Kristine & Kevin’s Flashmob Proposal

What a moment! This is the kind of thing a Dad dreams of. My wonderful and talented daughter surrounded by a beautiful group of friends being proposed to by her long time boyfriend Kevin. These folks don’t do small, it had to be an event.

Much thanks to Kevin for inviting me to be there. It all happened Sunday June 15th at about 8PM in Little Italy New York City on the corner of Mulberry and Hester at Da Gennaro Italian Restaurant, the restaurant on the first floor of their building. Thanks to all of their friends who pulled this off!

(~~)
Vinny aka Proud Papa!

Leave a Comment June 19, 2015

50th Birthday Extravaganza!

It’s taken a while to process my 50th Birthday Extravaganza trip, but as my 51st birthday looms large and there isn’t an extravaganza planned. At least not yet.

The idea came to me a few years before the big day. After seeing several sisters and brothers-in-law reach their 50th, I decided to not wait for an inevitable “Surprise Party,” or worse yet to tip-toe around the weekend before my birthday walking into rooms ready to feign surprise for a party that never happens.

At first I thought, screw it, I’ll go to Negril and sidestep the entire issue.  Then came, I’m sure The Kid will want to come, and then; Mom and Dad will probably come too. Pretty soon it was game on.

When booking my Christmas 2012 trip I inquired with the fine folks at The Blue Cave Castle if renting out the entire place was a thing, but the answer was somewhat non-committal. So once I picked the dates, which were 15 months in the future (March 8-16, 2014), I asked my friends at the castle to hold that week until May 1st, 2013. They were more than happy to oblige, because Petrona and Susan are way cool.

My dream was to book all fourteen available rooms and throw a huge party worshiping and honoring my favorite person. I made the announcement to my family at Christmas 2012, and then I made the Facebook Event the next weekend.

We did pretty well and booked 9 rooms by the date, and luckily another party booked 4 of the remaining rooms, so there wouldn’t be random people wandering around. By the time of the party we actually had several rooms booked at other hotels.

The group was the best of all worlds. My Daughter and her boyfriend, Mom and Dad and at least one sister. Two friends from high school and their brides, some work friends and their friends, and some Jamaica friends. I booked the Penthouse for me which was very exciting.

I planned a huge party at The Castle with great food, plenty of booze, a band and to have it all broadcast globally via webcast. As the day grew closer that idea mellowed into a smaller bash, but I continued to use the term “Extravaganza” anyway.

As things got closer one of my friends and his lovely bride had to cancel leaving a room open for my brother and his family. Well the room was too small for the whole family, but my sister and my parents had an extra bed each so we figured out the accommodations.  So at six weeks out the cast was set, let the “Extravaganza” begin.

More to come,

Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment February 28, 2015

Writing Notes in Notes

It’s been a while since I’ve written here in what I call “The Notes Blog.” I’ve toyed with the idea of renaming or refocusing, but for better or worse I’ve established a presence here. I sometimes submit my URL as vinnybogan.com or vincebogan.com both of which resolve here.

I still journal furiously. I’m the crazy guy on the train with the moleskine on my lap. Lately my focus has been to develop an online presence with The Brooklyn Sutras my Buddhist training site. I augment Sutras with social media in a bid to “get it out there.” So please follow me :)

In recent weeks I find myself turning back to “Notes” as the last few Negril trips are looming large in my scribbles. It takes time for me to sort out the many crazy tangents jouncing about in my undisciplined mind.

The experience of my 50th Birthday Extravaganza was profound, and stupid, and unexpected, and fun, and and and . . .

And I’m finally ready to write about it. My 51st party is only a few months away :)

(~~) Vinny

Leave a Comment November 30, 2014

Everywhere is War . . .

“That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned;

That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation;

That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes;

That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race;

That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained…”

H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, Ras Tafari
Oct. 6 1963 to the United Nations General Assembly.

Leave a Comment November 25, 2014

Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT)

I don’t know why I love this place. It’s kind of horrible, it’s somewhat unhealthy, but it has a certain charm.

Maybe it’s the people who wander helplessly among throngs of transit vets while looking up and bumping into people.

