Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting back to it soon

Well, I started my new job. So far it's ok although my desk area sucks. That's supposed to be temporary though. So let's see, in the last two weeks, I quit a job, started a job, got a new paying writing gig, finished a paying blog-related gig, was interviewed for a profile in a national trade magazine and, well, got way too little sleep. Tonight's the first night I really don't have any extra stuff to do and I just can't seem to get it together. I am dragging butt. Oh yeah, I also got my google pages account and have started a web page for my new business. It's not really started yet. I'm just preparing. Check out White Husky Consulting. So named after my female husky Nevada. This is what I had planned on working on tonight. I also just read a good article about blooks. And finally, I will be 40 tomorrow, March 30. The big 4 0. Damn, how did that happen?

Friday, March 24, 2006

I haven't posted in a few days

I started a new job on Monday and I got a couple of writing opportunities that are coming due soon. I'll update with more about the crusie either Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, one of my published articles has been getting some decent traffic. Check out the screenshot in this entry.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cruise Day 3: Grand Cayman

Monday, day 3 saw us offshore from Grand Cayman. Being the punctuality freaks that both my wife and I are, we were up shortly after the sun getting breakfast at the buffet. Pier at Grand Cayman Everyone going on an early excursion met in the theatre. We were one of the first couples to arrive. After that it was sitting and people watching time for a while. We were really just getting into the cruise and already there were plenty of people turning bright shades of red. Some look really painful. Quite a few people appeared to have stayed up partying late the night before. Finally our ship guide showed up and escorted us down to the lower level to disembark. Grand Cayman doesn't have a place for the ship to dock so we piled into several tenders and were ferried ashore. The tenders have high walls so it's not much of a view. When we got into town, they cut us loose without telling us where to go. We wandered around until we found some more people who were also going on the stingray city snorkeling tour and we banded together. Our tour guide was late but finally showed up and marched us away from the pier and through the touristy part of town. Grand Cayman is a very pretty town. Lots of pastel colors. Lot's of banks and jewelry stores too. Church We loaded into some not so new but not broken down buses and headed towards 7 mile beach. We got some interesting tidbits from the guide. 7 mile beach is only 5 miles long. 95% of all buildings in Grand Cayman were either damaged or destroyed during the previous year's hurricanes. It was obvious there was still some rebuilding being done but the city was mostly intact. We got on the boat taking us out to see the stingrays. It was an open boat with plenty of room to move around. After a short trip, we made it to the sand bar where we snorkel. And snorkel we did. I'd guess we were out there for an hour or so. After that it was a short ride back in the boat, a short ride in the bus (which is better than a ride in the short bus) and then time to wander for a bit in town. The storm that had shaken the ship the first night was still following us and it looked like it would finally catch us. We had to be back on the ship by 2:30 instead of 5:30 as scheduled. The captain wanted to stay ahead of the storm. We bought some trinkets and returned to the ship for a nap before dinner. We woke up and lost a few dollars in the casino before returning to the room for some relaxation. The ship was rocking and rolling all night from the storm. It was creaking like a pirate ship but the motion was lulling and we both slept great. We enjoyed the excursion to see the sting rays and would recommend it to anyone. It was a very uneventful day for the most part but it went way too fast. Costa Maya was up next. The storm finally caught us. Boy, did it catch us. Tags:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise, Day 2

