Let's see if I still think the title of this post deserves an exclamation mark after I help pick up the troop's cases of cookies. (I may have to do actual physical labor and violate my creed of laziness.)
I'll be leaving to pick them up in a couple of hours but I may take my laptop along in case the trucks are late (as they are every year) and I have to wait. Then I'll help sort out the girls' orders and bring Emma's cookies home.
Emma has a playdate with a friend after school so we won't be delivering her cookie orders until tomorrow. The good news is that it's supposed to be warm tomorrow (high of 69 degrees) the bad news is that we may get some thunderstorms too. I don't care if I have to drive her around to deliver them, even though she didn't have as many orders as last year, we just don't have room for all those cases in our house.
If I keep going the way I have been, in a month's time I'll have almost spent as much as another trip to WDW. Stupid Disney pins.
As I said in an earlier post, I intentionally didn't tell the kids about the trading pins because I didn't want them to get started with them. (So many pins of cute Disney characters! So many pins of favorite rides and attractions!) I should have worried less about them and more about me.
It wasn't too bad while we were still in WDW. We each got a lanyard and a few pins. It was after we got home and I thought I would check the online Disney store to see if they had pins. Bad idea. They were having a sale on them.
Buying a few more couldn't hurt. Some were limited editions! And almost half off the original price! Maybe I was still in the "welcome to WDW, open your wallet" mindset. Maybe I was still sleep-deprived from the trip. Maybe it's George Bush's fault (Why not? Everything else seems to be). Maybe I just have a weakness for shiny things.
Whatever the reason, I bought a few more (10) pins from Disney and then (BIG MISTAKE) checked eBay. It has tens of thousands of listings for pins. If casinos and lotteries have to provide a phone number for gambling addicts to get help, why doesn't eBay have to provide a number for pin addicts? Because whether it's an addiction or an obsession, I'm afraid I've got it. Even if I find the strength (or run out of money in my PayPal account) what happens when we go back to WDW?
They have pin trading events and something like a treasure hunt where you can get a free pin at the end. Plus all those nice shiny pins in every store and kiosk. Then there's all those cast members to trade with (at least that doesn't cost more money).
Even though I may have been a little, um, excessive in the number of pins I've bid on I do get some consolation when I see people bidding over $100 on a pin. At least I haven't reached the point where I'm willing to spend that much on a pin. It was a limited edition mystery pin....
No, no, I won't even think about it. I'm a mature, responsible grown-up person. I can resist. We already have more pins than space on our lanyards. They're just pins (nice, shiny, colorful pins!), and there's a gazillion of them. There is no way to get all of them and almost impossible to get all of any particular theme.
That's it. I'm resolved. When the ten or so auctions that I'm watching have ended I won't look at any more. I may not even bid on the ones I'm watching. Well, maybe a few bids, but that's it. No more. Well, I might still look just to see what's available. But definitely no buying. Well, maybe if the price is really good.
Sarah Bahan, 22, was wistful as she left the meeting. She had kind words to say about Summers' emphasis on hard sciences.
So his questioning of different aptitudes among men and women wasn't part of a master plan to keep all the female students out of hard science programs?
"This is a sort of 'I'm-not-a-feminist-but' generation," said J. Lorand Matory, a professor of anthropology and of African and African American studies. "I don't know if the word is 'conservative' as much as 'careerist.' "
That quotation made my head hurt. Is being a feminist antithetical to being a careerist? Are you a 'careerist' if you want to succeed on your talents rather than on filling some quotia? Or is that 'conservative'?
I bet I would understand the nuance here if I had gone to Harvard.
To Matory, the African American studies professor, it was no surprise that students were not calling to oust Summers. Students rarely have occasion to interact with a university president, he said, and tend not to follow internal faculty politics.
"If anything," Matory said, "the vast number of students don't care."
Students are there for an education, not to get involved with disputes between the faculty and the president.
Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean of Harvard College who left under pressure from Summers, said campus politics here had been shifting for decades, as more students from less affluent backgrounds enrolled.
