CT To CA — We’re In Elkhart

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Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there (This is the police. You are surrounded. Give yourself up) – R. Dean Taylor 1970

We are in Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World! We actually passed the RV/MH Hall of Fame while cruising down I-80. No warning. No billboards. We waved and drove on.

Since leaving Hamden we’ve clocked 757 miles, including 519 miles today. We were on the road about nine hours (including stops), meaning we averaged 57.6 mph. We’ll do much better going forward.

We began the day in Danville, PA. No rush. We were on the road around 11:30.

Pennsylvania was very pretty. Lots of hills and valleys. Very green.

I-80 is mostly 2-lanes per side. They need more.

We stopped for gas at Snappy’s in Du Bois (pronounced dew boyz). As we exited the Interstate we noticed a long line of vehicles standing on the exit ramp. Construction past the exit had created a tiny town traffic tragedy!

One lane was closed Flagmen were controlling traffic. They were alternating the flow every ten minutes or so.

Ten minutes doesn’t sound long now, but it seemed endless then.

We crossed the state line where I-80 transitions to the Ohio Turnpike. The nominal speed limit is 70 mph, but for at least half the trip the left lane was closed and the limit was 50. Frustrating.

Ohio is mainly flat, though there are some small rises and dips in the east. Approaching the western border things flattened out. We’ve seen lots of farms with irrigation rigs hundreds of feet long.

Better luck found us in Indiana. Fewer construction zones and a higher speed limit. It’s 70 mph here. I’ve been keeping the cruise control around 79. So far, no friends with party lights on their vehicle.

We found another Red Roof Inn, chosen for their dog policy. This one’s a little more worn, but good for our purposes.

Tomorrow we’ll try for Nebraska. That’s a stretch and I might be forced to scale back as we progress, especially because of the threat for severe storms, but that’s the goal.

CT To CA — First Night’s Stay

I’m writing while Helaine showers. We slept like babies. Add your own joke here.

We spent the night at the Red Roof Inn in Danville, PA. If you’re a traveler you know Red Roof isn’t the top of the highway lodging food chain… and yet, I’m here to ‘praise the roof&#185’!

We found this place using PetsWelcome.com. Doppler is small and quiet enough to sneak into a motel, but why?

This place is a two story affair with exterior walkways to the rooms. There were no first floor rooms vacancies. Upstairs!

Bed — Firm mattress. Absolutely comfortable.
Flat Panel TV — yes
Refrigerator — yes
Microwave — yes
Work desk — yes (with free WiFi)
Shower — good water pressure

All this for $65.84 plus tax. And we didn’t make the reservation until a few hours before arrival. It’s a correctly priced gem.

We’ll be out of here within the next hour, back on the road. We should be in the vicinity of Chicago, around 600 miles away, when we stop this evening.

&#185 – Red Roof: Feel free to steal that phrase. It works.

Eagles Should Have Played: I’m With Rendell

Note: After writing this I reconsidered my opinion. I am leaving the original up, but you should read the comments which were important in my decision. – Geoff

The Philadelphia Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings tomorrow night. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday night at 8:30 PM. At game time nearby Philadelphia International reported visibility of 3/4 mile in moderate snow and blowing snow. The wind was out of the northwest at 21 mph. It was 25&#176.

Under anyone’s sense of the word it was cold… brutally cold in Philadelphia. It was unpleasant to be outside. For those improperly prepared it was dangerous!

The game shouldn’t have been postponed!

Speaking on KYW-TV in Philly former Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said,

This is football; football’s played in bad weather. I think the fans would have gotten there, the subways work and the major arteries are still open, and other fans would have stayed home – but you play football regardless of the weather.

He’s right even though the current Mayor had declared a State of Emergency in the city.

If I was broadcasting in Philadelphia I would have encouraged viewers to stay home. People would have anyway! The game would have still been available on TV staffed by a crew ready for bad winter weather.

