Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stop Motion

A friend of a friend made a funny stop motion video - check it out!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Great Mixed Tapes

Went to a White-Elephant re-gifting exchange last night and one of the gifts consisted of several cassette tapes. This on the heals of hearing how VHS as a format is pretty well dead, though this is not news to most of us. Cassette tapes seem to be pretty well dead, too and I'm not sure that CDs could have done it without the assistance of MP3s. I like the technology, but I'm saddened to think that no more will young lovers and friends express themselves in the language of mixed tapes. I pulled down a box today to find the few cassette tapes I still have and found the boxes, but not the tapes to a few of my favorite mixes. Here are a playlist from a mixed tape out of the singles that I liked on various CDs before selling them back to a used CD store.

Lucas With The Lid Off
Red Hooded Sweatshirt
I Got A Girl
Stars
The Freshman
Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
All I Wanna Do
I Don't Want to Wait
Voodoo
Eternal Flame
What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
Falling In Love
Leaving Las Vegas
Strong Enough
We Danced Anyway
Out of My Head
Angus Soundtrack
Veinto De Cambio
Sex and Candy
With or Without You
River of Dreams
Luka

When I hear certain songs, my mind automatically queues up the song that followed on my old favorite mixed tapes. Many of the songs are things I wouldn't have heard otherwise or never had on any other format. I probably couldn't name the songs or the artists, either, so I probably won't ever acquire that tune. When I grabbed these empty tape cases, I actually got excited about recreating a mixed tape that my first college roommate gave me - it was a great tape - but alas, this case was just an album she copied for me and not the mixed tape that I so enjoyed.

I'm clutter clearing tonight, but I'm feeling a little nostalgic about it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Days

We got back from vacation late Sunday night, drove home Monday. Called in to work on Monday due to bad road conditions. Closed the clinic Tuesday and Wednesday due to bad road conditions. Was able to get to work Thursday, worked all day. Off Friday. Called in to work Saturday and Sunday due to bad road conditions.


What have I done with my snow days? What would I like to have done or do? What I've done includes not a lot - it's been a continuation of my vacation, but not a pleasant one. Note to self: in future, when bad road conditions prevent attending normal work functions, think about how you would have liked to spend the time.

What I wish I had done:
  • Finish unpacking - I moved in to my house in August and still find myself rummaging in boxes in the garage for this or that gadget
  • Clean/organize my house - we have company coming in January!
  • Study for board exams
  • Relax!

What I did that I'm glad of:

  • Got to know some new friends better
  • Played a lot
  • Took Chibo everywhere I went

Addendum: After this post, we had 5 more snow days in which I continued to do not-a-lot.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breakfast

My business partners and I decided to close our clinic due to the nasty weather and a light schedule, so we're all staying home yesterday, today and maybe the rest of the week. I am releived, because I had no intention of driving when the roads are so icy. I keep saying it's all about what other people might do, but it's really just about the unpredictability of driving on ice. Some tanker truck rolled over on the freeway yesterday and I have no intention of being in the path of something like that.

So yesterday I stayed home, blogged, uploaded photos, slept, read, slept some more and refused to leave the house when A returned home in the evening and suggested driving the truck over to some friends' house to play games. I was out like a light by 9pm - hello, jet lag. This morning, I was up early at 5-something and couldn't go back to sleep so I got up and commenced more blogging, photos, etc. Eventually A got up and started getting ready for work. When it was time to go, he did the sweetest thing, though: he took me out for breakfast.

We headed over to one of our favorite local coffee shops, Insomnia Coffee Co (tied as favorite with the Iron Mutt Coffee Co), for bagels and coffee before he dropped me back off and headed into work. What a sweet heart to help me avoid cabin fever, feed me (we still haven't bought any groceries since we got home), caffeine me (zoom! zoom! zoom!) and then get out of my hair for the day! (Just kidding...sort of.)

I wonder if and how I could pleasantly surprise him?

