The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

April 12, 2011

Wandering Off the Beaten Path at Princess Cays

Filed under: travel, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 11:51 pm

 

For most people, the first things that comes to mind when they think of the Caribbean are the beaches.  I’m sure that some people (mostly the ones who haven’t ever actually been to the Caribbean) seem to have the misguided impression that entire islands are surrounded completely by pristine white sand beaches.  While it is true that there are some very nice beaches to be found on many Caribbean islands, the reality is that these beaches make up only a relatively small portion of the shorelines of many Caribbean islands.  Granted, most people traveling in this part of the world aren’t going to have any trouble finding the nice beaches on the various islands, but many of the cruise lines that operate in the Caribbean have their own private beaches (or, if you believe what’s in the brochures, private islands) that they include in their itineraries.  For Princess ships (as well as P&O ships, and even an occasional Cunard or Costa ship when they’re in the area) this beach stop is Princess Cays, a beach near the southern tip of the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. 

Geographically, Eleuthera is a bit of an oddity, being nearly 110 miles long from tip to tip, but only about a mile wide for most of that distance.  This means that many of the island’s visitors
(at least the ones coming by cruise ship) will never see more than a tiny fragment of the island’s southern tip during their visit.  At least the part they do see comes with a nice white sand beach and plenty of things to do while you’re there.  Granted, many people will quite likely find a nicer beach elsewhere on their cruises (I happen to like Coki Beach in St. Thomas myself)  but if there’s one particularly nice thing about the beach at Princess Cays, it’s the fact that your visit comes with no obligations.  One thing you quickly learn while on a cruise is that the port calls are often rather short, meaning that you’ll barely have time to scratch the surface of many of the islands you will visit.  Sure, a beach day at one of the popular cruise ship port calls like St. Thomas or St. Maarten sounds nice, and you certainly have that option if you wish, but with all the other shore excursions, tours and other activities being offered, not to mention all the shopping there is to be found on these islands, there’s only so much you’re going to be able to get done during the short time you’ll have on the various islands, so in most cases you’re going to have to pick and choose.  On the other hand, when you’re at Princess Cays, you’re guaranteed a day on the beach if you want it, with little else competing for your time ashore.  Sure, there’s options here as well (there are plenty of watersports on offer during your visit, and there are snorkel areas along the beach with lots of fish to see) but most people are just going to just spend the day relaxing in the sun.  But for those who are willing to get up out of their beach chair and explore a little, Princess Cays does have a hidden secret to be found.  You will find more information after the jump.

(more…)

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June 8, 2008

Old? Yes. Decrepit? Maybe.

Filed under: Personal Stuff, Uncategorized — Brian Lutz @ 10:22 pm

Well OK, maybe not decrepit just yet, but I’m definitely getting there on the “old” part.  Today I turn 30 years old, and with such a chronological milestone comes the usual pondering of the circumstances that got you to this point.  To be honest, I’m pretty sure that there are things I could have done better over the years, but all things considered, things have actually gone pretty well up to this point. 

Sure, there’s a few things I could use to fix, but those are just minor things like actually folding laundry every once in a while (I don’t care to admit how long it’s been since there wasn’t a pile of laundry on the floor here,) not eating quite so much garbage and getting away from contracting and into a more secure form of employment, but there’s still time to deal with those.  There’s also the pesky little problem of still being single at age 30, which I’m still working on doing something about (sort of), but I suspect that if nothing else, that would take care of the laundry problem (or rather, force me to take care of the problem myself…)  For the time being, I still have my health, whatever I’ve been trying to pass off for good looks for the last decade or so, and I’ve managed to remain self-sufficient for a number of years now, so I can’t complain (but, as Joe Walsh reminded us, sometimes I still do.) 

For the most part, I didn’t do anything special for my birthday, aside from a bit of cake and getting Happy Birthday sung to me a couple of times (which is nice because it’s the one day during the year that I can get away without having to sing that blasted song.) It does sound like some sort of party is in the works, although that won’t happen until a couple of weeks from now when Heather and Brooks are in town.   Either way, l sure hope that I can get things figured out sometime within the next thirty years or so.  A bit sooner than that would be nice though…

May 18, 2008

Chilling Out in the Pool… Literally

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian Lutz @ 11:04 am

As you probably figured out if you live anywhere near here, yesterday’s weather was unusually hot for this time of year, reaching as high as 90 degrees in Seattle. a temperature more typical of mid August than mid May.  With some of the unusual weather patterns we’ve had here this year (including snow as late as the middle of April, less than a week after we had a Saturday with 80-degree weather) we’ve been getting such anomalies as the combination of 80-degree weather in the mountains while ski areas are still open.  The weather provided an opportunity to wear shorts outside for the first time in more than six months, and a chance to spend some quality time outdoors.

