February 01, 2013

Cruise 2012 - At Sea - Kitchen Tour (Day 4)

This was a packed cruise - there were only two days spent at sea. We spent a couple of hours touring the dining room kitchens, which were vast expanses of stainless steel. The head chef and captain spent time in the dining room answering questions while we were waiting to take the tour. Here, you can see someone searing off some beef tenderloin (the most reliable of the dining room's grilled meats).

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Posted by JAY at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2013

Cruise 2012 - At Sea - Crepe Bistro (Day 4)

Usually, we missed the buffet lunch onboard (which is very good!) - usually we got back after lunch, in time for pizza and sushi that was served around 3pm. While at sea, we went to one of the specialty restaurants, which involved a supplementary charge of $5USD. The food wasn't really any better, but I guess it's a bit more labour intensive. This spicy crab crepe was very spicy, and the dessert crepe that followed was good too. I'm not sure why they also served a salad BEFORE the main, since they also served a salad with the crab crepe. This is the only specialty restaurant we went to - we were more than happy with the buffet and the dining room.

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Posted by JAY at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2013

Cruise 2012 - At Sea - Engineering (Day 4)

Here's a German engineer giving a presentation on how the poop water is processed before being ejected. The presentation also looked at various systems - propulsion, desalination, electrical, etc. He did a good job of injecting the interesting-but-dry subject matter with dry humor.

Posted by JAY at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Special Request(Day 4)

The waitstaff seemed to delight in special requests (I bet they really didn't but they seemed to). One our our party requested no salt (though she had to select her dishes the day before). Another didn't like her food piled on top of each other, but separate, cafeteria-style.

My requests were usually 'can i have this part of that dish along with my regular order?' For instance, this was the daily-menu "Cherries Jubilee" (ice cream, cherry sauce and almonds) served on top of standing menu chocolate cake!

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Posted by JAY at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Temple of Zeus (Day 5)

In Chania, Crete, our first stop was to see the Temple of Zeus. We didn't get a tour here, we just hired two cabs that took us around for the day on their itinerary. The cabs prefer that kind of fare because it's much more than they would get otherwise - it can be difficult to get a regular cab. They get paid at the end - so you don't worry about them abandoning you.

They advised us to buy tickets here because the same tickets could be used for the Acropolis. That didn't quite work out, though.

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Posted by JAY at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Acropolis (Day 5)

The Acropolis was super busy. And super inefficient. Even though we had purchased tickets at the Zeus Temple, they wanted them EXCHANGED for new paper tickets. The line up for exchanging the tickets was mixed with people buying tickets and was super long - HOURS! Plus they didn't tell you that you needed to exchange them until you you waited through the entrance line so lots of people were being turned away.

Joseph, Dom's son, came to the rescue and persuaded one of the 'tour group' gatekeepers to let us in with our un-exchanged ticket. But yeesh, what a stupid system.

It was a pretty steep hike over smooth, slippery marble to get to the Acropolis and our older travellers did well to get up and down.

At the top, there was some heavy restoration going on and archaeologists were also there taking measurements.

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Posted by JAY at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Indian Buffet Selections (Day 5)

Unlike most days, we made it back for the end of the lunch buffet (or maybe it was dinner?), which was really good. This particular plate was Indian food, which was really well done. There's also some really tasty fried fish on the plate. There was always a huge variety of things to pick from. By now, I was kind of in the swing of things and getting used to the ship's schedule and layout. It takes a while!

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Posted by JAY at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Dinner Braised Short Ribs (Day 5)

I won't post all the dinners (they were all fun and tasty), but these short ribs were, by far!, the best thing I ate onboard. They were tender and unctious and the equal of anything served at La Pergola! I would've asked for a second helping if I hadn't also ordered a 'side main course' of breaded veal. Argh, after a cheese course, cod risotto appetiser and gumbo, there was just no room! And there was a sacher torte for dessert still on the way.

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Posted by JAY at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Mykonos Balcony (Day 6)

Mykonos was a low-key stop - we explored the picturesque port and didn't do any tours. The weather was hot and beautiful and we got a great view from the balcony.