A more diverse group, they are also "eager to prosper and less willing to take risks by rebelling," Lewis said. His upcoming book, "Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education," traces what he considers to be the decline in the quality of education at Harvard. It's left them far more likely to support the power structure, he said.
"The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty," he said. "That's what's happened."
If only Harvard had limited enrollment to the affluent and not let in those "other people".
The quotations from the faculty (or former faculty) and the ones from the students sound as though they are talking about two different people. The students are pleased because Summers put their interests first. The faculty is displeased because he didn't put their wants first.
One of these two groups has forgotten who is paying whom.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was confused by an interview for "The Daily Show". He thought it was going to be a legitimate news interview.
The segment, which aired two weeks ago, also featured Illinois Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, a pharmacist who opposes the governor's order to pharmacies. Stephens has said he knew the show was a comedy.
"I thought the governor was hip enough that he would have known that, too," Stephens said.
I was able to check our bags and get our boarding passes at the hotel. (And found out that one of the nice young men working there has a grandmother who lives in the same neighborhood in which I grew up.) Checking the bags was a good thing. I had already discovered on the trip down that my laptop, which seems light enough when I carry it around home, feels as though it doubles in weight when I have to carry it through airports, so I didn't want to be carrying my suitcase also.
We arrived in plenty of time, dropped off the rental car, and went through security with no delays. Our flight to Orlando had been straight through but we had a stop in Atlanta on the way home. Everything was fine until we got to Atlanta. First our flight was delayed because of mechanical problems. Then we had to go to another concourse so we could take a different plane. The people at the gate told us that it would still be delayed and that they would keep us updated. The airline employees at the gate told us that the delay was now due to having to wait for the crew. That was the last they said about it until the plane was ready for boarding almost two hours after the scheduled time for our flight.
As soon as we (finally!!) boarded, the flight crew told us that the delay hadn't been caused by them regardless of what the people at the gate had told us. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to take that information, go back in to the gate and accuse them of lying to us? (A better choice might be just to avoid any flights to/from Atlanta in the future.) As far as I was concerned, the cause of the delay was the problems with the first plane and all I cared about at that point was getting home safely.
Even with delays, it's still better than a long car trip. If we drove, I would be too tempted to pull over at the first "are we there yet?" and tell the kids sure, we're here, now get out. It's not like I would abandon them just anywhere. I expect them to be asking if we're there by the time we reach the entrance to our subdivision.
We arrived home (obviously, since I've posted since then) and spent the rest of the day resting (one of us spent more than one day recovering and is now thinking a nap right now isn't such a bad idea). The weather here was cold and icy. It's warmed up some since then but the predicted high temperature today (55 degrees) isn't even as high as the low for today in Orlando (61 degrees). I'm ready to go back to Florida. I would be happy to move there but my husband says he likes living someplace that has seasons. For some reason, telling him that Florida has seasons - hurricane season and repair season - doesn't help persuade him any. Go figure. He says it's the hurricanes he wants to avoid but I think it's really the possibility of having to do repair work.
In many ways this was the best day of our trip. We went back to EPCOT for some of the best rides and attractions that (I think) WDW has to offer. The daytime temperature got up to around 80 degrees (finally, my kind of weather!). And last, but certainly not least, I finally was able to drive to the park and back to the hotel without getting lost on the way.
I would be wiling to have an RFID chip implanted in my body if there were signs that would give me personalized messages - Mary Beth, take the next exit! No worries, Mary Beth, you're on the right road. Hey, MB, you missed your turn!Sure GPS might be cheaper and easier but does it give me the chance to see my name in lights?
While at EPCOT, we rode Soarin' (twice). We used FastPass both times. We would have ridden again but by the time our second ride was over the FastPass time about 7:00 that evening and I wasn't sure we would be there that long. I wanted to ride Soarin' as soon as I read about it before leaving home. The kids weren't too sure about it at first but enjoyed it so much that it was their idea to ride again.