Revised Packing List

As I wrote before the cruise, A and I made a packing list for this trip which came in handy to check off that we brought everything we intended, but I wondered how much we intended that didn't actually get used. Here's my revised packing list: (Yes, I know this pushes me even deeper into the category of nuts.)

Clothing

  • Swimsuit, sarong, bandana, sun hat, sunglasses
  • Underwear (1 pair each day +2)
  • Socks (in warm weather: 2 pair; in cold weather: 1 pair per day + 2)
  • Lounge wear (comfy's that can also be worn as PJs or work out clothes)
  • Sneakers, sandles, dress shoes per occassion
  • Interchangable outfits for 1/2 the days of travel - plan to rewear, you probably will anyways!
  • Formal/occassional wear per occassion

Toiletries and First Aid

  • Make up: tinted lip balm and a waterproof mascara, eye makeup remover
  • Misc: nail clippers and tweezers
  • Regular toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shave kit, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, aftershave, lotion, hair products

Next time: share toiletries like shampoo and/or take 1/2 empty bottles or hotel bottles so you can just leave them behind!

  • First Aid: aftersun lotion, SPF, seasick meds, bug spray, papaya pills, eye drops, stress drops, all purpose salve, sleeping pills, cold sore meds, aspirin, arnica and tums

Next time: Keep the meds where you need them. We actually didn't use much of this, but I would have if it wasn't such work to get them out.

Gear and Misc:

  • Kleenex
  • Pen and little notebook
  • Day pack - maybe not a camel back - mine was always too heavy and a water bottle would have worked just as well. Each person needs their own day pack and to carry their own identification, credit card and cash!
  • Water bottle or travel mug
  • Cell phone, charger
  • Camera, batteries, memory cards - underwater camera case if going anywhere for snorkel and SCUBA - ESSENTIAL! Holy crap, I didn't know what life was missing until we got this case. It's incredible to take pictures of things underwater. I want one for my camera, post haste! Oh yeah, if you're going to be in or near the water, get on of these!

        Were we to do this entire trip over again, I actually think A and I could almost pack into a single suitcase. Let's see how that goes in April when we travel with his family to Hawaii and A meets his goal of visiting all 50 states!

        Sunday, December 14, 2008

        Post-Cruising

        We arrived back in Miami and it's time to depart. After saying good bye to everyone in the group the previous night - hugs! - we kept running into people - at breakfast, in the hall, on the way down the gangway, while picking up our luggage in the terminal, at the airport. It was funny to keep seeing people again and again, but it was also nice to sit together at the airport and put a close on the trip.

        A final bit of chaos on our return trip as a gate change for our flight was announced right before boarding (only a few people had been given the wrong gate information, A and I among them), a last minute plane change happened in Nashville (a stop we weren't even aware we were making) and an ice storm coated our home city. I wasn't sure we were even going to make it home and then during our descent, I kept having visions of us landing in the river or skidding past the runway. No problems occurred with landing though and we actually found a shuttle to take us to E's house very easily. We had left a car at E's house on the way out, so we returned there and stayed over since the roads were so bad.

        Addendum: We drove home the next day and the usual 30-40 minute drive took 2 hours because of the icy roads!

        Saturday, December 13, 2008

        Cruising Day 7: At Sea

        The last day of the cruise was spent at sea. By plan and chance, we spent most of the day with our cruise companions. Nearly everyone in the group tried out the rock wall - including me! Goal #5 Try Rock Climbing - Completed! In my recent goal posts (ha ha, excuse the pun), this goals seems to have fallen off the list, probably because I hated it so much, but I accomplished it - accomplished "trying" rock climbing. I didn't get more than 2 feet off the ground and probably tore something in my romboids, but I overcame my fear enough to try and that feels good. My competitive nature came out and I wanted to keep trying until I could get higher, but in this, my fear had the better of me. But now I know that maybe, just maybe, I'll try it again sometime. And if I never do, well, I did try it once. A couple people also boogie-boarded on the flow-rider and the rest of us enjoyed spectating that event since it was crazy windy that day.

