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About TheReader

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  1. Wonderful! Remind me which is her first choice? If she ends up at A&M, let us know; my DS is there now and so far loving it (only his first week, but still...) (C's older brother; C still plans on Univ. of Houston). Congrats to her! It's an accomplishment, for sure!
  2. TheReader

    Snorkeling advice & questions

    FWIW, I've never been on one where we had a blow-up life vest. All have offered regular vests, pool noodles, or both.
  3. TheReader

    Snorkeling advice & questions

    Agreeing there is no reason to buy/bring your own flotation device; we never have, and they've always been fine. We do bring our own masks, but we snorkel a LOT, and some of us have prescription masks, others have full face masks due to TMJ issues, and others of us have "please no germs" concerns. For a one-off trip, certainly optional, and really, if the fee for the trip is going to include the rental equipment (and no way around it), might as well use the rental.
  4. TheReader

    Snorkeling advice & questions

    I honestly found the opposite, but primarily because I had never used fins before and could not for the life of me figure out the proper kick/stroke to use them effectively. I'd say one should definitely practice with fins prior to the trip, if one will need to use them. The trip where I was required to use them, I ended up taking them off and swimming w/o them because I just couldn't get the hang of it. I also say/agree that open ocean snorkeling is vastly different than bay, Caribbean, protected, cove, etc. snorkeling. It looks like where the OP is going (we've snorkeled near where she's going, but not the same spot) should be okay without the fins, especially if she uses a real flotation device for snorkeling.
  5. TheReader

    Snorkeling advice & questions

    Oh, yes, Costa Maya should be fine. The one and only time I felt really uneasy, we were on a scuba/snorkel combo trip, that was really a scuba trip that they let snorkelers tag along on, and we were out off the Florida Keys, and it was windy/rough, and they made us wear fins/flippers.....I had my 2 younger boys on the "snorkel" side of things while DH & oldest DS went diving.....neither of those 2 are super strong swimmers, and I was kind of towing/guiding us all out away from the boat (and with admonitions like "go this way, so you don't get too near the motor..." making me nervous...) and with trying to use the flippers for the first time on top of everything else, it was not fun. But this was more "open ocean" vs. anything like what you posted. (and had it been just me, would have been okay) You'll have a great time! And yes to the full face mask; I think that's the same one I have, also, and it's much easier (plus I have problems with TMJ and snorkeling makes that worse; with this mask, no issues). Have fun! You should see tons snorkeling a reef....
  6. TheReader

    Snorkeling advice & questions

    Most places you go you'll be able to see lots just from up top; you *can* dive down with the snorkel and not breath, but I never do. Places with good snorkeling, you stay atop the water and view what's below you. Many places have either life vests, or pool noodles, you can use as an aid if you like/need. We've helped our very little children snorkel with pool noodles. As long as you are in calm waters, it will be okay. If you are going on a snorkel/dive combo trip, on a boat, where some people will be diving and some snorkeling....then I would caution you to use a flotation device for sure. You may or may not be able to see much, depending where it is, and the water may be choppier which will make it harder to swim. I've only encountered that once, though, in all our trips; most times you'll be totally fine.
  7. TheReader

    Swapping dining room w/living room?

    we did almost exactly that in one house, and it worked great for us! It was just a much better layout than when we had it the way it was "supposed" to be. In our current house I keep trying to talk DH into it.....our dining room is sized *just barely just right* for when it's just us (I put an oversized table in there, though; if I put the right-sized table for just us, it would be fine) but when we have family over, it's *really tight*. I'd love to flip the 2 rooms, but dh is not convinced the living room furniture would fit any better in the dining room....he's probably right and we'd need to split the furniture up, but I'd love to try it. Maybe one day.... Anyway, I say go for it!
  8. TheReader

    Cruise excursions--need advice!

    Also, I thought I had posted this, but don't see it now...I think the park Lanny means in Cozumel is Chankanaab, and it is *wonderful*. Highly recommend; we went there on our 1st cruise, and went back on our 2nd many years later because we loved it so. It's got a little beach cove area with sand, very calm, very quiet (especially if you taxi there and get set up at that little cove as your "home base" for your DS), restaurants on-site (with beach service, or pick up and go eat at a table area), snorkeling (you enter via stairs right into the water and you can see stuff right there at the stairs, or go out however far you'd like in a designated area; plenty of stuff to see for a nice, long snorkeling session), and has more adventurous stuff if your DS would want (various dolphin encounters, etc.) and just beautiful grounds. (the beach cove area is next to a little restaurant, across from where the dolphin encounters are) Highly recommend; it's great for one adult hanging out with the kiddo, others snorkeling, then swap off. Makes for a relaxing day, and plenty of time before/after (I'd do after) to shop in town near the ship on your way back to the boat. Re: cash/cards: if you taxi places, you'll need cash for that; American is fine usually, and Cruise Critic usually knows roughly how much to expect. Most "big" places will take credit cards, little street vendors will want cash. So, for ex, if you did Chankanaab -- cash for the taxi, card for the park/restaurant is fine. Be sure you look into the tips for the cruise; it's not included in the price, but is added automatically on your bill at the end. You can make adjustments if you want/need to (they add x amount per person, per day; many people adjust, especially for kids; people on Cruise Critic will be rather opinionated about this, but it is easy to adjust up or down if you want/need to; you can do it on board) I just mention it because not everyone is aware that it gets added. I do think you can take drinks on with Carnival; check their website FAQs for specifics. Some allow water, some allow sodas....most only enforce against alcohol but do check and see. You could fill water bottles from your room tap if you use a cup or something (it's just that the sink is shallow so your bottle likely won't fit under the tap). The water's potable and fine to drink, especially if you use your Brita. Have fun!
  9. TheReader

    Cruise excursions--need advice!

