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Boats and Pieces - Qualified Perceptions
Boats and Pieces
  • JoCo Cruise Crazy II was a lovely indulgent vacation. I am probably a little too much of an introvert for it to work for me by myself (despite the nerds there all being my people), but with a little mob (me and harrock and shumashi and mjperson and jcatelli) to mini-socialize with in addition to the larger group, it was great. Mike reports that towards the end, about five different people on ship staff told him that we were so much nicer than the usual passengers, which makes me both happy and sad, because while I like being thought of as nice, I hate that that is apparently the outlier.
  • (Many thank yous to chenoameg for taking us to the airport, and tirinian and ringrose for dealing with when the van sulked about having been driven by strangers again (okay, I think we have finally figured out the problem, though it will of course have to wait to be playtested) and more tirinian for coming to get us very late at night...)
  • My, hmm, fangirl tendencies did get kind of played up on the cruise. I mean, I don't squee or bounce, but I am kind of ridiculously impressed by famous people. (One of the memorable highlights of my career was when Sir Tim Berners-Lee came in to change his password! Or setting up a temporary guest account for Scott McCloud to get on the MIT network; I was tempted to ask him to sign my cleavage, but figured surely by then someone would already have made that joke, and plus it seemed crazily unprofessional). I was very proud of myself for speaking to four Famous People, and I am still taking stun damage from the "Wait, the famous Perl guy was our cruise photographer last time?" revelation from shumashi.
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dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: March 1st, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, fun! :)

I'd love to hear more details about the Cruise if you're up for telling. Purely from a selfish standpoint, though -- I'm curious if I'd enjoy that kind of thing, or if instead I should be vicariously enjoying it. :)

Edited at 2012-03-01 09:19 pm (UTC)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 1st, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

more about cruise

Sure, I can babble at longer length. :)

First, there's the Being On A Cruise thing. That's like being in a fancy hotel with about three times as much staff per person as a fancy hotel. There is as much food as you can eat for free whenever you want (except for alcohol, which is understandably non-free, and soda, which is more inexplicably non-free though it is cans rather than fountains); there's breakfast buffet or Served Breakfast in the main dining room, and lunch buffet, and high tea in the dining room, and tacos out by the pool, and dinner buffet or Served Dinner (though Mike pointed out to us that one can ask for two desserts or two appetizers or whatever, rather than the traditional one from each category on the menu), and late night snack buffet and ice cream all the time and about a dozen bars and also the chocolate drinks (oh, more non-free) down by the jewelry store. Not to mention, whenever there's a group somewhere (which includes things like standing in line for the show) waiters will wander by asking if you want drinks from the bar. So, it's really pretty over-the-top that way. The food ranges between decent (except for the key lime pie, which tastes like sorrow (not my quote)) and quite good, with an extra non-free dinner which is Really Darned Good based on a fancy NYC restaurant. My bar for perfect food is pretty high, because there are a lot of really good restaurants in Boston, and it's probably hard to serve dinner to a thousand people at a time really fast, so I can't blame them for that only being quite good. So, food. And two swimming pools, and a spa; Jerry likes the massage, Marleigh likes the heated chairs, Mike gets his hair cut. And the dozen bars is actually also basically "a dozen smaller cozy spaces you can go and hang out in comfy chairs and smaller groups". Many of them also have musicians. And there's the main cruise shows;we tended to not go to those, but the bit I saw could be described as a non-edgy comedian. The Indonesian Crew Show (the officers are Dutch, the crew is Indonesian) was neat, and had more of an amateur-real-person feel to it. There's a wine tasting. There's cooking classes. There's yoga. There's lounge chairs to sit on the deck and watch the ocean. And then there's the actual Places Where the Boat Stops. The first is Half Moon Cay - pretty much all cruise ships have a private island, and this one is Holland America's, so it's beach and excursions, and the food is also free. The later ones are Aruba (which seems to be a giant diamond store) and Curacao (which is a brightly colored Dutch town) Excursions means things like "snorkeling" or "horseback ride in the surf" or "swim with manta rays" or "visit the ostrich farm" or things like that. Jerry and I did excursions last time, but just wandered around in a little group. (Jamaica, last trip, is apparently not great for wandering around in; people tried to sell Mike drugs and harassed Marleigh).