        We had lunch in the formal dining room, which A and I hadn't even known was possible until mid-cruise. Of course, on days at port, we were never onboard during lunch, but we missed that opportunity on our first day at sea, so we told everyone who wanted to meet us there at noon our last day at sea and we had a nice group of about 10. I think everyone enjoyed their meals and I enjoyed another meal at table with my new friends.

        We spent some time in the afternoon discovering the final nooks and crannies of the ship, including the absolute front point (think Titanic), the open rear deck, the movie theater and conference rooms (occupied almost exclusively by a 300 member Mah-jong group!) hidden on level 2 and then - woops - time to hot tub. As soon as I noticed our friends in the hot tub, my tour was cut short and it was into the stew for me. Ahh, that's nice after tearing it up on the rock wall. Our group moved in and out of several of the hot tubs, so I got to spend time with several different people - including the flower girls from the wedding who were doing their best hip hop hand movements. Hilarious, cute and spunky.

        The rest of the day was pretty much all about packing. I spent some time that afternoon packing, figuring out only when I was done that I would have to unpack everything to accomodate our purchases because they would all have to be wrapped in clothing. A was at the hot tub drinking beers with the guys while I was doing this, so when I was finished I went to find him. I found him, like so many times, near the pizza place. He and the guys had just run into a couple others in the group and there were "hey's!" and various other Italian sounding drawn out noises and then, much to my surprise, a group hug. When the mother of the groom showed up moments later, a repeat of the noisy greeting and group hug. I wonder what other kind of vacation would see us all having multiple group hugs in public like that? It was great!

        Dinner, more packing, with A desperately racing to finish (chaos!) before the finale show because I wanted to go together, but didn't want to miss it, the best parts of the show and then some final time with the bride and groom while they packed. Jazz. Sleep.

        What I Learned:
        1. If you miss the shows or games on board the ship, they replay the videos of them on the TV.
        2. Especially when shared or large souveniers are purchased, you should just pack at the same time as your travel companion.
        3. Everybody loves group hugs.
        My Favorite Part: The feeling of everyone coming together at the end of the trip - once we realized it was almost over, we became even more friendly.

        Friday, December 12, 2008

        Cruising Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico

        We landed in Cozumel with a plan, albeit, we were to learn, not the best laid of plans. We were going to ferry over to Playa del Carmen and catch a tour to the ruins of Tulum. Our research and my guide book had told us that we could probably save quite a bit of money by going on our own as the shore excursion organized by the cruise was pretty spendy. We got an earlier start than other days, but struggled to get to the ferry. Though A and I both speak passable Spanish and understand if people speak slowly enough, I was still overwhelmed to be in a Spanish speaking country for the first time - I wanted to read every sign (A seemed to also want to do this, too as he delightedly read them all aloud to me, first in Spanish, then in English, forgetting that I speak Spanish, too), and talk to everyone in Spanish, though their English was always better than my Spanish.

        We did get there in perfect timing, though, right before the next ferry. I slept during the ferry over to Playa (the del Carmen is dropped by the locals) where we found no tours, but a very engaging taxi driver named Javier who was willing to take us to Tulum, wait for us, make another stop for shopping or the beach, wait for us and return us to the ferry in time for $80US. I don't know how that compares to other rates or if I could trust his assurance that the taxi drivers all charge the same amount, but it was still a good savings over the ship's excursion. The ride to Tulum was fast as Javier sped through traffic and weaved around vehicles not moving quickly enough for his liking - he pointed out his favorite hotels and the best places for snorkeling or diving in cenotes - water filled caves.

