Sunday, March 29, 2009

Skating, Spring Break, Disney and birthday

If you read Eric's blog as well, you'll have a good idea how we spent our day today, 3/29/2009. After getting to bed late last night, we got up and had breakfast at the OPH. After we went skating on what Johnny described as late season pond hockey skating, because the entire ice was wet, with very large puddles on one end of the ice. Pines should have said something about the chillers not working before we paid to get in, but of course they didn't. Even if we checked out the ice first, we probably would have seen that it was wet and thought that for once they actually ran the Zamboni over it before the public skate. The slush was terrible, and I'm looking forward to trying out Glacier's public skating tomorrow.

Speaking of Glacier, Shane got to the locker room for his first game yesterday and found out he had been traded from the Panthers to the Lightning. He didn't mind, all he wanted to do was play a game. He ended up scoring a goal, and got a goal in the shoot-out. The final score was Lightning 12, Panthers 6. A shoot-out wasn't necessary, but they have one at the end of every game anyway. Brenda taped the game, and I'm going to try to put some "highlights" together and post up to YouTube. Unfortunately, Brenda realized too late that it would have been better to sit in the penalty box to get a better video. We'll try that next time. I didn't go to Shane's game because I took Lizzie to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

I have this week off work because it is the kids' spring break. We are going skating tomorrow, then Shane has hockey practice. On Tuesday it is haircuts an oil change for Brenda's van, and the Panthers/Senators game (I don't know why I am putting myself in the situation of going, but I'll hope for the best). Wednesday we are heading up to Orlando and going to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. We'll see how the kids like those parks, it's something different for them, and Brenda and I will be able to ride the cooler roller coasters again. I'm still debating whether or not to take the kids to see Blue Man Group. This is something I haven't even suggested to anyone, but it may be a cool little show for them.

Speaking of Orlando, I think we are going to let our Disney season passes expire, then renew them (or get new ones) after the summer. We like being passholders, and we really enjoy going to the parks with the kids, we just have other things coming up that need to be paid for and we would be blacked out all summer anyway. So, we'll just change our anniversary date to make it more reasonable regarding the blackout dates, and when other things such as the Dolphins and Panthers are due.

I'm researching various trip ideas for Brenda's birthday, I've thought about Vegas (Venetian, Phantom), London, and Dublin, or a cruise for everyone. I'm just trying to get an idea of what she really wants to do, and the cost and time involved in each of the options. I am also holding off while we wait for Barbara to get better.

Speaking of which, please donate either money or join my team for the "Light the Night Walk" for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in October. Just in case you can't click on the above link, please go here:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Skating, Good Books, Movies, and Spring Break

Today is Sunday, so that means ice skating with Eric and Johnny, or at least that's what it typically means, and today was no different. We started with the normal breakfast at The Original Pancake House, where Lizzie continued to do her best to make as much of a mess as possible. Even though the apple juice spilled, she was actually a bit cleaner than normal, especially with her chocolate chip pancakes.

After breakfast, we headed to Pines for the Sunday skate. I had a bit more difficult time both on and off the ice. Off the ice, I kept trying to keep an eye on both kids, after about an hour, Shane decided he wanted to skate, so I had to go out to the car to get his skates, then try to keep an eye on Lizzie while we were all skating. On the ice, I was starting to get aggravated because I should be a little bit better by now. Sure, I'm not expecting to speed around the ice, but, I thought I had my balance down a bit better. Yes, I can somewhat blame my two falls on the potholes in the ice, and the fact that Pines goes 3-4 hours in between cleanings, I just didn't feel as comfortable by the end, what with skating through all the snow and divots. If I get a chance, I may try to go to some weekday evening open skating times, depending on when a closer rink offers the time. My goal is to learn how to play and possibly join an over 40 league or a C2 league, depends on when I'm actually ready. I'm buying equipment piece by piece, and right now all I need is shin guards, elbow guards, socks, and a stick.

