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There are 276 blog entries within the category of Blog Entry

Laptop Access Increasingly Hard to Find
July 3rd, 2003 | View Post
I apologize for taking so many days to get our new content online but it seems as we travel through the South Island it is becoming very difficult for me to find internet access. While internet cafes are still around (though becoming increasingly expensive for slower service), they will not let me plug my laptop in. I suppose it is fair to give them some credit as the typical reasons for WHY I cannot plug in are them wanting to remain hassle-free and ensure their networks are secure. Regardless, it has become quite a nuisance for me as I expect to be turned down in most places now. I can only hope that the larger cities will have less strict policies.

Have you ever wondered just how close you can get to a seal? Well apparently it is close enough to learn that they have the worst breath of any living animal I have ever encountered in my life. While driving down HWY 1 from Blenheim to Kaikoura we came across the Ohau Seal Colony (or so the signs read). While deciding that I was a National Geographic photographer for the day I approcahed a few seals very closely as you can see in the new gallery photos. When startled they become quite frightening and their well known bark quickly turns into a low pitched snarl, much like that of a tiger.

Photo Gallery Updates:
Camper Van
Animal Encounters
National Cathedral in Nelson
Lake Rotoiti
Black Sands Beach
Ohau Seal Colony
A Bit of Hot and Cold News
July 2nd, 2003 | View Post
I am still not exactly sure how this happened, but a small mishap has finally taken place on the trip. While running through Wellington to catch our bus back to Lower Hutt (where the motor park was), my camera somehow slipped from its bag. It fell into the middle of the road and has been damaged. The far right side of the lens has been cracked and the frame has loosened itself a little ways. I have no idea how, but it still takes fabulous pictures. The only incident seems to arise from zooming to 200mm and trying to use the auto-focus. In such a setting it seems to pick up a bit of the fracture and hence cannot focus properly. This also is not a problem since the camera has manual focus as well. So, sadly it is now a 'tainted' camera, but thankfully still in fine working order. I would also like to note that all photos past the 'Te Papa National Museum' gallery will have been taken with the broken camera. Please email me if you notice any flaws in the picture(s).

Photo Gallery Updates:
Camper Van
Animal Encounters
Palmerston North
Te Papa National Museum
Cook Straight
Marlborough Sound
The Graham Honeymoon
September 15th, 2002 | View Post
Since I just spent some time off in the Yucutan, I thought I'd give the Grahams my notes on where they might want to go while on their Honeymoon. In case anybody else is headed in that direction, here is some information.

Getting to Cozumel

The ferry leaves from Playa Del Carmen on pretty regular intervals. It's incredible easy to get there. Go to the east end of Ave. Juarez (the busiest street that runs through Playa) towards the Caribbean. The cost of a round trip per person is about $15.00 USD. There is plenty of information available once you are in the area and you should not have any problems getting to the island. Just make sure that you know when the last ferry leaves from Cozumel back to Playa Del Carmen or you'll be stuck in Cozumel for the night.

The ferry will drop you off in the main area of Cozumel. There you'll be able to do tons of shopping like we discussed, mainly silver/gold shops, T-shirts, and cigars. Cozumel is a wonderful place to go exploring especially if you can get there somewhat early in the morning to explore the island or right around sunset to enjoy the dining and nightlife. The taxi services there are pretty regulated, so don't worry too much about getting ripped off. Obviously be aware that it happens, but you should be okay.

If you get there early enough it might be fun to rent a car for just a few hours (it shouldn't cost more than 20-30$). You'll be on the west side of the island when you get off of the ferry. There is plenty to do in that area, but there are also a few hidden treasures on the east side of the island (though no beach). I marked off a bar/restaurant that you might want to look into over on the south east side of the island. During the day it is a beautiful bar that over looks the Caribbean; Mexico at its finest. Albeit you'll need a car to get to the bar because a taxi ride would be very expensive. It's about a 45 minute car ride.

I've listed off where the drop off for the ferry is. From there you can make your way into the shopping area. If you do happen to rent a car, the bar (where I promise there won't be more than 6 people at) is to the south east. The black inside of the island boundaries is more or less the road. Cozumel is not terribly huge, so exploring the area should be a good time.

