November 24, 2010

Mid-Week Cookie Break, Special Edition

I kind of quit doing these, but this just showed up today and I believe it to be important.

Posted by Carl at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2010

Linking Fool Friday

Here's a good run-down of what the American electorate apparently wants.

I am not due to fly for a few more months, and I really hope they do away with the whole backscatter X-ray/TSA agents feeling you up thing by then. These procedures really don't make us much safer, and I am not keen on trading my dignity for a minuscule addition to the margin of safety.

Johnny Depp: Teaching awesome lessons.

Sports: It's been five years since the 2005-2006 college basketball season, which culminated in the Mason Final Four run. Here's a nice retrospective. Despite the fact that I am not a big basketball fan (I'd say it's my fifth-favorite sport, were I to do a ranking), that particular NCAA tournament is perhaps my favorite spectator-sports memory ever, just because it was so completely unexpected. "Some years you win a national championship; other years you get your ass handed to you by a mostly-commuter school."

Lastly, a good baseball short story to help you through the off-season.

Posted by Carl at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2010

USVI 2010

Most of you know the story by now, but just in case: I was invited to be in a destination wedding. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. No way I was turning Mike down. No way I was going to the Caribbean without the missus. At that point, finding at least three days worth of care for the kids didn't look like an option. We waffled briefly on the cost, but what the heck, this is why I have a job and make money and stuff. (We did manage to get a good package deal, so the cost wasn't that bad in the end.)

I am so glad we took the plunge. We go to the beach every summer, and usually take some other road trip over the course of the year. This trip pretty well thrashed all those, no doubt. I mean, look at the view from our room:

We stayed at the Wyndham Sugar Bay, which has a great pool, and a nice beach right there. This was our first time at an all-inclusive resort, which I have to say made things more enjoyable. Food and drink in the islands are expensive, and it would have been tiresome to constantly deliberate about having another drink or an appetizer based on how much we were spending. The money is already spent, so go for it! (On the flip side, I gained four pounds in six days.) The Wyndham does have room to improve, but I won't belabor that here--go find the review I submitted to TripAdvisor if you want.

The wedding itself was Friday afternoon. A simple, tasteful ceremony, overlooking the ocean of course. A small wedding, as destination weddings tend to be, 40 people or so. The only wedding I've ever been to, apart from my own, where I can say I met every single person there (many of whom I already knew). A good crew. The girls were the only kids in attendance, but they more than held their own, and provided a moment of sublime cuteness when they presented the couple with a bridge & groom St. Thomas ornament they'd found in the gift shop. Post-reception, we took over the karaoke bar for two hours. The foofy island drinks flowed freely. Great fun. A bit rough the next morning though.

Aside from hanging out at the pool and beach, we spent a day at Coral World. Besides the aforementioned iguana encounter, the girls got to touch a shark, a starfish, a sea cucumber, a conch in its shell, and a stingray (stingers removed). The rays are in a smallish rectangular tanks, and they swim around the edges with one "wing" flapping above the water, and you can touch them as they swim by. The biggest one, over two feet across, swam right up to me and looked at me with its big evil yellow eye. In that moment, I knew why they're sometimes called "devil rays." That thing looked like it wanted to eat my soul.

We then spent a couple hours at Coki Beach, right next to Coral World. We wished it was within talking distance of the hotel.

Our last full day was spent in Charlotte Amalie. For all the talk of its shopping, we were let down. So many jewelry stores, and we just aren't big jewelry people. We'd have liked a little more variety, and actual local products. We did buy a few trinkets in the "vendors' square," more of a flea market. We did enjoy the tour that started at Hotel 1829, passed through some old homes with antique furniture, and ended at Blackbeard's Castle. "The Williamsburg of the Caribbean," they called it. Arrrrr.

In short: phenomenal trip. Coming back to 36 degrees overnight and the rain of the past couple days has been rough. The pictures tell the story best: Choice photos up at Flickr. Full set at Snapfish (may require registration). Since we went to St. Croix on our honeymoon, and now St. Thomas, we've already decided we have to complete the trifecta on St. John in ten years or so.

Posted by Carl at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

Linking Fool Friday

Two weeks' worth, some of which may be no longer relevant since they were pre-election, but whatever.

Oh yeah, the elections. This more or less sums up how I feel about it. People hate big government but love government programs. Too bad we couldn't get more people to read this beforehand. Or watched this in order to actually understand what health care reform is about. But then, that may not have helped, because too many Americans believe what they WANT to believe, facts be damned.

The always-excellent John Scalzi on things some of us are lucky to not have to worry about.

Have I mentioned that I love Canada? Well, I do.

Too depressing. Look at the cute lion cubs right now, dammit!

The Watchmen as early 80's Saturday morning fodder.

Sports: Giants closer Brian Wilson is insane.

Lastly, here is a long story that may make you want to slap someone at the end.

Posted by Carl at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2010

When Iguanas Attack

I am hoping to have a full St. Thomas trip report by the end of the week, while it's still fresh in my mind. But I have to explain this photo first, as it's one of my favorite moments from the entire trip.

We spent a day at Coral World, an aquarium/nature park that is probably the USVI's best activity for kids aside from the beaches. Like many other places on the island, it's rife with iguanas, and of course they hung around the seating area for the snack bar. It didn't help that the women working the kitchen threw scraps to the iguanas with regularity.

We thought it wise to take our food to a separate, non-iguana-infested seating area elsewhere in the park, but before we could finish, park staff advised us that a large group was taking over that space for some pre-arranged activity. So we took the girls back to the main seating area to finish up. Then, Catherine spilled some fries and a couple chicken nuggets, and sure enough, IGUANA STAMPEDE! You can see six under their table, and there were at least a dozen more within a ten-foot radius. They know where their food comes from. The girls were simultaneously laughing and scared; iguanas aren't aggressive toward humans (though they will bite if provoked), but it's still a bit intimidating.

I believe the title and cover art for the 2010 year-end mix CD have been chosen.

Posted by Carl at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)