Xanadu: What Life on a Cruise Ship Says About America

This post makes repeated references to a favorite poem of mine (which I reread recently because Lea told me to read more poetry). For those who don’t know it, check out Wiki for the scoop. For those that do and claim that I am misinterpreting the poem, you’re likely correct. I’ve reversed the meaning on purpose to make my point. Luckily, Coleridge is not around to get upset and, even if he was, would be too stoned to care.)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The first time I saw the Carnival Magic, I thought it was a marvel of human engineering and truly a wonder. It’s amazing what you can do with steel and plastic to create a floating skyscraper, tipped on its side. This crazy thing had fourteen decks (plus three crew decks) and was a thousand feet long. A lap around the thing was close to half a mile. Fully loaded, it toted 13,000+ tons around the Caribbean with a draft of 27 feet (draft being the distance from waterline to bottom of the ship; this statistic blew my mind). What a boat!

On the inside was every amenity of a luxury Vegas hotel with bars, shops and restaurants, casinos and shows, games and pools. Some things ran for 24 hours. You could do anything from pulse-raising action to snooze-inducing relaxation. If one were to try to design a stately pleasure dome like Kublai Khan, it might be this. But if you’re anything like me, the knock on the door that sends you racing out of the warm opium-haze vision of Xanadu and back into cold reality is the arrival of the passengers.

Now two years ago (as of last week), Stacy and I didn’t care about our health too much and had pretty much given up on ever being healthy. That said, nothing we had ever done before prepared us for witnessing the astounding gluttony elicited by this temple of consumerism. I feel like I saw every single deadly sin exploited to its maximum.

Seeing terrible self-destructive behavior over and over again was pretty shocking. Over and over we witnessed people pile up their plates with five desserts at once, then take the elevator a single floor, only to bake themselves scarlet on the deck while chugging margaritas. Frankly, it began to border on the absurd.

Now in many ways I’m no one to talk. I did spend a good portion of my life embracing all my baser desires, after all. And still to this day I often feel compelled to eat things that are not good for me. Now that I feel like my eyes have been opened to how every little decision can conglomerate into dire health consequences, my overwhelming feeling about what I was witnessing was abject despair.

What country do we live in when the singular thought of so many is indulgence? I saw middle aged, severely overweight women in Rascal scooters traipsing up the elevators to the buffet(at least) three times a day to stuff their faces with unlimited pizza, ice cream, cake, cheesecake, brownies, cupcakes and french fries.

Every night red-nosed, stumbling men would guzzle Jack-and-Cokes while hammering slot machine buttons for hours on end. False women in skimpy swimsuits roasted themselves while sipping sugary drinks and complaining about the lack of moving sidewalks.

I wasn’t visiting the pleasure houses of far away Mongols, but rather a death camp. This isn’t about judgement. This is about an honest assessment of what this culture culminated, moreover what Americans appear to be drawn to for celebratory occasions. It’s not just harmless vacation behavior. It is a mentality gone horribly wrong. All of these actions are not in anyway life affirming.

I get, of course, that they too were on vacation. But it seemed clear to me that for most of these people what I was seeing was simply an amplified version of their daily lives. Our vacation indulgences (a few over all 7 days) paled in comparison to what seemed the “norm”.

Ultimately, we were sick, bloated, and moody as a result of our splurges: hardly a treat! I can’t imagine what daily free-for-alls will do to your body. Well, OK maybe I can imagine.

And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
-Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

As we’ve mentioned previously, we spent a lot of time with our new Aussie best friend on this trip. It was a fascinating experience to look at my own country with an outsiders eyes.

Her first reaction was to our ads, which they don’t have in other countries. This country’s marketing is killing us. We have ads for terrible, unhealthy food and sugary drinks paired with more ads for money-sucking pleasure pursuits, and, finally, the medications to prop you up after you’ve destroyed your health.

It’s no wonder we’ve got this going on!

I’m, honestly, an optimist. I truly believe that once people have proper education they will voluntarily make the best choices because people are generally good. Why else would I invest all this time into this website if I didn’t?

My faith in that is a bit shaken.

I’m not the type that usually makes America/Roman Empire comparisons, but I’ll indulge this version of Godwin’s Law for just a moment. In the dying days of the Empire, citizens would ingest emetics so that they could indulge in additional gluttony (Hunger Games fans may remember something similar from Catching Fire).

