Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weird? Me? Naaah..

And I present to you two of the 104 pages of Scotland maps that I have laboriously covered with dots marking the locations of all known castles, castle ruins, and stray piles of rocks. And a few distilleries. The maps are 2 miles per inch.

Mock away.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fourteen is enough

I really wish people would stop referring to the recent birth of a litter of 8 children as "a miracle".

It's not a miracle. It's a travesty of medical ethics and idiot parents and irresponsible treatment. This family already had SIX children, and opted to have eight embryos implanted during IVF and apparently they don't agree with selective reduction of the implanted embryos because they oppose abortion.

This is so damned unethical all around. How does a woman with 6 kids even GET fertility treatment at all, let alone implantation of EIGHT embryos? I'm sure that TLC will have a new show in the works immediately, but who on earth is paying for the several months of NICU for these eight preemies and how are they going to raise all these children? It was "too painful" to consider aborting some of the fetuses to avoid having a fekking litter, so it's better to let these kids suffer the very common and very serious problems associated with being a low-weight preemie -- developmental delays, health problems, the works.

Miracle my ass. It's not "god's will", which has also been bandied about. No, sorry, your deity has nothing do to with this. Bad medicine, bad decisions, and morons all around.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I'm in Milwaukee, teaching class this week.

There's a used bookstore in the airport. Why don't ALL airports have one of these?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When they're wrong, they're REALLY wrong

The 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive history.

You have to love any article that describes a 2002 Thunderbird as:
The result was an overweight, softly sprung roadster that looked great outside, was agonizingly boring inside, and dreary to drive. And at about $40,000, it was stupidly expensive. If anyone was going to drive this T-Bird, it was platinum-haired women prone to carrying small dogs wherever they go
Deserves at least a quick read!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Medical Care is a perk?

Ok, I'm a bit irked. The doctor that the Adorable Husband and I have been seeing for almost 20 years now is leaving private practice and is no longer going to directly see patients as a primary care physician. He is handing over all his patients to his partner in the practice -- a guy we like well enough, but really haven't seen very often. We're pretty low-maintenance patients, I think. Maybe one appointment a year?

Anyway, so we weren't too terribly happy with seeing the new guy -- but today we got a note in the mail that he's changing his practive to 'premier medicine": i.e., he's going to charge patients a yearly fee to be included in his patient list. This "private doctor" model was floated a few years ago and is apparently pretty popular. THe doctor has fewer patients (200 vs 2000) and you have a more personalized experience, longer appointments, less wait time, etc. They still bil your insurance for any services, of course, the extra fee is just to buy into the club. He will no longer see any patients who do not pay his service fee. They can be seen by the nurse practictioner in the office, or they can go find another primary care physician. So sorry, buh-bye!

Well, thank-you-very-much, Doctor. If it was our original doctor doing this, we probably would seriously consider the 3K+ yearly fee. We like him, he has our whole history. But a new doc? Bah. I guess I didn't realize that medical coverage was now a super-secret club avaialble only to those with an extra couple of grand to spend. He could have at least waited a year or so, so the patients got to know him and might consider this sort of thing.

We're going to be out looking for a new PCP, I guess.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Plague Returns

I was feeling fine. I was still nursing a wee bit of a cough, but feeling fine.

No longer. The cough and sore throat have returned, and I feel like I have a head full of cotton. Ugh. I slept in this morning, dragged my butt out of bed and slumped downstairs to try to work. I don't think it's going to last long.

Waaah. I want to go back to bed. With a woobie and a good book and warm socks.

Swearing In

With all the discussion over what book is used in the swearing in, I have a humble suggestion:

Swearing in the president, an affirmation to uphold the Constitution, should be done on a copy of the Constitution itself.

Better yet, the inaugural ritual of the Presidential oath should be done at the National Archives on the original Constitution.

I think that would correctly represent the intentions of the Founders, don't you?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Equality and Freedom

I am reminded how thankful I am that I have choices, that I have options in my life that previous generations did not. That I can expect fair treatment and honest medical care. That I can choose when and how (or if) to have a family.
"On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere."

...and on we go

President Obama re-took the oath of office with Justice Roberts yesterday, in private. I can only assume it was to avoid any kerfuffle about the 'wrong oath' and to fulfil the ritual requirements of inaguration for personal reasons. Just to get it right (and to silence the critics who say it wasn't valid).

