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DorobekINSIDER: Off-topic: Back from a great visit to the Galapagos Islands

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I mentioned that I was going away for an extended break, in every sense of the word. We traveled to the remarkable Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean some 525 nmi west of continental Ecuador.

Before I jump back into things, I hope you will indulge me in the modern day version of a slideshow of my trip — yes, it’s off-topic, but… the Galapagos Islands are a simply remarkable place.

And just so it isn’t totally off-topic: There is a U.S. government connection in the Galapagos Islands. When there, I learned that the U.S. constructed a military base on in Baltra island and radar stations in other strategic locations. Baltra was also established as a US Air Force Base. Crews stationed at Baltra patrolled the Pacific for enemy submarines as well as providing protection for the Panama Canal. After the war the facilities were given to the government of Ecuador. Today the island continues as an official Ecuadorian military base.

That is only one fact I didn’t know before the visit. Here is an number of bullet point answers some some of the most frequently asked questions:

* The Galapagos Islands are primarily protected areas, but there is a sizable population that lives on the islands — about 40,000 or so. There is even an airport on the islands. That puts a remarkable strain on the islands eco-systems.

* The Galápagos became a national park in 1959 and tourism started in the 1960s.

* The islands are famous because they are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

We spent a week on board the M/Y Grace — named after Grace Kelly, by the way — touring this remarkable place. And this is remarkable because of the topography — it looks pre-historic… because of the eco-systems — there are desert climates with cactus almost adjacent to very lush green lands… and just about everything in between. The location, the weather, the temperatures — and some luck — have make these islands fertile grounds for scores of plants, animals, birds, marine life. There are these remarkable land iguanas, but there are also the even more remarkable sea iguanas, who have evolved to be able to drink salt water. (They almost snort it out.) And they swim using their tails to propel them to the algae that they eat… There are boobys — Red Footed Boobys… and Nazka Boobys… and the Blue Footed Boobys. There are sea lions — and penguins. Yes, the only place where there are penguins outside of Antarctica… There are Frigate birds. The male Frigate birds during mating season puff up what looks to be their chests to attract a mate. When the female Frigate birds fly by, they puff up, spread their wings, and make a sound that is right out of the Jurassic period.

This from Ron Zuckerman, one of the 16 people on board the M/Y Grace with us, who has written up some of his (and our) adventures. This is his item about the Frigate birds:

We arrived at a good time, it was spring and the male Frigate birds were looking for mates. The males sit in low brush and inflate their bright red pouch at the base of their bill and call for a mate. The bigger the pouch the more attractive the male. If a female is interested she will land nearby and offer him a twig. If he accepts they are a couple and proceed to produce an egg.

Zuckerman, who is also a professional photographer, genously agreed to allow me to post some of his photos. They are much better then mine. That being said, if you want to see mine, they are all posted on my Flickr page — you can even see them in a slideshow of your own. You can see the collection here, including my passion for sunsets.

I should also note that on the trip, we visited Ecuador’s capital, Quito, which is virtually on the Equator and, at more than 9,000-feet, second-highest administrative capital city in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia), and the highest legal capital (ahead of Sucre, also in Bolivia, and Bogotá, Colombia). And we got to cross the Equator several times — on the ship, but also on land, where we did the ‘balance the egg on the equator’ experiment. While scientists seem to say it isn’t true, it worked for us.

It was a remarkable trip. It was great to be away — great to be un-plugged for a period of time — and… it’s great to be back.

Just a few more of Ron Zuckerman‘s remarkable photos:

Written by cdorobek

March 28, 2010 at 11:48 PM

DorobekInsider: Federal News Radio is going to shake our groove thing… with a famous fed

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You’ve heard the song “Shake Your Groove Thing” by the group Peaches & Herb. But did you know that Herb — yes, the Herb of Peaches & Herb — is a fed. Yes, he’s a U.S. Marshall… and technically it is Herb Fame, formerly Herbert Feemster.

Friday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we will be talking to Herb of Peaches & Herb… about his career… about how he balances these two very different careers… and his new album.

