome have kidneys that fail to keep the blood chemically balanced. They lose excessive amounts of potassium. It’s a relatively rare but serious condition.

I wrote this entry simply to thank a medical historian for clarifying the origin of the syndrome’s name.

Dear Mr. Enersen,

I am a nephew of the late Dr. Pacita Pronove-Irreverre. She was the lead author of the paper that first described the condition commonly known as the Bartter Syndrome. As you know, naming rights typically belong to the lead author.

In June 2008, I successfully persuaded Wikipedia to include my aunt’s name in the Wiki entry for the Bartter Syndrome. As you also probably know, Wikipedia is edited by the user community. It is a system that ensures rigorous verification. My primary evidence consisted of the relevant entry found at your website.

Apart from expressing gratitude, I want to corroborate your detailed explanation with a firsthand account of my late-aunt’s narration about the incident. This is more trivia than anything but as a historian you might enjoy it for the life it brings to your tale.

Several years before my aunt died and definitely before I knew about the syndrome’s existence, she told me the corroborating story. Auntie Pat had narrated it to her other nephews and nieces as well. (She and her doctor husband had no children themselves.) Auntie Pat told me that after she realized that injustice had been done, she looked Fred Bartter in the eye and Fred was unable to maintain eye contact. There was a smile on her face when she narrated that.

You can picture the times. She was a diminutive Asian woman in a field populated and dominated by white American men. She was still new to the U.S. The medical paper was published in 1960, only several years after she arrived. We can speculate why she partnered with Bartter. He has a Wiki entry and it reveals that he was the son of American missionaries who were stationed in the Philippines. So our aunt, a Filipina, had a common link with him. She must have felt that she had found a friend at her place of employment, the NIH.

She maintained her association with him even after the incident. They published a second paper together. She even had her sister accompany Fred and his wife back to Baguio to locate the graveyard of his parents. When she did this, I am unsure of—I will check with my cousins if they know whether this occurred before or after the incident. She was a gentle and generous soul so either time frame was possible.

Mr. Enersen, we are grateful to you for coming up with the idea for your website. It helped us add a satisfying footnote to both medical and our family’s history. I am sure that future generations of other people will appreciate and thank you for creating such a resource.

On behalf of our extended family, I thank you.


Alex Pronove

P.S. Our family is preparing Dr. Pacita’s biographical sketch for Wikipedia as well.

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Friday, June 26, 2009


I’ve long admired those framed motivational posters I see in many offices. Here’s the one about attitude.

Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens.

Our lives are determined not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life.

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst...a spark that creates extraordinary results.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Vietnam, Map, Lonely Planet

Vietnamese ingenuity

These photos were recently emailed to me. As you can see, necessity is the mother of improvisation.

Vietnam, transportation

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

The next photo shows a water buffalo being transported. A small adult will weigh nearly 900 pounds (400 kilos).

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle, water buffalo

The next photo shows several roasted dogs being brought to the market. That’s correct. These are dogs. They will be eaten.

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle, Dogs

The next photo shows two hogs being transported. They will also be eaten.

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle, Hogs

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

Vietnam, Transportation, Bicycle, Motorcyle, Tricycle

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

GMA Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Philippines PresidentTHE CASE OF THE DEFECTIVE POSTAGE STAMP
A new version of a familiar theme

The current President of the Philippines is arguably a crook. My sister sent me the following joke and I just had to share it. The joke is a version of a familiar theme.

PhilPost, the Philippine postal service, recently issued a stamp with a picture of President Arroyo. Her full name is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The stamp was captioned “Gloria Forever.”

There was a problem however. The stamp would not stick to envelopes. This reportedly enraged the President who demanded a full investigation.

After a month of testing and spending 100 million pesos, the special Presidential commission presented their findings:
  • The stamp was in perfect condition.
  • There was nothing wrong with the adhesive.
  • People were just spitting on the wrong side.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sumatran earthquake 2004 epicenter Indian Plate Burma Plate Tectonic PlateIT SHOOK OUR PLANET
It happened on Christmas Day, 2004*. It was the largest earthquake in 40 years. It triggered a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people. It moved islands. And it was powerful enough to tickle our planet.