I’m an Eagles fan. This delay probably benefits the Eagles. It makes no difference.

It’s unfair to the other NFL teams who’ve had to suffer through pass deflecting winds, frozen fields and limited visibility.

I’m Getting Set To Change My Blog

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

blog backend screencap.jpgWithout getting too terribly geeky my blog runs on Movabletype. That’s a software package which puts my typed words into the visual format you see. Moveabletype has served me well, but the trend in blogs (and other similar sites) is toward WordPress.

Simply put WP is supported by a huge community of developers and MT is not. That means WordPress can do lots of tricks this blog can’t do right now. In a Twitter, Facebook, search engine optimized age some of the tricks are pretty important.

There is a feature in WordPress to actually import a Movabletype blog like this one…. hold on… I’m laughing hysterically. You really don’t think it’s that easy, do you? I mean there is that feature. It almost works!

Others have blazed this path before me and dropped breadcrumbs along the way. I’ve been in arcane files located on a distant server changing “\n” to “\n \n.” I’ve created files to remind my server which version of software it needs to run.

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

The blog’s server will move too. Right now it’s hosted by a company in Chicago. It will probably reside on the Pennsylvania servers of a German company when I’m through. That should be invisible to you.

With all this the look of the blog will change. Though it has to change a little it’ll probably change a lot. There may be fewer full stories on the home page but more summaries and links. Maybe a better way to show photos? I’m mulling the decisions.

It needs to look nice while not pissing you (my readers) off.

I’m thinking of designing the theme myself from scratch. The more I look the more that seems doable. Most folks choose to use a pre-designed theme.

More than I can chew? Possibly.

I’m fixated on typography. Some blogs look so pretty because of the way they use type–how it’s spaced and formatted for headlines, quotes and lists. I’ve been searching for advice on this particular nuance but have come up short so far.

I’m open to suggestions. It’s like a fresh sheet of paper has been laid before me. It’s geekily exciting.

The process should take a few days… by which I mean a few weeks… so probably by late March… 2011.

What’s On Channel 341? Live Big Brother.

Though boring, this nightly show is live. That’s quite an accomplishment and I’ve been impressed by the production.

bbad.jpgI’m in the family room. The TV is on Channel 341: “Live Big Brother After Dark” on SHO2. I have stopped here many times, though never for more than a minute-or-two. I haven’t tuned away tonight because it’s on my mind for a blog entry.

This world is foreign to me. These are people I would never associate with. They are pretty people. They are shallow people.

Is this the way all these shows are? I’ve never heard a conversation about anything outside the show. These are tiny insular worlds.

Though boring, this nightly show is live. That’s quite an accomplishment and I’ve been impressed by the production. The camera work is pretty good and it’s surprisingly well mic’ed.

I suppose being an occupant must be really uncomfortable. The interior lighting is bright and flat around-the-clock. That’s gotta get old in a hurry.

I wonder about the technical set-up. This is the kind of thing today’s smaller and cheaper electronics makes possible. It’s got to be designed to run cheaply.

From time-to-time a disembodied voice comes over the PA. He is difficult to understand on-air but he’s usually paging someone or, more often, telling the participants they’re discussing something that’s off limits.

It resembles prison.

OK–have I done my penance? May I move on?

The Long Trip Home

I’m normally a huge Southwest fan, but they failed on this. No announcement was made when they moved the gate.

I’m home. Google says if I drove it it would have taken 43 hours covering 2,885 miles. I’ll keep that in mind as I look back on the 12 hour door-to-door trip.

My secretive friend called “Super Shuttle” to take me to LAX. He told them the flight, scheduled for 12:25 PM, and they offered a 9:15-9:25 AM pickup. That sounded awful early for a drive that normally clocks in under a half hour. I was at LAX two and a half hours before my flight.

I checked my bag at the curb. The skycap wrote Gate 14 on my boarding pass and pointed me in the right direction. The departure area was busy, but I found a seat.

