Another highlight of our recent cruise and part of our chef tour was a tour of the galley. We have done galley tours before on numerous cruises, but ordinarily they are held in the morning, and the most exciting thing you see is someone making gravy! For this tour we were taken through the galley during dinner service, and it was quite an experience!
It’s been a long time since I worked in any kind of restaurant environment, and I’m not sure I actually qualify to say that I worked in any kind of restaurant! But the things we found most impressive were how clean and organized things were, and how friendly everyone was, especially while they were busy. I took a lot of photos on this tour, and these are just a few, to give you a “taste” of the experience!
Cedric commented on my last post about how the lack of people contributed to the “Tranquilidad” of the scenes. Of course not all of my photos were devoid of people, as the people are a large part of what makes San Juan special. Here are a few photos “with” people as a counterpoint against those without.
Kathy & I recently returned from a cruise to the Caribbean. We’re getting pretty good at the cruise thing – this was our 23rd cruise – but we’re still practicing!
This cruise was on Celebrity Summit. Celebrity has become our favorite cruise line, mostly because they just know how to do good food and good service. While all of the lines are good, we’ve come to really like Celebrity.
Summit is one of Celebrity’s older ships, but we chose it because it is one of their smallest, at just 2,000 passengers. The ship we were on last year was over 4,000 passengers, while we saw a ship this time that was over 6,000! While I would love to experience one of those ships, that’s just a shipload of too many people!
This cruise was supposed to stop at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, but Punta Cana doesn’t have a dock for the cruise ships so it is one where they need to take passengers ashore using tenders. The seas were too rough there for tendering, so we ended up in San Juan, PR instead. While we looked forward to Punta Cana, we love San Juan and were not at all disappointed to end up there.
Kathy & I spent our time in port walking around Old San Juan. We had lunch (and Pina Coladas!) at a nice restaurant that claims to be the birthplace of the drink. More to come on that, but for now, here are a few random photos from our time walking the streets of the old city.
I haven’t been terribly motivated to process photos lately but forced myself to get a few done for this post. It’s a tough job and no one is going to do it but me! 🙂
Kathy & I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Half Moon, a resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Quiet and laid back, Half Moon was just the answer to a hectic spring and early summer. I went with only my lowly Olympus point & shoot, but still managed to come home with a few photos.
“If a LinkedIn account gets deleted in the forest and no one is around to see it, does anyone really care?” with apologies to George Berkeley
I recently decided to close out my LinkedIn account. Like I suspect a lot of folks did, I started on LinkedIn because it was supposed to be a professional networking site. While it certainly has its devotees and I’m certain that for many people it is a critical part of their business day, I just never found it to be all that useful. I was getting connection requests from people I don’t know who were just trying to sell me stuff, recommendations from people for skills that I probably have but don’t really care about promoting, and even after shutting off all the notifications, it was just something else I had to do. And now, since I tend to be trying to minimize my distractions and obligations, it just seemed to be time. I had planned to close it before the recent change in their terms of service and had already deleted most of my connections, but that email was the catalyst I needed to shut it down.
So I’m still on Facebook, although I rarely look at it and don’t share anything other than my blog posts. I’m on Instagram but don’t post much and don’t have many followers or follow many people (by design). I have a Twitter account but have never tweeted, although I think I might have liked or shared a thing or two. Most importantly, the people who need to reach me know how. and those who matter the most to me are probably reading this blog. Maybe all the way to the end! 😉
Long-time readers will recall that a little over 3 years I embarked on a project to build my own computer. With my son’s expert assistance (as in he did all the hard work) I built a PC from parts and installed Apple’s OSX on it – a “Hackintosh.” I had been a Mac user for a long time, originally purchasing a Powerbook, then an iMac and more recently a MacBook Pro. I needed a new computer then and liked the idea of building my own, and was intrigued by the idea of running OSX on it.
For those who like messing around with computers, building a computer can be a fun and interesting challenge. For people like me who mostly just want to have a reliable and reasonably competent tool, the time and effort required to keep up with software updates and the workarounds required to run a non-native program on a computer got to be more than I was interested in doing. More recently I started running into problems with the App Store telling me that the software was up to date, but the part that Adobe CC looks at to determine if I am able to run the latest version of their software thought it was an older version. The steps required to fix that problem didn’t seem to work, and I finally decided to make a change. Also, I was never able to get my Canon printer to run on the Hackintosh.
