Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Days 3 and 4


1. Woke up ealier. Proud of our night owl, non-morning-person-selves.

2. Get to Hollywood Studios to find they opened an hoyt earlier than
I thought. Oops. E-ticket rides out.

3. Great Movie Ride; Backlot Tour; Light, Motors, Action car stunt
show (with Herbie cameo -- Patrick was thrilled); Walt Disney Story.

4. Hotel food court for lunch. Find one more place in property that
Patrick will eat.

5. Nap.

6. Bus to Magic Kingdom. Huge crowds expected -- scheduled to be open
to one a.m.

7. Country Bear Jamboree, Haunted Mansion, Liberty Belle River Boat,
Jungle Cruise (way better than ours, hands down), Flying Carpets,
Obstacle Course o' People through Main Street.

8. Dinner at singing alien restaurant. One more place Patrick will
now eat.

9. Phillharmagic, Tomorrowland Speedway, PeopleMover, Carousel of
Progress, buy obnoxiously loud t-shirt, PeopleMover, Space Mountain.

10. Bus, vitamins, sleep.


1. Wake up even earlier. Catching up to time change in time to leave.

2. Bus to EPCOT Center (it will always be the acronym to me).

3. Test Track, Universe of Energy, American Adventure (where, after
countless visits to Disneyland and two other visits here during the
two Years of a Million Dreams, we got our first-ever dream...we were
First Family and got mentioned by name before show), mango-green-tea
slush from China (yummmm), China 360 movie, buy Donald t-shirt from
Mexico, stop at Club Cool for free international Coke samples, buy
monorail track.

4. Bus to hotel. Retrieve refillabe mugs, have lunch, walk back, nap,
make Magical Express reservation.

5. Back to wait in line for e-tickets at Hollywood Studios (if you
have to wait, better to wait at night with cooler weather and no sun).

6. Tower of Terror. Get caught in post Fantasia crowd. Great Movie
Ride. Snack. Patrick admits to not feeling well after 2 hours of
surliness, decide to skip Toy Story Mania (exact same ride as home;
only queue different) get in line for Rockin' Roller Coaster.

7. Some very nice lady offers us two unused, unwanted Fast Passes.

8. Ride Rockin' Roller Coaster.

9. Bus, vitamins, watch TV (NOT Stacy the 7 Top Things girl -- our TV
has front inputs so we can watch iPod stuff), sleep.

Tomorrow: Animal Kingdom in the morning, then EPCOT to ride a few
obscure rides and take pictures to ring in New Year. (Rather than
fight crowds or be stressed by them, this seemed like a good choice.)

Again, my deepest gratitude, Kind Stranger. She mentioned she was
"paying it forward," so I'm on the lookout for someone I can do
something nice for.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 3

Too late, too tired. More later.

However, to annoying lady complaining about crowds: it's Disney World
on New Year's week, you idiot.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Day 2

1. Wake up. Fall asleep. Try again. Get going at 9:30. Mini golf
opens at 10.

2. Discover pro football team at one mini golf course. Go to other.

3. Wait for tee time (!!).

4. Play actual golf like mini course. Patrick surprisingly good when
he aims.

5. Get free golf ball as souvenir. Mine has Stitch.

6. Downtown Disney. Shop. Too late for Planet Hollywood (must
return rental car) and their amazing, wonderful, delicious Caesar
salad (no, really...no, REALLY).

7. Lunch at Earl of Sandwich. Pretty good. Run by actual Earl of
Sandwich, actual descendant if actual guy who invented sandwiches.

8. Return rental car

9. Voucherified taxi ride back to hotel. It would have been $60+

10. Nap.

11. Wait so long for bus for Epcot that we boarded third Magic
Kingdom bus to come by, then monorailed it to Epcot. Due to car
return, nap (essential for Patrick), commuting difficulties, it is
nearly 7:00.

12. Notice stinging in toe.

13. Ride Spaceship Earth, Nemo, and Figment. Stop frequently for pics.

14. Dinner in Morocco. Tangerine slush. Yuuuuuummmmmm. (Pleasant
side effect of unseasonably -- so says the news -- warm
weather...slushie carts are out.)

15. Dinner for Patrick in America.

16. Nearly 9:00. Park closes at 9:30. Decide on Maelstrom in Norway
and Donald in Mexico, then beeline for bus before Illumination is over.

17. Convinced of toe problem.

18. Maelstrom and Three Caballeros.

19. Beeline for bus. Mix up Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs and
wait for wrong bus. (Been doing that since I made reservation.)

