Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Putting my mind at ease...

I was reading over the Ticket Contract for my upcoming cruise, and I would like to share a couple of things that I find to be a little disconcerting:

Royal Caribbean International Cruise/Cruise Tour Ticket Contract
(Does not apply to the Brilliance of the Seas)

Important – Passenger Cruise/Cruise Tour Ticket Contract 1
Read all clauses

Whether or not signed by Passenger, this ticket shall be deemed to be an undertaking and acknowledgement by Passenger that he accepts on behalf of himself and all other persons traveling under this ticket, all the terms and conditions set out herein.

    3. No undertaking or warranty shall be given or shall be implied as to the seaworthiness, fitness or condition of the Vessel or any food or drink supplied onboard.

    5. …In no event shall Carrier be liable for any accident or harm to Passenger which occurs off the Vessel or the Transport.

    6. Carrier may for any reason, at any time and without prior notice, cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing or port of call, or substitute another vessel or port of call, and shall not be liable for any loss whatsoever to Passenger by reason of cancellation, advancement, postponement, substitution or deviation.

    10. Passenger, or if a minor, his parent or guardian, shall be liable to, and shall reimburse Carrier for, any damage to the Vessel, the Transport or any property of Carrier caused directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by any willful or negligent act or omission on the part of the Passenger; and Passenger, or if a minor, his parent or guardian, shall further indemnify Carrier, the Vessel and the Transport and each and all of their agents and servants against all liability which Carrier, the Vessel or the Transport or such agents or servants may incur towards any person or company or government for any personal injury, death or damage to property caused directly or indirectly, in whole or part, by any willful or negligent act or omission on the part of the Passenger.

    12b. No suit shall be maintainable against Carrier, the Vessel or the Transport for any claim, including but not limited to, delay indention, personal injury, illness or death of Passenger…

    12c. The Carrier hereby disclaims all liability to the Passenger for damages for emotional distress, mental suffering or psychological injury of any kind under any circumstances.

    14. …Carrier reserves the right to terminate a passenger’s cruise or RCT Land Tour or both at any time, at the risk and expense of the Passenger disembarked, where in the opinion of the Carrier, Passenger is believed to be a danger to himself or a disturbance or danger to others.

    16. Carrier has the exclusive right to include photographic, video and other visual portrayals of Passenger in any pictorial medium or any nature whatsoever for the purpose of trade, advertising, sales, publicity or otherwise, without compensation to Passenger, and all rights, title and interest therein (including all worldwide copyrights therein) shall be Carrier’s sole property, free from any claims by Passenger or any person deriving all rights or interest from Passenger.

So, basically, the Carrier, the Vessel, the Transport and their associated staff are responsible for nothing. The boat can sink, the food can be laced with poison, your bags can be thrown overboard, they can kill you – it doesn’t matter. They aren’t liable.

However, if you (i.e. the Passenger) hurt the ship, the cruise employees or, in the opinion of the cruise employees, create a disturbance, hurt the ship and/or the cruise employees, you can be held liable for those damages (not excluding death) and/or be forced to disembark at your own risk and expense.

In other words, they are responsible for nothing and you are responsible for EVERYTHING.

The Carrier also holds exclusive rights to any and all images that they take of you in any pictorial medium or any nature whatsoever, and the Carrier is free to utilize the photos in any way they see fit. This suggests that if they film you taking a shower and post it all over the Internet to promote their upcoming Playboy Playmate cruise, you can do nothing about it. They are not even liable for the emotional distress such a violation of privacy could incur.

I find all this to be comforting. I mean, obviously?!

Nothing like signing your life away in order to enjoy a week cruising around the Caribbean. Oh, wait...that's right! I don't have to sign my life away. I already accepted these terms and conditions when I first booked the cruise weeks ago.

Two words: Awe. Some.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In preparation for a cruise...

I have to go on a Caribbean cruise.

You are thinking, “Why does she have to go on a cruise? Shouldn’t she want to go?”

The answer is: Yes. Yes, I want to go to the Caribbean. There are worse fates than death (just kidding).

Actually, I’m excited to go. I could use a break. My body desperately needs some rest and relaxation. I haven’t had a vacation since January. I deserve some time off. If it’s on a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean, all the better.

So, what’s up with the “I have to go on a Caribbean cruise” additude, anyway?

Well, let me start off by saying that I was only originally going on this cruise because of a destination wedding. Trevor’s brother was getting married barefoot-on-a-beach style in George Town, Grand Cayman. Please note the emphasis on the word “was”. Yeah, the happy couple is no longer quite so “happy”. Actually, they are not-so-much a “couple”, either.

