Monday, June 29, 2009

Just another random Monday

I really don't have anything specific to talk about today. I'm kind of talked out from the vacation posts, I'm not ready to do Karen's Weekend Assignment yet, but I feel I should post today. Do I need more structure for my blog? Or am I just lazy? Or boring? That might be it! So here are some random thoughts for the week.

A lot of people died. What they hell was that all about? If I didn't know any better (and I don't) I would think there is some kind of vast government conspiracy going on to keep the news channels busy with Celebrity Death News so we don't know what is really going on? Who's with me? Hello?

I'm not sure which death was more surprising, Michael Jackson's or Billy Mays'. Neither are that old, but you'd have to think that Billy Mays was in better condition than Michael Jackson. That's just my personal opinion.  I'm not going to make any jokes about the deaths, that's not cool, it was just a really weird weekend.

I think my typing speed has increased since I started blogging. Really. I wasn't the best typist before, but I can actually type somethings without looking at the keyboard and it doesn't take all day to write a post. It's not like I have perfect technique or anything. I'm pretty sure if I typed this why in typing class I'd get a ruling over the knuckles. But, hey, it's all about what works for you, right?

Do you use Gmail? Did you notice it thinks every contraction is a misspelling? It must think we all talk like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Try that some day. Spend the whole day talking without contractions, then come and tell me how many people thought you were annoying, or trying to be all hoighty toighty. (I think I get a triple word score for getting that term in a blog post. Did I use it right?) Oh, I see, it underlines them as a grammar rule or something. Oh well, I stick by what I said.

I saw this link On Dave Barry's blog. It's pretty funny. I haven't gone through it yet, I'm sure there are a few missing, but I think it's a great idea. Are there any you would like to add?

I finally ordered my iPhone. I've been wanting to get one since they first came out, but now I feel the time is right. My phone is dying a slow death, and, most importantly, I can upgrade without a major penalty. Of course the store was out of them when I went, but I have an order in at least. They said 7-10 days, maybe sooner, and they took a deposit on my credit card that won't charge until it is shipped to them. So, obviously, I'll be checking to see if that charge went through about every 20 minutes.

That's all I have today. How's your Monday?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #43: Stars

This week it's all about stars. Carly wants us to photograph stars of some kind. I found a few to shoot. Nothing all that exciting though.

The first one is from the stars on my son's ceiling. You can see that the fan was spinning, which gives it kind of a cool look.

This second one is also from my son's bedroom. It's a close-up of a nightlight he has. I believe it's a Buzz Lightyear light, so it's filled with stars.

Extra credit: The first shot was hard to get the right shutter speed and stability. I ended up laying the camera on the floor. It worked out best. The second shot was tough because of the light the thing put out. I played with the settings until I got the best shot I could.

Go check out the rest of the shots on Carly's site.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Summer Vacation Wrap-up (Finally!)

I promise this will be that last one. It's only about the last two days of the trip and there was nothing as exciting as Star Wars Weekend to take up a lot of the discussion.

On Monday we went back to Epcot, but this time we did something a little different. Something we should have done the first time. See, while Epcot does has some fun stuff for the kids, the countries that you walk through aren't all that exciting for them. But, that is where the genius of Disney comes into play.

If you don't have younger kids you may not have heard of Kim Possible. It's a show about a teenage girl how is also a kind of secret spy/agent type thing. What Disney did is bring Kim Possible to Epcot. You go to a Kim Possible recruiting center in the front part of the park, then the agents there give you a slip of paper that tells you what country to report to and at what time. Then, when you get there you get a special phone that Kim Possible and her friends can communicate to you and tell you what to look for and what to do. It is really a great idea. My son was really into it. We went to four different countries finding clues before he got too hot and wanted to stop. I highly recommend doing this if you have kids. It makes the countries interesting to them, and they just might learns something. Isn't that why you bring them to Epcot?

Before we left Epoct I bought a shirt with the birds from Finding Nemo. You know, the ones that keep saying, "Mine. Mine! Mine!" I like those guys. I wore it on the plane home. I'm pretty sure it is a requirement to wear something Disney related on the flight home from Disney World. I think I saw it somewhere on the hotel reservation.

