I sent an Avatar Instead

Actually my last cruise was in 2012.  I, myself, never went on a cruise ever again. In the year of 2013 instead of taking a post-thanksgiving cruise, I stayed home and sent my Avatar ahead to take the cruise for me!  Then again in 2016, it was my Avatar that went on that cruise as well. And truth to be told, in 2018 for two days while at Universal Orlando, Paul D. Dute stayed in the hotel room, and my Avatar was the one that visited Volcano Bay and Universal Orlando Studios.

You see, once upon a time, I had another name when working.  I eventually was able to give that up. And became Paul D. Dute full time, once again, and I have been so ever since. As Paul D. Dute, I went on cruises beginning in 1990 and up through 2012.  I ended my series of cruises with a 7 day cruise from Baltimore to Florida and the Bahamas. I really enjoyed all of those cruises over that time span.

I had no intention of giving up on cruising though, no, not at all.  In 2014, 2015, and 2018 I went on multi-day visits to Disney World and Universal Orlando.  Those years I would have to fly down to Orlando. Having to fly, since on a cruise ship there is only a one day port stop where one can catch a shore excursion over to the theme park area.  If  I wanted to make a multi-day visit, then the only choices to get there are, flying, the train, or driving down.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  For 2013 I planned a cruise on the MS Carnival Pride. However I did not go, instead I send out my Avatar: eccentric blurb writing nerd with a speech recognition equipped laptop.

On a cruise it is possible to create an whole new identity, as it were.  I thought about it as creating and projecting a new Personae (footnote 1).  For this cruise my Avatar would wander the ship with his laptop, headset and microphone.  And my Avatar would make extensive diary and journal entries of the happenings around while hanging out at various lounges, bars, and seating areas aboard the ship.

My Avatar would stand out because of the headset with microphone.  The laptop was equipped with Dragon Speech Recognition© software. It worked very well.  I would softly speak and my dictation would be input into my file. But it was early days for speech recognition in those times.  So the sight of my Avatar there with a laptop at the bar was quite noticeable and stand outish.

By the end of the first evening several people had wondered why my Avarar was talking to the laptop.  That was the time for my Avatar to deploy my new Personae. When queried, I would explain that I was a political “blurb” writer. Invariably they would ask me to explain just what I meant by “blurb” writing.

My Avatar would explain that a “blurb” was a short essay upon a given topic.  He explained that he did not write whole books or speeches. My Avatar called itself a ‘political’ “blurb” writer because, rather than making stuff up, it was my calling to take a candidate’s thoughts, and then fill them up with that “homey” stuff that would make those thoughts sound “Stream of Consciousness Like”.  My Avatar explained that this was actually much harder than it might seem, and that there was a real demand for that sort of thing.

People are of course knowledgeable that serious candidates have a whole staff of people to work on their communications.  What you need: Idea Guys to come up with the basic message. But for a real success strategy, before calling in the Speech Writer(s), it is helpful to call my Avatar in!

Why? Because he can take the ideas and then wrap an anecdote around the ideas, and “homey it up a bit”.  Add those little touches, even some deliberate mispronunciation, and a cute metaphor or two, but don’t over do it!  In other words he writes a set of “blurbs” for the campaign. It is these blurbs that go to the formal Speech Writers to be turned into a stump address, or a full blown speech at a big fundraiser.

My Avatar realized a couple of days before the cruise, that once he got a conversation going, the very next question would be: “In the 2012 Election, did you sell anything, and to who?”  This gave my Avatar the chance to:

  1. Give a little gasp………
  2. Pause, and with some pomposity state: “Sorry but my dealings are understandably quite confidential, and I am bound by very firm “Non Disclosure Agreements”…….
  3. Another serious pause…….
  4. Give a Shy Grin, and wait for the next question: “can you give us a hint?”
  5. Another pause…………
  6. Then my Avatar would say something to the effect of: “Well, all I can say is that the campaign staff, which I could not name of course, was MOST GRATEFUL for my help.”
  7. Followed up by: “I can say no more.”

Then my Avatar would, from then on be most careful to close the laptop when anyone was too close.  Also for the rest of the cruise we would carefully place ourselves to be seen with the laptop and the headset in all sorts of places.  Prominent bars, at the food court tables after meals, at the very stern of the ship at the Conservatory (adults only bar and pool area).  We would be dictating to my journal, or dictating emails for family and friends.

For the remainder of the cruise my Avatar had become a minor celebrity on the ship! Once he heard faintly on the third day someone say: “Look! There is that crazy writer! The election is over, you would think he could just relax and enjoy the cruise!” My Avatar just chuckled under his breath!

By the end of the cruise I was being asked: “You can tell me! I won’t say anything!, You wrote that stuff for Obama didn’t you?”  I was quite pleased at reaction that my Avatar’s Personae had attracted! It was a most enjoyable cruise for my Avatar!

This little essay is not the end of the story however.  As I related previously, in 2014 I went for a 5 day visit to Walt Disney World.  And then in 2015 I went on a 4 day visit to Universal Orlando Studios to see the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.  For both of those trips I had to fly down to Florida.

But in 2016 I intended to cruise once again.  And once again I would take a post-thanksgiving cruise on the MS Carnival Pride.  And it would be AGAIN time to send of my Avatar on the cruise with yet another twist to the Personae.  

I was planning this time to be a Novelist, looking for “Color” on a cruise ship.  Should be FUN! …..To Be Continued…..

Foot Note 1;  I got the idea from one of my favorite books. “The Image Men” by J.B. Preistly, 1967,  About a couple of down on their luck professors, who create a new science “Social Imagistics” for the creation and projection of Social Images as a Personae.


With All Due Apologies to Claude Rains

Dona Dute’s Favorite Catch Phrase was:

"I'm Shocked, Shocked to discover there is gambling going on here!" 
Claude Rains in "Casablanca", 1942

And mom would indeed be shocked that Trump could have been so naive as to think that crooked real estate dealing techniques would work in International Diplomacy!  The fact is the “Art of the Deal” Sensei Trump was just plain ‘played’ by Kim Jong-Un.  It was masterful the way that Trump was exposed as a fumbling bumbler.

On “Morning Joe”  5/16/2018 MSNBC, Joe referred to Trump stumbling into a predictable humiliation.  Did he really thing that North Korea would take the “Iran+” deal?

from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster cocktail©

  1. Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit.
  2. Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V (Oh, that Santragian seawater! Oh, those Santragian fish!)
  3. Allow three cubes of Arcturian Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost).
  4. Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in honor of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.
  5. Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qalactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heavy odors of the dark Qalactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic.
  6. Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger.  Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink.
  7. Sprinkle Zamphuor.
  8. Add an olive.
  9. Drink…but…very carefully…

This effect of this drink have been described as “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped ’round a large gold brick’.”

Another version of the recipe:
  • 1.5 shots 151 Proof Rum
  • 1/4 shot Tequila
  • 1/4 shot Gin
  • 2/3 shot of Triple Sec
  • 1 shot of Blue Curaçao
  • 1 dash Bitters
  • 1 dash Grenadine

Have I tried one?

No, I have not, quite frankly it sounds like a ‘scary’ combination of liquor.

Where I found the recipe

I got this cocktail out of my 1987 Leather Bound Edition of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.  One of my favorite and much loved books in my collection, a book that I treasure and that I hope will find an appreciative home after I have gone.

Star Wars Episode 8G

from Late Nate with Seth Meyers©2018

the opening crawl

A New Dope

It is a dark time for the Republic. The Galaxy is in Chaos. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION rules with an iron, baby-sized fist, from a wretched hive of scum and villainy: THE WHITE HOUSE.

The emperor’s dastardly henchman, Scott Pruitt, has evaded justice, in a very nice plane. Grand Moff Pence patrols the outer rim for women to avoid. And the ruthless Trump administration is hard-ish at work on its most fiendish weapon yet: THE WALL.

In a stunning move, the Jedi master Robert Mueller has raided the headquarters of the emperor’s dumbest and most trusted lieutenant, Michael Cohen Meanwhile, a courageous band of RESISTANCE fighters searches the galaxy for a secret but definitely real TAPE that could destroy the emperor once and for all>

For more on this, it’s times for A CLOSER LOOK….

The Coin Mint @ Universal IOA

While I was on my recent vacation down to the Universal Orlando resort recently I wound up purchasing a souvenir for myself, one that cost more than $25.  That is unusual for me.  I have become very frugal now that I am retired and on a fixed budget.

Now when on vacation, I do enjoy spending money on cocktails, whereas in my usual state I very rarely drink anymore.  But on vacation, well, I regard some cocktails as simply part of the experience.  In recent years, I have also become fond of buying some caps.  But that is more a matter of my thinning hair.  My scalp becoming more bare means that sun is more of a problem for me, certainly more of a problem when my hair was much thicker.  So I like to have a collection of caps from the places that I have visited.  But that is another story for another time.

Other than that, I feel that I prefer to spend less money on myself.

However on the 14th of March I was over in the Islands of Adventure park.  I had arrived for my “Resort Guests Hour Early Opening” so that I could go and have breakfast over at the Three Broomsticks.  Afterwards I went on the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey attraction.  But then I had time on my hand before my 1100 hours reservation for lunch over at the Mythos, Grotto of the Gods, restaurant.  So I used the time to explore some of the shops, not just in Hogsmeade Village, but also the shops in the Lost Continent area.  I found such a shop around the entrance to the Eight Voyage of Sindbad Show.

It was called the Coin Mint.  They had displays of many medallions, and some of them attracted me.  The had coin blanks about 1.5 inches in diameter where they could use a hundred pound coin press to emboss an image on both sides of the coin blank.  There was a sheet of the various images that could be embossed.  (Sad to say, that it did not occur to me to save a copy of the sheet so that I could scan it).

I found two images that “called” out to me, and on a whim, I decided to order a medallion for myself, done in Bronze.  When I got home I put the medallion on a 17 inch cord with a Magnetic Clasp.

I include images of both sides of the medallion below.

Rose, the Flower of Eternal Life – Full of Light, Love and Purity
Pentacle, in Tarot symbol of the Earth element. Points to Higher Teachings. In Alchemy denotes Man.
Coin Minters1
After my vacation I was able to find their symbols list online, along with a drawing of the Coin Mint device that embosses the images.