Day 2 was a slow lazy day. It's a sea day traveling from the gulf of Mexico out to Grand Cayman. It rained overnight; the deck was wet when we finally got up. We started with a room service breakfast of eggs and bacon and fruit. It comes with a nice assortment of rolls and biscuits. No bagel for the wife though. When we did decide to start moving around we headed up to the lido deck. That's deck 9 where the pool and the solarium are. I decided to pony up $48 to get the all you can drink Coke sticker for my seapass. You get a coke cup that gets unlimited refills at any bar. I got my coke and a deck chair and broke out one of the books I brought with me. I decided to read Doom: Infernal Sky by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. Wow! What can I say about a book that has more cliches per square inch than any other book I have ever read. It was all exposition along the lines of: "Say Jim, did you notice those aliens eating your face?", said Bob understatedly. "Why I sure did Bob. I believe they are satanic skull people from the planet Kerplah. They traveled here by FTL stage coach. They want our women.", Jim expounded while peeling the face sucker from his head. "Let's destroy them with this handy nuclear bomb", said Bob with absolutely no emotion anyone would believe. Gag. I like the first two in the series and as much as I hate to admit, I read this entire book (not in one day). I left it on board in the library. With a few chapters of that under my belt I had no choice but to immerse myself in a warm, saltwater jacuzzi. That made it all better. A little while there and it was time for lunch. We decided to hit the dining room and eat with strangers. The food was decent and the conversation was amusing. My, my my, look at the time. We headed to the room for a nap. Four hours later we woke just in time for dinner. This was the start of a trend. Not much more to mention for day 2. It was a lazy, warm, jacuzzified day. A prefect vacation day. Dinner was good: Salmon Caesar Salad, Cream of Chicken Leek Soup, and a Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Scrumptious. After that it was back to the room for some TV and snuggling. Finally sleep. I found I liked hearing all the accents on board. People were from all over. Our waiter was from Costa Rica and the assistant waiter was from Portugal. We got the opportunity to speak with these guys quite in depth. They did a great job. The cruise we went on for our honeymoon was a carnival cruise that we just didn't enjoy. It's not that the ship wasn't beautiful and well maintained. The food was great but it was geared towards partiers and that's just not for my wife and me. We didn't bring any reading material and the woefully understocked library was rarely open. The TV only had a single channel and that channel played Big Momma's House for 7 days straight. After reading the toothpaste for the 100th time and trying to avoid watching Big Momma's house yet again, I was just about ready to jump overboard. Royal Caribbean was different. The library was 24/7 (only closed while the ship was clearing customs) and nicely stocked with a variety of books. There were activities for just about any interest. And the TV, oh that wonderful TV. Not a single run of Big Momma's House. They had a movie channel and we watched a couple. The movie was different every day and alternated between an english version and a spanish version. Some of the other channels were CNN International (english and spanish), ESPN (english and spanish), XY Music (MTV-alike), CBS Spotlight on Royal Caribbean (Interesting the first go around but boring thereafter), Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, Animal Planet, Bloomberg, A channel to teach people how to gamble in the on board casino, Royal Classics (really old movies), Cartoon Network, Boomerang (Kids TV), Retro TV (like Nick at Night), E!, Venus TV (women's channel) and a view from the bridge. There was another channel that ran in a loop of available excursions at our ports of call. Day 3 was Grand Cayman. We were looking forward to it. But that's a different story. Tags:

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Cruise as a Replacement for Real Life

My wife wanted to go on a cruise so she could take a break and we would have some alone time. I wanted a cruise for the peace, relaxation and to get away from work and normal daily life. I didn't realize how much daily life we all carry around with us. I was amazed and dismayed at the people who had to be first; pushing to be at the head of the line, any line; arguing about who should go first. I was also annoyed at the line police. You know the ones; loudly pointing out the "cutters", using their butts and shoulders to block the hallway to the gangplank or whatever to make sure no one got ahead of them. One example would be when we were going ashore at Grand Cayman. We all met in the theater and filed down a couple flights of stairs to a narrow hallway leading to the gangplank. There was a very large guy who was pushing people out of his way as we were going down the stairs. He mumbled as he passed, "There are some people waiting for me down there." What, they wouldn't be waiting if you just took your time and stayed in line? There was a couple who instead of following our crew guide had to run around to the left and beat everyone down so that they could be first. They were going to be first to get in line to wait for the tender to take them ashore. And then they would be first to stand in line waiting for the excursion guide. And then they would be first to ride, walk or boat their way to whatever excursion they were taking. Why be first? I doubt they could have answered that. And then of course the woman in front of us who had to, loudly, point the couple out to everyone (as if we didn't see already). She complained her way down to flights of stairs and past about 100 cabins of people still trying to sleep (we were in an early batch getting off for excursions). She didn't prevent anyone from getting in front of her but she did manage to annoy a lot of people. All of these people annoyed me and that's what I mean about carrying my daily life around with me. Why did I care about someone cutting in line or someone who made herself feel better by complaining about it? My annoyance wasn't about them. It was about me. It took me two days to realize none of that crap matters. At least not while I'm on a cruise in the western Caribbean. Certainly not when I was about to spend the day in paradise snorkeling with sting rays. Once I came to that realization, I was able to really relax. I enjoyed myself and my time with my wife. Even when we got rained on in Costa Maya and on the garbage scow in Cozumel. But those are stories for later. Tags:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean Cruise, Day 1

