[O.C.T.O.B.E.R. VII-26] Twenty-six and twenty-six

In thinking about a blog post for today, the endmatter of every post ended up inspiring a short idea.

Today is the 26th day of October, and as you can see on the bottom of the post, there are 26 days before I go to Lincoln for Thanksgiving (which will be my first time celebrating Thanksgiving there since 2008 (!!))

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Natural History in Denali (Alaska: Part IX)

NOTE: The photo uploader was not working when I wrote this post. Therefore, the photos will be coming later. Stay tuned, but enjoy the words in the meantime!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

:At 07:15, my day began. Wind was blowing into the hotel room, because Levi had left the window open last night (and I was fine with this, because the room was otherwise a little stuffy). We got equipped with some clothes for the day, and based on Dad’s suggestion from last night, crossed the Parks Highway to leave “campus” for breakfast. Breakfast was at The Black Bear, which was a cute cafe/coffee-shop. The most appealing item on the menu for me (at least today) was sourdough flapjacks. The rest of the party trickled in, getting a host of other items, as well as coffee of course. The wind was particularly pernicious when we stepped outside, and it was cloudy.

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New Friends at Sea (Alaska: Part II)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My day started at 08:00, but again I had stood in bed for a while. The excess sunlight could definitely be disorienting to me. Levi also got up, and after we both got dressed, we headed up a bunch of stairs (8 flights!) to get to the Horizon Cafe. Once there, I had a light breakfast in the hopes of getting just enough Zumba energy without being totally bloated for the workout!

Levi wasn’t done eating, but I had to get going (he wasn’t planning on joining me for Zumba anyway). I descended 6 flights of stairs to reach the Vista Lounge, and it was Zumba time! It was fun! The first few songs were high-energy, and got me MOVING! I especially liked “Picky,” “Iko Iko,” and “Vivir Mi Vida.” The latter, actually, has a Hebrew version with French in it: סה לה וי מקובי פרץ (Koby Perez’s “C’est La Vie”). I was washed in sweat at the end, and greeted the person who was exercising next to me throughout the session. Her name was Kaia (sp?). She is an engineer in Georgia, and graduated from Purdue in 2014. She was amazed when I told her about being Northwestern’s Mr. Hard Hat, though she hadn’t seen me at any of the games. I’m going to make new friends on this trip!

I returned to my stateroom and took a shower to freshen up. The water was too hot! So it goes—I still felt refreshed after washing out the sweat. I then went upstairs at 10:15 and went to the Princess Theatre for the Shopping Show (a) due to family being there and wanting to be in their presence and (b) the promises of freebies! (Yes, free and discounted stuff often gets my attention. There’s that joke about Midwesterners…)

Our shopping consultant, Jasmine, led the proceedings. In addition to throwing stuff into the crowd, she and others talked about the prizes from yesterday’s scavenger hunt. Dad won one of the drawings, so that was great! Megan from Effy talked about jewelry stores, and Jasmine talked about other shopping ideas, including Del Sol, Cariloha, and more. Some of the presentations seemed like snake-oil sales, but there is always commercialism on vacations.

I headed up to Prego Pizza for a few slices of “margherita” pizza (it looked more like regular cheese pizza). After eating, I walked down the stairs to the art auction in the Explorers Theatre. I encountered Kaia again, along with her boyfriend John. I liked a few art pieces, including an angel on a bike and a colour-changing piece, but placed no preliminary bids, as I will just take the pleasure of seeing the artwork. Until I get a more permanent residence, I should avoid too much unnecessary stuff! Then, I chose to leave for the Bernini Dining Room on the Plaza Deck, seeing the outlet sale but buying nothing.

I ended up staying to partner with Barbara in bridge in the Bernini’s rear, against Doris and Bob. We played our cards well on offense, and teamed up reasonably well on defense. We had 2 victorious rubbers. In the first rubber, the order followed: we made 2S; they went down 2 in 3NT; they had 4 overtricks in 1S; we had 2 overtricks in 2C for game 1; we made 4 in 3NT to win the rubber 1,070-150. In the second rubber, they made 1H with 3 overtricks; they went down 1 in 4D; we made 4H with 3 overtricks; we made 4S with an overtrick to win the rubber 1,210-120.

At 14:30, I proceeded to the Vista Lounge for New Cruiser Trivia and Raffle. I didn’t win the raffle, but learnt about the history of Princess Cruises and the Captain’s Circle loyalty program. The Next-Cruise-Deposit Program was also strongly encouraged. However, I don’t think I will be cruising in the near future. I greeted Kaia and John again, and also met the rambunctious cruise director John.

Walking along the Promenade Deck, I saw a family playing the game “Spot it!” Grandmother Jane, son Jason, John’s wife Sarah, and Jason & Sarah’s daughter M—–. Though I never won a round, it was fun—better than I would do at “Set!” They are from Minnesota too—who knows if I run into them again? After this fun, I ascended to Sundaes on the Lido Deck for an ice cream cone, and then returned to the Vista Lounge for trivia.