We saw 'Race to Witch Mountain' last night with the kids. I suppose for the kind of movie it is, it was acceptable. During the trailers, I realized I am really looking forward to seeing 'Up.' Also, judging by the comments of the Panther game last night, I think we made the correct decision to go to the movies, and not use one of the multiple options we had for free tickets. I hope the Panthers wake up out of whatever dream world they are in to maybe play a hockey game tomorrow.

I bought the book 'Under and Alone' in LAX for my flight home. This turned out to be a very good book. I tend to like the true life tales, especially when they are well written, much like 'Into Thin Air.' The book is about an undercover ATF agent who infiltrates a motorcycle gang, and ends up spending over 2 years under cover with them. The book hooks the reader from the beginning. I would definitely recommend this book for those that like true life stories.

Shane is at the tail end of his extensive ice time weekend. He started on Thursday with his lesson, then he had Mites practice Friday and Saturday. Today is the last Atoms session, then tomorrow he has Mites practice again. Saturday is his first Mites game. We are all looking forward to it. I just hope he doesn't get worn out. Due to the fact that the rink where he is dong Mites is still building their program, there are only a limited number of kids on each team, which means a lot of ice time for all of them.

We got our free 7-day passes for Universal in the mail, so we will probably go there for Shane's Spring Break. We still have to pay for the kids, and hope that a passport is a valid photo id, but, in the end we are saving $200, so that's good. Speaking of Shane's spring break, his homework over the break is to figure out some riddles. I think I have figured out the last two, but if anybody has the answers to any of the others, please feel free.

The riddles are:
  1. What is green and sings?
  2. What do you call a cow on a roller coaster?
  3. What did you use yesterday but made today? (I don't think this has anything to do with a b.m., so let's move on from that answer)
  4. What can go up the chimney down but not down the chimney up?
  5. What is more astounding than a counting horse?
  6. What goes up and down but stays in one place? (Temperature?)
  7. What keys are too big for your pocket? (The Florida Keys?)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Visiting the Left Coast Mouse

After a long day at CAMEX (9:00 - 5:30), I decided to head over to Disneyland. I figured since the park was less than a mile away, I might as well visit, since I didn't have anything better to do on Sunday night. I bought the $48 one park twilight pass, my only other option was the park hopper for $90 and I wasn't sure if I had the time to do both parks, and the only thing I really wanted to ride in California Adventure was 'California Screamin.'

I got inside Disneyland around 5:40 (ok, I was able to leave the trade show a bit early). I was told to try to go to Space Mountain and get a fastpass, since they run out early. When I got there, the line was 60 minutes, and the fastpasses were gone. I decided to come back later. I then went to the Finding Nemo submarine ride. Once again, the wait said 60 minutes. I figured I might as well wait, considering the park was open until 12:00 and I only had a certain number of rides I wanted to try to get on, I would wait. The wait was actually only 40 minutes.

The Finding Nemo ride was better than the one at EPCOT, in the sense it was in a submarine, where EPCOT has it in clamshells that are much like the cars at Haunted Mansion. The ride lasted about 10 minutes or so. The downfall between this one and the one in EPCOT is at the end of the EPCOT one, you actually see real fish where this was Nemo characters and movie like throughout. I think the kids would have really loved this one, and we would probably have to ride it every time we went.

Next, I went to the Matterhorn. I was standing in line and realized that the line or the ride wasn't moving. Nobody could say when the ride would start going again, so once again it was time to move on.

I then walked towards the Indiana Jones ride and saw that once again it was a 70 minute wait, and had no fastpasses available. I moved on to Pirates of the Caribbean. The Pirates in Anaheim started out in the New Orleans bayou. I'm not sure what that had to do with Pirates, but OK, to the right there was the Blue Bayou restaurant, I wondered how cool it would be to eat there, and figured I would check after the ride since it was about 7:30 now. The ride started by going through some skeletons by treasures and things like that. The ride then went down two flumes, instead of one back home. From there, the ride was very similar to the Pirates in Orlando, including Captain Jack, so nothing necessarily different, the ride then went up the belt drive and around by the entrance before getting out and in the hallway that led out with a shop on the right and the Blue Bayou restaurant on the left.