This isn’t the first time the two have called off their engagement. It happened last summer as well. So, while I wish I could say that I was surprised, I wasn’t in the least. In fact, as much as I like Trevor’s brother and his almost-bride, I really think that this is all for the best. They both have a lot to work out as a couple as well as individually before saying “I do”.

But I digress…back to the cruise.

As you might have gathered by now, I’m still going despite the fact that the wedding has been called-off. This, honestly, has more to do with the fact that the wedding was cancelled less than a month before the ship was scheduled to set sail than anything else. For anyone who has ever gone on a cruise before, it is very, very difficult to get your money back if you have to cancel for any reason (even with “Cruise Insurance” might I add). In actuality, had we chosen to withdraw, we would have lost over 70% of the total cost of the cruise per person. “Cruise Insurance” only covers illness or death – not couples breaking off their wedding engagement. Thus, the question became “to cruise or not to cruise”. In the end, cruising won out (mainly because none of us are rich enough to be okay with losing 70% of all that money and getting nothing in return except another week in Dallas, at work and miserable. That was most definitely not an option).

You might have noticed that I used the word “we”. Yeah, I’m not going on this cruise by myself (are you kidding?! I’m way too much of an introvert for cruising solo to ever be an option). Trevor is also going, and so is my mother. When we all first booked the cruise, Trevor and I decided to share rooms with our respective mothers. From an economic standpoint, it just made sense. Plus, since Trevor’s mother had never met any of her almost-in-laws, we both thought that having my mother along would help Trevor’s mother relax and feel more comfortable (Trevor’s mother and mine have known each other for years now). Obviously, since Trevor and I are not married, the two of us sharing a single cabin wasn’t a viable alternative – especially with so many “moms” running around. Therefore, it was decided that I’d bunk with my mother, and he’d bunk with his.

Then, the wedding was cancelled and Trevor’s mother had to pull out of the cruise altogether. See, her husband was unable to go on the cruise in the first place because of an important work-related conflict in Las Vegas the same week. Trevor’s step-dad has been working on a HUGE deal to build a new hotel/casino on The Strip for years now. Plans to announce the project have been scheduled for the same week as the almost-wedding since before the almost-wedding was announced. Hence, the reason that Trevor’s mom needed a roommate on the cruise.

However, since the wedding has been called-off, Trevor’s mother has decided that she needs to be by her husband’s side in Las Vegas (perfectly understandable given the circumstances). This leaves Trevor, my mom and I headed for the Caribbean.

Now, it should be mentioned that we have no idea if any of Trevor’s brother’s almost-bride’s family will also be on the cruise. In theory, the almost-bride herself could still be on board. Wouldn’t that be interesting…?

Anyway, just so everyone knows, I’ll be leaving sometime in the near future for approximately one week. I won’t tell you when, but I’m sure that people like AMSTAFF will be able to figure it out (mainly because she reads RR’s BLOG regularly, and RR has a tendency to comment on those few incidences when I’m out of the office and she’s not. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to not comment when RR’s out of the office. This is because, in general, I am too bitter that she’s on vacation and I am still at work. Take last week, for example. I was a very bitter person…thank goodness she is back now!).

People like Katie (a.k.a. my stalker) might notice my absence, but chances are she would just think that I was ignoring her again. Poor Katie (she'd probably be right).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Help! I need advice...

Okay, so I might be over-reacting, but I’m more than a little irked at this moment.

Today, I’m eating lunch with…well…let’s just call her “Suzanne”. We are just, you know, chit-chatting away, mostly about nothing, when I happened to mention that I had read that my neighborhood has one of the lowest incidents of crime in all of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I had been waiting to bring up such a statistic. Suzanne is one of those people that moved way, way north of the city in an effort to “escape” crime-ridden Dallas. I’m not saying that Dallas is the safest city in the United States, but I believe that crime – whether we like it or not – happens everywhere. There are things you can do to make yourself less of a target, but let’s face it – if someone wants to get to you or your things – there is very little you can do to stop them.

Plus, I feel that you are putting yourself at a much, much bigger risk driving from Addison or Frisco to downtown Dallas on I-75 everyday, but that might just be me.

I live in an historic neighborhood in East Dallas. Yes, it is an up-and-coming neighborhood and yes, it is bordered by some…less up-and-coming…parts of town. It is, however, a good neighborhood. The neighborhood association hires off-duty police officers to patrol the streets, and it is one of those rare places where neighbors look after their neighbors. I love it, and – most importantly – I feel safe living there.