Or could it be those transit vets who have the commute trimmed down to the step. Second door, left side, clockwise around the stairwell (counter intuitive), and then two stepping it up the Gate 201 escalator.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not there too often, but I know how it works. Downstairs to the private bus lines and upstairs for NJ Transit. I know to get tickets in the South Terminal where the lines are shorter, but when riding NJ Transit I can never find the right gate and I often miss my bus.

The more I ponder, I think it’s the movement, the randomness, the hundreds of daily destinations that intrigue me. I like to think that these are good folks going to good places to do good things. Bus-folk.

I guess that’s it; I like bus-folk.

Leave a Comment July 20, 2014

Taxi from the Roundabout to The Castle

Leave a Comment February 25, 2014

Blue Cave Castle History

Leave a Comment February 25, 2014

Morning Drive Through Negril

It isn’t me driving, but its a fun little jaunt through the area. From just north of town, past the big All-Inclusives and down along the beach. Then around the roundabout and up through the cliffs, past The Castle (@14:30), around the horn and back out onto the highway up past Tedd’s. Finally back towards town ending at Burger King. I played  it on my big TV, and I got really excited . . .

Leave a Comment February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to Bob Marley

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds . . .

None but ourselves can free our minds . . .

Leave a Comment February 6, 2014

50th Birthday Extravaganza Packing List 2014

We fly out from JFK at 5:40 AM on Saturday March 8th. And yes, the packing has already started. I’m at the making a list and checking it twice stage, but the day draws near!

I usually post my packing list before a Negril trip anyway, but this time it may actually be helpful to the newbees on trip number one.

Packing List – 50th Birthday Extravaganza – March 2014

Clothes
- 2 pair – Swim Trunks (I may need to upgrade mine to something more stylish.) 
- 3 pairs – Shorts
- 1 pair – Gym Shorts
- 16 Assorted T-Shirts (Plan on two a day. I’m in country 8 days. It’s hot and t-shirts don’t take up much space.)
- 4 Hawaiian/Nice Shirts (Basically non t-shirt shirts. I don’t bring anything actually dressy.)
- 1 pair – Jeans (I wear them on the flight, so this isn’t technically a packing item.)
- 2 pairs – Socks
- 12 pairs – Boxers
- Flip Flops
- Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running. I wear these also . . .)  
- Hoodie
- 1 Hat - (Down from two, I’m in no mood to wear an Eagles hat . . .)
- Laundry Bag

Health & First-Aid
- Prescriptions
- First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
- Neosporin
- Sun Block 50 SPF – Spray on (Up from 30 because my sister Theresa nags me if I buy any less.)
- Chapstick
- Bug Repellent (Get the good stuff with at least 40% Deet. Jamaica skeeters ain’t no joke)
- Pepto Bismol (Tablets Individual Packets)
- Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)
- Vitamins
- Wet-Ones (This is my secret weapon, put them in the fridge as a quick cool-off remedy. Try it and you will thank me.)
- Misc over-the-counter drug packets. ( Dayquil, Imodium, Benedryl)

Mind and Body
- My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me years ago that I only use in Jamaica.
- Meditation Stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, cushion.
- Books - When I read actual books, I would leave one on the shelf in my room like a long-term lending library, but since I’m all Kindle and Audible now, I bring a completed book and leave it. This trip’s selection is “The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” by Alan Watts.

My Reading List
- “The Heart Of Being” by John Daido Loori (Re-reading)
- “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
- “Wyoming” by Iris Cushing

Toiletries & Shaving Supplies
- Toothbrush
- Toothpaste
- Floss
- Mouth Wash
- Shampoo
- Edwin Jagger 89BL Double-Edged Safety Razor
- Shaving Brush and Stand
- Assorted Shave Creams and Soaps
- Proraso After Shave Balm
- Alum Block
- Moisturizer
- Hair Brush
- Deodorant
- Nail Clippers
- Washcloth

Travel Supplies
- Passport
- Cash – a few hundred in 20′s, and $50 in singles for tipping
- ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
- Travel Wallet
- Plane Tickets
- Printed Hotel Reservations
- Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. Be a hero because no one on the plane has a damn pen)

Other Stuff
- iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
- Netbook (I always say this, but this trip I plan to post a lot on various social media and on this blog)
- Flashlight
- Rain Poncho (I always bring, though I have never used)
- Travel Clock
- Sunglasses
- Breath Freshening Gum
(Keep in checked baggage only)
- Disposable Lighters
- Mini Leatherman
- Pocket Knife
- Waterproof Matches

Ok, folks see you in Negril!

