In Kansas City for the AFC Championship Game

Hi from Kansas City.  Arrived last night with an old buddy from High School, Mike Aronson. We hooked up in KC for a few drinks with Ralph and Jeanna and a bunch of their extended family. Funny, more Bills fans around than KC fans, it seems.

The gang. Bills fans are EVERYWHERE!

Jeanna and Lauren

We were debating last night how many Bills fans will be in the stadium here. I’m guessing maybe 10% (2,000 vs 20,000 KC fans) but some of the folks think that KC fans might have sold their tickets (EXPENSIVE tickets) and there will be a higher percentage of Bills fans. I hope I’m wrong and that they are right.

Mikey and I tried to get some KC barbecue last night so went to Jack Stacks, but it was an hour and 45-minute wait so we just went next door to some German restaurant. It was really good. Had some real Hungarian goulash.

We’ll be sitting at the game today on the 25-yard line with Lauren and her husband, Leo. These are our seats.

Funny, Mikey and Leo are both from NYC (me too, actually) and are really Giants fans, but for today they are Bills fans and will be wearing Buffalo blue.  Should be easy to spot us on TV, as we’ll be the Blue Wall amidst the KC Red Sea.

Big game from Josh and we can win this!


Alligator “Hunting” On My Birthday

Well, it’s not really alligator hunting. It’s more like alligator “seeking” (and then carefully avoiding).

But (you know me)—

I was gonna embellish (lie) about the trip today like I embellished (lied) about falling off the boat during the S. America cruise last year (and, hahahahaha, everyone believed my stupid ass except my daughter Melissa and Yuriy—dumbasses!)

So, that’s what I was going to do—I was planning on telling another tall fish tale (are alligators fish? 🤔)

BUT, as they say, reality intervened (but I ended up with an even better story).

Our boat sunk. (And below are the pictures to prove it!) And not just sunk—sunk into the lake that has all these frigging alligators we’d been “seeking” (and finding for the past 2 hours).

Scary as hell.  And there is NO cell service out on Okeechobee Lake.

We were having a great time with Captain Kenny, from the Louisiana bayou transplanted to Florida, seeing all kinds of alligators, from babies to 10 footers, and several water moccasins (Capt Kenny said the water moccasins are way more dangerous than the alligators— for 1. They are deadly poisonous, and 2. They are the one of the only snakes that actually attacks. Ugh!.  Said you’d rather run into 10 alligators vs 1 water moccasin).

So we’re riding through the weeds (hard to believe these boats can “drive” over them, but the landscape is actually on water) when we hear a loud bang and then another loud bang and the engine blows apart and quits.  Not the end of the world. We’ll just wait until someone comes along to help.

However, unbeknownst to Capt Kenny or us, one of the engine bolts that blew must have gone through the bottom of the boat because after a few minutes our feet started to get wet. Then we found the gash.

We started bailing (no pumps on these boats) but the water finds a way in and we only had our hands and a small bucket and couldn’t keep up. So slowly we started sinking.  Luckily for us, the water in this part of the lake was only 3’ deep so we were ok. But the water in the boat must have leaned the boat to one side, and it suddenly tipped over and we all fell out (pics below).

Not wanting to stand in this muddy water with alligators and snakes all around, we crawled onto the side of the boat as best we could. Not that we were ever in danger of drowning but we definitely were in danger of getting attacked. Scary.

About an hour later a small fishing boat (a young guy named Tyler, from S. Carolina, who was down in Florida duck hunting) motored by and offered to help (but his boat was too small for the 3 of us to fit into). Fortunately, about 20 minutes later another airboat (Captain Steve) came by to evacuate us (before any of us got eaten alive).

Man, that was scary.  The water is only 3 feet deep—up to our waist only—but it would have been over a one-mile walk, through all the weeds and trees and plants (and you can’t even see the frigging alligators and the water moccasins because they blend in) so it was better that we just stayed on the boat until help came to ferry us to shore.  A lot safer than walking!

Glad to be alive and uneaten!!!  I wanted a birthday dinner. But I def didn’t want to BE some snake or alligator’s birthday dinner 🙂

Whew!  One birthday I will never forget.

PS: Off to KC tomorrow for the Bills-Chiefs AFC Conference Championship game. You can look for us. We’ll be around the 25-yard line. The Blue Wall amidst the Red Sea 😉


Viking Cruise: The End of Our Journey

Well, as this comes to a close, it has been a great experience. We got a pretty decent “sampler platter” of South America. From the French Guiana to the Amazon to Rio and Montevideo, to Buenos Aires and the Falklands/Malvinas, Tierra del Fuego, around Cape Horn, to Patagonia and then tomorrow to Santiago.  What a journey.