Suzanne, on the other hand, is always making snide comments about my neighborhood. She says things to me like, “Don’t you get scared walking your dogs around there?” and “If I lived where you live, I wouldn’t go out once the sun went down – it just wouldn’t be safe”. Most of the time, I try to ignore her commentary. It just isn’t worth arguing with her. Plus, I’m the only one who has to feel comfortable living there, not her. She has her feelings and I have mine.

However, today I feel that she crossed the line.

I have been racking my brain for the last two and a half hours in a vein effort to figure out a way – any way – that what she said was NOT intended to insult me. Suzanne is a nice person, but she often says things without thinking first. For instance, she is trying to lose weight. She’s not fat, mind you, but she is the first person to admit that she’s put on a few pounds here and there since she got married. Several weeks ago, she turned to me and asked, “So, do you want all the pants that I’ve had to buy in bigger sizes? Once I lose the weight I’ve gained, they will all be way too big for me, but they will probably fit you fine.” Again, my first instinct was to get mad, because I felt that I had just been insulted. Then, I thought about it and realized that she didn’t mean to offend me in any way – she really believed that she was doing me a favor by offering me her “fat pants”. Granted, she could have phrased it a little better (and maybe could have made the offer in private as opposed to in front of others), but I thought that her heart was in the right place, never-the-less. So I moved on.

But today I have not been so lucky. I can think of no other way that I can interpret what she said (and, believe me, I’ve tried). When I mentioned that crime statistics for my neighborhood were some of the lowest in the Metroplex, Suzanne quickly responded with:

“I bet it is only because there isn’t anything over in your neighborhood worth stealing in the first place.”

I put the emphasis on the word “worth” because that is the word she emphasized at the time.

Luckily, I was too shocked by her comment to say anything back, and our conversation continued on like normal. Problem is that I’m hurt, and I’m worried that my overall patience for and with Suzanne is quickly waning.

Can anyone think of a way I can interpret what she said that isn’t insulting? I know that she probably didn't mean to imply that my neighborhood, my house and my possessions aren't worth anything. Problem is that I can't think of how she meant anything different, either.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sleepless in Seattle...

Okay, so my coworker just showed me THIS, and it is hysterical.

Who knew that meaning could be changed so easily with just a little sound and some clever editing? Genius!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Time to vote on an issue that touches us all...

Okay. Not really.

You should vote anyway, though (unless, of course, you plan on voting for LEGALLY BLONDE 2, and then you should definitely abstain from the democratic process).

Anyway, the 20th annual Genesis Awards are coming up on May 6th, and they are conducting an online poll to find out which Genesis Award-winning film has had the biggest impact on animals over the past two decades.

And your choices are:

  • Babe: For giving a face and soul to "pork" through a story about a very special pig.

  • Chicken Run: For taking an entertaining look at chicken farming...from the chicken's point of view.

  • Finding Nemo: For showing fish as living, feeling creatures through the tale of the world's most famous clown fish.

  • Free Willy: For raising questions about the ethics of keeping marine mammals in captivity.

  • Legally Blonde 2: For sending the message that cosmetics should not be tested on animals.

  • To participate in this important online election, please click HERE.

    Monday, April 17, 2006


    So, the week before last RR and I went to a work-related conference in Beaumont, Texas.

    First, let me say that I don't believe that people should be allowed to live in Beaumont. I was there for 15 minutes and I broke out in hives. Literately. I still have them on my lower back. Hives! Beaumont gave me hives!

    Second, much to our dismay, we did not see a single oil derrick or refinery in Beaumont (we saw one refinery just outside of Houston, but nothing resembling one in Beaumont). This was disappointing. I feel like I was misled.

    Third, it took us two hours to drive 5.7 miles on our way in to Beaumont on I-10. I thought that this was wrong. The delay was caused by the traffic created by construction on the bridge over the Trinity River. Since we were coming from Dallas (and had already crossed the Trinity at the beginning of the trip) I felt that this was somehow unfair. RR, on the other hand, was excited that the Trinity "actually looked like a real river. I now understand why they originally thought that they could sail ships up and down it."

    Fourthly, did you know that Beaumont is home to the World's Largest Fire Hydrant? No, I’m NOT kidding. Granted, I didn't actually see it, but apparently it is located in the city and is one of their largest tourist attractions. Personally, I feel that if one of your city’s biggest attractions is a really big fire plug you should move, but – again - that’s just me.