Peace,
Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment February 5, 2014

My Saddest Day as a New Yorker. Grays Papaya in the Village is no more . . .

Truly a sad, sad day. The cultural and gastronomical landmark Gray’s Papaya in the Village is no more.

grayspapaya

  • No more of my favorite guilty pleasure.
  • No more burning the roof of your mouth with steaming hot doggy wonderfulness, only to cool it seconds later with the cool sweet rush of yummy papaya juice from a plain styrofoam cup.
  • No more “snappy” service.
  • No more feeling superior to tourists who don’t know how to order.
  • No more positioning yourself at just the right angle so as to have your own private counter space no matter how crowded.
  • No more catching the flipped nickel from the cashier after getting the “Recession Special” and paying with a five.
  • No more scowling at the horrid people who put ketchup on a hot dog.
  • grays-papaya

    Go on my old friend! Viva Gray’s Papaya! You will live forever in our hearts . . .

    Leave a Comment January 8, 2014

    Guacamomlette Breakfast

    Wow, recipes too!

    This is an awesome low carb, good carb, low-calorie and low salt breakfast.

    I cook most weekends so while I’m in chopping mode I prep veggies for the week making breakfasts like these quick and easy. I usually dice an onion or two, a few tomatoes, occasional mushrooms, peppers and a jalapeño or two. Also this is a recipe for one so do the math.

    3 oz re-fried beans (many different brands and flavors Mexican brands have less salt)
    3 oz egg whites (I use liquid egg whites)
    1 ea avocado diced
    2 oz diced tomato
    2 oz dice red onion
    1 oz minced jalapeño (sub sriracha hot sauce)
    .5 ea lime for the juice (sub a squirt of lemon or lime juice)
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    .5 tbsp butter
    .5 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    .5 tsp garlic powder
    2 tbsp Salsa (red or green)

    Directions

  • Put the re-fried beans on a plate and microwave till hot.
  • In a hot pan add the olive oil, pepper and butter
  • Once the butter has melted add the onions.
  • Wait a few seconds and add the shrooms, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, lime juice and garlic powder and cook till it all comes together. It’s basically hot guacamole now.
  • Add the egg whites and cook to as hard as you like them. I use the egg whites only to hold everything together, and I like to brown them slightly on both sides.
  • Fold neatly on the plate with the beans, dump on the salsa and you are living good.
  • Total time with prepped veggies 6 minutes.
  • Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment December 10, 2013

    50th Birthday Extravaganza – Post #1

    The day is drawing near. The official countdown widget has been created. The plane tickets have been purchased, and the hotel has been booked. All we need to do now is Pack & Go!

    What am I talking about? Just the biggest most extra extravagant extravaganza in the history of Negril!

    Vinny’s 50th Birthday Extravaganza
    at the beautiful and famous Blue Cave Castle in sunny Negril, Jamaica!!

    March 10th, 2014

    The Blue Cave Castle Negril, Jamaica - Pic by Christine Joseph

    The Blue Cave Castle Negril, Jamaica – Pic by Christine Joseph

    Who’s all coming? Me. The Kid and Kevin. Mom & Dad. Betty Boop. My Brother Michael, his wife Amrita and the kiddos. The Lerches. Kaptain Kramer. The Eardley’s. A bunch of people from Chicago, and many others. The Castle is full, but there are sill rooms nearby.

    More to come as the details take shape . . .

    (~~) Vinny

    Leave a Comment December 5, 2013

    Negril: Tuesday 12/18/2012 – Reality Sinks in . . .

    There are so many things to do in Negril, but sometimes the most fun is to do nothing but be there. Being there is a different kind of nothing, and Negril regulars understand this definition of being.

    It was one of those weeks in Negril where one could bounce around and be the belle of the ball, or just chill and recharge before the Christmas rush back in the states. To that point I hadn’t made a decision either way.

    By the time I felt the need to move from The Castle it was somehow Tuesday. It’s funny how that happens. I rolled out before nine AM, and I was in the back seat of a route taxi two minutes after passing through the silver Castle gate.

