Bathroom Guest

Went to take a shower today and I was surprised (not startled) to see a rather large gecko chilling on the wall of the shower.

Gecko chilling in the bathroom

For what it’s worth, I rotated the image 90 degrees. The gecko was hanging on the wall head-down. I think the original pose (vertical) detracted from the shot, so I took the creative license to rotate it. If you’re familiar with my shooting style (no cropping, close to zero editing), this is actually a big deal.

The gecko itself appears to be living behind the medicine cabinet, which I find cute for some bizarre reason. I know this because I was only able to fire off 4 shots before he realized I wasn’t going away and fled wall-to-wall to his hidey-hole.

I’m just happy I had the opportunity to get some decent shots before he disappeared. I’m sure we’ll see him again.

Jan 15th, 2012 | Filed under Hawaii, Photography

New (to me) Car

Since moving, we’ve been a one-car household. For the most part, this hasn’t been a real problem since I work from home and Corinne will use the car to get to work as needed.

There are three issues though.

The first is that if the jeep has a problem and ends up in the garage, Corinne can’t get to work. In Boston, we had the extensive public transportation system to rely on as a backup plan. While Maui has some busses, they’re nothing like the robust public transportation system a larger city has and it won’t be reliable enough for daily commuting.

The second is gas. The jeep is a ton of fun and perfect for Hawaiian island life. But jeeps don’t get good gas mileage and Hawaiian islands don’t have inexpensive gas to buy… so a smaller, more fuel-efficient car has a lot of benefits for the bank account over the long-run.

And the third reason is that when I get off of work in the early afternoon, many days I’m just stranded for hours because the jeep is on the other side of the island. That’s no fun. While it’s a totally personal issue and something I knew that I’d have to deal with when we were planning the move and planning on only having the one car, it does wear on you after 8 months.

With some money assigned to the task, we went out today and poked around to see what was available. The thing to keep in mind is that selection is just really limited and the dollars don’t stretch as far as on the mainland. So while I ended up spending more than I had wanted to, I’m happy and confident in the purchase and am now the owner of a ’02 Ford Focus. I think it’ll work very well as a primary car for Corinne and as a backup in general.

Jan 7th, 2012 | Filed under Hawaii

Christmas on Maui

Without any family on the islands, the routine we had fallen into for spending our holidays is gone. This year, I decided that it’d be fun to go out on a whale watch since Pacific Whale Foundation was running them still on Christmas.

It’s still fairly early in the whale season here, but there are still whales to be seen. Here’s a shot of one of the pairs that we saw this morning:

Whales on Christmas Morning

The other decision I made was to take the first trip of the day. This meant getting up at 4am, but it also meant we got to see a beautiful sunrise this morning.

Sunrise Behind Haleakala

There’s a few more in the Landscape Gallery.

I hope to make the Christmas day whale watch a tradition.

Dec 25th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Photography

Monk Seal Black Friday

Instead of spending hours and hours in stupid lines to fight stupid people for stupid things that we don’t really need anyway, we set out to see if we could spot any whales from shore today. While it’s still a bit early in the season for regular shore sightings, the whales are in the area and it’s not impossible to spot some already.

While we didn’t get to see any whales, we did come across an incredible treat — a Hawaiian Monk Seal!

Black Friday Monk Seal

There’s two more in the Fauna Image Gallery.

Latest estimates put the entire Hawaiian Monk Seal population at only 1060 individuals with only about 150 that live outside of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (which are mostly uninhabited).

The image may imply that I was pretty close to the seal, but the reality is that I was on a cliff above him and still a decent bit away from it. At no point could I have actually approached it (not that I would have) and at the first sign that it wasn’t totally comfortable with our presence (when I got an unexpected phone call), we packed up and headed away.

I phoned the sighting into NOAA and I emailed them copies of the images.

I’ll trade a whale encounter for a rare seal encounter any day!

Nov 25th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Photography

Sunset Over Kaho’olawe

Went out to snap some sunset pics yesterday. I decided to head south and ended up pretty much as far south you can go without looping around the other side of the island and traverse Hana.

Here’s a shot with the sun setting behind Kaho’olawe from the beautiful standpoint of La Perouse Bay.

20111113_kahoolawe_sunset_la_perouse_bay
Nov 14th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Photography

Kite Beach

I woke up yesterday and it was windy. Really windy. Generally speaking, this is a bit odd. We have a rather predictable cycle where it’s calm in the morning, the wind picks up in the late morning / early afternoon for a few hours and then dies back down again. Plus, I get up early (typically 5am every day), so it’s usually very calm that early.