        At Tulum, Javier lent us 100 pesos for our entry fee since we still only had US$. We had a little confusion over that later as my guidebook had a typo on the conversion rate and suggested that 110 pesos was equal to $1US - apparently, it's more like $10 now - I don't know if the US$ has fallen that far that fast, but this was confirmed by all the money changers we saw at both Playa and Cozumel. At any rate, we walked through the ruins which were, well, ruined. I think I would have enjoyed a guide so that I could learn more about the various structures, but we read the posted information and learned what we could. The ruins at Tulum are the only ruins in Mexico that are located on the coast and this makes them both unique and ... distracting. There is a small beach just below the cliffs where Tulum is located a stairway takes visitors down for a swim or sunbathe. The water is amazingly blue-green and clear and the sand is perfectly white. By far, this was the most beautiful beach I'd been on the entire cruise and probably my entire life, so you can imagine it was hard to look at old rocky buildings when the beach was so inviting.

        After that, we raced back to Playa where I was too distracted by the possibility of missing our ferry to enjoy shopping. We did manage to grab a gourd lamp before I dragged A back to the ferry. While in line, we realized we were starving, so we ate from the closest food stand: pizza! I know, can you believe we ate pizza in Mexico? Don't get me wrong, pizza is among my favorite of foods, but Mexican definitely is ranked higher, so I was disappointed not to try authentic Mexican food. As I would have been more disappointed to miss our ferry, the last one that would get us back to Cozumel in time to catch the ship, I consoled myself with the promise of a future, longer trip to Mexico in which I would play on the beach and eat authentic Mexican food exclusively.

        Back in Cozumel, we had about an hour to wander around and practice our bartering skills. As neither A nor I particularly wanted anything, we just purchased a few necklaces and an icy cold Corona which we sipped on our way back to the ship.

        What I Learned:
        1. When long travel and/or meals are a part of the shore excursion package, it may be worth spending a little extra money for a ship's organized shore excursion to avoid the stress and clock-watching needed to do it on your own.
        2. When bartering, the seller can start with a ridiculously high price and expect to be bartered down, but if your counter offer is too low, they won't offer to come down and will instead simply be offended.
        3. Corona should always be drunk ice cold in 80+ degree weather.
        4. You should remember to look up monetary exchange rates before traveling.
        5. Gone are the days when you could only purchase "authentic" local items by traveling to those locations and gone are the days when purchasing something in a market ensured it's authenticity. We saw many of the same trinkets for sale as "authentic, hand carved by my brother" at each of our stops. The things we bought will remind us of our trip, we hope the money we spent will help the local people, but we are not deluded that there is a more unique story behind each item...well, except for the conch that we harvested in Cayman.

        My Favorite Part: Our last hour on Cozumel, when all the stress of getting back on time was gone and we were just wandering at our leisure, sipping our Corona. It being the end of the day, most of the shoppers had returned to the ships and most of the sellers were relaxing in the shade, so it was a very peaceful stroll through the colorful buildings and shaded alleyways.

        Thursday, December 11, 2008

        Cruising Day 5: Grand Cayman

        So, I was pretty excited about this stop as I had fantasized about living in the Cayman Islands since watching Fleming and John's video about living and diving there. To be sure, I was not disappointed. A and I got off the boat and negotiated a price for a trip to Stingray City and snorkeling at a coral garden. Wow! Stingray City?! Eek, you can imagine I was a little scaredey-cat about this, but I still wanted to do it and I'm so glad I did. The stingrays are fed a little by the tour operators so they are used to coming up to you when the boats come to their sandbar - they actually come in pretty great numbers as each boat pulls up.

        After a little adjusting to the waves and the shuffle step important to avoid stepping on any burrowed rays, I got to touch, stroke, hold and kiss the rays. They say kissing the ray will give you seven years of good luck (french kissing gets you a lifetime!). Luck or no luck, it was an incredible experience. Sting rays have a ridge of stiff and spiny tissue over their center on top and a stiff stinging barb on their tail, but other than that they are rabbit-fur soft and slippery to touch. I like touching them like a like touching snakes - they are so delightfully different that they are a pleasure to touch. They seem to like touching us to as they often would swim by with their fins tilted up running them along our legs and bodies. We learned that the big rays are female and the males are much smaller - our female guide joked about that charmingly.