20. Wait for bus.

21. Back to hotel.

22. Toe problem is an old one -- one nail cutting into toe next to it.

23. Wonder who on Earth is dumb enough to come to Disney World
without bandaids.

24. TV, vitamins, snack, water, blog, SLEEP.

Also -- Patrick has fallen in love with the 7 Top Things to do in
Disney World that plays on a continuous loop on resort TV...or,
possibly, Stacy, the perky presenter. We have watched it many times.

Tomorrow: gift shop for bandaids and sunscreen (another oops), food
court for refillable mug, Hollywood Studios, nap, Magic Kingdom.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Firstish Day

1. Checked in. Discovered that seat upgrades disappeared when
itinerary changed. (Still ticked about that.)

2. Re-upgraded only available leg of flight for same price as AirTran
last year, where we had a divider and got free snacks and drinks. With
Spirit, you get a one inch bigger chair and wider armrests.

3. Did not sleep. At all. Ever. Nada.

4. Snow on ground in Detroit. Neat.

5. Round 2: did not sleep and horrible bout of Restless Leg Syndrome.

6. Ride crowded bus with driver annoyed at stowing a wheelchair.

7. Rent a Nissan Versa. Being a huge Heroes season one fan, this is

8. Lunch at Friendly's. Yum. Am reminded to be jealous of east coast.

9. Buy staples (bread, peanut butter, etc.) at Walmart.

10. Check in. Lady likes Patrick, so we get a taxi voucher for a free
taxi rode back after returning Versa tomorrow.

11. Begin to think day is turning around.

12. In HUGE complex, room is near pool, food court, and bus stop.

13. Get to room. Keys don't work. Miraculously, one does once. Go
into room to call front desk, find no remote.

14. Three people later, have remote and working keys.

15. Power nap for 20 minutes. Leave for Magic Kingdom at five.

16. Get to Magic Kingdom. HUGELY crowded...but it is a Saturday.

17. Ride: monorail, train, PeopleMover, (have dinner), it's a small
world, Peter Pan, Big Thunder, Splash Mountain (way better than ours),
Pirates (not better than ours), Carousel of Progress, PeopleMover, and
ferry. Leave at 11:00.

18. Am only person to inform Cast Member of elderly woman who has
been vomiting for five minutes, despite others complaining of
resulting smell.

19. Trudge back to car, park at hotel, remember room wrong room
number at first, fix it, twitter, blog, snack, SLEEP.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pre-Trip Randomness

Somehow, I always spend most of the day before a trip updating various iPods.  Now that Patrick has his iPod touch, it adds another level of confusion: keeping the video contents of his iPod from overlapping with mine, so as to save space.

That said, watching the progress bars creep across on various iPods was amusing, especially....

This is my iPhone.

The free space is to make sure I have enough to snap some photos and blog or twitter with them along the way.  Notice that it is largely audio, for listening to during long lines and such.  It has a gorgeous screen, but video slurps too much battery life in case emergency calls are needed.
(Yes, I'm taking a charger -- I mean in case we get stuck at an airport or something, though right now the FAA says Detroit is within 15 minutes of takeoff on all flights.)
Anyhow, this is my iPod classic:

Notice that it's largely video, with very little audio?  That's for two reasons.  One -- some hotels have TVs with A/V inputs, so in case of too much Disney channel, we might be able to watch our own stuff.  Two -- even if the battery gets drained to zero on this, we won't be incommunicado.

Now, I also have battery backup -- a nifty little doohickey that takes 9 volt batteries (which I prefer for gadgets instead of AA or AAAs 'cause you can test the batteries using the tongue test), but I loaned it to my mom for her phone during a recent power outage and it's MIA.

About to shut down computer and put phone in Airplane Mode to conserve battery power, but will probably switch it off for twittering here and there.

See ya.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Best-Laid Plans

Of the 70ish pictures I took on my last venture to Disneyland, this time for Christmas pics, I think this little guy is my favorite shot of the night:

I've been trying to get his buddy the owl for a couple of years, but if I don't use a flash, my camera exposes for the castle and you can't see him.  If I do, the flash reflects off the carving, making him overexposed and yucky.

This one was a lucky shot (something like a 14ish second exposure that I manually focused because I couldn't convince my camera that I was trying to take a picture of something so far away) while I waited for Patrick to use the restroom.

I Knew It

I knew buying gloves and a scarf would jinx the weather in Orlando....

