Tag: blog

Cruise Day 1: Embarkation

Cruise Day 1: Embarkation

It’s here! The first day of what’s to be an epic cruise!

My apologies for the live blog coming late, but here it is!

We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, by far my favorite place to stay before a cruise out of Port Canaveral. We met up with the group before 9, and were en route aboard our private bus transfer by 9:30.

We made it to the pier about an hour later, and there she was: Lady O herself… the Oasis of the Seas. I couldn’t believe what a massive ship she is. I thought Freedom and Anthem were big, but this is a whole new level of big.

The size being what it is, security and embarkation were smooth and well-executed, as I’ve become accustomed to with past cruises on Royal. They are wonderfully consistent.

We had lunch in the Windjammer, hand headed poolside to verify that our drink package was functional – my wonderful margarita confirmed this! I even managed to fit in a live stream on periscope here!

Then we explored a bit and found our way to Central Park, where we had another verification of our drink package (Margarita #2, the drink package officially works on all decks!).

Rooms were ready promptly by 1pm. My cousin Jen and I are in an ocean view balcony on deck 14 – definitely smaller than the room I had on Anthem but enough for the 2 of us to be comfortable and not tripping over each other.

Afternoon fun consisted of a gut-busting game of Cards Against Humanity while we relaxed in our room… I won’t write specifics here, but let’s just say we’ve come up with a truly tasteless idea for a musical that would even make Mel Brooks cringe.

Dinner was in The Grand, and was fine. We then explored a bit more, and found our way to a general knowledge trivia, that didn’t go so well, then a Movie Themes trivia, where we did much better.

We ended the evening with karaoke in On Air, followed by an epic Eclipse-Day-Kickoff party on the Promenade. So fun.

Having a great time so far!

Be sure to tune in on Periscope for in-the-moment live video streams, and stay tuned for more fun from the Oasis of the Seas!

Stray Observations:

  • The ship is big, but surprisingly easy to navigate. The abundance of signage everywhere really helps.
  • Ship motion is very comfortable but felt more at the rear of the ship than anywhere else.
  • Staterooms and some public spaces feel smaller than on other ships; On Air, Schooner Bar both felt larger on Freedom.
  • Ship doesn’t feel overly crowded, despite my concerns it’s quite pleasant.
My Guest Appearance on the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

My Guest Appearance on the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

There are many things I love about taking cruises, but there are also three things I really don’t like:  Getting off a cruise, having to wait until the next one, and the worst being the whole “having to pay for them” thing!  It’d be nice to be able to cruise for free (someday, right? #goals), but thankfully credit card points can help ease the burden, if even just a little bit.  This week, I was graciously invited by my good friend Matt Hochberg over at the Royal Caribbean Blog to cohost his latest podcast episode in which we talk about the Royal Caribbean Credit Card and its points and perks, as well as a few other options.

You can check out the podcast episode here:  https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/podcast/episode-209-using-credit-cards-save-cruise-vacation

You can also check out past episodes of Matt’s podcast here:   https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/podcast

Matt has a lot of great info there – I highly recommend checking out the content.   He also does Facebook Live sessions on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and Periscope live streams on other days of the week.

I’ve been dabbling in the credit card points and miles game for a while, and have certainly learned a lot in the process. I’ll be putting together some content about that in the coming weeks here and on my YouTube channel, so be on the lookout for that as well.


Can I Ask A Quick Favor?

Can I Ask A Quick Favor?

I promise, it’s quick, and will cost you nothing. You’ll be done before you know it.  It’ll actually take you longer to read this (hopefully short) post than actually do what I’m asking. 

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve dusted off my blog over the last few months and have gotten back into it. I really enjoy it; I love creating content. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to only make YouTube videos, or only write blogs, so I’m doing both. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about or make videos about, so I’m creating my content on just about anything that comes to mind. I have many interests, and am using that as my basis for creating whatever it is I’m creating.

I’m creating this content because I deeply enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with anyone who wants to read about them or watch my videos. That being said, I want to make sure that I’m getting as much exposure as I can, and sharing my material with as many people as possible. The truth is, I can’t do that alone. 

All I ask is that you share my blog and YouTube channel with your friends and family; anyone you think might enjoy what I have to say. I cover a wide range of topics: Taking cruises, Photography Equipment, Life Experiences, Weight Loss, Product and App reviews, just to name a few. One of the reasons I love having a wide variety of material, is it will give my readers and subscribers a chance to see things they may not be familiar with or aware of. 

So, that’s it. I’d be eternally grateful if you could share this post on your social media network of choice, and encourage your friends and families to do the same if you like what I’ve got here on my blog and YouTube channel.  You can find me on all forms of Social Media with the name iamjohnbamber – I couldn’t think of anything else to use, but since this is all about things that interest me why not just be…well…me!

Crank Up Some Classical Music

Crank Up Some Classical Music

Classical music can sometimes have a bad rap; some say it’s not “cool.”  I’m here to tell you that it’s not all about tearjerking violins and operas sung in a different language –  this genre of music truly has something for everybody. I’m a firm believer that music should be enjoyed at the right volume, and in this post, I want to share songs that should be played LOUD. There’s an intrinsic “cool factor” to pieces like these, because they were written so long ago, long before some of the known composers of these times were even born. 

So, put your headphones on – the better the headphones the better the experience. I’m listening to this first one on my Bose Quietcomfort QC15 headphones… you won’t get the full effect on EarPods, but either way; if it’s all you’ve got, put them on and crank it up to full.


1. Mars: The Bringer of War – Gustav Holst, from “The Planets” — Two reasons I love this: It’s written in 5/4 time, and it was clearly an influence for a well-known film composer that’s scored many box office mega movies. Can you identify the composer I’m referring to? Take a listen!

2. Also sprach Zarathustra – Richard Strauss – This was the opening to one of the greatest movies of all-time: 2001: A Space Odyssey which, if you hadn’t seen it, you really should. I really love the emphasis on the percussion section, and that this piece incorporates a pipe organ. One of the many items on my bucket list is to see this performed live in-person. Until that happens, listening to this with the volume turned up on a good set of headphones or speakers gets me every time. This particular performance has a few special treats… and I’m not referring to the visual of the conductor and what you hear being out of sync… enjoy! 


3. 1812 Overture – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – One of the few composer’s names that make me grateful for copy-and-paste. This piece is most often heard around July 4th, but it’s mostly known because the percussion section gets to use cannons. Yes, you read that right: cannons! If cannons aren’t available, though, whomever is playing the bass drum is given free reign to put the mallet through the head. They’re expected to hit it quite hard… I remember being in high school band playing this piece… in the percussion section… damn, that was fun. The epic part of this is toward the end, so if the video doesn’t automatically do so, start around 11m40s. The rest of the piece is nice, but the loud part is from that part and onwards. Enjoy, and look out for incoming cannon fire. 

4. Carmina Burana: O Fortuna: – Carl Orff — I don’t know much about this piece, but it makes the list of epic pieces for sure. For whatever reason, it seems that Hollywood made us all think this music is, shall we say, “evil in nature.” – It really isn’t, it’s just intense. I think there’s a difference. Whatever it is, it’s big, it’s epic, it’s loud, and it’s damn beautiful. 

5. The Ride of the Valkyries – Richard Wagner – “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…” I couldn’t complete this list without this one, and this is certainly not all there is out there when it comes to pieces of music best enjoyed at a higher-than-reasonable volume. 




The above were written long before any of us were even born, but I offer you this from the not-too-distant past:

Whatever your music preference,  always enjoy your music at a reasonable volume unless you’ve got  good pair of headphones, and you don’t subject your ears to it that often. 

Sure, it’s great to listen to music and truly feel it, but don’t forget about hearing safety. Just like anything, enjoy in moderation, but every now and then, enjoy it LOUD.

Any pieces you think would be a good fit? Throw a comment, let me know!



Love Me Some Content!

Love Me Some Content!

 Pictures, audio files, video files, text… so many types of content, and so many ways in which to snap, post, like, or share this content. Let’s snap a quick picture, what do we do with it? Tweet it? Facebook it? Instagram it? Do we hashtag it? Nowadays, it seems like the lines of “where to put what” are blurring. Is this a problem? Some think it may be, but I see it as a light bulb I’ve been waiting to come on for a long time. 

I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and two YouTube channels. While I’d love to have gazillions of subscribers on YouTube, I don’t know if that’s really the avenue I want to use for delivering my content, and even more importantly, I don’t see that happening, and I’m fine with that. As much as I enjoy making YouTube videos, I also enjoy writing blog posts. I enjoy expressing myself with words, so I don’t want to abandon the idea of blogging in favor of only doing videos. 

I had a conversation with a friend of mine on the way in to work this morning and had a true “light bulb” moment: Blogs don’t have to only be text!

So, I’m thrilled to announce that THIS website… here… my name dot com, johnbamber.com – This will be where I will do….what it is that I want to do. Blogs, videos, I can’t decide whether I want to be a YouTube vlogger (video blogger), or a text blogger, so I’m going to be and do BOTH.

You can visit my page to read my posts, but they’ll auto-share to Facebook and Twitter, so you can see when my new posts hit, but even better,  You can even sign up to get my latest entries in an e-mail by visiting this link.  No spam will be sent to you as a result, I promise.  

I’ve even gone through and curated a bunch of old content… old pictures, videos, and text from all of my years of doing…this… whatever it’s called. Perhaps I’ll call it… “expressing myself” – maybe? Comment below, and let me know. 

So please feel free to enjoy my old stuff here, you can subscribe to me on Youtube here,  and you can join my e-mail list here, and you can enjoy my new forthcoming content.

So, here’s to some great new (and old) content. Thanks as always. 


Getting heated about the heat

Getting heated about the heat

I need to vent.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist… I figure if a blog post has a picture of some variety it makes it something a bit more interesting. No? Oh well, I thought it was funny. I need to “vent”, so there’s a picture of a vent…okay, never mind.

Let’s go back in time just a bit, to March 2010. I’d been looking around at different apartment complexes, and narrowed it down to a few within a short drive of my mom and brother’s place. Once I found the one where I currently am living, I was excited to get my paperwork in order and to move in. But, once I did move in I found the one extremely annoying thing about my apartment that really bugs me.

So, the papers are signed, I’ve got the keys, and I’ve come in to have a look around before I move in. The wood floors are all shiny, I have a new refrigerator, and I can start moving in any time. Great! So, I’m looking around, and I can’t find the thermostat, since it was a little toasty in the apartment.

A friend suggested I look on the baseboard heater things to see if there was a controller, and sure enough I found one! Or, I found one that…kind of looked like it may have been one at one time or another.

I called the rental office, and asked if someone could come to repair the thermostat, and I then found out, the hard way, that which I wished I’d asked initially.

A friendly voice on the other end of the phone said to me, “There used to be a thermostat there, but it was removed a few years ago and all apartments heat is now controlled from a central location.”

What?! I have no control over my heat?! WTF!

I then found out this was common among apartments…


Now, back to the present; I got my rent bill, and sometimes included with the bill will be some sort of flyer or letter from the landlord. This time around, we had something talking about “Getting ready for Winter” – the letter stated that all of the snow removal apparatus was ready, they were stocked up on salt and whatnot, blah blah blah, but then there was a section about “What you could do to get ready for winter”

This is when I started laughing. Uncontrollably.

One of the lines stated “To ensure proper heating of your apartment, please remove all window air conditioners.”  (and they made sure to bold and underline this part too)

Proper heating of my apartment?!

