WildWill's Journaal of Epherema

Life in the Big City and being a New Parent

Sundry, Various and Whatever
Space Punk
Why haven't I blogged in awhile? I dunno, don't have much to say I guess. Not a good way to start off an entry is it? I would certainly be graded down for this lead if I were in Journalism class.

Over the last two weekends we have spent four days at Disneyland, three between 4-11 and 4-13 and then last Sunday for a day. April is FULL of Birthdays for us, the 12th is Melissa's, 13th is my step-father Dennis' and the 19th is my Mom. I actually went back a couple years on my iCal, and discovered that we're ALWAYS busy in April, because of all the frickken birthdays. Ugh.

Four days at DLR in two weeks is a lot for anyone, even passholders, and now we have the Premium passes so we can go ANY time we want. I don't see us going again until at least the second week of May, if not June. In fact, I'm kind of Disenylanded out...if that's possible. I could go to DCA though, I haven't been on Tower of Terror in awhile, nor have we been on Soarin' in some time. I did ride Grizzly River Rapids during one of the scorching hot days, and that was simply awesome, though I didn't get wet enough dammit.

We're slowly making our way through doing every ride/attraction at DLR, but it's getting tough. There's just some stuff I have no interest in riding; like the Tea Cups, and some of the stuff over at DCA quite frankly, scares me. I know they're supposed to be "carnival" rides, but that big orange thing just looks evil. Plus there's the one that drops you and has a face guard. Sorry, I don't ride anything with a face guard.

Rode Space Mountain twice in a row, again. That's what happens with the ride-swap and three adults. It's quite enough too, the second time is always a bit more jarring than the first. Still love SM though, can't believe it's over 30 years old, but then they did refurb it recently.

Being Mel's birthday, she got the $69 fun card, coupled with our new merchandise discount, and Annual Passholder appreciation days (20% off at Down Town Disney's World of Disney) she got a ton of, well, clothes and jewelry.

Tomorrow is the LA Times Book Festival. We're not going for the first time in 10 years. Just too tired and don't want to deal with the crowds. I don't think I'll miss it. There's always next year.

That's about it I guess. Nothing really special going on.

Space Punk
It's been a while since I did any blogging, I haven't been doing much with The Budget Collector and it appears that I've been removed from staff of Sports Cards Uncensored and that's OK with me. I hadn't written anything interesting in quite a while for Gellman.

This morning I find myself in a place where I didn't think I'd be for quite awhile. It looks like sooner or later I'll have to do something about the mental state of my Uncle Dan. He's only a year younger than my Mom, who's exactly 20 years older than I am, which makes him 56 right now, but he's got something wrong with his mental state. It's very difficult to have a conversation with him, his attention wanders quite a bit. He's very lonely, though he does appear to be able to care for himself, he has an apartment not too far away that takes care of his basic needs. He has money left from his Mother, and he seems to be OK. But the fact that he's alienated every one of his friends, and that he can no longer remember much of anything is concerning to me.

I know that at some point he won't be able to care for himself, and that's what I worry about. It's also a bad situation because he's the closest blood relative I have on my Father's side. Ultimately I'm his next-of-kin, though his Aunt, my Great-Aunt is still doing well, she has her own family.

What really makes matters all the more painful is that he and I were estranged for about 8 years, and the person who re-entered my life is not the same person as the one who left in June of 2000 (I know exactly when it was, because Melissa had just entered my life as he was exiting). I got so sense of closure about the issues that had split us apart, and believe me we were pretty close before he left.

IN any event, I suppose that I'll have to start looking into legal procedures soon. If this were for my Mother, it would be different, if Mom starts to lose her mind, God forbid, we'd do everything we could to help her out and care for her. I'm not so disposed to doing that for my Uncle. It's extremely difficult to spend more than 5 minutes with him, there's no way I could care for him. Not when I have a soon-to-be two and a half year old at home.

SO that's what's been going on the last couple of days. Before that, I dunno, just plugging along, enjoying my time with Kaylee, who's really growing up fast. She started to say rudimentary sentences (three words!) and the other day actually had a conversation with Melissa. She's really adventurous and inquisitive, and so darn smart that it's scary. She is also extremely stubborn, but she's so darn cute that it's OK.

