King of Siam

So it took MJ all of one day to relax into vacation mode.

“I’m heading down to the pool” is what he said as he walked out the door.  Cathy and I found him in his own private cabana by the pool with a cheese plate and a Mojito in his hand.

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Nuevo Vallarta

Summer vacation is here!

We arrived at the Miraval Residences Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.

Nuevo Vallarta is on the same bay as Puerto Vallarta.  Our room is a two bedroom, two bath room residence suite.  Plenty of room for everyone to spread out during the week.

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Bored Engineering Students

So what do 2 bored engineering students do to fill up their time on summer break?

They build 2 motorized bicycles.

In May MJ and Greg bought 2 Schwin bicycles and modified them to fit a 50cc 2-stroke engine onto the frame.  I was thankful to see that they bought new bicycles for this little project and not modify their existing bikes.

They spent about 4 hours on each bike installing the engine, sprocket, gas tank and controls.  The rear wheel sprocket and engine sprocket were a bit of a pain to line up.  They also had to fiddle with the brake controls so the clutch control worked.

 

The engines need to be pop started by pedalling the bikes and slowly releasing the clutch.   After assembling the bikes, it took another 2 hours to tune the carbs and get everything working smoothly.

The bikes will run at 25mph with a 75 mile range.

It’s pretty cool to watch the bikes go.

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Busted Jet Ski

The jet ski season has just started and we have already busted one ski.  Jenna was down visiting MJ this weekend.  We figured we would have an afternoon of fun on them.

As MJ left the ramp area, his ski started to bog down and wouldn’t get out of the pocket.  We could hear the engine rev, but it didn’t develop any power!  I told him it sounded like something got sucked up into the impeller.  He jumped off the machine and went under to clear the intake.  In the water he couldn’t find anything plugging the jet pump.  He brought the ski back to the ramp and together we put the ski on it’s side.  There was a 1 1/2″ nylon web strap wrapped around the drive shaft and in the impeller.  We couldn’t clear it at the ramp.

When we finally got the nylon web strap out, it was 10′ long.  There was a family at the ramp that had no clue about the water and they were trying to paddle a canoe.  Of course they flipped the canoe.  We think the strap may have been a tied down strap they used to transport the canoe and they left it in when they flipped.

MJ got lucky and sucked it up.

This morning we went back to the ramp to go out and found that the starter wouldn’t engaged the flywheel.  We could hear it spin but the engine wouldn’t turn over.  Turns out when MJ was in the water trying to clear the blockage, he got back on the machine, started it and limped it back to the ramp.  In doing so, the starter sheared the teeth off the flywheel.

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Aladdin on Broadway

logo-aladdin-newA few days after Christmas, we had family day in NYC.  We took MJ and Jill to see Aladdin on Broadway.  I managed to get really good seats, third row orchestra.

Jill, who normally cannot sit still for 30 minutes, loved the play.  She came home, downloaded some of the songs and walks around the house singing.

Just before the show we walked around Rockefeller center and had dinner at Trattoria Trecolori on 47th Street.

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Kinky Boots

kinkybootsThe Broadway play, Kinky Boots, is awesome.  Cathy and I took Lindsey and Elizabeth on Tuesday, Dec 1st.  We got lucky, that night was Wayne Brady’s debut as Lola.  He was absolutely fantastic!

Wayne Brady brought an unbelievable amount of energy to the show.  The music and dancing was just superb.  Kinky Boot’s is in my top 5 Broadway plays of all time.

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The Return of Depression Economics

I’ve been reading “The Return of Depression Economics” by Paul Krugman.  It is an attempt to explain the financial crash of 2008 and why efforts by the Fed and Treasury were largely ineffective.

The book goes into the shadow banking system, the products created by investment banks that largely parallel the depositor banking system but avoids the regulatory aspects.  Paul makes the argument that the crash began as a currency crisis which precipitated a “run on the bank” of the shadow banking system.

He goes on to explain that most of the tools the Fed has are meant to shore up confidence in the depositor banking system. The shadow banking system is not at all backed by the Fed.  When the US Govt came up with special efforts, such as TARP and quantitative easing to add money into the economy, their efforts were thwarted by private investors pulling out money.

The author clearly explains that we are not heading into a depression. A lot of the monetary policy controls the Fed has become ineffective, we are exposed to the economic risks that existed during the era of the great depression.

Anyone interested in economics should read this book.  It provides an interesting explanation of what occurred in 2008.  It also lays out the risks we face in the current economy and those risks are largely not being addressed by the government.

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The End

After horseback riding, we drove to the airport for our flight home.  We flew from Guadeloupe to San Juan and then to Philadelphia.  On the flight from San Juan to Philadelphia, I caught this image of the sunset while we were at 28,000 feet.  In the lower portion of the photograph, I really liked the shadows of the upper cloud layer off of the lower cloud layer.  It made the lower cloud layer appear as if it were a lake reflecting the upper clouds.

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Horseback Riding

One of the activities Jill loves to do is go horseback riding.  Just about every vacation at some point we end up on horses.

This horse back trip took us down by the beach near the ocean and through some mangroves.

What jumped out at me was the amount of trash that was on the beach and along the roads.  The tour guide made a comment about the French just throwing away their water bottles, but that doesn’t explain the TVs and washer machines that were also strewn about.  The place we went to for horseback riding was only 10min from the resort.  It was easily the most dirty place on the island.  All during the week we were from one end of Basse Terre to the other side of La Grand Terre island.

Riding the horses along the ocean was different.  The ocean view was great.

Being the last day of vacation, the 4 hour ride was a bit long and hot.  By the end of the third hour we all wanted to get off the horses.

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Dad goes Windsurfing

On Friday, July 10th, MJ wanted to go back and do windsurfing again.  Jill and I were going to go take surfing lessons, however Jill got really bad sunburn so we had to cancel the lessons and keep her in the shade.  So I decided to join MJ and try windsurfing myself.

 

After about 2 hours of either falling or getting yanked into the water, I slowly gained my balance on the board.  After the third hour I was able to get the board to move, although only in one direction.

By the time the third hour was over, I was done.  Definitely something I would do again.

 

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