Saturday, February 27, 2010


Have you heard the news of the Earthquake in Chile?  It is rated as 8.8 on the Richter scale.  That is HUGE.  The one in Haiti was 7.0.
When I was 12, I lived in Anchorage, Alaska and we were there in the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964.  Luckily, we had just returned from a vacation to Florida the day before and my parents weren’t planning on going back to work till Monday.  So, we were all 3 home, together when the earthquake hit around 5pm.  It was measured as 8.5 on the Richter scale, but I understand it has since been ‘upgraded’ to 9.2.  Each whole number increase (7.0, 8.0) represents a tenfold increase in amplitude.  A 10.0 has never been recorded.  The largest ever recorded was in Chile in May 1960 … 9.5.
What I remember …
  • The telephone poles outside looked like they were mounted on top of ocean waves.  Each pole would alternately sway from side to side, almost touching ground each way.  The wires strung between them would snap taught when the poles on either end were on the top of their wave, leaning out and go slack when they were on the inside of the wave leaning in.
  • We had a television on a rolling cart and it would roll all the way across the room – then back.
  • We had a china ‘hutch’ cabinet that walked across the floor throwing plates and glasses as it went. 
  • My Dad positioned himself in a door frame with his back to one side and bracing his arms against the other side.  My Mom stood in front of him and I was in front.  My Dad’s braced arms held us in during the 5 minutes of riding our house like a bucking bronco.
  • 5 minutes is an eternity!
  • Our house sustained little damage – we were in the C Street valley which was pretty stable ground.
  • We were evacuated for the night due to predictions of a tsunami coming up the valley.  We spent the night in our car on higher ground.
  • Friends who lived in the ritzy section called Turnagain got to ride their houses down the hill as the clay type of ground actually liquefied with the shaking of the earthquake
  • There were not many deaths in Alaska because there weren’t many people.  The greatest number of deaths from that earthquake was in Crescent City California due to the tsunami.
My Dad (Tom Van Valkenburg) was a photographer at the time and he worked with a pilot to take several aerial photos of the quake’s effects.  Those photographs went to Washington D.C. and were part of the information that resulted in Alaska being declared a disaster area.  Here are some of the photos I had scanned a while back.  These came from a small magazine that was published back then.  I’ll have to hunt some more and see if I can find the original photos …
If you click on the slideshow, it will take you to the Picasa Web album where you can see larger versions.

To see larger versions, just click on the slide show.  That will take you to the Picasa Web album with larger copies.  In the Web Album, each photo will have a magnifying glass just above the upper right corner – that will enlarge it even more and you will be able to read the text on the picture.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Wordpress Blogging Class

I love Blogger for personal blogs – but I also love Wordpress, especially for somewhat more complex needs.  We maintain two Wordpress blogs: (Picasa Tips_ and (Computer Tips for Travelers) and I’ve set up several Wordpress sites for others.  For people who want to manage their own websites, I think Wordpress is a great way to go. 

So, we’ve added it to our list of seminars and will be offering it at the upcoming FMCA National Convention in Albuqurque.  One of the Wordpress sites I’ve set up recently was for my Women’s Executive Club.  So, I decided to offer a seminar to any WEC members who were interested.  It was great to have the opportunity to rehearse the class with a small audience.  It went pretty well.


On Saturday morning at Chadia’s business meeting room, we had 9 Women’s Executive Club members who came to learn how to Blog.  I taught the class and Jim was to assist.  Lenore and Lyn created brand new blogs during the class.  Emily , Joyce , Chadia and Jenette learned a little more about their existing blogs.  Lynda , Carol and Liz got ideas!

You can download a copy of the class handout if you’re interested in learning about blogging with Wordpress.

Friday, February 19, 2010


In case you were wondering how to get a new template for your Blogger blog (like I just did) – here’s the video I made about it.  I recommend watching it fullscreen.  Just click the button on the bottom of the video that looks like:  image (use [Esc] to get back)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Coconut Grove Art Festival

Not our normal Sunday!  But Jim’s son, Devon, was working at a booth – so that sounded like a good excuse to visit this famous art festival in South Miami.

It was a gorgeous day for it – and we weren’t the only ones that thought is was a good way to spend the day.

Beautiful ... and Bizarre ... art
Can you see the flamingo hidden in this – the signature art for the festival?

Good Food

Here we are showing off our purchases:

Verizon had a booth ... the Art of Technology.

They were promoting the Palm Pre Plus – a phone I’ve been thinking about getting.  Se we joined in the game  they organized to win a phone.  Mom is the only one who lasted past the first couple rounds!

