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Rick's Blog

I add to this when I can, or when I feel inclined.
Let me know if you love it... or hate it...
as if it would make any difference...

It's mostly copies of emails to my brother and sister, but I try to be interesting to everyone who reads.

Rick's Blog


Early July, 2011-- In South Dakota we have serious once-in-a- lifetime flooding on the Missouri River and record discharges from the dams. On Sunday, I took my Mom and my daughter to see the Gavin's Point Dam in Yankton, SD. Releasing 170,000 cubic feet of water per second. On the 4th, an old photographer friend of mine from Florida, Don Durfee and I went to the old Fort Randall site (Sitting Bull spent time there), Ft Randall Dam and the Onion House in Delmont, SD.



March 2011

About connecting my Verizon Droid aboard the Holland America ship Ryndam from Tampa, FL towards Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

When I Goolged this before-hand, I didnít find a lot of info. And because technology advances every day this instruction will be no longer be valid tomorrow.

Call Verizon before you go.

*611 on your Verizon phone. Activate your International Roaming and International Calling features (both free). Tell them where youíre going and how youíre going to get there. Each country has different specifics.

If youíre cruising:

You may have access to the shipís wi-fi. I did - about half the time (see trip summary below) - and never incurred any ship connection charges.

Distinguish between phone calls and data plans.

Phone calls are pretty straight-forward. Matt @ Verizon told me that calls back to the US were $2.49 a minute from Belize and $.99 from Mexico. Texts are 50c out and a nickel in. I didnít use the phone feature much. Maybe a call a day (kept short). And even though I couldnít always access the Internet (see trip summary below), I never had a problem with phone calls.

Data Plans If you donít have the right data settings on your phone you can get a big Verizon bill after the trip.

Data plans include everything else... checking eMail, using Google and FaceBook.

To be safe, before you get on the boat go to <settings>,<wireless & networks> <mobile networks> and UNCHECK <data Roaming>.

You can always turn it back on for short intervals if you want. But remember itís the amount of data you download... you may only connect for 5 minutes but if youíre downloading 150 text messages and all your new FaceBook posts, youíll pay for it.

I have no clue what my current data usage is, but Matt @ Verizon told me Verizon sends a text message when data roaming approaches $50 and again when it reaches $200. (I suppose if you are beyond internet access, you might not get this message until itís too late.) FYI - 3G connections are tower based (I thought mebee it was satellite).

Trip Summary

03/12/11 -On the boat in Tampa, FL. Tomorrow - Key West.

03/12/11 - 03/14/11 - Had a solid 3G connection until a couple hours out of Key West. I know enough to search for open wi-fi connections, found the Ryndamís and because I could, checked my Email and Facebook several times, Googled a couple things and connected to the GPS and Google Maps. GPS showed us (correctly) in the water but Google Maps gave some funky driving directions.

I do not know if GPS connections are data. I am going to check that. (But Google Maps would surely be.)

03/15/11 - Sea day. Connecting 4 - 5 times to the shipís wi-fi. Just because I can.

03/16/11 - Belize City - Received Verizonís $50 Data-use text message. Decided not to check my data quite so often....

03/17/11 - Roatan, island off the coast of Honduras. Had phone service, but even tho my Droid showed an open wi-fi (the shipís), I could not connect. I phoned my daughter in Nashville but could not access any data. Checked my settings several times to be sure they were correct.

03/18/11 - Costa Maya, Mexico... not exactly sure where. Costa Maya can mean anything south of Playa del Carmen to the border. A new development built just for cruise-ships. Phone OK, but still no eMail. Same as above.

03/19/11- a sea day... Iím data deprived. My brother paid $100 for 250 minutes of the shipís internet computer time and had minutes to spare, so I borrowed his laptop, sank 165 eMail messages and checked some other data.

Within site of Florida port, my wi-fi worked again...


setting the phoneís clock. I left South Dakota with the looming switch to Daylight Savings Time and traveled east one time zone. My Droid accepted the local Tampa & Key West times until Belize City. More confusion... shipboard clocks were set back one hour for Belize and Roatan, and even then we were an hour shy of local time.

There is no way (that I found) to reset the phoneís clock when beyond internet, which makes setting your phone for a wake-up call tricky.

My phone said 2:15 PM - but it was after 7 PM shipís time.

PS: This phone is new to me, so I donít yet know what my normal charges are. It should be about $40 for minutes and $30 for the new wi-fi plan (both with 22% discount for being an Avera employee)...probably approaching $60/month with taxes. My first billing was for $75 and the next for $220... so data use can add up pretty quickly.






Happy 4th of July 2010

I was hoping for a little more straw and a little less museum.

I will someday post photos to my Walgreen's account and send you the link.
The Straw Bale Museum in Carthage is the *Carthage* city and county museum, with all the attendant student trophies and dusty athletic uniforms, and dusty military uniforms, decades of (unprotected) old newspapers, replica Dr's office, post office, etc...
all of which happen to be housed in a building constructed of straw bales with a poor plaster coat outdoors. The roof / ceiling is metal, with roll insulation and a plastic sheet below. They do have in-door plumbing and use corn for heat.
The ceiling fans that they say "keep it real cool in the summer" don't work all that well. Gramma Jean got warm.
There are three places interior where the inside wall is opened to expose a view of a strawbale.
Otherwise, precious little on the structure itself. I was hoping for more...  how do they handle bugs, summer - winter humidity... in a place like that? Has corn gotten to be more expensive than heating oil yet? How often do you have to re-plaster?
I thought for sure we'd be the only people there, so was surprised to see the front door propped open and several cars at the curb. A family reunion group was exploring the place for old memories. And, to be truthful, this museum is really good for that.
But, the HS closed in 1983 and the remaining kids bus to either Howard or DeSmet. The HiWay population sign says 187. You do the math. 
The three old folks who showed us around the place dearly love that museum, and when the reunion group left we had them ALL to ourselves. Since the place has only been open a few years, they didn't have many answers to my above questions.
Probably the most interesting thing... they had a small historic kitchen set-up, with the absolute oldest electric range I'd ever seen.
Mom stopped at that for a minute and said "We had one of those in White Bear Lake when I was a kid.  One day, I was running around with a wet toothpick or something in my mouth, and stuck it in there."  (Pointing to an electrical outlet just below the burner controls.)  "I don't remember, but I must have got a good shock because everybody came running and I never did that again."
We dragged Main a couple times, trying not to miss anything, and drove around Lake Carthage. The lake's only campground was full of expensive 5th wheel campers, almost all with nearby plates.
Remember, Carthage had a part in the movie  "Into the Wild."    One of the women at the Museum said she was the first in town to shake hands with Sean Penn.
Too early to eat, (on these trips, Mom likes to dine about 4 PM). Looked for supper  in Howard (all closed) and nothing again until Mitchell, at 5 PM.  Our first choice, Pirogues, was closed for the 4th, and on our way to Ruby Tuesdays, got side-tracked by Arbeys. Good enough!
Happy 4th of July!


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