The blog entry about the Himalayas led me to better understand that deadly earthquake on Christmas Day 2004*. Remember that? It generated a killer tsunami that claimed about 230,000 lives.
(* It was 7 pm, U.S. Central time, on Christmas Day. It was 8 am, at where it occurred (local time), on December 26. Thanks to Malu for catching the original error. I still used Central time since I couldn’t think of a succinct subtitle for December 26.)
According to the Global Seismographic Network (GSN), as quoted by, at every spot on Earth, the ground was raised and lowered by at least a full centimeter. Surface waves traveled around our planet several times before dissipating. ... In effect, the Sumatra earthquake made the Earth ring ... like a hammer rings a bell!

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred near the junction of three tectonic plates: the Indian plate, the Burma plate, and the Australian plate. In the map above, the “A” marker in the center indicates the quake’s epicenter.

(You can enlarge any image by clicking on it. To return to this page, click on the back-arrow of your browser or press the Backspace key on your keyboard.)

Indian Plate Burma Plate Tectonic Plate BoundariesThis blog entry discussed the origin of the Himalayas. It uncovered that the Himalayas are being formed by the relentless northward push of the Indian plate against the Asian landmass. Right alongside the Indian plate, is the much smaller Burma plate. Apparently, the Burma plate inches northwards too but at a different pace. (Willingham, 2005)
… the players in this megathrust, as geologists call it, were the Indian and Burma plates. For almost 200 years, these two plates have been pressing against one another, moving at the rate our fingernails grow-about 2.5 inches a year. … the Indian plate, after two centuries of pushing, finally slipped about 15 meters in the direction of Indonesia. In the process, it released the tension from butting up against the Burma plate, causing the Burma plate to bounce upward with violent consequences.
Here, with appropriate credit, is a description of the effect the quake caused to our planet.
As a result of the springing Burma plate’s incredible energy release, the oceans gathered up the energy in the form of powerful tsunamis, surging waves that spread from Sumatra to India to East Africa, surging onto shores and wiping out everything in their paths before dragging thousands of people out to sea to their deaths. A fault beginning in the ocean floor opened up along a stretch of 745 miles, about the length of the state of California, and with the upward bounce of the Burma plate, islands and the mainland underwent some major changes.

… most estimate that some small islands in the area shifted as much as 66 feet from their original positions, and the northwestern tip of Sumatra itself may have moved southwest about 118 feet. … The regional capital of Banda Aceh in western Sumatra was still under a few feet of water even after the waves receded, indicating that the city now lies below sea level.

And the Earth itself wobbled. Like a top when you touch it with your finger in the middle of its spin, the planet, whirling in its orbit, may have bobbled a bit when the temblor hit. Most experts agree that such a wobble is likely because of the huge amount of energy released. As for the redrawn maps, experts with hand-held global positioning system devices are attempting to reach some of the areas in question to obtain the new coordinates for the islands around the epicenter.

Plexus Encyclopedia of Medicine, Science, and Technology. Volume 2, Issue 39. January 17, 2005. Emily Willingham, Ph.D.
As I was drawing the boundaries of the plates, it became apparent that most of the seafloor is already etched with the boundaries. That, indeed, is powerful evidence of the existence of tectonic plates.

Where plates meet, there’s geological activity. In September 2007, for example, I blogged about the four strong earthquakes that hit Indonesia in a 24-hour span.

I find it so humbling to realize that the same movement that creates mountains also causes these gigantic events.

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Friday, April 24, 2009


Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, towers nearly nearly nine kilometers. Everest is the most famous peak of the Himalayan mountain range. And that range, in turn, is one of the most celebrated features of our planet. What forces created it?

(You can enlarge any image by clicking on it. To return to this page, click on the back-arrow of your browser or press the Backspace key on your keyboard.)

An earlier post noted that four of the most accomplished climbers in the world began ascending Mt. Everest. What forces created Everest and the mountains around it?