My choices essentially came down to two. I could shell out the money for a new Mac, but new Macs are quite pricey these days, and the ones that I thought I needed to do the job are several years out of date. Probably OK for my needs, but I was having a hard time with the idea of spending a bunch of money on a new computer, just to end up with my current box sitting idle and useless. My second option was to install Windows on my current computer and run the software for which all the parts were intended. It’s still a very capable computer, with a fast processor, 500GB SSD and two 2TB hard drives, lots of memory and a good video card. So that was what I decided to do.
With my son’s help (gracias, Kevin!) I mapped out the steps required to replace everything I used on the Mac with its equivalent on Windows. And it actually wasn’t much because I don’t use a lot of stuff – the two biggest challenges were (1) moving my photo files – 4 hard drives in all including backups – from Mac-formatted hard drives to Windows-formatted hard drives, and (2) finding a suitable replacement for my backup software.
The Mac vs. Windows arguments have been going on for years, much like the Canon-Nikon-Fuji-Olympus-Sony-Etc. arguments for cameras. But when it comes right down to it there just isn’t a lot of difference between them these days. I use a Windows computer at work, so other than having to remember to close or minimize from the right instead of the left, they’re essentially the same. Lightroom and Photoshop look and act the same, Chrome looks the same, and Office for Windows is pretty much the same as Office for Mac. A few other odds and ends and I’m pretty well covered.
I’m not going to go into a lot of details on how I solved the two problems because I don’t have the expertise to answer questions. For the transfer of photos I purchased software from Paragon Software called HFS+ for Windows. That allowed me to see the Mac-formatted (HFS+) hard drives so I could copy the data over to newly-formatted Windows (NTFS) hard drives. I originally intended to use Paragon’s Backup & Recovery software, but just couldn’t get comfortable with how it worked. I ended up buying GoodSync, which works more like the SuperDuper that I used on the Mac. There is no Windows version of SuperDuper, but GoodSync comes pretty close. I may experiment with other software, but so far it seems to do the job.
At this point I’m most of the way finished with the conversion. My two external backup drives are still in Mac format, as I want to be sure that all the Windows stuff is operating correctly before I wipe out those drives and copy the backups to them. There is probably a slight risk there, but I think it is wise to be sure before committing. And I haven’t tried to hook up the printer yet. Hopefully this weekend will give me time for that project. Since it involves starting up the printer and wasting a certain amount of ink, I want to be sure I have adequate time to complete the process!
So that’s pretty much it! Over the course of the last 18 months or so I’ve gone from a Canon user to a Fuji user, and from a Mac user to a Windows user. But I’ll bet you won’t notice any difference in my photos from either move. And hopefully I’ll be able to forget about the computer for a while and just go take photos!
A very interesting phenomenon happens this time of year in the corporate world, as people try to use up their “carryover” vacation time – time that they weren’t able to use in the previous year when it was allocated. Most of us get a set allotment of Paid Time Off (“PTO”) each year, and it usually must cover any reason that a person needs to take off, such as vacation, illness, parent-teacher conferences, etc. In some cases, employers allow unused vacation time to be “carried over” into the next year, and it usually needs to be used by a certain date or it is forfeited. In my company, that “use it or lose it” date is March 15.
Kathy & I tend to think of carryover PTO in the same way we think about leftover wine or saving for our kids’ inheritance. “Why would we do that?” 😉 We use every day our employers give us and would gladly take more if we could, whether paid or unpaid. And we never have any trouble using it. The trouble comes when we have to strategize over how to get our travel done in the time we’re allotted. We’re always coming up short!
The “phenomenon” I spoke of is that all those people who couldn’t figure out how to use their PTO time during last year are suddenly inspired to use it all up in the first few months of this year. We’ve got people taking off Fridays and Mondays in January, February and part of March, and a few of them actually manage to take whole weeks off. In some cases these are the same people who managed to be off for two whole weeks at the end of the year just to get their carryover “down” to the amount that they could actually carry over. I’ve offered to help people with travel planning but for some reason no one ever takes me up on it! 🙂
The downside for me is that I often end up being asked to cover for the people who are off. And since managers are generally among the people who are impacted, the usual limits on the number of people who can be off at any one time are largely waived. And we’re generally busier this time of year than we are in other parts of the year, so there is more work to do then there is, say, over the Christmas holiday. But for the most part I don’t mind, because I always feel like I’ve gotten the most out of my time when I’ve taken it. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be off over the Christmas & New Year holidays – it’s a lousy time to travel, you can’t go anywhere because everyone who is off work is out shopping, and then I wouldn’t have that time to use when I want it!