Lately we've been having trouble putting her down for naps and to bed, since she just wants to stay up and play all the time. We go to the "play park" almost every day after we drop Mommy off at work, there she plays with all sorts of friends who are regulars, and then she gets in the way of the folks who are working out with personal trainers. Speaking of which I have been given a week free with one of those trainers, so I'll probably be doing that at some point in April.

April is going to be a busy month as it is for us. We'll have Passover dinner with my Mom, then it's Melissa's birthday on Easter (Disneyland!), then it's my Step-Father's birthday (13ths) and my Mom's brithday (19ths - Disneyland), then the next weekend it's the Los Angeles Times Book Festival! Yikes!

When I wrote this the Hit Counter was at 8006

My blog has gotten this many hits free page hit counter since I started counting.

2 more verses for Stephen Lynch's "Diary" Songs
Space Punk
I came up with these after listening to Stephen Lynch's new album "3 Balloons" available on iTunes and other places. Yes, I did actually purchase it...I had some gift card money left over from Christmas. Not as good as earlier Lynch, but pretty darn good anyway.

These are the lyrics to "Diary 1" by Stephen Lynch

Dear diary
Today was a good day
Papa and I picked wild flowers
Mama joined and we lay in the sunshine
Then we sang and danced for hours
I know tomorrow will be even better
So the Good Lord I thank
I write more later
Love Anne Frank

And here's "Diary 3"

Dear diary
Today was a fine day
I got the music in my soul
I'm writing songs and making records
I feel my life is finally whole
I can't wait to tell my father
To see what he will say
Peace and love diary
Marvin Gaye

There are four "Diary" songs on the album - the other two are about Christopher Reeve and Rodney King. I know, tasteless right? Yeah.

Here's my versions:

Diary 5:

Dear Diary
Today was a great day
Gave birth to a baby girl
Tomorrow my son will be joining us
A whole family we will be
And that is just chill.
Life before was so cold
Dear Diary,
Love, Anna-Nicole.

Diary 6:
Dear Diary
Today was a nice day
My Arab Prince finally said yes
My sons are almost grown up, military men
My ex-husband married that bimbo
I finally told him good-bye
Diary I'm finally happy
My new life's gonna begin
Oh it cannot get better
Love Princess Di

Yesterday's Disneyland Trip Report
Important things from this week that I should share first:

  1. We bought a new Lexmark X5410 all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier at Target this week for $35.
  2. Thus Melissa has printed a number of our pics from last week's trip and already done several scrap book pages that look fantastic. My wife is very talented. She's also spent about $40 on this scrapbook so far, but really if it looks great in the end, I do not care.
  3. We pre-arranged for Kaylee to spend the night with Grandma Monica and Grandpa Dennis Saturday night.
  4. We have gotten far enough ahead on our bills that we were able to put a small amount into our savings account. First time in months.

Got on the 10 East just about 4:05 pm, and pulled off the 5 at Disneyland Way right at 5:00 pm. Stopped to grab some cash and water at the AM/PM, bought some lotto scratchers and lost $5. Bummer. Mel had previously packed a bunch of Diet Cokes from home in our handy-dandy insulated diaper-bag, which acts as a soft-shell cooler, so we were set for drinks in the park. I don't mind buying food, but sodas are just way overpriced at DLR, so from now on I'll bring my own thanks.

I ended up making a wrong turn and had to turn around to get to the parking lot, when I pulled in I showed my Annual Pass and we were given a parking ticket and directions to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, which was, you know, right in front of the AM/PM that I stopped at in the first place. I now realize that my annual pass is only good for that structure. So, we wasted a good five or ten minutes, but you know it didn't really matter. It was still light by the time we got off the tram at Downtown Disney.

Mel wanted to check Marcel's Confectionaire because she's looking for the freshly made fudge, and apparently they only have the pre-packaged variety at the moment. She's been told that the fresh fudge will be back in the resort in another week or two, so I'll have to be checking the message boards for that.

