September 30, 2007

Our Stateroom

So here's part 1 of our cruise adventure--the stateroom. Our ship, the Celebrity Summit, was a very large one--around 2,000 passengers. We got a stateroom in "Concierge Class" which I would highly recommend to everyone. Our room had, most importantly, a small veranda. After this cruise, I cannot imagine spending that much time in a boat in an interior low-level room. With a cruise this length and as many days at sea (no ports, just sailing), I can't imagine those people didn't go stir crazy in their claustrophobic cabins.

Our cabin was a nice size. We had a king-sized bed (actually 2 twins together, but you couldn't tell at all that it was 2 twins it felt so much like a seamless king) and then a small couch. Across from the couch was a kind of desk/dressing table. Our veranda was private in that there were heavy glass partitions between everyone's veranda's, but if you leaned out over the railing you could see your fellow Concierge Class passengers also leaning out over the railing. There was a sliding glass door to the veranda.

Having the veranda really opened up the room. We never felt cramped at all and we got plenty of light, not to mention a perfect view of unbelievable scenery. We didn't spend a lot of time out there in Alaska since I'm such a wimp when it comes to cold, but definitely did as we moved down the Pacific coast.

There were a few things we brought that really made our cabin quite comfy. Kevin got an iPod clock radio, so we plugged that in and had a nice alarm clock with an iPod player and a remote control. It worked out really well because Kevin had downloaded several podcasts of This American Life, an NPR program we absolutely love, and we were able to relax and listen at our leisure. I also brought along some pajama bottoms to hang out in so I didn't have to sit around in my jeans. I dress for comfort at home, and pajama bottoms are a nice way to lay around on the couch and read. What I wish I had brought were some extra socks. Well, I did bring extra socks, but not enough. I should have brought a pair of slippers or a pair of fuzzy socks specifically for lounging.

In Concierge Class we got a few perks. One was that our key cards were a shiny gold instead of white--ooooooooooo. We had a bottle of champagne upon our arrival and every night we got a small plate of canape's with our turn-down service. We also had a bowl of fruit which we didn't eat much of. We got some coupons (which didn't help us any, really--like free Bingo cards and match plays in the casino), and we got some special services like a very nice stateroom attendant (not a butler--we'd have to have upgraded one more time for that) and priority luggage handling (not sure if that really was priority though) and priority disembarking and tendering.

All in all I would highly endorse our lovely cabin and Concierge Class!

Posted by Shelby at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2007

But I Have A Very Good Excuse

We've just arrived back from our 14-day Alaska cruise! It was a fabulous vacation to say the least. I didn't want to leave my blog readers hanging, but I didn't want to say, "We're abandoning our house for 2 weeks so come on by!"

It's the vacation that almost didn't happen. We were supposed to fly to Vancouver and board our ship, the Celebrity Summit, there, but the morning before we were to leave, I discovered that my passport was nowhere to be seen. We searched for hour upon hour and never did find it. We ended up flying to Seattle instead, and driving into Canada, since you only need a passport to fly into Canada, and can drive there with just a birth certificate. Fortunately that went without a hitch and we got on board in one piece.

The cruise was fantastic. Our ports were Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka, Victoria B.C., Astoria, Oregon, San Francisco, Catalina Island, and we ended in San Diego where we took Amtrak back up to Anaheim. It was a repositioning cruise for the Summit, finishing off the Alaska season. Today the Summit headed out to Hawaii.

It's hard to summarize a 14-day vacation in one email. I'll just hit the highlights of the cruise:

*Taking a float plane (a small propeller plane that takes off and lands on water) over the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan
*A scenic mountain railroad trip in Skagway
*Running with real sled dogs in Juneau (my favorite excursion ever)
*Coming within spitting distance of a giant glacier
*Having Royal Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria
*Lots and lots and lots of scenery
*Great food
*Being out of touch with the world for pretty much the whole time

I also almost won the Bingo jackpot on the second-to-the-last day. Almost. Cruise ship Bingo tradition has it that when you are 1 square away from Bingo, you stand so everyone can see who's close to winning. Well the big Bingo jackpot is one that rolls over every game from the first day and you have to have all of the squares on your card covered to win it. We got right up to the very end and one other woman was standing and so was I, and then they called her number. The jackpot was over $3,000. Yes, I almost won 3 grand, if not for O-72.