Figuring that other people would have the same idea, when I was done with work, I headed over to Kite Beach to check out the kiteboarders. With my photo gear in tow, I fired away a ton of shots.

20111109_kite_beach_24

 

If you’ve never seen kiteboarders in action, it’s something to behold. If you get to Maui, be sure to head to Kite Beach in the afternoon and enjoy the crazy aerial acrobatics that these people bust out.

Nov 10th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Photography

Time And Tide Wait For No Man

I can’t believe we’re already more than half way through September. That brings my time in Hawaii thus far to 4.5 months. It simultaneously feels like no time at all and something approaching forever. Before I know it, it’s going to be 2012.

I know a lot of people that say that they’d miss the seasons if they moved to Hawaii. I’m not one of those people. I’m happy with having a single, awesome, sunny season. But one thing that I realized is that the seasons definitely do add a nice pacing to the year. And for someone like me that is really bad at mentally measuring the passage of time, a month can flash by without even noticing.

That doesn’t bother me too much since most of my recognition of the seasons boiled down to something like the following:

Spring: being happy it was no longer Winter, but really just waiting for it to be Summer

Summer: being happy

Fall: being sad that Summer is over and dreading the approach of Winter

Winter: being rather miserable and basically just waiting for Spring to bring a reprieve

That basically left me only 3 months total to really enjoy myself… and if those few months happened to be fairly busy with non-fun stuff, it was particularly painful.

Now, without having been here a year, it’s had to say what annual patterns will really imprint on me. There’s one huge one that I’m extremely excited for – and that’s the arrival of the whales. That highlight aside, I’m sure there’s other things that will be noted and measured year-to-year. They just escape me right now.

The other important thing to consider is that I lived in Massachusetts for over 30 years before finally moving. The passage of the northeast seasons is somewhat ingrained into parts of my brain that I can’t even access. It will definitely be a little while until I’m able to mentally decouple what the seasons “should be” and what they really are.

Until then, regardless of the speed at which time appears to fly by, I’ll try to just enjoy the great weather and total lack of the “bad” seasons.

Sep 18th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Travel

New WordPress Plugin — Auto Add Users To Mingle

I downloaded the Mingle Forum Plugin today and started tooling around with it. After working through a number of small configuration problems, I discovered that you have to manually allow users to post in forums. Since the plugin is actually really great, I didn’t want to scrap it despite this missing functionality.

It didn’t seem like it should be “that hard” to figure out the database tables that handled the user-group relationship and create a WordPress plugin that would automatically join a new user to the appropriate tables. I’m not sure why, exactly, I assumed this — but that’s the premise I was working off of. The following is the actual plugin and details for anyone that wants to implement it as-is. There’s plenty more work that would need to be done to “release it”.

It’s important to mention that EVERY user that logs into your WordPress instance will be added to a SINGLE group. There’s no way to exclude any users (without adding code for that explicit purpose). This isn’t a problem for my implementation, but I can understand that this may be an issue for some people. Either way, I’m sure this should be adequate for most people’s use.

<?php
/*
Plugin Name: Auto Add Users To Mingle
Plugin URI: http://mikebrum.com/
Description: This plugin automatically joins any user to a defined group ID so they can make forum posts
Version: 0.1
Author: Mike Brum
Author URI: http://mikebrum.com/
License: Freestuffz
*/

/*
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY. Please test it in a way that will not
expose you to the loss of data if any problems are encountered.
*/

class forumAdder {
function add2forum() {
global $current_user, $wpdb;
$current_user = wp_get_current_user();
$cuid = $current_user->ID;

# check db to see if they’re part of “the group”
$id_query = “SELECT id, user_id FROM wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroup2user WHERE user_id = ‘$cuid’”;
$my_id = $wpdb->get_row($id_query, ARRAY_N);

# if not, then add them
if ( (! $my_id[1] ) && ($cuid != ’0′) && ($cuid != ”) ){
$wpdb->insert( ‘wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroup2user‘,
array( ‘user_id’ => $cuid, ‘group’ => 2 ),
array( ‘%d’, ‘%s’ )
);
}
}
}

$myForumAdder = new forumAdder();
add_action(‘shutdown’, array($myForumAdder, ‘add2forum’));
?>

So the first thing that you’ll need to do is copy the code above to a file and put it in your plugins dir for WordPress. I called it “auto_add_users_to_mingle.php”. Seemed appropriate.

