Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sonoran Desert Life

Here are some pics from my little hike last week at Thunderbird Conservation Park in Phoenix, Arizona.

California Poppy:

Roadrunner (running out of the shot):

Globe mallow and a yellow fiddlehead of some sort:

Pincushion cactus with fruits that look like tiny chili peppers stuck on the sides:

Purple and yellow fiddleheads:

Friday, February 22, 2019

Last Minute Cruise Deals

I love Vacations To Go (

They often have the cheapest rates for cruises, and it's a great place to compare various itineraries, lines, dates, etc. to get a feel for what's available.

Their last minute deals can be quite affordable.  If you have the flexibility to drop everything and run to the port within a few days, you will be a very happy cruiser.  I've seen last-minute, 7-day Alaska cruises for under $300.  I've also seen very cheap last-minute cruises to other locations, including the Caribbean.  Keep in mind that's the base price for the cheapest inside cabins, so you'll have to add taxes, tips, and additional dollars if you want an oceanview or balcony.  But still...    

"Last minute" can also be a few weeks in the future.  I've booked most of my Alaskan cruises, for example, within 5 weeks of sailing, and all of those were around $400 per 7 days.  I also got a very good deal on a cruise to Norway, booked a few weeks in advance.

If you're traveling solo, sometimes cruise lines will drop or drastically reduce the single supplement last minute, meaning you can cruise just as cheaply as someone with a cruising partner.

If you're flexible, I think last minute is the way to go.  You probably won't get as many perks, freebies, or upgrades as you may get if you book far in advance, but if you're a budget traveler who can do without the bells and whistles, try last minute.  

For more budget cruising tips, check out my book:  Cruising Alaska on a Budget
Or if you want to see Alaska's nature at your own pace:  Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports


Monday, February 11, 2019

Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield in Seward, Alaska

We had one day in Seward, and this was what we did.  Best choice ever.

You can take a shuttle from downtown Seward to Exit Glacier for $15 (roundtrip) if you don't have a car.  

Approaching the toe of the glacier:

Me on the Glacier Overlook Trail:

Harding Icefield Trail:

Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield, from the Harding Icefield Trail:

Just for a bit of perspective, try to find the people on the glacier below:

What an amazing place!

For more details on the trail, Exit Glacier, and Seward, read my books:

Monday, February 4, 2019

Spinglish; The Definitive Dictionary of Deliberately Deceptive Language

How to Succeed in Business and (and Politics and Everything Else) Without Really Lying;  Spinglish;  The Definitive Dictionary of Deliberately Deceptive Language

by Henry N. Beard and Christopher Cerf

Okay, this is maybe the longest title ever.

Spinglish is a darkly humorous and disturbing dictionary of overly PC terms and purposefully deceitful phrases, some so ridiculous they'd be indecipherable without the Spinglish dictionary.  The book's supertitle (if that's a word for a subtitle that comes BEFORE the real title) is  "How to Succeed in Business (and Politics and Everything Else) Without Really Lying."  And that pretty much sums it up. 

Some gems: 
"After-death care provider" –undertaker. 
"Core rearrangement"—a nuclear power industry term for the explosive destruction of the core of a nuclear reactor
"Engaging the enemy on all sides"—A US Dept of Defense phrase for getting ambushed
"Permanent pre-hostility"—another great term from our DOD friends.  This one rather depressingly means "peace."   
"Failure to maintain clearance from the ground"—a plane crash
"Percussive maintenance"—hitting a piece of machinery until it starts working again

And perhaps my favorite:  "Entrance solutions."  Any guesses?  Yes, those would be doors.

I do think the authors put too much of their own spin on some terms.  For example, they define "thrifty" as "miserly," "stingy," and "scrooge-like."  And "wetlands" as "swamps."  While "thrifty" and "wetlands" can be used as euphemisms, in general usage "thrifty" and "miserly" have different meanings, and "wetlands" is a broader term than "swamp."  Also, a rainforest isn't just some fancy environmentalist's way of making a jungle sound better, as the book implies.  It's a scientific term for areas that sometime are jungles and sometimes not.  Some of the political definitions have a fair amount of slant too.  Which perhaps only reinforces the whole theme of the book. 

It's a very interesting—but somewhat disheartening—book. How many ways can business execs come up with to make firing a bunch of people sound good? 

Friday, February 1, 2019

My story in Leading Edge

My short story, "Salvage Operations," appears in the latest issue of Leading Edge. 

While stranded on a strange planet, Peter has to decide whether letting one man live is worth risking the safety of the whole colony.

They created some lovely art for my story, which involves colonists salvaging the wreckage of a probe ship crash.  Now take a look at the cover.  Yes, the cover image is from my story. 

If you want to read more, buy Leading Edge Issue 73 on Amazon.