Geek Cruise - Linux Lunacy 2 - Day 4 - Georgetown, Cayman Islands

Wednesday was a tourism day. Anne and I were up early, and we had a formal breakfast in the Rotterdam Dining Room for a change. This was very nice, with strange Swiss muesli and fruits and other very British style breakfast items. Usually we went and had the buffet breakfast on Lido Deck, but we wanted to try the formal breakfast at least once. If you aren't in a rush, it's worth doing. After that, we went on deck to watch us arrive at Georgetown on Grand Cayman, part of the Cayman Islands. [Waiting to go Georgetown,
  Cayman islands]

It was really lovely. The air was clean and fresh with a tang in it. The water was the most beautiful shade of blue.

water off Grand Cayman]

There were other cruise ships around. Everywhere we stopped, the others were either just stopping or just leaving, and we played leap-frog with them the whole trip. Some were really big, and this one impressed Anne. There was another that was doing a Celebrity Cruise. From what we heard, you didn't book, they invited you.

big cruise ship at Grand Cayman]

The Maasdam put down anchor, and the lifeboats were pressed into service as tenders, to ferry us ashore. We put down anchor, and we watched the lifeboats being lowered. Then came the announcement that if we were going ashore, we should go to the Rembrandt Lounge and wait for a tender. So we did. We sat and waited with a room full of people eager to get ashore and see the sights. Yes, we waited. And waited. Apparently the water was a bit rough, and the tenders had to go slow to be safe. We waited about two hours, and finally got to go to a tender at about 11am. Lots of others were not as patient as us, and there were heated words exchanged with the pretty blonde who was organising the show.

The tenders were chugging away, coming and going. This photo shows one tender returning to the ship, while our tender headed for shore. The water was a little choppy, as you might gather from the angle of the horizon in the photo. But it didn't seem choppy enough to make us two hours late.

[Tenders coming and going from
ship to Grand Cayman]

We hadn't booked any outings. There were things that we could have done, like Swimming With The Stingrays, or going to visit Hell, but we just wanted a quiet day with nothing organised. We wanted to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. The first thing we did when we got ashore was avoid the ship's photographer. We made a detour around him to escape the inevitable photo sessions. First things first, we needed some supplies for the things we had forgotten. Walked around looking for a chemist (pharmacist, for American readers), couldn't find one, asked a guard, and was directed around a corner. And what a chemist it was. Had everything we needed, at reasonable prices.

After that, we needed to take stock and work out what to do. We found a small cafe and sat down and had a coffee. I was startled by the size of the coffee cups. These were monsters. The photo doesn't do the coffee cup justice. Trust me - it was as big as a soup bowl.


We walked around and looked at this and poked at that and then went on a shopping frenzy. I blame the heat. T-shirts and coffee mugs were the main items. We went into shops that sold black coral jewelry, and we looked at T-shirts that changed colour with the heat, and we looked at other jewelry and T-shirts and the usual junk. We spotted one expensive store selling Wedgewood and Waterford Crystal, so we spent a bit of time in there and came out with a piece of each. Nice stuff, good prices. The streets of Georgetown were wide, and the traffic was slow, and everything was relaxed and easy. It was nice to see cars driving on the left side again, although we noticed that the cars could be left or right handed, but they all still drove on the left, the way driving was intended to be. It was hot, but not unbearable. It was a just a great day to be out and about and having fun.

streets of Georgetown, Grand Cayman]

We visited the Cayman Islands National Museum. It was well worth visiting. First, we saw a small film that we hoped would give us the history of the island, but it was more of a feel-good sort of film that alluded to the history and mostly showed great land and seascapes of the islands. Then we wandered through the museum. It was housed in an old wooden building that was one of the oldest wooden houses on the island, and had escaped most of the storms. It was full of artwork by the locals, plus heaps of relics and mementoes of the good old days. We spent a couple of hours in there having fun.

THe brochure was a poorly photcopied job, but if you look at the image at the bottom, it shows a very good exhibit. They have a catboat set up with all the old accoutrements, and an animated old fisherman sitting beside it. Press a button and he tells one of several different tales in the old patois used on the island. It's very good. His lips even move in sync with the words. And the information is good stuff, very interesting, especially listening to the guy drone on about the great storm.

On the way out, we stopped at the Museum Gift Shop. Have to fund the museum. Anne pointed out some pretty little watercolour prints on the wall. The artists was Lorna Griggs. Griggs is not a common name, so I was startled to see a Griggs as a local on the island. We bought one of the watercolour prints, and a bookmark and got her business card. I've been meaning to email her and ask how a Griggs got to the Cayman Islands, but haven't done it yet.

[Cayman Islands National

After the museum, we wandered down a few more streets, popped in to a few more shops, but didn't buy anything else. We wandered past the yellow submarine used for the tourist shows, and walked along the harbour. We had a good time, and saw what we wanted to see, and although it was early, we headed back to the ship and had a late lunch. [Welcome to the Cayman

Even though it was an all tourism day, there was one Geek Session at 6:30, a Question and Answer session with Linus Torvalds. He doesn't do talks any more, but he is willing to answer questions. Linus was on the cruise with his wife and three little girls. The cruise was a good lure to get him to talk. The session was recorded and some bits have been transcribed, so you can read some of what he said at Open Enterprise

I got there early and got a good seat. Linus was having a chat with Steve Oualline before the session, so I thought I would start the groupie photo-taking orgy with some preview shots.

Torvalds with Steve Oualline before the Q&A Session]

Neil Bauman opened the session. Neil was the organiser of the Geek Cruise. Great guy. Calm, organised and smooth.

[Neil Bauman - Geek Cruise

Linus took the floor. He spoke briefly about the proposed new kernel release, and then he answered questions. It was interesting to listen to him. He's clear and calm and relaxed, has a good puckish sense of humour, and has opinions on a lot of things. But some things he doesn't have opinions on. When asked about the desktop, he said he is only interested in the kernel and doesn't pay attention to "user-space". That got a good laugh. He wouldn't say what he did at Transmeta. He hates CVS, and would use an open-source version of Bitkeeper if one was available, but there isn't one so he's using Bitkeeper. We use CVS at work, and have started having a few problems with some aspects of it, so I was interested in hearing his thoughts on it. I think our problems can be solved by reading the documentation closer, and changing some of the ways we do things. There was one very interesting question asked of him. A systems developer said that when his team develop a new project, they meet and whiteboard and get the basic design down first, and then they split up and co-ordinate via email. He wanted to know how Linus and his team do the whiteboard design part. Linus said he doesn't. The kernel development group have a good idea of what needs to be done, and they just code it. They are experienced enough to have game plans in their heads. And the coding is often experimental so they try this and then they try that and the system grows organically. It works. I was interested to hear this, because my habits are a bit like that too. If a job is straightforward, I will plan it and design it and document it and then code it, but it's boring. But new development can't always be planned out. You have to experiment and backtrack. But enough of me.

[Linus Torvalds att eh Q&A

Then it was off to dinner again. A casual dinner this time, so no need for a jacket or a tie. Then off to the show. A comedian named Don Sherman side-swiped life on board the ship. He poked fun at almost every aspect of ship life, especially the quantities of food. He was good and we laughed, especially about the food. Straight after that we rushed to the top deck for the Dutch Dessert Extravaganza - a huge Dutch chocolate midnight dessert feast. Chocolate and Cointreau and then stagger back to our cabin and try and get in the doorway sideways, and then lie like beached whales till the morning.

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