Maybe it'll drop between Thursday and Saturday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Loss of an Original

Majel Barrett has passed away.

Even casual Trek fans would recognize her voice immediately: she's been the voice of the computer since the original series.  She, of course, also played Nurse Chapel in the original series, as well as the Enterprise's first officer in the unaired pilot "The Cage," known only as Number One.

But -- maybe because Next Generation was the first Trek series I watched during its first airing and not on tape or as reruns, or maybe just because I found the character more memorable -- she will always be Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed.

My favorite delivery of that began with a proud "I am . . . " and ended with a muttered " . . . and who are you?"

She, of course, went on to produce two of Gene Roddenberry's long-abandoned projects: Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda.

You know, it's funny -- when DeForest Kelley it was a bit sudden but not really shocking. Reports had circulated that he had really struggled even during the filming of Star Trek VI several years before.  When James Doohan passed, it was after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

I dunno...I think I'd have been less surprised had it been Leonard Nimoy, or even Nichelle Nichols, who looks spunky but frail at the same time.

Rest in peace.  Be assured that you'll be remembered.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Internet, How I Missed You

It's been...quite a week.  You may have read on Cat's blog that one of my students was hit in our school parking lot.  Turns out she has broken toes and something is wrong enough with her ankle to require a visit to an orthopedist.

Plus, my Internet connection went out, about which I whine frequently on Twitter.

However, while trolling around the Internet, trying to accomplish the last three things on my to-do list before winter break (with the goal being to leave school stuff behind for an astonishing two weeks), I found this compilation of clips of famous speeches.

I was pleasantly surprised that Picard's "This far, no farther!" speech from First Contact was included.  That speech packs more emotional punch for long-time fans -- because we know Picard's history with the Borg -- than the oft-quoted "how many does it take, Admiral!" speech from Insurrection.  Both are classic HERE COMES THE MESSAGE moments, but the first strikes a deeper chord, I think.

Also...Bastian.  On Falcorn.  From the end of Neverending Story.  Not a speech, but...yay!

And Azeem, from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  (SOOOO not a Kevin Costner fan, but I do love that movie.  Largely because of Azeem, now that I think of it.)

I only recognized the clip from The Great Muppet Caper because Patrick nearly wore out that tape when he was little, and I don't get how it's a "great moment," but whatever.

(I now have "The Happiness Hotel" stuck in my  head.  Nifty.)

Charlie Brown of course, and I'm pretty sure Brad Pitt (as Alexander the Great? Or was that from Troy?) snuck in there too.

But what intrigued me, from a fandom standpoint, was the choice of Aragorn's speech to his troops from Lord of the Rings.


Well, to my mind, there are three iconic moments in Return of the King.  The first is Sam's Moment, with a capital M:  "Come on, Mr. Frodo.  I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!"

The second two are fascinating to me from a psychological standpoint.

Yes, a psychological standpoint.

I think a lot of The Two Towers and Return of the King, at least from the films' standpoint, was a contrast in Aragorn and Theoden's leadership styles.  In TTT, Theoden refuses to ask Gondor for help in their battle, but then refuses to help Gondor in RotK because they didn't offer help themselves.

When the battle seems lost and Aragorn suggests one final stand, Theoden responds with "For death and glory!" while Aragorn replies with, "For Rohan.  For your people."

Basically, I think the goal here was to show that Aragorn is thinking of others, thinking ahead, while Theoden is focused on himself.

Then, before each person's big battle in RoTK, they each muster their troops.

Theoden does it thusly:  "Forth, and fear no darkness!  Arise!  Arise, Riders of Theoden!  Spears shall be shaken!  Swords shall be splintered!  A sword day, a red day, ere the sun rises!  Ride now!  Ride now!  Ride!  Ride to ruin, and the world's ending!  Death!  Death!"

You might notice a certain...fatalism in the above.  It's basically, "ride to your deaths, but don't be scared!"

Meanwhile, King Aragorn (because by this point, he is King Aragorn) circles his nervous troops as they rear back in fear from the army coming out of the Black Gates:  "Hold your ground!  Hold your ground!  Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.  A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.  An hour of wolves, and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day.  This day we fight!  By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"

In other words, "I know you're scared, and so am I, but today, we are going to show our courage, in the name of everything we love."