While she went and did that I ventured over to Vault 28 to see if they had gotten in the 3" Vinylmation figures, since I had read on HouseofMouse earlier that they were back in stock. For the second week in a row the male clerk told me that they were sold out resort wide. So I left and met up with Mel. We went into DCA through the Grand Californian, even and headed immediately over to the Paradise Pier area, Mel having expressed a desire to ride California Screamin'. At this point it was a few minutes 6:00 PM, and the standby line was 45 minutes long, but the fast pass was for coming back in after 6:35 PM. So we grabbed a Fast-pass and hit Toy Story Midway Mania which I wanted to ride this round. The sign said 45 minutes and there is no Fast-Pass, so we decided to wait it out. Mel also predicted that it wouldn't take 45 minutes anyway.

It didn't. It took 25 minutes, and boy you are really reminded how good Disney is when you pass through one of those really long queue lines. Mel commented that you never really see the same people in line the whole time, except for the party directly in front and behind you. She's absolutely right.

Anyway, we had never ridden this ride, and had only ridden the similar Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters last week for the first time, so I was pretty excited. I thought it would be similar to Buzz, but was wrong, your ride vehicle swings you over to a three-d video screen where the in-car gun shoots towards on-screen targets. You are competing against your own high-score and your partner's. There are five different "games" and a final bonus game, which is worth a ton of points. I beat Mel 106,XXX to 103,XXX, after she led the entire game. An in-screen video monitor keeps track of your score. I have to say I really enjoyed the ride.

After a quick jaunt up to the California Screamin' queue we were on the coaster waiting to be launched. I have to say that Disney also knows how to make a great coaster, the initial burst of speed just really sets the tone, though I think the soundtrack needs to be revamped. They were running at least two trains at a time, and I'm blown away at how quickly they can churn through riders. Riding coasters at night at Disneyland is also just a treat in of itself. I love the way they light up the entire park, and I love the views you get from the peaks of the ride.

I'm not always in the mood for a traditional roller-coaster, especially the older I get, but when I do, there's no coaster better than California Screamin'. It's definitely in the top 3 rides at DCA. We had planned on trying to hit Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror because that is certainly one of the best night rides ever, but Melissa was hungry and cold, so we decided to seek food. Unfortunately DCA is currently revamping their big food court over by the San Francsico area, and as we have eaten at the Bread place one too many times, and the Mexican stand looks awful, I suggested we trek over to Disneyland and try to hit the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland, and we'd skip TZ:TOT this time, especially since I rode it solo last week.

Getting into DL was no problem and soon enough we found ourselves distracted by the cool shops on the right side of Main Street. I'm really sad that the Disney Gallery doesn't have a bigger space, and I hope that they'll decide to put it into the Bank, once the Annual Pass Processing Center moves to Plaza Pavillion. Yes, I know way too much about what's going on at the park.

Disneyana is one of the best stores on Main Street, it has so many cool Limited Edition items, like this:

It's a golden E-Ticket. That was originally only available in 2007 at a merchandise event, it's still at it's original $100 price tag. I'd love to own that.

I checked the rest of the shop, and right in front of me was a half-display case of Vinylmations! I picked out two and put it on my Fun-Card which had $30 remaining. I tried to open them outside the shop, but my wife told me to wait until we sat down for dinner. It was a tough wait.

So my plan was to grab Space Mountain Fast-Passes on the way, which didn't work because they weren't distributing them, and the wait was 45 minutes. Into the Pizza Port we walked, and prompty got behind international tourists (Italians I think actually). Slowly we inched along until the shift changed and a nice African-American young lady served up my Tomato-Basil Penne while Mel grabbed a Pepperoni Slice and some Breadsticks. All together with our discount is was $18.59, then I grabbed a massive Rice-Krispie treat in the shape of a crescent moon for $3.25 after discount.

We had to eat outside on the terrace in between the restaurant and Honey I Shrunk the Audience and Space Mountain. Deja Vu was massive for me, as I recall eating on that same terrace years and years ago. While enjoying my pasta I opened my Vinylmations and pulled Figment



The boxes on these are works of art themselves

And I'm really happy with being able to find a couple from Series 1. I may actually either trade or eBay the Figment because it holds no interest for me (I've never been to EPCOT), but I really like the Fireworks.

We both decided that we really wanted to ride The Matterhorn Bobsleds because neither one of us could remember the last time we rode the first Disney Coaster; I calculated that it was at least 20 years for me, since I believe the last time I rode it was on Grad Night in 1988, though I honestly do not remember.

The Yeti episode of The Backyardigans</i> had been on the other day, and I kept saying "Yeti, Yeti, Yeti."