Anyway, I'll be posting more about the vacation for sure as well as some pictures when I get the chance. Glad to be back!

Posted by Shelby at 06:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2007

Mmmmmmm Pancakes

Yesterday I met up with my friend Ragon (watch the video to see Ragon at work!) and a few of her friends to celebrate a birthday brunch at The Griddle Cafe in Hollywood. Let me tell you, was it ever worth the drive! The Griddle Cafe (who seem to lack a website), is a sort-of famous dive-type-place that has the most interesting pancake menu I've ever seen. I love pancakes. Pancakes are wonderful. The Griddle Cafe does them very, very well. I had the "Black Magic" pancakes, which were 3 giant buttermilk pancakes with crushed Oreo cookies inside, topped with whipped cream and more Oreos. Oh. My. God. I thought chocolate chip pancakes were good??? This was inspired. Brilliant! I'm going to have to make these at home. I know it sounds kind of unhealthy but really, it's like pancakes with a half a bag of Oreos on the side--what's wrong with that? Other members of our party had things like raspberry-lemon pancakes, the "Yellow Brick Road" pancakes with caramel and butterscotch inside, and a cheesecake french toast which were giant slabs o' toast covered in graham cracker crumbs with cheesecake topping artfully squeezed on top through a cake decorating bag. It was heaven. Seriously. Pancake Heaven. I would like to live in Pancake Heaven.

Posted by Shelby at 08:38 PM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2007

A Literary Loss

I just read on the news that author Madeleine L'Engle passed away today. She died of natural causes and was 88 years old.

Madeleine L'Engle was truly one of the best authors of the 20th century. Her most famous work is A Wrinkle In Time, for which she won the Newbery Medal in 1963. Wrinkle was followed by 4 other books in the series (I seem to be missing books 4 and 5 on my shelf. Have to take care of that). L'Engle's work is considered Young Adult fiction, but I strongly believe them to be misplaced in the YA section (I find it a bit irritating that any book with a minor as a protagonist is automatically labeled Young Adult or Children's). Her books and themes have something to offer readers of all ages and every time I read them I get something else out of them.

In children's writing circles, L'Engle is considered an inspiration. Rumor has it that over a dozen publishers passed up A Wrinkle in Time before Farrar, Straus, and Giroux picked it up. Then it won the Newbery Medal and the other publishers were feeling a bit foolish for passing on it. The Wrinkle series opened the doors of science (string theory! Tesseracts!) to children worldwide, and I think Meg Murray, the main character, is one of the strongest female protagonists in Young Adult literature.

L'Engle's Newbery Acceptance Speech
is positively inspiring. L'Engle was also active in issues of challenging readers to think and the power of words. She gave a groundbreaking lecture at the Library of Congress in 1983 called "Dare to be Creative" about censorship, education, and the responsibility of authors to, as T.S. Eliot put it, "Dare [to] disturb the universe."

If you haven't had a chance to read any of L'Engle's wonderful works, go ahead and take the opportunity to do so. You won't regret it.

Rest in peace, Madeleine.

Posted by Shelby at 01:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 06, 2007

Best Intentions

You know, I really do have the best intentions, thinking "This is the week I'm going to be consistent about updating my blog!" and then it never happens. I'm sending a big thank you to you, Constant Readers, who actually do check-in with me every now and again.

I have two excuses. First, it's been Hot. That's Hot with a capital H. This weekend and earlier this week our temperatures soard into the triple digits. By one reckoning, we hit 107 on Tuesday. Naturally I was at work and it's no secret that our air conditioning is on the fritz. We plugged along through the summer with the promise of a renovation that would provide us with a Brand-New Air Comfort System, and while it was hot, we managed to make due. However this past week or so was sheer Hell.