    I love corrupting the faithful route taxi driver. He took me down to the NCB Bank, and I paid him 500J to wait until I finished getting cash and grabbing a case of Red Stripe. Once back in the car the young driver offered to take me on a tour.

    “How much?” I asked.
    “500J” he responded too quickly.
    “Deal! Take me somewhere I haven’t seen and I’ll give you a good tip.”
    “Challenge Accepted!” He didn’t say, but that was the feeling I got from him as we shot through the round-a-bout and down the Beach Road.

    The wind in my face on a beautiful Tuesday morning, I began to wonder if nine twenty-five was too early for a Red Stripe. I guess I decided it was since I opted for a Ting in a glass bottle. In my opinion, Ting in a glass bottle tastes better than Ting in a plastic bottle. We shot up past the A-I’s and over the new bridge around to Orange Bay and then inland into the hills and dales beyond.

    I love backwoods Jamaica. I’m always amazed how Jamaican drivers are indifferent to pot-holed roads and impossibly steep hills. It’s rides like these that the familiar reassurance of “No Problem Mon” holds actual weight.

    We came out on the road from Sav la Mar a few miles outside Negril proper when a quick left turn took us back into the bush. Minutes later we were driving slowly along an isolated beach. My driver looked at me with a “I bet you’ve never been here before” look, and instead of saying, “Isn’t Blue Hole just over there?” I just smiled and enjoyed the ride. Soon we were on the ass-end of West End Road and fifteen minutes later I was loading my little fridge in Deluxe One with warm Red Stripes.

    Rob of Negril.com and Real Negril.com fame had a webcast scheduled down at Fun Holiday on the beach. Invigorated by my morning trip I decided lunch at the beach, followed by some beach beers was a good idea.

    This time out I wanted to stretch a little, so I walked into town. I had no illusions of making it all the way to Fun Holiday, but I was hoping to make it to somewhere near Canoe Bar. I don’t like walking around that blind corner on the final dip into town.

    I ran into a guy I always seem to run into in Negril. I hopped into his van and he took me out to Fun Holiday, all the while offering me every diversion, substance and pastime available to we wayward travelers. I begged him off with the, “Look for me later. I’m meeting up with some friends tomorrow who love all that crazy stuff,” line.

    There wasn’t much going on at Fun Holiday, but I loved seeing Rob and saying hello to the boardies, at least to the financially independent ones who are in the chatroom on a Tuesday afternoon. (You know who you are…)

    The only other person there was a young Jamaican girl named Nikki who seemed annoyed that I wasn’t paying more attention to her. She gave me a huff as she left.

    The day was cool and the beach looked great. For someone who goes to Negril so often I’m not very fond of the water. I love walking along the waterline, and I love walking to the many bars along the beach, but the surf rarely goes above my knees.

    About an hour and four beers later I’d only gotten a few hundred yards. I was talking Football with a bartender, and I had a nice buzz working when I noticed my new friend Nikki, her sixth sense honed in on my buzz, closing in for the kill. Though I kind of like the attention, I’m grounded enough to see what was happening. Attractive twenty-two year old women no matter where they’re from don’t have any interest in middle-aged men, even when the guy is a charming bastard like me.

    This experience seems to happen more and more as the years go by. Is Negril changing or am I? Obviously both change constantly, but I do try to keep away from such situations. Once in the situation, however, extricating oneself is tricky. Lucky for me the bartender noticed I wasn’t buying and chased Nikki and her friend from the bar.

    His help added dramatically to his tip, and after a really good fish sandwich he arranged for a driver to give me a ride back to The Castle. Nice.

    A nap later it was time to head out to 3 Dives for more webcast and a great Jerk Chicken dinner. I arrived at 3 Dives about half an hour before sunset. I grabbed some beers, ordered dinner, and busied myself making stupid faces and odd comments into the webcam.

    Just as Rob and Lisa were telling me about a reality TV show that was filming in town, a bald dude in a white suit showed up and began to bounce around the place like, well, like a reality TV host.

    I had never seen Hotel Impossible, but Anthony Melchiorri is an infectious guy. He shook hands and asked about everyone there. He shook my hand and finding out I live in Brooklyn, he threw on his Brooklyn accent and told us he’s originally from Sheepshead Bay.

