Saturday, February 25, 2006

I'm off to Atlantic City later this morning, so I'll fill you in on all that and the Four Seasons concert either Sunday night or Monday.

Hope you've had a chance to check out some of the photos of my old Navy ships at Shot's Shack
I still have a couple of more to post.

I've added a link to Overdue Media, the home of UNSHELVED, a librarian/library based comic strip over on the Left. I've enjoyed it for several years now, receiving it daily in my e-mail. Felt it was about time I gave the Bill & Gene their due and linked to them. Even if you're not a Librarian I think you'll get a lot of the 'office humor' and comics references.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'd just like to congratulate the Queens Public Library administration for doing in less then two years what it took the Brooklyn Public system almost fourteen and three different Directors to do. Have I mentioned that I once enjoyed being a librarian?

Remember folks! Always keep that resume updated since you never know when it might come in handy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to my wife!

I probably don't tell you enough how much I love you and how you saved my life at a major point.

Have a special day and enjoy the chocolates!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

These were sent to me a while ago by the ever perky Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci. I really didn't have anything on hand to post or talk about so I just wanted to do something "cute" for once.

Have a good weekend and a Happy President's Day! (Unless you happen to be the President, in which case you're on your own, G.W.!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Has it really been seven years since our first date?

We went to see "Shakespeare in Love" and I didn't "make the move."

Love you Donna!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Just in case I can't get a box of REAL candy for my love!

Happy Valentine's Day, Donna Lee!

You can't deny that this "Dead Eye" Dick Cheney story doesn't seem to be going away. The news coming out that the VP office appeared to be interferring with or at least delaying (pardon the expression) the investigation by local law enforcement appears to be keeping the event in the press.

It is interesting to conjecture what the press and Congress would have done about this sort of thing had it happpened to Bill Clinton.

We also wish a speedy recovery to Mr. Harry Whittington both from the wounds inflicted by the VP and his heart attack.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip in Texas, The Associated Press reports.

This opens up the way for so many jokes I don't even know where to start. I expect the likes of the Leno & Letterman staffs are cranking out reams of material at this very moment.

Personally, I'd like to see the VP showing up on Court TV.

Friday night was the "Midnight Buffet", where the chef and his crew go all out putting together an incredible display of artistry. I can't imagine the amount of hours it takes to put this together, but those folks who stay up certainly seem to enjoy themselves.

That's The Lovely Christina, looking all Angelina Jolie there and somehow I appear to have channeled my Uncle Charlie. Something I always feared would be my fate as a kid, but I'm only missing the cigar in this picture.

If you take a cruise you really should make an attempt to hit one of these. The best part is that when the picture taking part is done, you get to come back and eat your way through it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This is our last port, Costa Maya, Mexico. You can see the long pier at which the ships dock and several of the other ships beside the Miracle.

If you don't feel like walking the length of the pier there's a small trolley which travels back and forth, but sadly I forgot to snap a shot.

As you can also see the beach at the end is not for swimming, you'd have to take a cab or one of the tours further down the beach. However, the mall does have several large size pools, one includes the swim-up bar you see in one of the photos.

There's no charge to just sit in the lounge chairs or hammocks along the beach, but there are several restaurants & bars. Waiters will bring you out your drinks if you like. During the day there are arts & crafts demonstrations in the plaza, with dozens of shops of all kinds arond the sunken stage if you'd like to shop and go no further into the town.

I've got a couple of more shots over at Shot's Shack, that you might get a kick out of.

Friday, February 10, 2006

For those of you still interested I plan on finishing up my cruise posting this weekend. I still have some photos of Costa Maya, Mexico and from the Carnival Miracle "midnight buffet" that I want to share as well.

If this weekend in NYC is as bad as they say it will be a good couple of days to just stay indoors anyway.

On a political note, I doubt that Scooter will actually drop the bomb on the VP. He has too much at stake if he wants any kind of future in the GOP or in government to turn on his ex-boss.

Interesting to hear that G.W. snuck the idea of Social Security privatization into the budget, especially after he all but said it was a dead issue in the State of the Union speech. Pretty obvious you can't trust His Smugness, but you folks should already know that.

Note to city workers that they be careful about playing games on the office computers. You never know when the Mayor has nothing better to do than to sneak around peeking at your terminal.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just a bunch of misc. pics from Grand Cayman that I wanted to share.

There's the Blue Iguana statue; Diane our 'pirate' tour guide; another pic of the beach; the Hard Rock & Harley/Davidson cafes along the shore and an example of one of the island homes.