I had forgotten how fun the Matterhorn really is. It's a great ride, not too scary, and not too fast, but very bumpy. The nighttime view is second to none though, especially from the top of the mountain. I did not know that it was the first steel-tube coaster in the world. We rode the Fantasyland Side (the left). There are, of course, two different tracks through the ride, that are similar but not the same.

Once unloaded we jogged over through Fantasyland and through the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, which was only reopened on November 26, 2008. The dioramas are fantastically done, simple yet elegant, with a lot of use of video-specical effects, the kind that are slowly changing the park. You see them in Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and the revamped Haunted Mansion. I wouldn't be surprised if there are new video effects in I'ts a Small World when it reopens next month.

I kind of miss the miniatures, because I dig that kind of thing. I always loved the Emporium diorama windows as a kid, but the new scenes in the castle are pretty cool too. Plus how cool is it that you can go in the castle again?

The Enchanted Tiki Room would be our last attraction as we were both fading pretty fast. This is one of Mel's favorite things about Disneyland, and while I don't think it's all THAT great, I do enjoy it quite a bit. Sure there were some kids behind us that were obnoxious, but that was countered by the slightly older than us couple who had never been in the room before, who were fascinated with every new "surprise" in the show.

We navigated Adventureland over to New Orleans Square noticing that Indiana Jones: The Temple of the Forbidden Eye was closed, and there was NO line for Pirates of the Caribbean, which we rode last week. See, we don't really believe in the whole tradition of doing something or riding something each and every time we go to the park. During this Year of Disney that we're doing though, we thought it would be fun to try and do everything at both parks at least once during the entire year. As long as each trip we knock something off the list of to-do's, I'm fine. We ended the night with a nice 3/4ths trip on the Railroad from New Orleans Square all the way around to the Main Street Station, and our train conducter Lindsey was energetic and fun.

So this round we did:

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Disneyland Railroad

    Disney's California Adventure (DCA)
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • California Screamin'

and, from our last trip we did:

  • Tomorrowland Monorail
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  • Starcade
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • King Arthur's Carousel
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Pixie Hollow (Rosetta & Tinkerbell)
  • Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
  • Jedi Academy Training Show
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Fantasmic!

  • Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror
  • Monster's Inc Mike & Sully to the Rescue
  • Playhouse Disney Live on Stage!

  • We've got a long way to go. Our next trip MAY be next weekend, but probable more realistically the weekend after.

Last Weekend's Disneyland Trip Report
I posted this originally at Houseofmouse.com, so instead of rewriting it, I'll just copy/paste

ravel dates: 1-16-09 - 1-17-09
Travel method: Our Car
Resort: Disneyland Hotel
Accommodations: View Room, 1 King Bed 10th Floor Dreams Corner Room
Ages Represented in Group:27 Mo, Wife 34, Me 38
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group:27 mo - 4th Visit, Wife countless, Me Countless
Comments: Bought Deluxe AP, Got Fun Card, First Stay ever at DLH
Cast of characters: William (me), Melissa (wife), Kaylee (Daughter)

I have lived in Southern California my entire life, so Disneyland is both ubiquitous and a special treat for me. My first memories are of my late father holding me while waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion when I was a toddler. My wife was born in So-Cal, but spent her formative years in Utah, coming back to the Southland just before we met in 2000. The day before we met I had been to DL for the first time in 12 years, so for me DL is a very good luck charm, yes the entire park!

We have had several memorable trips to the parks over the last 8 years, notably on Halloween a couple years ago. This would be our DD's FOURTH trip, and she's only 27 months old! We started taking her when she was younger than 6 months, and this time she's really starting to express a preference for certain characters and areas. Even before we got there she had been pointing at the new Celebration banners and saying "Minnie Mouse" which is as cute as can be. She has a fairly steady diet of the best Disney Channel shows ([i]MM Clubhouse, MF Tigger & Pooh, Handy Manny [i]but NOT Little Einsteins), and she adores the Tinkerbell movie which we still have on DVR from it's premier airing on Disney Channel.