That night we had dinner in the Polynesian Hotel. It was okay but, again, quite pricey for what you got. I don't remember what the name of the restaurant was, it wasn't their main one. We also notice how loud the hotel was. Everything in the lobby is opened up so both restaurants, the stores and everything on the first two floors all combine into a disorienting cacophony of voices and shouting. Then again, in a place with tons of kids, what do I expect?

On our last full day we decided to go back to the Magic Kingdom. We hit the Buzz Lightyear adventure again (third time I think), Tom Sawyer Island again and a few other rides. I think my son could have spent the whole day on Tom Sawyer Island. He loved running around in the fort and pretending to shot the bad guys. He ended up getting recruited by a slightly older kid and fighting a war with him.

We didn't stay all that long this day. The kids didn't want to do much more at the park, so after lunchtime we went back to the pool. As you can see, we did that a lot. This time, though, both Jenn and I got sunburn. We forgot to add more sunscreen after changing into swimming gear so our shoulders were burnt. Not terribly, but enough to make us a little uncomfortable. Actually I got a very strange tan line on one of my arms because I missed a spot earlier in the day. Luckily it is covered up by a normal shirt so I don't look like a weirdo everyday at work now.

For our last meal we went all out and had a good dinner at Narcoosee's which was right outside our balcony. I had a good steak. The best one I had in Florida. I just realized I had steak three times there. I guess that's what happens when you go to seafood places and you don't like seafood.

As we were at the restaurant we could see some storms building up around us. Which was funny because I talked to my dad the day before and he asked if we got caught in any rain. and we had not. I didn't think we were going to escape it today. And we didn't. As we were heading to the door of the restaurant I could hear thunder outside. Good thing we only had to walk a few feet to our room.

As you can see it got pretty bad out there.

I was surprised that the boat kept going. I wouldn't get on that thing in this storm.

And here is my one-and-only lightning shot. I was totally lucky to catch this. It's only a single bolt, but it still looks cool.

So, that is our trip. Now what am I going to talk about here?

This wasn't one our last day, but I feel like I should ad a sunset shot when I close out this series of posts. You know?

Thanks for reading. I'll find something else to talk about now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weekend Assignment #272: Here Comes Summer

It's kind of ironic that Karen picked this topic this week since I missed last week's assignment since I was gone on vacation. But, I'm back, I'm here to participate. This week Karen wants to know our plans for the summer.

Weekend Assignment #272: What are your plans for the summer months? Do things get busier for you this time of year, or slow down? Do you go on vacation, or stick close to home?

Well, as you can see from my last few posts, we've already taken our summer trip. We went to Walt Disney World to see the parks and sweat as much as possible. It was a good time! That is not the norm, however. This year was our first big vacation since we had kids. (Our son is seven by the way). Jenn and I have done little weekend trips on occasion, but this was the first time we went all out on a family vacation. And, based on the cost, it's a good thing we waited this long. I need to find a place that gives the best price for plasma donations, any recommendations?

Work definitely gets busier during the summer. I work more days, more hours, worse shift changing; everything about summer kind of sucks at work. At least I get all that free time in winter to make up for it! It's fun to sit in the house by myself while the kids are in school and it's snowing outside. But, I digress.

I try to take the kids to my dad's place on my days off during the summer. He and my step mom have a house on a lake, so it's nice to go there to cool off. Not that I'm a big fan of going in lake water, but the kids get to play in the sand, fish, go on boat rides, and fun stuff like that. Plus, it's nice to just sit out there sometimes. It reminds me of when I was a kid and we'd go to a lake in Michigan where my grandparents had some cabins. That was a lot of fun.

Extra Credit: Do you do much summer TV viewing? Is there anything in particular you're looking forward to watching?

Usually I watch Psych and Monk, but they decided to push those to August. What the hell is that about? I will watch Burn Notice and The Closer with Jenn sometimes, but I want Psych back. Now. We do also watch Wipeout, for the kids you know, and we are watching the episodes of Mentalist that we missed during the year. Oh, I watch the first part of Impact on ABC this weekend. It was so bad, but great at the same time. I plan on watching the exciting conclusion as well. I need to set the TiVo for that.