I went to the restaurant and asked how long the wait would be for a table for one. The hostess said she would see if they could accept a walk up then. I was thinking if they do, great, if not, I can very much find something else. She came back and said they could. She took my name and said to wait in the lobby. Within a minute, they called my name, and I was sitting at a table. Now, for what people probably usually go to that restaurant for, which is to see the Pirates ride, I had the worst seat in the house. I was in the back table next to the door and stairs, but I was just enjoying the ambiance. The restaurant itself was pretty cool. The food was nothing to write home about. I had the Chicken Gumbo and the Beef Short Ribs. Once again, if the kids were with me I probably would have researched and reserved the best table in there, since they weren't, it was ok, nothing great, and nothing terrible, but the scenery was really cool.

After dinner, I continued to realize that Southern California nights got very cold, and I had to buy a sweatshirt. I got a gray hoodie with Grumpy on it, I'm sure I will wear it again. From there, I went back to Indiana Jones. The wait was still 60 minutes, but I asked the girl at the front if they had a single rider line. She gave me a piece of paper and told me to go in through the exit. I got in, and probably within 10 minutes I was on the ride. The ride itself is extremely similar to Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom. The Indiana Jones theme is cool, and that in and of itself, probably makes this ride just a bit better. Also, I think the kids would like this a little more because I believe it is a little less scary than Dinosaur.

I then walked back towards the Matterhorn, and people were starting to line up for the fireworks show. I thought that would be great becuase it might mean the lines will start getting a bit shorter. Once again, the line was only a 5-10 minute wait, so I rode the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is very much a kiddie roller coaster. This is tamer than Big Thunder Railroad in Disney World (I did not ride BTR here).

After the Matterhorn, I tried to find Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. After looking and looking, I asked and realized it was closed because it was in the "blast zone" for the fireworks, and would reopen in a little bit. I decided to go back to Space Mountain. The line was still listed as 55 minutes and no single rider. I got in line while the fireworks were going on, and I think I actually waited about 45 - 50 minutes. Most of the line was outside. Once you get to the section where Stand-By and Fastpass meet, there is a long switchbacked hallway that looks like a spaceship. Once you finally get to where the cars are, you walk down, over the track, then down the ramp to get in the car. The car is side by side seats instead of single seats. The cars also have speakers behind your head, much like Rockin' roller coaster. The actual ride is better than Orlando, it starts off where you have the perception of going through a spinning tube, then, the tracks are hidden much better because it is darker where it actually looks like you are in the stars, and can't necessarily see where the track is going next. The music helps the whole ride, and since the music is right by your head, it's even better. There are still no major drops or anything, but overall a better ride. I'm really looking forward to the refurb in Orlando when it is complete.

After Space Mountain, I decided to go to Star Tours, just because there was no wait. The ride was exactly the same as Orlando, so, nothing to see here. From there I went back to Mr. Toad. Mr. Toad was pretty cool, although still very much a kid ride. The ride is just a car going through various rooms and scenes, somewhat similar to every other kid ride (Snow White, Pooh, Peter Pan, etc.)

By now it was about 11:00 so I thought I had done everything I really wanted to and it was time to head back to the hotel. On the way out, I decided to walk through the store just to see if there was one last thing to get the kids. I saw the jewlery section and found something that Brenda and I have been looking for forever. I finally found Belle earrings. I bought them and got Shane a Jedi Academy pin. I texted Brenda with my excitement, and if it weren't 2:00 am back home, I would have called. I'm sure Lizzie will absolutely love them.