Several Disney special promotions happened to run concurrently for us this year creating a singular serendipitous moment in time. For the first time ever we as a family were able to purchase Annual Passes because of the SO-Cal Monthly Payment plan. We are in the same situation as most Americans, in that we have to watch pretty much every penny, and annual passes with their extremely high price all at once were pretty much an impossibility for us. However, when they announced the monthly payment program for So-Cal residents, we were ecstatic. Then when they announced the Birthday program and it's gifts for AP holders, a plan began to form: I would scour the message boards to discover if we could purchase APs on the Monthly plan and get the "Fun Card" for that day, which of course, you can!

Even better was that my wife's boss gave her two one-day park hoppers for Christmas (second year in a row!), as her daughter is VP of Internet Security for Disney! Whoo! So now, not only could we get APs, BUT we wouldn't have to put down a monetary down-payment because of those passes. We were also given a NICE cash gift for a late Christmas present from one of my wife's clients, so this was a trip where money was really no issue, a first for us! We really felt like "tourists" for a change.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On to the trip! Earlier in the week we had discovered the Annual Passholder rate at the Disneyland Hotel, and managed to get a single night booked for Friday night, my Birthday. Even though we only live in Los Angeles, a scant 45-60 minute drive, my wife likes to have a hotel room at the resort because well, she gets tired and wants to relax. We got the $149 rate, which was fantastic for us, and prepaid. This trip was shaping up nicely, especially since my wife got Friday off from work too.

Thursday night, I can't sleep. I'm like the adult on those commercials from a few years ago, where they show the kids in bed and they're restless because they know they're going to "The Happiest Place on Earth." We wake up EARLY (for us) on Friday morning, get ready, pack the car and we're off on the 10 Freeway by 7:30 AM. Despite a bit of morning traffic, we're at Downtown Disney by 8:20. We immediately head over to the Guest Services booth at the parks, and were greeted by a wonderful CM (who had a really nice rainbow ring, sorry I don't remember the name), who helped us get our Deluxe APs (one with parking) - all together $38.25 per month. So basically we have to go to the parks once every four our five months to pay for our passes! Awesome. Stepped to the next window and a different CM gave me my Fun Card and I had to come back to ask if our AP vouchers would be good at the Monorail Station from DTD to Tomorrowland, and of course they are. Good to know.

It's now about 8:45 AM, and we head back over to the DLH, where we check in early, though our room wasn't ready. No biggie, we get our parking pass, the CM who checked us in gives me my Birthday Buttons, which I put on my new from Christmas Indiana Jones hat that my Mom gave me. The Desk Clerk at the DLH front desk, who again, I can't remember names, was FANTASTIC. This is the level of service that I loved to have at hotels. I worked front desk for a resort in San Diego (The Dana Inn & Marina) for a couple years, I know the pain in the butt guests can be, and this clerk just rolled with all my goofy talking and excitement.

After reparking the car, we ride the monorail over to Tomorrowland and get into the park just about 9:15 am. First up: Fantasyland, and a short wait for Peter Pan, as good as always and I'm glad we got on before the lines started. Every time we're in DL PP has the longest line of any in Fantasy Land. Next up The Carousel which DD loved. Walked over to ToonTown (not open yet) and bought a couple of items at the Small World Shop (Minnie dressed as Tinkerbell plush and some girlie items for the DD).

Found Pixie Hollow and despite almost 45 minute wait, loved it. Mom is very much into Tink and the fairies, and we never liked Ariel that much, so this is a welcomed change. Got to meet Rosetta and Tink and discovered that there are sheets of temporary tattoos hidden in the flower bulbs. Very fun, and great re-theming. The shooting jets of water in the early queue line were most welcome as it was getting a bit hot.

More items were purchased at the Pixie Hollow carts, and I dubbed that area "a scary place" for the wife. She would return to these carts, oh yes she would.

Walked over to Tomorrowland and took a ride on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, our first. VERY fun, and I get competitive, so perfect for me. The wife/daughter combo kicked my butt. I really like the touchscreen kiosks to send your photo to you. This is a great innovation that they should use on EVERY ride, instead of selling you the prints right there. Love the gift-shop too.

Lunch time came too quickly, we got burgers at the Tomorrowland Terrace, neglected to use AP Discount, darn, could have saved about $2.00. Also got to watch the Jedi Training show which was well, well worth it.

