Today I received my first speeding ticket. I was going 66kph; Photo radar from when I was just starting a drive to Calgary.
It was on Gateway Boulevard just south of 76th Avenue; Where the road, that should be a major artery through town, decides to slow down to 50kph.
I recall thinking, back then, I was going a bit fast and then slowing down. Or that could be just wishful thinking.
Ironically, I then proceeded to get onto the highway and do some real speeding. Way over the speed limit. In my defense, I was following another car that was going faster. And I couldn’t just let them get away.
Whoever they are.
But in the end, I totally deserve it. My car is nearly at 60,000km after eight years, and I am surprised this is the first time I’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket.
It doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
Has this affected how I drive? I don’t know. I’ll need to get
Or is it the other way around?…
I have returned from Calgary.
I was hoping to say that the most interesting thing that happened on the way back was that I learned that dancing to the Macarena while driving is a bad idea. Well, a poor idea. It is still fun.
More traumatic though was the discovery that the bone-dry pavement had actually become quite slippery half an hour outside of Edmonton. Traffic was slowing up ahead so I started braking. That’s when I learned there was no traction. Luckily I had left enough room between me and the car ahead. No accident.
Others weren’t so lucky and there was blocked traffic outside of Leduc. I tried going into Leduc to get around it, but I will also chalk that up as a bad idea.
My parents live near the Kananaskis. It is nice to walk there. But it is nicer if the place is not crowded with other people. On days off, such as weekends or national holidays, the park will be filled with other families. Unfortunately those are the days when I am most likely to be spending time with the family.
Except for Christmas morning. Then the place is awesome. All the uncivilized people who open their presents this morning (pagans!) are busy and will not be in the park. We, who know the true meaning of the holiday, have our special time on Christmas eve. For us there is no real reason not to go to the park in the morning. It’s just like any other day.
You can be one with nature. And then steal rocks to use for navigational markers.
I think I’ve figured out what I want to do with my program.
The problem I am faced with right now is deciding where my priorities lie. Specifically, why am I writing this application? Part of it is for fun. Another part is to create something that I can show off to other people and be something of a resumé for myself.
The current issue, that is making me ponder rewriting it, is that things will become easier if I write more of it in Objective-C. The problem is that Objective-C only works on the Mac. If I want to make a Windows version, which would look better for me if I am seeking a new job, I should keep as much of it as C++ as possible.
Objective-C is faster to write for, and in some ways more fun.
However I think I’ve figured things out that will keep it as a combination of the two. Neatly avoiding any big decision.
Now I’m off to enjoy Christmas eve. I hope you are too.
I am looking at my application. The one I’ve been working on in my free time. Free time which is a precious commodity. I haven’t been making fast progress on it. Every time I put it away it takes me awhile to actually remember what I was doing and get to a place where I can actually be productive with it.
A co-worker came up with a good analogy. You start a project in your garage, and get all the pieces and tools laid out and ready to be used. Then another project comes in that is a higher priority, which means you have to sweep everything away and finish this other thing. Then when you come back you have to go “What was I doing?” By the time you’ve gotten the tools and pieces back into place, another high priority project comes up.
That analogy is more useful to work projects. For my personal program, life is the thing that comes up and wrecks progress. Taking long vacation doesn’t help.
There is a feature that I’ve been wanting to implement for years. I’ve been trying to figure out an algorithm that would let me do it efficiently. I finally figured one out and I’ve been trying to get around to developing it.
I have some time now; I’m at my parent’s place and letting them spoil me. Free time is a resource I have again! But as I am looking at the code, another programmer trap is coming to haunt me. The idea that I may need to re-architect the program to implement the new finish.
That way lies madness.
But it’s so shiny…
Today was a wonderfully lazy day. The most productive thing I’ve done is to collect the family dog from the kennel we stored him at. He seems to have gone a little hoarse from all the barking he is expected to do at a kennel. He wouldn’t want to be the odd dog that didn’t bark at everything.
But today, I got to sit around and read an entire book by one of my favorite authors.
Unfortunately I also found out he has Alzheimer’s.
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh.
One thing about being in America is that the Department of Homeland Security actually does have the color coded alerts. While wandering through the airport I was informed that we are at an orange level. Whatever that means.
The airport in Orlando has free Wi-Fi. I could have posted blog entries, but I want to go through them and see if I can improve the links. That would require more browsing than I am willing to give in an airport.
