JetBlue/ Fail

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

I’m glad I don’t rely on JetBlue to book my hotels:

Select one of these popular Dutch Hotels in Bermuda

Do you see the mistake? Hint: Bermuda is not known for its tulip fields. :-)

Mokka mit Schlag is Back

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Sometime over the last couple of weeks while I was in Cuba, MySQL corrupted the wp_posts table in my WordPress database. At first I thought I was hacked, but it looks like the database was just corrupted:

mysql> check table wp_posts;
| Table                     | Op    | Msg_type | Msg_text                                                                         |
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | warning  | Table is marked as crashed                                                       | 
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | warning  | Size of indexfile is: 1148225      Should be: 467968                             | 
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | error    | Can't read indexpage from filepos: 56320                                         | 
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | Error    | Incorrect key file for table './elharo_wordpress/wp_posts.MYI'; try to repair it | 
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | error    | Corrupt                                                                          | 
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> repair table wp_posts;
| Table                     | Op     | Msg_type | Msg_text |
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | repair | status   | OK       | 
1 row in set (0.34 sec)

mysql> check table wp_posts;
| Table                     | Op    | Msg_type | Msg_text |
| elharo_wordpress.wp_posts | check | status   | OK       | 
1 row in set (0.08 sec)

I think I’ve fixed this now, but do let me know if you see any lingering problems. Hmm, it does look like the categories may be borked too. I’ll look at that next.

Cuba Day 10 #840-842 on Cayo Paradon Grande

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Last full day of birding today. The hotel buffet doesn’t open until 7:30 AM and we’re leaving at 7:00, so they provide a few sandwiches and coffee. We start with a 40 minute or so drive to Cayo Paradon Grande. Almost as soon as we get off the bus, we pick up #840 Thick-billed Vireo. My field guide says it isn’t supposed to be here at this time of year, but our local guides know better and these photos prove it:

Thick-billed Vireo

Not a few meters later, we add #841 Cuban Gnatcatcher, which is supposed to be here:

Cuban Gnatcatcher

Cuba Day 9 #838-#839 on the Road to Cayo Coco

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Today I get a wake up call at 5:45. For one of the few times this trip I actually need it. I’m in the middle of a strange dream in which Doc Martin has just learned that Louisa has died in childbirth, but the baby lived. (Must take place after Season 3 in an alternate Season 4.) But I have no idea what happens after that because for once the wakeup call is on time.

We have a plausible buffet breakfast with enough eggs and chorizo to fortify me for the drive to Cayo Coco, about three hours and 180km or so. At the rest stop I give in and buy an ice cream bar. I tell myself it’s just to get change for the restroom, but I could have bought the $0.25 razor instead, or just remembered to bring change from my backpack on the bus. I also amuse myself by investigating all the brand knock-offs in the Oro Negro (Shell colors).

Just before we enter the causeway to Cayo Coco, we are stopped at the first real checkpoint we’ve seen since clearing customs. The car in front of us has to unload all its baggage to be sniffed by a Springer Spaniel, but eventually we get waved through without incident. (This may be a Communist nation, but overall I’ve seen way fewer police than in the U.S. and probably half of the police I did see were just waiting to get on a public bus like everyone else. Cuba certainly doesn’t feel like a police state.)

We arrive at the Sol Cayo Coco around 11:00 AM. It’s a typical Caribbean all-inclusive resort, much fancier than where we have been staying. (The Hotel Plaza in Camaguey looked like it had once been very grand, but had clearly passed its prime.) We can’t check in yet, but we get yellow armbands so we can eat and drink all we want. I want coffee, which I had abstained from prior to the long drive.

We’re too early to get rooms, and lunch isn’t till 12:30 so I bird the grounds some. Nothing too interesting but I do get some nice Royal Tern shots:

Royal Terns

After lunch we meet the local guide about 1:00, who promptly walks us around the corner to a site for not one but two! Oriente Warblers, #838, so named because they only occur in the eastern half of Cuba.

Oriente Warbler

Cuba Day 8 #837 Plain Pigeon at Sierra del Chorillo

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Day 8, Wednesday. Up early at 5:00 AM for a 6:00 AM departure for Sierra del Chorillo again. As usual we leave half an hour late and aren’t traveling till 6:30 or so. At least when we arrive at the ranch at 7:45 AM this morning we don’t have to spend half an hour looking for a local guide. We get some great looks at both Cuban Parrot and Cuban Parakeets. I find the first Cape May Warbler of the trip though I’m the only one to get on it.

We spend a couple of hours retracing our steps from yesterday, and a lot of time listening to both Cuban and Palm Crows, and I’m getting to know them pretty well. I finally get good, convincing looks at Plain Pigeon so I can count it as #837:


Cuba Day 7 Camaguey and #834-836 at Sierra del Chorillo

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Day 7, Tuesday. More traveling today. We drive on to Camaguey, arriving around lunch time. Lunch is good. As usual, I buy a 10 CUC CD from the house band. Then we check into the hotel and unpack. We have some siesta time, so I explore the city on foot. I prefer birding, but it’s also nice to have free time to just wander around a strange country. Our hotel is on the edge of the “tourist” zone, such as it is. However neither Cuba nor Camaguey is so big that you can’t easily walk from there to the more normal areas of the city. Once again I really wish I spoke Spanish. There’s only so much you can learn from just watching people. In Camaguey I see the first “Internet cafe” I’ve seen all trip. They have a few old model PCs in large space. I’m tempted to check my email, but it doesn’t feel at all secure.

We leave around 3:30 for Sierra del Chorillo where we arrive an hour and a half later. There’s been some confusion. Apparently another group showed up earlier in the day and the local guide we arranged thought they were us, showed them around, and then went home. However eventually someone else is found, and we get down to some serious birding.

First bird we get almost as soon as we leave the bus is #834 Giant Kingbird. Good, I was worried I’d missed that one. It’s not immediately obvious why it’s a Giant Kingbird instead of any of several other species of flycatchers around here, but apparently the bill is bigger, which I can sort of see. There aren’t as many flycatchers to sort out in Cuba as in Central America, but they’re still a damned tricky family to differentiate.

Giant Kingbird, Tyrannus cubensis, an endangered species now found only in Cuba