I overheard two girls on the cruise describe a morning of hangover sickness on their way through the buffet line. I saw another man get up from a slot machine to expunge his stomach, only to return to the same machine minutes later. This is willing self-destruction!

Even our fellow Low Carb Cruise (plenty of paleo friends too, don’t think this is just because “Low Carb isn’t Paleo”) compatriots were not immune. On the final days we heard many people talk about their regrets about their indulgences – us included. 

If even we attending for a health conference can’t guard ourselves against the siren’s song, who can? I’m worried about our country. Our health is in a downward spiral and I see no desire in these people to figure out the problem and pull back on the yoke.

We can’t keep blaming industry. We’re in a capitalist culture. They’re doing their job: creating a stimulated economy. It’s our job to take care of ourselves and turn against things that are killing us.

And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
-Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And so what am I, a lowly, poorly informed health and diet blogger to do in the face of such insurmountable odds? What could I even attempt to do?

Scream louder.

You and I, my paleo friends, are in excellent shape compared to so many! We can be our own leaders in a new revolution.

Be a beacon of hope to those who find themselves borne swiftly along the river Alph towards the dark and sunless sea. Smile. Share your joy. Share your success story, whatever it may be. Resist that treat at the next party you go to and answer honestly when someone asks why. Because it not worth the price you pay with your health.

While on our trip, we got to bear witness and give testimony about the life changing value of diet change. We were sure to share not just our story, but that of our boys’ and the profound changes stepping away from the glutenous consumerist mindset brought about in them.

I don’t know how many will change their lives, but some will and those few might bear fruit of their own and more lives will be saved. And in this way we can fight against the pull of the many who don’t care about the health of human beings. We have got to change the world, because the alternative is too scary to face.

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  • Bless you! My husband and I have been Paleo for three months now. We have each lost 25 lbs and I am seeing improvement in my psoriasis! We will be boarding The Ship for our Caribbean cruise on Sunday. I have been telling myself for weeks how to approach the buffet lines with a Paleo mindset. I plan to focus on everything but the food available 24 hours a day.
    Thank you for all the time and energy you and Stacy put into educating us about eating healthy!!

    •  My best tip? Never go to the buffet. Go to the dining room and inform your waiter about all your food restrictions. They’ll help you if you want them to!

  • “We can’t keep blaming industry. We’re in a capitalist culture. They’re doing their job: creating a stimulated economy. It’s our job to take care of ourselves and turn against things that are killing us.”

    Thank you for that.

  • Annika

    That ship seems like odd place to hold a paleo/low-carb event! The environment seems opposite to the lifestyle most of us strive to lead. The only cruise I ever went on (to Alaska) was on a boat carrying fewer than 200 passengers, had no “entertainment” to speak of, no vast amounts of unlimited food, and had five naturalists on staff. The focus was learning about the flora, fauna, and natural history of Alaska. It was fantastic. Maybe this type of cruise would be most appropriate – although possibly much more expensive?

    •  The James Randi Educational Foundation once sponsored a cruise to the Galapagos Islands that I really wanted to go on five years ago or so. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to do so at the time, but how cool would that be? Go to the Galapagos with a bunch of biologists.

      • Georgene Harkness

        Hey, Stacey and Matt – I so enjoyed meeting you last week on the cruise!  (And wow, anyone who references James Randi in a positive manner as you did has to have a whole TUB of things in common with me and Howard – I wish we had talked more!) 

        We cruise frequently (we aim for 3 times per year).  Our cruise NEVER “looks” like anyone else’s cruise, including and especially the other cruisers on the same ship  You probably didn’t notice that we were absent from all activities after dinner.  Not that we don’t like the people in the group (on the contrary – we love them) but we get up so early that we just can’t stay up late!  So, we miss out on the opportunities many others take advantage of for extra drinking, extra food…all the things that can make us so fat and sick. 

        So many people consider “all you can eat” to be a personal challenge.  What I find is that buffet food isn’t really good enough to bother with stuffing a bunch of it down, anyway (but if quantity is the goal, one quickly loses touch with the taste).  And this trip, the main dining room food wasn’t quite as good as I have seen it in the past.  So, we ended up in good shape at the end of the cruise, but yes, it’s depressing to see some of the things we all saw on this trip.  Our personal answer is to ignore it and go on our “own” cruise, while sharing the ship with others.  Many, though, like you, might be very good at getting the conversation going with those who should hear it.  I don’t know how to do it myself, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

        My Dinosaur book arrived yesterday and Sunday I will be gifting it to my dear sweet grandson who has asthma, eczema, life-threatening food allergies, and just recovered from pneumonia.  Thank you for writing it!

        •  James Randi is my homeboy. I probably never would have found paleo if James Randi hadn’t taught me to think critically and respect science.

          In hindsight, we probably would have been better off ignoring all the craziness around us and focusing on having our own vacation. Probably would have enjoyed the whole thing more that way if we learned to tune out better!

          Hope you and your grandson have a good time being dinosaurs together!

  • Deckmom2

    I, too, was on a separate Carnival cruise last week and noticed the same thing. Although i was not perfect, it was nice to have a vacation and not feel terrible and gain weight when I got home! I pre-printed a list of “food allergies” with my name and cabin number and met with the maitre d’ the first afternoon. By the next day, I was enjoying an espresso for dessert with warm coconut milk while my companions “indulged”! I guarantee that I enjoyed my dessert more than anyone on the ship! Ask for it; you might get it!

    •  Agreed! They were often quite accommodating when we asked them to be so.

  • Renee

    I think going on a cruise is a recipe for disaster for food addicts. Cruises are overrated and designed for overconsumption. This is how they make their money.

    • Georgene Harkness

       Actually, Renee, if you eat only in the regular venues (Main Dining Room and Lido) the cruise line doesn’t make one extra penny.  They make their money selling drinks, trinkets, internet services, spa services, the upscale dining, which most people don’t do, the excursions, and in the casino.  So while there may be some food issues for susceptible people, it’s not because the ship is trying to make extra money.

      •  Georgene, if you can sit through the tedium of sea days without alcohol, you are likely a stronger willed person than most! It all seemed set up to push you to drink more, buy more, and gamble more. And the restaurants were there to get you to spend more money to alleviate the cattle call of the dining hall. I am not ever saying that you shouldn’t go if it appeals to you, but it didn’t appeal to us!

        • Georgene Harkness

          Tedium?  Are you serious?  What is tedious about sitting on the balcony watching the never-ending sea, the wildlife, enjoying the breeze, visiting with my husband?  (I don’t drink, gamble, or buy souvenirs, so that’s not an issue).  What’s tedious about walking the promenade or the jogging track? 

          What a cruise is “set up” for is really not any concern.  I have never been particularly susceptible to advertising, and a cruise is no different. And….are there other people on the ship?  Really?  I didn’t notice!

          Seriously, our cruise doesn’t EVER look like most people’s cruises. We try to cruise three times a year, but are working out ways to go more often. We love to cruise, so I bring my computer (hubby does too) and I spend a good bit of my time on the ship writing.  Since I love to write, and I hate distractions, cruising is a great way to do what I like to do.  The LC Cruise was an anomaly in that I never, ever spend that much time with people.  However, I like the people on the LC Cruise, so I find a way to deal with the lack of solitude.  But only once a year.

    •  Probably so!

  • Karyn

    We went on a cruise once and I kept wondering what the crew and staff thought, since most of them were international. I imagine most of them had at least witnessed poverty in their homelands, if not lived it, and I wondered what they thought of the gross consumption and waste of the cruise ship and us Americans. And what you witnessed was only one week’s worth! I would love to go on a cruise like Annika described (like Nat Geo’s) but they’re waaaayyy more expensive. 

    The only way I’ve been able to get started on this paleo journey (after a billion starts and stops) has been to stay home as much as I possibly can (I’m a SAHM). The minute I go out, I start thinking of “rewarding” myself with this McDonald’s treat or that Starbucks coffee. I won’t say I’m not responsible for my own health and place all the blame with marketers and manufacturers, but I do have such a hard time dealing with the convenience of junk food. I’m hoping that eventually I will feel stronger – because I do need to get out and about more often than this, lol!

    •  That’s the problem with the overgrown monkey brain we’ve been born with: we are really good at justifying things to ourselves. And messing up is often so very easy in comparison to taking control.

  • Stacy & Matt…..here, here! Tom and I agree with much of your sentiments. We (personally) live in such a bubble, it is always eye-opening when we are in the “real” world. By mid-week I was missing my simple life, away from the noise, flashing lights and non-stop activity. I am more motivated than ever to continue with my message of healthy living in an unhealthy world. 

    •  I missed my kitchen very quickly! I really just wanted a quiet place to read and I never really found it.

  • Your impression mirrors mine: the pressure and speed, the fakeness, the thoughless yet willful self-destruction by any health standard… cruise ships are America condensed. The end scenes of Wall-E aren’t funny, they’re 3 minutes away from reality. I’m Canadian. I’ve lived outside of North America for, oh, almost 10 years. Occasionally we consider moving the family back, but I can’t face the daily push-back on our lifestyle choices. And Canada isn’t even as intense as the US. I give you guys total credit for living in the belly of the beast every. single. day.

    •  It’s not so bad when you’re a shut-in like me! Just kidding. We’ve just had the opportunity to choose our own influences and build a community here, making it much easier.

  • Kathyscollan

    I have to agree with the American/Roman and Hunger games analogies.  Long before I found Paleo I had started eating and emjoying less. (processsed, sugary junk)  For years I have refused to go with my husband(so he won’t go eithr) to any type of all you can eat.  Not saying that we did not do it in the past, but I have this overwhelmming feeling of sadness when I watch people pile food up like the end of the world is coming and the one with the most food saved will win.  I agree we all must in our small way talk about honoring our bodies with what we do and what we eat.  You do not see this in Europe.  Unless they are catering to the American.  Guess it is time for this world leader to catch up to stop leading in some things!!

    •  The only kind of all you can eat we do is the Churrascaria. Then it’s food we can eat!

      I don’t think America can help it anymore. We’ve become so used to competing in everything that everything becomes a challenge to win.

  • Tracey

    America is drowning in its own fat and doesn’t seem to notice. The addiction to processed foods is such that no one is even tarting the conversation about how unhealthy this lifestyle is. I am an avid Paleo follower and a new Crossfit convert and I have a page on facebook where I discuss health and nutrition. People are annoyed by me that I am healthy and trying to pass along information that might improve their health! It’s so unbelievable. I am called tenacious about my nutrition…i think it was meant as an insult…I took it as a huge compliment. My tenacious or “the conviction of my beliefs” asI like to call it have seen my family into a period of wonderful vitality and health. My 8 yr old hasn’t eaten fast food in over a year…no sugary drinks…no junk to clog her arteries. 

    Everyone should watch HBO’s The Weight of the Nation….

    BTW…I admire everything you guys are doing and the way you’ve put yourself on the line to make a difference…keep on truckin! 

    •  Thanks. Haven’t seen Weight of the Nation, but I have the whole thing here at this link.

  •  I don’t know, I don’t think people respond particularly well to others trying to sell them on what’s “best” for them. We resent people trying to tell us that we need to eat whole grains and less red meat in order to be healthy. Why should they gladly take our advice that meat, fat and produce are the key to good health? It doesn’t matter that we KNOW we feel better eating that way, and our health problems have decreased or gone away altogether. Nobody likes a Preachy McPreacherson.

    I do think it’s important for people who’ve embraced a Paleo lifestyle to be proud of their choices, and to gladly talk about it with people who ask them about it. Feel good about the fact that you indulge modestly while other people stuff their faces and get wasted. Know that you’ve made the right decision for yourself and your family. But don’t go around telling everyone how their decisions are going to kill them. Unless someone wants to change, they won’t listen.

    • We don’t preach, but honest conversation goes a long way. This piece was never about telling people they’re wrong. It was about seeing everything wrong and being sad about it.

      •  Sorry, I didn’t mean to say you guys were preachy. I don’t think you are at all. But too many people take the opportunity to give their family, friends and even strangers a hard time because they’re making the “wrong” choices. It’s important to have compassion for others, which you both obviously have a great deal of.

  • Nancy

    Actually what bothered me the most on the cruise wasn’t what the passengers were doing to themselves (overeating, getting drunk, etc.) but how rude so many of them were to the staff.  I was fine with the buffet for breakfast and lunch most days, having proscuitto (yum) and melon for breakfast and meat and salad for lunch.  Since I don’t like chocolate and can’t eat dairy there wasn’t much on the dessert menu/buffet to tempt me.