If you think to do so, look into any snorkeling that might be available. Either at Chankanab Reef, or Palancar Reef. The locals will certainly know what you are talking about. But I am not sure exactly where they will let you snorkel.

The Mainland

This is the mainland. I just wanted to point out the major points so that it's in print for you. You'll see Cancun to the north, which will be to your left when they start driving you out of the airport. The driver should take a right onto HWY 307 to head south. HWY 307 is the road that runs the entire length of the Yucutan. You'll be exiting just a little ways before Playa del Carmen, but all the same, Tulum, and Akumal are also to the south past Playa as you can see on the map. The distance from where you'll be staying to Playa del Carmen is just a few minutes (I think). It will then be about 30 minutes to Cancun (to the north), about 45 minutes to Akumal (to the south), and about 75 minutes to Tulum (to the south).

As I mentioned, "Combis" are available for just a few pesos at most parts of HWY 307. They are little white vans that will pull up and let you hop in. Just tell them where you are going. On HWY 307, you'll see that there will be bus stops here and there for them, otherwise, you can just toss out a thumb when you figure out what kind of car you are looking for. I know it seems a bit sketchy, but they're actually very common and effective.

Another good way for getting around (mainly because its so cheap) is to use the bus system. There is a huge bus station around the corner of 8th Avenue and Ave. Juarez in Playa Del Carmen. Any cab driver can get you there. Anyway, the MAYAB bus service is fantastic and buses are departing regularly to anywhere that you'll want to go. Remember that all of the prices will be in pesos (so you'll find that 8 pesos is really cheap).

One more note of interest regarding money: all ATMS will dispense your money in pesos! This means that when it says withdraw 1000$, that is really only about 100 USD. So keep that in mind. I once made the mistake of taking out just $20 when I really wanted $200. The card worked the second time, but I had to pay twice the international fees.

Interview With Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow
December 27th, 2001 | View Post

Catherine Ludlow during her interview.
On December 27th, 2001 I conducted a brief interview with both of my grandparents (father's side), Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow and Howard T. Ludlow, known as Momma and Poppa respectively. This is the interview with Catherine.

The total recorded interview is 7 minutes, 49 seconds long. I have transcribed the interview below and included applicable links detailing certain events and locations that my grandmother described (namely using Wikipedia, IMDB, and

Kevin: Okay, you heard all the questions that he got asked?
Catherine: Yes, I don't remember them though.
Kevin: You forgot them all?
Catherine: No I didn't forget them all.
Howard: She's cheating.
Catherine: No.
Kevin: So you don't remember any of them?
Catherine: Yes I do.

