Monday, February 12, 2018

WHAT THE HELL?!
   OK, so here is the scoop on Caribbean Cruises, DON’T expect to see the ports you have signed up for. I have a friend that told me she has been on 4 cruises to the Caribbean and Grand Cayman has been a destination on 3 of these, but only once has the ship been able to dock there. I used to tease and say, “How naughty can I be without going to hell”, well apparently it is harder than I thought, and I even paid to go, and still couldn’t get there.
   The only excursion that we signed up for on this Caribbean cruise, was at George Town, Grand Cayman. Our tour was supposed to go to a turtle farm, then take a boat out to Stingray Bay to swim, feed, and play with Stingrays, and go to a place called “Hell”. In Hell we would stop at a Post Office to send post cards to ourselves, family, and friends which would be post marked from “Hell”.  The morning we arrived at George Town, the Captain gave an announcement that due to rough seas we would not be able to dock or even use the Tenders to get into this port. My first words were “What the Hell”? We were so disappointed that we didn’t get to go. I bet not many people you know want to go to Hell as bad as we did.
   Because of this we had two days back to back of sailing, which is not something I enjoy. The sea was choppy and constantly rocking the ship back and forth and side to side, which only leaves me sea sick. While buying some Dramamine, I was given a tip by a crew member. She said that eating a green apple would help with sea sickness. I had later heard a group of women talking about the green apples to each other trying to help with their queasiness too.
   The Norwegian Escape had plenty to do to keep you busy on the two days of cruising. Most everyone we met on this cruise was from the Eastern part of Canada (where temperatures were subzero), the Midwest, or East Coast of the U.S.A. so even though the temperature was only in the 70’s, most of them donned swimsuits and laid around the pools, swimming, and getting tanned. This ship was so big, it had an outdoor water park, rope course, running track, and a miniature golf course.


This is the rope course on board, but we never got to do this either, because it was too windy to open.
My hole in one shot. Look at all the spikes it had to go around and it still dropped right into the hole!




Various outdoor attractions on our “Mega Ship”



Friday, February 9, 2018

Eight Hours Of Shopping In Falmouth, Jamaica

Norwegian Escape docked in Falmouth, Jamaica




   On our third day of our cruise we woke up in Falmouth, Jamaica, here we had eight hours to spend. I was a little surprised we even went into Jamaica considering they were under marshal law at the time, but later after talking to a sales clerk in one of the shops I understood. This little port is strictly a little triangle shaped shopping plaza, with a guarded gate,and was advised we probably shouldn't go past the guarded gate unless we were on an excursion.
  Hubby and I decided we should do the majority of our shopping here and get it done with, since that was all we could do. One of our "bucket list items" to purchase on this trip was Cuban cigars, since they have been illegal here in the United States for our whole life, and since they are supposed to be one of the smoothest cigars made, we wanted to see what all the hubbub was about on these and get a few. We purchased our cigars at a store that was nothing but Cuban's! You always hear how cheap things are in the Caribbean, but not always the case, our cigars were $20.00 a piece! I was hoping for half that price. We also knew Rum was another must to purchase here, but we choose to buy the Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes instead. We bought a six pack that cost $35.00. My favorite was the rum coffee cake, these are only the size of a large cupcake. When we got to the Miami airport they sold the exact same thing CHEAPER. Another item on our "bucket list" was the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. They gave out samples at the little store we bought it at. The coffee was 16 oz. and cost $45.00!  The funny highlight to this little store was we were checking out the cigars in their cases, and the lady pulled out this big ole cigar called a "Threesome", we started giggling, and then my hubby said, "Well we should have a Threesome, and go to Hell". We all just busted out laughing, because the next day on our excursion we were suppose to go to a place called Hell. 
   Apparently one of  the big things to buy in the Caribbean is jewelry, it seemed that about a third of this place was jewelry stores. One of the ladies we had meet on the ship showed me her $6,000 diamond necklace. It was beautiful. It had a crown of light diamond in the center with smaller diamonds surrounding the big center diamond.   
At the end of our eight hours in Falmouth, we had been there, done that, and completed our little "bucket list" of things to buy in the Caribbean.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Seven Day Caribbean Cruise on the Norwegian Escape