We were among the first group in to see Turtle Talk with Crush that day. Conor and Emma both had questions they wanted to ask but Crush and the cast member with the microphone only seemed to be picking younger children to ask questions. I can understand why they might do this, young kids are more liekly to ask funny questions and ones that don't require 100+ frame-by-frame viewings of Finding Nemo to answer.
We tried several Coca-Cola produced soft drinks from around the world at Club Cool. Kinley Lemon from Israel was pretty good. I didn't try Beverly from Italy but the kids did. They don't recommend it. (I think the exact quotation is, "Oh, yuck!")
While waiting for our second Soarin' ride we had lunch at the Garden Grill in The Land. The food there was very good (and all you can eat, including dessert). We also got to meet some more characters including Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale.
In the afternoon we visited the World Showcase in EPCCOT and did some shopping. After that we went back to Downtown Disney for a bit and then back to the hotel for some swimming. (Kids only this time, it was early evening and the temperature was cooling down too much for me.) We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside so we also had access to the Port Orleans French Quarter pool and the kids wanted to visit it. We took the boat over because, really, the only thing more pleasant than a cool evening swim is the same followed by a chilly boat ride back to the hotel. I was wearing a jacket and still felt cold. It didn't seem to bother Conor and Emma much. Sometimes I wonder if they weren't switched at birth and some cold weather-loving mother is wondering why her children get chilled when the temperature drops below the mid-70s.
This was also the day that the kids discovered Disney pins. I, of course, abstained from all that. (Ignore the clanking of my lanyard and don't check my eBay bids since I've been home.) I didn't tell them about pin collecting and hoped we could make the trip without them discovering it on their own. No such luck. I guess I should be glad that they didn't discover the pins on the first day since they found at least one that they "just have to have" at almost every store and kiosk we visited.
You can see a couple of pictures of the kids with some characters we met at lunch and some from the Lego store in Downtown Disney here.
On Thursday we went to the Magic Kingdom. Some pictures from that day are here.
We picked this day to visit the Magic Kingdom because it was the day that Trevor's band was to perform.
Before I go on, a little back story here: Trevor had lost his cell phone and I had hurried to have it replaced (thank goodness I had the insurance on it) before we left so that he would be able to call me and let me know when they arrived and what time the band was marching. We had also discussed meeting up sometime for lunch.
I hadn't heard from him on Wednesday, the day they were supposed to arrive. I left him a couple of voicemails but still hadn't heard from him. He finally answered the phone on Thursday. I asked where they were staying. The information from the school only said "All Star Resort". (All Star Music, All Star Movie, or All Star Sports?) I assumed the Music one was the most likely for a band trip, but still wanted some confirmation. He didn't know. He didn't know what time they were marching. They were getting ready to get on a ride and he cut the call short saying he would call me later. I didn't hear from him again until the bus was almost back in town.
Even though Trevor didn't tell us when they were marching, we still figured out the time and place to be to see the band. (He is still learning how unwise it is to not call his momma when he should. I forgive much faster than I forget.*)
*If and when Alzheimer's sets in and not a minute before.
We spent the earlier part of the day riding rides and meeting some Disney characters. The first ride we went on was Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. I remember our scores but am not going to post them. There are limits on how much I'm willing to embarass myself here. Let's just say that Conor and Emma both pwned me.
We also rode Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of my favorites. We rode several other rides, not including Splash Mountain, another one of my favorites because the kids don't like the "big drop" at the end. To me, that's the only good part of the ride. Without that, it might as well be It's a Small World (only with less annoying music). And, yes, we did ride the Small World ride too. (I have two excuses for that, pick your favorite: 1. I think riding it is a requirement for all Disney visitors. 2. It was in the evening after we had returned from a rest break where I had, again, been exposed to the perky lady and I wasn't in my right mind...or perhaps, less rational than normal would be more accurate.)