All in all, I would say that Disneyland is much more compact than Disneyworld. I have to respect the original, but I still think that Disneyworld is better. With four parks, and more to do and see, I like it more. If I had more time, I would have really concentrated more on everything Disneyland had to offer, but in a way I was rushed. If I come out here again, I will try to bring the kids, but I would not make a specific trip for Disneyland. I was also told for coasters I should go to Magic Mountain or Knots Berry Farm.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Travel, Cars, and Hockey

It's been about a week or so since I've written anything, so I figured now is as good a time as any. I'm heading out to L.A. (actually Anaheim) tomorrow for a couple of days for CAMEX, which is the trade show for College Stores. This is our core market, so it's one of those trade shows we need to be at. Next year it is back in Orlando, so that will make life much easier where we won't have to worry about flying or anything.

Speaking of flying, I am looking forward to the business-class upgrade on the 777 tomorrow. I flew on one of those going to London 2 years ago, and it was really comfortable, I guess since I have to fly in and out of Miami, I can make it worthwhile by flying non-stop on a comfortable plane in business-class.

Shane tried out at the other rink for Mites, and the guy running the program said "no problem" and couldn't understand why Incredible Ice thought he wasn't ready. After he was out there, we signed him up for the program. The real evaluation is tomorrow, but we already talked to Mike S. and he said it would be ok for Shane to go to his regular lesson, and they would be in touch over the weekend to give us the team he will be on and schedule. This is actually more convenient, since Brenda will have to take him to the lesson, then go to Chuck E Cheese afterwards for our nephew's birthday.

Shane and I went to the Ft. Lauderdale Auto Show today. The show is much smaller than the one in Miami, and since we went on the opening day and got there areound 4:00, there was really nobody there. We were able to sit in all of the cars on my list, or at least the ones that were actually there, and Shane graded all of them. Shane at first said he really wanted me to get the BMW 328i because it was the smallest. I told him to think of how his mother likes to have more space, and he changed his mind. He did like the Genesis, and the Nissan Maxima. I thought the Genesis, Acura TL, Infiniti G37 and Lexus ES350 were comfortable, but in the end for what you get for the money, I think I am sold on the Genesis. Once I get closer to the actual buying mode, I will take it for a test drive and make sure Brenda comes with me. I may take some of the others for a test drive as well, just for a point of comparison.

We had Mexican for dinner at this new Mexican restaurant on Clint Moore and 441. The food was good, they changed their menu a little bit, but it was still a good meal.

I'm going to go watch the Panther game and finish packing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Stuff

I continue to realize that I hate not being able to control certain things. I also hate not being able to do anything. Right now, I can only do what I can do and help those involved. I'm not going into more details.

I'm still pissed at my iPod. I thought I had gotten over the issues of the battery dying randomly, but apparently it is still happening. I had it on the charger yesterday, the screen said it was fully charged, then when I got to the gym this morning, it said it had no charge. I then rebooted it when I got to the office, and it had plenty of charge, then when I hooked it up again, it only took about 5 or 10 minutes to be fully charged. I'm sort of thinking I may need to get a new iPod eventually, but I still want to see if I can hold off that expense for a little while.

Lizzie got tested for being placed in the gifted program next year in Kindergarten, which would also put her at the same school as Shane and be convenient for Brenda and I. She had to be in the 90 percentile or higher in either math or reading, and have an IQ of 130+. She was in the (if I remember) 84th in reading and 93rd in math, and she has an IQ of 141. So, she should have no problem getting placed in the gifted program. With this, even though the expense killed us, I am really happy with Kinder Care, and the way they helped with the kids' development and with their VPK program.

I have TSN streaming in the background all day today following the NHL trade deadline day.

My Ford Explorer has had a butt crack for a little while now. I never knew where it came from, but I now found out that it is a design flaw that Ford will do nothing about. I guess I'll just live with it and hope it doesn't affect the trade in value.

That's all I have for now.