The Collision of India and Asia
India did, or more precisely, the tectonic plate that India sits on, did. India’s plate has been pushing against the Asian landmass for the past 50 to 55 million years. The collision of two landmasses caused the earth to buckle up at these points of collision. The earth, at these points of collision, is literally being pushed up to form mountains.

(You can enlarge any image by clicking on it. To return to this page, click on the back-arrow of your browser or press the Backspace key on your keyboard.)

India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movement
India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movement

India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movement

India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movement

Plate Tectonics
Early in the 20th century, a scientist named Wegener proposed that continents “drift.” Any world map will show the bulge on the eastern side of South America and the “hole” on the western side of Africa. The bulge appears to fit into the hole, doesn’t it? It appears that the two continents may have been one in the distant past. It appears, therefore, that South America and Africa separated. This observation among other, prompted Mr. Wegener to propose that continents drift. Later on, geologists confirmed that the uppermost layer of our planet moves around. Imagine the land that we see actually sits on a plate and that plate, in turn, rests on thick mud. The plate moves—albeit very slowly—and the land sitting on it naturally moves as well.

India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movementIt’s such a radical notion, isn’t it? Land, after all, is the ground. Expressions such as “feet on the ground” or “grounded in reality” suggest a pragmatic let’s-be-real attitude. It also explains why earthquakes terrify us. After all, if the very ground that we believe is solid shakes, then what is solid?

Science believes that in the distant past, there existed only one landmass (that was named Pangaea). Over time—as in 225 million years—this single landmass separated into the seven continents we know today.

India Himalayas Everest Pronove tectonic movementIndia sits on its own plate and that plate is currently moving northeast at five centimeters per year (that’s two inches per year). According to the Paleomap Project, before India collided with Asia, India was moving at more than 15 centimeters per year. No modern plate moves that fast. (India’s northward race towards Asia may be something of a plate tectonic speed record!)

The Himalayas, therefore, were created by the collision of India with the rest of Asia. Tectonic forces, in other words, created the Himalayas.

Two things about this knowledge amaze me. First, these mountains originally constituted the seafloor. What was once, perhaps, eight kilometers below sea level are now eight kilometers above it. And second, these mountains—already the concentration of the tallest in the world—will continue to rise even more over the next millions of years.

Isn’t that something?

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India Himalayas Everest Whittaker Viesturs Hahn Arnot National GeographicRETURN TO EVEREST

As reported by National Geographic, that’s what four of the most accomplished climbers in the world are doing right now. They’re ascending Mt. Everest—the tallest mountain in the world (above sea level.) It towers nearly 8,850 meters. That’s nearly nine kilometers tall! (In feet and miles, the mountain is about 29,030 feet or 5.5 miles tall!) Commercial airlines cruise at about 35,000 feet or 6.6 miles or nearly 11 kilometers.

(You can enlarge any image by clicking on it. To return to this page, click on the back-arrow of your browser or press the Backspace key on your keyboard.)

The following came from the National Geographic article.
The team began its ascent on March 30. Over the next two months, the climbers will make their way up the world’s tallest mountain in dangerous conditions, fighting hypothermia, altitude sickness, and sheer physical exhaustion to achieve something few can boast.

Mountaineer Peter Whittaker gathered the group as part of a quest to continue his family legacy; he is the nephew of legendary explorer Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest in 1963. Joining Whittaker is Ed Viesturs, a veteran mountaineer who has summitted all 14 of the world’s highest peaks without the aid of bottled oxygen; Dave Hahn, who is going for a record 11th Everest ascent; and Melissa Arnot, who is attempting to become the first female American to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen.
India Himalayas Everest Whittaker Viesturs Hahn Arnot National GeographicMt. Everest belongs to the Himalayan range. Have you ever wondered what force created these mountains? India did, or more precisely, the tectonic plate that India sits on, did.

Click here for an explanation.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Russia Soyuz billionaire Simonyi Kazakhstan International Space Station ISSBILLIONAIRE’S SPACE ODYSSEY ENDS

So far, none of my friends seems convinced at my assertion that commercial space travel will be a reality in our lifetime, or at least by 2024. That’s only 15 years from now.

