Unexpected Duplication

When Iris and I moved in together I packed my clothes, laptop, and xbox (the necessities), and moved into her condo. After a month we decided we were able to tolerate each other so we prepared to list my condo for sale. I packed up the little extra’s I wanted, and we put a chunk of my stuff into storage as we staged my place. A month later we listed Iris’ condo and did the same with some of her things.

Fast forward a year, just after Iris’ place sold, we needed to downsize from her two bedroom into my one, so a lot of her stuff was boxed up and put beside mine in the storage locker we were renting. I would shake my head looking in there; by then I had forgotten what was in my original boxes. My place promptly sold, so even more things were put into storage.

Last weekend we moved into our house and we are now going through all those storage items and realizing just how much of it was duplicated. I mean, it’s to be expected, two kitchens, two living rooms, two bedrooms. But still, so much stuff going to charity, and we still have four more boxes of just kitchen things to go through.

At least we can see the floor in the garage now.

The Fiddling Little Bits

We’ve been working on the house since we were given the keys on February 20th. Demolition and preparations for the painters and carpet layers, and then installing the hardwood ourselves, we are pretty much ready to move in for April 5th.

I would say we are about 99% done.

We still need to finish sealing the baseboards, I ran out of filler yesterday afternoon. There’s still silicon sealing on the floors around the kitchen and a few transition spots. Oh, and wood filler for the few nail holes on the hardwood.

So ya, definitely 95% done.

Iris is painting the amazing entry way bench and cabinet her Dad has made for us. That needs at least one more coat. The kitchen cabinet doors are cleaned and sitting where the stove is going to be, so they need to be put back up. Oh, and Iris’ Dad is going to finish off the cupboards above the fridge.

Yep, 90% done.

The closet doors on the main floor are still in the garage, so we need to get them trimmed and placed. We are replacing the hot water tank and the plumber will be in on Thursday. And the appliances still haven’t arrived.

Well, 85% done. Maybe?

I’m going to stop thinking about this.

Disney Day 6 – Winding Down

The NASA tour we booked included an airboat ride and we met back at the bus for the 45 minute trip inland to a location that would make a great stereotype for “the south”. After a quick safety lesson (don’t stick your hand out over the water or you could lose it) we were herded into the airboat. The group was ten people and once the guide spread us out to balance the boat he started the engine and we headed off.

It was loud; they use a big block V8 with no muffler to drive the giant propeller. He pointed out the ear protectors, told to sit down when in motion, and off we went. The guide had been doing this type of thing his whole life so he knew just how to approach the alligators letting us see about a dozen, some of them so close you could reach out and poke them. There were also cows all over the place, which was a bit of a surprise, and I asked the guide how they could be there. Apparently they escape from local farms and alligators will not go after anything larger than they are. It was definitely odd to see.

We headed back with the sun setting over the wetlands, bird’s flying, cows grazing, alligators umm, alligatoring. It was a the best way to end an excellent, and to me, emotional day. The tour bus took us back to Kennedy to get the rest of the group and we made our way back into Orlando.

It was on this return that I noticed how Disney has created an oasis of emptiness in a huge urban landscape. We were dropping off people who were not staying at Disney resorts and you could see this straight line of untouched trees and wildlife right beside businesses, hotels, and urban sprawl. Disney left a border of untouched land between itself and the rest of the city and as you cross into that land you do not know that a huge city was just minutes away.

The next day my cold was making its presence known when we woke up and we had a slow start but the plan was finishing off Epcot so slow was fine. It was about 30°C and I’m pretty sure I had a bit of a fever as I was light headed all morning so we darted from one air conditioned spot to another until I felt good enough to roam through all the country pavilions. We walked through each one, snacking on food when we felt hungry, hitting up each little event and enjoyed a nice easy afternoon. Early in the evening we were back near the entrance for the last couple of rides of the trip.