Catherine: I was born in the Bronx. And I lived in the Bronx most of my grown-up life, as far as that's concerned. My father worked in a bakery and my mother was at home. And I have, or had, a sister and two brothers.
Kevin: See, you remember the questions.
Catherine: Yes I do.
Kevin: What year were you born in the Bronx?
Catherine: 1925.
Kevin: What year was he born in the Bronx?
Catherine: 1921, right?
Howard: Yea, I was born in '21.
Catherine: And I went to public school because my mother was Catholic but my father was Protestant so he couldn't let us go to any Catholic school, in fact he was a very anti-Catholic person for a long time. He changed when he got older. And um, I went to P.S. 46 in the Bronx and I graduated from there. And when I was in 8th grade they had a Hunter College, which was a college in New York, had also a high school called it Hunter College High School, but you had to take a test to get in. And so, a teacher said to me, well you did pretty well, take the test. And I passed. And I went into the highschool. And when you graduated from Hunter College High School, you automatically were eligible to go to Hunter College. And uh, so I did well and I graduated from Hunter College 'cause otherwise I wouldn't have been able to go, my parents didn't have any money really. And the tuition at that time, I'm pretty sure I'm right but I might be wrong, was like $45 a semester. So it was not bad at all. So I went there for umm, I guess it was two years or so, two and a half years, and then it was the time around the war, 1945, and I decided I would join the WACs. And I did.
Kevin: What is the WACs?
Catherine: "Woman's Army Corps". And um, I was sent to, with a group, to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Well I was 20 at the time, so that's why I was able to do it. My parent's didn't want me to do it, but I, I was a very disobedient child. You know how that is.
Kevin: I've read about it.
Catherine: And so I wanted to go, and I did. And we went do to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. And that's where we took our training. And then when we finished down there, uh we were sent to different places and I went to Thomas M. England general hospital. It was a big hotel and they turned it into a hospital during the war. So that's where I was and I worked as a medic, a technician. You know, bringing um, refreshments, making beds, and stuff like that. And umm, I was in for about almost 2 years when the war ended, less than two years, because the war then ended. So, you could stay in, but they were going to send you overseas for two more years. And uh, I didn't want to do that, so I got out and I went back to college. And then I started to work; I had a number of jobs and stuff like that. And then um. then I met, I met Howard. Oh we joined the American Legion, I was in the American Legion. And I met him, I knew him, and he came up to me one evening, uh, before the meeting started and he said, I'd like to ask you a question. So I said, ok, go ahead ask. He said, I was in a post, it was all female post, it was a Joan of Arc post, and our commander was a very cute little blonde, her name was Sophie. And that's what he came up to ask me, if I thought Sophie would go out with him. But I said to him, I know that she won't because she has a husband who is very jealous and he won't like it.
Catherine: So he said, well, thank you very much, then he went and sat down. That was before the meeting. After the meeting was over he came over and he said to me, I really shouldn't have asked you that, and it really wasn't very nice. And he told me the situation. He had just broken up with a girl, and he had a formal coming up. He belonged to this group, that um, it was um, the Naval Cadets, that's what it was called. It's for like boys and everything to train them. Well I had just broken up with somebody too. So anyway I said, no I'd be glad to go with you.

And that's how we started to go out together. And um, so then we got married in uh, June 28th uhh, 1950, was it 1952 that we got married?
Howard: Could be.
Catherine: And um, then the next year we had a baby, but the baby died. I was only 7 months and the baby died. So then, then we had Maureen, and then we had Howard - your father, and then we had Frank. We had three of them. And, we lived in New Jersey. We had a small house, real small, but we had never lived in a house before, we lived in an apartment. And I used to tell everybody we have a big house, and of course when people would come to see it, they would realize it wasn't a big house. But, after about half a dozen or so years we moved to a bigger house, much bigger house. And we stayed there. And then of course the kids, everybody grew up and got married and left, and then we, they said, it was the three kids that, you can't stay here up in the north, it's too cold and stuff like that. So we, Howard retired, I retired, and, so then we moved down where we are right now. And that's kind of up to date.
Kevin: That was pretty precise.
Catherine: Ok?
Kevin: That was pretty full. Any other good stories for my interview?
Catherine: Well, I don't know. Your father was a wild and wooly one. But...
Kevin: And he had a motorcycle?
Catherine: Oh yes, he had a motorcycle. He had, he had a motorcycle, which I didn't want him to have.
Kevin: But he had one anyways?
Catherine: He had one anyway, yea.
Kevin: Sounds about right.
Catherine: But all three of them turned out really well, and they're doing really well and... Then, once he met your mother he kind of straight, straightened out.
Kevin: That's how the story goes.
Catherine: Yea. She was um, very, uh what do you call it?
Kevin: Proper.
Catherine: Proper influence, well yea she was a good influence on him. And he's really done very well.
Kevin: Well, that's good.
Catherine: And I like, all three of them, I like all of their, umm, I like Maureen's husband, and I like Howie's wife, and of course I like your father's wife too, far as that's concerned. It's been, very very happy, a very very happy life as far as that's concerned.
Kevin: That's good.
Catherine: Ok.
Kevin: Good job.
Catherine: I hope so.
Interview With Howard Ludlow Sr.
December 27th, 2001 | View Post

Howard Ludlow during his interview
On December 27th, 2001 I conducted a brief interview with both of my grandparents (father's side), Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow and Howard T. Ludlow, known as Momma and Poppa respectively. This is the interview with Howard.