    After 30 years of marriage, we finally had "our honeymoon". We have actually traveled the world, but never alone, so we decided this was it. Just hubby and I sailing the ocean blue, walking on white sandy beaches, wading in absolutely clear  water, (which actually was chilly), but perfect weather to explore the islands.
   We have always sailed on Holland American Cruise line, but this time we took the Norwegian Escape cruise ship.  This was one of their mega ships, it had 4,200 passengers on board, which means a lot of greets and meets. We had to be at the ship for our check-in at 11:00 a.m. Once on the ship you couldn't get into your room until after 2 p.m. because they are still cleaning the rooms from the last cruisers. Every bar and eating joint was filled to capacity with passengers and their carry on luggage waiting for their rooms. We had a 5:30 p.m. dinner reservation at Teppanyaki Restaurant and still hadn't got our luggage delivered to our room. Turns out they have until 7 p.m. to deliver it. So we just went "as is" to dinner. 
   I cannot say how much we enjoyed this restaurant, they are so much fun, such entertainment in watching our food be prepared. We had the funnest group of people at our station, the chef was hilarious, he chopped the food to the beat of the songs he had us singing. We ordered the Steak and Shrimp, the steak was cooked to perfection, it was so tender in melted in your mouth. I have to say this was really one of the finest, funnest dinners we have ever enjoyed.    
   Second day was a full day at sea, so we took advantage of exploring the ship, we had a balcony room which we so enjoyed just sitting out on it watching the waves go bye, enjoying the sounds of the sea splashing against the ship, it was windy that day and had choppy waters that would spray us with a sea mist. At night we actually just opened our sliding glass door, pulled back the curtains and lay on our bed and soaked up the whole ocean voyage experience. 
   

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ctrl-alt-delete  Forced to Reboot

  I feel like I am in the front seat of one of the greatest roller coaster rides ever, which has now slowed down to a slow crawl as it has reached the top of the highest and last peak of this wild ride. Leaning forward, I can see the the drop off. It is straight down to ground level, and I realize that I can raise my arms in the air and scream with exuberance all the way down, or I can start panicking and throw-up on myself as I descend. It has been suggested by a close friend of mine, that knowing me as well as she does, I will probably do both.

 Life was going along really well. We had become very comfortable in our life, taking vacations throughout the world, enjoying weekend getaways, attending great entertainment events, and buying what we wanted when we wanted. So what I am about to share with you has been a wake up call. We are literally being forced to  'reboot'.

  A couple of weeks ago my husband received a call from his boss informing him the company was laying off 108 employees in the next two days and unfortunately he was one of them. In fact, neither his boss nor her entire department were spared. The termination was unceremonious and abrupt. There weren't even any exit interviews conducted. The term they used was "reorganizing". We had been with this company for almost 18 years and within minutes after the call it felt like we had lost our entire family.  For the next two days we had phone call after phone call from others with their own layoff news. Presidents, Vice President, Directors, Engineers, and Sales and Marketing executives were caught in the cross hairs. Some of these people had 40 yrs. with the company. Many had spent their entire working life as part of this organization. We sat in shock as the calls came in and realized our lives had just changed forever.

  The one thing in life I have learned is you cannot quit, you have to get up and move forward. For me I have gone into "emergency mode", which is to plug every financial hole or leak I can find in our budget. This included dropping such luxuries as cable and gym memberships, as well as any other non-essential services we could do without, bringing our budget down as low as we possibly can.

  There are some hidden blessings in this reboot time. For one thing, it is forcing us to look into all of our investments. We came to the realization we could change a lot of things for our retirement. We found a financial planner who has helped us greatly, a CPA that works along side us to keep us on the right path. That, I wish I had done 20 yrs. ago.

  Getting another job like my husband had will take time, months probably. So I have cried a few tears, felt sick to my stomach, and had sleepless nights. The holidays are upon us, children are coming home for Christmas, we have a son getting married next month, and yes I can scream with joy for these things, yet still feel like throwing up because of the timing of this layoff. So here's to the beginning of the ctrl-alt-delete of our lives. Literally we are rebooting our lives again.













Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's With Pier 39 And Sea Lions?

 
   We had heard on the news that Astoria, Oregon was having an unusual amount of sea lions on their docks, in fact over 2,300 of them.  Never having been to Astoria my husband and I decided to go and spend the weekend there and see this unusual event. Upon arriving at our hotel's lobby we noticed a basket full of ear plugs for the guests, I asked "what's the ear plugs for?" the clerk answered "seal plugs". This might cause concern for some folks about a noisy stay, but it made me giggle with excitement to experience our weekend here.
   Our room was located on the top floor, facing Pier 39,and the last room on the end. From our balcony I could see the sea lions lying on the docks, and the sound of them barking was amazing. Yes, some folks  might run to put in their ear plugs in at this point, but I rather enjoyed those dog faced looking Sea Lions just barking away, twenty four hours a day. My husband even commented during the night that somebody had quite the party going on. "Yes, those boys are sure the partyers." I replied.
   Turns out, all the Sea Lions here are all males. Scientists who study these guys  have  branded their backs with numbers so as to keep up with them. They come every year to feed on the smelt and salmon fish, but this year there was a bumper crop of smelt fish so instead of the 300-400 normal amount of sea lions, they got thousands.
   What is really interesting is these sea lions go from this Pier 39 and travel down to San Francisco's Pier 39 to meet up with the females! Once they do their business of meeting up with the females they travel back up the coast bringing back all the little males that are ready to leave their momma's.    
   Astoria sits on a hill spotted with colorful Victorian houses that over looks the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the 1200 mile long Columbia River. It is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. It is a beautiful little town with a rich history, such as Lewis and Clark's winter in 1805, bustling fish canneries, shanghaied sailors, and of course who hasn't seen the movie "The Goonies" filmed here in 1984. Hollywood has been making movies in this area since 1908, movies like: Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, and Free Willy II.
    I learned something from these Sea Lions, they know where the best Piers are to hangout at on the Pacific Northwest, and like them we too will return to Pier 39.