That's all I have. What about you? Yeah, you. What are you doing this summer?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Science Fiction and Fantasy Day? Count me in

I got this from Florinda last week who said she probably wasn't going to participate since she doesn't read a whole lot of Science Fiction or Fantasy. So, I thought I'd help her out and write a post and link back to her, you know, to pinch-hit for her. Well, she went and wrote her own post; that's the last time I try to help her out. I'm kidding (mostly). But since I started planning this post I figured I should write it up anyway. Plus, you get a break from my vacation talk. I'm almost done with that, I promise!

This idea came from Sharon Lee:

In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

I figured the best thing to write about is the series I'm currently in the middle of at this time. It's the Coyote series from Allen Steele, and I'm really liking it. See, I have a problem starting with authors I've never read before. I'm always afraid I'm going to buy a book by a new (to me) author, get halfway through it, then give up because I can't read it for one reason or another. But, sometime last year I took a chance. I happened to see Allen Steele's Spindrift in my usual SF/F aisle of the store and the back cover copy grabbed me:

June 1, 2288-Europe's first starship, the EASS Galileo, launches on its maiden voyage to investigate an unidentified object, code-named Spindrift, which is traveling outside our solar system. An object that may be alien in origin. The Galileo disappears soon after...

February 1, 2344-The Galileo's shuttle returns to Earth carrying three surviving expedition members, who still appear to be the same age they were when they departed. They report that they have, indeed, made contact with an extraterrestrial race-and become enmeshed in a conflict that brought them face to face with the most apocalyptic force in the galaxy.

It is up to Director General John Shillinglaw to piece together the puzzle created by these events- for the survivors tell their stories from their own conflicting perspectives. And the truth is more difficult to glean than it appears.

Now, this is the kind of stuff I like. It had it all, space exploration, possible alien technology, a minor mystery on top of it. It was perfect. So, I bought it and read it, and loved it. It gave me the sense of awe and wonder I used to get when reading Isaac Asimov books as a kid.

Now this book wasn't technically part of the Coyote series, this was, as they say, only in the Coyote universe. Actually the planet itself, actually a moon, wasn't in it until the end, so I knew I had to start from the beginning.

The next time out to the bookstore I bought Coyote, and was not let down. Again, it had all my favorite elements in it. This time we had a ship ready to go on the first mission to place a colony on another planet. Again, like I said, it's actually a moon of a gas giant, but you know what I mean. But, things don't go quite as planned, at least for the government. Unbeknownst to them, the crew, including the captain, plan to steal the ship and fill it with their own people who want to get away from the overpowering government. They succeed, but it's not as easy as they thought.

I won't go into the details, but imagine trying to build a town from scratch. On a planet were the seasons are three times longer than on Earth, and you get there as fall is approaching. No, it is not easy. Especially when there are giant, vicious birds, and not much in the way of tools and supplies.

The book was great, as was the second, Coyote Rising. In Rising, 3 more ships show up only a few years later, each carrying approximately 1000 new settlers. However, the plan to rule the planet their way. The original settlers leave their city and hide in a relatively unexplored part of the planet, knowing that if they stayed, it would be just like being back on Earth all over again. They are right of course. Fortunately, they eventually win over the planet as theirs, unfortunately many die in the process.

I'm currently in the beginning of the latest in the series, Coyote Frontier, so I can't say much about it yet. Maybe I'll let you know when I'm done.

I guess what I'm saying is, yes, I recommend these books. If you like SF, I think you will like these. Even if you don't, you might, too. Quite a bit of the books are just about surviving against the odds.

You can read about all the books in the series, and universe, here.

There is my contribution to SF/F day. I hope I didn't bore you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Vacation part three: Star Wars Weekend!!!!!!

This is it. The day you've all been waiting been waiting for, Star Wars Weekend! Or as I like to call it, NerdFest 2009. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Only about 1/3 of Hollywood Studios guests were dressed as characters from the movies. There were quite a few others who were only wearing Star Wars shirts, or some kind of accessory to let everybody know they were there for the Star Wars festivities.