We didn’t win the phone.  But I took the opportunity to ask one of the Verizon reps about the comparison between the Droid (what Jim has) and the Palm Pre Plus.  He said that his choice was clearly the Droid.  Ok

It was an enlightening day … gotta get some culture once in a while!  But, when we saw the iguanas pumping iron, we figured it was time to go.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blogger Changes

There's a big new feature on Blogger!  In addition to blog posts, you can now have up to 10 static 'Pages.'  That's huge.  The ability to make pages is why I started using Wordpress for all my websites/blogs except for this personal blog.  ( and  I've become such a fan of Wordpress that I've even been considering switching this blog to Wordpress.  But, Blogger is still by far the easiest blogging system - and the one I like to teach for Travel Blogs. 

And, now - it even includes pages.  I just created a page called 'Our Other Websites' - you might be able to see the link to it at the top of the blog posts. 

I've been using this same template - the colors and layout that you see - for several years.  It doesn't have a very good way of displaying the 'Pages.'  Or many of the other, newer, features.  It's been time to find a new template for quite some time, but anything I tried just resulted in errors.  Another reason I've been so enamored with Wordpress is the abundance of styles - 'Themes' available to pick from.

So, it's time to start investigating Blogger options again.  I tested a couple new templates on a sample blog and was impressed at how well they worked.  So ... it's time to make some changes to this blog.

Watch out!  I may be opening Pandora's box here. Yes, I'm going to make a backup first! 
Here's the video where I show you how to backup your Blogger blog posts.  And this video shows how to back up the images and other page elements
A Geeks on Tour membership ($39/year) is required to watch these.

Further your computer education**Subscribe to the Free Geeks on Tour Newsletter**

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Next Rally - Albuquerque

We're back in Fort Lauderdale, back to working on websites, seminars, books, and DVDs.  We just confirmed our list of seminars for the March 22 FMCA Convention in Albuquerque.  We're not ready to leave Fort Lauderdale in time to drive to Albuquerque, so we're going to fly there this time.  That’ll be weird – to be at a rally without our RV.  We are scheduled for 7 seminars - 4 on Wednesday and 3 on Thursday:

  1. Managing Digital Photos with Picasa
  2. Picasa: Beyond the Basics
  3. Using Google Earth
  4. Internet on the Road
Thursday = Make your own Websites day!
  1. Every RVer Needs a Blog - using the free and EASY
  2. Blogging: Beyond the Basics - still using Blogger
  3. Make Your Website with Free
We’re filling up our summer tour schedule too – we’re up to 9 appearances for 2010 so far.  Check out our schedule for more details.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

FMCA SE Area Rally

Hundreds of RVs arrived at the Hernando County Airport.  Here is one group.  The owners of ‘Born Free’ RVs stick together here:

We got parked and then set up our booth.  There’s not much to it.

Our main reason for coming to these rallies is to present our seminars – and get the word out about our tutorial videos on our website.  For this rally we scheduled Picasa, Internet on the Road, and Google Earth.  We were expecting 50-100 people in Picasa and were pleasantly surprised when the number was closer to 150.

The next day was ‘Internet on the Road.’  It’s been our experience that interest in that topic has been waning since the cellular data cards have become so popular.  Many people stopped by our booth to chat and, when we asked them how they connect to the Internet, they responded with ‘a Verizon card.’ and the tone of voice was like, ‘Duh – what a stupid question!’
So, we were doubly surprised when we had nearly 250 people for that seminar.

The bad part is that we were *way* short on handouts.  Oh well … it just gives them a reason to visit our website!  All our seminar handouts are available for download at – you just need to click on the topic you want on the left-hand menu.

Today, the vendor area closed down at 3 so everyone could enjoy the parade.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, so we got outside and watched too.
No, that’s not Odie.  Just some other handsome dog … with balloons on his back.

Here’s Odie – he just has a special paper flower that someone in the parade gave him:

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Nothing Like a Deadline!

We’ve had 4 days here at Thousand Trails Orlando with nothing but catch-up work on our schedule.  We start the next rally tomorrow at Brooksville, so anything I wanted done has to be done before we leave.



  1. I got our newsletter (long overdue) done – you can read it here.
  2. I re-organized all our Picasa videos into a new disk that we will sell at the rally.  50 videos!  Over 4 hours now of tutorials on Picasa.
  3. I wrote 2 Picasa tip-o-the-weeks
    Capture one Shot from a Video
    Importing Photos to the Proper Folders
  4. I wrote my weekly post for  Here I cheated a little and took an article from the newsletter – just enhanced it a bit.
  5. Jim’s been busy printing up books, disks, brochures, certificates etc.

And you thought we were on vacation!  Whatever would give you that idea?!