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Vietnam Tech Notes

If you contemplate travel to Vietnam, you may want to brush up on how to stay connected with home. It is a lot easier than I expected.

You can make free phone calls to home. You can keep your smart-phone, computer, camera, and everything else fully charged. You can plug in.

First step, plugging in: Most modern electronics have dual-voltage power supplies. This applies to all Apple products, all the Android products I’ve checked, and the laptops I’ve checked. (You can verify the dual-voltage status by


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Second Day Vietnam Photos

Some representative photos from our second day in Vietnam.

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Hanoi from the Handlebars

April 27, 2012 (Friday) – Our busy day started with an unexpected treat – motorcycle rides for Zabine and me. We knew that Baha’i friends were coming by to pick us up, and I suppose we expected a van or car or something. But the most normal mode of transport in Hanoi seems to be the motorcycle, so it was our time to be initiated.

Major streets in Hanoi are narrower than those in Ho Chi Minh City. There are good lane markings when there’s no construction going on – but there is a lot of construction.

Nevertheless, motorcycle [...]

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Vietnam Arrival

April 25, 2012 (Wednesday) – We are now in Hanoi. Considering my many (mis)adventures with travel, domestic and foreign, the trip here was amazingly smooth and stress-free. Well, as stress-free as 18 or so hours on an airplane can be.

We landed in Seoul, Korea (Incheon Airport) right on schedule (okay, a couple of minutes late). The first thrill was discovering that our cell phones could connect to the airport’s free wifi hotspot. So I texted, then called, my beloved Cheri. Actually heard her voice (though what that voice was saying was that she couldn’t hear mine very well). Zabine [...]

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Vietnam Journey Unfolding

April 24, 2012 — Zabine and I are in flight –Asiana Airlines– somewhere between Seattle and Seoul. We’ve travewled 1550 of our 5210-mile total;our altitude is 36,000 feet, ground speed 532 miles per hour, and current outside air temperature — a balmy minus-70 degrees F. (Guess if I get too hot, I can always go perch on the wing!)

Sense of time, utterly mixed up. Between Knoxville, my home, and Hanoi, our ultimate destination, the time difference is 12 hours. (But does Daylight Saving Time factor in, and how?) Twixt Seattle and Hanoi, 15 hours –at least that’s what the [...]

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New high-def “Heart to Heart” website

Whew! It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since I posted my March 8 article on Heart to Heart. Sorry to be quiet for so long, but so much has happened:

I’ve ported my new presentation of the Heart to Heart program to its own, standalone web site: Heart to Heart HD. Even though this new site remains a work-in-progress, early feedback suggests that people are finding it highly attractive, engaging, and useful. You can visit it by clicking here, or on the slideshow graphic to the right.

The actual web address is:

This site went [...]

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Introducing Heart to Heart HD

The Astonished Tamale! is pleased to introduce a new service for its readers. We’re calling it Heart to Heart HD. You can test-drive it here. (Or simply click the “Heart to Heart HD” item on the black menu bar above.)

A bit of history:

Heart to Heart (without the HD) is an omnibus slideshow addressing more than 700 important and frequently asked questions about the Baha’i Faith. These are grouped into 18 major topics (or “tracks”), each constituting


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Making Workouts Feel Shorter

Did you know? You can greatly shorten the perceived duration of an aerobic workout by slightly increasing the length of songs you play while exercising.

Your Astonished Tamale! editor is pretty buzzed about this new Jedi mind trick. New to me, anyway — and it works like magic: Exercise time flies by so fast that a long, hard workout is over when it still feels as if it’s just getting started.

Here’s the scoop:

Being a long-time health-and-fitness buff doesn’t keep me from


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What Is an Astonished Tamale?

What is an “astonished tamale”? Why is that the name of this blog? Gary L. Matthews attempts to shed some light on these questions. [...]

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It Sings!

The world’s loudest creature, relative to its size, is not the blue whale. It is a two-millimeter insect called the water boatman. The Astonished Tamale! considers what this has to do with the 1994 movie “Don Juan DeMarco”. [...]

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