LAX isn’t particularly WiFi friendly. There are few electric outlets. The WiFi service is “pay-per-byte.” I pulled out my BlackBerry and played around. I was in my own world as flights came and left.

Around 12:10 a young man came and asked me if I was on the Chicago flight? He was wondering why it wasn’t on the board at the gate and why it hadn’t been called. Good question. We went to another gate where we were told it wasn’t at Gate 14 it was at 4A.

I’m normally a huge Southwest fan, but they failed on this. No announcement was made when they moved the gate. It’s probable the move was made shortly after I headed there… maybe while I was heading there. There were a handful of us waiting in the wrong place! Without this lucky questioner I surely would have missed the flight–something I’ve never done in 40+ years of flying.

Southwest compounded their failure by not having information monitors. We had to wait in line and see a person to get the gate info.

Though I had an “A” boarding pass by the time I got to the gate the waiting area was empty. Nearly everyone else was on. I walked back to the only non-middle seat left. It was 20F in the non-reclining last row. On the aisle was a man who looked to be around 30. In his lap, Randy.

I’m a dad. I understand you can’t control small children–you wouldn’t want to. What follows is observation more than kvetching.

At 10,000 feet the first ding rang over the PA and Randy, nearly two years old, was moved to the middle seat. He was mostly quiet but squirmy. Me too. I pulled out my horse collar and tried to fall asleep.

I’m not sure how long I was unconscious when the pounding began. Randy was getting me with his feet and his hands. He meant no harm. In fact, he probably didn’t understand what he was doing. This continued intermittently for the next four hours or so. He did a little yelping as well.

Delayed Southwest flightWe landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport, waited a few minutes for a free gate and pulled in. I had about an hour between flights… well it was scheduled as an hour. The sign at the gate said otherwise.

Though I criticized Southwest for the earlier gate debacle they get a pass on this. Our flight to Hartford, last of the day, was being held for incoming passengers. I have been on the receiving end of this act of airline kindness in the past.

It was a bumpy ride as we passed over the disturbed weather that’s raining on Connecticut today. At one point the pilot asked the flight attendants to be seated and phone the cockpit when they were! Nice touch, but probably overly cautious. Let them err on the side of safety.

We landed in Hartford behind a Southwest plane from Las Vegas. Their bags came off first. That gave me the opportunity to run into and talk with my friend Harold and his wife Karen who were coming home from their daughter’s graduation (PhD, thank you) in Santa Cruz.

My drive home was uneventful though I was beginning to drag. I walked into my darkened house around midnight.

“Feels like you’ve been gone three weeks, doesn’t it?” Helaine asked this morning. Yup. Why is sitting in a seat so exhausting?

More On The AIG Bonuses

This is not about actual dollars as much as it’s about principle and pride.

I just watched Andrea Mitchell interview Pennsylvania’s Arlen Spector about the AIG bonuses. Senator Spector says the contracts are unenforceable because they violate public policy.

“In order to be enforceable, a contract cannot violate “public policy”. For example, if the subject matter of a contract is illegal, you cannot enforce the contract. A contract for the sale of illegal drugs, for example, violates public policy and is not enforceable.” – expertlaw.com

OK–sounds good to me.

There has been some talk that this $165 million is a small amount in the general scheme of things. “Like pissing in the ocean,” comes to mind. I don’t disagree, but that’s beside the point.

This is not about actual dollars as much as it’s about principle and pride. It is wrong to reward disaster–and AGI’s situation is a worldwide financial disaster. Beyond that, we taxpayers are being played as fools.


As noted in the comments, this entry originally had a typo crucial to the actual meaning. My apologies.

The Sad News About Dan Weston

While we were at Emerson, Dan’s dad was a dentist. Somehow Dan got hold of a medical catalog and ordered all sorts of exotic condoms. They weren’t for Dan nor me. Dan got a display case and sold them to fellow students!