After the band performance and the SpectroMagic parade we rode a couple more rides and then watched the fireworks. The fireworks show was very good but don't watch it from the park if you like to have your personal space extend more than 3" from your body. After it ends, everyone is trying to leave the park at the same time and it gets
oppressively close very snug.
On Wednesday we went to Animal Kingdom. We rode the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride twice. Some of the pictures I took are here. We didn't do much else there, the kids kept wanting to go back to the hotel and go swimming. We could have stayed home and gone to the YMCA for that.
After swimming for a while we went to the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge for a late lunch. I had their pork barbecue sandwich which was very good. The kids enjoyed the "bottomless" milkshakes.
In the evening we rode the Sassagoula Steamboat Company boat from the hotel to Downtown Disney. The kids bought some candy from one store and lots of Legos from the Lego store. (Buy Danish!)
Inside and outside the Lego store are several Lego sculptures. I took pictures of them on another visit to Downtown Disney and will post some of them later.
One section of the Lego store has bins of various types of Legos - small to large, a variety of colors, and lots of the little extra pieces like wheels, windows, car seats, flowers, leaves, and even picket fences. You can select the ones you want and put them in a container (a small container is about $7 and a larger one is about $13). Conor and Emma each bought a container of Legos and after our boat ride back to the hotel spent some time building, um, something.
We also watched the perky lady talk about Disney some more. I read a book and tried to ignore it.
Trevor, my oldest son, is in his school's marching band. They were traveling to Walt Disney World to march before the parade in the Magic Kingdom. I decided to take Conor and Emma (my husband had to work so he couldn't go) to see the band march and spend a few days at Disney World.
We left home on Valentine's Day and the flight down to Orlando was (thankfully) uneventful. Our plane was small, one seat one one side and two on the other. This way Conor had a seat by himself and Emma and I sat together. If only I could have kept them separated like that throughout the whole trip!
I'm an only child so this whole brother and sister thing is strange to me but you would think that by now (Conor is 12 and Emma is 9, Trevor who was traveling with the marching band is 17) I would be used to how they can be getting along like best friends one minute and acting as though World War III just broke out the next.
It was late afternoon by the time we had rented a car and got settled in the hotel. We decided to go to EPCOT because it had some new attractions that I wanted to see. I was hoping the lines wouldn't be too long at that time of day, but no luck there. We still got to play a video game and send an email postcard (with a photo that I find embarassing but I'm posting it anyway in the extended entry) from Innoventions. We also visited The Living Seas and looked at the (huge) aquarium there.
After that we went back to the hotel for dinner at Boatwrights, played some games in the arcade, did some shopping in the store and went back to our room. We spent the rest of the evening watching TV. The kids picked the channel we watched - a show about the attractions at Disney World. It was interesting the first time... but they watched it over and over again throughout our time there. It featured a very perky woman. I still haven't recovered from the exposure to so much perkiness.
IBM added the message to the postcard. We don't have any fish to feed. With three cats any fish we might get probably wouldn't last long no matter how secure the aquarium was.
We had a great time in Disney World. We went on safari in Animal Kingdom, rode Soarin' (twice), talked with Crush, met several Disney characters, rode some other rides, saw several attractions and walked (and walked, and walked....).
As busy as we were there, the trip home was even more tiring. Our flight home was delayed. If I had been by myself this would have just been annoying, with two kids it was exhausting.
We came home to a light dusting of snow and temperatures below freezing. I shouldn't have complained about evening temperatures in the 50s in Orlando. That now seems almost balmy by comparison.
I'll post more pictures, more comments, and less complaining later. Right now, I'm just...
Tomorrow the kids and I will be leaving for Walt Disney World. I want to thank VW Bug for being kind enough to answer my questions when I was trying to decide which hotel to make reservations for and for her post about Turtle Talk with Crush. That attraction has now been added to our "must see" list.)
I've been watching the weather in Orlando so I would have an idea of what type of clothes to pack. All through January it looked wonderful. It looked just as good at the beginning of February but recently I've been seeing "Severe alert!" due to freeze warnings.