And you know what? A few of the nutjobs are back -- now they are claiming that the oath wasn't valid because he didn't take it with his hand on a bible.

Let's get a little clarification here. First off, they argue that by saying 'execute faithfully' vs 'faithfully execute' (with a split infinitive no less), he didn't take the oath as specified in the Constitution, and thus it is not valid and he's not rightfully president. They are apparently ignorant of the fact that Obama is president, legally and lawfully whether he says the words or not, whether he says the right words or not. His term began as 12:00, when the previous president's term ends. Period. He was elected. Everything that he has done since that time is valid, legal, and permitted. (See Amendment 20: The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January...; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.) There is no need, as some news people have suggested, that he needs to RE-validate what he's done up until the point when he retook the oath.
But there is another issue here, that they are ignorning (and which falls in line with the new complaint of no bible at the oath). Wait, I thought the argument was that he hadn't been a stickler for the rules as set forth in the Constitution. Right? Shouldn't they be arguing that the oath, as administered, is still wrong?

Here you will find a copy of The Constitution of the United States, in it you will find that the oath taken by Obama is not the oath contained in said Constitution.
Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States."
You will notice that the words "So help me God" are not there. They are not part of the "official oath". So, even if he repeated the oath word for word from Roberts, Obama still hasn't said the 'right oath" -- don't hear the wingnuts complaining about that. Can you imagine the hysterics if a President ommitted them?

The National Archives says George Washington added the words "so help me God" when he took the oath at his 1789 inaugural, and most presidents have used it since. However, some have argued that the first eyewitness account of a president using those words came at President Chester Arthur's inauguration in 1881. I have no problem with adding it -- a devout person affirming or swearing on their belief in god is fine. It is meaningful to them, regardless of how meaningless it is to me.

But now to freak out about the fact that no bible was used in the repeat of the oath starts to stray into different territory. If they're so concerned with being 'true' to the contitution (and for some of them, I wonder if they are familiar with it at all), then they should know that there is no mention of the bible for the oath in the constitution. They should drop the 'so help m god', and be done with it. If they want to be consitutionally accurate, that is.

They should reacquaint themselves with the fact that the only real mention of religion in the Constitution is this:
Article VI, 3: ...but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
I thind the whole thing is a non-issue, really. Bible, no bible, split infinitive or no split infinitive. It makes no difference except to fill airtime on the hundreds of news shows. My real interest is the swirl of conjecture, conspiracy theory, and nutty ideas that are being floated out there. It's fascinating and irrational and amusing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Whilst browsing around looking for a booklist from one of my favorite authors, I discovered that many of the authors that I like write a specific version of scifi/fantasy novels that are called 'manner punk', or 'fantasy of manners'.

I've always enjoyed scifi/fantasy/paranormal sorts of novels for fluff reading - the creation of new worlds and new societies and the details of how things go together has always interested me. Some of my favorite books have complex social rules and vast, detailed histories developed by the author. I've never liked space opera or technological sci-fi, nor unicorns-and-dragon types of fantasy (well, with a few exceptions) and discovered today that there's an actual name for the style of writing that I like. Who'd a thunk?

Imagine my surprise to realize that I have books by all the authors listed by the Wiki site, and my all-time favorite fantasy author, Emma Bull, is among them.

Of course, I wasted two hours today reading all about the various subgenres of fantasy and sci-fi books. Elfpunk, Cyberpunk, Spy-Fi, Time travel, New Wave, Pulp. Cool!

Well, it IS Fox nerws

Yesterday's inaguration was a grand success, according to everyone. Millions of people, great performances, great speech, generally a good time. No one was arrested, Ted Kennedy is back on his feet, it certainly looked like everyone had a great time.

The only hiccup in the formalities was the boofed swearing in -- Justice Roberts stumbled the wording of the oath (and Obama was apparently excited enough to jump in a little early) and so this little rite was not smooth sailing, as the two men played a version of 'What's my line'. They both chuckled about it later, and it was a small (almost amusing) interlude.

