Only on a #DisneyCruise…


One of the hidden perks of being a repeat customer…for me, this is my sixth cruise with Disney.  That makes me a Gold level Castaway Club member.   How do you join in the first place? Take a Disney Cruise and you’re in.   Take five and then you’re golden….


At sea. 

Boarded the Disney Magic yesterday. It’s the first cruise of the season, taking in five countries in seven days.  All of which I haven’t visited before.   I find myself both calmed and thrilled by the sight of the sea passing by, the distant coastline beckoning.  I am at peace on the waves, the thrumming of the engines beneath my feet, the gentle rocking motion of the ship.  Can’t wait for what lies ahead. 

Copenhagen: First day here.


I’m in Copenhagen this morning. Trying to adjust to the time. It’s just past seven am. The above photo is the view from my hotel window.  I’m staying at the Radisson Blu Royal. (As opposed to the non royal Radisson Blu’s…of which there are two others in town).  The RBR is built in the SAS building, which apparently is Copenhagens only skyscraper.  Arrived yesterday afternoon.  The flight from SFO was delayed by about an hour but made up half of that in that in the air.  Economy class.  Let me just say it felt like sitting on a thinly padded folding chair for nearly eleven hours.  I’ve had better.    Napped for a couple of hours on arrival.  Went out around Eight p.m., still bright, dusk wasn’t until almost ten.  Wandered into town and finally found a high end burger place. Good food.

Got back to the hotel and went back to sleep until around 4 a.m. Oh how I love visiting new places, but adjusting in short time to the massive time shift….

Traveling Tech


1st Dawn out.

I getting ready to pack for a two week jaunt out of the country.  Going to be cruising for half of it, the rest spent in Denmark and Norway.  So, of course, it comes time to decide what to pack Tech wise.  I have to keep in mind it has to be fairly light, fairly small – I want everything in my carry-on.  So a laptop is right out, but I still want the convience of accessing the web, maps, etc. if I want.  I also should think about what my activities are going to be.

So here is what I’m planning to take, and why.

A.  My iPad.  Already loaded with such app goodies as:

1.  City Walks and Maps.

The basic version is free, and if you want a more detailed map or sightseeing guide, you can add it separately for a small fee.  I’ve alreay loaded Copenhagen (Denmark) and Trondheim (Norway) as these cities we’ll be on our own exploring.

2.  Rick Steves’ Reader.

Travel guru Rick Steves has many rather large guidebooks for sale.  This allows you to buy them in e-book form.  As he happened to have a book on Northern European Cruise Ports, that’s the one I bought.  No need to carry any bulky and space consuming travel books anymore.

3. Tripit

Handy little app that you can input your itinerary so you have everything in one place (although I admit I also made a paper copy to take with me.)

4.  XE Currency Pro

A handy little app that gives me up to the minute info (provided I have wireless) on currency exhange.  I bet it would be hard to find a currency it Doesn’t have.  Easy to edit and switch around.  Counting on it to be a big timesaver.

5. Games

For downtime.  A few solo, but also the Pass and Play types.

6. Nightstand

A basic big clock with add ons such as alarms, music (from your iTunes library) and more.  I use it for the alarm function.

7. If needed, a camera or movie camera.

That’s if either my smartphone or  DSLR Camera doesn’t can’t get the shot.  Actually I will be using it for some shots to add to my blog.

8. and the usual gang of idiots…

Music, movies, Itunes and ItunesU, and let us not forget iBooks.  I’m on vacation here.  I plan to sit and relax at one point.  I have it pencilled in already.

Along with the iPad, I’m taking along my

B.  Verbatim ultra-slim Bluetooth Keyboard.

This is so I don’t have to be one fingered tapping out a blog.  The keyboard is the same length as the iPad, and about 75% of it’s width.  Comes in a nice little vinal bag for storage/travel.  Takes a USB connection to charge.

C. My smartphone.

Mine’s a Samsung Note 4.  Among other apps on the phone are the camera function, a copy of XE Currency Pro (see above), my ship navigator/daily activities newspaper  (I’m sailing with Disney, their app includes a nice countdown until you’re on board, then you follow the simple instructions to activate the app’s other functions.

I’ve also contacted my carrier (AT&T) and purchased a 30 day “Passport Plan” in case I can’t find free wi-fi in some of the towns I visit.  Nice thing is it comes with an app to help me find hotspots.  (who needs an app. Just find the nearest Starbucks, right?)

The phone also contains an app called S Health, which has a built in pedometer among other things and also Myfitnesspal, so I can count just how many calories I intake each day, as well as keep track of my exercise.

And let us not forget my Twitter app.  @popcornbytes is going on the road.

Last but not least,

D.  DSLR Camera.

It’s an old Nikon D50.  So it takes photos, not movies.  I can use my phone for that.  I used to travel, in the “old days”  with two cameras, one still, and one video.  Now my video camera is HD and a bit large to be traveling for anything besides business.

I have a 2GB  (yes, you read correctly) card and a 1GB back up – just in case I take more than 990 photos.  Could happen.  I have two batteries for the camera, but that also means I need to take the charger along.

E.  My iPod Nano

It’s small, it’s loaded with songs.  It’s a bit redundent, but I’m taking it so I don’t always have to drag the iPad to the gym when I work out or walk around the deck and want to listen to music.

So there are my five basic tech toys I’m taking.  Now I need support.