After lunch, we walked through Frontierland over to New Orleans Square and PotC, my favorite ride. Perfect as always, and DD is really starting to dig it and not be scared. Afterwards went and got a single fast-pass for Splash Mountain, but didn't use it later. Walked back to the Main Street area through Adventureland, purchased a Mickey Mouse as Indiana Jones figure for Daddy.

I should, at this point, mention that I'm a Pressed Penny collector, and had prepped my wants list ahead of time and gotten two rolls of Quarters. I also had gone and purchased 50 Canadian pennies, as I had read that they stretch better than the modern American pennies, which are 95% Zinc - when stretched an American penny will show silver looking streaks that over time will tarnish black. Canadian pennies don't do this. All my penny supplies were house in a small Tootsie Roll bank that I got my wife for Christmas, very handy. In any case, most of my needs were at the Penny Arcade on Main Street (it was closed last time we were here in April 08).

After penny stretching and the wife's traditional fudge purchase, which she was very upset about since apparently they don't do the fresh cut fudge in January), we decided to try and check into the hotel room. Now we had called several times prior to 2:30 but the room wasn't cleaned and ready yet. Since Check-in time is 3:00 PM we we're upset, a bit disappointed, but not upset. We headed to the Tomorrowland Monorail station, but were told that since it was hotter than 80 degrees they had to shut down the Monorail until the temp decreased. The Windows were the culprits and this is an ongoing problem (among others). So we walked back to the hotel, and at this point my shoes were killing me and I needed a relaxing foot bath.

When we got to our room, 10th floor corner, overlooking Downtown Disney from just out in front of the ESPN Zone, there was a birthday cake waiting for me, in a Pirate Treasure Box! I'm a sucker for "added value" so this was fantastic! I know my wife set it up earlier in the day, but it was a great surprise, and one I'll never forget (and of course I shared).

We relaxed in our room, which had such a killer view, I'm bummed I forgot to take night pictures from the balcony. We refreshed, and got ready for night time. I can't remember the last time we stayed until the park closed, and with a 10 PM closing time, we were determined to make it as late as possible.

Monorail back to Tomorrowland, walked over to Rancho Del Zocalo and got dinner. Crowded, but I think it's the best value for the money of the cafeteria style eating. Remembered AP Discount, got $2.00 off. After dinner, staked out a place for Fantasmic, and waited to enjoy that show. I've never been a "show" person when it comes to Disneyland. Sure I enjoy them, but not to the extent that others do. So I had never seen Fantasmic, and we managed to get unreserved standing right in front of Tom Sawyer's Pirate Island (or whatever they're calling it). Suffice to say, blown away.

Also we went a LITTLE crazy buying lightups for the night, two necklaces (the $5 kind), and light up ears and a laser-sword ($15 total). After a traditional hot-chocolate (in souvenir mug, of course) we walked around a bit more and then took the monorail back to DTD and a well-deserved sleep. Put "Wall-E" on the in-room DVD player and the DD was out light a light within 10 minutes. I watched the entire movie, but was out shortly after. A perfect birthday.

Oh did I mention pretty much EVERY CM wishing me a Happy Birthday, and some of them engaging me in conversation regarding the smudged "9" in the "2009" on my button. Really made me feel special. Plus I noticed so many folks with birthday buttons on, it's really a great promotion.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Coffee in the lobby, family out to DTD and onto the Tomorrowland Monorail for the umpeenth time this trip. First ride: Finding Nemo. As a big-old fan of the old Sub ride, I'm ecstatic that it's been completely revamped and is again popular. Got right on because of early morning entry, gotta love the perks!

Wife needed breakfast, so she went and got a plate at Tomorrowland Terrace (again, forgot the AP discount, could have saved $1.50), and I rode Buzz Lightyear doing my best Chow-Yun Fat impression - btw - two guns don't work very well. Overnight I had looked up tricks and tips to get a better score, but that didn't work with dual wielding. Oh well, next time.

Met up with family, and we walked back to Fantasyland, rode Alice in Wonderland and on to the Princess Faire, where I TRIED to stretch pennies. Encountered the first real snag of the trip when one of the machines worked, but didn't give me my pennies! Waited for a refund from the overwhelmed CM, but never got one because I had to go check out of the hotel.

