Day 12 (Jan 15 - Sea Day)

Ah me. Ate breakfast in the room today. Had a good run with getting up early enough to eat on the Lido deck but there is something very decadent about having them knock on the door to bring your breakfast.

Did get up to do Tai Chi (it is every day except Saturdays when we're at sea). The instructor is now describing what we do as Chi Gung (Gong?) with a little Tai Chi thrown in. I may have to go back to David Carradine. Perhaps I could start my own class. There are grumblings among other passengers about the class. Mutiny may be on the horizon. We're getting to the right part of the ocean for it I think.

The Vantage Group discussion/lecture was about gambling (history/psychology, etc.). Seems Chris Beckett, our tour host from Vantage, was involved in casino management for 17 years! Long story short? Don't do it! Take it from a professional. It was interesting but since I'm not a gambler it was more or less academic. I passed him later in the day and he said someone from our group having heard his talk came to him privately to ask for instructions on how to card count. Some people completely miss the point I guess. I mean, he went into detail about how the casinos actually made more money after people started trying to beat the system by counting cards (Blackjack)! Although a few very disciplined people actually did make money at it the vast majority can't seem to avoid "bending" the rules of the system and therefore eventually lose. This trip is becoming a study in human psychology. People watching is very interesting from time to time. We do bear watching don't we?

In the afternoon we had a "briefing" from some crew members. One ship's officer, one navigator and the chief security officer. Pretty interesting and then there was the opportunity for Q & A. The most amazing thing I learned was that this ship takes a mile to stop but...wait for it...the ship can do a turn around (180º turn) in about 300 yards!!! The 2nd Officer said rather dryly, "we don't like to do that." I can't imagine what would fly where if they had to but if they need to avoid some oncoming vessel or perhaps turn into a "rogue wave", it is nice to know they have that type of maneuverability.

Saw some flying fish yesterday. I was on deck near sunset hoping to film a "green flash" * (no luck-clouds on the horizon) and there they were. Tried to video them but didn't get the camera on them for more than a brief second or two. Darned things just keep moving! They're cool to watch though.

Stargazing was pretty good last night after the show. Got to see the Southern Cross again. Well, most of it. The lowest star obscured by low clouds on the horizon but I am now familiar enough with the constellation that I could tell for sure. Of course, having the astronomer verify my opinion didn't hurt either.

I've been asked about using the global coordinates to plot my position on a map. Unless you know how to use them don't bother. In a few days we'll be near actual solid objects and you won't need to. I just threw the coordinates out because they give them to us and I thought some of you might be able to do something with them. Last night's were 3º 14.60' S and 118º 08.54' W. That's a little more than half-way between Panama and the Marquesas (I think). By the way, I learned that the Marquesas were named by some explorer who was naming them after some Marquis (a title for French nobles back in the day). For a short while the islands were named the Washington Islands by some guy who tried to claim them for the US but it didn't stick. The Marquesas and the Society Islands (Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora - our next three ports after Nuku Hiva) are all part of French Polynesia. The original version of the movie South Pacific was filmed (at least in part) at Moorea and as I mentioned, Nuku Hiva was the site for a season of Survivor. My brain runneth over with useless information.

* Scholarly footnote: (yeah, right!) The "green flash" is a phenomenon which sometimes occurs at sundown. I had read about this in a Travis McGee novel years ago and knew that people at Key West gather just before sundown to drink and, oh yeah, look for it. What the astronomer said - he actually discussed it in his talk so I figured it must really exist and not be just the result of too much alcohol- is that as the sun goes down the various colors of the spectrum are progressively removed from the sun light (purple and blue are scattered sideways so we see the other colors mixed - yellows, oranges and reds for the most part near the end of the suns setting). The very last color to be seen is green but the conditions must be just right and it only lasts for a fraction of a second. I was really annoyed yesterday because the astronomer said they did see the flash. I was sitting down for dinner at the time. So today I went in search of the green flash. No flash and, of course I was late for dinner. It would be nice if they would arrange for the sun to set earlier or later so I would not have to choose....

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