But almost immediately online, came the question of "is he really president? The oath was screwed up!". I would expect this from knuckle-dragging conspiracy theorists, hunkering down with their new guns in their mother's basements (oh, sorry, their fortified bunkers), but to hear an anchor on the news asking that question?
Chris Wallace of FOX News wondered if, due to the fumbled oath, Obama really was president.

By law, Obama became president at noon Eastern, regardless of the ceremonial oath of office. But that didn't stop some from speculating and others from kidding.
Was he joking? I really can't tell.

But the fact is that some forums on the web are abuzz with complex "legal discussions" as to whether that invalidates the assumption of the presidency. Really? It would be really funny if it didn't follow hard on the heels of the whole "he's not really a citizen! His birth certificate is fake!" and "He's a secret muslim!" nonsense over the last few weeks.

Get a grip, people. It was an embarrassing, if amusing, flub. Let's get on with business!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gloating, just a little

It's over 70 degrees here today. Blue skies, faint breeze, and SEVENTY DEGREES.

Neener, neener to the cold Minnesota winter!


Watched the inauguration of the President Obama this morning -- did you SEE the millions of people crowded into Washington DC? Wow.

A couple of things I noticed:

1) I heard nothing about "Free speech zones" and segregating protesters. In fact, I really didn't hear anything about protesters at all except in vague references from the Secret Service about white supremacist group threats. I'm sure there were some protesters, but they apparently weren't segregated somewhere out of sight.

2) Obama gives a very good speech. The fact that it was a subtle smackdown of the policies, behavior, and beliefs of the previous administration was an added bonus (for those of us that believe we've been going in the wrong direction). I actually feel excited and patriotic. And everyone was still and silent during his speech - that was stirring, too.

3) I was just listening and couldn't understand a single word of Aretha's song. I had to actually check what it was supposed to be! Plus, a string trio was an odd choice for music, but quite stirring. And the Marine choir has sopranos.

4) The crowd was singing 'Na na na, Hey Hey, good bye" as the helicopter took off. You could hear it faintly.

5) The new White House website is really nice.

And another thing! We non-believers actually got mentioned in the inaugural speech! We were included. I don't think that's ever happened before.
"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."
Yes. That is change I can support. I'm sure the hand-wringing will start soon that he's "not really christian" (along with the wingnut assertion that he's not even american) and religious groups will decry his inclusion of those other religions, but I can only hope that this is a sign that the goverment will have a more secular bent. Tolerance of other views has been lacking lately. I appreciate that Obama, up front, recognized that there are many different and valid views. Yeah!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Sun!

Having just returned from a fabulous vacation in the sun on the Ruby Princess, my Dad and Pat have already planned for the trip next year on the sister ship, the Emerald.

Peter apparently was very enthusiastic about the trip, and so my parents have already made reservations for next year. We have the same cabin.

It's worth a chuckle or two, to get reservations a year in advance, but it's awfully sweet. We had such a good time and I'm glad that my Dad did, too. It's harder for him lately, and I'm glad he enjoyed spending time with us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Social Dud

I have succumbed to social networking peer pressure. I joined Facebook. (mostly to keep track of what's going on in my sister's life). Sigh. I have two friends. Two. I am obviously not a social butterfly.

Robin Fingerson's Facebook profile

I am on linkedIn, too. Next thing you know, I'll be publishing rude pictures on MySpace and never leave my house.

Oh, wait, I already don't leave my house. I should be embarrassed, I know.

The Joys of Old House Ownership

I no longer live in an old house - I spent almost 12 years in a centengenarian brick Victorian with just about every old-house problem you could imagine, and loved every minute of it. We loved the fixer-upper-opportunity-dream-home aspect of the house, and learned to live with its quirks and foibles. Things dripped, or creaked, or leaned; windows squeaked and stuck, doors swung open or shut depending on the weather, a breeze blew through most rooms on a windy day. There weren't any doorknobs in the house for six months.

We were lucky. The Adorable Husband is a handy husband. I really recommend them for any house owner - it's so much cheaper to have a genuinely adept fixit person who can repair the sprinkler system or change a light switch or fix a leaky faucet or build cabinets or refinish floors.

My sister is not so lucky. Not only does is she not the handiest person around, she doesn't really have a staff of handy people to help her. And she has an old house which was even less well-cared-for than ours was, I think.