I think we found our way to a beach, but for some reason I don't have any pictures of it! Oh well, more beaches later.

I had sort of lost track of time by this time and was mourning the end of our trip because it seemed like we'd been on vacation forever. Happily, I was corrected at dinner.

Top: Sunrise
Bottom: Sailing away

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Posted by JAY at 06:39 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Dinner Notes (Day 6)

We were lucky - our ship managed to get the only dock in Mykonos, so we didn't have to take a boat from the ship. Later, I found out that we were even luckier... apparently the waters were rough that day, and the other ships had to skip the stop entirely.

By the time we returned to the ship, it was swaying slightly and the trees in the elevator shafts were whipping back and forth. I'm prone to motion sickness and wasn't really feeling up to dinner. But unlike Julia (who also had a cold) I made it down, and ordered blander stuff off the standing menu (which was actually really good - poached salmon). But I skipped dessert.

The servers thought that I just didn't see anything that I liked - so they delivered a Grand Marnier souffle that wasn't on the menu. I couldn't let that go to waste and I enjoyed it - I've never actually had souffle before.

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Posted by JAY at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Kusadeshi Turkey Balcony (Day 7)

Still loving the balcony. This was a packed day, starting with a tour then extensive wandering.

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Posted by JAY at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2013

Cruise 2012 - House of Mary (Day 7)

This is where the Virgin Mary spent the end of her life, according to legend. Being a jaded cynic, it wasn't very meaningful for me, but it was much cooler and felt like a nice temperate summer, surrounded by foliage - mostly fig trees. There was also a spring where people could fill bottles of water (the tour operators supplied a cute terracotta jug) that had 'healing properties'. I took some for the neighbors but warned them not to drink it, since it had been sitting in my suitcase for a while and might have the opposite effect.

Posted by JAY at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2013

TFSA/Learning About Investments

For the past couple of years, I've been 'playing' in my TFSA with investments.

Like anything regarding finance, my goal is usually to avoid fees and act rationally. As it turns out, that's the academic consensus as well, which seems to show that paying lower fees, not past performance, is determining factor. I followed a model rather than bothering to understand everything. It basically means that I'll earn/lose whatever the markets gain/lose.

So, I ended up starting a TDW account and investing in eseries funds (no fees for purchasing/selling/account, low fees for the actual funds). ETFs are cheaper, but not for the small amount of money in ETFs, as there are charges for buying/selling.

I'm just now trying to understand what I'm doing. It looks like over the past couple of years, I've earned a money-weighted-return of 16.5% annually. I guess the markets were doing pretty well. (I only did equities... I have bonds/GICs etc outside of the TFSA (in RRSPs).

Posted by JAY at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2013


Yesterday I went back to the eye surgeon for PTK, which hopefully will fix the recurrent corneal erosions that I've been having since having PRK almost a year ago. It's been somewhat of a saga for my right eye.

First I did Lasik, but it was undercorrected and healed with a slight haze. Then I had PRK to correct that after about 6 months. The vision was really good, but every couple of weeks I'd wake up with intense eye pain as I opened my eye and piece fo the surface would rip. Depending on where the tear was, it could affect my vision for days. Muro 128 ointment was the only thing that would prevent that, but I didn't want to use it for the rest of my life.

So on Monday, I went in for PTK (basically, PRK without the correction), which is supposed to fix it. The surgeon also seemed to do some stromal puncture with a needle to roughen the surface of my eye to make it more likely my regrown eye surface would adhere. It was pretty uncomfortable, but not painful.

I slept most of the day after returning home (with some drugs).

Posted by JAY at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2013

PTK Recovery

Recovery is more uncomfortable than I remember it being. The bandage contact lens itches and it'll be days before it can be removed. I have to go to the optometrist every day until it's healed.

Reading screens is the worst so I've been typing these entries without proof reading. (But I can look at the keyboard).

Yesterday night I went and visited Jen, who had a baby boy (Christopher Matthew) on Saturday. He's pretty much just eating and sleeping - which is what I'm doing right now!

Posted by JAY at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)