Grand Cayman is nice but just remember how expensive it can be. The first time Donna and I went down there we made the mistake of grabbing lunch at a local place, above the Pirate's Grotto. I had fish & chips, Donna had coconut shrimp and we had iced tea, for a whopping $55 U.S. This time we ate aboard before and after our tour!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I know this cruise report is taking way too long, but things at work and home are preventing me from posting as regular as I'd have liked. I hope you'll allow me a few more posts. I'll also try to post a few more pics since I've had some folks comment to me in person that they enjoyed seeing them.

Wednesday in Cozumel

When we originally booked our cruise the Mexican port of Cozumel was supposed to be our final stop on Friday. All of us had been there previously and Donna & I had planned on possibly skipping the place anyway. Then Hurricane Katrina came and reduced much of the city to ruins. For several months after the cruise ships were completely bypassing the port, as well as Cancun, which had been similarly hit. Eventually the ships began to return, but the piers where most had tied up were totally destroyed, now the only way to get from ship to shore was by use of the various commercial tenders.

We spoke to several people over the months preceding our trip and read stuff online. It was apparent that the shops and duty-free mall that we had briefly decided to visit had been victims of the hurricane. They were at the end of the cruise ship piers and didn’t stand a chance between the surging waves and wind. When we actually arrived within sight of Cozumel you could see what was left of the piers as piles of rubble, marked by warning flags, only slightly above the surface of the water. The sea was a bit rough with waves crashing on the existing beach, and the tenders were making slow progress in the swells. It was just as well that the four of us decided to stay aboard and take advantage of the pool and other activities.

As I mentioned earlier, I had won a session in something called the “Alpha Capsule” located in the spa. As Fran and The Lovely Christina already had appointments for massage and facials I called ahead and booked my own session. The four of us enjoyed a late breakfast and then hit the pool for a while, with some early afternoon drinks. Around 2:15 three of us headed off to the spa and Donna went back up to our room for a nap.

Now folks who know me will tell you that I’m not a real ‘new age’ kind of guy. My idea of relaxation doesn’t include electronic massage machines and aroma-therapy sessions. Nonetheless, if you tell me it’s free I’ll give it a chance. Plus at my age I don’t get much chance for new experiences!

At the reception desk I was directed to locate the gym and speak to Halmud, who would get me set up. I had no trouble as there were only a few people working out at the time, and Halmud was the only guy completely dressed. He asked me if was familiar with the Alpha Capsule and I told him that I really had no clue. Maybe his smile should have clued me in. I followed him to a smaller workout room with some nautilus equipment, which was off to one side. Apparently used only when the main room was overbooked. There taking up a good section of one wall was the world’s second biggest egg (hat tip to the late Don Adams!), covered partially by a flowered drape of some sort. Naturally, this was the Alpha Capsule!

Halmud touched a button on the side of the egg and it split in half, revealing what looked way too much like the inside of a coffin. It was totally black with two thin white cushions on the lower half, each of which had a small knob along the side. Halmud covered the mats with two white towels and asked me to lie down inside. This should have been my second clue, but I did as he asked making me as comfortable as possible. Then he closed the egg!

I’m not claustrophobic by any means, but to suddenly find yourself enclosed in this huge white plastic thing, with only your head sticking out…well, the idea of calling the whole thing off crossed my mind. Probably because he’d gone through this before Halmud had me push up with both hand, not quite trapped at my sides and I found the top lifted quite easily. He told me that when my session ended I could just let myself out and that he would lock the door from the outside. I had only to climb out and let myself out when finished. Famous last words, right?

As I may have mentioned this ‘prize’ from the trivia contest was for a 25-minute introductory session. Halmud punched some buttons on a panel just below my chin, which I could see if I tilted my head. There were a few lights blinking on and off, as well as two digital displays. One with red numbers indicated the temperature in the capsule, which Halmud said would range from around 86 to 90 degrees. After setting me up he then pulled the flowered sheet over me and told me to just relax. I was now complete enclosed and unable to see anything but the display blinking at me. It was now time for me to relax, which is not something you should really have to think about. I closed my eyes, inhaling the slightly flowery aromas from the grill and listened to the New Age/Easy Listening mix.

What seemed like a few minutes later I opened my eyes and noticed a second green panel blinking numbers below my chin. It read 4:10 and I couldn’t believe that I had been in the egg for less then five minutes. Boy, it was getting pretty warm as well and I seemed very thirsty. Still it seemed I had another twenty minutes of this left and I decided to close my eyes again. When I next looked the clock read 5:15, making believe that barely a minute had passed. I lay there wondering if I could actually stay here for a full twenty-five and noticed that the digital readout was not showing seconds. It was actually a clock and I had been in the capsule for several hours!!

