On the first of three flights that would eventually bring us home yesterday, Studley and i groggily navigated US Customs declaration forms.

“Exposure to Livestock”?  Taking the easy cheap shot, i pointed at him and said “i think i have to declare this, since we’ve been bunkies for the week”.

“Are you transporting any vegetables?”  His turn for the cheap shot, as he started to write my name in the blank.

“Did you purchase anything?”

Scratching my head and other bits, i was momentarily vexed. Could not think of what i’d bought.

daisyfae: Did we buy anything this week?

Studley: Four litres of liquor at the Duty Free shop on our way out of the country… but that doesn’t count, right?

Spending a week on a quasi-tropical island, and between the two of us, we’d not bought a single souvenir. No t-shirts. No gee-gaws or knick-knacks.

daisyfae: Doesn’t that seem weird? We spent money… Rented scooters on the non-dive day… Ate pretty well… The hotel bill included the dive shop costs for Nitrox…

Not that there weren’t ample opportunities to shop, despite the fact that Bonaire is a small enough island that there are no traffic lights.  Some of our fellow dive buddies spent money in the shops.

As we wound our way through three airports on Sunday, it was apparent that others had been busy.  One couple had gone to great lengths to transport a 4′ long wooden carved iguana. They had tucked him into a backpack, with his head poked through.  A strategically placed sock on the head for protection, it looked like a baby in a pappoose.

They also schlepped a large, wooden carved sun thing of some sort. i never saw it, but knew that it was too large to fit in the overhead bin of any plane we rode homeward. They probably spent several hundred dollars on the carvings – and from what i could see of Baby Iguana, it was more kitsch than art.

A few of the gents in our group bought jewelry for wives and daughters. Most folks at least bought a souvenir t-shirt or hat from the dive shop.

Studley: No. i don’t think we’re weird. We just don’t buy shit.

Over the course of my last few adventures, though, i have picked up a strange habit. Trying the local brew wherever i land, i’ve started peeling the labels off beer bottles.  They can be easily flattened and stuck inside my passport.

This has become my souvenir collection method. Whether or not i could locate all of the beer labels i’ve collected through the years is an entirely different matter, however.

Bonaire made this a bit challenging. Part of the Dutch Antilles, this little island (as well as the sister islands of Aruba and Curacao) import virtually everything from the Netherlands. We were stuck with a very limited supply of ‘local’ beer.

Studley:  “What’s your local beer?”

Cute Barmaid:  “Amstel, Amstel Bright, Heineken”

daisyfae:  “No, we want something brewed in the region. Something unique. Something the folks who live here drink.”

Cute Barmaid:  “Yes. Amstel, Amstel Bright, Heineken”

So we bought “Amstel Bright”, which is the Dutch version of Corona – served with a lime wedge. And about as disappointing.  But there were labels to peel…

Not so easily discouraged, we eventually found ONE Venezuelan beer! “Polar”.

Unfortunately, there was no label to peel.  It’s printed directly on the glass.

Whatever… i still didn’t buy any souvenirs.  i took a picture.  Close enough.

Geeks in their natural habitat

Meetings this week were enjoyable – i was learning new things, the overviews were fascinating, and i was stunned at how far the state-of-the-art has advanced while i wasn’t paying attention during my time in management*.  But as the meeting progressed, we drilled in deeper on theory – and the flaming geek-behaviors began to surface.  A few key observations…

Blinded by the light:  Geeks love laser pointers.  The brighter, the better.  The more exotic the color?  Major geek chubb!  Blue ones are currently all the rage, inspiring techno-lust and admiration.  There was a green one in the room with sufficient reflected power to produce temporary retinal burn.  As well as pointer envy.



Is it ever ok?  For an adult male to part his hair in the middle?  Shortish, red hair.  Straight.  Unstyled, and most likely, unwashed.  Doesn’t work…  Unless you happen to be a Thin White Duke (sigh)…



Vintage or Creepy?  The maroon polyester sport jacket was not attractive.  If it had been worn by a young, thrift-store shopping hipster, it would still be unattractive.  Especially when paired with a mint green dress shirt and a navy print tie.  And Hush Puppies, with white socks.  No wedding ring on this one.  Is it any wonder?



Acronyms Can Have Multiple Meanings:  One man’s “Schottky Barrier Diode” is an immature woman’s “Silent But Deadly”.  i did not audibly snort when the passionate argument over the relative merits of SBDs raged among the experimentalists.



Geeks Are Funny**:  Sometimes, they get it right…  As part of the safety board on a lab tour, this was buried amid the dry, boring and legally required stuff:



Probably should have put this warning on the door of the conference room, given the “laser pointer directed energy warfare” underway…


* i was detained in a supervisory position a few years back.  A “detail”, which was promised to last only 6 months, stretched into 27 months… Fighting fire with fire, i accepted a “detail” in another organization, which forced my home organization to fill the old job.  In the end, i was working in different realms for almost 3 years before i got my feet back on familiar turf.  Tech shit moves fast… i continue to be blown away as i revisit my old stomping grounds.

** Not just the way they dress, smell, eat, walk, talk, dance, touch themselves inappropriately in public, crunch ice loudly while having a conversation or interact in any other way with their fellow humans…

Fear of flying

I am not a white knuckle flier – in fact, i enjoy it!  Whether it’s in a small plane, buzzing corn mazes in the autumn or in a jet-powered thermos tube traveling at ridiculous speeds from 6 miles up, i always have a “Hey, wow!  I’m flying!” moment along the way.

Not being a pilot (yet), i don’t know intricacies of modern flight, but i know enough not to worry.  Whether it’s my awareness of non-destructive evaluation, flight-line maintenance, “design for redundancy” or a basic understanding of air traffic control procedures, i am generally not nervous on an airplane.  It’s a chance to read, listen to tunes and nap while defying gravity.

Logically, i know statistically that my chances of dying in a plane crash are much lower than dying in the car on the way to the airport.

Despite this knowledge, i have one pre-flight ritual that i simply can’t shake.  i’ve been doing this for over a decade.  Whenever i’m headed to an airport i make sure that my bra and panties match exactly.  Not just ‘blue and blue’, or ‘leather and leather’ but the exact make, model and color from the manufacturer.

If my parts need reassembly after an air disaster, it might be helpful if Top A matches Bottom B…




And with that, i’m off on another business trip… Surf’s up!