Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday morning

Woke up at Half Moon Cay, calm water, and the captain's voice booming a welcome message. Coffee delivered to the room.

We bought a Wi-Fi Internet connection yesterday, but as it turns out, it's not available in the room, just in certain areas. Fortunately, those areas are nice places and I'd already planned to spend some time there.

Off to breakfast and to find ship pals.


Ten Years Before the Mast

Or "Waiting for the m.s. Volendam" (m.s. = motor steam. Romantic, eh? I bet it didn't take marketing long to replace motor steam with "ms").

OK, it just felt like ten years, waiting for hours in the hotel lobby this morning (Saturday) for the announcement that our bus to the ship dock had arrived. None of us heard the call for bus number 3, so friend Elizabeth West missed her bus. When our bus was announced (number 4) minutes later, we lost track of E West (hey, East West -- cool name!). I was worried about her, but Robin assured me that she was very capable of handling the situation. And by golly, when we got to Customs at the dock, Elizabeth was there, ahead of us by a hundred people. We were standing there wondering why we didn't take cab (like E West) and skip about 3 hours of waiting in the hotel lobby.

Going through customs was slightly frustrating, as the line moved reeeeally slooow. But our friend Elizabeth Thornton (hey, ET -- cool name) was in line visiting with us, and E West was within sight in a nearby line, so it was better than some whiney blog might suggest.

As we approached the ship Volendam, I thought it looked a little dumpy from the outside, compared to the giant Carnival ship I was on a few years ago (OK, approximately ten years ago). But once we were onboard, it was very, very nice and elegant. We pulled away from the dock about 5 pm. I ran into E West on the promenade deck and we went to the bow to watch our harbor exit. She stayed at the bow when I left for an upper deck, from where I got some great shots of her alone on the huge bow.

There were welcome parties for both Mac geeks and Shakepeare freaks (respectfully referred to in the future as and M-geeks and S-freaks). After our ship left the harbor and I walked around the promenade deck that cirlces the ship, I noticed that I was having trouble walking in a straight line, even occasionally running into walls, railings, and passengers. Other people were walking funny too. The horizon wasn't staying horizontal anymore. Sweet Swan of Avon -- Rough water! I'm not good at that. I stumbled back to the room, sat on the balcony for a while, then went to bed while Robin went to the welcome parties and dinner. She brought some magic pills back with her, the water calmed down, and by 10 pm I was up and feeling great. At 11 pm I went to Deck 5 for a late snack, then to the Front Desk on 4 to get a Room Service form.

Tomorrow we dock in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. At 3:30 Janet Hill gives a "Guide to Macintosh" presentation to the M-geeks. Randal Schwartz (renowned expert on the Perl programming language) presents "Amazingly Cool Utilities."

On the Shakespeare side, Christopher Duval (nine seasons as an actor with the Oregon Shakespeare Festivals) and Michael Elich (13 seasons) present "Shakespreare Platter," the debut of a new work, drawn from the Shakespeare canon, created especially for this voyage.

All is well. All Systems go.

Our ship leaves this Saturday

Chips Ahoy!

Robin Williams and I leave Santa Fe this Friday for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We'll board the Holland America Line cruise ship, m.s. Volendam on Saturday. The Volendam is home (for 10 days) to both the Shakespeare At Sea cruise and the MacMania 7 cruise, running concurrently. For generic information about either of these, visit www.

Even though both events are sold out, you'll get to experience the cruise through this blog. Of course, I'm assuming the Internet connection onboard is decent and dependable. We'll see. I have a Verizon Wireless PC card, but there seems to be large chunks of open ocean that don't have Verizon coverage. Not yet, anyway. I'm sure they're working on it.

My sweetheart/co-author, Robin, is speaking at both events, although primarily at the Shakespeare At Sea event. Most people know her for her books about design, type, and Macs, but a growing number are getting to know her as a teacher of the works attributed to Shakespeare. One of her most recent books is a compelling book of research into the Shakespearean authorship question, titled "Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a Woman Write Shakespeare." Before you scoff, read the book. Interestingly, even people who don't have any particular interest in Shakespeare find it compelling and fascinating. I know, because I'm one of them.

Of course, she won't be talking about the authorship question -- just about the Shakespearean works. That's because some people go bat-poop over the suggestion that the man named William Shakespeare might not have written the stuff. Heck, there's no documented evidence that he could write at all, much less a genius playwright. But hey, just because no one mentioned meeting him in his lifetime, that doesn't necessarily mean he couldn't have been the most prolific literary genius of his time. Other famous writers of the that period might have just forgotten to mention him. You know, like "oh darn, I forgot to mention that genius Shakespeare... oh well, he's so famous it won't matter." It's just so damn sad that every writer of the day made the same mistake. Big deal. It hasn't hurt his PR much. So, in the interest of keeping the cruise from being boarded by rogue Oxfordians or Marlowe pirates, discussions will focus on the actual works rather than the author, whoever she may have been.

If possible, I'll be spending more time on the Mac side of the ship, where it's safer. This is my first Geek Cruise, so I don't know if a fight usually breaks out between MacMania attendees and PC people who just happen to be onboard. I think we're beyond those days, but I'll keep the cameras on standby.

More ship talk later, mate.

Getting There

The flight to Ft. Lauderdale was pleasant enough, with the usual assortment of small travel events that differ from daily routines: flying with an extremely tall collection of Chinese women (a basketball team); the guy sitting next to Robin telling her about killing four deer near Santa Rosa, New Mexico (his 17th trip there to go deer hunting); bus driver humor between the Ft. Lauderdale airport and our hotel ("Ladies and gentlemen, it will be only a two hour drive to the hotel."); watching "Wild Hogs" on my iPod Classic; reading the book Robin bought for me at the Albuquerque airport, "The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A personal view of the search for God," by Carl Sagan. If like thinking of yourself as the focus of God's creation, instead of a speck of dust in the boondocks of a minor galaxy, you might want to skip this book.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the cruise. After checking in last night, we made ourselves at home in the middle of the hotel lobby, visiting with friends. We met the Neil Bauman (CEO of Insight Cruises) and his wife Theresa. Super nice people. I took an immediate liking to Neil because he was carrying an Apple 17-inch MacBook Pro (laptop).

We board busses in a couple of hours that take us to the ship. So far everything is soooo much better than the Carnival cruise I took years ago out of Miami, where the boarding procedure was a nightmare (a thousand people crowded in the hotel lobby for hours, waiting for permission to get on assigned busses). Neil has everything so organized that there's no crowds or lines or stressed-out passengers. Two gold stars for Neil so far (counting the laptop one).

One last note for dog-people: we met a 8-month old Golden Doodle in the lobby last night. She's in town for a dog show.

Next updates from the floating Volendam.