The iPad and iPod will both run off of Apples’ “lighting” connection. So that’s one cord.

My smart phone needs it’s own cord, as does the keyboard.  So that’s two more, and lastly, I need a powercord to connect with the seperate battery charger for my camera.

The Camera charger and it’s power cord will travel in its’ own quart size baggie.  Along with the extra camera battery.

For the rest, I have a vinyl pencil case.  It’s about 7 inches by 3 1/2 by 2 1/2.  I have an iGo dual usb power cube that will plug in to charge two items at a time.  So if I need to charge the phone and iPad at the same time (usually while I’m sleeping) I can do it.  Along with the USB cords will be going the 1GB back up card, and a spare set of earphones.  All of this either goes in my carry-on or “personal item” bag, aka my daypack.

Along with the above on this trip, since I’m going to northern Europe, is going a rather cubic Voltage Transformer (converts 220/250 VAC to the American 110/120 volt 50-60Hz).

So also into my “personal item” bag goes my iPod and another set of headphones, and my iPad (along with tickets, etc.)

The DSLR is going into my carry on.

And Technically, I’m ready.

Now, If I can just decide on what to wear…..

My thought of the day.

It was announced, for those who follow twitter.  The President Barack Obama now has his own twitter account (@POTUS).  I can’t help finding it ironic that he waited until the NSA was ordered to stop collecting information.

Just saying.

Been strolling down memory lane while cleaning up.  An old pic from years ago reminded me of the original Muppet Movie, entitled simply “The Muppet Movie”

towards the end of the movie, there is a reprise of “Rainbow Connection” which has some of my favorite lyrics:

“Life’s like a movie, write on your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending, we’ve done just what we set out to do….thanks to the Lovers, the Dreamers,…and you….”

still words to live by.


No, not that kind.  The kind I was doing today.

Got a call from my “former” stepson (if there is a proper term for it I haven’t heard it yet.  He’s in film school up “in the city”, or what we’ve called San Francisco since I can remember around here.  Not San Jose, nor any other “cities” between here and the Bay.  San Francisco has always been “THE City”.

Anyway, he was shooting a project and was having trouble getting people to be in the film.  Could I please play a small role for him?

Now this would involve me to

a) Drive 90 minutes each way

b) Miss watching a Giants game

c) Have to drive in San Francisco, something I really, really hate doing and

d)  Have to find parking on a Sunday.

So of course I said yes.

I’ve seen some of his projects, and, trying to keep my shirt buttons from popping off, he’s really good. Especially his editing.  He showed me his first 47 seconds which he had already put together and I told him if he removed one part of it he could use the rest as a trailer.  It was that interesting.

Shoot went fine.

The Giants swept the Angels of Anaheim with Lincecum on the mound and Posey catching – something that happens once a year.  Timmy went eight innings. Giants won 5-0.

Driving up wasn’t bad, and I avoided a big part of back-up by stopping for a meal in San Jose and taking the back roads home.

It took me 20 minutes to find parking within two blocks of the shoot.

But damn I’m proud of him.

Living on London Time : A Flashback Thursday tale.

I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep.  Usually only on days ending in a “y”.  I call it Living on London Time.  I’m on the west coast of California.  Ok, a bit inland but an hours drive to the coast.

I think my insomnia started when I was a sophmore in High School, way back in the last century.  I could name the number of years but that either way it’s a long time ago.  My parents had divorced, and I was living with my mother, who decided to move back to her childhood home in San Francisco.  One of those houses that looks like it’s two stories tall from the front and becomes three and a half from the back.  It was the only house that I’ve lived in with a basement that was above ground on one side.

Anyway, after looking at a couple of public schools, and being informed I would be beat up – and this from the adult showing us around, I was enrolled in a private school.  It was a day school, which meant I traveled by bus (No BART back then) to and from school.  It started in the morning around 8:00 am and was over around 2 pm.  The only problem was it was about a block or two north of Golden Gate Park.  And we were way down in the Mission Excelsior District.

This meant that in order to get to school on time I had to walk a block to the bus stop, catch the 6:00am bus, basically taking it the short distance until it crossed the 280 Freeway, and then transfer to the bus that would take me within a block of the school.  It would only take about a hour, but luckily for me there was a public laundramat right there were I could stay warm and check my homework until the school opened, usually between 7:30 and 7:45am.

After school I would repeat the process in the other direction, and since we did not  have a lunch hour at the school when I got off the bus the first thing I would do is go into the store next to the bus stop and buy a fresh made deli sandwich.  No doubt it was Ham and Cheese of some type. Still my favorite sandwich.

So I would get home, have lunch, and then go to bed.  That’s right. I went to sleep.  I would wake up around 11:00 p.m., see if there was anything to eat, watch Johnny Carson (I had my own room in the basement, and my own TV.)  and then do homework, read, and whatever.  Then around 5:00 am have breakfast, get ready, and repeat the process.  This went on for about six months or so.  My grades were excellent.  Subjects I had been doing poorly in I now understood.  And the Blonde teacher who taught us French was nice looking and wore low cut blouses.  So that was a plus.

But it all came to an end.  My Parents decided it was best if I went to live back where I grew up and with my Dad.  So goodbye school.

I have, in my life, held jobs where I’ve had to get up early, and those where I did not go to sleep until the wee hours.  So every now and then, I still find myself Living on London Time.  Until I get to London.  And then I have jet lag like everyone else.