It's this speech that always -- always -- gives me chills, even (good Lord) five years later, and it's this bit that is in the video referenced above.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

(Incidentally, I've tried to read the novel several times, but the farthest I've ever gotten is when they take an injured Frodo to Rivendell.  Something about Tolkien's information-dump style of writing is just very off-putting to me.  I admire the sophisticated world he essentially invented to explain the history of the language he'd invented -- I just wish he'd written a companion book to go with the actual story.  But I've always wondered how those three moments are rendered in the book.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quick Tech Hint

For Amie, and whoever else would need it.
To reply to a tweet on the web, hover over the tweet with your mouse.  On the right, you will see a star (to favorite, I think, a tweet?) and a curvy arrow thingie (just above the "reply to Amie31 -- when I took the screenshot, it ignored my mouse cursor).
Click the curvy arrow thingie, and the box at the top that normally looks like this:
will change to this:

Et voila, an @reply.  :-)

In semi-related news, if you've been following my tweets, you know that I'm looking for my wayward karma.  I'd say today trends to neutral, but I haven't tried to burn my News-2-You video yet (since I left my phone and iPod at school...I rock 8-/).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What the Heck?????

(How often do I resort to multiple punctuation marks to emphasize my point?)

CNN is shutting down its science-tech unit.

No, really.

No, really.

I just...there are no words.

Yes there are.


I am spluttering in incoherent rage over here; I'm sorry.  Maybe someday I'll have a more eloquent post on the subject.

I'm gonna go listen to "Hope Eyrie" and "The Ballad of Apollo 13" now, and remember when science-type stuff united the whole world, even for a few minutes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unintentional Hilarity

So, I was watching the 720p Star Trek trailer (yeah, I'd only seen it on my iPhone), and the brief -- very brief -- scene with Sarek and Amanda made my eyes pop out of my head.


Could it be that Ben Cross bears an uncanny resemblance to Mark Lenard?


It was, rather, that the profile of Ben Cross as Sarek bore an uncanny resemblance to Andreas Katsulas.

Bwahahahaha.  Sarek as previously violent then enlightened and passionate religious leader.  Bwahahahahaha.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Disneyland Halloween Time Photos

Once I made the momentous discovery (Tripods rock!  And my dad had two!  And you can attach them to a wheelchair with a bungee cord for easy carrying!) a few months ago, I've been enamored of night time photography

A couple of years ago, I went to Disneyland and took lots of photos of Disneyland's Halloween decorations.  I regretfully noticed that they looked gorgeous at night time but knew I'd never be able to hand-hold my camera well enough to get good shots.

Enter the tripod and my other new best friend: my remote shutter release.  ('Cause, really, do you want to put it on countdown mode and wait 10 seconds for every shot?  I thought not.)

It took some time to cull the best of the best out.  For one thing, though I'm having lots of fun, I'm still not certain of my ability to expose correctly, so I took about three exposures of each shot.  For another, I did mess up on the exposure quite a bit (all the lighting on Main Street threw off the metering, I think) so I had to spend some quality time with Aperture.

The full-quality gallery is here, but to my knowledge, you must have a current version of Internet Explorer or a relatively current version of Firefox.  If you don't, here are the low-quality versions.

Also included are some wanderings around California Adventure, and some night time shots of Paradise Pier, because going on Midway Mania before going to Disneyland is Patrick's new Routine.

(And, yes, a Routine carries enough importance to Patrick that it must be capitalized.)

For the Candy Corn Acres pictures, I was on a mission not to take normal "snapshot" touristy shots.  I was actively seeking out unusual compositions.  I hope I succeeded.
The one pumpkin head I missed last time around, in daylight:
My camera did not like the reds here, but I included it because I haven't seen many photos of these decorations out and about on the Internet.
The beginning of trip number two: the soon-to-be-gone Sun Wheel.  While the new entry plaza looks cool, I'll miss it.
Still working on how to expose sunset shots, but good for me:
The gondolas are missing! :-o  Actually, I just liked the pattern of all the steel supports.
When hinges creak in doorless chambers....
Oh, look.  It's light pollution.  I saw a magazine in the store the other day (Time? Newsweek?  Something reputable, at any rate.) that had an article titled something like "The Loss of Night."
Is it sad that I stood in line to take a picture of Mickey and not to take a picture of family or friends in front of Mickey, like everyone else did?
Hmm...what to do while Patrick rides the train?  Oh, yes.  Take pictures of the station.
This might, just might, be my favorite of the bunch.
Interestingly enough, its daytime-equivalent from a couple of years ago was my favorite of that bunch.
Yeah, so I actually stood in line twice to take pictures of nobody.
Christmas pics will be coming...well, if the Halloween ones are any example...probably sometime in January.