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April 5, 2010

Cruising: Vegas at Sea

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The decor of the ship was straight out of Las Vegas, shiny and gilded. Amazingly gaudy.

Given that, it made sense that there was actually a casino in the middle of it all. We didn't go in for more than a minute or two.


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April 4, 2010

Cruising: Mongolian Barbecue

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Cruises are famous for having loads and loads of food. Besides the main dinner with its awkward times and assigned seating, there are buffets and carving stations and it's all you can eat nearly around the clock.

Now, an abundance of food does not mean all the food is good. By and large the selections tend to be more like a college cafeteria, but there are a few gems mixed in.

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My favorite was the Mongolian Barbecue Station. It's basically a stir fry station with udon noodles. Simple and tasty, Tammi and I jumped to get it before the inevitable line formed.

The guys working the woks were amused by my photographing them.

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March 27, 2010

Cruising: Big Ass Boats

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So, yeah. These ships are big. Sorry, these posts can't all be deep pearls of wisdom.

March 15, 2010

Cruising: Sea Legs

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Before the cruise, I was mildly concerned about adjusting to being on the water. The only boats I've been on for the most part have been riverboats. I wasn't sure how different the motion would be or how sensitive I'd be to it.

Turns out I didn't have much trouble at all. Every now and again, I'd suddenly be aware of a wobbly feeling, not unlike the earthquake I felt in Los Angeles a couple years ago. It typically subsided quickly and didn't usually really bother me.

What's weird is that for hours after leaving the ship, I was still getting that 'wobbly' feeling. I'm sure there's plenty of inner ear science that explains this, but I have no idea.

Again, it makes me wonder what it's like for someone who spends months at sea to return to solid ground.

March 14, 2010

Cruising: Dining Hours

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In the months before taking this cruise, I found more than a few boosters who were happy to tell me how much they love cruises. They went on to dispute the various complaints and stereotypes about cruises. High up on that list was the dining situation.

Assigned tables and set dinner times they assured me are a thing of the past. Many cruise lines have multiple restaurant options and don't require a set seating time every night. Carnival didn't get the memo. The Imagination sports a single restaurant with table service, Spirit. Our seating was set for 6pm. Every night.

To those unfamiliar, here's how it works. The restaurant only does two or three seatings a night and between them, they have to accommodate for all the guests on the ship. The times are assigned, so some people get to eat at a reasonable hour and the rest of us eat five minutes after lunch. Similarly, guests are assigned to large round tables, wedding-style. The same folks eat together every night. In our case everyone at our table was a part of our group, but if you're with a smaller group or just a couple or family, you share the table and all the awkward conversation you want with strangers.

If you miss your seating and want a later dining time, you have to wait until the whole dining group has come in and then be placed in at any vacant spaces that are left.

I'm sure it all makes sense from the logistical perspective of trying to feed thousands of people, but it's definitely not so friendly for anyone who wants some flexibility in dining.

March 13, 2010

Cruising: At Sea

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Pardon the obvious observation, but being at sea means being in the middle of nowhere. Look in every direction and there's nothing on the horizon in any direction. It's a first for me. As a city-dweller, the idea of being surrounded by essentially nothingness is fascinating. Particularly, it makes me think about sailors through history surrounded by a blue void for days or weeks or months at a time.

There's a weird cognitive dissonance being so isolated from the rest of the world, yet still surrounded by a thousand people.

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March 1, 2010

Analog: Appreciating Digital

You'll notice that there's no photo here. That's because I've been all analog for the last week and a half.

In all my recent experimentation over the last couple months, I've enjoyed the process of shooting film and the excitement of seeing the results. I did my best not to overly glorify film, but I certainly have been finding film more interesting. Not enough to replace digital, but I've definitely been talking up film a lot more.

I'll take it as a rebuke from fate or the photography gods that my digital camera crapped out on me a week ago exactly when I needed it for quite a few things including a photography class, a couple events I was covering for Examiner and of course the wedding and cruise this past weekend.

So, yes, I miss digital. Let me count the ways:

• Changing rolls of film in the middle of shooting an event sucks. No ones going to stop walking down the aisle or hold that pose long enough for you to swap rolls.

• Along the same lines, being able to take 1,000+ exposures on a chip allows you to catch more moments just through sheer volume. Everyone wants to think they're going to catch the Decisive Moment through skill, but sometimes skill still needs 30 attempts to get it right.

• Trial and Error. Seriously. You have no idea how scared I am that some setting was off and half the photos I took are screwy because I couldn't glance at the LCD to see that I shouldn't have used that aperture or didn't see that someone was totally backlit.

Finally, there's developing cost in both time and money. Between the snowstorm and the travel, I now have nearly two dozen rolls of film to develop. That's going to cost a lot and I won't get them for a couple days.


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