More info on

* Washington Area Music Awards recognition

* Biography from Last.fm or Answers.com

Written by cdorobek

September 3, 2009 at 5:46 PM

DorobekInsider: A summer Friday extra – my favorite birthday gift

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It’s a Friday in the summer, so… something off-topic — my favorite birthday gift this year — in addition to the fantastic guests we had on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris on my birthday — but this video is fairly irresistable — my nephew is a budding star and gave me his own personal rendition of Happy Birthday.

Priceless!

Written by cdorobek

August 14, 2009 at 8:27 AM

The DorobekInsider returns…

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Yes, I’m back. I was away for a few days enjoying some R&R.

Typically, even when I take a few days off, one: I say so here, and two: I still try to blog, at least occasionally. I actually can use that time to get away from the day-to-day stuff and actually ponder a bit.

Unfortunately — or, perhaps fortunately, I was staying at a place that didn’t allow cell phones in public areas — this drove some people insane. It also didn’t have very stable Internet connection. And I was really staying quite busy.

[The place I stayed is called Miraval — it is this fancy spa in the Tucson desert that really emphasizes a somewhat Zen focus. In fact, their logo says, “Life in balance.” I took my father — a man for whom it is impossible to buy gifts — for a birthday/Christmas/whatever — and as a chance to spend some time with my father. So it was time well spent… It was atMiraval last year that I had my ‘brush with greatness’ with Jeff Bezos. My celebrity sighting this time was Steve Case , the co-founder and former executive at AOL. Now perhaps this isn’t a total shock — Case’s Revolution owns Miraval and apparently they were having a board meeting or senior management meeting at Miraval last week. All of that aside, I’d give Miraval a thumbs up.]

Now, back to re-entry… I’m behind on a lot of e-mail… and have a busy week ahead.

Written by cdorobek

May 18, 2009 at 7:47 AM

My favorite April Fools Day item — so far: Welcome GSA administrator nominee Shatner

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My favorite April Fools’ Day item — so far, anyway…

William Shatner

William Shatner

OBAMA POISED TO NAME SHATNER TO GSA POST

April 1, 2009: In a move designed to solidify the bond between Hollywood and Washington, President Obama appeared poised today to name actor William Shatner as the next Administrator of the General Services Administration. An unidentified spokesman speaking on the condition of anonymity stated, “The President believes that Mr. Shatner’s impressive career in space exploration and elsewhere has prepared him well to strengthen GSA’s place in the government management universe. Although not technically an American citizen, Shatner did tell On the Shelf, “I have. Paid. All. Of my taxes.” When asked about his qualifications for the position of Administrator, Shatner seemed confident. “I have boldly gone where no man has gone before in getting people great deals on air fare, car rentals, and hotels. I see no reason why this can’t be put to use for the government.” When asked to comment on the possible appointment, former Administrator Lurita Doan said, “I think that the Administration really hit a bullseye with this appointment.”

Hat tip… this came from Larry Allen, president of the Coalition of Government Procurement . Too funny!

In our e-mail thread, Federal Times reporter Elise Castelli said: “He does have excellent negotiation skills and experience with travel policy. So it really might not be a bad choice. Except it may exacerbate any NASA rivalry. No drama Obama may not like that.”

Ah — team of rivals, right?

Written by cdorobek

April 1, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Posted in GSA, Off-topic

DC snow

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03.02.09 DC snow

Originally uploaded by cdorobek

Yes, Washington, DC is blanketed by snow — really. The first real DC snowstorm in years. It means I’ll be taking public transportation to Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s glass enclosed nerve center in Northwest Washington, but…

If you’re in the northeast and you have to hit the roads, drive safely, turn on your headlights, and please clear off your entire vehicle.

Written by cdorobek

March 2, 2009 at 8:19 AM

Posted in after hours, Off-topic

Friday fun — “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy”

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Joanne Connelly of ConnellyWorks had this posted are her Facebook page and it absolutely made my Friday.

Enjoy!

Written by cdorobek

February 27, 2009 at 7:43 PM

Posted in Off-topic, Technology