    •  I heard of quite a few instances of rudeness, too. You know, you’re on a ship with scores of different nationalities working with you. Ask some questions, get into some conversations, learn something! That’s the coolest part!

  • Interesting take on American culture and mindset. I’ve been in Germany for 1.5 years, and will be going home to the States this summer for my first visit since ou move overseas. Granted, 1.5 years away isn’t long, but I still think there’s going to be some serious culture shock to go from my tiny european village to bustling American cities with huge billboards, more food (and clothing, and gadget, etc.) choices than one knows what to do with, and consumerism everywhere. To tell you the truth, I’m terrified!!!

    •  Good luck! I would be terrified too!

    • Hi Brianne,

      We just came back from a 3-year tour in Germany (Bavaria) and, yes, it was weird coming back, but after the first 2 weeks, I felt like I’ve never left the States.  Staying low-carb was actually easier in the States for me, because it’s not such a foreign way of eating than it was in Germany.  They look at you funny when you say you want a brat without the bun…hehehe.  Anyway, welcome back (soon).

  • It’s amazing to me the difference in mentality in myself from years past.  I’ve been low carbing for 7 years and felt guilty on my low carb cruise week when I had a glass of Port (refined wine, high in sugar) or one or two Margaritas, non Norcal, during the week, my greatest “splurges”.  I can’t imagine ever going back to the sugary desert gluttony of years past.  I enjoyed my two “intermittent fasts” due to a hefty LCHF breakfast pre-embarkation then exploring the ship with my new cruisemate, Cranky Coils then realizing at 4:30 I was a bit hungry and not wanting to ruin my dinner for 6 pm., then drinking in Cozumel and not needing to eat because I had a hefty breakfast on the ship, then getting back right before dinner.  My blood sugars in my pre-low carbing days would NEVER allow this.  I couldn’t go back to my old way of eating knowing how awesome I’ve improved my health.  Check out my blog 
    http://lowcarbhighfatskigirlred.wordpress.com/ for a bit of background on me.  Again, was so great meeting you guys on the cruise!!

    •  Part of what felt so constraining was assigned dinner times. I skip meals all the time just because I don’t feel like eating. Having assigned times made us feel compelled to work to eat then!

      Good meeting you as well

  • Archie

    This was our first, and quite possibly our last cruise. 
    Although the Low-Carb Group was wonderful, the noise and the “enforced fun” were too much for our European sensibilities on many occasions. Even at dinner, so many fascinating conversations were interrupted by the head waiter announcing “SHOWTIME!”

    We missed out on a great many potentially interesting discussions because the comfortable areas where many low-carbers gathered were far too noisy, especially for Anne who is blind and cannot, therefore, lip-read. On the other hand, the quieter areas were either uncomfortable (e.g. the tables in the Lido) or too cramped (such as the quiet bar)—and people just didn’t congregate there anyway! 

    It was thoroughly ironic that the official Carnival programme included a session on “how to fight obesity”, at 10 am on the Saturday morning—while we were enjoying the wisdom of some of the world’s top experts on the subject!

    Nevertheless, we don’t regret going… we met so many wonderful people whom we are proud to call friends.   

    •  We definitely don’t regret going. Meeting the friends we met alone was worth the money. I just wish that my idea of fun and relaxation more closely lined up with the rest of America!

      • Susan

        and I wish the American idea of fun & relaxation more closely aligned with yours…..(and mine)

  • The trip was a life-changing experience.  Seeing the behavior at mealtime, I don’t ever want to be that kind of person again.  Just know that your presence did make a difference.  My sister is now interested in how to change her life to a healthier path and I learned a LOT just from chatting with you before the shuttle ride back.  Thank you for the work you do here!

  • DebbieC

    I have to say I agree almost completely with Archie. I pretty much dislike everything about Carnival cruise lines – *except* the awesome low carb speakers. I would never go on a cruise if not to be able to hear them. But the ship *seriously* lacked enough quiet places where people could gather who just wanted to relax and talk. Not even one single lounge without loud music? Dinners ruined every night with the cries of “Showtime!” and “Fun fun fun!”. Call me a curmudgeon but I hate it all.

