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173-Freedom Tower Early Morning

Image by Counselman Collection
I had decided a bus tour to New York would be better for Pam rather than fighting airports and all the security junk they put you through in long waiting airport security lines, taking off your shoes and treating you like cattle, with so many restrictions on what you can carry. Not only did we get to see the countryside before hitting Manhattan, it saves a bundle on parking. We just parked our SUV at the AAA office and we had no /day airport parking, which was a great benefit. When we got to Times Square it was nice and dark and the lights were all on. We always thought Venice Beach California was the weirdest place we ever visited, but now we think it is tied with Times Square. Just to let you know, I am so relaxed; I finally made it as a professional singer on the cruise and made some money in the process. Actually, I was singing in the shower, and Pam paid me five-dollars to stop; and I think the money came from the suite next door; oh well, a profit is a profit. As we got up north almost to Greenland, it got really foggy, and you could hear the fog horns blowing all night. You can get Internet service, but at almost a buck per minute, so you better not hang on too long. Internet on a ship like this is not like the high-speed broadband you are used to having at home. Here on the ship, your computer data is sent through the air from the ship 22,000 miles above the earth to a satellite, and then it bounces back down to earth; kind of the long way around, but very cutting China edge. It cost me just to send one e-mail. Most of the food is included but not pop; which we bought cruise soda cards at about each. If you want a drink from the bar, they run about each. They charge you about per day each person just for tips, which is OK, but we like to tip extra for exceptional service, and the service was great. Even though you are paid ahead before the cruise, the extras still really add up, and that does not even include souvenirs. The ship had 3,100 passengers, plus another 1,200 crew. The crew was very diversified hailing from 55 countries; amazing. So many different accents, all working together; just beautiful. The ship is the Caribbean Princess and it is so large I never could get a full photo of the entire vessel. I took some photos, which were just a sampling of the artwork around the ship. The décor was great and every lounge and restaurant had a different theme. Monday morning we finally arrived in Halifax, with a heavy fog and light rain. We just ordered room service for our morning breakfast so we could sit on our balcony and watch them dock the ship. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was founded in 1749, is located way up on Canada’s eastern coast. Halifax is known for two terrible disasters; 121 of the third-class Titanic passengers were laid to rest here, plus in 1917 a gunship blew-up and several thousand people died, with more than 9,000 injured. The next day we moved though the night through a terrific storm with high winds that really rocked the ship, ending up in the Bay of Fundy, at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, established in 1783. Even a ship this huge when cutting China through the ocean has quite a wave motion and you can lose your balance really easily. It was very cool temperatures here, and we had to put on our warm clothes, but it was still nice and sunny. A peaceful night of sailing then took us to Bar Harbor, Maine. We especially enjoyed this picturesque and scenic area since the ship had to drop anchor in the harbor and anyone who wanted to disembark had to ride in tenders to get into town. Many very fancy mansions dotted the shoreline and as we slowly coasted in, you could see the fishermen pulling up lobster traps from the thousands of floating bobbers in the water around the ship. This beautiful settlement was founded in 1796, and was originally named Eden. Interestingly, Bar Harbor has a year-round population of 5,000, but in the summer the population swells to 18,000. Next stop was Boston, and I could finally get a signal on my Blackberry without paying the /MB download charges. I had not been to Boston for about ten years when I flew out on business. I did not want to drive here even back then, so I hired a cab to take me to the meetings. I was amazed that even the tunnels under the river had off-ramps in them. Pam and I are not very good night owls, as we go to bed early, but if you were, I never seen so many lounges, night clubs, bars, and restaurants, in one spot just on this ship. The Last Port of Call before sailing back to New York City was Newport, Rhode Island. We sailed into the harbor about 7:00 AM and as the sun came up, we woke up since our patio doors were open all night, as we enjoyed the waves and ocean breezes. It was quite a different morning as we had some different excitement. It looked like a small boat was trying to approach the ship, to maybe take a drop from someone on-board or something. We watched in anticipation as a coast guard vessel moved in to stop them with the front machine gun manned and ready. The small boat took off towards the aft end of the ship and the coast guard went in pursuit of them. As they disappeared around the aft of the ship, more coast guard vessels came moving towards us at full speed as reinforcements. I am sure the first boat must have caught the small boat, but then we were escorted in by the other coast guard boats still all with machine guns fully manned. As we entered the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island, the scenery was just beautiful. Of course, I was busy making breakfast; I mean ordering breakfast, well work is work. What beautiful scenery this location had; which explains all the mansions built in the hills. Finally, the last day, disembarkation was an experience that could really spoil your trip. Waiting in lines on the ship, then walking down about three miles of gangways and hallways, plus going through customs was something no one really cherished. I know they make it as painless as possible, but moving over 3,000 people off a single location, and coordinating the luggage to the groups is a logistical nightmare; but they do it all the time, and patience is the key. Still it does not make it very relaxing at the end of your vacation. I snapped almost 1,100 photos, and I sorted out about 200 to put on Flickr, which I will upload as soon as I have the time over the next week or so. Most of the other photos were just duplicates as I was trying to capture the best angles. Again, this was a Princess cruise, and we enjoyed it very much, although, it is nice to get away, but there is no place like home. In addition, it was so nice to relax on that nice tour bus and let someone else do the driving; there is no way I would ever want to drive in New York City by myself. Again, I will get the rest of the photos on as soon as I can. Thank you all.

Keep the Flickr unique

Image by Bushman.K
Being in Web development industry for almost 15 years, I’ve witnessed many small and large projects going up and down, many examples of plagiarism, good and bad changes. But the worst kind of bad decision is following the fashion and loosing the unique face of project.
New Flickr management inspired by Marissa Mayer, leading this service exactly to that kind of degradation – turning it into another hybrid of Facebook and Twitter.
Flickr was (and still is) always a kind of home for people, sharing not only their photos or art, but ideas and stories behind that. One of the previous redesigns was dedicated to user stories, told by image, description, tags, map, machine tags. But how could you tell the story, if new interface will show the image and very short descriptions? It’s already hard to browse the scientific collections of photos not seeing the descriptions.
Making Flickr looking like Facebook albums, Google+ albums or Instagram will satisfy the investors, because they know nothing about current loyal users of Flickr, and it’s easy to trick them by attracting new (mobile) users with 1Tb of free storage lure. But how interesting would be their content to sell something? And how loyal would they be, switching from one service to another?
Personally, as developer of several custom styles for Flickr, I know, that every user with own preferences could have a choice of interface layout, including "mobile", "scientific", "artistic" etc. So why not to give people the choice they need?

me next to my dad’s ’56 Poncho

Image by ATOMIC Hot Links
(Circa 1960) In the garage is my mom’s 1957 Opel Olympia, that was a peice of crap. The steering wheel came off once while my mom was driving, thank goodness she was going slow and was able to stop put the wheel back on and went to a near by service station to have it repaired.

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