So, in the frigidly cold weather in Minnesota this week (37 below, anyone?) she has had a host of problems. The kitchen faucet froze. The furnace starting making weird clicking and popping noises. The main water supply pipe to the house froze and burst. If it could go wrong, it did, and luckily she had Christmas$ to pay for the repairs.

She still is not listening to my (less subtle) urging to move to Colorado (where it was a balmy 40 degrees today and will be near 60 by next week), but I do sympathize with the Money-Pit Aspects of owning a house.

Perfect (Water) Landing

A US Airways jet apparently took a goose to one engine on takeoff from LaGuardia, and the pilot made a perfect water landing in the Hudson River -- no one was hurt, everyone was pulled off the slowly sinking aircraft by local ferries that arrive in less than 3 minutes (the people were standing on the wings) and the pilot had enough time to walk through the plane two times to ensure that no one was left on board before left the plane. Pictures here.

Bravo! Talk about calm, cool, collected thinking in a crisis.

Apparently the landing was perfect enough that some bystanders thought that they were filming a movie or something. Wow.

Good Riddance

From Bush's going-away address:
As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.
Might I point something out, dimwit? You received those briefings before 911 too. You just didn't pay any attention to them.

Rare occurrence

The Adorable Husband stayed home sick from work today. He NEVER does this. I'm actually a wee bit worried about him!

It's just the horrible chest-cold/flu stuff that's going around, but he's miserable.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TILT: Silver Spoons

Everyone understands the saying, "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" -- used rather pejoratively as a reference to inherited wealth and all the perks that come with it. Someone born to wealth but not having worked for it, for example. It's a silver spoon vs anything else because spoons are heavy and most households had many of them -- hence they represented a large portion of the wealth in a family (don't you just love Wiki?)

What I didn't know was that it also has some reference to health. Children fed with silver spoons tended to be healthier than those fed with other kinds of spoons, since silver has antibacterial properties.

Thinks I learned today while watching History Channel.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No Skiing for Us

We cut short the TUSC Ski weekend trip by driving home on Saturday night -- both of us are still sick, and being up in the mountains with a wheezy cough is not pleasant.

We drove up Friday night and had a lovely dinner with our friends -- very good seafood -- and spent our Saturday alternately napping and hitting the local outlet mall looking for Harry and David pears and a new leather belt. We were quite successful!

The Adorable Husband decided that since he's still a) sick and b) new on beta-blockers, that skiing was probably not a good idea. I feel rather bad that he missed an opportunity to ski -- he has so few of them. We thought he might take a snowboard lesson so that he can go with Peter when they come out for Spring break, but that would have been too much activity, too, I think.

My company sponsored dinner at the Keystone lodge, and afterwards, we headed home instead of spending another night. I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed.

It was a lovely weekend, really. Relaxing and a chance to catch up with everyone.

Not-quite but Pretty Close

Some new Ford cars are being marketed as "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles".

Partial Zero Emissions?

Uh, either you are ZERO emissions, or you are NOT. Zero is a binary option here -- ZERO or NOT-ZERO. If you are not zero, you have some.

A Partial Zero Emissions vehicle is just a very low emissions vehicles, but it still has emissions. You are just "almost zero", or "just about zero" or "still some teensy bit", but calling it a Partial Zero Emissions vehicle sounds like marketing hoo-ha.

And it is, technically. All of this is being driven by the CA statute requiring zero-emissions vehicles and this was a bone tossed to the automobile industry to allow them to show progress towards the goal, even if they aren't actually there yet. They can't claim 0, so they made a new category of extra/ultra low emissions and called it "partial zero" to make everyone feel good, apparently.
This vehicle category was created as part of a bargain with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), so that the automobile manufacturers could postpone producing mandated zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), which will require the production of electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. - from Wiki.
I'm not arguing with the progress (yeah for low emissions vehicles), but with the nomenclature. It's just stupid and silly and misleading. Call it "Almost Zero", if you have to, to add to the confusing maze of acronyms related to car emissions, but "Partial Zero?"

Friday, January 09, 2009


I actually joined MySpace in order to see pictures of my sister's new washer and dryer (her ancient machines died right after Christmas and she got a fabulous deal on new front-load GE machines that have steam and forty-leven programmable settings.)

Anyway, I signed up, put the rather meager information for public consumption out on MySpace, and sent a friend-request to my sister. She accepted.