Over the next several weeks (probably) I'll be posting from a journal I kept during my recent cruise. The ship was the Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas. It was a 7 day, Western Caribbean cruise. Today is day 1. We woke up early today even though we packed last night and didn't need to be at the port until 1. The in-laws, better known as grandma and grandpa, got to the house around 10. Logan LOVES the grand-parents but especially grandma. He gets 100% of her attention. My two huskies love grandma too. Whenever she visits she brings treats. And she takes them for walks to the park. They howl when they hear her voice. I set the DVR to record BSG next friday. I love DVR. I won't miss any of my favorite TV. Invasion isn't on this wednesday. Lunch at Chili's. It was good but I was ready to get going. We got to the port a half hour early. We turned over the bags to one of the guys who works there. I tipped him $5 dollars for a medium bag and a huge bag. I don't know if that was cheap or not but it seemed fair for about 5 minutes worth of work. This ship is amazing. It's smaller than the ship we took on our honeymoon (carnival) but it still seems huge. We were on board and exploring in under an hour. The processing was smooth and painless. We took our first picture on the gangway going in. They were taking pictures against a backdrop. We decided to get ours. Once on board we walked around for a little while since we got there early. The room wouldn't be ready for a while. A view of Tampa, FL from deck 9 on the Legend of the Seas After a while we headed to our stateroom. We got a large oceanview stateroom on deck 3. The room was great but we were hungry. It was off to the WindJammer cafe and the buffet. I never got any pictures of the buffet but here is an awesome virtual tour. We had some snacks and then it was back to the room for a bit. We had to do a muster drill. A muster is where everyone on the ship puts on their life jacket and goes to their muster station. Our muster station was on deck 5 at muster station 12. It takes about a half hour for everyone to show up (some people are complaining idiots) and to hear the speil. Afterwards we went back to the room to change into swimsuits. We grabbed some towels and headed to the Solarium for a dip in the Jacuzzi. The Solarium was very quiet and peaceful. For some reason not many people were spending time in there. After the Jacuzzi we went back to the room and relaxed for a while. We showered and headed up to deck 4 for dinner. Dinner consisted of Tuscan Tomato soup, Caesar Salad, Shrimp Ravioli and chocolate ice cream for desert. The food was very good. The portions were kind of small but since we had snacked at the buffet earlier, it was sufficient. Back to the room a little TV. The ship had CNN International. I found out Don Knotts had passed away. That was sad news. He was incredibly funny. It was a loooong day. We turned off the lights and after some huggin and lovin, went to sleep. It was a good day. Tags:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Back From Vacation

Tampa Skyline From Cruise Ship, Legend of the Seas. I'm back! What a great vacation. If you're in the market for a cruise I can definitely recommend Royal Caribbean and its 7-day western Caribbean trip. Take a look at some pictures. I'm going to be posting a day by day set of blogs about the trip here as soon as I have them electronically (from hand written notes). I had cruised the Caribbean with my wife on our honeymoon about 6 years ago. We were given a Carnival cruise as a wedding present. The carnival ship was much larger than the Royal Caribbean (RC) ship we took this time. It carried a lot more people and just seemed to always be crowded. The RC ship was much nicer. When the Carnival cruise was finally over, I swore I would never cruise again. When I got off the RC cruise, I was planning my next one. I brought 8 books and a dozen magazines with the intention of reading them all. I read 1 book and 2 magazines. I planned to get all kinds of writing done and I did almost none. It's amazing how much time can be consumed through eating and napping. ;-) Today I'm unpacking and playing with my son. I know it's the grandparents job to do it, but after a week with 100% of grandma's attention, he is SPOILED! We called just about everyday on the trip but he refused to talk to us at all. He woke me up at 4am this morning looking for grandma and grandpa. Heh But we're getting back into the groove. And of course I have to mentally prepare myself to re-enter the real world of work and schedules. Blech! I need to win the lotto! And that's all I have time for today. Unpacked luggage is calling my name. Actually the wife is calling my name, but I think you get the idea. ;-) Tags: