June Newsletter
   July 31, 2013         |    Santa Barbara, California                 

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We just returned from a vacation where I gained more than just memories.

[Disclaimer: My vegan wife has advised me to warn other vegetarians there are graphic scenes of meat consumption in this newsletter and viewer discretion is advised. And if any of you actually know her, she’s hoping you won’t think less of her because her husband may be related to Henry the VIII.]

It was our first experience with a cruise ship and no one prepared me for the food issues that would arise. We had this “Anytime Dining” thing on our booking that basically meant you could gorge yourself with no limits any time, day or night, all included.

And they had lots of crispy bacon.

In my world, thin, crispy bacon is basically a gateway drug. It habitually leads to eggs, hollandaise sauce, biscuits & gravy, sausage, butter and just about anything I’m not usually allowed to eat here in my home town, the annoyingly healthy and fit Santa Barbara. We all know it’s bad for the pig (both myself and the porcine creatures) but when I saw that huge pile of thin, crispy bacon… well… it talked to me. Whispered, actually. Like one of those Harry Potter snakes.

“Sssssssss. Ooh, crisssspy, sssalty, delicioussss meaty treats here. Put us on your plate and we won’t dissssappoint. We won’t break up with you like your sssskinny pants will. We’ll never sssay you look fat. Remember, it’s FREE. All included. Good value for your cruise dollarssss.”

So I do what any person would do when bacon talks to them. I look around, see if anyone else heard it, and then, with amazing, almost slow-motion self control, I casually reach for the tongs, grab a dainty twisted bundle of 3 pieces or so, and gently deposit them on my plate. Upon doing this, the voice returns...

“Sssssss. Only 3?… We’re very thin piecesss. You probably need more love on your plate. Tassste usss while you stand in line just to be sssure you have enough.”

In retrospect, I probably should have reflected a tiny bit more about why bacon was speaking to me. Tasting the thin, beautiful, crispy treat while still standing in front of a mountain of it, probably showed impaired judgment. It was like being challenged to eat one potato chip. Everybody knows you can’t eat just one, right? Before I had moved even an inch away from bacon mountain, I looked down to see my plate was completely empty. I had no memory of snarfing all 3 strips. 

But they were gone and I had bacon on my breath.

At that point, I lost it. With spirals in my eyes, I ferociously snatched the tongs away from the innocent person in line behind me, like a dog who had dropped his bone in front of the pack. Growling possessively, my rabid, lower self piled most of bacon mountain onto my plate before sliding it protectively towards the Eggs Benedict station.

Lunch always arrives too soon, but with it comes the chance of redemption.  There is the promise of salad and raw vegetables to balance the bacon. There are also short ribs, fried shrimp and calamari, sushi, prime rib, BBQ chicken, homemade pizza and hamburgers. I keep waiting for the salad bar to speak to me, hoping someone would pipe up, but they all just sit there like vegetables.

The nap (i.e. "coma") that follows lunch is followed by dinner in one of the fancy restaurants where 5 course meals with steak and lobster are pretty much standard fare. I won’t even begin to discuss the amoral desserts.

It was only a one-week cruise, but after about 4 days, most of the clothing I’d brought no longer fit. Unfazed, I adopted the Roman Holiday look and started wrapping bed sheets around me like a toga using the extension cord from our cabin as a belt. Perhaps more amazing was the fact that this did not elicit any sideways glances from the other travelers or crew. More experienced cruise ship passengers had obviously planned for this and brought their fat clothes. If anything, I think I saw a glance or two that said “novice.”

I’m not sure if ignominious photos of an unconscious me were used for internet marketing purposes, but even before we disembarked, my Mother-in-Law emailed to inform me she was sending a diet book.

Now that we’ve returned home, I’m back on salads and scowls from my skinny, fit, super healthy vegan and gluten-free wife. She may be the only person in the history of the cruise industry to actually lose weight on a voyage without the aid of stomach flu. The good news is that I’m sick of lobster, jumbo shrimp, king crab, ceviche, filet mignon, baby back ribs, homemade bread, butter, hollandaise sauce, gravy, soft ice cream, creme brûlée, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, and yes... even bacon.

At leassssst for today.

At Mick’s Macs, bacon bribes may be considered legal tender.  Just don't tell my wife?