image(Somewhere off Belize City, Belize)   There was, as far as the crew was concerned, a first yesterday at about 4 PM as the RCCL Explorer of the Seas and our own ride, the NCL/Norwegian Jewel were both leaving port at Cozumel, Mexico.

Spontaneously, passengers on both ships lined up on their balconies and along the rails to cheer the “late arrivals” coming back from shopping and excursions ashore.  An example is the lone female runner above who was roundly cheered – and I mean with the kind of applause and hoopla that would be found at the end of a marathon.


I wasn’t sure what to make of it:  Were the cheers sincere, or was it a kind of ‘piling on’ – like booing is when a bad call is made in sports?

Hard telling,

Cozumel itself was a lot bigger than when I’d been here in the 1990’s (ferry over from Playa del Carmen)  and again in 2002 (Holland-America’s Masdam).

First time here, as my traveling companion from the 1990’s reminded us by email, it was a time when riding ATV’s into the hinterlands of the island of Cozumel might result in an unwanted encounter with masked banditos.

That was then.   Today, it was almost as many police as it was tourists; at least that was the talk shipboard from the returning explorers.  A good thing.

A reality check over Monday breakfast, however, decided against the shore excursion.  What do we really need?

Elaine and I have gotten into the habit of traveling light in our old Beechcraft, so we’re painfully aware that “The more you buy, the more you schlep…”  I don’t need another T-shirt, golf shirt, or aloha shirt.  Elaine prefers going up to Seattle now and then for Nordstrom’s Rack, but even that joy has declined in recent years.  Place has change  – or, God forbid – we have…

We both hate knickknacks (more crap to dust and move). 

Jewelry purchasing in foreign places is as likely to be plated as solid, I didn’t bring my stone and acid to test karat claims, and  as E noted “Why buy more jewelry to wear in Palestine, Texas?”  Practical point there.

Speaking of Texas, a couple or four items of interest:

Apparently there was some snow/freezing rain back home.  Damn shame to miss it.  When snow is a novelty, not the opening scenes from Day After Tomorrow, snow, ice, and even the odd power outage can be fun.  Especially when a day or two later its back to the high 60’s.

Panama hasn’t had to shoot any perimeter intruders, but he did spot an outside water pipe break (very close to the outside air conditioner unit).  A really odd break of the house water shut-off valve, turned out.

Until I called, I had visions of the water line break occurring over the big air handler under the house in the crawlspace.  That would not only have drenched the air handler, but would have likely spewed up on the kitchen floor and I was already head-tripping about how a complete kitchen remodel would be next.

Fortunately, the break was outside so other than moving 600-gallons of mud around, and fishing pipe under the AC compressor outside, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  Although, Elaine’s a tad disappointed in no new kitchen.  I’m thinking about church Sunday.

Apparently, when we packed, we took all our luck with us. 

To this day, I’m convinced Panama used up all his luck during two combat tours in Vietnam, a string of purple hearts, SF and Rangers.  That takes a good pile of luck to pull through all that.

I end up lucky wherever I go, except it tends to run in five minute streaks.  I can win like crazy for 5-minutes in a casino and then the winds of Fate change.

Which leads me to wondering whether people only get just so much “luck” in life, and when you’ve used it all up, you die.  (Or leave the casino broke.)

It would certainly be anti-climatic for the afterlife to begin this way: “So what am I doing here at the Pearly Gates?

Oh, you used up all your luck.  Did you bring warm weather clothing?”

I made a note to try to take a little luck  with me.

Back to Texas notes:

We had a fine conversation with a fellow Texan from Bryan, Jerry, who’s been cruising (his wife’s insistence) for about a dozen years.  He reports that despite what some people might claim, the cruise industry really has helped to spur tremendous economic growth around the Caribbean.

When the cruise stop at Honduras opened up, his wife (a retired school teacher) would bring paper and pens & pencils to the local Honduran school folks.  A few boxes each trip.  People-to-people humanitarian aid; from the heart.  The kind of stuff government don’t seem to be able to figure out.

