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Voyager of The Seas: giving guests a reason never to cruise again

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  A "veggie burger" in the Windjammer buffet.  If I wanted mashed potatoes, I'd choose mashed potatoes. After spending a month on the Anthem of the Seas , I was looking forward to a trip on a different ship. And this trip was going to include the entire family, some of whom had never cruised before, so I was looking forward to them being impressed with a week on the Voyager of the Seas. Voyager is a smaller ship than Anthem , so I knew in advance there were some missing amenities. Still, they were all part of the Royal Caribbean corporate ecosystem, so the overlapping elements, like the quality of the food and service or the accuracy of the "Cruise Compass" (a digital or paper calendar detailing everything there is to see and do onboard, from dining times to the location of trivia contests to where all the many musicians are playing) should be similar. It wasn't. The week we returned home, we canceled our future transatlantic cruise on the  Voyager. We neve

An open letter to the community cats of Fremont, California

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  April 25, 2024 To The Felines It May Concern: I understand that the City of Fremont has a “community cat” program, managed by the Tri-City Animal Shelter and Fremont Animal Services, and that there is some concern about the management of these feral cats. Article from the Municipal Journal in Fremont.  First, an introduction. I obtained a PhD in Biological Ecology from the University of California, Davis, in 1986, and am an Emeritus Associate Professor at Utah State University (USU), where I have held positions since 1991. Before USU, I was a Natural Resources Specialist in the Department of Forestry and Resource Management at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on oak woodland regeneration and wildlife issues in north coastal California, including Alameda County.  From 1991-2002, I was a faculty member in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at USU, and in 2002, I moved to the newly created Department of Environment and Society because of my interest in the human

How rude... correcting a museum!

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  It goes without saying that natural history museums are full of experts in their fields, and that one person's area of expertise is another person's area of total ignorance. I pick up my grandson from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science  (DMNS) on a regular basis, and we spend many hours roaming the halls. Over time, I've noticed some errors, inconsistencies, and puzzling displays. I recognize that, unlike something on a screen that can be altered with a few keystrokes, displays are complicated things to change. But, step one has to be noting that they actually should be changed. I'm going to go out on a limb and propose some changes. These suggestions sometimes will be in my area of expertise, and sometimes will not. I'm going to start with one that is absolutely not within my expertise, but caught my attention because of my experience. It starts off with... a plesiosaur skeleton. Signage for this plesiosaur, Thalassomedon haningtoni , discovered in 1939 in

Visiting an alien planet... on Earth

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  Visiting an alien planet... I don't know how else to describe the experience of exploring underwater. "Alien" can be defined as "coming from another world." To a terrestrial, air-breathing, homeothermic bipedal hominin , being underwater can only seem like being, well, on a different planet. There's a reason astronauts train in a pool to experience " neutral-buoyancy" diving to simulate the weightlessness of space travel. And creatures have been evolving in Earth's seas for a LONG time. Complex life appeared in the Earth's history about a half billion years ago. "The basic body plans of all modern animals were set during the Cambrian Period, 542 - 488 million years ago." Since then, species have come and gone (mostly gone), but if you visit a thriving reef environment, you won't even think about what has disappeared, because there is just so much still there! This week we (Caroline, Wes and Mignon) went on a dive trip in t