This is kind of gross. I eventually became so stuffed up that I just wanted to lie down somewhere and suffer but I soldiered on, knowing we were almost done. At the Mission Space area there is a ride that’s basically a special gravitron giving a simulated trip to Mars. I was a little leery about doing this; being stuffed up and dizzy I didn’t think I wanted to get sick under 3g of fake gravity. But I went along anyway and we were loaded into “spaceships”, given some instructions on what not to do (move your head), and off we went. With the first rush of the fake launch we hit max G and all of the gunk and muck in my sinuses sloshed right out and down my throat. It was the grossest thing I have had happen, but after it was done I felt amazing. Everything was cleared.

We slept in the next morning for our only day with no plans. We hit up the pool for the first time, made our way to Downtown Disney and  then Hollywood Studios to pick up a t-shirt for me and made our way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner. I was shocked at the difference between this resort, a premium one, and our budget place. There was nothing wrong with where we were staying at all, everything was clean, everyone was nice, but after seeing the Lodge you could just tell how much of a budget place ours was. There are no frills, no gimmicks, nothing that really makes it stand out.

The Lodge had all the little details, just like you get in the actual parks. It was finished in such a way that it made you think you really were in a 5 star resort on the African plains, an amazing contrast to where we were. They’ve built it on the edge of the safari area in Animal Kingdom so the animals are allowed to roam into the resort and at night the viewing spots have night vision goggles so you can look out and see what they are doing.

We ate at a specialty restaurant, Sanna. It’s a really nice fusion of African and Indian dishes which we shared together so we would get the most of what we picked. I’m guessing this is how Iris caught my cold.

It was early to bed as we needed to be up at 2am est to catch our shuttle bus to the airport and we got about 2 hours sleep that night. My cold made the flights and the wait in Toronto the worst, I barely remember anything and I’m glad Iris was there to keep me going. We arrived back in Kelowna and made our way home by 11pm pst. A crazy long day to end an almost perfect vacation.

While recovering at home, trying to get rid of that cold, I had a lot of time to mull over the trip and sort things out in my mind as I jotted down notes for these posts. One thing was apparent that I feel I have to pass on.

Go to Disney.

That’s it, just find a way and go. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not. If you are young or old. A Disney fan or not. You are going to find something you will enjoy and have a Magical Time.

NASA Day 5 – Dave Gets Emo

This was the big day for me, I’m a huge space buff and the NASA tour meant a lot.

The trip to Kennedy took 90 minutes and the tour guide kept us entertained with cheesy jokes and videos of the Center and it’s history. I was feeling pretty rough on the ride out, the cold had started to hit me hard, but as soon as we got near I was too excited let it have an effect on me. As we pulled into the parking lot the guide let us know that the Airboat ride group would need to meet back at the bus a little earlier than I had thought and he gave us tips what order to see the important parts so that we would make the most out of our time.

The first stop was another bus that would take us on a tour of the launch pads before arriving at the Saturn V building. The driver made sure we understood not to take any pictures of the security posts and guards; apparently they take that pretty seriously. The bus portion was interesting but due to security they couldn’t let us off to take a look at any of the stops. All the photos were shot through windows and I wasn’t happy enough with them to bother posting.

There is a Disney-esque feel to the way NASA has displayed both the Saturn V and Atlantis, they realize that making it a show is just as important as putting it on display. As we entered the foyer we were treated to a series of videos showing the history from Kennedy’s speech right up to the launch of Apollo 11. I was expecting it to be all about the engineering and dull but they have done a good job keeping it flowing and emotional. Each video would merge into the next, telling the story in about 10 minutes. As it finished the doors for the next section opened up.

This room was a mock-up of the launch control room with us in the media gallery above the banks of consoles and a bank of windows behind. The clock started at T-3 minutes and did the full countdown to launch including final checks while TV’s on either side of the room would break into news footage. As we got close to launch there was a background rumble that built up to a roar right as the timer hit zero. It was so well done, the windows behind us glowed orange and shook in their frames to simulate the launch itself.

Ok, this is emo Dave time. The next set of doors opened and the group made their way down the stairs. I hesitated here. This had been built up in my mind and I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk down there and end up disappointed. Iris headed down right away before she realized I was lagging beside her. She looked back and understood, letting me take my time. I can understand why people might be confused by my reaction. Why would a 44 year old piece of cold war technology have any emotional meaning to someone who wasn’t even born when it was first launched?

Growing up I was fascinated by space and sci-fi. I would watch The Right Stuff over and over again and when Apollo 13 came out I was instantly in love with it (hell, it brings tears to my eyes). Being there, having the Saturn V just through those doors; it was a lot to take in. I took my time heading down the stairs and at first I could just make out the bottom of an engine bell followed by the base of the rocket. Each step brought more into view and I suddenly needed to see it all, rushing down the last stairs only to stop at the door as it was revealed.

It’s then that the scale of it crashed down on me. I always knew it was big, but coming through that door and the only thing you can see is the base with its five giant engine bells, the rest of the machine disappearing into this massive building, it was awe inspiring. Iris was on the ball and snapped a bunch of pictures of me taking it in. I spent a while just looking at it, I wanted to take it all in before I pulled out the camera and started taking (way too many) pictures.

We explored all the rocket stages, and I chattered away to Iris about all the bits, how it worked on launch, in orbit, at the moon, and basically bored her to death. At the top there was another theater off to the side explaining the moon landing itself and I got all emotional again as the animatronic lander came down and the triumphant music built up.

Next up was the bus ride back to the main center so we could see the Atlantis exhibit that was also broken up into two sections. One explained the how and why and the other showed off the first launch. This second one was shown in a room with a domed roof and the movie displayed all around, with a flat main screen in front that showed the launch and entry into orbit. I could just make out something behind the screen raising up as they switched to an image of the Earth at the bottom with Atlantis up above it. Then the main screen raised up and I realized that it was the shuttle behind the now opaque screen.

We were on an elevated walkway that wrapped around the shuttle which was suspended from the roof at an angle so the cargo bay was visible and the nose was level with us as we came out of the theater. I immediately went picture crazy while Iris walked around, looking at the various information kiosks that explained what she was looking at.

I was approached by the docent on duty as I made my way along the cargo bay taking pictures. He apologized for interrupting me and asked if he could take a picture of my t-shirt, Shark in a Space Suit. It had seemed appropriate for a NASA tour. Naturally I said yes. He pulled out his phone, snapped the picture, and explained why he wanted it.

When the shuttle was in service he worked for NASA as a Closeout Specialist. When the astronauts enter the shuttle they pass through a room at the top of the launch tower that has a few people in it who ensure the astronauts are suited up correctly. They then close the shuttle for launch. I would watch every launch that I could on NASA-TV and without knowing it I was watching a person who would eventually want to take a picture of my t-shirt.

Curious, I asked why he wanted it. His wife of 30 years is an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) Specialist, the people who take care of the space suits that they use outside the shuttle or ISS. He knew that she would want to see this whimsically silly shark in a space suit. We chatted for a few more minutes (and Iris snapped a shot of us) and he explained how he moved into a role as a docent after the shuttle program ended. When we parted we shook hands and he gave me a little commemorative coin of the Atlantis Museum. I’m not sure if its rare, but I don’t really care. This little conversation, this interaction with someone I unknowingly watched is going to be an amazing memory for me.


Disney Day 4 – Magic Kingdom Take 2

I woke up this morning feeling crappy and it was apparent that I had caught a cold on the flight down. I had a scratchy throat in Animal Kingdom but I had assumed it was from screaming on the coasters. I was wrong. To be honest, if you need to be sick with a cold then being in Florida with 25°C 70% humidity is the way to do it. We picked up some Halls and cold meds and headed back to the Magic Kingdom to try and finish off what we had missed earlier in the week.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty vague on the details for this day and I blame the cold. A few things stand out though.

  • We did the Dumbo ride. The line was short and if Darth Vader can do it so can I. To me this was the best ride of the trip just because it was so silly.
  • Splash Mountain is deceiving. You know it’s going to toss you off a cliff but the entire time you are lulled into a false sense of security. Happy music, fuzzy animatronic animals, little drops, and then SCREW YOU and they toss you off a cliff. We were seated near the back so we didn’t get soaked.
  • We spent the day food grazing. There are enough choices in the Magic Kingdom that we spent the morning snacking on one bad thing after another. And it was good, so good.
  • Near Gaston’s Tavern Iris was shocked to see actual construction workers working on a new attraction during the day. Apparently this isn’t supposed to happen, but I guess with it being December and a “quiet” time they went ahead and worked during open hours.
  • At every ride that catered to small kids there was an area set aside for stroller parking with a cast member working that spot as a valet. It was crazy to see a hundred strollers all parked in nice rows with one person lining them up.
  • The only long line of the day was for the Jingle Cruise (normally Jungle Cruise, but it was xmas). It was cute and had some of the worst pun’s I’ve heard in a long, long time. The tour guide was able to just deadpan these jokes rapid fire.

We had a nice sit down dinner at Tony’s near the main entrance, but unfortunately we were seated near the back of the restaurant and could not see the light up parade clearly. We finished eating just in time to catch the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle and the following firework display. This is something you simply need to be there and see, simply amazing.

At the end of the show we were swept along towards the exit by the crowd, but as we got close and saw the sheer mass of people crammed in there we darted off to the side to let it thin out. We were beside the Town Square Theatre that only had a 5 minute wait so without knowing what it was we popped in the line. I was expecting another show but as we moved along the cast members were only letting each party in as a group. We were ushered in and found out that we had been in a line to meet Mickey Mouse. Unexpected to say the least, and both of us had our Mickey ears on to make it even better. I look at the picture now and think that there I was, 40 years old, delighted to have my picture taken with a guy in a costume.

Disney changes you.

Disney Day 3 – The Quiet Day

We had a relaxing start to the day with a real breakfast in a real restaurant with real seats. It was really good. For real.

We found ourselves wandering around half an hour later with a map and the Disney app trying to figure out where to head first. A passing cast member realized we were at a loss and came over to give us some advice, providing a level of service that still surprises me, they really want to make sure you enjoy every moment you have. He suggested the Safari tour as the animals are out and about in the morning and he was completely right, we saw tons of animals and I ended up with hundreds of photos.

During the Safari I noticed that the passenger seating was bouncing around on the rough road but the driver was perfectly steady and it became apparent the cab had good suspension while the passengers were just sitting on bouncy spring. At one stop I had a good look at the “dirt” road we were on and it was all concrete with fake ruts and bumps. It makes sense, a real dirt road would become unusable with the traffic, and having the driver bouncing around for an entire shift would be tough.

The rest of the day, again in no particular order:

  • Expedition Everest. Another roller coaster. In the middle it stops on a steep slope and then goes backwards into darkness. I found God. Iris lost her map.
  • We took a train to a petting zoo and found a sheep with Mickey Mouse shaved onto it and Iris petted a sleeping pig. They also had the smallest hawk I have ever seen. It was stupidly cute.
  • The Lion King “Circle of Life” show is the love child of Cirque du Soleil and Disney. It had so much going on that you would need to see it a few times from each angle to take it all in.
  • There is a parade that runs through the park mid afternoon and we purposely found a quiet area to avoid it  and relax for a few minutes. I took some photos of the Everest ride, and saw something amazing; we were keeping quiet, watching through the brush and trees as the shy and skittish Custodian cleaned out the garbage cans. It was thrilling to see this in the wild.
  • Dinoland USA seemed strange and completely out of place for this park. As we came in to this section I couldn’t help but feel how cheap and cheesy it felt, I would swear we were at a traveling carnival setup in a parking lot. The noise, smell, and rides all gave that impression. It wasn’t until I happened to look down at the ground and saw a parking grid, patched asphalt, and a drain cover that I realized this is exactly what they wanted you to feel. It was well done, but it was still out of place with the theme of the rest of the park.
  • Animal Kingdom closes much earlier than the other parks because they want the animals to have some down time. As we were heading to the exit I happened to look to my left (east) and caught the engine flare and smoke trail of a SpaceX Launch. A bunch of people were stopped, checking the internet, trying to figure out what it was. I didn’t bother with pictures as I didn’t have a good enough zoom to make it worthwhile. Pure luck to be there at the right time.

We went from Animal Kingdom to Downtown Disney for dinner and figured out where everyone was that day as it was insanely busy. We were starved but all the good restaurants had hour long waits so we shared a takeout Cuban sandwich to sate our hunger and then put our name down for Fulton’s Crab House (which kicked much ass). While waiting I picked up the Minecraft Nether kit and I had Iris make a mini-fig of herself to go along with one I did for the Lego house our friend Mike bought us.

A relaxing day had us back in bed before midnight. It wasn’t until I woke up feeling like hell the next morning that we realized how much we needed it.

Got One

The Saga of getting an Xbox One came to a close on Friday last week.

With the release of Titanfall and the bundle that includes the game I thought this was the right time to pick up the new console. Even though my attempt to get it with the Disney deal last year turned out to be a bust I did end up with two games, and with this bundle now I have three. So over all I’ve made out pretty good.

On Friday I was able to set it up, update it, and then watch some Netflix before we headed to bed. I knew that I would end up with a long set of downloads before I would be able to play anything; all the games I have with it are digital so it wasn’t possible to jump right into one. I was still a little shocked at the size of those downloads though, and for some reason they all stopped in the middle of the night. I can only assume my WiFi had a hiccup and dropped the Xbox.

The next afternoon I tossed together a truly ugly cat5 cable spaghetti mess to the Xbox One just to get it off the WiFi, I really can’t wait until we get into the house and have it wired up properly. And yes, I know I said I liked how clean WiFi was, but after a few months I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s unreliable as a permanent connection. After setting up the cat5 it was able to download the games without issue.

All I’ve played so far is Forza 5 (shocking!) and damn is it pretty. I could ramble on about car physics, handling characteristics, and vehicle choices, but I’ve found with games that most people just politely smile and nod when I talk about it.

The Kinect voice commands were, at first, less than impressive, but after a few days use I swear it has learned how Iris and I speak. It is much more accurate and having the ability to do almost everything  just by saying it and having it actually work is nice.

The ability to multitask and use the Snap feature is just amazing as well. I was playing Forza, tuning a car, when I wanted to check if a new version of the Android/Iphone tuning app was out. I snapped Internet Explorer up, searched it, and then grabbed my phone to download it, all without having to drop out of the game. I can see us using this while watching Netflix as well, just to answer the “Hey, its that guy who was in that thing that time, who is he?” question.

So far it’s been completely worth it and I expect it will only get better with updates. And maybe I’ll actually play something other than Forza.

Disney Day 2 – The 16 Hour Day

Our goal was exploring most of the Magic Kingdom. We’d been told that early December is a quiet time so we were a little surprised by how this day ended up.

There’s a Starbucks on the grounds that we planned as our first stop but just like the day before walking through the main gates changed everything. You enter the park underneath the train station into a courtyard with Main Street USA in front of you that perfectly frames Cinderella’s Castle in the distance. The street is lined with little shops and Disney characters along with throngs of people. It’s just mesmerizing.

Starbucks DisneyWe made our in and had the nagging feeling that the huge crowds we were wading through might be a problem later on. Main Street is a natural choke point, all traffic has to pass along before it can spread out to the different wings of the park proper, so I thought maybe the crowds were just due to that. As we entered Starbucks that thought went away. Packed is not the right word. We placed our order and found a quiet little side street near the gates to eat and think about what we wanted to see before we trekked deeper into the park.

In front of the Castle is a large courtyard with all the wings splitting off in different directions. There is a garden in front of the castle with a Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue and Iris explained the history of it, why it was there, and I quickly realized she was going to be the tour guide today. She pointed out all the little details, things that I probably would not have noticed; for instance the garbage cans follow the theme of each wing. We watched the crowd for a minute trying to judge where people were headed before we moved on to Tomorrowland.

We were able to do a fair bit but as people continued to arrive we grabbed the train over to Frontierland hoping it would be a little quieter. As soon as we made our way down from the station we looked at the sea of people and made the decision to give up on the Magic Kingdom and head to Epcot. On the way out we asked a cast member if this was normal.

“Well,” he said, “It’s always busy here.” He paused. “But this is busy.”

Disney Magic Kingdom Crowds

That was a sign. It still took us about 30 minutes to make our way to the gates and the monorail for Epcot.

I’ve been to Epcot during a work trip in 2001 so I kind of knew what to expect. I suggested we go right to the country pavilions and grab some lunch so we made our way through Canada, Britain, France, Morocco, and Japan. We shared a salad in France and had sushi in Japan. Since we knew that we would be coming back to Epcot later in the week we headed back the way we came to do some of the rides near the entrance instead of looking at the other pavilions. A quick stop in Britain for a Guinness in a souvenir mug, and we were on our way to the Test Track. The wait was showing 60 minutes and knowing me I made sure to stop and pee before we got in line.

Weaving through the the line, slowly inching forward I realized something. I really do know me, I know I just had a beer, I know that if we don’t get out of line I’ll most likely wet myself on the ride. When we asked a cast member halfway along the line if we could step out to use the restroom something unexpected happened. She pointed us to another cast member further along the line who opened up a side door and let us know where the nearest washroom is. I asked Iris if we wanted to get in line again after this and the guy heard.

“Oh no, just come back to this door. We’ll put you back in line at this spot.”

Blown. The. Hell. Away. My silly bladder didn’t make us waste 40 minutes in line because Disney rules. I can understand the reasoning now, a long line with little kids, naturally something like this is going to happen. But it was still completely unexpected.

Next up was another 60 minute line at Soaring. The guy behind us asked me about my leg tattoo, and this was the start of the most interesting conversation that day. He is a bodyguard, martial arts trainer, and lifelong Disney pass holder. His grandfather was a regular and so well known with the cast that when he passed away the Disney president at that time called his family to give his condolences. He had so much knowledge, so much to pass on that it was almost overwhelming. As we made our way to the front of the line we went through as a group of three just so we could keep chatting. Nearing the ride itself he and Iris were comparing notes between Disney World and Disneyland, figuring out what was different between each coast.

Soaring was great as well.

The Magic Kingdom was open until 1am for people staying in resorts, and as it was just 10:30pm we jumped on the monorail and headed back. The crowd was gone and we made our way through most of the rides that normally have long wait time the. The Tiki Room, Big Thunder roller coaster (at night, in the dark, I was less than thrilled), Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion (at night, in the dark), and ended it off with Peter Pan’s flight.

Starting at 9AM, ending at 1AM. A very long second day indeed. We needed something relaxing to follow this up with and the Animal Kingdom was the best choice.

Disney Day 1 – The Little Mermaid is Cool

Something we quickly learned about Disney World: It’s huge.

I mean it; it’s really, really big. Douglas Adams describing the Universe doesn’t touch the scale of Disney World (ok, maybe not, but damn it’s big). They have an internal bus system that connects all the parks, resorts, and other attractions so making our way to Hollywood Studios involved finding the right bus stop at the resort, waiting in a line, riding for 20 minutes, and not once leaving Disney property. Next you wait in another line to have your bags checked, and then another line to get into the park proper. It takes about an hour from the resort to the park, and this was consistent for each park.

And we hadn’t eaten or had coffee yet, but entering the park proper shoved all thoughts of the lines and lack of food out of my mind. You walk through the gates into a courtyard that leads to Hollywood Boulevard. It is convincing, with curbs, sidewalks, store fronts, street lights; the whole bit, no details spared. In the distance is a giant Mickey Mouse wizard hat from Fantasia, and in either direction are glimpses of what the park has to offer.