That’s damn hilarious. I can’t properly heat my apartment, because with the windows closed it makes an oven look like Antarctica. I have to have the windows open, and even that doesn’t help all the time. Sometimes I will need to use the fan mode on my A/C units to get adequate air flow to make the environment habitable. Sometimes when it’s been below 50 outside I’ve even had to use the actual A/C component since it was just too damn hot in my room.

So, in response to that request to remove my air conditioner, in a word:

No. In more than one word: “To properly heat my apartment, give me a damn thermostat. Until then, you can either come remove them yourself (which I’ll just put them back when you’re not looking), or shut up.” 

I’m not bitter, honest. Really.

I honestly don’t see how removing the window units will “ensure proper heating”  – the two have nothing to do with one another.

There is another apartment complex just down the street from where I live now, I may look at it as an option if the rent goes up too much when my lease renewal comes up. The caveat, though, is these apartments rely more on electricity, but have lower rent as a result since none of the utilities are included (I need clarification on that) – so, theoretically, I may be able to pay for exactly what I want/need and not have to feel like a broiling chicken when I’m watching TV… I don’t know. I really don’t feel like moving again, but I also don’t feel like experiencing the inside of a sauna just when I’m trying to relax in the sanctity of my home.

Okay, rant over, thank you for letting me get this all out.

10 Years ago today…

10 Years ago today…

I was in college, having just started my third year. I was asleep in my loft bed in room 425 of the 150 Massachusetts Avenue dormitory of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. The phone rang and startled me awake, my mother on the other end telling me in an almost-monotone voice “A plane had just hit the World Trade Center. They don’t know what happened, they think it might have been an Air Traffic Control accident.” A short pause later, and she said “Wait….now they are saying a second plane hit the second tower. This isn’t an accident.”

I woke my roommate immediately, a NY resident and passionate supporter of the NYPD and FDNY. I filled him in on what I’d heard, and I will never forget the look on his face as long as I live.  He and I went to the lounge of our dorm building, the room filled with our fellow students all watching the live coverage of the buildings on fire, in tears.  Many were trying to reach loved ones on their cell phones and having great difficulties, since the networks of the time were overloaded with people trying to reach their loved ones.

Now I’m sitting here watching the memorial service, ten years later. We will never forget what happened that day, and we will always remember what it’s done to us. I can’t help think that even though we were brutally attacked and many had lost their lives, what is even worse is hearing the children of those who had been taken from us, when talking about their lost relative, say “I wish I could have known you better.”

To those who have given their lives for us, we will always remember you and be grateful for your ultimate sacrifice.

One of my new favourite words

One of my new favourite words

The word is “egregious”, or “extraordinarily bad.” 

I was trying to post a tweet this morning and, as usual, I rather quickly eclipsed the 140-character limit, hence I’m writing this here. Had I been able to post it, it would have looked something like this: 

“I need to live somewhere in the middle of nowhere, maybe the Midwest. What I hate most about NJ is the egregiously high costs of living.” 

I lived in the Midwest for two years – it wasn’t


 but it certainly was different. The pace of things is a lot slower, people seem to be more mellow and they just do what they do. I’ve always noticed an “angst” with many East Coasters, a certain “gotta get there, gotta do this, gotta go” anxiousness that doesn’t seem to exist as you move farther away from this area. When I lived out there, people told me they could see it in my behaviors and actions, they could tell I “wasn’t from around there.” 

I think I know why those Mid-Western farmer folk are so pleasant: they don’t have to pay an arm and a leg, and the other leg, a kidney, half their brain, a nostril, and an eyeball for a roof over their heads. They get to keep their limbs, and even use them from time to time (I wonder what that’s like.) Maybe I need to pick up another 4 jobs and work 500 hours each week to be comfortable…. looks like that may be the secret to the truth of a reality I was hoping wasn’t actually a reality.

Oh, and one more question… why do most employers pay their workers every two weeks instead of every week? I’ve never understood that.

Okay, I’m done now. Rant over.