    But this was still my third low carb cruise as I love the speakers and I love meeting other low carbers – though more and more it seems impossibly hard to really get to meet them and talk to them. 

    I certainly noticed the dessert stations on the ship had some of the longest lines. I remember one day on the Lido deck where they had an entire “Chocolate extravaganza” station *in addtion* to the regular dessert station. For my own part I didn’t chear on my LC eating plan the entire week. And what a blessing it was to *feel good* the entire week, and have my clothes all baggier than they were when I started, and to have the scale down a couple pounds when I got home. 

    •  Honestly, as someone who prefers silence and solitude, the dining experience with accompanied karaoke (seemingly always of “That’s Amore”, probably the worst song yet written) was pretty grating. The best place on the ship for me, ironically, was the arcade. No one was ever there, so I put on headphones and played for 30 minues. Or the game room (because who would play a manual board game when you can feed a slot machine?).

      • Georgene Harkness

        I definitely agree with this. Carnival is the line that is geared toward the very lowest common denominator, so the loud music and the waiters singing….all the racket that goes on, IS, I’ll admit, a serious handicap.  Other lines don’t do this, at least not nearly to this extent, and many don’t do it at all.

  • I have been aware of what you are describing all around me for quite some time now. We held some yard sales last summer and I could not believe how much people wanted to consume. Not food, obviously, but they were thirsty for more and more stuff to buy, as if we were the only store on the planet. People are consumers, and in the US especially, we over-consume everything to fill the voids; we value very little compared to what we consume be it food or non-food items. We obviously have an epidemic of people who are hungry for something that material things cannot fill. And it’s all individual, but because of the collective mentality that is thrust upon us every second of the day, people do not explore their individuality and instead follow the herd and treat symptoms instead of getting to the root cause. We, as a human race, are in an era of ignorance and waste. We will forever be in this endless loop of treating symptoms if we never evolve to address the actual root of the problem.

    Thank you for not blaming capitalism and the markets for this. While the markets do have a role in this self-destructive human behavior, we are still individuals who are responsible for our choices and for making our lives the best they can be. The markets only give people what it requests; they do not sell what no one wants to buy. However, I think there is market and consumer manipulation stemming from the top (the state) that is the actual problem. The state controls our food and medicine, and aids the monopolies of the evil companies through subsidies and lobbyist collusion. There are many components and factors, but ultimately, people are being manipulated and brainwashed into choices; indoctrination begins at birth from vaccines to baby formula to public education and on and on and on.

    Thankfully there are some of us who are aware to what is going on and I believe through peace and education we can help humans overcome the chains we are bound by. 

    •  It all just served to get us in touch with what we want out of life. We feel more strongly about pursuing our individual choices. I don’t think we’ve gone as far into conspiracy theories as you, but it’s important to us to research what the right way for our family is.

  • Great post, Matt! You hooked me with the Kubla Khan poem, of course :-). You may know this already but Coleridge was dreaming during an opium trip when he wrote it and didn’t finish the poem because he was awakened from his dream by a pesky knock at his door by an insurance salesman. When he tried going back to sleep to get into the dream again he couldn’t. Thus, the poem remained unfinished.

    Anyway….many of your points resonated with me. And as a proponent of individual freedom and personal responsibility I especially appreciated this comment:

    “We can’t keep blaming industry. We’re in a capitalist culture. They’re doing their job: creating a stimulated economy. It’s our job to take care of ourselves and turn against things that are killing us.”
    My personal opinion is much of this behavior is rooted in addictions and a grasping for things that will fill a void in the human heart. Until that is dealt with we will all just be “white-knuckling it”, i.e. constantly fighting our urges and never fully healing. The things you guys are doing to spread the word about your successes is really important in showing the way to others who need help but may not know it is possible. Keep up the great work!

    •  It’s probably the most wonderous thing about the poem for me: that he dreamed it while high and had it in his head fully formed but couldn’t find the rest after the interrupted. Everything’s better with the meta-commentary!

      Thanks, we’ll try to keep it up for a long time!

  • Michael K

    My first thought is: I have to put my own oxygen mask on before I can help the people next to me.  You can try to lead if you wish, and I will follow, but right now I need lots of work. 😛