Charles's blog

Nicaragua Beef Jerky Business Potential

Submitted by Charles on Wed, 11/14/2012 - 10:35
Last time I was in Nicaragua I noticed beef is big business there, as Nicaragua, like neighboring Guatemala, is beautiful  cattle country. In fact, Nicaragua is the largest exporter of beef in Central America. One well-known and liked beef product I did not see being developed was dried beef or beef jerky products. That lack may have changed since I was in Nicaragua, but the idea is certainly one worth pursuing. Might be a business idea one of you adventurous entrepreneurs could take advantage of. Why not combine your travels with a business trip to Nicaragua to check it out? That way, your entire trip is a tax write off, but of course, I don't give tax advice, so check with your tax advisor. Contact Personal Travel Guide Douglas Smith for more information.

Packing Must Haves

Submitted by Charles on Tue, 10/16/2012 - 09:40


Room for what you need.

Bringing those items you need with you while traveling in the least amount of space is a must while traveling. Space limitations is especially acute if you travel, like I do, with only carry-on luggage. Those reasons are why I find these zippered mesh packing cubes essential packing accessories.

Mesh and Zippered Packing Cubes

Lightweight, zippered, see through and yet sturdy.

These handy bags allow you to arrange your clothes and other items in easy to manage packages.

Keeping similar items together is a cinch.

  • Put your undergarments in one cube
  • your shirts in another
  • pants in yet another

When in your room, with the see-through mesh, finding what you need is fast and trouble free. Instead of a scattering of items on your bed, you have several cubes keeping everything organized and handy.

I find I can actually get more items packed into the same bag with these cubes.

Highly recommended.

Available here.

Top Ten Reasons to Choose the Pentax K-7

Submitted by Charles on Tue, 10/16/2012 - 09:17

Why the Pentax K-7? Why not the more popular Canon  EOS 50D or Nikon's D300?

Canon and Nikon, in my view, are more popular because of marketing and advertising, not so much because they are a better camera. I shot many great photos with my Pentax Optio A10 - bought in Bangkok after asking the staff at one of the numerous camera shops  in the Pantip Plaza which camera he uses. I had never seen a Pentax advertisement for that camera - in fact, I did not remember seeing many advertisements for any Pentax cameras - and yet it turned out to be one of the best cameras I have owned. Takes great photos, 8 mega-pixels, 3x zoom, remote, large LCD, shake reduction and so much more. The Optio has been a great back-up camera since I purchased my K-7.

Naturally, when I decided to purchase a new full featured DSLR, I looked first at Pentax. After hours of research, comparing the equivalent Canon and Nikon models, I settled on the K-7.

Here are my ten reasons I chose the Pentax K-7:

1. Pentax spends less money on marketing and advertising:

and instead puts that money into their cameras. I've also been a great promoter of network marketing, which nothing more than word of mouth advertising. When the cameras salesman at Pantip recommended Pentax, I simply took his advice.

2. Pentax has the shake reduction feature in the body of the K-7.

Canon and Nikon put their shake reduction in their lenses. This means Pentax lenses less expensive because the shake-reduction mechanism is not in each lens purchased. With the Pentax K-7, you pay for the shake-reduction feature once, not each time you purchase a lens, a long-term money saving feature.

3. Old Pentax lenses fit on the K-7.

This feature allowed me to purchase an older but perfectly acceptable nearly new 80-320 mm lens for much less money that had I been forced to purchase a new DSLR lens. Any older Pentax A Series lenses (lenses with an "A" setting on the aperture ring), can be used as manual-focus lenses in all exposure modes on a PENTAX K-x. In addition, PENTAX K-mount, M-series and S (screw) mount lenses without auto-aperture control (an “A” setting on the aperture ring) can be used in Manual exposure mode using stop-down metering and manual focus. There are hundreds of these older Pentax lenses on the second hand market, helping keep the cost of acquiring a variety of lenses within the budgets of most serious amateur traveling photographers.

4. WR Pentax lenses are fully weather resistant.

Thus making WR lenses a good choice in inclement weather - rain, fog and mist - often encountered while traveling. Travelers don't often have the luxury of time when in a location - taking photos in the rain may be the only chance they have. With the WR Pentax lenses - there is much less chance of ruining a lens because of moisture. The cost of these lenses is very reasonable also: the WR 18-55 retails for $199.95 while the WR 20-200 lists for $249.95.

5. The body of the Pentax K-7 has 77 weather/dustproof seals, more than any other comparative camera in its price range.

On a dusty road, a sandy beach or in a light rain? Not to worry. Put a WR 20-200 mm lens on  K-7 and you have a top-notch camera/lens combo ready for those fantastic shots all of us travelers are looking for when we walkabout in those new surroundings we love to capture on Pentax's CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor.

6. K-7's magnesium alloy body over a stainless chassis has a strong but lightweight feel.

The K-7 is a serious camera, its light but rugged characteristic is a quality not to be underestimated while traveling. Your camera will get knocked around and you will have to carry it - almost all the time you are about. Doesn't lightweight yet rugged sound good to you?
Pentax K-7 Alloy Magnesium Body

7. The ergonomics are excellent.

The K-7 is not only rugged and light, the deep, well contoured rubberized right side handgrip simply feels good in my hand. The ample controls are all within easy reach and the grip comfortable. Put a wrist strap on and you are good to go into those crowds or down that trail looking and ready for that perfect shot.

8. Don't want to carry a separate video camera along on your travels?

The Pentax K-7 records video with a best quality setting of 1526x1024 pixels. at 30fps. I had my first opportunity to shoot some video capturing "Swimming with the Elephants" while at the beach on Koh Lanta. See what this camera can do in video here

9. Pentax's shutter mechanism.

I liked the 5.2 fps continuous shooting rate for those fast moving objects, people or animals. I shot an elephant "tenderizing" his food here  in the continuous mode. The 100,000 shutter release life-span commonly associated with more expensive professional SLR camers. (Another example of advertising spent in the camera and not in a photography magazine.) I certainly plan to use all those shutter releases before I retire this camera. Nice to know the odds of having to send the camera in for shutter repair is less than with many other cameras.

10. Battery life on the K-7 is quite adequate

I carry an extra battery along just in case, and went ahead and purchased the battery pack because it allows for six AA batteries for those all day outings without access to an electrical outlet to recharge the batteries.

Besides all of the above, the Pentax K-7 takes great photos.

I often get complements on my photos, and although I like to think some of that has to do with my getting better at "seeing" great shots, my Pentax K-7 is the tool that records those memory makers for future viewing.

One last reason I like the Pentax

I've never liked being like everyone else or doing what everyone else was doing. I like being different without being odd. Do you know what I mean? Being an individual. Being one of a kind. When I'm somewhere taking photos where there are many other photographers around, I like the fact that I'm almost always the only one shooting with a Pentax.


Photograph by Charles
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."                         St. Augustine
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