        Even though we weren't snorkeling, I got back on the boat for my mask to see the rays under water better and A used his camera equipped with underwater case. I could really learn to love doing underwater photography - it was so fun to be able to take the camera underwater with us. We got some great photos and even a bit of video.

        After the sting rays, the coral garden wasn't quite as exciting. They had given us vests the help us float and requested that we not use fins, but I would have traded the two in since I'm a strong swimmer and would have preferred to do some duck-diving. Despite seeing several different kinds of fish and coral, I wondered if the coral around Cayman is dying. It made me think of this coral recovery project.

        A had to push me to get me back on the boat at the end of snorkeling - I wish I'd snorkeled, swam and dived at every stop! - but our guides even made the trip back interesting. They had harvested several conch while we were snorkeling and they showed us how they remove the animals from their shells - they are really strange and ugly to look at out of their beautiful homes with tubes that would seem more mechanical than biological. I was pleasantly surprised when our guide finished cleaning one of them and cut it up for us to eat - the consistency of a fleshy fruit with a sweet, briny flavor, A and I enjoyed the raw conch very much, but would probably recommend eating it in fritters or chowder. In the channel, we looked for swimming iguanas with no luck, but one of our guides dived off to hunt his dinner - a huge lobster! Everyone took pictures with the poor doomed creature and then we were back at the dock.


        We'd had so much fun there that we wanted some kind of souvenirs, so I got one of the empty conch shells from our trip and we grabbed a few ornaments for our Christmas tree. On our way back to the ship, A decided to grab a couple of Cuban cigars for himself and the groom and they were making last-call motions at the tender back to the ship. We managed to get onboard the last tender and make it back to the ship, but it was a close call. I guess being stuck on Grand Cayman with A and our snorkel gear wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world though.


        What I Learned: I LOVE Sting Rays!
        My Favorite Part: Everything STING RAY!
        video

        Wednesday, December 10, 2008

        Cruising Day 4: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

        Wedding Day!

        Holy moley. More chaos. Never having helped a bride prepare herself the day of a wedding, I simply had no idea. No idea whatsoever. Madness. Because the bride wanted to honor the tradition of her husband not seeing her before the wedding, she and A switched rooms for the night. She brought her things down the night before and stayed with me. Her best friend planned to join us in the morning, but that hamburger illness prevented her from joining us until much later. The breakfast I ordered got cold, the bag I packed with the wedding critical items was unpacked, her hair wouldn't do what we needed it to do, I didn't know how to do x, y or even simple z, why is that person in our room - get out of here, it's time to leave, oh shit.

        Dressed in a simple white halter top bathing suit with a white sarong around her waste and a pashmina over her shoulders, the bride was beautiful as all brides are. We kept her surrounded so that her groom wouldn't see her despite being only 20 feet apart, we seated her at the back of the bus that ferried our large and noisy group to a private beach where chairs and a huppah were set up for the wedding. The huppah was simply bamboo stakes with some tulle thrown over it and flowers tied to the corners. Simple, elegant, the stuff of wedding fantasies. The Portuguese-Jamaican rabbi performed a beautiful ceremony and the two were wed.

        After the ceremony, delicious eats, photos and a little play in the sand. Then it was back to the ship to change clothes. Most of the group proceeded to Dunn's Falls, while A and I headed into Ocho Rios for a little look-see. We ended up at Margaritaville, where it was the woman's fault - specifically, my fault that A got more than a little tipsy - because in addition to the free shot he got for showing up and his very strong mojito, I made him drink the test tube of rum that came with my daiquiri. What I didn't know was that was the rum meant to go in my drink! So, while I enjoyed my virgin lime daiquiri, A got silly on more rum than he had intended to drink. We had to stop at Margaritaville in honor of my mom, but what I didn't realize is that they are all over the Caribbean - we saw one at each of our later stops as well. It was fun, though.