Wife and DD stayed and went to Toontown where they had a blast. They rode the train over to the main entrance and exited and entered DCA, while i went and got our bags ready for the bellman to put in storage. The best part was riding the Monorail back to DTD I was the only one in the front compartment with the driver, a fellow UCLA Bruin. We talked a bit about the game, but then I got the inside scoop on the issues with the Mark VII Monorails. Apparently the skirts were too wide initially, and the trains smacked right into one of the concrete track skirts on it's first run. Also the cabs are too wide and the trains don't fit into the stations with the aforementioned messed up windows open. The CM (David) was awesome, and made my day.

After dealing with Hotel business, I walked over to the Grand Californian and entered DCA over by Grizzly Rapids. Met the family up front, did a bit of shopping and walked to the back lot. Rode Monster's Inc for the first time, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Took pics on the outside cab/door. Then I ran over to Tower of Terror and rode it by myself while the wife went to grab a beverage and wait for Disney's Playhouse. I re-met them at 12:20 and we sat for the show, which was wonderful. Again, I'm not a big show person, because limited time at DL/DCA previously meant all the "big" rides and not the "silly" shows. Now that we're AP holders, we decided to do things differently this time and not worry about the "bigs" and do stuff we hadn't done EVER before.

However, after the show, we both decided we were done for the trip. We had a quick lunch at Napolini at DTD and headed for home, our first trip as Deluxe AP holders was a success. The merchandise haul was not slight either, as it seemed like my wife bought everything with a Tinkerbell on it. Of course, that's not possible, but it sure seems like it. She got a beautiful Tink scrapbook at ToonTown (the ONLY place they had it), and we're going to start our 2009 Annual Pass year scrapbook.

My Political Beliefs - A Personal History Part 1
Space Punk
I was born during the first term of Richard Nixon's Presidency in early 1971, the thing I remember about that time period was that my father couldn't stand the President, and thus my formative years were spent loathing our Chief Executive.

I was three when Nixon resigned and Ford became the only President never to be elected to either the Presidency nor Vice-Presidency (he was, of course, appointed VP when Spiro Agnew, Nixon's first VP resigned in scandal).

I don't remember much about life during the Ford Presidency to be honest. I think much of my memories are actually constructs taken from old episodes of [i]Saturday Night Live[/i] and documentaries on PBS and History Channel. I do somewhat remember the hoopla revolving around the Bicentennial, but the rest of that era I was too young.

When President Carter was elected in 1976 I was five, and I don't remember much about the campaign at all. My only memories of that period involve lines at gas stations.

I suppose that my strongest early memories involve Regan's anointment in 1981, after a horrible campaign where many Democrats were disenfranchised, the inauguration of Reagan also happened the same day that the hostages were released in Iran, which of course was a dirty deal done behind the scenes, and my first introduction into the world of bad politics.

The first couple of Reagan years were not good. The economy in the early 80's was still reeling from the horrendous inflatation and oil embargoes of the 70's. I guess it was after the Olympics in '84 that I felt things start to change a bit, and the economy got a little better, and life was certainly pretty fun. Of course I was a teen-ager at that point, and what did I know about politics?

I have more to add, but since I found this in my saved drafts I figured I should post.

EDIT: Err..."President Mondale?"

Full Text of President Obama's Inaugural Address
Copied from http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1872715,00.html

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far–reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God–given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short–cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk–takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard–earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non–believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far–off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

I DO NOT Like Diane Feinstein
I remember when she became a Senator for the first time, and it seemed like a good thing at the time. She became the mayor of San Francisco after Dan White murdered incumbent mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Dan White in 1978. She was elected on her own accord twice after that.

Sometimes politics are very strange. Here's something very strange that I had forgotten: Feinstein ran for Governor against Pete Wilson in 1990, she lost. Wilson, the former Mayor of San Diego when I was a boy, had been Senator and resigned to run for Governor. Feinstein then ran in and won the special election to fill Wilson's seat, and she's been in the Senate ever since.

And it's time for her to move on. She's gone from being a moderate Democrat who often clashed with fellow Dems on liberal issues, to being the Republican's best friend in the Senate. Let's not forget that she rubber-stamped most of Bush's legislation without much debate.

It's high time to vote her out of office.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear that she will actually run again in 2012 for the Senate, especially if she resigns her position to run for Governor again next year when Governor Schwarzenegger is termed out of office.