    Just a note on Carnival, they really aren't terrible. Yes, they're the "budget friendly" cruise line, but our 1st cruise was with them, our 2nd with Royal Carribean, and the difference wasn't drastic. Now, I don't know the timing of your cruise.....if it's when school is in or out of session....but that will likely make the bigger difference re: noise/crowds. But honestly, it isn't as noticeable a difference as say, a Super 8 Motel to a Holiday Inn to a Hilton or something (at least, not in our experience). There will be quiet places on the ship, there will be things to do that aren't crowded, there will be yummy's good.
  10. TheReader

    Cruise excursions--need advice!

    We've done some of those ports, not all, but we're more beach, snorkel, dive, maybe shop people vs. history, ruins, etc. people. We also don't usually do things with more than maybe at most an hour transit time because the day is already so short (and depending which port, if you dock vs. tender, etc. it can be complicated) we don't want to use 2+ of our limited hours on a car ride. We've never booked through the cruise ship for things, at all, though we've only cruised twice (but have traveled to Cozumel a few times on our own as well). We *have* always booked our excursions ahead of time (except the last cruise to Cozumel, we just grabbed a taxi for where we wanted to go, having already been there). Cruise Critic is your go-to forum/board for asking & researching; you can go into their destination specific boards and get all the info you ever wanted, and then some, on what to do, where. It splits about 50/50 (maybe 60/40) on "always through the cruise ship, it's safer!" vs "never through the ship, it's too expensive!" so a lot is which of those issues matters more to you? If you're a comfortable, confident're probably fine going out on your own. If you prefer the added security of being with the cruise ship, and don't mind being in a large group w/no flexibility, do that. If you decide to venture out on your own/book on your own, really the tips on Cruise Critic will be your best bet for planning, better than Trip Advisor. I'd make suggestions, but sounds like you like different things than us. Have fun! We've been to all of those stops but Grand Caymans, and they're lovely!
  11. TheReader

    office key - new laptop, vent

    Can you save the files from the old to an external hard drive, thumb drive, email them, etc.? Then uninstall on old, install on new, then reload the files onto the new computer. Even if you uninstall first, you won't lose the files (you just won't be able to open them on that device) and can transfer them later. We've done it too many times to count, with no problems.
  12. Espresso grounds are ground very fine (roughly the 2nd finest grind, I think). So, that's number one; whatever coffee you are using in your drip machine at home, make sure you are choosing a fine grind (or if you grind your own, set it to the finest/next to finest). Next, the roast is different; espresso roast is usually a darker roast, which affects the flavor. So, make sure whatever coffee you are using is a dark roast or "espresso roast". Third, the actual type of coffee....if it's possible for you to buy beans/grounds from your "local" shop, that would be ideal, then you'd be getting whatever kind of bean they are using and have the best chance of duplicating the results at home. If you can't/they don't sell their beans, you might ask them what they use. Do they roast in house, buy a certain brand, what? If they buy something commercially available, great! You can buy the same thing. If they don't, get them to tell you as much as possible about the beans -- arabica beans? high altitude? from a certain region/country? dark roast? medium roast? espresso roast? and match as many points as you can. If they don't sell their beans, and aren't keen on telling you how to duplicate the flavor at home, it may take trial and error to get the right sort of beans/grounds. I wouldn't think that froth or not would make a big difference in flavor (although, if you get all the other parts right and still find you need the froth, yes, there are countertop machines that have that ability; I've not looked into that, but I know they exist). My personal favorite is a Brazilian bean I buy from HEB, but it only comes as whole bean, and is espresso roast. I grind at home now, but used to grind in store on the "espresso" setting (which was a couple clicks finer than "fine"), and it's divine. But it was a lot of trial and error to find the thing closest to what I was hunting for, and I had to really stop & figure out "okay, what about this type of coffee is what matters for the taste??" -- once I figured out all the right variables (roast, type, region, etc.) I was able to choose wisely, and now I know if I want to try a different coffee, what parts matter and what parts don't (for what I want, at least). Best of luck to you!
  13. TheReader

    Jazmine Barnes murder case

    I believe so; I know early on when the reports were of the red truck, the police released still photos taken from cameras in the area. It seems likely that once they got the tip about the other car, they re-checked footage (or even that in checking camera footage, noticed the other car...?).
  14. TheReader

    Jazmine Barnes murder case

    That part is new to me; I thought they had the video of the truck...? I remember them releasing a still photo of a red truck picked up on security cameras at/near the scene....I wonder if maybe what happened is the mom just got confused about where the shots came from?? (like, maybe the small car was behind/beside the truck, and the truck was blocking the mom's view or something...) Although that wouldn't match with the stories that the shooter pulled in front of her and kept shooting.....unless, again, the red truck pulled in front and the mom just didn't realize where the shots were coming from. I could see that sort of confusion fairly easily, especially in the midst of trauma like that.
  15. TheReader

    office key - new laptop, vent

    It's been easy in our experience. My laptop has crashed I don't know how many times (various ones over the years) and as long as we've uninstalled/reinstalled OR talked to them and explained the one was no longer using it, they were able to switch the activation. As long as the total number of computers currently using it does not exceed the total number of activations allowed for that copy, it's fine. DH just switched our son's from his desktop to his laptop, in fact, so he could take it to college with him. Ran into a glitch, called, they directed him to a new online app, poof, done. Took 30 seconds. (not to argue with you, just for info of anyone else reading this later in the same boat)
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