The total recorded interview is almost 18 minutes long. I have transcribed the interview below and included applicable links detailing certain events and locations that my grandfather described (namely using Wikipedia, IMDB, and

Howard: Did you want honest answers and stuff?
Kevin: That would be helpful.
Howard: I can make them up too if you wish.
Catherine: Do you want me to get the cane?
Howard: No, I'll put the cane over here. That's ok.
Howard: Now I can fall asleep in this chair if you want me to do that. Hello ladies and gentlemen
Kevin: That was very good.
Howard: Well I am lector at church you know and I like to speak to the crowds 840 people in our church during the busy season. Right now about 100, the un-busy season.
Howard: Well, what dost thou wish? hah.
Howard: Is that one of those digital type cameras?
Kevin: It is.
Howard: I don't know anything about them, or how to use them or anything else.
Kevin: You're not camera shy are you?
Howard: No.
Kevin: I didn't think so.
Howard: No, not microphone shy.
Kevin: No I don't have a microphone, but.
Howard: Well what picks up the sound?
Kevin: Well there's a little microphone somewhere.
Howard: It has something built in there?
Kevin: Yea.
Howard: Are these lights my better side?
Kevin: I got your better side. I even dimmed the light down a bit, you know. It makes you.
Howard: Allright, makes me shine up better.
Kevin: Kind of like a grace Kelly, 1940's
Howard: Oh ok, well that looks good. Whatever happened to her?
Kevin: I don't know, I didn't do the followup, but...

Kevin: So where were you born?
Howard: New York City.
Kevin: You'll have to be more specific.
Howard: I don't remember the street because I was too young to recall it. But it was in the Bronx. And uh, yea that was it, in the Bronx, New York City.
Kevin: And is that where you grew up?
Howard: Not in that particular area, but in another part of the Bronx, yes.
Kevin: And what part was that?
Howard: The part commonly referred to as the North Bronx. Near the, not too far from the border of the city of Yonkers.
Kevin: Oh, the nice part of town.
Howard: Yea, nice area, near the parks. No problem.
Kevin: That's good. And what did your dad do?
Howard: He mostly worked in banking areas. One type or another of banking jobs. Various jobs. But mostly as I say in the line of credit and loans and banking work.
Kevin: Trusting people.
Howard: I don't know if he trusted anybody because I don't trust anybody so I don't know about that.
Kevin: That's good. Uh, so, and where did you go to highschool?
Howard: I went to DeWitt Clinton in highschool in the Bronx within walking distance of my house. And it was the largest all boys highschool in the world. With 10,000 boys, all boys. But not all of them went to the main campus. Uhh, We had a couple of other branches. I would guess that, oh maybe about 80% or about 8000 went to the main campus and the others went to the other branches. One branch was in Manhattan, one branch was in the Bronx, another part of the Bronx. I don't know if we had any others. But we always boasted it was the largest all-boys highschool in the world. My graduating class, we used to graduate twice a year, a 6 months arrangement, and my graduating class had 1000 boys in it. And that was half a year if you want to think of it that way. Yep.
Kevin: That's a lot of people.
Howard: Yes it was. And uh, somehow we got along most of the time.
Kevin: So then where did you go to college?
Howard: I first went to the city college of New York, but I stayed there only a semester, maybe a year, I think one semester though, and after many years later I went to the Fordham College.
Kevin: Which is in...
Howard: In the Bronx.

I briefly attended Princeton University under the Army's specialized training program and I flunked out of it because I have always been rather poor at math and they had a great deal of math in the program. In fact if you want a humorous story, or maybe it's not so humorous, one of the final exams, if not the final exam, because this was during WWII, required you to navigate a bomber from the mainland of the United States to someplace in England I guess it was. And you were given all of the things that might happen to you on the trip. Everything from fuel consumption to wind, altitude, all kind of things of that nature and you had to methodically plot this course all the way over to England. And I did that, as did everybody else. But when I got my report back, it said that I had failed because I had brought the bomber down in the water somewhere near England instead of at an airport. So I went to the professor and uh tried to argue myself into a passing grade on the grounds that after all, I came close. And I remember him screaming at me saying, the Army aircore doesn't want people navigating bombers who come close. And that's what happened.
Kevin: Good story.
Howard: But actually I was in the wrong program anyway. When I was in Princeton, I originally had been sent there to study Arabic. At that time they had quite a program, it's interesting today to think of that, and when I got there they somehow divided us up and half of us studied Arabic and half went into engineering. And I got put into the engineering program and that's what got me into trouble.
Kevin: Ah the math.
Howard: The math, namely. And some other courses, physics, chemistry, and so on.