So far the flights haven’t been too bad. I slept a bit on the Orlando-Dallas leg. I grabbed some alcohol from the duty-free in Dallas. It is outside of my specialty alcohol on vacation program, but it is cheaper and I need to start stocking a liquor cabinet with more than just rum.
They may have had free Wi-Fi in Dallas, but I didn’t have enough time to check.
The souvenirs didn’t go that well at Epcot. It is apparently not a character park, so there was no villain towel and no chest o’ dice. I did get the goofy (not Goofy) hat though. So I do have one thing to remember Orlando with.
The first thing to do in Epcot is to get a FastPass for “Soarin'” so that we can come back later and not have to wait in line. For our first time we couldn’t show up for an hour and a half. This was the most popular ride at the park, so it is the one you want to skip the line for. The second time we used a FastPass for it, the normal wait time was 90 minutes, and the FastPass was for four hours.
The first ride we actually rode, was the Mission: SPACE. This was my favorite attraction. You pretend to be taking a spaceship to Mars. To simulate the acceleration forces, you’re in a centrifuge. That was an interesting experience. We did this ride twice, but the first time it was dizzying.
The next ride was the Test Track. This was disappointing. It had all the hallmarks of a roller coaster, except none of the fun. Sit in a car and do a few tests on it; Braking, anit-lock braking, heat, cold, acid. Then they put you on the speed course, which just goes around in a long circle. Nice to do once, but no need to repeat.
We checked out The Seas with Nemo & Friends which was a bit of a dud. But, it led to the aquarium which was a lot more interesting. We saw Manatees! And I can totally believe that they are related to elephants. In another part a manta ray came right up against the glass and you could see its mouth. It looked like it was smiling.
By now Soarin’ was available. It was a basically an IMAX film with the viewers suspended in chairs that gently moved around. In theory you were hang-gliding over California. It was nice, but I think the only reason we did it twice was that it was popular. I liked “Mission: SPACE” better.
We next did Living with the Land which was basically a boat trip about the environment. The highlight was going through a greenhouse with a lot of plants that have been created. I saw a tomato tree!
After that we went through the eleven country exhibits. I’m glad we did Canada first because it was exhausting going through all of them. And Canada had a good video with Martin Short telling how great the country is.
We ate lunch in Morocco, and rode the Maelstrom in Norway. Those were the things we actually seemed to stop for. That and a Japanese presentation of candy art. She was good, working in the medium of gooey candy, and I liked her creation of a swan with open feathered wings, but she was impossible to understand.
The Norwegian girls were cute.
After the countries we repeated a few rides. We were about to leave when I saw an exhibit by my company. I felt I have to look into that, but it wasn’t a very good advertisement. The graphics weren’t that good and the controls were not responsive. Mind you, there were places for twenty people, but I would think they would be able to build a mainframe to handle all that.
I have actually spent very little money at the theme parks. Except for a lunch at Disney-MGM, there has been no money spent. I purchased the actual tickets to enter the parks in Canada, because my firm could give me a discount. Here, nothing.
But I should buy some souvenirs. My parents and sister have gone out to go shopping while I’ve been invading Disney with my brother-in-law. I have seen things that I would like. I can probably still get some at the Epcot center tomorrow.
The one thing I really wanted was a tacky Mickey Mouse hat: The beanie with two ears sticking out the sides. But when I tried on the adult size, it was too small for my misshapen head. An Indiana Jones hat that might have been nice was also too small. I don’t think any hats in the one-size-fits-all/-none category here will fit me. Besides, I am not a hat person. The only time I wear a hat is when I am trying to look goofy. But I have seen a hat here, that might stretch, that would fit that look. And no, it is not associated with the Disney character of the same name.
I like villains. They are the coolest people in movies. They are the ones who go out and do things, instead of sitting around moping about unrequited loves. I briefly saw a cool towel that showed all the Disney villains together. Presumably talking about forming a baseball team or something. However, I haven’t seen it at other places. Including at the “Villains in Vogue” store???
A stuffed Stitch did look cute and adorable, but I can’t support too many stuffed critters at my place. I am going to hold steady at a single Gund polar bear.
One things I am probably going to get is a small Pirates of the Caribbean chest. You buy the chest, then fill it with assorted loot of your choice. As long as the lid closes, they don’t care how much is in there. And they have very nice wooden dice. Perfect squares could easily pack the thing mathematically complete. I calculate I could get 72 dice out of the process. At a cost of $0.22 per die. And you know how much gamers like dice…
But let’s face it. I don’t really need more stuff. And I should save my money.