    Intrigued by the webcast Anthony zoomed in on Rob. He got all excited when he found out Rob “is” Negril.com, and he started flexing his marketing muscles while his entourage chowed down on Jerk Chicken and Red Stripes. By the time he and his crew left, Rob and Lloydie had arranged for them to come back Thursday night to feature 3 Dives and Negril.com as marketing tie-ins with the hotel he was revamping.

    It was late when Rob and Lisa dropped me at The Castle. The fully booked resort had many guests partying all over the place. I made my rounds, drank more beer and it was well past midnight when I bid my fellow revelers goodnight.

    What a day . . .

    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment July 20, 2013

    The Smart Money’s On Harlow . . .

    Now and then I find myself at this corner bar in Soho. Maybe it’s the pool table, the rough clientele, though I do like the wrap around windows. There’s a nicer place a few corners away, but I feel comfortable here.

    By day it’s the quintessential old man’s bar, full of townies, with Bud drafts and shots of Fleischmann’s. By the way, where do they find townies in Soho?

    And then there’s late night. When I find myself stumbling though the door post three AM, I know I should question the choices made in the preceding hours, but I don’t. The last bar is the last opportunity. There’s an aspect of last chance hopefulness that graces this tawdry place at three-twenty AM, an unlikely maybe hanging in the acrid air.

    One more cocktail, one more witticism, one more drunkenly bared honest word to turn the tide. A word that will break through the separation we spend our lives straining to transcend, while simultaneously expending all other energy fortifying that same wall. Why must we shroud our needs with alcohol and half-truths? Yeah, same here . . .

    Leave a Comment June 23, 2013

    Rosie “The Cat” (2001-2013) R.I.P.

    Rosie The Cat (2001-2013)

    I’m sad to report that just before noon today my dear friend Rosie “The Cat” passed away.

    A few weeks ago I began to notice Rosie wasn’t eating much but still drinking water. She seemed lethargic, but I knew something was up when I opened a can of Fancy Feast and she took all day to eat it.

    I took her to the vet a few days later and the Doc gave me the bad news that she was showing signs of kidney failure. He gave me some medication and in his thick Eastern European accent said, “Either she’ll come back or she won’t.” His face told me not to get my hopes up.

    Over the next few days she was quiet and slept a lot, but the drugs didn’t look like they were helping. A few nights ago I couldn’t find her and when I did, I knew that she knew. I looked into euthanization and resolved to go that route if she seemed to be suffering.

    In the interim I did my best to keep her comfortable, but last night she had labored breathing and I knew it was close. This morning she stayed close to me, curling up around my feet as I worked at my desk. Looking at her, she seemed peaceful, resigned.

    Around eleven o’clock I carried her into the living room swaddled in a blanket where she passed away peacefully in my arms.

    She will be missed . . .

    Rosie The Cat in 2002

    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment April 12, 2013

    Negril: Monday 12/17/2012

    Another lovely morning along the cliffs of Negril. Well into my second cup of coffee, and just finished a wonderful breakfast made by Teddy the Chef here at The Castle.

    Negril

    I’d planned to get home early Friday after work, attend to some last-minute details and get to bed early. Of course that didn’t happen.

    I ended up working till about 7 PM, then made the plan-bashing step of the night and met up with some work friends. We wound up having an impromptu sort of sad makeshift payday holiday party.

    The married people had to get back to their families, but for me it was still early enough to get the “Last Boat Out of Hoboken”‘; so dramatic. It sounds like a movie from the 1940′s, but it’s what the boat dude announced (with much bravado) several times before closing the gate.

    It must have been nine-thirty-ish, so I had been officially on vacation since I left the office at seven so I decided to splurge on a taxi back to Brooklyn for me and drinking pal Gabi. For some reason she and I find ourselves stumbling out of Hoboken together from time to time. We get in the cab near the Trade Center and off to Brooklyn we go. OK, home by ten thirty-ish sleep by eleven, taxi to airport 4 AM. No problem.

    No sooner did we get in the cab when my phone started buzzing. It was “The Lerches”! They were in town and were looking to meet up in Soho within the hour. I looked over at the beautiful-but-too-young-for-me-brunette and asked, “Blue Ribbon in Soho?” She responded, “oooh oysters . . .” Gabi is never one to turn down a party. So I halted our driver, I think I may have actually even used the word “halt”, and he detoured the few blocks over to Sullivan at Houston.