        That evening was fun, fun, fun on the ship, too with an ice show and Love and Marriage Game Show (basically, the newlywed game). Unfortunately, our bride and groom were not there to participate, but it's probably better off for them, as there were snickers and cheers every time we came across one the couples from the game for the rest of the cruise.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a LOT of work.
        2. Destination weddings are worth the work.
        3. There is a reason people wed and honeymoon on Jamaica.
        4. Some places serve the alcohol for your mixed drink separately.
        5. If you break your leg walking over Dunn's Falls while on a cruise, you'll be treated at a local hospital and put back on the boat. (Yes, this really happened, though not to a member of my party.)
        My Favorite Part: The wedding.

        Tuesday, December 9, 2008

        Cruising Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

        There were 2 main options on Haiti - shopping or relaxing - and in my opinion, the two were mutually exclusive. I don't like shopping anyway, but I especially did not enjoy shopping on Haiti where the products were indistinguishable one from the other and the sellers were pushy and insistent. It's a cultural difference and though I can't put it to words, that's probably one of the greater lessons I learned - about different cultural norms. A and I did shop a bit, though, purchasing a mask and a painting for our house.

        Before the shopping, we lay in a hammock in the shade and I had an idea of what an affluent island lifestyle might be like if I chose it - I think I would love it. After shopping, we hit the water in a tandem kayak. Kayaking there was a mixed bag. As inexperienced as we are, we'd clearly done more kayaking than some of the others in our group. Our excursion leader kept us together at a pace that all could match, so A and I were chomping to go a little farther, a little faster. As we approached a secluded beach, I was excited to get to see part of the island the others cruisers would miss until I noticed more sellers in the shade beneath the trees. They helped pull our boats onto the beach then it was "please let me show you something," "I make a special deal for you, today only," and even, "if you don't buy from me, my family suffers." I was very frustrated to be paying for an excursion that left us no choice but to either ignore the Haitians or feign interest in their products. The kayaking was good, though, and I learned to trust in A's stearing and balance as there were many waves from the various motorized watercraft in our vicinity.

        After that we just hung out in the ocean with a couple of beers and a couple of friends. Oh yes, I would love this life.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Scupper plugs are a worthwhile investment for sit-on-top kayaks.
        3. Don't eat the hamburgers. [One of our companions got really sick - no one else got sick from eating them, but I'd rather stay veggie and avoid the ground beef.]
        4. Get details about shore excursions before signing up.
        5. Don't expect to get to know the locals or even be more than a blip on their radar when participating in a cruise - it would take a very different kind of vacation to have that kind of experience.
        My Favorite Part: Feeling totally warm and relaxed in the hammock with A.

        Monday, December 8, 2008

        Cruising Day 2: At Sea

        We spent the first day of the cruise at sea, heading towards Haiti. A and I toured the ship which had a rock climbing wall and onboard surfing as well as an adult-only swimming area, kids only gaming areas, movie theater, production show theater, 3 story dining room and more. It was incredible. What a ship! I also participated in a Sudoku challenge that day and almost won, but some amazing Sudoku-ing genius showed up late and finished 10 seconds before me. I was still given a prize, a Royal Caribbean luggage tag, for finishing second. Win, lose or draw, it was fun to compete.

        At dinner, A and I got to feel very brave ordering escargot off the dinner menu, having eaten it on our previous cruise. It was delicious again and the better part of the food. Throughout the cruise, A and I agreed that the food was ok, probably better on our previous cruise (although that may be rose-colored glasses) and that the simpler items on the menu were better than the more complex.