None of my family attended this trivia session, so my exuberant extroversion led me to meet another party of five and join them (the trivia games allow teams of up to 6 people). They are Bina, Scott, Emily, Ingrid, and David. All of them have roots in the Bay Area, and were hospitable in letting me join their team. Though we didn’t win, I had fun communicating with them and getting to know them. Emily is an MD, and Bina a skilled hairstylist, among the other occupations that I didn’t catch at the time. I enjoyed meeting all of them, and they seem like a fun group—I got Bina’s on-ship contact information in case I want to hang out with them again.

There was then a family meeting in E115, regarding dinner. Our discussion was interrupted by announcements about a whale sighting on the starboard side of the ship. We rushed to the Promenade Deck (down one level) to see them! We saw the spouting, but the tail didn’t show. I sang the “Pacific Life Fight Song” from several college football seasons ago (see below). Then, I went to the shopping desk to chat with Jasmine and get a freebie (a ship charm for a charm bracelet that I could collect at the ports).

Levi and I returned to our room to get into formalwear, and then we met the rest of the party on the Fiesta (6) Deck, in order to get in line for a photo from the professionals. We left line once it was time for the Champagne tower, which was quite impressive! I should have gotten a video, but only got a couple of stills. Today was a light day for photos for me—I may have to filch a few of the photos off my siblings from the full-family situations! This is why this post has no photos.

There was a long line to get into the Anytime-Sit-Down-Dining room of Donatello’s, but we enjoyed our Champagne from the tower event while waiting (even I had a glass!). Once we got in, we sat at a big table with room for 10 people. I got salad and maple salmon, and others got other food that I didn’t record. When they brought the first courses, wine and flowers were brought, and a server brought a tray only to Ken that was covered as if it were food. However, inside the tray was a box for an engagement ring! Yes, he proposed to Erica! Lots of hugs, applause, and Cindi sobbing ensued! And of course, since I rarely use my phone at dinner, even for photos, my account of this is only available through words. Ask one of my other family members for photographic evidence.

The remaining dinner details all blended together for me. The dinner tasted good, and I had enough room for a creme brulee for dessert. I ate it rather rapidly, as I wanted to go to the comedy show in the Princess Theatre. This escape from long meals would turn out to become a theme of my vacation, as the activities on the ship were more important to me than the food. In the Theatre, Robbie Printz did a stand-up routine, which called out audience members from time to time. Airline annoyances were a big theme of theroutine, and the roles of men in relationships were also targeted. It was rather funny, so I’m glad I went!

I proceeded to the Wheelhouse Bar, where Mom and Levi were swing-dancing. I enjoyed the music, but felt a little awkward as a third-wheel, since my swing-dancing skills are undeveloped. Freestyle-solo is my thing instead. Eventually, we all retired for the night as we have an early excursion tomorrow!



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Eau Claire: 18 days

Bridge Regional: 40 days

UWEC Begins: 54 days

Embarking on the Cruise (Alaska: Part I)

June 30, 2018

I slept well in the comfy bed [in the Four Seasons in Vancouver], until 07:20. I donned corduroy pants, my Holy Tamole T-shirt, sweater, and socks. Once Levi got up, I turned on the lamp and journaled from last night. After Levi showered and we packed up what we had unpacked last night, we left our bags in the room and took the elevator downstairs, getting the ship boarding passes in a lounge.

Mom, Dad, Casey, Brent, Molly, and Brandon were all there, and we eventually walked to Scoozis for breakfast. It was slightly raining outside and was comfortably cool. There were several interesting shops en route, like Lindt. None of them were open yet, however.

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[M.A.P.L.E. VII-31] The Agenda

Last year, at the end of M.A.P.L.E., I went on a hiatus from blogging, since I was on a 10-day trip to Israel and also went to Nebraska on the weekend following the Israel trip.

This year, there is no major vacation immediately after May for me, but there IS a trip at the end of June.

In fact, my summer agenda consists of the following:

  • June: After Madison, work 3 to 5 days each week at the office, doing transcription of class notes in an attempt to cull some of the paper trail.
    • The Monday after Madison will be Apartment Hunting in Eau Claire.
  • On the non-working weekdays, do something fun like go to Chicago or Milwaukee, play bridge, or go on a long bike ride.
  • June 29 to July 12: Alaska cruise with the family!
  • Upon return: Finish any lagging work transcription and begin pack-up process.
  • July 31: Move-out day!
  • August 1: Move in to Eau Claire. (Hopefully I will be allowed to move in 1 day early.)
  • Week of August 20: Eau Claire Bridge Regional.
  • August 27: New job begins!


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Today is the thirtieth day of the seventh round of M.A.P.L.E. That makes four weeks and two days.

Madison: Next right!

Alaska: 29 days

Eau Claire: 61 days