We got there as the park opened, which turned out to be a good move since they had stormtroopers manning the gates. It was pretty neat. They set it up so you could hear them talk to each other, and they were making fun of the crowd walking in. Here you can see one of them pretending to take a picture of the crowd. Obviously there were a lot of cameras aimed at them.

Throughout the park there were several stations set up where you could get autographs of characters or real people that were part of the Star Wars universe. I didn't know any of the people since they were part of The Clone Wars animated show. I've never watched any of that. We tried to get our son to get some autographs from the characters, but he wasn't up for it. Look out, there is Jango Fett!

The first thing we did was Go see The MuppetVision 3-D movie. The kids didn't want to see it at first, our son thought it was for babies, but they both enjoyed it. It was one of the 3-D movies where they add effects in the theater to make it more like-like. They had bubbles blowing in the theater, water spraying on you, and puffs of air at certain points. It was pretty fun. Of course, I used to watch the show all the time when I was younger, so that helped. Oh, and my favorite Muppet, Beaker, was in it. It's always a good show when Beaker is involved.

After the show, we walked around to check out some of the shops, then it was time for The Jedi Academy. Again, our son didn't want to participate, but we watched the whole show, in the heat, with my 7 year-old on my shoulders. The whole time. To say I was hot after that is quite an understatement.

But, the show was fun. They did a great job of making the kids they called out of the audience part of the show. First, they showed them how to do some basic movies, then Darth Vader shows up. With Darth Maul no less.

Then the kids had to fight both Darths one-on-one. All the characters did a great job. Especially the person playing Darth Maul. He had the stalking down really well. He may have been a little too goo though, one kid was crying as he was fighting Darth Maul. I felt bad for him, but he fought anyway. A true Jedi he was.

After that show we walked into the Star Wars shop. Wow, I've never been in a shop so crowded. But, hey, the kids have to get their Star Wars stuff, right. At least it was nice an cool in there.

We walked out of the store and pretty much stumbled upon the parade route. We got really lucky. We were looking for a snack bar and I happen to look down and notice the white stripe that marked the border of the parade route. Instant front row viewing! Needless to say we stayed where were, I went to get popcorn and some water and Jenn got some smoothies. Her throat was now killing here as the kid's were before we left. Have a sore throat and a fever in 95 degree heat is fun, no? We got to see a lot of cool characters in the parade.



some Tie fighter pilots, one of which couldn't possibly fit in that small cockpit,

and an Imperial Guard.

We had a quick lunch at Starring Rolls, which I recommend as a nice change from the burgers and chicken nuggets at every snack shop in all the parks. I had a nice ham sandwich while Jenn had a veggie sandwich. Good stuff.

Then we went to go see the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. It was completely different than I thought it was going to be, but it was fun. I thought it was going to be characters acting out scenes as if they were the characters in the movie. Instead it was a show where they showed you how stunts are done. They'd explain what was going to happen and then pull the stunts off. Like I said, it was cool, just not what I was expecting. Of course, if I paid attention to the name of the show it probably wouldn't have been a surprise.

Oh, I almost forgot, on the way out we saw some people who had obviously dressed up for Star Wars Weekend getting their picture taken. The funny part is some parents were taking pictures of their kid with these people. I think they thought these characters were part of the show and not just some "regular" Star Wars geeks.

So, we headed back to the hotel so Jenn could get some rest. The kids played with their new toys they bought while the parents took a break. Then, it was time for dinner at The Animal Kingdom Lodge at a restaurant called Boma. It was okay. That is about the best I could describe it. It was a buffet with decent food, it was just more expensive than it needed to be. The hotel was neat though. There was an area with animals that you could watch from the lobby, or your room if you were lucky enough to be on the right side.

After dinner we went back to the Magic Kingdom to watch the SpectraMagic Light parade. Then headed back to the hotel and watched the fireworks from the boat dock outside our hotel. It was a long day and the kids, and parents were ready for bed.

I think the next post will be the last about this vacation. You're welcome...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #42: Water, Water, Everywhere

Carly wants some water shots this week. Well, we just came back from Walt Disney World and I think I have some that fit the assignment. Let's see...

Here's a hippo cooling off at Animal Kingdom. Sure, he's not playing around, but do hippos move much anyway?

Here's a bird of some sort from outside our hotel. Does anyone know what kind it is. I'm not very good with birds.

I'm not sure if the falls into the proper category, but I like it. It looks like the water is shooting up to clean off the Epcot golf ball.

Extra credit: Too be honest all I felt was hot while taking these. I'm not used to the heat of Florida. At the same time I was glad to be there with my family and watching the kids enjoy themselves.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Family Vacation: Part Two

Our second day involved more walking, and a trip to Epcot. This time we went to the pool in the morning since we had dinner reservations at a restaurant in Epcot. Mexico to be specific.

We didn't do Epcot right the first day, which I'll explain later, possibly in another post. It was kind of neat to walk from country to country all in one day. First we hit England. We didn't do much there, but it looked nice. See.

I had to get a picture of the phone booth and mailbox. I don't know why.

Next we walked through France. We didn't go in many shops there either, but we got to see a man balance on some chairs. Our son was mesmerized by that.

I know the chairs are specially made to do those tricks, but sill, that was pretty cool.

Going through France we stopped in Japan.

Jenn and our daughter both wanted sushi. So us guys went over to America to eat some burgers and fries. Actually I didn't eat anything there. I wasn't feeling so well that day. I think it was from the heat.

After a food break we headed over to Germany and Italy. We had to hit some countries of our heritage.

There was no Swedish representation, but Norway was there. So I took a picture of this giant gnome. That seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it?

We got some smoothies as we walked through Africa. You know, nothing says Africa like a strawberry smoothie. This Coke machine was cool, though.

We also went to see Nemo and his friends at "The Seas with Nemo and His Friends." The little ride was okay, but the really neat part was talking with Crush. It was an interactive show with an animated Crush who would talk to the crowd. The kids liked it, even though they didn't participate all that much. The show was fun for adults and kids, just like a Pixar film.

Like I said, we had dinner in Mexico. I made sure to get the least spicy thing on the menu, luckily the waitress helped me out. I've forgotten all my years of Spanish. I think the kids favorite part of the day was the little boat ride through Mexico with Donald Duck and his friends.

The kids were pretty wiped out after all that excitement, so we headed back to the hotel.

The next day was Animal Kingdom day. I took lots of pictures here. Like the tree of life. Cool, huh?

At first when we walked in to the park we were under a huge canopy of trees. We thought we were going to be in the shade all day, unfortunately that wasn't the case.

We walked the Pagani Forest Expedition Trail first. It was like a zoo, but you could walk through it. Does that make sense? You were a lot closer to most of the animals, and the seemed to be more integrated.

We saw Gorillas, some weird animal called and okapi, lots of birds, including this giant one that reminded me of Kevin from UP.

Next we went on a safari. I liked how they did this. They pretended like you were on a real safari. They had radio where a pilot was radioing positions of animals to the driver and then warned us of poachers in the area. Luckily, we scared of the poachers, but not until after we were shot at!

I got a couple nice shots of giraffes, ostriches and the lay of the land as a whole. The place was really nicely set up.

We hung around the park for a little while longer by going to Dinoland USA. That wasn't so fun. The kids were hot, we were hot and there wasn't a whole lot to do there. But the giant dinosaur that greeted you seemed nice.

Then it was pool time and back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner. Which we followed up with another spin on the Buzz ride and a trip to the Laugh Factory featuring the cast of Monster's Inc. This was another interactive show, but this time the had cameras on the crowd and would get you more involved with the show. Our daughter got picked out as "Boo" from the movie, probably due to her age and hair. She was a little embarrassed, but it was cute.

Before we left we walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse. Can you believe Jenn has never seen that movie? We went back to the hotel were the kids passed out before the fireworks show. Again.

That's enough for now. I promise, Star Wars talk (and pictures) on the next installment.

As before, more pictures on Flickr, but I'm not done with them all yet.

Favorite new product: The Tool Band-It.

Have you ever wondered, "You know, it would be nice if I could clamp the hammer and nails to my arm somehow?" Or do you just not like the convenience of a tool belt and would rather carry your tools on your arm. Or, maybe you just want to be some kind of extra manly version of Wonder Woman. Well, then the Tool Band-it Magnetic Arm Band is for you!

See how easy it is too reach the mass of nails stuck to your arm? No, don't worry about the points sticking out all-over-the-place. I'm sure that won't be a problem at all. Well, as long as you don't sneeze into your arm, or one of your kids comes running up to you to give you a hug. It's nice to know it works under cars, just don't get your arm stuck under there!

You know, I bet this would be great for a cat burglar. You can hold your lock-picking kit, your flashlight and metal case of baby powder for the lasers all on your arm. Great!

I want it so I can stick my car keys on it. I'm always losing those. Is there a key band-it available?

Order today and get a free head lamp. I guess that's useful.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our big family vacation (part one of many)

I'm not sure how many posts this will take up, but I know that I can't post about our whole trip in one. Well, I could, but I would scare away everybody. Who wants to read a 10,000 word post?

As I hinted at in yesterday's post, we went to Walt Disney World in the great (hot) state of Florida. I'm going to get it out of the way now; it was hot, hot, hot, get the idea. It was such a change after coming from a cool Spring here in Chicago. I was wondering when it was going to get warm here, now I don't need to experience heat anymore all year. Of course it's going to be 90 degrees here tomorrow. Oh well.

Anyway, the fun started before we left. Turns out both kids got sick three days before we were set to leave. Our son would wake up nearly unable to talk, and our daughter couldn't breathe. It wasn't a good start. Jenn took them to the doctor on Monday, but we were starting to prepare for the worst. What if they couldn't fly? Would we rent a car to drive? Would we use our own? Do we have enough things to keep them entertained for about 22 hours of driving? Will I go insane before we get to Disney World?

It was a fun 36 hours around here. The doctor said they both had strep throat (again), but they could fly and were good to travel 24 hours after taking the medicine. Good thing we were leaving in 48 hours. Nothing like cutting it close!

So, we went to the airport on Wednesday, and were bombarded with questions on how long we had to wait until it was time to get on the plane. For two hours. Then, we get on the plane, get all ready to go, settle the kids down since it was their first flight, then we find out we need to change planes. Yipee! We had a broken one that couldn't be fixed in a timely manner so we had to wait an hour for another plane. And be asked another 40 times about when we are going to leave.

The flight down was fine once the kids started enjoying the flight, which wasn't too long. We got to Orlando, waited for our Magical Express to bring us to our hotel, and then ordered room service since we missed our dinner reservations due to the flight delay. We stayed at the Grand Floridian, which was really nice. We really liked the hotel, but didn't like paying $9.95 for a peanut butter and jelly uncrustable sandwich.

We had a great view from our balcony. We could see Cinderella's Castle from the Magic Kingdom and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our own room. Of course, we could also hear the fireworks even when the kids crashed out early, but that was okay, they didn't wake up. They were too wiped out everyday.

The first full day we were there we went to the Magic Kingdom. It was the closest park to our hotel, and we could hop right on the monorail to get there. The crowd was not too bad our first day. We waited about 20 minutes to drive the cars in Tomorrow Land and basically walked right on to the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Our son liked that ride the best, I think.

We also hit Aladdin's Magic Carpet, The Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tom Sawyer's Island. Our son loved exploring on that island. There wasn't a whole lot to do, but when you are a little kid you can imagine a lot of things.

We walked around the park for about 5 hours, or so, then headed back to cool off at the pool. We did that pretty much everyday. It worked out well to cool off and take a break from walking. My feet were quite sore walking all day long.

That night we went to Fulton's restaurant at Downtown Disney. We found out that our daughter loves crab legs while we were there. It's always good when the kinds like expensive food. While we were there we hit the gigantic Disney store. It was so big Jenn and I got separated and had to call each other on the phone to find each other.

There was a dinosaur place in downtown Disney that we didn't go to, for some reason, but I took a picture of the snow covered mountain they had. I don't know who they are trying to kid, it is not cold enough for snow. I don't care how high the mountain is.

I'll stop here for now. More to come, including Star Wars Weekend! Don't get too excited now.

I have more pictures up on Flickr, with more to come as I get to it. Also, I'll start catching up on reading blog posts, too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm back!

