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.

 

A New Old Book

I recently bought a book on Amazon at a sale price of 99 cents.  The book Thrilling Cities showed up on my Kindle Fire HDX as a special price item for prime members.  The title caught my eye, and then the author’s name also caught my eye, it was Ian Fleming.  Ian Fleming is, of course, the creator of the most iconic spy of the 20th century: “Bond, Jame Bond.”  I have all of Fleming’s’ novels, but I had never heard of Thrilling Cities.  So I was looking forward to reading it.  But first, I decided to look it up on Wikipedia to find out some history about this book.

The book is a travelogue written by Ian Fleming in his capacity as a writer for The Sunday Times.  The book was published in November 1963.  Thrilling Cities was initially a series of articles written for The Sunday Times.  These articles were based on two trips that Ian Fleming had taken.  The first trip was in 1959, and the second in 1960.  The 1959 trip had been suggested to Ian Fleming by the features editor of The Sunday Times, Leonard Russel.  

Russel told Fleming that he ought to take a five-week, all-expenses-paid trip around the world for a series of features for the paper.  When Fleming at first declined, claiming that he was a terrible tourist, Russel was able to persuade him to undertake the trip, claiming that at the very least Fleming could get some material for the Bond books in the process of traveling.

Indeed, in the course of Fleming’s travels he would encounter some interesting people  such as Richard Hughes, the Australian correspondent for The Sunday Times, who squired Fleming around Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo.  Richard Hughes would eventually be immortalized in literature as being the basis for the character Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice, as well as being used by John Le Carre as the basis of the character “Old Craw” in The Honorable Schoolboy novel.

While in Tokyo Fleming and Hughes were joined by a journalist named Torao Saito, nicknamed “Tiger”.  Saito was later used by Fleming as the model for the character Tiger Tanaka in You Only Live Twice.

Thrilling Cities is Ian Fleming’s view of fourteen cities that he visited in his two around the world journeys.  The cities covered were: Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Geneva, Naples and Monte Carlo.

He wrote as if he were making journal entries, as opposed to some dry articles for publication.  He wrote about his impressions and his experiences while walking about the cities visited.  He was not interested in museums and civic information.  Instead he concentrated on looking out for interesting, and in some ways “thrilling” people.

He closed off each chapter with his dealings with local hotels, restaurants, food, nightlife, and even some of the more “interesting and thrilling” houses of ill repute that were to be found along the way.

His first journey ended in New York, with Fleming then returning to London.  In 1960 he once again begin a long journey.  This time taking a car and driving all over the Thrilling Cities” of Europe.  His first stop on this trip was Hamburg. He praised the sex industry in Hamburg by writing “how very different from the prudish and hypocritical manner in which we so disgracefully mismanage these things in England”.

In contrast to his views of Hamburg, Fleming found Berlin “sinister, but in a thrilling way”.  However, Vienna he found boring, by too “tidy and god-fearing”.  But he was cheered up upon reaching Les Avants where he met up with Noel Coward at his villa.  Also visiting Noel Coward was Charlie Chaplin, who was writing his memoirs.  Fleming in a couple days of entertaining “chatter” managed to obtain the rights to publish Chaplin’s memoirs in serial form in The Sunday Times.

In some ways the “Thrilling” people that Fleming was on the look out for, where also a bit “dangerous”.  For example in Naples Fleming met and interviewed Lucky Luciano, calling him “a neat, quiet, grey-haired man with a tired good-looking face.”

In Macau Fleming and his friend Richard Hughes went out of the way to visit and chat with the premiere citizen of Macau, Doctor Lobo.

“The reputed gold king of the Orient, the enigmatic Doctor Lobo of the Villa Verde in Macao [sic].  Irresistibly attracted, I gravitated towards him, the internal Geiger-counter of a writer of thrillers ticking furiously.” {Thrilling Cities, Ian Fleming, page 22}

“To take only the case of gold bullion, it is, therefore, perfectly easy for anyone to arrive by ferry, or seaplane or come across from Communist China, only fifty yards away across the river, buy any quantity of gold, from a ton down to a gold coin, and leave Macao quite openly with his booty.  It is then up to the purchaser, and of no concern, whatsoever to Doctor Lobo or the chief of the Macao police, to smuggle his gold back into China, into neighboring Hong Kong or, if he has a seaplane, fly off with it into the wide world.”

“These considerations make Macao one of the most interesting market-places in the world, and one with Many Secrets.” {ibid}

As Fleming put it to the Doctor, surely he was a man who needed a great deal of protection.  The Good Doctor replied that it was so, but he declined to discuss any of the arrangements he had made with the feared Tong to secure his safety.  Ian Fleming wisely decided to not pursue the topic any further.  However, he began to think of a fictional character that he decided to call “Goldfinger”.  There was also another character to be called “Doctor No” that had some of the characteristics of the Good Doctor Lobo of Macao.


I am taken by the style of this book, and it makes me recall some of the “peculiar” circumstances that affected my life.  A couple of times things that happened during my military service, that were a bit thrilling.

Such as the time that I was in a bar and wound up dancing on the bar top, only to fall and twist my ankle.  I was so sloshed that I did not notice until I woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover.  I never told any one in my family because the location was classified, the bar itself was classified for reasons that I am not at liberty to explain.  Classified under the thirty year rule.

And while that thirty year rule has expired, perhaps now I could think about writing about that.  Although perhaps the exact location should be not mentioned, after all Islamic law still applies in the area.  No thirty year rule there.

In civilian life there were a couple “interesting” experiences in my life including another “dancing on a bar” incident in Cozumel, but this time I did not fall off.  Then there was a curious conversation that I got drawn into at a place called Red Frog Rum Punch Saloon, renowned for their Zombie cocktails.  (there are five different rums in that thing, along with some vodka and tequila, if it is done to Red Frog Rum Punch standards).

While I do not have a “Thrilling Cities” within me, perhaps I could write about some “Thrilling Circumstances”.  This essay could be the first in a series, maybe four or five.  Did you know once my mother and I met, and exchanged a couple words with Pope Paul VI at a papal audience in the Nervi, Rome?  There was also a time when I was part of an Honor Guard for President Gerald Ford at Pease AFB in New Hampshire.  Surely that is enough for an essay or two.


 

Making a Espresso Martini this evening

I am getting low on Myers Dark Rum. I have been using it to make some Zombies to help me sleep up to now. However, while out on the road today I stopped and picked up some Kahlua.

Loving this Espresso Martini in Cocktail Flow.

How to mix:

1: fill up the shaker with ice cubes

2: pour 2 parts|vodka, 1 part|sugar syrup, ½ parts|coffee liqueur, 2¼ parts|coffee into the shaker

3: shake well

4: strain into the cocktail glass

Some More of my Favorites

Some other favorite frozen dinners for my diet plan

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The double bowl system means that the pasta and vegetables are steamed over the simmering sauce in the lower bowl.  These Cafe Steamers are really quick delicious, but at 9.5 ounces, you might be hungry again in several hours.
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This Lean Cuisine Marketplace line is becoming one of my favorites.  Very flavorful, but only 9 ounces, after one of these, I need a snack in-between meals.  That is why I keep a couple of pears in the refrigerator for a snack.
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These are a great tasting preserves, only 10 calories per tablespoon.  Great for toast in the morning with a lot of calories.
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I really love this one although it costs around $4-$5.  It is mildly spicy, not to much, but combined with the Soy-Ginger sauce it is very, filling.  Lots of protein, only 390 calories.

Air Conditioner Season coming up

The summer is coming up and I have to consider the air conditioning in my apartment. When I was living in the trailer over in Harding Woods there was central air conditioning. However that broke down around 2010. And for the next 7 years I had a 12,000 BTU unit for the front half of the trailer, and a small 4,000 BTU window air conditioner in the bedroom.  It was never really enough to cool the place, but it did render the trailer semi-comfortable.

Here in Buena Gardens Senior Apartments there is a 12,000 BTU wall unit, basically the same unit that is over in mom’s apartment at Baker Place.  Mom’s unit works very well for her 400 square foot apartment, but her’s is 10,000 BTU.  My apartment is 650 square feet.

Last week there were two days at 89 degrees one day and 90 degrees the other, so it was at that time I turned my unit over to Air Conditioning and checked the unit out.  It did run just fine.  But next I wondered just how much it would cost to run the unit.  So that left the question just how to calculate that?

Luckily when the unit had it’s heater half repaired I had taken a picture of the plate.  And on the plate it told me that the cooling amp load was 5.1 amps at 240 volts.  So it was just a matter of doing the calculations:

  • 5.1 amps times 240 volts = 1,224 (amp-volts = work = watts)
  • 1,224 watts divided by 1,000 = 1.224 KwHrs
  • 1.224 KwHrs times $0.2024 per KwHrs = $0.2477 per hour
  • $0.2477 per hour times 24 = $5.94 per day
  • $5.94 per day times 30 = $178.37 per month if running continuously
    • if running 50% of the time then monthly would be $89.19
    • if running 40% of the time then monthly would be $71.35
    • if running 33% of the time then monthly would be $58.86
  • I Love Math! (could you tell?)

So the next thing I need to do once we reach the summer in earnest is to measure what percentage of time the unit runs at different ambient temperatures.  They I will know just how much of my electric bill is going to cooling.

For the time being I have the thermostat set for 76 degrees, since I find that completely comfortable.

Galaxy’s Edge Trip 2019

For those keeping track of my posts, you will note the one entitled “Mission to Batuu” which was about the opening of Galaxy’s Edge over in the Disney Studio’s in Orlando, Florida towards the end of 2019.  So you would know that I intend to go there and take in the new Star Wars land.

I remember clearly when I watched Stars War when it showed in 1977 and I have been a fan for all these years.  I also liked the next two movies.  However, I was not a fan of the Prequel Trilogy.

But seeing as I want to go to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in another year and a half, I decided that I should watch Episodes IV, V and VI again, just to have the stories fresh.  I have also decided that I need to watch Episodes VII and VII as well, since characters from those two movies will be included in the characters wandering around the Outpost Planet Batuu at Galaxy’s Edge.  I will need to be familiar with the bounty hunters as well, since they are supposed to show up around the Cantina and shopping areas of Batuu as well.

One’s performance on the Millenium Falcon is to affect how the characters will interact with one around the area.  If you get a high score you can be expected to be treated and greeted differently than if you get a low score.  All of this data is stored on ones RF wrist band which also carries the admission media as well as one’s resort room keys.  All of this data is the make an ‘immersion” into the Star Wars universe unlike any other experience.  I am looking forward to finding out for myself.