Friday, November 30, 2007

A mentally draining vacation

This was definitely one of those cases where you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. For a few days since coming back I was still exhausted and felt a fantom ship rocking under my feet. I also continue to be brain dead.

I'm wondering if we should have gone on a Geek Cruise instead. Yes, there are cruises that have classes on all things geeky, such as becoming a Mac power user, or learning the ins-and-outs for Photoshop, as opposed to what passed for entertainment on our cruise (men's hairy chest contest, a seminar on how to get the best deal on diamonds in Cozumel). My IQ immediately dropped two standard deviations and haven't completely recovered.

Aside from lack of mental stimulation, our cruise was very geek-unfriendly in one other way. Lack of electric outlets. For shame! There was only one -- count them, one -- electric outlet in our room! So our power-thirsty devices (two laptops, two cell phones, one camera) had to take turns being charged. Just as bad, there were very few power outlets all around the ship, in the areas people hang out, such as bars, lounges, and eateries. I was hoping to find a nice, quiet corner on the ship, with a view of the sea, away from people, and camp out there with a laptop for some quality writing and blogging. No luck. I did less writing there than I do on a typical weekend at home. Like I said, the cruise atmosphere is not conducive to intellectual exertion. :-)

Making you feel like a sheep

The second most popular thing here beside feeding, it seems, is taking people's pictures. There are photo stations set up throughout the ship, where you can have your picture taken in a variety of settings: on the grand atrium stairs, in front of a huge poster of the ship Ecstasy, dressed up in a period costume, hugging a showgirl, or with all kinds of other props. A photographer also walks around the tables at dinner time and takes everyone's pictures. You can later purchase the pictures you liked. At one time the photographer was accompanied by a man dressed as a pirate. (We were in the Caribbean, after all! :-)) The "pirate", of course, has a hook for an arm; he shoves his hook under your neck, you smile (or make a scared face if you're feeling creative), the photographer clicks, and they move on to a next person. There are ~ 1500 people dining at the same time, and the photographer / pirate duo needs to process them all. Methodically, without missing a beat, without lingering an extra second, they move from person to person: put a hook under your neck, wait for a smile, click. I guess an assembly line approach is efficient when it comes to, say, bagging groceries, but a bit counterproductive when attempting to create fantasy memories. :-) Still, on a ship with 3000 people, assembly line approach is usually the only possible one, especially where it comes to herding people off the ship and on to tour buses, then back on the ship, etc. At every step there are crew members telling you where to go, where to stand, when to have your card in hand, etc. It's been a long time since I've felt so much like a sheep, what with all that herding, card-swiping, photographing and force-feeding. :-)

But I'm not griping. After all, there was luxury and there was free time, which is more than you can say about most life situations.

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