There’s two things that you need to change:

wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroup2user — this is the Mingle ‘forum_usergroup2user’ table. Given the WordPress table prefix for the blog I was added it to is “wp_mauimtg_”, this is how we get this full table name. If you look in your wp-config.php file and look at your $table_prefix variable, it should be obvious what this should be changed to. It’ll basically be: $table_prefix + ‘forum_usergroup2user’

For reference, my exact line from wp-config.php is:

$table_prefix¬† = ‘wp_mauimtg_’;

The other important thing that needs to change is the line:

array( ‘user_id’ => $cuid, ‘group’ => 2 ),

Specifically, the number “2″ (the rest of the line needs to stay exactly the same).

Now, there’s no “easy” way to figure out what this number is supposed to be. You’re going to have to log into your database and figure out what that number is.

Here’s a straight forward way to figure it out (using the table names that I’m looking at as defined by my $table_prefix):

1) look at all entries in the table wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroups and find the group that you want everyone to be added to. There’s a column called “name” that will actually display the group name, so there’s no real guessing involved once you spit out the contents of wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroups.

2) the value in the “id” column is the number that you’re going to want to specify in the above line.

For example, if you have a group called “Family” that you wanted everyone added to and you looked that row up in your wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroups table and found that it had an id of “15″, then the line would need to be changed to:

array( ‘user_id’ => $cuid, ‘group’ => 15 ),

Once you’ve made the 2x table name changes and the 1x number change, you should be ready to activate the plugin.

If you get an error, you’ve probably screwed up the PHP syntax and should fine-tooth-comb the changes you made.

As I mentioned, this is my first plugin, so I’m sure there’s a number of things I could do to improve it. For instance, I’d imagine there’s a way to pull out the value of $table_prefix and do the string concatenation and I could make an admin panel for the plugin that brings up the list of groups in wp_mauimtg_forum_usergroups and lets you select one from a pull-down instead of having to hack at it by hand.

But both of these enhancements are for another day.

I just wanted to contribute the code if it can help others. Hope you have luck implementing it.

You can download a zip file directly: auto_add_users_to_mingle.0.1.zip

Sep 15th, 2011 | Filed under Random

Green Sea Turtle Compilation Video

I’ve been taking video while snorkeling for a little while since I got my GoPro HD Hero. I decided to start actually processing it and put together this compilation of green sea turtles.

It’s “long” (around 10m), but I’ve happily watched it a few times.

As I start taking more video, I’m sure I’ll be posting it more regularly as well.

Enjoy

Sep 4th, 2011 | Filed under Hawaii, Travel, Video

Not Quite 5 Hour Energy

I’m up late tonight with some overnight maintenances for work.

On one hand, it’s only 11pm here because work is pegged to EDT and I’m in HST. The bad thing is that I’m also pretty tied to EDT and wake up at 5am or earlier. If I were still on the East Coast, it’d be 5am and I’d have been up from the night prior, with work starting at 11:30pm. But given that I’m still waking up really early, the fact that it’s only 11pm is somewhat immaterial — especially when you consider how long I’ve been working today. The raw hours are a bit scary.

From my last trip to Oahu, I had a leftover “5 Hour Energy” drink that I never ended up needing. It was the first time I had bought one, but figured since I’d be up really late, it was probably worth having it just in case. Well, ‘in case’ never came so it traveled back with me to sit in my medicine cabinet. Around 8pm, I could tell that I was starting to get a tad slower. I was far from “tired”, but I knew I was going to be feeling it in a few hours despite the copious amounts of Coke that I’ve been consuming all day long. With that realization, I went to the medicine cabinet and cracked open the tiny bottle.

While bringing it to my mouth to drink, I paused and read the “instructions”. Basically, they said “drink half of the bottle if you want 1/2 the energy in the bottle, but drink the whole thing if you want super energy”. I knew I had at least 5-6 hours of work ahead of me, so I figured it was both safe and prudent to go all in.

Here’s where disappointment sets in — it’s only 3 hours later (I’m still working) and I feel exactly like I would have had I not taken that drink. I have to do a lot of out-of-hours work and get woken up in the middle of the night with phone calls, so I’ve got a pretty good bead on how I react to sleep and sleep deprivation.

My loose assumption is that my body is pretty well tuned to break down stimulants given my diet that consists of a large amount of sugar and caffeine sources. I’m one of those people that can drink soda right up to going to bed and my eyes still shut when I hit the pillow. Maybe this should have flavored my expectation of efficacy, but given the explicit goal of the drink, I was hoping for more.

Next time, I’ll just take an afternoon nap.

Aug 30th, 2011 | Filed under Random, Work