It’s easier to find people with unusual names than common ones. If your name is Geoff Fox and Geoff is spelled with a “G” how tough can it be?

On the other hand it’s been tough to find my freshman college roommate, Dan Weston. There are too many Dan Weston’s (including that guy on TV for the Scooter Store). When last we spoke Dan was working for the PBS station in Hershey, PA. That was at least 30 years ago.

When I stumble across people I knew from college I ask about Dan. I just don’t stumble into that many people… and having been on the accelerated dismissal program at Emerson College that’s understandable.

“On a sadder note, I’m sorry to tell you, Dan passed away a few years ago. He was an engineer at KTLA TV here. I hadn’t seen him for a long time and only saw the notice in the Alumni magazine. He had some kind of cancer, I’m not sure. He was a sweet man.”

That came from Paul Greengross in Los Angeles who I ran into on Facebook. No one wants to get this news.

While we were at Emerson, Dan’s dad was a dentist. Somehow Dan got hold of a medical catalog and ordered all sorts of exotic condoms. They weren’t for Dan nor me. Dan got a display case and sold them to fellow students!

I wish I would have found him sooner–obviously.

Bad Times / Good People

People had been there for 25 or more years and the worst part is, their loyalty paid off for nothing in the end. Seems to be the state of affairs anymore.

I heard a rumor a local news anchor has taken a pay cut and lost a newscast as financial conditions deteriorate. With a young child, maybe this is what she wants. Maybe it isn’t.

The Journal Register Company, publisher of a few Connecticut daily newspapers, including the New Haven Register I get every morning, is suffering as well. Already a ruthless cost cutter, JRC seems to have run out of things to cut.

From Editor & Publisher:

Journal Register Co., its stock now selling at about the cover price of its newspapers, disclosed Thursday that it is in danger of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The Yardley, Pa.-based publisher of the Trentonian in Trenton, N.J., said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had been notified by the NYSE that it had fallen below the Big Board’s “continued listing standard” of minimum share price.

This morning ATA, a discount regional airline announced they were shutting down. Ben Popken at Consumerist.com interviewed a now cashiered employee.

benpopken: What was the mood like once people started finding out?

ATAinsider: Very sad. It seemed somewhat inevitable, but we all had hopes, you know? People had been there for 25 or more years and the worst part is, their loyalty paid off for nothing in the end. Seems to be the state of affairs anymore.

We’re now entering the part of a recession where no one, outside economists, sees the way out. You’ll be hearing lots of the word “cyclical” describing our economy, with little explanation of how and why it’s cyclical, attached.

Even if the economy has always been cyclical, there’s no guarantee it will be this time, or that you won’t be the excess weight tossed overboard as companies scramble to preserve profits and managers scramble to save their own jobs.

Alas, business is never more likely to share equitably than when times are bad.

Was Broken – Is Fixed

This is a problem totally related to internet Explorer 6. Damn you Bill Gates.

I got a call from my daughter earlier today. This website was broken. The center column was overlying the main text on the left. I couldn’t replicate it at home!

Marla in Pennsylvania, David in Arizona and Jebbediah in Springfield (really… well, really on Springfield, not really on Jebbediah) had the same affliction.

This is a problem totally related to internet Explorer 6. Damn you Bill Gates. Most of you are using Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox (my choice), thankfully.

I have fixed it… though I’m not totally sure how.

Please let me know if any of the site doesn’t work. As was the case today, I can’t always see what you see.

Drama In The Air

My flight to Chicago was relatively easy. I had the iPod for the first time and listened to a long interview with Bill Murray and This Week in Technology with Leo Laporte.

I love Leo. He’s been a trailblazer in tech. The show was rudderless. I still listened all the way through. I just wanted more meat and more structure.

About twenty minutes out of Chicago a flight attendant came on the PA. “Is there a doctor, nurse or medical person on the flight?”

That only happens in the movies, right?