And then commented on my wall: " I your only friend?"

I can just imagine her voice, and I'm still giggling about it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

WiseDecor has put up photos of our "Welcomes" in the foyer. Cool! We're sort-of-famous for a week or so!

We're even linked off the front page.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Post-vacation sickness

It's absolutely predictable. Vacation...then Deathly Sickness.

Both of us are absolutely floored by some sort of respiratory thing that has us coughing, hacking, snot, and sore throat.

Ugh. This had better clear up soon. Going back to work is bad enough. Going back to work sick is not fair!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cruise: Homeward Bound

We never saw Jenna and Michael, or Nin and Peter this morning -- they were off the boat and to the airport long before we even got up, I think.

Everyone has to be out of their stateroom by 8am (and remember that we've already given our luggage to the porters) so we rushed up to get breakfast in the buffet before we met our disembarkation group at 9:15. We ran into my Dad and Pat at breakfast. They are Elite members, so they have a special lounge to wait in, and since their flight is later in the day from Miami, they had an hour or so to kill.

We were off the boat at 9:15, picked up our luggage (which has already been screened or xrayed or whatever it is they do to it) and sailed through customs and out into the terminal to find a taxi.

What a MADHOUSE. Busses from the airlines, busses from the cruiseline, five thousand people trying to get off the boat and to the airports -- and another ship on the other side of the pier heading our direction, too. We waited in a taxi-rank, which supposedly would let five or six taxis line up -- but they were being hailed long before they got to the taxi line, so they never actually arrived. People were just walking up past the ranks and flagging down a taxi on their own (it seems to be every man for himself when you get off!). It was very frustrating. Next time, we'll hire one of the private cars -- can't be more expensive than a transfer, I imagine, and having someone specifically waiting would be useful.

Well, it wasn't really necessary this time -- our flight doesn't leave until late afternoon, so all this foofaraw right now is just to get out of the way. We did finally get a cab to the airport, checked in our luggage, and then stared at each other for awhile....yeah, I want to spend seven hours in the airport. Hmph. We got in a taxi and went to a nearby mall, had lunch, wandered around a bit, and didn't come back until about 2:30.

Our flight is delayed about an hour (others were delayed 2-4 hours, depending on where they were going) and it was absolutely packed. Once in Atlanta, we had a bit of dinner and went off to wait for our flight back to Denver. It, too, was late. But - it also had upgrades available so we have about a microsecond of discussion and upgraded to first class, figuring we could sleep better on the way out. We got on the plane...and then sat for almost two hours at the gate while they got more fuel (because of weather conditions), let on more passengers, etc. We just enjoyed the free drinks and settled in to sleep once we finally took off.

Home at 1am. And to bed.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cruise VII

Another day at sea, which is actually kind of a relief after the shore excursions and activities this week. We all have spa appointments for manicures and pedicures this morning, while 'the guys' hang out (probably watching football). It was very relaxing and I managed to snag a cancelled appointment for a facial later on in the day. Score!

The Adorable Husband felt a bit under the weather this mroning -- he's trying to catch a cold, I guess, so he slept in and just joined us for lunch. I was so relaxed and noodly after my facial that I joined him for a nap afterwards. We did take in a bit of the football game on the giant screen, but mostly we just lumped around and relaxed.

And packed. In order for disembarkation to work smoothly, they want to collect everyone's luggage around dinner time the previous day. So we had to pack just about everything up and set it outside our stateroom. This is not such a big deal for us - I'm perfectly happy to wear what I did to dinner on the plan tomorrow, and use the shampoo and stuff provided by the ship...but poor Nin has about forty different bottles of "product" that she is not willing to give up. Luckily, you are reunited with your luggage at customs in the morning, so she just put everything in a tote bag. Oh, the perils of good skin care!

Since it was our last night, the three of us pooled together to tip our room steward. Tipping is technically included in the room fees (they charge 11 dollars per person that is pooled and divvied up among the waiters, stewards, etc.). But Piotrek was extremely helpful and we were pretty demanding (everyone got locked out of their room at least once except us, and needed extra towels and such!) so we added a bit. It seemed fair, at any rate. They get about a two bucks a day per stateroom otherwise. It's probably not necessary, but we're notorious over-tippers anyways.

