Tuesday, September 23, 2008

General happenings and comings up

On the home-front, not too much has been going on. Summer is winding down noticeably with nights in the 50s and sometimes 40s. The leaves have been changing colors. Max has been sleeping under the bankies with us to keep warm, which we don’t mind but would probably freak some people out. I find it very comforting in a cave-dweller kind of way when he cuddles up to me. Humans and dogs have been doing that for tens of thousands of years.

Speaking of Max, on our most recent trip to see the Opth doc we had good news and bad news. The Good News is that his corneal ulcer is totally healed and the internal inflammation is going down so he can go off two of the anti-inflamatories and the antibiotic. She did put us back on another steroid anti-inflamatory, though, but that still brings our total med count from 7 to 5. He is totally de-coned, too, and the pressure in both eyes is normal.

The Bad News is that he still has no functional vision in the eye and she did an ultrasound to confirm her hunch that he did, in fact, have a detached retina in that eye. So unless we want to have another surgery to reattach the retina (not) he is totally blind in that eye from now on. However, it doesn’t seem to be affecting him much at all. He gets around fine, he runs and jumps and plays fine. He just can’t see anything that you do off to his left side. If you hold a toy or biscuit on that side he can’t see it, and if you are walking towards him from that direction he can’t see you but usually can hear you if he’s paying attention and not zoning. I think he’s just ok, the only thing we need to do is keep sure that the eye remains healthy. He’s a sweet dog.

I will be posting part 2 of the cruise here soon, maybe next week. I have off next week, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of computer work (mainly business related, I’ll get to that in a minute). Matt and I will also be leaving this Friday for a mini-vacation. We haven’t had one this year at all. We’d planned a few day trips to DC and a couple other places over the summer that never materialized due to the Dog Emergency. Friday we’re driving down to Lexington, VA, to stay with a former coworker for 2 nights. We will be visiting Monticello, Tommy J’s old stomping ground, and the Natural Rock Bridge. Then Sunday we will be driving to West Virginia to see one of the National Radio Astronomy Observatories and to Cass Scenic Railroad. We’ll be spending the night in a B&B, which we’ve never done before. Then heading north to Blackwater Falls and whatever else we may run into that strikes our fancy, and to a lodge with a really interesting chef. Then home on Tuesday. I hope to have some really great pictures.

On the business front, I published the website last week. I still need to tweak it and add a lot of pictures to the Gallery page. I made my first sale yesterday!!! Two pair of earrings to a friend of Matt’s mom. Yippee!!! I need to celebrate somehow. The only down side is now I have to pay tax.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cruise of the (Euro)dammed! Part 1 (day 1 and 2)

The cruise was fantastic, mom and I both had a good time.

The train ride was wonderful, great time watching the scenery go by. I would recommend this mode of travel highly. It took us just over 3 hours to get from Harrisburg to NYC Penn Station via Philadelphia and we made LOTS of stops along the way. Very smooth, very clean. Got to use a train toilet, so it was also entertaining.

The cab ride from Penn Station to the pier was great fun, I think we were on sidewalks for part of the time. Mom thoroughly enjoyed herself, she is still talking about it.

We had booked what they call and obstructed view stateroom, which meant that the windows were totally blocked by the lifeboats. Two days before we left I found out that we had been visited by what is called the Upgrade Fairy. The Upgrade Fairy gave us a VA-category balcony stateroom right behind the bridge, which would have cost at least double what we actually paid. This was a 14-category upgrade. We were incredibly lucky. Either that or the ritual sacrifices worked. :)

We had early dinner in the main dining room and were seated with two couples at a six person table near the windows at the very aft of the ship. Someone must have done their homework, because one of the men at the table was a retired fire chief. Mom and I both work at the National Fire Academy, so we had a lot to talk about. Very nice people. Food was excellent.

They actually started pulling out of port before we left the dining room. I could tell we were moving only by looking out the window, it was that smooth. Mom and I left and went up top to wach sail-away. We went by the statue of liberty, and quite a lot of crew members came out from their duty stations to see the Statue of Liberty go by. They'd never seen her before.

We weren't sure if we would get a big hooplah when we left the harbor, but we did. This was the first time the Eurodam had been to a US port, so we got the fireboat spraying water, we got the police boat escort, we got the police helicopter escort. It was very cool.

We were passing the statue of liberty and had the FDNY fireboat doing its thing, and all of a sudden the ship’s horn sounded. BWOOOOOOOOOOMP! We all jumped. It scared the bejezzus out of us collectively. It blew for about 15-20 seconds, and that thing is LOUD. We were right below it. Then it did it again. And again. And then the fireboat sounded its horn: meep! And the Eurodam hit it again, a short blast in response: BWOMP! It was so funny, everyone was laughing.

We passed under the Verezanno Bridge (I think that's what it was) so I got a chance to try out my night setting on the camera. I liked it, it worked out well.

We wandered the ship, had a drinky, and went to bed early. We weren't interestedin the entertainment and we were both beat, I hadn't slept well for 3 nights.

The Muster drill (lifeboat drill) was the next morning, so after a buffet breakfast (I had fruit, bagel with smoked salmon, and a chocolate croissant), we headed to our room for our life jackets and headed back down to the promenade deck. It was entertaining, too, in a people-watching kind of way. There was a woman in our boat (lucky us) who kept wandering back and forth without a life jacket on. She had a ‘duh’ look plastered on her face but after a while you could kind of tell that she knew where her life jacket was, she just didn’t want to go get it. She wanted someone on deck to give her one. After about 15 minutes of half sentences asking people and crew ‘well, why don’t I have one?’ someone finally gave her one…and walked away. So we were also treated to her trying in vain to put it on.

Our room was behind the bridge. At one point I was leaving our stateroom…and I walked into this large white wall. And I looked up, and up. And up, and it was the tallest officer I have ever seen. Actually, they have a picture of him on the Eurodam Blog, he’s 7 feet tall! I moved out of his way and watched him make his way down the hall, stooped down and dodging the light fixtures and sprinkler heads. Wow.

We sat in on an Acupuncture lecture sponsored by the Greenhouse Spa, which was very interesting and has pushed me to contact our local acupuncturist and set up an appointment next month. We also checked out the shops on board, I got a pair of Roman glass earrings similar to these. We got some tea and went and sat out on our room's balcony. We have decided we are now spoiled and can never get anything but a balcony room ever again. Sigh.

Dinner was formal tonight, and I have the pictures to prove it. I will scan one in sometime and add it in here. It was another early night.