    It was great to see The Lerches so unexpectedly. They were in town for SantaCon, and had just gotten back from Negril a few weeks ago. I hope they got the kiddo home before mid-day happy SantaCon turned into late-night drunken evil SantaCon. It can be unpleasant.

    As usual Blue Ribbon did not disappoint. Papa Lerch ordered the big-grande raw-bar extravaganza, with caviar and shots of vodka. There was more food and more shots. We got a little blurry, but it was a great time.

    Gabi took off around midnight and “The Lerches” graciously paid for dinner then we went to find a night-cap bar. We ended up at a corner bar on Prince off of Broadway, but it was late, Mama Lerch was getting tired and I was to be on a plane in a few hours. We said our goodbyes and I got a slow R train back to Brooklyn, so slow in fact that I hopped out at Atlantic Ave and grabbed a town car home. I walked in the door at two-thirty AM.

    The driver was picking me up at three-forty five, so I did what any overfed slightly buzzed person would do. I pounded a Red Bull, got in the shower, put my traveling clothes on, and fed Rosie the Cat.

    Being a bit OCD on packing, was a big help in this situation. I had everything laid out and ready to go. I guess I know myself too well.

    The driver was right on time, and I must have slept in the car because we were at JFK in like 30 seconds. I zombied through “Web-Check-In” and security and into my seat. It was a great trip, I slept all the way through.

    I arrived in Sunny Jamaica around nine-forty five AM and was through the airport gauntlet by ten-thirty. I waited for a couple I’d met on the immigration line who’d suggested we split a cab to Negril. We found a driver, they haggled the price, and away we went.

    Our driver was the serious type. Straight-through, no stops, and he drove fast. Very good choice. It seems every year the trip gets shorter. Every year they finish a bridge, or re-route around a town, or simply improve the roads in general. We dropped the nice Canadian folks off at one of the All-Inclusives just north of town, and I was at The Castle before noon.

    The place looked great. It was a bright sunny day, wonderfully hap-hazard xmas decorating here and there. A lot of familiar faces. Ed “Ras-Walleye” and his lovely wife, Teddy, the staff, and of course Petrona and Susan.

    I did my normal arrival routine. Change clothes, unpack then over to the store for supplies. I encountered Milly the Juice Lady on the way over, so I came home with some orange/pineapple juice too. “Home” meaning my room, Deluxe #1 at The Blue Cave Castle, after nearly ten years staying there, it feels like home.

    I don’t know exactly what time, but I opened my second beer and realized I was exhausted so I “took a nap” expecting to be up for sunset. I woke up at just after ten PM. I guess I needed the sleep, and the tropical air is great for sleeping.

    Sunday I just stayed around The Castle reading and decompressing. Other than a short trip to the store, and two sunset beers at the No-Limit bar; I did nothing.

    Negril

    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment December 17, 2012

    Packing Slip for the End of the World . . .

    How can I honor the last days of the Mayan long-count calendar? How about with a Packing List?

    Packing List – December 2012

    Clothes (Unless you’re going to Hedonism)
    Ok, the Hedo joke rings a bit stale. Especially after that time me and . . . Umm, nevermind, I promised never to tell that story.
    - 1 pair – Swim Trunks - Down from two, I almost never swim, and I hate getting salt water in my beer.
    - 3 pairs – Cargo Shorts
    - 1 pair – Gym Shorts - Down from three. Gym? Really? As if . . .
    - 14 Assorted T-Shirts - Up from ten. I noticed the only one that has been with me since 2002 is my Sponge Bob shirt. A classic is always a classic.
    - 3 Hawaiian Shirts - I’m realizing these are like my Jamaican uniform. Hmmm, might be time to reconsider.
    - 1 pair – Jeans
    - 2 pairs – Socks
    - 12 pairs – Underwear
    - Flip Flops
    - Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running) - Ditto
    - Light Jacket/Windbreaker - Hoodie (2012 update)
    - 1 Hat - Down from two, I ain’t wearing that Eagles hat anywhere . . .
    - Laundry Bag - I still think this is a great idea.