But not home yet. From Santiago, we’ll go to LA to see Derek, Jessie, and Ernie, and from there to Dallas to attend the annual Dallas LP Christmas Party and see the gang there. It’s been great (and will continue to be).

On a check off the goals note, I did pretty good:

Got most of the year end LP stuff done.

Kept in touch with the offices (sorry for the many “Whaddup?” Emails 🙂

Read 2.5 books.

Walked over half a million steps (>250 miles) in the 47 days on the ship.

Worked out in the gym ALMOST every day. I promise Megan and Sam 🙂

Ate PRETTY well. Actually, if the scale here is right, I lost a couple of pounds on the trip which was much needed 🙂

Hallie and I didn’t kill each other. Didn’t even come close. Was VERY enjoyable actually. Good to know we could do that.

And was not bored once. Not for one minute.

A great experience through and through.

One of the nice things about cruises is 1. You’re in a beautiful “hotel” where everything is pretty much taken care of for you, and 2. Every day you wake up in a cool place (3. And you don’t have to pack and unpack when you get there.)

If you haven’t tried one, I’d highly recommend it. Probably best to start with a 7-10 day cruise (quarters are tight and it’s easy to get on one another’s nerves—we witnessed more than a few cases of that on this trip). It’s not for everyone, but I find it very enjoyable.

And our trip was more of an “old folks” cruise. No kids. No casinos. No big parties. That was fine with us. But for those who want loud bashes all night, there are lines other than Viking that cater to those who do. I’m sure there is something for everyone out there.

In any event, I’ll report from Santiago.  Gonna see if I can find an American sports bar there so I can (finally) get to see the Bills play. Been missing the best football they’ve played in years.  Oh, well. Not the end of the world. And I know that because we just spent a few days there actually 🙂


Viking Cruise: Heading North to Santiago, Chile

Well, finally on the way to our last port of call. The capital of Chile, Santiago.  I heard there are big demonstrations going on there. Memories of my youth 😀 (though probably smart if I stay away)

Our stop today, Puerto Montt, seen below, had to be cancelled. The docks are not accessible for big ships so what they do is they drop anchor in the harbor and then use their life boats to tender us ashore. However, when we got there this morning, there were 35 mile and hour winds and waves that made getting on and off the tenders difficult. Plus the anchor would not hold the ship in place.  So the captain called an audible and we left. Like he always says about the weather, “it is what it is.”

Disappointing because there is a beautiful lake and volcanoes here. Teddy Roosevelt said it is the prettiest lake in the world.

Next time, I guess. 😀

Heading North!



Viking Cruise: Punta Arenas, Chile

Arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile last night (I think our captain may have gotten a little lost on the way, judging from the map, eh?) 🙂

Anyway, today we got to kayak the Strait of Magellan. As you probably know, this is the pathway that Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, found that took him from the Atlantic to the Pacific and around the world 500 years ago. (next year is the 500th anniversary)

Very, very cool.

Punta Arenas is in Patagonia, and again, very far south. The city actually has almost the same population as Erie and tourism is a big part of their industry, especially as it has gotten warmer here over the years.

Allow me minor tangent from my travelogue please, if you don’t mind:

I am a big fan of technology. I know I’m not very good at it (I am still awed by the fact that connecting 2 tin cans with string rubbed with candle wax enables you to talk over that line, and have no clue how THAT works :), so I have ZERO clue how technology works, though I have used it all the time (I actually owned the first portable computer ever made—the Kaypro 2, back in the 1980’s before some of you were born!).  I love the brilliance and convenience of it.

But this REALLY amazes me:

Hallie’s Google phone can take this picture. (Actually you don’t even need the ship as background, JUST the numbers would work) and then Google spreads some magic sprinkle dust on the screen and it recognized those numbers as:

RRS Discovery (2013)

This article is about the 2013 vessel. For Scott’s 1901 ship, see RRS Discovery. For other ships of this name, see RRS Discovery (disambiguation).

RRS Discovery is a Royal Research Ship operated by the Natural Environment Research Council. The ship is the third such vessel to be built and named for the ship used by Robert Falcon Scott in his 1901-1904 expedition to the Antarctic.

