Archive for September, 2015

Captain Rick : By now your MasterCard, Visa and other credit cards have the new EMV microchip. All U.S. merchants need to have the new chip readers installed and operational by October 1, 2015 or they face increased responsibility to cover losses if someone goes shopping with a stolen credit card.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that created the standard in the mid-1990s. Its a years-in-the-making liability shift aimed at prodding American merchants into finally adopting a more secure payment technology that is ubiquitous in Europe and Canada but still rare in the United States. Starting next month, retailers that haven’t upgraded their payment systems to read EMV microchips — the small, metallic rectangles that are increasingly prevalent on the front of American charge cards — will bear the financial liability for some fraudulent charges. (Gas stations have an extra two years to make the switch for charges from their fuel pumps.) 

How it works: The credit card is inserted into the bottom of the card reader and remains there until the transaction is finalized (instead of being swiped down its side). The chip on the card generates a unique code that is validated by the issuing bank. This makes the cards harder to copy than the magnetic strip.

The merchant hardware (up to $600 per terminal) and software ($Thousands) required is expensive. Walmart and Target are among the few companies already using the new technology. 27% of U.S. merchants will be ready by the deadline. The old card swipe readers will continue to work for consumers while the balance of merchants switch to using the new technology.

I experienced my first credit card chip transaction about a month ago at Walmart. I swiped my card as usual. The cashier said “you have to insert your card in the chip slot”. I asked “were is that?” The cashier replied “at the bottom”. I inserted my credit card in the slot at the bottom. It did not work because I inserted the wrong end of the card. Once I inserted the end with the chip face up, it worked, but I made the mistake of pulling it back out. The card needs to stay inserted during the entire transaction. Those standing in line, the cashier and I all had a good laugh. It was a learning experience for me. Another transaction a few days later was executed perfectly on the first try. I am a pro now. When it is time to pay, I  ask “is your chip reader is working.” Most say “no not yet. It should be working by October 1.”  In any case, I can conclude that this “old dog is not too old to learn a new trick”. 

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Captain Rick : Fish Creek Canyon is one of Arizona’s hidden treasures of scenic beauty. To experience its magnificence one must travel the Apache Trail (AZ 88) east from Mesa, Arizona. The paved road winds its way thru beautiful desert scenery in the Superstition Wilderness area and then past Canyon Lake, presenting one of the world’s most beautiful lake vistas. The trail continues east thru Arizona’s smallest original town of Tortilla Flat, once a place for workers to rest on their journey up the Salt River to build the mighty Roosevelt Dam that holds the massive Roosevelt Lake, a main source of water for over 4 million inhabitants of the Phoenix Valley of the Sun.

From Tortilla Flat, the trail climbs several hundred feet in elevation to a mountain setting that hosts beautiful wild flowers in the spring. Then the pavement ends. A gravel road continues. After a few more miles the beautiful Fish Creek Canyon comes into view around a breathtaking curve. The road descending into the canyon is narrow and treacherous. Vehicles need to tuck tightly against the cliff to allow those coming up the road to pass without falling off of a steep drop-off at the edge of the road that has no guardrail. This road is definitely not capable of handling anything larger than a passenger car or small pickup truck. A couple small pull offs at the bottom of Fish Creek Canyon allow for parking of a few cars. Great views of this magnificent canyon can be seen within a short walking distance.



Click the photo above to view full screen in high definition via Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

The dark stained area running down the rock cliff at left becomes a beautiful, tall, cascading waterfall during and after a heavy rain. It is difficult to catch a glimpse of the waterfall because when it rains the road is closed at Tortilla Flat, due to water flowing over the road. The only access then is to travel the east section of the Apache Trail down from Roosevelt Lake. It is all gravel and a slow trip, however the scenery makes it a very rewarding experience.

Those continuing eastward from Fish Creek Canyon experience a beautiful vista of Apache Lake. The trail then connects with the Salt River. The scenery in the Salt River Gorge between Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake is spectacular. The trip culminates with an incredible view of the 357 foot tall Roosevelt Dam from below. A series of switchbacks quickly gain elevation to the top of the dam exposing a breathtaking, panoramic view of the main portion of Roosevelt Lake. When full the lake is 2 miles wide x 22 long and 349 feet deep.

Fish Creek Canyon is a special hidden treasure of scenic beauty at the halfway mark of the 40 mile long Apache Trail … the most scenic road within a short distance of Phoenix and one of the most scenic in Arizona.

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Captain Rick’s Photography by Atridim

Captain Rick : I have seen lots of firsts along the morning trail on my around-world walking/biking trek, spanning 17,000 miles in 15 years. This morning I was passed by a roadrunner doing about 20 mph. Not a car … a bird running. It is the fastest runner of all flying birds. It was about a foot tall and nearly two feet long. It had a bright orange patch running rearward from its eye and a big feathery headdress. It was a beautiful bird, but I was disappointed that it did not go ‘beep beep’ like in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes I watched as a child.


I was not expecting to be passed by a roadrunner on my morning exercise walk, so I did not have my camera along. As a Flickr PRO member, I searched Flickr and found a roadrunner that most closely resembled the one that passed me. Click on the image above to view the full photo presented in stunning 4K HD captured by Flickr’s susanloellison.

About the ‘Greater Roadrunner’

The Greater Roadrunner is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, prevalent in Arizona and the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Although capable of limited flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Cases where roadrunners have run as fast as 26 mph (42 km/h) have been reported. This is the fastest running speed clocked for a flying bird.

Greater Roadrunners measure 61 cm (2.00 ft) in length and wingspan. About half of their length is tail feathers. They measure 30 cm (1 foot) tall. They have long legs and a slender, pointed bill. The upper body is mostly brown with black streaks and sometimes pink spots. The neck and upper breast are white or pale brown with dark brown streaks, and the belly is white. A crest of brown feathers sticks up on the head, and a bare patch of orange and blue skin lies behind each eye. Roadrunners have 4 toes on each zygodactyl foot; two face forward, and two face backward.

This bird walks around rapidly, running down prey. It feeds mainly on small animals including insects, spiders (including black widows), tarantulas, scorpions, mice, small birds and especially lizards and small snakes. Venomous serpents, including small rattlesnakes, are readily consumed. It kills prey by holding the victim in its bill and slamming it repeatedly against the ground.

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Captain Rick’s HBP World Trek

Captain Rick’s Photography by Atridim