I know you have missed me while I've been gone. I realized I probably never said where I was going. I was going to, but I ran out of time as we were getting ready. Can you guess by this picture?

The castle in the background should give it away. It was a good time. Very tiring, and hot. But, it was worth it. I think the kids had a good time.

I will be back soon to write up a post about it starting tomorrow. I think it might take a few posts. I have 400+ pictures to go through as well. I'll post some here then more on Flickr as well. Oh, and I got my first lightning shot. It was pure luck, but I'm still happy.

Also, I'll get to the comments I missed while I was gone. Apparently free WiFi is a mystery at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The blog you have reached...

is not in right now. Please leave a message in the comment area. If you think you've reached this blog in error, please check the web address and try again. Thank you.

Also, can you send some ice. It's freakin' hot here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weekend Assignment #270: Magic wishes

This week we get one-and-a-half wishes from Karen. She wants to know what we would change about ourselves if we could. With some minor exceptions.

Weekend Assignment #270: You've been given the magical opportunity to change just one thing about yourself, instantly and painlessly. There is no going back; whatever change you make is permanent, aside from normal aging. What would you change - or would you choose to stand pat? (Please note that this is a change to yourself, not the world around you. Also, I'm disallowing weight loss, because it's just too obvious.)

I thought about this for a little while. I came up with two that Karen also came up with, so I'll go with a different one than she did. I'd get rid of the need for glasses. I'm tired of them. They get bent out of shape after a while and become uncomfortable. You can't wear sunglasses with them, at least the kind I would like to wear. Sure, there are prescription sunglasses, and I have them, but it's a pain to change them all the time. And, no, I don't like the ones that get dark when you go outside; they never seem like they get light enough inside.

I also have a big problem picking out frames. I can spend hours in there trying to decide which make me look the least dorky. Or, on the other hand, the ones that don't make me look like I think I'm too cool for anyone around me. You know the type I'm talking about.

I've worn contacts in the past, but I can't anymore. For some reason my eyes get extremely dry at work, and since I spend a lot of time there, why get them and suffer? I should also mention I'm terrified of LASIK surgery. Yes, I know the odds are low that I would have a problem, but they aren't zero!

Extra Credit: If you could change two things, what would the second thing be?

For the extra credit, I'd go with allergies like Karen. They suck. And this year has been suckier than normal. (Yes, that is a word. In my dictionary.)

EMPS #41: Storms in the area (clouds)

Normally I wouldn't do to similar posts back-to-back, but the weather was perfect for this weeks photo shoot from Carly. She wanted pictures of clouds and we had storms in the area. Some were severe, but none of those were near us. But, they did make for some nice cloud pictures, unfortunately they are from my car, but they turned out okay. No, I was not driving at the time.

Here you can see the tops of the storm, one in the process of growing actually, south and east of my house.

Here is a better view of the same just down the street.

Here is the full view from the end of my subdivision. You can see it is small, but it grew as it moved east.

Here the sky looks dark and ominous, but it wasn't all that bad. It looks worse than it should because the sun is lower in the sky so less light can shine through. We barely got any rain out of this.

I really want to try and get a picture of lightning some time, I just need to find a way to do it without getting killed.

For extra credit we need to show colored clouds. I need to dip in the archives for this one.

Go check out the rest of the photos over at Carly's.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #40: Rainbows

Carly's assignment this week is rainbows, just as the title suggests. I thought this would be perfect since it has been so rainy here. Well, it was rainy, but the sun never came out at the right time to get a picture of a rainbow. But I still have a few shots to share. 

First, here is a picture of my son's ceiling fan. As you can see, we screwed up putting to blades on, it doesn't go ROY G BIV like it should. Of course, there is no indigo blade, but you know what i mean. 

And, since I didn't get any new shots of rainbows, here's a couple I took on different days last year. 

Carly also wanted us to talk about what colors we find easy to photograph and what colors give us trouble. My wife likes to tease me and say I can't see color right, so maybe I have trouble with all colors. Actually, the most trouble I have is with getting the white balance correct. It's partly due to my camera, and partly due to me not knowing how to set that up properly. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

The view from work

I had to work the evening shift last night. I brought my camera, just in case I wanted to play around with it. From one side of our building we can see the Chicago Skyline and I've always wanted to get a shot. Here is my first attempt: 

It didn't turn out that well for various reasons, but you get the idea. I'll try again sometime, I'm sure.