At dinner, there was the traditional Parade of the Baked Alaska -- Pat mentioend it as being very common on cruises, and lo-and-behold, they did. It was, I'll admit, a tad cheesy: there are no open flames allowed on ships any more, so the traditional Baked Alaska still on fire being paraded through the dining room was not allowed: they had, instead, little electric lights on top. Kind of like slightly-browned UFOs. It was rather odd. Tasty, though.

They had escargot at dinner, too. I can't eat them. I mean, eeeeuuuu! Snails. But that doesn't stop me from soaking up the garilc butter with bread and eating that, of course. Peter tried on (they were done perfectly, according to everyone who ate them) and declared them, "ok". He also ate an appetizer of chicken, mushrooms, and sweetbreads. After much conference around the table, we decided to tell him that it was braaaiiiiiiiinnnnnns. That was pretty funny.

We all adjourned to the casino after dinner. My Dad loves to hit the craps table with his sons-in-law. They have no idea how the game works, really, but it's always exciting. Everyone went back to their rooms early, though. They put everyone in groups (based on their flights, their rooms, and whether they have transfers to the airport, etc) and have specific times for those groups to meet and get off the boat. I think everyone except us had to be off the boat by 7:45am.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cruise VI

We swam with Dolphins today! Got in the water and had rides and pushes, and got to swim in the lagoon with three dolphins. It was a lot of fun! More interactive than the "dolphin touch" that they did in Ochos Rios, and definitely a cool experience. The dolphins seem to enjoy it, too.

The dolphin we had in our group, Marina, was quite young, and she sometimes decided she didn't want to do what the trainer asked, so she'd do something else and then circle around. I think if dolphins could actually laugh, she would have.

Peter was great - he swam out to get a belly ride, held his arms just like he was supposed to, and laughed the whole way in as she pulled him along. It was really fun. I snorted a bunch of seawater trying to get my mask on. I'd totally do this again if I had the chance! Nin didn't come on this one (she went to get a massage instead), since she finds the rubbery skin of dolphins kind of squicky.

We all went back to the boat for lunch -- it rained on the way back up the pier. It's pretty funny to see people who are already wet, already in swim suits, squealing and running in the rain. It came down in sheets, but c'mon, you're already wet! Jenna and Nin went shopping in Cozumel and we met them after lunch. The two nurses in the group - the Adorable Husband and Nin -- were alternately horrified and intrigued by the vast array of drugs available in the drugstore. Heart meds, serious antibiotics and antidepressants -- the sorts of things that would be dangerous if taken incorrectly! Serious stuff.

My SIL commented on an earlier Cruise post that she'd always imagined that a cruise was kind of cheesy -- more like Love Boat with people playing shuffleboard and a perky cruise-director and that sort of thing. I have to admit I had much the same thought. Our vacations are 180 degrees from this planned, organized, well-run sort of tourist trap that I imagined a cruise would be. But it was very liberating not to have to plan everything, and to know that there was any one of a dozen activities going on at any time that I could join, or a hundred others that I could do on my own. Hang out with family when you want to, hang out alone when you want to - plenty for everyone to do and enough that interests everyone that it's a lot of fun. There was a fully staffed Kids program (three, actually, for kids 2-7, 8-12, and 13 and older) that had activities just for them, pools to swim in, movies to watch, live entertainment (jugglers and magicians and comedians) in the plaza, and about a dozen different venues to sit and have a nice glass of wine and enjoy something tasty (sushi, anyone? lovely little plates from the international cafe, cheese plates, etc).

While there actually was a shuffleboard area, it was dwarfed by the electronic golf, the spa, the daily Wii-competitions on the big screen, and cooking demos. If you wanted an active vacation, there were a hundred different hikes and walks, and zip-line tours, and watercraft to rent in every port; on board there was a full-sized gym and even fitness classes. If you wanted a lazy, lump-about vacation, there was the balcony, the pool, the beach, the theater. Punctuate that with excellent meals, and it's pretty nice.

We wandered down to find gelato and little munchies after a quick walk through town. It was too humid after the rain, I was actually getting tired just trying to breathe it! We listened to the violinist in the plaza, enjoyed a cookie and a glass of wine, and just relaxed for the rest of the day. It was a great day!