Later in the evening, the singles ward I attend church at had an activity which was originally scheduled as a ping pong tournament, but due to the nice weather ended up turning into a pool party.  This took place at a house which is owned by the former bishop of our ward who is currently serving in Pennsylvania as a mission president, so a member of our current Bishopric is housesitting on a long-term basis.   There’s just one thing wrong with this picture…

As you can see, plenty of people attended, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of swimming going on here.  The weather outside might have been into the Eighties, but the temperature of the pool hadn’t quite caught up yet, and was rather cold.  A few brave souls (myself included) did eventually go into the pool for a while, but other people seemed to need a bit of, um, encouragement.  Josh Wheeler, who currently seems to be busy leading a double life (or at least blogging about one) decided to take matters into his own hands…

May 1, 2008

BeagleFest 2008: Living in the Doghouse

Filed under: Dogs, Uncategorized — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 11:19 am

If my calculations are correct (and if someone at American Airlines manages to figure out how to get an airplane or two off the ground, I’ve got about three days worth of dogsitting remaining before my parents get home.   On one hand, I will definitely be glad when I’m done with this, and can go back to not waking up at 7am.  On the other hand, this whole thing hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I expected it to be.  The dogs have been surprisingly well behaved throughout the week (although a built-up immunity to dog slobber probably helps out some in that regard.)

In some ways, this whole thing is almost like a bit of a vacation, even though I’m only about a mile from home.  Sure, I’m still going to work like I normally do, and downtown Redmond is not exactly my idea of a sunny tropical destination, but every once in a while it is kind of nice to break out of the usual routine for a bit and have an excuse to get outside more often than I normally do.  For the most part, I’ve had to limit my technology use to the portable stuff (most of my blogging this week has been on my notebook.)  Even though I can go home pretty much whenever I want, I haven’t spent more than a couple of hours there at a time, and that was really only because I needed to do laundry.

In order to entertain myself, I’ve had to resort to something that I haven’t done much of lately:  Watch television.  When I’m at home, I normally don’t watch a whole lot of TV, and what little TV I do watch is the stuff that’s recorded on my DVR.  Not having that luxury available to me, and having Imola just wanting to sit on my lap and take a nice little nap means that I have done a lot more channel surfing than I normally do as well.  Apparently I’m not missing much these days, but what else are you going to do when you’re sitting on the comfy chair in the living room with a contented dog napping on your lap?  I get the impression that there’s some basketball and hockey playoffs going on, but beyond that I don’t think I’m exactly making any new discoveries in my TV viewing habits.

It’s not exactly a tropical vacation, but in its own way, it’s kind of a nice break from what I’d normally be doing, which is sitting on the computer all night.  On the other hand, I’m thinking that sunny tropical vacation is starting to sound pretty nice around now…

April 27, 2008

Ack! Blogmemed.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian Lutz @ 11:16 pm

Dang.  I thought I managed to get away from these blogmeme things, but apparently Kiley couldn’t think of anyone better to send this stuff to, so somehow I ended up getting tagged.  I suppose since some of you are probably getting sick of all the dogblogging going on here lately, so here goes:

4 Jobs I’ve Had in My Life:

  1. Some sort of data extraction stuff for a small startup company out of White Rock, NM, for about six weeks during the summer my freshman year of high school.  I don’t remember much of this to be honest, only that they ended up looking for someone with a CS degree and experience  afterward, presumably to clean up whatever mess I made out of the stuff.
  2. Tech Support Guy at the Keane Seattle tech support call center and Federal Penitentiary for two years out of high school, and in a couple of short stints later on.
  3. Contract Software Tester, what I’m doing now
  4. Helping out with a rollout at the toilet paper factory (another temp job that involved mostly setting up computers at, yes, a toilet paper factory up in Everett.)