Now, if there is one unifying theme to all of my vacations it's that whenever I get to where I'm going, the one comment I hear the most is, "This is really unusual weather we're having." I would like to believe that it's just a freaky coincidence that my vacations always coincide with the coldest/wetest/whatever weather that is the most unusual for the season and location. Logically, I know that my being there doesn't change the weather but I'm half tempted to visit Death Valley in the middle of summer just to see if it will rain for a week straight.
The good news is that the weather is supposed to warm up in Orlando with highs in the 70s and the lows only in the 50s. I am hopeful right now but given my track record, I won't be surprised if the forecast is suddenly revised around mid-afternoon tomorrow.
The NYT's Public Editor's Web Journal has a post about the reasons the paper won't publish the political cartoons.
“On the one hand, we have abundant evidence that a significant number of people -- some of them our readers -- consider these cartoons deeply offensive and inflammatory.”
If they are concerned about "offensive" content, it's time to stop the presses, turn off the lights, lock the doors, and go home. What could a newspaper publish with complete confidence that it wouldn't offend someone?
“On the other hand,” he continued, “we feel we can quite adequately convey the nature of the cartoons by describing them.”
I haven't read or listened to every news piece about the cartoons but the ones that I have read/heard have described only one or two of them. The cartoon that I think represents these events the best - the cartoonist looking over his shoulder while he draws Muhammed - is one that I haven't heard described in the MSM news stories.
Mr. Keller said some editors proposed publishing “a photograph that shows the front page of one of the European papers on which the cartoon was prominently displayed.” Others, he said, “argued that publishing it in context -- as information readers would find useful in forming their own opinions about the indignant reaction from many Muslims -- was the right thing to do journalistically.”
"Publishing it in context". Isn't that how this all began? The original cartoons were published to accompany an article on self-censorship and freedom of speech. (And isn't "indignant reaction" a bit of an understatement?)
(Link via Petrelis Files)
You have to register access. When you register you get this message - A confirmation email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You must open that email and click the link to confirm your address! Remember to check your bulk or spam folder.
The mention of "spam" is not encouraging but the email came to my regular inbox. After you click the link to confirm your email, you may begin adding events to your calendar. You can add buddies to share all or part of your calendar. If you have an event and want to send out email invitations, you can do it from the site and if the other person/people are using 30boxes the event will show up on their calendar.
You can tell it to repeat events weekly, monthly, or yearly; tag events (work, personal, family...); and generate Google maps or hyperlinks for events.
Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users.
My high school German was a long time ago and, even then, not very good but the text the SE sees doesn't seem very spammy (Mercedes-Benz was worse.) I do see a difference between a description of what the site offers and text that is little more than a list of keywords but sometimes the line between the two can get a little fuzzy. I also know that even if the text looked okay today, it could change tomorrow. Because of this, it is simpler to ban all hidden text than to try to make judgement calls on a case-by-case basis.
You can watch the ads on iflim.com.
My favorites were:
"Budweiser: Clydesdale American Dream" - I don't like all of Anheuser-Busch commercials but I think that their Budweiser ones with the Clydesdales are consistently among the best. (My favorite of all the Clydesdale commercials - "Budweiser: Clydesdale Donkey" - can be seen here.) The "Budweiser Dalmation Reunion" from 1999 was good too.
"Sprint: Locker Room" - I thought the "crime deterrent" was funny. I probably won't feel the same after I've seen it a few hundred more times.
"I'm Going to Disney World Practice" - (I don't see a link to watch this one.) Because I am going to Disney World! If I weren't leaving for Orlando in just over a week I might not have liked it as much.
Most of the commercials were neither good nor bad enough for me to remember well. Considering the cost of these ads, I hope those companies did better with their target demographics than they did with me.
I didn't like the GoDaddy.com commercial. I use them for domain registration because I like their prices and speed of service but if I didn't know what they did, their commercials wouldn't tell me much (or might make me think the "more" they have on their site is completely different from what is really there.) Referring to a two-year-old "wardrobe malfunction" isn't edgy, it's dumb. If you're going to go with stupid over substance then have a scantily-clad man for the female Webmasters this year. I probably wouldn't have liked it any better but would have appreciated the acknowledgment that not all site owners are males stuck in perpetual adolescence.