About ten rows behind me a woman had suffered a seizure. As I’d later find out, she had medication with her. This must not have been a total surprise.

You would guess this sort of thing puts you to the head of the line for landing. We hit the ground, hit the brakes, did a 250 degree turn and pulled right to the terminal.

The door popped open and in rushed three Chicago Fire Department EMTs.

I can’t tell you how the woman is. She looked unconscious as they moved her off in a wheelchair.

Before we landed, the crew asked everyone to stay seated and not go to the overhead bins. The instructions were followed.

The Chicago-LAX passengers are starting to get on. It will be a full flight. I’ve moved back a row and taken a window seat. Maybe I’ll see some snowcapped mountains.

Next stop Los Angeles.

Back To The Sunshine State

I’m writing this while on my way to Florida – again. This time it’s with Helaine and Stef, and this time it’s a more pleasant occasion – my mom’s birthday.

Because of where Steffie goes to school and because you can fly to West Palm Beach non-stop, we’ve opted to fly from Islip’s MacArthur Airport on Lawn Guyland.

This is an interesting airport in an interesting place. It is hemmed in on all sides by the sprawl that Long Island’s become. In that way, there are similarities to Midway Airport in Chicago.

We found our way to the remote long term parking, right on the airport grounds, and waited no more than a minute for the shuttle. The terminal was another minute or two away.

From a distance the terminal looked large. That perspective remained as we pulled up, except now it reminded me of the airport in Rockford, IL.

Stick with me on this.

In Rockford, the airport is large, but usage is not. Same here. Judging by the TV screens, nearly all the flights are operated by Southwest. The few USAir and Delta flights smelled of commuter plane routes. This is an airport where 737’s share the taxiways with Cessna 150s.

As we pulled away from the gate, I saw all six Terminal A gates and jetways. They were all vacant. It’s a shame (though nearby Islip residents might not agree with me on that).

Our flight headed southwest down Runway 24, took off and turned east. We flew over the center of Long Island. Off to the south was Fire Island. North was Long Island Sound and Connecticut.

I don’t know that much about Long Island landmarks, but I was able to pick out Brookhaven Airport, an abandoned Naval airfield and Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach before we turned south, heading over the Atlantic in the general direction of Florida.

The flight was a non-event until the last few minutes. With towering thunderstorm clouds on either side of the plane, the pilot came on the PA. The rest of the flight was going to be “very bumpy.”


On went the seatbelt signs. The flight attendants were asked to take their seats. We headed down.

It wasn’t as bad as the pilot let on. It wasn’t too smooth either. We landed 15 minutes early.

It’s nice to see my folks, even though it’s only been a few days since I last saw them. Florida, as it turns out, has changed. It’s much more humid. Much.

For dinner tonight, we headed south to Boca Raton and a place called Stir Crazy. I forgot to bring “Clicky.” A shame, because this was a very photogenic place.

Basically, you choose your protein and vegetables and then watch as your dinner is stir fried while you stand and watch. Pretty cool. Very tasty.

I’m bushed.

Where Are They Today?

I have heard from lots of people because of this Internet thing. Though some voices from my past have said hello, there are many more I’ve totally lost contact with. Maybe if I mention some names they’ll surface.

Bob Weiss. I’m guessing the last time I saw or spoke to Bob was in the late 60s. He lived in an apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. We had gone to summer camp together. His father worked at an advertising agency.

Sometime during high school his parents took the two of us to the Village Limelight to see Jean Shepard. In our mid-teens, we watched his live radio broadcast from a bar. At that time, it was certainly the coolest moment of my life.

Bob – send me an email.

Dan Weston. Dan was my roommate freshman year in college. We were on the 3rd floor at 132 Beacon Street. As is so often the case, we didn’t know how good we had it, living in Back Bay Boston as 18 year olds. I last saw Dan sometime in the mid-70s.