We headed to a small stand to get a fast foodish breakfast sandwich, and I had a truly bad cup of coffee that I ended up tossing after a few sips. We didn’t have a plan besides explore and enjoy and that is what we did. It also set the precedent for the rest of the trip; explore and enjoy.

In no particular order:

  • Tower of Terror. Iris did this alone as I’m a giant wimp and wasn’t ready for any thrill rides at that time. I was able to watch a neat street show that had a bunch of kids participate while I waited for her to return.
  • Star Tours, the Star Wars themed ride was pretty damn neat. Iris insists that it’s not a roller coaster type thing but the way they did it sure feels like you are zipping around. I could probably look up how they did it but I don’t think I want to know, I’d rather keep the mystery.
  • There are three behind the scenes style theme shows throughout the day and we were able to see all of them. “Lights, Motors, Action” is all car stunts, explosions, and gunfire. A total guy thing with a bonus Lightning McQueen cameo. “Indiana Jones” is exactly what you would think it is. “Studio Backlot Tour” gives you an idea of how they do some of the effects and was the most ridelike of the three shows.
  • Fantasmic was the first big showcase event for the trip and wow, it was amazing. These are done at night near the time the parks close. Three of the four parks have these kinds of shows in the evening (Epcot and the Magic Kingdom being the other two), but this one is my favourite.
  • After Fantasmic Iris took us to the line for the Arrowsmith roller coaster. I was, hmm, hesitant? Reluctant? Scared shitless? Yes, scared shitless, that’s it. I toughed it out and stayed in line, getting more and more nervous as we got closer to the actual ride, but there were two little kids in front of us and I figured if they could do it then I could. This was our first real instance of the line being part of the show as you are kept entertained (distracted?) the entire time. We made it to the front of the line and I’m sure my heart was doing 180. I’ll leave it to Iris to explain this from her point of view as it’s all a blur to me:

Going on a Roller Coaster with Dave is quite an experience. Me being a thrill seeker in that department and taking great joy in the crazy ups, downs and upside downs it was interesting to watch someone who is the complete opposite. We start off by looking at the roller coaster which in Disney are hidden and you can’t quite see how scary they are except for the screams of excitement from the passengers. Dave takes a deep breath and we go into the lineup. There are young kids regaling in the excitement of doing the coaster a second or third time and how much fun it is. Dave looks at them like they are from a different planet and the fear sets in. He is doing his best to keep his cool and is doing lots of deep yoga breathing trying not to think about what is coming next. Then we are at the front of the line and getting into the coaster. One thing I had told Dave is the ride is more dangerous with the amount of safety restraints that they put you in. Well, this one had a belt and an over the shoulder device to not let you fall out in case you went upside down. That did it for Dave. The words I can remember him saying as the roller coaster took off was: NO, NO, NO, GOD, NO, NO, NO, OH GOD WE CAN’T BE GOING BACKWARDS, JUST BREATH, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Then we stop and he looks at me like I am a crazy person for being so excited to have gone on such a ride. Lesson learned from this adventure: Dave definitely hates Roller Coasters.

  • We did the Toy Story 3-D ride after this to calm me down. Silly fun was had.
  • At one point early in the evening it started to rain lightly so we darted into line for the Little Mermaid show, thinking it was just a way to stay dry. We were wrong, the show was so well done and interesting that I realized Disney plans these parks for all ages. Nothing is meant just for kids, there is something for every age group. What we thought was just a dry spot to kill time turned out to be another great show.
  • Iris booked us an early dinner at the Sci-Fi theatre. Imagine a 50’s style drive-in. The booths were cars all facing a central movie screen showing B-Movie style Sci-Fi clips. The room perimeter was a night scape with stars all around and city lights off in one direction. A very cool experience.
  • As it was Christmas they had the New York city area covered in lights with fake snow being blown over the us and a themed music show to go along with it. It seemed like the whole park was shoved in here at that time as it was overly crowded, but everyone was polite.