Later I got a shot of the sunset. I probably should have waited for a few minutes, but I didn't have time. I like the way the power lines cut through the picture.

That's all for today. Have a good weekend! 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Weekend Assignment #269: Good Sports

This week Karen wants to find out what kind of sports fans we are.

Weekend Assignment #269: Are you a sports fan? If so, what's your favorite? Do you follow many sports, just a few sports, or only one? If not, what is it about sports that leaves you cold?
Extra Credit: If your organization, your family or your friends had a mascot, who or what would it be?

I don't think I could be called a sports fan. I don't plan my weekends around sporting events on TV, though that could be due to the fact I work a lot of weekends. But still, I wouldn't do it anyway. I never envisioned myself growing up to be the guy who never gets dressed on a Sunday because there are too many football games to watch. Instead, I don't get dressed because I'm too lazy and want to watch Fletch for the 3,000th time in comfort.

However, there are some sports I do watch, I just don't plan my life around them. For the most part.

I watch golf. Okay, I said it. Make fun all you want. But, I don't watch every single tournament and require the house to be absolutely silent as I watch. If there aren't many golfers I find interesting playing that week, I'll just check in on it occasionally. Now, If it is one of the major tournaments; The Masters, The US Open, The PGA Championship or the British open, I will watch as much as possible. Those are the biggies. It's like having four Super Bowls a year. Sure, there is the Fed Ex Cup at the end of the year, but nobody really cares much about that. It really hasn't panned out like the PGA and Fed Ex had hoped. Sorry guys.

I also watch football, but I only watch the Chicago Bears, and sometimes NIU college games. I don't get all excited about watching the games on Sunday, no special preparations are done for snacks or anything. I just watch the games when they are on. Though, when the Bears made it to the Super Bowl a few years ago, Jenn and I made a special dip. Exciting! Jenn likes to make fun of me when I watch NIU play since I never went to a game when we went to school there. But they sucked then. Why would I go? I had better things to do on Saturdays, like sleep in and drink beer later.

That is about all the sports I watch. I will say that I find curling fascinating. I watched it a lot when our son was born and I was feeding him in the middle of the night. I don't understand a thing about it, but I find it hilarious that it is an Olympic event. Anything that you can play outside of a bar should not be awarding medals.

For the extra credit I can only come up with one thing, Spongbob Squarepants. It is always on TV in our house and he does look a lot like a mascot, don't you think?

That's all for me. What sports do you watch?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some thoughts on "UP"

Don't worry, I'll be spoiler free. Not that there really is a whole lot to give away, the trailers sum it up pretty well. 

Let me start by saying I haven't seen a Pixar movie I don't like, though I haven't seen A Bug's Life but that is my kid's fault. They don't want to see it and I can't rent it on my own without looking weird. 

I was even excited to see what the short was going to be. It was called Partly Cloudy and was a nice take on some classic cartoons. I won't say what, so I don't give anything away, but it reminded me of some old school animated shorts. I think you'll know what I'm talking about after you see it. 

The movie itself was great. Smart, sad, funny, it hit all the perfect notes. Ed Asner was great as the curmudgeonly old man who wanted to go on the adventure he always dreamed of, but only did it because he was being forced to. He ends up dragging along a boy named Russell. They have a great adventure in South America, and both learn something, of course. There is danger, adventure, dogs that talk, everything you'd expect to find in South America! 

Okay, I suck at this. I can't tell you things I liked about the movie with out giving things away. Ugh. Just go see it, trust me it's good. Pixar knows how to put a movie together that appeals to adults and kids with out getting all slpastick-y and throwing random references together to get a cheap laugh. (I'm looking at you DreamWorks). Also, it's not about the cast that they out together, it's about the final product. About the story that is being told. That's why there movies work. 

Is it my favorite Pixar movie? No, that is still The Incredibles. But still, it's better than a ton of other movies out there. 

Update: Turns out Quincy has some thoughts on the movie too. Kinda.