I applaude Dove for using more "regular-looking" women in their print ads but their commercial about their Self-Esteem Fund just made me go "huh?". I know that they make beauty products but I didn't like the focus of self-esteem being based on physical looks. A campaign to show a "wider definition of beauty" still implies that there are plenty of people with a more rigid definition. On the plus side, their site does suggest donating to the Girl Scouts which, I believe, does a better job of promoting good self-esteem by teaching a variety of skills and values.
None of them convinced me to try a new product (or change brands) but at least they gave me something to blog about this morning.
Last night Emma and I went to see Nanny McPhee. I really enjoyed it. There's something about someone coming in and making unruly children behave that appeals to me.
Today is my oldest son's 17th birthday. He seems to think that means it's his special day. I think it should be mine. I told him to strap a watermelon around his waist for a few months and then tell me who deserves special treatment. I know a watermelon doesn't exactly simulate what it's like to be pregnant but it's close enough. I would probably still have to sneak up and punch him in the kidneys once in a while to add to the experience.
Tonight we've been watching the Commercial Bowl XL. It made me start thinking - if you had a competition with a team of sports announcers and a team of U.S. Senators to see who could talk the longest without really saying anything, who would win?
Some printable paper rulers because you can never find one when you need one.
Now, if only someone can figure out how to make a printable flashlight*, I'll be all set. (I can never find one of those when I need it either.)
*Other than grabing a sheet of paper and a match.**
**It would be funnier if I spoke British English and called flashlights "torches".***
***It's still not that funny.****
****At least I amuse myself. There are worse ways to do that than my feeble attempts at humor.
First there was the "news" that Britney Spears would guest star on Will & Grace.
The pop star will appear as a Christian conservative sidekick to Sean Hayes' character, Jack, who hosts his own talk show. Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called Cruci-fixin's.
The American Family Association was not pleased. I don't know if their complaints mattered much to NBC, I doubt that the AFA and like-minded people are the show's target audience but NBC is now saying, "The reference to "Cruci-fxins" will not be in the show and the storyline will not contain a Christian characterization at all."
Am I cynical to think that this was just an attempt to get attention for a show that long ago lost whatever humor it once had?
I was reading a CNN article about Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young, both of whom were removed from the SOTU gallery. It seemed like a typical news article until I read this line that made me wonder if the reporter is trying to get a gig as a joke writer - Sheehan, on the other hand, was thrust into the spotlight after her 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in April 2004.
If by "thrust" you mean "jumped into", then sure, she was thrust into the spotlight.
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Yesterday evening just before the State of the Union Address, Cindy Sheehan was removed from the gallery for wearing a protest t-shirt. Truthout has Cindy Sheehan's version of her arrest.
She begins by telling us how busy she was that day and how she hadn't really planned on attending. It sounds as if her wearing the t-shirt was just a matter of a lack of time for preparation.
I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up.
Who knew that t-shirts weren't appropriate attire? I mean, everytime I see the Senate on C-SPAN they're all, um, well they're all in business attire...but this is different, it's a special occasion. Removing the shirt at that point would not have been wise. There are some things that even Senators don't deserve to be exposed to.
But then she says, I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there, and I thought every once in awhile they would show me, and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable, that I would be arrested ... maybe I would have, but I didn't.
So it really wasn't a lack of time because her decision to attend was a last minute thing. She wanted to be seen on TV wearing that shirt but played her hand too early.
Update: The wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, told a newspaper that she was ejected during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt that says, "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom."
While I prefer her message to that of Sheehan's (2245 Dead), I still believe that this was not the appropriate time or place for wearing a t-shirt of any kind. For those that think we shouldn't concern ourselves with rules of etiquette, sloganeering and protesting in the Capitol is also against the law.