        That evening the younger cruisers met up at the bride and groom's room to open a "special" bottle of champagne and go our separate ways for bachelor and bachelorette parties. The champagne was a bottle from the bride's friend's wedding 12 years prior - at the time, the friend handed our bride the bottle, saying, we'll drink this at your wedding, expecting her friend to follow her down the aisle within the year. When that didn't happen, she promptly forgot about the bottle, but our bride did not. She brought the bottle on the cruise and we took it to the champagne bar to be opened and poured. It looked like beer and smelled like acetone and after several toasts (I hate it when brides demand that everyone make a toast - this is my second experience with that and it was just as awkward with this small group), we threw it out and ordered a fresher bottle.

        After drinking this much nicer bottle, the men departed to eyeball the "cradles" (the groom's term for young women) on the ship or whatever it is that bachelors do. We ladies hung out longer in the champagne bar getting to know one another better then headed over to karaoke. We were having so much fun that the other two gals went to get the guys to join us - unfortunately, by the time they got back (sans gentlemen, who had already dispersed), it was over. This a strange character of events at sea - nothing lasts very long. The karaoke was only scheduled for 1 hour. We headed over to the nightclub and danced for a few minutes before, we, too, decided to cut it off. After dropping the other gals at their floors, I headed down to the pizza parlor and had a slice with A and the groom.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Having a highlighter for the cruise compass would be handy.
        3. You can always find members of your group wherever there is late night food.
        My Favorite Part: Getting to know our cruise companions.

        Sunday, December 7, 2008

        Cruising Day 1: Leaving Miami

        Got up later than expected and chaos ensued. How to get 25 people staying at 3+ locations, all their luggage and 15-20 gift bags to the pier terminal and onto the boat using only a minivan? Patience, lots of patience. Lucky for A and I, who don't function well when we aren't fed well, the bride's family had planned ahead and called us all into their room to start the day with a meal together. Yeah! Despite the madness, we all made in onto the boat and the cruise departed on time.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
        2. Gift bags are a lot of work.
        3. Every adult should be responsible for their own baggage, their own transportation, and their own room number. [I was none of the above, but I think it would have been less stressful for everyone involved if every adult took those on.]
        4. If I'm not going to eat it at lunch, I shouldn't take it with me.
        My Favorite Part: Getting away from it all!

        Saturday, December 6, 2008

        Pre-Cruising

        Flying to Fort Lauderdale, FL today for cruise vacation. Wedding of A's best friend, same folks we recently saw in AZ will be in Jamaica on Friday. Cruising on the Freedom of the Seas, the biggest and rated best cruise ship in the world. Has a rock climbing wall and a a flowrider where you can surf right on the ship! Pretty amazing.

        Arrived in FL exhuasted, but excited. A and I weren't sure we were going to make it to the wedding, but the bride worked hard to make sure we made it - and did NOT tell her groom. When he got to the airport, she made him stay there and eat as he arrived an hour earlier than us. She kept him looking at her as we walked up to them - his reaction was priceless when A tapped him on the shoulder.

        That evening A and I helped the bride put together gift bags for everyone on the cruise, including waterproof disposable cameras, sunscreen, lip balm, gum, kleenex, lotion, body wash and beach towels. We ordered pizza into the condo, had a few drinks and went to sleep as early as we could since we were asked to go the peir early to facilitate the group's departure the next day.

        What I Learned:
        1. Destination weddings are a lot of work
        2. Gift bags are a lot of work
        3. Everybody loves surprises
        4. Everybody loves pizza
        5. Carry on should have clothing to change into immediately on arrival or better yet, on the plane, when changing climates.
        My Favorite Part: Surprising the groom.

        Friday, December 5, 2008

        Packing List

        So, A and I are leaving on a cruise tomorrow. Our second cruise, twice as long as the first and to a much warmer locale. We're heading to the Caribbean! Wahoo! My organizational addiction and A's preparation strategies collided when we spent some time putting together a packing list using various Internet sources. I can't believe that some people actually pack all the items on their lists - many of them are designed for catastrophes, major and minor: duct tape, sewing kit, eyeglass repair kit, flashlight, rope, swiss army knife, etc. etc. etc. I vetoed those items on the spot, but wondered what else we'd end up taking that would or would not prove useful. Here's out list and what we took - jump ahead a week to find out what we actually used!


