Thursday, May 6, 2004

(Catching Up, and Things That I Missed)

I realized, as I was reading back through my early journal entries, that there were a couple of things that I thought that I had written, but obviously forgot.

My last few days in FL were a bit crazy. The Aerosmith concert ended pretty late, obviously. I was packing all night on Sunday night, running around on Monday, and the concert Monday night. I got back and continued to pack and rearrange the garage. Tonya has two cats that have a clothing fetish. If you put an article of clothing on a flat surface, they will magically materialize upon it. It can be something as big as a comforter or as small as a sock, they HAVE to be lying on it. If you bring out something else, they will move to that. When I got back from Miami, I was doing laundry and had my suitcase open. Both cats slept there for a very long time.

I did take one beautiful afternoon on Tuesday (before dropping off the bike Tuesday night) to eat at one of my favorite places, Coconuts. If you are ever in Cocoa beach, I highly recommend it. They have a large deck right on the beach with a great view of the ocean, and really decent food and prices. The place I have been to a couple of times in Barbados (the Boatyard) reminds me of it, but with worse food and higher prices.

This week has been really busy (hence only one entry, albeit a long one). Wednesday marks the start of my fifth week here, tomorrow I will have been on board a month. Only five more to go 'till vacation . . . 

I had failed to mention that on various days going into Aruba to upload web pages, I was on the lookout for two things: a cheap cup to put ice in and a towel. I have pretty strict rules for the towel, and only two for the cup. I just wanted a really cheap cup that was insulated. The towel, though, I wanted several things from. I wanted it to be large, thick, not have some gaudy print on it, not be really cheap, not have tons of fuzz, and not have the name of the place plastered all over it. As anyone who has visited places like these, every other shop sells beach towels. They make themselves stand out by proudly proclaiming in huge signs (and neon lights, when possible) how they have a HUGE selection of beach towels. The problem is that each place has the exact same huge selection. They consist of three types: towels with nude (or close to nude) women, towels with the name of the island, and towels with beach scenes on them. Occasionally one will have beer-themed towels or (likely illegal) copy written Disney characters. They are extremely cheap, very thin, and give off fuzz for about ten washes (I have a feeling that once the fuzz is gone there isn't much towel left over). While they are scratch and uncomfortable, they DO dry out quickly . . . largely because they don't soak up any water. I finally decided that I would look in the Tommy store. I mean, where better to look for a high-quality towel, right? I found one, and it even came with a small bag to put it and a few other things in, and a shoulder strap. It was only $20, and no tax. I am pretty happy with it, with one exception. Even Tommy succumbed, and put "Aruba" across the towel. I wouldn't have bought the #$%%*&@* thing if I had known, but am not going to take it back now either.

I started the week off badly. When I was uploading the pages in San Juan on Sunday, I ran into a number of problems. Because of how I switched the domain name, the setup to upload my pages changed. In the midst of the changes I kept having problems (which is why the page didn't work well after Friday's upload), so after wasting nearly two hours I gave up and erased the journal from the web. I started uploading it from scratch when I realized that I was reaching the end of my battery life. Since my plan had been merely to upload the two pages that I wrote last week, I hadn't bothered to bring the power cord. It should have only taken 15 minutes (famous last words). So, I started the upload process, and sprinted back to the ship (the people next to me were people I knew on the ship, they were watching the computer). Even though the internet café is less than a block from the ship, it is a long way down the pier, through three levels of security, two metal detectors and the pat-down. I ran inside, got the power cord, and ran the gauntlet back out. I got back to the café just in time to see that the computer had only shut off a couple of minutes before. So, of course, I had to plug it in and start the process again, since I didn't know where it had stopped. It took two hours to upload, and I HAD to be back on the ship at 4:30 (I just barely made it).

The reason, unfortunately, is that they decided to change my emergency card. For reasons that I don't understand they changed my emergency number (again, I also don't understand why the heck they can't make it the employee ID). I had memorized the old one, in case I happened to be stuck without the card during a drill (or, obviously, a real emergency). They did all of this because they now want me to be the person in charge of a lifeboat if the person who should be in charge doesn't show up (I mentioned in my last entry that I was going to have to do this). They said that it would last from 4:30 'till 6, during which time I assumed that I would be getting some sort of instruction about my new responsibility. Silly me, I keep forgetting that the times mean almost nothing on the ship. It turns out that when they said 4:30, they knew that no one would show up until nearly six, which is really when they planned to hand out the new cards. The plan was to have a window to switch cards 1.5 hours long, there was no training. I waited for over a half hour for them to even show up, then another 15 minutes while they went back up to the office because they forgot to bring some of the cards. 30 seconds later, I was on my merry way, SO glad that I try so hard to be on time everywhere I go.

Not feeling quite warm and fuzzy about having to wait so long, and not even having any instruction (not that it is difficult), I decided to go relax in the waning sun and read for a while. I started on the Piers Anthony series, Cluster, book one (called Cluster, interestingly enough). Since I only get short times to read, and since it is usually pretty distracting, I am sticking mostly to really light reading. I have been a big Piers Anthony fan for years, and like a lot of his series (my favorite is the Incarnations of Immortality series). He has several good stand-alone books also, you may remember one from which they made a movie (with Gov. Arnold) called Total Recall. I believe that I am missing at least one of the Cluster series, but figure I can pick it up sometime. I read about half the book, and watched the sun go down before going to dinner. For those who know me, I eat ice all of the time, and had bought a non-spill cup for that purpose (from the ship gift shop, as I never got one in Aruba). Unfortunately I left it up on deck when I came down, so I'll have to pick up another one. I'm glad that they are cheap. After dinner I went back up to work, as Sunday night we have a number of reports and such to fill out.

The good news, after all of the uploading work, is that I can now view my own web page from work! I don't know if I have mentioned it, but I am one of only about 8 workers on board the ship with internet access. The upside is that I can e-mail people whenever I want. The downside is that they block about 50% of web pages, including all free web hosts (like Geocities, where my site was pointed to at first). The bad news was that, in my hurry to get back to the ship on Sunday, I didn't test all of the pages. For reasons that escape me (largely, I'm sure, because this is only my fourth web page), the upload magically changed a number of things. A whole folder (out of around 20) changed all of the extensions to all caps, and links are caps sensitive. So, the whole San Juan slide show didn't work, as none of the picture links worked. To top that off, the HTML code magically changed (to something that didn't exist anywhere on my computer), so all of the pictures (if they HAD come up) were now four times their size. It did the same thing to a couple of other random files, so I had to go through and check every single link (as I am writing this, there are two pictures that do not work, sorry to those who tried to look at the motorcycle and sailboard from the first journal entry -- it will be fixed tomorrow).

O.K., this is getting much longer than I had planned, and it is technically now tomorrow (12:45) morning, so I am going to end this here and continue on another page.