4 Movies I Have Watched Over and Over:

  1. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder version)
  3. A Christmas Story
  4. This one, for a number of various reasons, most of them rather unfortunate…

4 Places that I have lived:

  1. Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, NM (born here)
  2. Los Alamos, NM
  3. Redmond, WA
  4. Off in my own little fantasy world (it’s one of those flowery places with rainbows and waterfalls all over the place too.  Unfortunately, most of it hasn’t been remodelled since the early 1970s, and most of houses are covered in either avacado green or horrendous plaid patterns.  Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering, unicorns are highly overrated…)

4 People who e-mail me regularly:

  1. My manager at work
  2. People on the GramrCat alias at work (which probably explains where most instances of watching movie #4 come from…)
  3. My Aunt Pam (passing on her son’s weekly missionary e-mail)
  4. WordPress comment notifications

 4 of My Favorite Restaurants:

  1. Torero’s Taqueria at Crossroads
  2. Niko Teriyaki
  3. Bella Vista (a now defunct restaurant that was located in the Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque that had great big all-you-can-eat fried fish and chicken meals served family style with fries, cole slaw and garlic bread.  It’s not that the food was anything special, but it was always a fun place to go as a family , and the restaurant itself was a cool (if slightly rickety) old place with a maze of sprawling dining rooms, creaky wooden floors and candles on the tables.
  4. Gardunos (also in New Mexico, although I haven’t been to one since I moved away thirteen years ago)

4 Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:

  1. At home
  2. Somewhere that I don’t have to chase rebellious dogs around all day
  3. Wherever my parents happen to be right now (on a cruise ship out in the Caribbean)
  4. In a newly remodeled version of my own little fantasy world, preferably one with about 73% less unicorns than the current one.  Oh, and a dragon or two might be interesting, just as long as they’re not the type that destroy everything in sight and need some knight in shining armor with a magic sword to get rid of.)

4 Things I’m Looking Forward To in 2008:

  1. Being done with this whole BeagleFest thing
  2. Having a car with air conditioning in it when August rolls around
  3. If I can convince anyone else to go with me, going to the American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca in October
  4. Turning 30 (Oh wait…  Am I suppose to look forward to that, or am I supposed to dread it?  Oh well, I’m out of ideas anyway, so I’ll leave it there.)

4 People to Tag With This Thing:

Oh, I’m too lazy to tag people right now.  If you’re one of the first four people to wander too close to this thing have to do this.  And if you happen to be one of them and don’t do it, the unicorns are going to come and chase you around until you do. 

April 18, 2008

Breaking News: Spring Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 4:32 pm

Late March is considered to be really late in the year to be getting snow around here… So why in the heck are we still getting snow in the middle of April? It doesn’t seem to be sticking around for any length of time. Still, the standard commuter panic seems to be in full effect as a result. I managed to get a short video as well showing the type of snow we got (more like freezing rain, if you want to nitpick,) but since WordPress doesn’t seem to like to embed video off of Photobucket, the link can be found here.

This is about as much as we got before it started to taper off and melt away.  All in all, probably not anything to panic about (I’m sure people will find an excuse to do so nonetheless) but just enough to make us wonder what the heck is going on with the weather lately.

January 31, 2008

Hot on the Trail: The Curious Case of Sunjel and the National Consumer Confidence Commission

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 2:47 am

In creating the posts that show up on this Blog, I do a fair bit of wandering around, and most of the posts I make come from the results of that wandering.  I usually don’t dig too deep into things when I’m doing this, since there usually isn’t a whole lot to dig into.  When I was at the local Target a couple of days ago, while wandering the aisles I found a number of cans of Sunjel, labelled as being an “Earth Friendly Premium Gelled Alcohol” product, somewhat similar to the more well-known Sterno, but apparently targeted for use in ventless fireplaces rather than for warming of food.  In this case, there isn’t anything particularly notable about the product itself (it’s basically a can of gelled alcohol, with what is claimed to be an organic gelling agent) but some of the details on the can seemed just a little odd.  Normally I would just take a picture of this, use it for some sort of quick post and call it good, but some further digging on this turned up some rather unusual stuff.