I pushed the top up and it gave way easily, but when I tried to sit up I found I was very weak and drenched in sweat. I sat with my legs over the side until I could finally stand, but only made it a few feet to one of the folding chairs where I had left my shirt and shoes, along with my watch. I checked and discovered that it was 4:30. I had been in the Alpha Capsule for two hours! Apparently the clock on the capsule was on Central time, causing me to be totally disoriented.

Still groggy I let myself out and found I couldn’t find my way back to the gym. After couple of turns I went through a door and realized I had made my way into the Women’s spa area. Fortunately, I wasn’t seen and quickly made my way back, this time discovering the correct route and finally the registration desk. My good pal, Halmud was there and asked me if I was “coming back”. With a few choice words I explained that in fact I had not left in the first place. He and the young lady beside him seemed surprised, but offered no explanation as to why the alarm didn’t go off. It was more the fact that Halmud didn’t come to check up on me that bothered me, to be honest.

When I made it back to my room Donna was worried and had even asked Fran & TLC if they had seen me. They assumed that I had gone off to the cigar bar or was back at the pool, even though I had said I’d go back to the room when finished.

Let this be fair warning that if you ever get the chance for a treatment in the Alpha Capsule you bring along a travel alarm clock or have a friend check on you when your time is up.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

We had a reservation Tuesday evening at the Carnival Miracle’s ‘specialty’ dining room. These restaurants have an additional cost above the normal cruise fee and are not included when you book. Some of the larger vessels have more than one, but the Miracle had NICK & NORA’S a place right out of the best of Manhattan’s higher priced eateries. Named after the characters portrayed by William Powel and Myrna Lloyd, the restaurant features a beautiful glass etched ceiling featuring the New York skyline in great art deco fashion.

It has a limited menu, but with enough items to ensure that just about everyone will find something they’ll enjoy. I had a melt in your mouth 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, with the others having surf & turf and filet minion. Both plate presentation and service reminded me of what Donna and I had at Emeril’s in Las Vegas. A couple of bottles of a very nice Riesling, with a pianist & vocalist providing entertainment made the whole thing extra special and well worth the extra thirty bucks a person.

After dinner we hit the casino for a while and then The Lovely Christina & I decided to check out “Mock-toberfest” at the aft pool. When we arrived there only a few others around, as the late-seating show in the Phantom Theatre hadn’t let out. We had a couple of drafts and chatted for a while, finally going back to our rooms after midnight. This was the first of several times TLC and I hit a bar or special event after Donna & Fran turned in.

This only gets us halfway through the cruise, so I’ll have more to add over the next few days.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The first time that Donna and I visited the Cayman Islands we did a bit of jewelry shopping and had lunch, without any sightseeing. This time we decided to take a guided tour of some of the island. One of the most fun was this "Trolley Roger" tour, which takes a little over an hour.

The tour is led by a female driver/guide dressed as you can see in 'pirate' style. They take you around the island on these open trailers pulled by jeeps, all the while giving you some of the history and legends of the island mixed with bad pirate jokes. It was a lot of fun and we even had a short stop at one of the many small public beaches (seen in the photo on the right) where both these pictures were taken. In the right hand side of the beach pic you can just see the backend of a large statue of one of the island's nearly extinct Blue Iguanas. It's dressed in shorts and shirt, paid for by one of the island's bars. I have a better picuture of if which I may put up on Shot's Shack later this week.

Did you know that Grand Cayman has almost no natural fresh water resources? The island's citizens and business places depend on rainwater caught in large tanks and by a number of desalinazation plants. One of the driver's jokes is that the island is called "Grand Cayman" because if costs the citizens about a grand a week to get by. Just about everything has to be imported.

While the island is still beautiful and prospering (you can see one of the multi-million dollar homes being put up behind the trolley, it's sad to see the amount of devastation brought about by a very bad hurricane season. Worst was Hurricane Ivan which savaged the island, destroying homes and uprooting trees. Months later the damage is still evident during the tour, but many homes are being rebuilt or demolished for new construction. Don't know that I'd actually care to live on the island, but it is quite beautiful.

After the tour we checked out a couple of shops, picked up some gifts for friends and then headed back to the landing. By the time we tendered back to the ship the grill was open and it was time for burgers & fries by the pool.