Crowd Chanting
The Inaugural Crowd is chanting "Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye" to outgoing President Bush. Wow. Pretty classless, and yet, I can't say I wouldn't be joining them.

A Historic Moment
Today is a huge day in American history, today our beloved country does something it has never done before, we inaugurate a man of African-American descent as President of the United States. The previous 42 office holders have all had several characteristics in common: most importantly, they've all been white men. Sure, many of them have also been freemasons and more than a few have ties to Harvard or Yale. These trivial tidbits are extremely minor in comparison to the race issue. Today an entire segment of our population finally feels validate (those are words just spoken by the African-American commentator on MSNBC), and well WE all should feel validated, because we have finally entered the 21st Century.

In a country founded on freedom we have had a surprisingly restrictive community. As a people, we have allowed our personal biases and prejudices to enslave other human beings, we have created a "classless" society that is becoming increasingly more stratified, and our constitutional freedoms have never been more curtailed than they are right now.

Yet there has been a promise of better times on the horizon. The two months and sixteen days between the election and today have been an exciting time, watching the President-elect basically take charge as Mr. Bush faded into the background. Bush was the least of the Lame Duck Presidents, choosing to to cede his political power early to the President-elect. He barely issued any pardons either, at least nothing as controversial as those issued by President Clinton in his waning days, which either proves Bush is incredibly smart or incredibly arrogant. Smart because he realizes that any moved made at this late date would be scrutinized incessantly by an increasingly hostile congress. Arrogant because his Presidency, more so than Nixon's, has been nothing but an imperialistic exercise in power-mongering. His own Vice-President tried to make his office a separate part of government for crying out loud.

March of the Presidents

One of the cool things about the inauguration is that it's one of the few times that all of the living ex-Presidents and ex-VPs get together in the same place. These were the most important men in the world during their Presidency, and upon entering the scene they appeared to be very subdued. As if they know that this isn't their moment to shine, but that they have an important legacy to share.
As President H.W. Bush entered with Barbara, one of the pundits on MSNBC commented that this is the first time he's ever seen Bush 41 look old. That is more than a bit of truth. Bush 41, walking with a cane, did look old. Of course they also just mentioned that he'd be getting to work on Jeb Bush's Presidential campaign coming soon. Doubtful.

President Carter looked as good as usual, and yes, he's the BEST of our Ex-Presidents. Say what you want about his actual Presidency, but any man who wins a Nobel Peace Prize AFTER being President is OK in my book.

President Clinton appeared to be as teflon as usual. I know that there is still a great divide on Clinton's Presidency, but I still maintain that for most of his eight years in office were the best eight years of my life. The economy was strong, jobs were abundant, the promise of new technologies energized futurists, and things just generally seemed better in the country. For me it all fell apart November 7, 2000 when Bush stole the election along with a complicit Supreme Court.

Bullet Points:

  • The Hon. Sen. Edward Kennedy from Massachusetts made his appearance at about 10:42 EST, walking with a cane, but looking extremely happy. Honestly I didn't expect Teddy to make it to the inaugration, and am happy that he's still with us, and wonder for how much longer he'll be around.
  • Is this actually the last hurrah for the Bush Family? Does Jeb Bush have any national political future, or are his future movements tied to the legacy of the last eight years of incompetence and criminal behavior?
  • WAY back in September, during the Presidential campaign, then candidate Joe BIden said that might pursue criminal charges against the Bush Regime. In recent days the President-Elect seems to have backed off of that statement, preferring to move forward focusing on fixing the economy and finding jobs for those of us caught up in record unemployment. That is all well and good to be honest, I want my President focused on the current job at hand, rather than looking backwards at the mistakes of his predeceessor. That said, the American People want to have their say, and I have a feeling that in a couple months both Misters Bush and Misters Cheney may well be called on the carpet for their illegal activity. If not by congress, then by the rest of the world. There has to be some culpability, and some responsibility taken for the illegal actions undertaken by the Bush Regime. Whether it's our own Congress, or other countries charging him with War Crimes, we cannot simply let Bush fade into the background without any action taken, or investigations into the clearly illegal torture allowed by the last President.


    There are over a million people on the Mall in DC to witness this occasion. The Clinton Inauguration was cause for celebration back in 1992, somehow I thin this inauguration will easily surpass that spectacle. As well it should.


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