    Fifthly, while signing up for the conference last month, RR and I discovered that Beaumont lists Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, Louisiana as one of its MUST SEE ATTRACTIONS. Does anyone else think that it is wrong that a casino located some eighty miles away in another city (not to mention state) is being advertised on their tourism guide?

    Sixth, we stayed at the La Quinta Inn. Not that all La Qunitas are bad, mind you. However, the La Quinta Inn that RR and I stayed at in Beaumont was “Spanish for SKETCHY”. There is seriously nothing like driving up to your motel room door, and seeing eight men dressed like bikers smoking and drinking beer on the stairs leading up to the second level. RR thought (optimistically, of course) that they might also be conference attendees. I figured that it was unlikely that they were also in the museum field, but referred to them as our conference “Welcome Wagon” for the rest of the trip anyway.

    The following is a list of quotations from our trip to Beaumont. Enjoy:

    The drive from Dallas to Beaumont…

    Deals: [Calling ONSTAR] “Uh, hi…can you please tell me which side of Houston we are on right now? East? Okay, good. And does 610 really go in a circle? It does? Yeah, we totally just went in a circle.”

    Deals: “Oh, look! That hotel has ‘FREE WiF’!”
    RR: “And a tin building painted like a Whataburger.”

    RR: “Well, maybe our hotel will be on the good side of town?”
    [Continues driving for awhile]
    RR: : “Well, maybe not…”
    Deals: “Hey, look! A McDonald’s Golden Arch Supply Store! And look! It’s right next door to our hotel!”
    RR: “Figures…”

    Upon arriving at our hotel room…

    Deals: “Oh, look who is staying directly above us! Why didn’t we bring Gypsy?!”

    RR: “And why do I have to sleep next to the window?”
    Deals: “Because I walked in first.”

    RR: “At least we don’t have to worry about people breaking into the room…that door is hard to open.”
    Deals: “Maybe we should forgo maid service this trip?”
    RR: “Good idea.”
    Deals: “Hey, look on the bright side. At least I can brush my teeth while you shower.”
    RR: “This is true.”

    RR: [Lying down on bed] “Oh, no! Don’t look up!”
    Deals: [Looking up] “Why does our ceiling have a butt crack?”

    RR: [In a panic] “What kind of hotel doesn’t have closing curtains?! I cannot believe we don’t have closing curtains! Why DON’T these curtains close? Why am I sleeping on the bed next to the window that doesn’t have closing curtains?!”

    Deals: “Look. I made a ‘Hotel Survival List’.”
    RR: “Really? Let me see.” [Reading list] “Deck ‘o’ Cards, Liquor/Alcohol, Mace, Weapons that don’t require a three-day waiting period, 1-800-RENT-A-DOG, Curtains (preferably ‘black-out’).”

    RR: “Ew. EW. EW. Why am I walking around barefoot?”

    RR: [LOUD flush from bathroom followed by a muffled scream from RR] “Ummmm…right. Now, I’m afraid to flush it.”
    Deals: [From the other room] “That bad, huh?”
    RR: “Maybe it won’t be so bad if I wait awhile and try again?”
    Deals: “Like, just maybe, they had the water turned off earlier or something?”
    RR: “Exactly.”
    [Flushes again]
    RR: “Well, maybe not. Note to self: close lid before flushing.”
    Deals: “Because it might come splashing out if you don’t?”
    RR: “Well, no. At least not exactly. I’m just afraid of what will happen if we add any volume.”
    Deals: “On the bright side, though, at least it is a ‘water saver’.”

    RR: “You know what I just heard? Some guy walking past our door stating that he ‘liked beer’.”

    Deals: “My back hurts.”
    RR: “Still? Here, let me see.”
    Deals: [Lifting shirt] “Is it red?”
    RR: “Uh, yeah…it’s red. It looks like a rash or something. Wait! I know. Hold on, don’t move. I’m going to get my phone and take a picture of it and send it to JLR. That way she can look it up on WebMD.”
    Deals: “Uh, okay…”
    [Pause while we wait to hear back from JLR]
    Deals: “What did she say?”
    RR: “Yeah, she thinks you have hives, but she told me to wash my hands and not touch you or your things just incase it’s something else.”

    RR: [Looking in the mirror] “I didn’t bring enough hair gel for the coast.”

    Deals: [Talking on the phone with Trevor] “No. No, I don’t think that people should be allowed to raise children in Beaumont.”

    RR: “Okay. I have to go to the bathroom now. It might be a while. Here’s the remote.”

