Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mal de Debarquement

Hopefully I don't have it. I am tho in my 6th day of landsickness after cruising. Last cruise it lasted 5 days after. Hopefully I'm about done. Googling informed me that Mal de Debarquement is landsickness that goes on indefinitely (shudder).

Cruise was nice. Sunshine, blue skies and water, horizon to horizon views, green islands are definitely a nice break from our winter grays. Snorkeled off St. Thomas, better than last time I tried, sea turtles and huge schools of little fishies were cool. St. Kitts seemed pretty run down, and Granada was still seriously torn up from hurricane Ivan of 5 months ago. Reminded me of the thoughts I had on our 1st cruise: not much to build economies from on these islands, the poverty is depressing, but they say at least there is always plenty of food to eat. Aruba was really pretty -- flat and very developed. High point of the trip was my wife water-skiing off of Palm Beach. Good boat, twin motors, pulled her right up on a slalom ski. She snuck the rope over head before I could have the driver cut the motor and skied a while with the rope behind her neck, which she hadn't done in 20 years, and of course with the rope between her legs. The 20 year old Dutch kid driving us thought she was totally the bomb. He would drive her past catamarans full of people to show her off. And, she is so happy when skiing, with a big grin on her face like a little kid on Xmas morning.

Got some good trash reading in, of course, including 2 1st novels. "Clade", by Mark Budz was a good effort. Post-ecocaust where custom biotech keeps what's left of the ecosphere functioning. Sort of kinder and gentler, a major plot element is when the protagonist and his girlfriend break up with 40 pages to go.

Stronger and edgier was "Spin State", by Chris Moriarity. Genetically engineered humans and AIs (discriminated against, of course) and Einstein-Bose condensate miners. A very good read.

Read another Stephen Baxter, "Coalescent". It was a decent read, but I think I got where it was going too quickly from my evolutionary readings. Basically, a 1600 year old cult/society follows the social insect breeding model and begins to evolve away from mainstream humanity -- actually very possible.

I also read an old David Drake, "Killer". I think this was an old used-bookstore purchase. Good, quick trash reading. Also 2 Elmore Leonard's, "Tishomingo Blues" and "Be Cool" (purchased in San Juan airport for the flight home). His dialogue is always great and the characters always cool, but the plots seem to be getting sketchier and sketchier. At the end of "Tishomingo Blues", I was seriously wondering, so how was this supposed to have ended? I had the same reaction recently to the movie version of "The Big Bounce".

I got to use 2 fun facts in random conversations on the trip that I think are generally useful for just kind of saying "Evolution is real, here's evidence":

  1. Dogs and humans have been hanging out together for ~150,000 years, based on when dog DNA diverges from wolf DNA. What a great hunting pair, us with the eyes and dogs with the nose. You can always bring this up in conversations with dog-lovers.
  2. Lactose intolerance is the natural state of affairs for all mammals but humans. It makes total sense that mammals quit manufacturing enzymes to digest lactose after the age of weening -- to continue to do so would be a total waste of effort. Lactose tolerance in human adults has only evolved in the last 10,000 years since humans domesticated cows and goats and harvested their milk -- evolution in action, in the brief period of time covered by human history. You can always bring this up in conversations with lactose intolerant people (who are apparently slight "throwbacks").
Downloaded two more albums from iTunes. It's bad tho, Amazon suggests these, I go to iTunes to get them ($9.99 instead of $14). I then immediately put on CD for listening to in the car. Problem is, amazon is going to lose track of my history and I will miss the recommendations of Amazon's canny data-mining software. Anyway, got Jack Johnson "On and On". Kind of like John Mayer, but more folky/acoustic, and some of the lyrics seem weak. Still, easy to listen to, 3 stars. Also got another Death Cab For Cutie "The Photo Album". Just listening to that now.

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