Clicking on the blog entry title will open a new window or tab. The International Space Station is shown in photo #1. This lead photo of the parachute landing is shown in photo #9.

A Russian Soyuz space capsule lands in Kazakhstan on April 8. The capsule carried a U.S. astronaut, a Russian cosmonaut and the billionaire space passenger Charles Simonyi from the International Space Station. Simonyi made his fortune at Microsoft by managing the development of the Microsoft Office suite.

This was Simonyi’s second trip to space. Simonyi was already the fifth space tourist in 2007 when he took his first trip.

I think I can now revise my estimate to 2019, just ten years from now. But doesn’t this all depend upon the definition of commercial space travel? What is it? What constitutes commercial space travel?

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Friday, April 10, 2009


In the preceding entry, I described the false peak of Taal Volcano. You might want to see it for yourself. The volcano is less than two-and-a-half hours away from metro Manila. It’s an easy day trip.

In this aerial photo, north is at 2 o’clock. The plane was traveling southwest, as if from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock.


From Manila, the most direct way to the lake is to take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to the Sta. Rosa exit. Follow the signs to Tagaytay City. When you reach the T-junction, turn left. Follow this road for about five kilometers. Caution: this roadis known by two names: Tagaytay-Calamba Road or Tagaytay Ridge Road. Watch carefully on the lefthand side for the Tagaytay Elementary School. Once you see it, stop! Directly across it, on your righthand side, is Ligaya Drive. Turn right and drive down Ligaya Drive to the lake. You’ll come across a motley array of dwellings and new developments. At the bottom, follow the signs to Taal Lake Yacht Club (TLYC).


Ligaya Drive can be difficult to find, hence, this blog article. Ligaya Drive lies east of Tagaytay City proper. When you face the rotonda (there’s only one), you can only turn left or right. Turn left.

Ligaya Drive can be difficult to find because it is inconspicuous. Look for your first landmark. Look for it on the lefthand side. When you see it, stop! On the righthand side, or on the other side of the road, is Ligaya Drive!

Intersection Tagaytay Calamba Road Ligaya Drive Tagaytay Elementary School

The intersection of Tagaytay Ridge Road (also known as Tagaytay-Calamba Road) and Ligaya Drive looks like this.

Intersection Tagaytay Calamba Road Ligaya Drive

For emphasis, here’s a close-up of the same intersection.
Intersection Tagaytay Calamba Road Ligaya Drive

To enlarge any of these photos, simply click on it. To return to this page, click on the [left arrow] of your browser.

How will you know if you missed it? Well, you’ll have to turn around if you see Tagaytay Southridge. This is a prominent landmark on the lefthand side of the road. Seeing it indicates that you overlooked and missed Ligaya Drive.

Tagaytay Southridge Estates

Tagaytay Southridge Estates

If you overlook the intersection of Tayatay and Ligaya Drive, you will pass several structures that can also serve as landmarks to indicate that you should turn around and go back. A good example is the building of the Development Academy of the Philippines. However, none of them are as prominent as Southridge, hence Southridge was used.

If you discover that you missed it, you have to turn around. This time, the elusive Ligaya Drive will be on your lefthand side. On your righthand side, watch for this direction sign. Once you see it, stop!

Talisay Tagaytay

This sign is directly across Ligaya Drive. The direction sign indicates that Ligaya Drive will not only lead you to the lake but, if you continue along the drive, it will also lead you to the town of Talisay, which is five kilometers distant.


You’ll be on Ligaya Drive for less than ten minutes. Follow the signs and go to the yacht club. We did and we rewarded ourselves with a satisfying lunch at the club. The air is fresh and the wind, strong. From there we could have rented a sailboat or taken the boat tour that would take us to the volcano island. According to the staff, the sailing season lasts from October to April. That’s when traffic is highest.

The photos below shows the marker for the yacht club at lake level. Apart from being a proper yacht club it’s also the home of the Philippine Hobie fleet. The Hobie Cat is one of the most popular small sailboats in the world.

Taal Lake Yacht Club

Taal Lake Yacht Club

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