        Packing List - Cruise Vacation - Duration 1 Week, Climate: Warm


        For A:
        · Sneakers, Dress shoes
        · Sandles, Aqua socks
        · Black pants, Khakis, Jeans
        · Light jacket and sport coat
        · Nice shirts (2)
        · Tie (3)
        · Polo’s (2)
        · T-shirts
        · Swim trunks
        · Underwear, Socks
        · Hat
        · PJ’s
        · Workout clothes
        · Lounging pants

        For Me
        · Sandles (3), Dress sandles
        · Dresses (3)
        · Skirts (3)
        · Shirts
        · Underwear, Socks
        · Hat
        · PJs
        · Accessories
        · Hoodie, Sneakers, Jeans - to be worn on plane
        · Swimsuit
        · Workout clothes
        · Lounge wear
        · Make up + remover
        · Nail clippers and file
        · Tweezers

        Misc/Both Packing List
        · Sunglasses (I packed 2 pair)
        · Snorkle gear
        · Day pack (2)
        · Waterbottle/travel mug (2)
        · Cell phone + charger (2)
        · Camera + batteries + charger (2)
        · Extra memory cards, downloader
        · Drink Coupons for plane
        · Binoculars
        · Books (2)
        · Underwater camera case
        · Ipod + charger (2)
        · Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shave kit, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, aftershave, lotion, hair products
        · First Aid – D meds (lost, didn't bring), aftersun lotion, SPF, seasick meds, bug spray, papaya pills, eye drops,
        · Ziplocks, plastic bags, laundry bag
        · Hand wipes/sanitizer
        · Pens, pencils, notebook
        · Business cards
        · Playing cards and games
        · Kleenex packs
        · Sarong/bandanas
        · Lanyard for key card
        · Post its
        · Rubberbands
        · Walkie Talkies

        Wednesday, December 3, 2008

        Emergency Contact

        It's so weird. I'm leaving town for a week and I'm making all these arrangements for emergency contacts and what to do IF. I was even thinking of putting an alternate greeting on my phone message and turning on vacation notification on my email. That seems a bit extreme given that I'm only gone for a week. Everyone in my office knows I won't be checking my email (and I get few external emails on that account that require a response), my family knows I'm not reachable and my friends probably all think I'm already gone given that I've been talking about this trip for months! I remember when I up and went to Germany on short notice and almost forgot to tell my parents. Oh, how times have changed.

        Worked my monthly early shift today, so I've had a nice long afternoon on the computer to get caught up on emails, reading blogs, paying bills online and other WWW miscellanea. I was surprised by how actually little there was to do. Thanks to Blogspot following, I have been keeping up on blogs of interest; I pre-scheduled most of my bill payments and there wasn't much needed doing in email. So...I guess it's going to be okay. My electronic and physical worlds will not fall apart due to my stepping behind the curtain for 8 days. And that's kind of weird.

        It's that strange self-centeredness that humans (living beings?) exhibit - the world revolves around us...I don't think this is a bad thing, seems actually quite healthy that one should be the center of their own world. But, when something like this vacation shakes things up a little and we realize that how much bigger the world is and how small our part of it is...it's humbling. And exhilarating in a way. Puts all my little stressors into perspective. Time will not cease to exist as we know it if I don't do the dishes one evening (okay, for a week or more), the world financial structure will not crack if Chibo's nails grow a little long (or maybe that's really what's going on?) and the cure for hunger, poverty or war will not be missed by a hair's breadth because I wasn't here at a crucial moment.

        Well, maybe something like that would happen, because we are all intricately connected, but I think it'll be okay to take a vacation. At least this once. Wowser, start down that line of thinking and it's all spirals and concentric circles. I need to sit down before I fall down or I'll be dealing with one of those IFs and calling my emergency contact before I've even left!