Or, when they do, there’s always a damn 98% handling charge.  Sometimes it’s hidden by inflation, but that game hits the knee of the curve and it’s no Laffer matter.

Then there’s the other question about “techno conquest”:  Is progress having a smartphone, which in turn means you have to work to support the phone instead of just going fishing, knocking a few coconuts, and kicking it?  They didn’t get to vote on that.

About mid-morning E & I wandered into a Trivial Pursuit tournament where we had our you-know-whats handed to us by a group called the Cal-Tex Team.  I’d argue that four people against two wasn’t a fare match-up from the start.

Our lack of exposure to popular culture (if that’s what watching TV shows like Friends can be considered) worked against us.  I mean seriously, is knowing that Lisa Something was the female star of the show… I’ve been testing that piece of the great puzzle of Life trying to figure out what knowing that will do to improve my lot.

Elaine’s not going to learn anything about fitness, exercise, clothing, makeup or being glamorous from such blocks of Life-minus-time expenditures.  I’m not going to learn intermediate aerobatics, fine points of falling trees, or how to use a cut-off tool more smoothly on the metal lathe, either.

Life has a currency:  Time.

Like luck, you only get so much of it.  And it’s what you buy with the currency called “time” that matters when the move to underground housing comes along.

Internet at Sea, II

If you’re wondering how you missed Internet at Sea, I, it’s because you missed some of the fine print in Monday’s report.

Over on the comments side, there was one from a fellow who said (in so many words) that “If George can effectively work from the high seas, then I might take a cruise after all…

The simple rules of making it work:

Speeds are fastest when people are off the ship.  Slowest speeds come around 7 AM when everyone gets up to post of FB or to check email from back home.  My response time when I post the Coping section (around 6 AM Central) is pretty good.

By the time we get to the 8 AM posting time for the news and press release festival, however, everyone is uploading encyclopedias and trying to get Amazon to stream.  Forget that. No IP phone service either:  There is high seas satellite, but that’s $2-bucks a minute, so when we called to the ranch (in response to the note about the pipeline break) it was a short 4-minute conversation.

The high seas calls are charged from the second ring, regardless of whether anyone answers, or not.

FTP and things like posting to websites works well.  I haven’t tried to access anything terribly complex (like our subscriber database) since I don’t want to access (even though it is a secure connection) from something as public as a high seas uplink.  So any subscriber issues will have to await Sunday when we get back to the ranch.

Other than those limitations, along with setting the email to “headers only” and changing passwords before and after, I can’t think of a reason NOT to take a cruise.

Cruising Bargains?

“Positioning cruises” are really cool:  We found one NCL trip in mid April that looked appealing:  It was Houston-Ft Lauderdale, Madeira, Barcelona, Rome, Monaco, Barcelona.  About $2,500 per person in a mini-suite.

I don’t think we’re going to do that one this year.   I still have my one big flying adventure to get in – Key West to Fairbanks and Anchorage in our old plane.  The plane will be our of annual first week of May and about that time I’ll get my medical sign-off updated.  That leaves us plenty of time to work of short and rough field technique – pushing the envelope slightly past what’s in the biennial flight review and WINGS Advanced.

Still, there’s a kind of annual migration of cruise ships for positioning:  There are times when the Panama Canal crossings to position ships in the Northwest for Alaska cruises, is a good thing.

The Day Ahead


With the telephone out as far as it will go, and with dawn just beginning to backlight some clouds, here’s a through-the-morning-mist toward Belize City from several miles out. 

A housekeeping note:  Remember:  Comments are all reviewed by a human so if you post something, give me time to look it over.

There..another day of cruising on a Norwegian ship, into Belize to buy a Mexican shirt, made in China to take home to ‘Merica; land of the brand and the invisible hand.

Write when you break-even.