With physics it wasn't so bad because you were divided into partners. Partner was two fellows. And my partner, I worked it out, that he did all the physics experiments. He worked with all the gadgets and timers and whatnot, and then I wrote the reports because I could write and he could do the experiments and we got through there ok.
Kevin: Good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: So when did you join the Army?
Howard: 1942.
Kevin: WWII?
Howard: Yes, and that was the war you may have heard of, I don't know. Read your history books.
Kevin: Maybe. And what did you do?
Howard: I was a private. I, I didn't do anything. I helped the war effort, but not very much. Anyway.
Kevin: Did you have to overseas?
Howard: No I didn't. No.
Kevin: So where did they station you?
Howard: Well I was stationed in Camp Upton Long Island, and uh, that's an interesting question, Fort Bragg North Carolina, uhh, then back to New York City at that time there had been a large building, five stories perhaps, which had been the Israel Orphan Asylum, which was a Jewish orphanage for children, Jewish Children. And the Army took it over and converted it into barracks and I was one of the, I guess, few hundred who were in the Israel Orpham Asylum. Of course they didn't call it that once the Army took it over, of course. And we were there, just before and during, the rather serious race riots that took place in Harlem in 1943 I guess it was. And uh, that was a rather serious situation, with shooting and that kind of thing, because we had fellows in the barracks of this building, who literally had to shoot it out with people in other buildings nearby and that sort of thing. So I was there. And then, where did I go next? I think I was in the Israel Orphan Asylum before I went to Fort Bragg. Yea that's right, then I went to Fort Bragg. And I got out of the Army at Fort Bragg. I'd had enough, so they couldn't use my splendid services anymore so I quit.
Kevin: So then you went to go teach?
Howard: No, of course that was, you know 1943 I guess and uh, you know I returned home had various jobs until I went to college at Fordham College. And then Fordum University graduate school.
Kevin: What did you graduate with?
Howard: Well I had my bachelor of science degree, and then I got a master of arts, and then a doctorate of philosophy.
Kevin: Cool.
Howard: And my major was economics.

And then I, well I actually went to teaching when I had my masters degree, and then on to the doctorate.
Kevin: At Seton Hall?
Howard: Well I taught at Seton Hall, but I went to Fordum University for the graduate program.