We were in the park for a long time and it turned out to be the perfect preparation for the next day.

Disney – Magical Preparation

I had no idea what to expect. The enthusiasm Iris had wasn’t rubbing off on me because, really, I had no idea what to expect. Not to say I wasn’t excited for the trip, but without knowing what I was going into I didn’t feel the same thrill she obviously did.

To me Disney was Sunday evenings and “The Wonderful World of Disney”. It was family movies, cartoons, and park’s full of little kids. Princesses and Princes and wise cracking sidekicks. It was co-workers going for a week all relaxed and coming back stressed out with stories of massive lines and long waits.

So when we returned home I was surprised that every memory was awesome.



There is an obvious policy for all of the Disney parks. They have a level of detail for everything that is a little hard to describe, but the best example is Dinoland USA at the Animal Kingdom park. We entered this area at the end of our third day just to see it; there were no rides we wanted to do. As we came in I was struck at just how cheap it looked, all the rides and attractions reminded me of a travelling carnival setup in a parking lot at a mall. It looked temporary and I half expected to hear diesel generators and air compressors powering the rides. I happened to look down and see a painted parking grid with drains for rainfall when it dawned on me. They had intended for me to feel like I was at a country fair, that was the whole point. All the detail from the large scale layout to the patched asphalt and worn out lines had convinced me that this part of Disney was done on the cheap.

Disney is also all about waiting in lines, but they know this so there are extra little details to keep you occupied, to distract you from how long you are actually waiting. On the second day we did a number of rides late in the evening and I felt a little sad as we bypassed the line and missed the little things. Crazy I know, but I actually would have liked a little wait to take it all in. Or maybe I was just needing time to psych myself up. I’m not sure.

I’m going to get all techy here, so feel free to skip this paragraph. Disney has a smartphone app with maps and wait times among other things. They realized people are coming from around the world and won’t have data available so they blanketed the parks in free wifi. As we were checking in to our resort we were told this and the telecom geek in me immediately started looking for wifi nodes. I assumed that covering entire parks would make them easily noticeable, but I was completely wrong. The only time I saw one was when we were in line for an attraction and I happened to be looking up as someone was taking a picture with flash. The shadowed spot above me had a wifi setup hidden in the dark. Disney is so intent in putting you in the moment they make everything that isn’t relevant hidden.

Before the trip Iris was telling me about a theory her Dad had when they went to Disneyland. At first during their trip they didn’t see anyone emptying the garbage cans. His thought was that maybe there were garbage chutes under each can that led to an underground processing center. She told me that they staked out a can and waited until someone quietly slipped in and emptied it during a lull in the crowd.

What I’m trying to say is that Disney parks are flawless. Every little detail was thought out, every little extra was put in, and everything was taken care of by staff that actually wanted to do it. It was amazing, and just like the resort check-in staff said it would be, it was going to be a truly Magical Time.

The Last Place I Looked

I aggravated an old wrist injury on the weekend pulling up the carpet and yanking out staples. At first it wasn’t that bad but as the week has gone on it has gotten steadily worse. As we were eating tonight and finding that just holding the soup bowl was hurting I decided I really needed to dig out my wrist brace.

Of course we’ve been living partially from boxes since August 2013, so like most of our stuff I had absolutely no idea where that brace could be. I spent twenty minutes wandering around, opening up drawers, digging through stuff until I saw it in a rubbermaid tub. I let Iris know that I had found it and she asked me where.

“The last place I looked,” I said.

And then I paused for a second. Of course it was in the last place I looked, why would I keep looking if I found it?


Typing with this thing on sucks.


We picked up the keys to the house on Thursday, had a pizza party on Friday, and ripped out all the flooring and appliances over the weekend. With Iris’ parents help we were able to get an amazing amount of work done, thanks guys! The painters were still working as we finished off today and they should have the place repainted by the end of next week. I, naturally, took a bunch of pic’s so I’ve gone ahead and spliced them together for a before/after.