Now I don’t intend to make fun of or condemn people for this. In a number of cases there are good reasons and it is completely justified, as in they have to save days for child care, their personal situations (money, health, caring for another, etc.) require that they hold back time or other reasons. The sad thing is that a lot of people don’t actually manage to do anything with their time off. They just do whatever it is they usually do on a weekend, they just do it longer. Maybe I just don’t get it, but like with a lot of things I just like my way better. And as long as other peoples’ way works for them, it’s nothing for me to get worked up over. But I do admit to a certain amount of smug satisfaction when I sit at my desk in March and think about all the fun things I’m going to do with my own PTO. And I have plenty of work to do so the time goes faster!
One of the stops on our latest cruise was Tortola, an island in the British Virgin Islands. Kathy & I had been to Tortola only once before, and had forgotten how much we loved the area, the islands, the scenery and the people. The itinerary for this cruise put us in port for only a part of the day, so our options for things to do were limited. I checked with a few private operators for a sailing cruise around the islands, but because of our limited time in port they could not offer us anything that would work. We could have done an island tour in a taxi, but spending 3 hours riding around in a van was not on our list of goals! Fortunately the cruise line offered a catamaran cruise to Jost Van Dyke, specifically to a place called the Soggy Dollar Bar.
The Soggy Dollar Bar is a famous beach bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke and is reputed to be the birthplace of the popular drink known as the Painkiller. The Soggy Dollar Bar is so-named because when it was built there was neither a road nor a dock. To reach the beach where the bar is located, it is a common practice for boaters to anchor off the beach, swim to shore, and pay for their drinks with wet money. Thus the name “Soggy Dollar.”
The only downside of this tour was that it was scheduled to meet at 7:00am! So we set the alarm for an early wake-up, caught a bit of breakfast on the ship, and headed off to meet our tour. Once we got underway it was about an hour’s sail to Jost Van Dyke, and we ended up at the Soggy Dollar about 9:00am. Usually a little early to start drinking, but in the islands…. Besides, you can’t drink all day unless you get an early start.
My dollars weren’t soggy, but they spent just fine and I managed to have a few Painkillers. The Soggy Dollar makes its own rum and Painkiller mix, and it is quite good. Unfortunately they don’t sell it, so you have to enjoy it there. And we did! I suppose how much pain they kill depends on a person’s tolerance. I have a fairly strict training regimen so I didn’t have too much difficulty with two, but there were obviously a few amateurs among the group!
It’s hard to believe, but until a few weeks ago we hadn’t been on a cruise in over 2 years. It’s especially hard to believe when we had previously averaged almost 2 per year for a number of years before that. Our son Kevin recently sailed on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship and liked it so much he did another one late last year and has several more on the calendar. On his advice we decided to give it a try and booked a week on Norwegian Epic out of Port Canaveral, with stops in St. Thomas, Tortola and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. This isn’t intended to be a cruise review, so I don’t plan to go into a lot of detail about the cruise other than to say that it was good to be back on a ship, the food was good and we had excellent weather.
While we have friends that live and have lived in Florida, we generally think of Florida as a place to go to get on a cruise ship. But we decided to do this vacation a little differently and check out some towns that we have heard about but hadn’t previously visited. That led us to New Smyrna Beach and to St. Augustine. I’ll have more about those places in another post, but wanted to get something written about the cruise itself and share a few photos.
A couple of our ports involved the possibility of wading in salt water, which of course is not friendly to cameras or other electronics. So I convinced myself that I needed to have a compact waterproof camera in the event we got wet, and purchased an Olympus “Tough TG-4” point & shoot. It got good reviews and had a reasonable pricetag, so I bought one. In fact, these photos are all from that camera. I also took the Fuji, and it managed to make its share of photos too.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to test the waterproofness of the Olympus. Our catamaran sail to Jost Van Dyke took us practically onto the beach and I barely got my shorts wet getting ashore. And we ended up not going to the private island, preferring instead to enjoy the relative peace and quiet on the ship while most of the other 4,000+ passengers stood in line for drinks and a buffet lunch. It also gave me a chance to take a few photos on board the ship without having to worry about the paranoid and camera shy. I did say it wasn’t our first cruise!