Anyway, that's the "cruise" side of things. If the being catered too by a tropical beach hotel thing doesn't just skeeve you out, it's really pretty relaxing. Hmm, I wonder if this is going to be too long for a comment.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 2nd, 2012 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: more about cruise

Oh, I totally forgot the casino.
izmirian From: izmirian Date: March 2nd, 2012 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: more about cruise

Sounds excellent!
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 1st, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
The JoCo part included a nightly concert (or talk or story read or whatever), and also some morning get-togethers like a Q-and-A which was to a large part being entertained by the group of entertainers joking and teasing each other and generally playing off each other very amusingly. But in addition to that, the famous people mostly tried to be accessible and friendly, so they'd hang out by the pool in the afternoon or play games or chat or incite people to make shapes in the ocean. Mike played poker with Wil Wheaton. Then there was the game room, which tons of people brought games to, and was the official meeting place. One group ran a puzzle hunt across the week (Marleigh did that; we helped). There were D&D sessions in the Crow's Nest and a Dominion tournament and lots and lots of pickup games and an iPhone Handbell Choir and two dance parties in the nightclub with John Flansbergh (They Might Be Giants) as the DJ and JoCo karaoke and non-JoCo karaoke and an open mike night and a Drink and Draw with several webcartoonists. (One flaw is that the group was big enough that we just didn't all fit in the smaller lounge used for things like kareoke night; that was unfortunate.) One evening we all descended on one of the cruise ship musicians and listened to him play (at the suggestion of one of the JoCo musicians), which kind of floored him - the usual passenger is retired and not likely to sing along to Moxy Fruvous. There was a Moustache Formal with Mandatory Moustaches and Optional Fezzes with a number of very impressive fezzes and some very impressive moustaches (one was clockwork. Many were tentacular. Some hung from glasses). One fez looked like a Dalek and another like a Tardis. The fezzes really confused the muggles - we were clearly some sort of Shriner Hippie group.
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: March 1st, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wow.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 2nd, 2012 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's one of the cartoonists posting about the Drink And Draw: http://hijinksensue.com/2012/02/28/joco-cruise-crazy-2-fancy-sketchphoto-hybrid-comic-part-2/

Note in the background the guy wearing the scarf in what does not really resemble winter? He brought a bunch of scarves, in all the Hogwarts colors, and a Doctor Who scarf, and so on, which he had knitted himself. I got credit for complimenting him on his Watson scarf the first night, which is apparently one of the less recognizable ones. http://www.etsy.com/listing/89011979/dr-watsons-scarf-sherlock-holmes-2. It's a knitter thing. :) The knitters mostly met in the Piano Bar (because as per above, "bar" is code for "cozy space where you can hang out forever, and they will also supply you with drinks if you want.)
merastra From: merastra Date: March 4th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wait. I think I just realized that the JoCo part was a small subgroup in the cruise. Or am I confused again?

I also didn't realize the amount of gaming you guys had available. WOW! And playing poker with Wil Wheaton is Too Cool. ;-)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: March 4th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, we were just a subgroup of the cruise. The first cruise was about 250 people, this one was 500-something, out of a total passenger set of more like 1500. The main thing about cruise ships is that they're not designed to have everyone in one place, ever - there's two seatings in the main dining hall (plus the buffet), there's two identical shows in the main hall (which a lot of people skip anyway), so I think we were close to the maximum that we could, as limited by the big hall (but which was too many for the little hall where things like karaoke were). So being all the people on the ship would probably have to have different logistics, more like a conference where everyone isn't expected to be at anything specifically.

Holland America is apparently the Retired Folks cruise line (as opposed to say, Carnival, which is the young party-boat line or Disney, for families with kids), so we were different than the average passenger. (Apparently also much nicer than the average passenger, which surprised us. Not that we're not nice, but I have to admit that "the *nice* people" is not part of the nerd archetype; we're supposed to be socially awkward and weird. Not that there weren't any of that subspecies. :) )
From: tirinian Date: March 5th, 2012 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I think we are socially awkward and weird to *friends*, which is different from being socially awkward and weird to *staff*.
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