Tag Archives: Photos

Time Management

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

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.

Colorful building in New Smyrna Beach Florida

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!

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI
Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

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! 🙂

Lifeguard station in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

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!

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

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!

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI
Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

The Soggy Dollar

A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

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.

A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

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.”

One Love Beach Bar at White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

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.

Shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

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!

Monte Stevens’ secret hideaway on Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Rebel Yell, our ride to Jost Van Dyke and back
Random photos in Roadtown Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Our Latest Adventure

Aboard Norwegian Epic

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.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

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.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

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.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

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!

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

Back in the Groove

Palm shadows at The Hotel 1829 in St Thomas, USVI

Kathy & I recently returned from our latest adventure – a 7-night cruise with some time in Florida before and after.  We missed seeing our first-ever space launch by 13 seconds, but otherwise had a great time and took a few photos.  This has been a busy week but the weekend may provide some time to catch up on processing.  In celebration of Friday (why not?) here is a photo to get the ball rolling.

About Photos And Words

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

I’ve gotten a few questions lately asking why all of a sudden I’ve been posting a lot to my blog, and posting photos with no text. Have I been off work, am I traveling, have I suddenly gotten inspired to post more? It’s actually nothing that exciting! Except for the last one, maybe.

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

First, some background. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been writing this blog for almost 11 years. My posts have mostly been about things that I’ve had on my mind, usually photography but on occasion I may wander off to other topics. I find that writing helps me clarify my thoughts on a given subject because it forces me to boil things down into their basic components. And once I put that much time and effort into writing something, it seemed like a shame to not share it. Not because I thought it was some extraordinary prose, but because I hoped that someone else might benefit from my efforts. And on occasion it has. And I got in the habit of accompanying my text with photos. Sometimes they illustrate my text, and sometimes they are just photos that I happened to be working on at the time.

Lately I just haven’t been thinking about photography all that much, at least not about the technical and artistic parts of photography. Now that I’ve switched camera systems and have that behind me, I’ve mostly just been having fun traveling and taking pictures. I have a few things on my mind from time to time, but nothing that is so compelling or complex that I have a need to write about it.

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say! I’ve made a few thinly veiled political comments and other off-topic posts, but they are largely ignored. And that’s fine by me, by the way. I don’t really want to talk politics or anything else. But I do have lots of photos, although I had concluded that I had to write something to go with them, as though there was some rule against posting just photos. At some point it occurred to me that the only rule preventing me from posting only photos was my own, and that is a rule that I can change any time I want!

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

About the same time as I came upon that realization, I started to get frustrated with the application I was using to send my blog posts to Facebook. Like everyone these days (or so it seems) the free version of the app gave me basic functionality, and unless I was willing to spend money it delayed my posts as much as 3 days, depending on how often I posted. To heck with that I said, there has to be a better way! And thanks to WordPress plug-ins, there is. I downloaded one, figured out how to use it (the reason for all those “Testing” posts for those who use an RSS feed (sorry!) and it works. I also took the time to figure out how to schedule posts for a future date. That is super easy, but at one time the feature didn’t seem to work properly so I abandoned it. But I just tried it again and it works great. So for a few days I processed photos, posted them one at a time and schedule them to post at a future date, one per day.

So there you go. Just a little change in habit, which I think is a good thing. Now I just need to get around to updating my website. That’s a project that is way overdue. I keep waiting for a rainy weekend to get it done, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often around here. And in the meantime we’ve got places to go!

Flight of Tundra Swans over Belhaven North Carolina

Oh, and don’t  get used to this posting every day stuff.  That’s too much like work! 😉