I can’t imagine what being my roommate must have been like, but whatever it was, I apologize.

Dan was from Jericho, NY where is father was a dentist. His sister was a harpist. I’m sure his mom was great, but I’ve got nothing on her.

After college, Dan moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania where he worked for the PBS affiliate.

Dan – drop me a line.

Marty Ingber. Marty lived near me in Electchester, the gigantic housing project, originally built by the Electrical Workers’ Union, hidden away in a two fare zone&#185 in Queens. I probably have seen him since 1968.

Marty and I were friends, but we weren’t best friends. However, I had two memorable moments with Marty. Actually, one is sure and the other I think was Marty.

The ‘sure’ moment was when the two of us went to a Mets game at the Polo Grounds. The Mets moved into Shea Stadium in 1964, so it was 1963. I was 13. Wow – that now seems awfully young to have gone with just a friend.

By this time the Polo Grounds, situated on Coogan’s Bluff in Harlem, was pretty decrepit. The NY Giants had moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season. Preventative maintenance was probably the last thing on anyone’s mind for the five years it stood vacant. The Mets were pretty awful anyway.

We bought whatever the cheapest seat was and moved around. We ended up sitting way up high in a virtually deserted area.

At that time a coffee commercial was running on TV with the tag line, “You get what you pay for.” Every time a Met would do something wrong (a constant occurrence) one of us would say the line to the other. We laughed all afternoon.

I guess you had to be there.

This next one I’m not 100% sure about. I think it was with Marty, and it took place in Midtown Manhattan. We were there with my next door neighbor (I was in 5E, he in 5F) Dennis Westler. We were just hanging out in the city.

As we walked past a nice looking office building on Madison Avenue, one of them realized it held the offices of Mad Magazine. We went in. When we got to the proper floor, one of them (not me – I am chutzpah challenged) claimed we were there for a pre-arranged tour.

Whoever it was who came out, took pity on us and showed us around. That was also amazing. There weren’t a lot of creative people to meet, but there was a lot of original artwork scattered around. I remember looking at some original “Spy vs Spy” panels.

Marty – say hello.

I’m sure there are more people from my past waiting to be found, but let me see how I do with these three. I’ll let you know how this turns out.

&#185 – It’s not this way anymore, but you use to pay for each bus or subway ride individually. A two fare zone meant, you lived somewhere where you needed to ride both a bus and subway to get to Manhattan. Living in a two fare zone makes you, by definition, geographically undesirable.

I Hate That Woodchuck

Drunk people in Western Pennsylvania get up early every February 2nd and watch as grown men in top hats and tails hold up a groundhog (aka – woodchuck) by the scruff of the neck. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s an early spring.

Punxsutawney Phil – rodent

It is Groundhog Day. This is the one day every year when Punxsutawney, PA gets on the map.

Since I know some of you reading this check in from outside the United States, let me quickly explain. Drunk people in Western Pennsylvania get up early every February 2nd and watch as grown men in top hats and tails hold up a groundhog (aka – woodchuck) by the scruff of the neck. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s an early spring.

This is a media event. Look at how they were set up for this morning

As the Groundhog Day celebration has grown in Punxsutawney over the past several years, so has our preparedness for the many members of the media who visit our town each year.

There are provisions in place to allow for convenient parking for satellite and other press vehicles at Gobbler’s Knob, and a designated press area is available for those covering the events.

Please contact us if we can help you with any aspect of your visit to Punxsutawney, or if you wish to arrange a radio or other interview.

A video feed of the events will be provided by the state of Pennsylvania:

EVENT: Groundhog Day Ceremony

TIME: 5:45 to 8:00 (Eastern)

SATELLITE: AMC – 9 (KU Band Analog)

MHz: 36



DOWNLINK POL: Horizontal


AUDIO: 6.2 / 6.8

By the way, it’s a scam!