Name: RRS Discovery
Owner: NERC Research Ship Unit
Builder: C.N.P. Freire, S.A
Cost: £68 million
Laid down: 16 February 2011
Launched: 6 April 2012
Completed: 3 June 2013
Identification: ·IMO number9588029

·MMSI number235091165

·Callsign: 2FGX5

Status: In service
General characteristics 
Class and type: Lloyd’s +100A1, Ice 1D, LMC, UMS, DP(AM), IWS, EP, Research Vessel
Displacement: 6260 tonnes
Length: 99.7 m
Beam: 18 m
Draught: 5.1 – 6.6 m
Installed power: Wärtsilä 8L20 – 4x 1770 Kw
Propulsion: ·2 × Azimuth Thrusters(5-bladed, fixed pitch)

·One retractable azimuth forward (1,350kW)

·One Tees Gill water-jet thruster (1,700 kW)

Speed: 12 knots
Crew: ·24 marine crew

·28 scientists

Notes: Endurance 50 days

Discovery was built as a replacement for the previous Discovery in the “blue ocean” research role.[1] The ship was ordered in 2010 from the C.N.P. Freire shipyard in Vigo, and was launched in April 2012. Discovery was delivered to the NERC in the summer of 2013 for a period of sea trials prior to her planned initial deployment.[2]

The ship is fitted with flexible laboratory spaces, allowing the laboratories to be tailored to the nature of the different scientific activities intended to take place on each cruise. Discovery is also fitted with an advanced hydroacoustic system in three major parts; a pair of major echosounders plus a hydrophone are installed in a special “blister” installation on the ship’s keel, while she also carries a pair of “drop keels” containing more echosounders, hydrophones and CCTV cameras.[3] Discovery is also capable of operating the National Oceanography Centre‘s ROUV Isis.

How on earth can the phone take a picture of 5 seemingly random letters/numbers and know that it this ship? I REALLY don’t get that.  Amazing! (And one of our biggest customers). Keep wowing ‘em, Google!

Heading north up the coast tonight.


Viking Cruise: Glaciers in the Beagle Channel

Yesterday we went around Cape Horn. That was very cool.

Not much to see. Mostly just out at sea, but here is a picture of the early morning with the sun starting to come up around 4am. You can see the storm and the rain we are trying to stay ahead of.

And as you can see, the storm caught up with us 🙂

Then through the Beagle Channel (named after Darwin’s boat) where we got to see some cool glaciers.

Of course the pics don’t do them justice. These are big mountains.

A room with a Glacier View 🙂

Viking Cruise: Ushuaia, The Southernmost City in the World

We spent the past 2 days here in Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego (land of fire), the southernmost city in the world.

It reminds me of Alaska or Norway only upside down 🙂 There is lots of water all around. It sits on the Beagle Channel (named after Charles Darwin’s ship) just north of Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan (1st man to circumnavigate the world), and Drake’s Passage. We are about 600 miles from Antarctica, with nothing between here and there besides the S. Atlantic.

It is a bigger city than I imagined, with nearly the same population as Erie—over 100,000, although 40 years ago only 5,000 people called this place home.

It actually started as a prison colony—a place where you would ship the worst of the worst and put them in a prison where, even if you could escape, there would be nowhere to go.

It is cold here most of the year, but luckily we are in late spring here so it stays light til 10pm and when I wake up (still get up @ 4:30 each day) it is already daylight. Midnight sun sort of thing.

We took a raft and a long hike through Tierra del Fuego National Park, which was absolutely beautiful.  Different than forests we have. For one thing, the trees are not as big (short growing season and very cold, dark winters).  Not many bugs or insects of any kind (again, too short a season). No ants. So all the trees that fall (strong winds knock them down) they don’t decompose and can lay there for 50 years or more. So, that is a bit strange looking.

But the park is beautiful

This is where we rafted.

And this was our rafting group. This is actually the end of the “highway” that goes all the way down North and South America from Alaska, which is 17,500 km away.

The hike was about 6 miles long and was much more than a simple “walk in the park”.

When we got back to the city, Hallie and I went to an Ice Bar, where she was attacked by the bouncer. (Big, ugly guy)

He didn’t scare me at all though.

And the owner then made me an honorary bouncer and put my pic on his Facebook page.

(Actually that’s just a good hair day for me 😀)

Tomorrow we go out to see sea lions and penguins in the Beagle Channel before heading onward around the Southern Tip of the world to the fjords of Chile and the Pacific Ocean.