Free ear plugs for the guest.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Supernova seen by CWU physics students - Daily Record: Members

        



Ernest Skousen

Hans Berghoff
 

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:00 pm


In the observatory above Lind Hall, Ernest Skousen hunkered down with his coffee, cold-weather gear and the telescope’s computer late in the evening Jan. 31. “We were ready for the all-nighter,” he said.

   Skousen, along with Hans Berghoff, another physics major at Central Washington University, and physics professor Michael Braunstein were trying to find a supernova in a galaxy more than 11 million light years away.

Astronomy students in England happened along the supernova — a profoundly energetic explosion which can expel more energy in a few months than the sun will through its entire multi-billion year lifespan — catching the object in their scopes Jan. 21.
Berghoff, also a senior, was already doing research work on asteroids when he caught a news item about the supernova, called SN 2014J on Facebook.
“Sure, I maybe should be focusing on asteroids,” he recalled thinking. “But this is too cool.”
The two, who have a few classes together, brought it to Braunstein’s attention.
Even though the weather had been cloudy, they knew SN 2014J might be bright enough to pick up with Lind Hall’s telescope, so they decided to try.
Skousen, who studied meteorology in community college before coming to Central, kept an eye on the weather, thinking Friday, Jan. 31 was their night.
Slightly ahead of plans, the skies were clear Jan. 29. He got out of lab, ate dinner, and went to meet the others, to find that Braunstein had sent the computer they were to use in for repairs to get ready.
Luckily the weather held when Friday came around, Skousen said.
They headed up to the observatory and started the computer.
It froze.
They turned it off and on. It froze again.
They fiddled with the mouse and the keyboard. Still no luck.
The repairs made to the computer involved cloning the entire hard drive to another computer. When the technicians did that, it seemed they used a wireless mouse and keyboard.
Skousen said they ran out to scavenge a standard, plug-in keyboard and mouse, and things started working again.
You know you’re doing good science when everything’s going wrong, he joked.
Science isn’t all just lab work and data crunching, he said.
“Most of the science is problem solving, when you want to do something as cool as that,” he said, such as looking at an exploding star in another galaxy.
They were able to get a bead on the supernova, a faint glitter of light in galaxy M82, another faint, yet slightly larger blob of light.
Data
The Lind Hall observatory telescope can only gather so much helpful data, Braunstein said, but there’s still useful information to find.
Supernovae can help as a yardstick to determining long astronomical distances, he said.
“In astronomy, in some sense, that’s the most fundamental measure you can take,” he said, and it can be a difficult number to find.
A star millions of times brighter than the sun looks like a small point here on Earth since it’s so far away.
“We need these distances to start finding out the other properties of these astronomical objects,” he said.
Getting the distances right helps toward answering other questions, such as an object’s composition and brightness.
“Because this is such a close supernova and so many people are able to collect data on it, it’s going to be able to refine our models of supernovae,” he said.
Skousen gave all the credit to Braunstein for his help tracking the supernova, and helping through last-minute repairs.
“The guy’s smart and resourceful enough to be some company billionaire,” Skousen said. “But he absolutely and throughly enjoys being a teacher.”
The group recorded images of the supernova using different filters, and were able to put those together to create a false-color approximation of the image.
“There is something very primordial about this picture, about this supernova,” Skousen said.
That supernova happened 11 million years ago, and its light only now travelled far enough for us to see it.
Skousen said he can get philosophical about science at times.
“All the heavier elements in our bodies were born in these super nuclear furnaces. … We are made from the very process that we are seeing in that telescope,” he said.
“That’s our creation right there, and so studying that is helping us along those answers of where do we come from, why are we here, where are we going.”


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Field of Flowers Painting


Well, what do you think? This is an acrylic painting on a 20 x 16 canvas. Any thoughts or suggestions? I tried painting on a larger area than I am used to, considering I have been painting on 8 x 10's, so this was a little scary to go a larger scale. I do love the purple's in it.