OK – it’s not Enron or Tyco, but the Punxsutawney books are being cooked. This morning at sunrise, Gobbler’s Knobb, site of the groundhog, sat under a cloudy sky. That should have meant no shadow for Punxsutawney Phil. Guess again.

As always, Phil did see his shadow and word went out we’ll get another six weeks of winter.

As a weatherman… now a meteorologist… nothing thrills me less than knowing America is waiting to hear from the woodchuck that wants my gig! Damn you Punxsutawney Phil!

There is one good thing that’s come from Punxsutawney (other than my trip there, 30 or so years ago, for my friend Joel’s wedding at the Punxsutawney Country Club). it’s the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, Andie McDowell and Chris Elliott¹.

I originally thought the movie was awful, but as I’ve watched it again and again and again, it has grown on me. Now I willingly watch and enjoy.

I wonder if anyone ever walks up to the woodchuck and tells him, “I wish I could have a job where I’m wrong 50% of the time and still get paid.” No – all the rodent gets is praise.

¹ – Chris Elliott lives, or lived, in a beautiful part of the state, not far from the mouth of the Connecticut River. if you run into him, please tell him I’m a fan.

Magic On The Pacific Ocean

Aboard the Norwegian Star

No land in sight. We’re heading north, moving at 21 knots, on schedule for San Pedro/Los Angeles Thursday morning.

I wasn’t going to post tonight, but… well, you’ll see.

In the meantime, as long as I’m writing, I might as well say I was disappointed with my choice of photos from Cabo San Lucas. It’s a little difficult to change things without full time Internet access (I have been writing the blog offline and then uploading the entries and photos all at once). When I get home I will post more from Cabo, which was beautiful.

We had dinner this evening at one of the six theme restaurants on the ship. La Trattoria is the Italian restaurant. Unlike the others, this one has no surcharge. Unlike the others, this is in a converted buffet area.

The buffet lines are hidden behind curtains. The chairs are covered with dark slipcovers. The menu is traditional Italian. The sky was beautiful through the large windows.

I had a meat/cheese/spinach lasagna. As has been the case with nearly all the food, it was excellent. My dessert was an Italian cheesecake.

With dinner over, Helaine and Stef headed to the casino while I headed to our cabin to read… and nap. I played Hold’em the first few days, but I was very disappointed in the rake, quality of dealing and play… and especially disappointed that the Hold’em area was in a room squirreled away from the main casino.

While playing the second day, I was beaten on a large hand by someone who was playing a 9-5 offsuit. That’s a terrible hand, but he had every right to play it. His full house beat my full house. I took this as a sign and stopped playing.

Considering how much I enjoy Hold’em, you can understand my dismay – but it just wasn’t fun, and this bad beat solidified that.

OK – on to the reason for this entry. We decided to see a magic show tonight. The venue was the Spinnaker Lounge, where we saw Dave Heenan last night. This magician, Matt Fallon, was performing some close-up magic.

Let’s pause for a moment. I have a theory about magicians and those who are driven to be one. In high school these are not the most popular nor most athletic. My guess is, when David Copperfield was growing up, he was quite the dweeb. The same goes for most of the magicians I’ve known or seen.

Penn and Teller are dweebs – though they admit it and use it to their advantage. There is little pretense of being mystical bunny pullers.

I make no claim of being anything but a dweeb myself. There was no chance of my being name most popular while a teenager.

I sat in the second row with Helaine and Stef, snapping off photos as I obsessively do. The show was entertaining – the tricks puzzling.

Everything was going fine until he had three people pick cards and then chose someone from the audience to put him in a straitjacket.

That was me!

I tried to do my best to help a fellow performer. That meant I did as I was told and wasn’t too curious or anxious to bust his trick (Not that I could. I just didn’t try).

The trick’s culmination was his stripping off the straighjacket while revealing the three cards. The third was revealed when he pulled off the straitjacket and his shirt! The card was attached to his bare chest.

Thankfully, I was off the stage by then.