We got these giant fans which were helpful if you happened to be standing in front of them, but the store is quite large with very high ceilings and it was nigh upon impossible to get a good airflow going. Plus if you had the fan pointed at you, everything you were holding or placing on the register counter blew away. Coupons, price tags, hundred-dollar bills (that caused a bit of panic). The Bear Builders constantly ran upstairs where we subsisted on cold soda and Otter Pops.

The actual temperature has cooled down, but in its place we've been hit with a very high degree of humidity. Now let me clear something up for you. Southern California is nothing more than a well-irrigated desert. And in some instances, not irrigated enough--you should see everyone's lawns these days. Southern California does not do humidity. Pretty much my feelings about humidity are IF I WANTED HUMIDITY I'D MOVE TO FLORIDA. I'D MOVE TO THE MIDWEST. I'D MOVE TO ANYWHERE THERE IS HUMIDITY. I can assure you that I have NO intentions to move ANYWHERE THERE IS HUMIDITY, so it's difficult for me to understand this cosmic cruelty that is being placed upon us.

Southern Californians just don't do humidity. It's like when a Storm of the Century hits the East Coast in the middle of Spring Break and Atlanta gets 6 inches of snow (an amount Northerners would call "a slow day") that shuts down the entire city for a week. It sucks.

In other news, China released their referrals for the month of September. They matched a paltry 4 days this month, which puts them at November 25, 2005. For an in-depth explanation of what this means, click here.

Posted by Shelby at 10:45 AM | Comments (3)

September 02, 2007

Now THAT'S an Earth-Shaking Sermon!

Smack dab in the middle of our pastor's sermon this morning, we felt a bit of an earthquake. Pastor Gary just kept on preachin' until some of us in the congregation informed him that we'd just had a small earthquake. It's hard to say if God was giving an "Amen!" to Gary's sermon, or if it was a "Dude, you're wrong and you're pissing me off," but whatever the case, Gary said, "Well I'll go ahead and wrap this up then." He did point out that the large lighting fixture above our heads didn't budge an inch, but the older members of the church informed him that the fixture was so firmly attached that the entire building could fall down and it wouldn't even do so much as wiggle.

The earthquake we felt was small. That means that either the earthquake itself was small or that we were far enough away from the epicenter that it was small by the time it reached us. As it turns out, it was a pretty small one, magnitude 4.7, about 45 kilometers from the church.

The good thing is that it gave me an excuse to go visit one of my favorite websites,, and do fun stuff like finding the quake, getting the nitty gritty details, and my favorite part, DID YOU FEEL IT? It's so interesting to see how other people perceived it.

Posted by Shelby at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2007

More Funnies

Posted by Shelby at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

When Good Cakes Go Bad

A friend I know online had a little bit of trouble getting a birthday cake for her husband. Here's the story in her own words:

I'm speechless. I ordered a cake for my Hubby for his Birthday at Safeway. I went to get it and the guy couldn't find it. He got one off the shelf and said he would write on it for me. He hands me the cake and says that it is free because he had a little trouble with the "K". I was speechless. The cake is the most horrible thing I've ever seen. I haven't a clue what to do so I just say Thanks. Then I decide that I guess that I'll just get some cream cheese and powdered sugar and make my own frosting and scrape the stuff off and refrost it myself. Then the store manager asks if he can help me. I show him the cake and he starts laughing that it is the ugliest thing he has ever seen. So he goes to the back and does another one himself. It looks better still a little strange but better. So now I have 2 free cakes. There are only 3 of us eating it. Then going thru check out I have to explain to everyone why they are free. They are all laughing so hard that they have to go outside. One says it looks like Christmas gone bad.

Click on the extended entry for the cake.

Oh my:

and the replacement:

Happy Birthday Marfthphethfhh!

Posted by Shelby at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)