Ok. You gonna pay me now?
Kevin: Uh, I don't have anything to pay you with.
Howard: Well, I thought maybe this was a paid commercial or something like this, you know.
Kevin: You could have some wine.
Howard: Well, no that's true, but it's early in the morning and there's a saying in the Navy you don't drink until the sun is over the yardarm, and it's not over the yardarm yet.
Kevin: Close. So are there any other interesting stories for my interview?
Howard: Well the most interesting of course has been my life with your dear grandmother.
Kevin: Oh yes I'm sure.
Howard: That has been a series of adventures for almost 50 years. Most of the adventures, pleasant ones. She's having trouble with her ear right now I think I can hear in the background. Yea unfortunately she has a hearing aid and very difficult inserting it properly and it's rather painful for her. We've taken it back for readjustment a couple of times but it still doesn't seem to be right.
Kevin: That's understandable.
Howard: And of course, the greatest adventures also included having children, one of whom is your father.
Kevin: Yes. I'm sure he did all types of bad stuff.
Howard: I wouldn't say bad, I would say adverturesome. I would say original. Everything from being a volunteer fireman to other types of legitimate activity.
Kevin: I see.
Howard: You know when he was a young boy, he belonged to the boy scouts, and, cub scouts I guess first, and the cub scouts then, and maybe still, had an annual derby race where the boys make small wooden cars and they race them down this incline. And they time it, to see who wins. Well I figured I'd help your father out so I had the bright idea, because they had the dimensions for the car, and you couldn't exceed the dimensions, but they didn't say anything about the weight. So I had got bright idea of taking a heavy spike and putting it under the car to give it more weight so then it would go down the hill faster. Well that sounded ok to your father, it sounded ok to me - it was my idea. But when we had the race, the spike stuck on the board of the incline and he was disqualified for trying to maneuver this.
Kevin: Cheating?
Howard: Well they didn't say you couldn't do that, but unfortunately, that's what happened.
Kevin: And you, you used to have a boat?
Howard: Yes, we've had several boats. And uh, the last boat we had was a trawler type boat, 43 feet long, twin diesel engines, and uh, we sold that boat ohh I would say it must be about 13 or 14 years ago. We used to keep it in the Chesapeake Bay. We cruised all over. We've been to Canada with it, we've been up and down the Hudson, throughout Chesapeke Bay obviously, other places too.
Kevin: Was that the LeiLani?
Howard: Yes. Each of our boats has been named LeiLani. And uh, I got the name from a motion picture going back to the 1930's I guess, maybe 1936, 37 with Bing Crosby where he sung the song Sweet LeiLani. And at that time as a young boy, I said if I ever had a boat, I'm going to name it LeiLani. And I remembered that, and that's why the name. LeiLani means beautiful flower in Hawaiian. So all my boats have been called LeiLani.
Kevin: I did, I did try to break one of your boats one time. I threw your ropes overboard if I recall.
Howard: Well yes, I remember that. In fact when you were younger than that and you used to cruise on one of our boats with your parents, we had a flying bridge. And naturally you take small children on a flying bridge and it's kind of risky, especially when their in a playpen. So your father rigged up the playpen on the flying bridge, secured it to the rail, and dunked you in it, so you couldn't go anyplace that we weren't aware of.
Kevin: That was clever. I was a prisoner.
Howard: More or less. It's good practice for years later in life.
Kevin: Yea I guess so. One of these days. Well is there anything else you'd like to say?
Howard: Well it's a pleasure celebrating Christmas here with you and your family, and our family, and hope you do well in your course, and if some professor is reading this or judging it, he should know that he has a good student.
Kevin: That's good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: That'll work.
Howard: Thank you.
Skydiving San Marcos
July 7th, 2001 | View Post
In February of 2001, I bought my then girlfriend, Dayna McKay, something unique for her birthday. The thought was something that we could both do, something that she had been wanting to do, and something adventurous. As the title no doubt suggests, I got her a skydiving package in San Marcos, Texas. She sat on the gift certificate for several months until over the summer of '01, she finally decided that we would make the trip down there and jump. It took 30 minutes to drive to San Marcos, 4 hours to sit around and train, and about 4 minutes to fall from 12,000 ft in the sky.

Getting Prepared

Dayna and I getting ready to make our jumps.
Dayna and I arrived sometime around noon on the 28th of July at the facility in San Marcos. After the initial greetings and watching a few people make their descents, we decided that it was time to get in gear -- in this case, literally. We began going through the 30 or so minute training course that ultimately prepares you for what you are about to experience. They show you very basic drills such as how to hold yourself in the air, how to prepare for landing, and small drills in between.

Making the Jumps

To anyone who has never tried skydiving, I would highly advise it. As far as a quick rush, it's most certainly up there. Oddly enough, however, I found that the ride down on the parachute was actually more exciting than the initial free fall. This was mostly in part to the fact that it was considerably more controllable, and I could force myself into a number of sideways G-forces by playing with the parachute strings. My tandem master, Jeff, was pretty good at letting me do more or less whatever I wanted to do with the chute and I think appreciated my fearless attitude.

Dayna's ride down was considerably more interesting than was mine. Her freefall went about the same as anyone elses might, however when it came time to pull the parachute, their was some sort of failure. Apparently the chute popped out, but a number of the strings had crossed and her tandem master knew that they were falling much too quickly to make a safe tandem landing. He did what he could for awhile but in the end decided that he was going to have to cut them free with his knife and pull the reserve chute before it was too late. As Dayna told me, when he began pulling out his knife, a swift gust of wind swept through and the strings naturally seperated themselves. They were way off target but otherwise made a safe landing.

Notes on the Video

I have included a video of this particular event that was made by Skydive San Marcos. The videographer was Kyle. The capture is a little choppy and as soon as I can get a faster card, I will redo the video.