Rachel and I spent the last half hour adding numbers, staring at computer printouts and consulting with Helaine. Year’s end is drawing near. There are still vacation day to schedule.

It’s crazy. I was just away for two months! How could there be days left?

I’ve learned a lot about Short Term Disability. Until this year I’d never even considered it.

Once my sick days were used up (first time in 43 years of full time employment) STD kicked in. I couldn’t use my vacation days even if I wanted to.

Helaine and Rachel both keep really accurate records. So did Jenn back when I worked in New Haven. Me? Not so much.

I still break out in a cold sweat when I go through this exercise. Always have. Probably always will.

It’s done now. I’m good for another year.

Too Much Vacation

I am back at work. It feels like I’ve been gone a month! It’s only been 10 days.

We really did pack too much into the vacation. I’m still bushed!

There was a time Friday afternoon as the ship was heading toward Victoria when I sat on the bed and vegged out to MSNBC&#185. I felt guilty ‘wasting’ away vacation time. What kind of idiot am I?

We were supposed to have some work done on the house while we were gone. It’s good to get that stuff out of the way while the noise won’t disturb anyone. The contractor was a no show. This seems to be an epidemic that affects tradesmen! Why are you as dependable as a teenage boy? I’ll have to get on that tomorrow.

Helaine called as we were beginning the newscast. She told me she’d gotten a call from the credit card company. That’s never good. Today was no exception.

Someone from White Plains, NY attempted a $90 purchase at Maybe the credit card folks read my earlier screeds on Wal*Mart and knew it couldn’t be us!

The new cards will be here tomorrow. We have to go through the list and let EVERYONE know the new number. This is the third or fourth time we’ve been through this. It’s the truly defining pain in the ass moment.

After the newscast at 4:00 PM I walked downstairs to my garden to see if it survived without me. It’s thriving! Seriously, any thought I had that my influence is what makes it green is out-the-window. It’s just a lucky garden in the perfect spot with lots of water.

I’ll try and get a full night’s sleep tonight to continue my recharge. It was a great vacation, but I’m glad to be back.

&#185 – Memo to Mitt Romney: They don’t seem to like you on MSNBC. Maybe ‘don’t seem to like you’ isn’t strong enough?

We’re Heading To Alaska

I weighed a bag early this afternoon. It was 60 pounds! A few minutes later it was 49 pounds. Where did the excess weight go? That question is above my pay grade.

We leave on vacation tomorrow. There have been a few short trips, but this will be our major for the season (I’m holding out hope there’s more to come). We fly to Seattle then hop a ship to Alaska. Very exciting.

This is not your standard warm weather vacation. We’re going where coats are still necessary in July! I’m even taking gloves and earmuffs.

Helaine is the facilitator/organizer. For the past few days the upstairs hallway has been her staging area. I don’t know her method except to say it works!

I weighed a bag early this afternoon. It was 60 pounds! A few minutes later it was 49 pounds. Where did the excess weight go? That question is above my pay grade.

I’ve been joking with friends saying I’m taking my weight in camera gear. Not so far off. I’m bringing six or seven lenses, a camera body, monopod, cables, batteries, memory cards, chargers… you get the idea.

My friend Jacob lent me his GoPro Hero2 video camera. I will write more about this later, but the GoPro is a breakout piece of hardware. It’s around half the size of a pack of cigarettes and shoots broadcast quality HD video.

Because the Hero2 has a very wide angle lens it’s perfect for scenery in the background and you in the foreground. People strap them to surfboards, landing gear on airplanes, parachutes, skis, etc. It’s video otherwise unattainable.

As far as prep is concerned I’ve been a slacker. I went to the mall at dinnertime to get batteries for two watches. That’s my contribution.

Doppler will be staying home watching after things. In a perfect world puppies would be able to cruise the Inside Passage, take a train to the Yukon and whale watch in Juneau. It’s not a perfect world.

We have a lot planned and I intend on keeping you up-to-date via the blog. Of course Internet access is always questionable on board ship. I’ll do my best.

Over the past few weeks I’ve spoken to lots of people who’ve cruised to Alaska. Each one said it was the trip of a lifetime. That’s our goal.