    RR: “What time do you want me to set the alarm for tomorrow?”
    Deals: “I dunno. What time is the Continental Breakfast?”
    RR: “Huh. Good question. Where’s the Hotel Directory?”
    Deals: “Are you kidding?!”

    At RR’s Committee Meeting…

    Deals: “So…uh…does this group have a chant or something?”
    RR: “No.”
    Deals: “How ‘bout a song?”
    RR: “No. Why are you asking me this?”
    Deals: “Well, you all have a banner and people keep cheering.”

    Overheard at RR’s Committee Meeting…

    Committee President: [In all seriousness…] “We’re thinking about cancelling the summer workshops unless we can have one that promises to draw a large crowd like ‘Complicated Shipping Issues’.”

    Deals: “Really? ‘Complicated Shipping Issues’? That draws a crowd?!"
    RR: “I’d go.”
    Deals: “You’re kidding, right?”
    RR: “No.”
    Deals: “I think it should be on deodorant stains.”
    RR: “Riiiight…no.”

    La Quinta: An Annotated Photo Tour...

    And so everyone can fully appreciate the sketchiness of our hotel room, I offer the following:


    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    My bodyguard...


    Incase you haven't noticed, I've changed my profile picture.

    For whatever reason, BLOGGER no longer wanted to recognize my little, blue question mark. So, I was forced to rethink my image.

    This is what I came up with:

    If you don't like it, talk to Katie...

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Stupid bird...

    Okay, there is an extremely confused Mockingbird that is currently residing in the pecan tree in my front yard.

    Last night, he apparently felt inspired to start singing at one in the morning. Why?...yeah, no clue. But sang he did at the very top of his tiny, little birdie lungs all freakin’ night.

    Now, the Mockingbird is called a Mockingbird for a reason. They are not creative birds, and do not feel compelled to come up with their own unique song. Oh, no, no. That would require effort. Instead the Mockingbird just plagiarizes (or "mocks") the calls of other birds. Some may think this is neat. I find it pathetic.

    The Mockingbird in my front yard has definitely done his homework...errrr..."copying". He has memorized twenty-three individual birdcalls. How do I know this, you ask?...Because I counted. It isn’t hard. The little fellow has got his birdie playlist on "repeat". He doesn’t even feel the need to switch up the order. My favorite part of his repertoire is somewhere in the middle when the calls start to sound vaguely like a car alarm. You know..."Honk, Honk, Honk! Beep, Beep, Beep! Do-Dee! Do-Dee! Woo-ooo-Woo-ooo-Woo!"? It’s kind of like that (except more like a bird, and less like a vehicular burglary).

    Anyway, the idiotic Mockingbird would not shut up last night. He sang for hours. At one point my crazy-but-sweet neighbor came outside and tried to reason with the noisy, little booger. Through my bedroom window I heard him say, "Now, what do you think you're doing?...Huh? It isn't like it's morning or anything! You need to stop - people are trying to sleep here!" The Mockingbird, however, ignored my neighbor's pleas and just kept on singing. Defeated, I heard my neighbor say, "Stupid bird," before going back into his house and slamming the door.

    Somewhere around three in the morning I started to wonder if it was illegal to kill a Mockingbird in the state of Texas...or at least put a gag on one. It IS the state bird and all. I'm guessing it is since it's (apparently) illegal to pick, sit on or otherwise physically or emotionally harass a bluebonnet. Stupid state symbols. Boo! I'm pretty sure that bluebonnets are considered "weeds" in other places. Yes, they are pretty. I'm not debating that. I also think dandelions are pretty, but no one would consider it a crime to pick one of those. In fact, people chemically engineer products to specifically rid their yards and gardens of that particular “wildflower”. I hope that the dandelion is the state flower of somewhere. It only seems fair…

    Wait. Where was I? Oh, yes…the mixed up Mockingbird.

    Yeah, so he must have cracked his eggshell before he hatched or something. That bird just isn’t right. Oh, and just so you know, he’s back tonight – just singing away like he has an audience that doesn’t hate him or something. It might be the lack of sleep, but I’m seriously starting to wonder why the other birds don’t just gang up and beat some sense into him. My neighbor already tried reasoning with him, and a solution could not be reached diplomatically. Obviously, further – and deliberate – action is needed if I am EVER GOING TO GET SOME SLEEP AROUND HERE!


    Anyway, that’s all.

    (Stupid, dumb bird)

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Happy Birthday to the ASPCA...

    Today the ASPCA turns 140 years old!!

    Please join Gypsy Kitty, Alley Cat & Dolly Dog
    in wishing the ASPCA a very, very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!