    Health & First-Aid
    - Prescriptions - These weren’t part of my 2005 world.
    - First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
    - Neosporin (For creepy crawly bites)
    - Sun Block 50 SPF - Up from 15 because my sister nags me.
    - Sun Block Stick 70 SPF (For my nose) - Up from 30 because I’d rather not get burned, I only blame my sister so as not to diminish my perceived machismo.
    - Chapstick
    - Bug Repellent - I went all natural organic friendly this time, we’ll see how it works. Stay tuned . . .
    - Pepto Bismol (Individual serving packets, helps w/ humidity)
    - Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)- This gets more and more vital with each trip. . .
    - Vitamins (Which I buy in single serve packages anyway)
    - Hand Sanitizer (Good when hand washing doesn’t permit itself)- Confession: I carry this stuff but I never use it . . .
    - Wet-Ones (I put them in the fridge, Woo Hoo! Instant cooling!) - This is like my secret weapon. Go ahead and scoff. Try it and you will thank me.
    - Condoms - And no, they are not the same ones since 2002 . . .

    Mind and Body
    - My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me a few years ago that I only use in Jamaica. - This is still with me, still not full. I haven’t used it on the last few trips. It’s become such an heirloom I’m afraid to lose it, but since it’s the “End of the World” trip, what the hey.
    - Meditation travel stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, zafu.
    - Books - Books? What’s a book? I used to enjoy leaving my book on the shelf in my room for the next inhabitant, but on my last few trips I’ve embraced my Kindle.
    This trip I’m packing a pre-read book to leave on the shelf. So if the world doesn’t actually end subsequent Deluxe One Blue Cave Castle stayers can enjoy Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

    - Christmas Lights – Two boxes to decorate my space at The Castle! I like to refer to them as Holiday Enlightenments . . .

    Kindle – Reading List:

    A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss

    The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

    Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs by Jason Ryan

    Other Stuff
    - iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
    - AAA Batteries – Energizer Max – 8 Pack
    - Netbook (I plan to blog this trip daily!)- I always promise to blog daily, but I get all flubunged . . .
    - Flashlight (De power go black a lot)
    - Rain Poncho (for those afternoon storms)
    - Disposable Lighters (Keep in checked baggage)
    - Leatherman
    - Pocket Knife
    - Waterproof Matches
    - Travel Clock
    - Sunglasses
    - Reading Glasses – Ouch :)
    - Breath Freshening Gum (Red Stripe and Jerk Chicken are great, but . . .)
    - LifeStraw http://lifestraw.com - This is a personal water purifier a friend bought me for Xmas. I wasn’t gonna bring it, but it is the “End of the World” trip :)

    Toiletries
    (This is the boring part)
    - Toothbrush
    - Toothpaste
    - Floss
    - Mouth Wash
    - Shampoo
    - Disposable Razors
    - Shave Cream
    - Moisturizer
    - Hair Brush
    - Hand Lotion (Udder Cream is my fave)
    - Deodorant
    - Nail Clippers
    - Towels – Washcloth

    Travel Supplies
    - Passport
    - Money some 20?s, and $50 in singles for tipping
    - ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
    - Travel Wallet
    - Plane Tickets
    - Printed Hotel Reservations
    - Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. I’ll be a hero because no one has a damn pen)

    OK Mayans, the time has come. Now it’s put up or shut up!

    Peace,
    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment December 11, 2012

    Ode To The Cat

    by Pablo Neruda

    Rosie The Cat

    There was something wrong
    with the animals:
    their tails were too long, and they had
    unfortunate heads.
    Then they started coming together,
    little by little
    fitting together to make a landscape,
    developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
    But the cat,
    only the cat
    turned out finished, and proud:
    born in a state of total completion,
    it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.
    Men would like to be fish or fowl,
    snakes would rather have wings,
    and dogs are would-be lions.
    Engineers want to be poets,
    flies emulate swallows,
    and poets try hard to act like flies.
    But the cat
    wants nothing more than to be a cat,
    and every cat is pure cat
    from its whiskers to its tail,
    from sixth sense to squirming rat,
    from nighttime to its golden eyes.
    Nothing hangs together
    quite like a cat.

    Leave a Comment December 4, 2012

    Politicians doing a good job? Rare, but true . . .

    I felt the need to write a note to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Christie over in NJ. These guys have done a great job so far.

    Be safe, keep dry and help each other where you can . . .

    Vinny (~~)

    Leave a Comment November 1, 2012

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