Anyway, Here is the can itself (enlarged a bit to make it a little easier to make out some of the details:)

If you still can’t read the text on the top of the can, it reads as follows:

We are approved by The National Consumer Confidence Commission

Verify everyone’s service & product certification on www.TheApprovalCompany.com including ours

And the text on the banner reads:

Voted Favorite Brand By Consumer Poll

Since 1985

We’ll get to the first part later, but for a relatively mundane product found on the shelf at Target with no obvious competition. it seems like they are making an unusual effort to assure the customer the legitimacy of their product.  It seems to me that there shouldn’t be a whole lot to question here.  Either the stuff catches fire when you light it and continues to burn for some reasonable length of time, or it doesn’t.  The information listed on the back of the can points to a website for the company found at http://www.thesunjelcomany.com, which I went to in order to try to get some more information on the product. (more…)

January 8, 2008

Is Your Marketing Going to the Dogs?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 9:33 pm

(Note:  This post was crossposted from buzz.mn.) 

For some reason I have yet to figure out, Beagles seem to run in my family. Although my current situation does not allow me to properly take care of a pet, that doesn’t mean I have to go dogless. My parents own a pair of Beagles, pictured to the left (although that is a fairly old photo now.) Their names are Imola and Minardi (yes, we have Formula 1 fans in the family,) and they are related to each other, albeit from different mothers. My sister and her husband also own one of Imola’s littermates (named Enzo,) as well as an older (and marginally less hyperactive) Beagle by the name of Alpine. This means that I get to go hang around with the dogs pretty much whenever I want, but without having to worry about feeding, training, cleaning up after them or having the house trashed. Grandpuppies, if you will.

Beagles are very affectionate and even-tempered dogs (Imola in particular always seems to want attention,) but this certainly doesn’t make them easy to care for. These two are very high-maintenance, and generally require not one, but two trips to the local off-leash dog park per day to burn off energy and keep them from destroying the house too badly. Even then, they always seem to be getting themselves into trouble one way or another, and can be incredibly hyperactive when they get worked up. They also have a tendency to become incredibly single-minded in their pursuit of an interesting scent (which makes Beagles a popular choice as scent dogs) and tend to bark at just about anything that catches their attention, much to the chagrin of the neighbors. We cannot let them out into the yard unsupervised anymore due to their tendency to escape. Have you ever tried rounding up four escaped dogs running around the neighborhood at once? I would not recommend it.

But I digress. Aside from a convenient excuse to post a gratuitous dog photo, when I was over at my parents’ house this afternoon, I noted this reminder from their vet which came in the mail:

The first thing I noticed was just how far on-demand digital printing has come nowdays to allow something this polished and professional looking to be sent out by a small veterinary clinic (it turns out they have a service to send the cards out for them.) It isn’t just a cookie-cutter postcard with a name printed on it either. It’s a completely customized card with the specific breed and customized information. And it’s not just someone running these off on the office inkjet either, the entire thing looks to have been professionally printed. As impressive as this might look, there’s just one slight problem here:

The last time I checked, none of our dogs could read. Sure, you could have someone slightly more literate and gifted with opposable thumbs take care of this for them, but the result would probably turn out like that old “blah blah Ginger” Far Side cartoon (I won’t link it, but an image search should dig it up.) Even if by some miracle your dog WAS able to read and comprehend the contents of this postcard, what makes you think they would actually do anything about it? You’re talking about creatures that require months of intensive training just to keep them from peeing on your expensive new carpets, I’d have to believe that getting them to set themselves up an appointment to go get their booster shots is probably going to be out of the question. All in all, it’s an impressive effort for something like this, but I just hope nobody over there is wondering why none of the mail they send out is being read by the intended recipient.

September 13, 2007

It’s beginning to look a lot too early

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian Lutz @ 11:05 pm

Are you the type of person who needs to plan out their Christmas decorations three months in advance?  Fear not, Costco has got you covered:

Christmas already?

At this rate, pretty soon Christmas in July is going to be considered getting a late start.  Ironically, I don’t recall seeing any Halloween stuff there yet (it looked like Target was just getting theirs set up when I was there today though.)  I suppose it could be worse though.  At least when I was growing up, I don’t ever recall seeing back-to-school sales starting two weeks into Summer vacation.

September 3, 2007

…And the other will lead you to your doom.

Filed under: Random Stuff, Uncategorized — Brian Lutz @ 10:28 pm

One Size Fits

A bit of pronoun trouble at the soda fountain.  Fortunately, I chose wisely, and lived to tell the tale.

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