Then again, a vacation is a poor investment strategy.
Today was theme park free. Instead we went to the beach. This was going to be my chance to get some sun. In the theme parks you spend a lot of time in the shade, in lines or in rides. I want my friends to believe I went to Florida, and for that to happen I need a tan.
It was an hour and a half to drive to the beach. In the distance was Cape Canaveral, complete with a space shuttle waiting to be launched. It was far away so it wasn’t that clear to see. But there was definite nose cone and tail-fin. And the garage was huge. We didn’t test it, but security was probably pretty tight. NASA would look really bad if they became the victim of grand theft rocket. Actually, the security seemed to be provided by large ants that were not at all afraid to bite people who wander around in sandals.
The beach was great! The waves were very active and I spent a lot of time playing around in them.
I did start my own sand project on the beach after awhile. It started out as a channel, to see if it would drain water from high waves coming in. It soon became a channel to see if the water could go farther inland. The deeper it was, the further the waves came. Until it was deep enough that it was below the water table and filling naturally. Then it just started becoming a big hole. I tried to go as deep as possible, but that just caused the sides to start collapsing. Sand is a poor construction material. I kept at depth though, putting excess sand around as walls to prevent waves from entering anymore, and it kept getting bigger and bigger.
But as happens to all sand sculptures, (or sand vacuums) they will not survive the tide. Or family wanting to leave. And so we have gone and the hole will probably disappear, if it hasn’t already.
I shaved my beard off today. I have been growing one for the past three weeks to test out facial hair. That and to see if old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time would still recognize me with that and the lack of glasses.
Anyway, during breakfast with the family I excused myself to go to the bathroom, shaved it off, and came back and entered the conversation. It then took them about ten minutes to notice it was gone. My mother just suddenly burst out saying “Your beard’s gone!” The others then clued in.
They claim that it is how they were used to seeing me, so it didn’t look strange.
The entire family went to the Disney-MGM studios theme park. It was less crowded than the last park; I guess Tuesdays are quieter. I think I liked this park better than The Magic Kingdom, there was more interesting non-Disney rides.
Having your parents at a theme park can really change the nature of things. Well, you shouldn’t just run and around and do whatever you want. And they are your parents, you don’t want to diminish yourself in their eyes. They’ll probably tell me that that is impossible, but I find that hard to believe.
I would have really liked to have had my picture taken with Kim Possible, because she was really hot. But with your mother and father watching, it becomes somewhat awkward. Especially when they are tired and want to go home. I was bossy all day (one might say “showing leadership”) so I felt I shouldn’t do that anymore. And since then I’ve done nothing but regret it. Which is silly because I have lots of pictures of me with pretty girls.
The first place we went to was the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. I didn’t really get to see too much of the start because I was able to successfully volunteer to be an extra. Which consisted of me being in a bathrobe pretending to be an Arab shopped in Cairo. Yes, I was closer to the action but you also have to pay attention to the director and follow his instructions. Or risk getting stabbed/blown up.
When they asked where I was from, a third of the audience cheered at Edmonton. A lot of Canadians here apparently.
Next was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It has a bit of a movie to justify why you are plummeting up and down the shaft. I didn’t really follow the reasoning, but it was a fun ride. The second time we went, some time later, we were able to convince my sister to go along as well; She had had some beer to give herself courage. She was still shaking when she got off.
Lunch was somewhat disturbed by a squirrel that begged for food. An animal begging wasn’t disturbing. It was a disturbing looking squirrel. It had only had soft food its entire life so its teeth had gotten too long. It couldn’t close its mouth and was probably in pain. A creepy thing you don’t want to have in your field of vision while eating.
Star Tours was next, the Star Wars ride. Sit in a box that shifts around to make you feel like you are dodging around a large space battle. Something to do once, but not a lot of reason to repeat. My biggest problem was that it seemed that they hadn’t paid attention to the Star Wars movies. We were in a battle against the Death Star around the forest moon of Endor. We saw the completed Death Star blown up by an X-wing putting two torpedos down an exhaust shaft. That’s just wrong.
The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith was a fantastic ride. It was indoors so, like Space Mountain, you couldn’t always know where you were going. Plus you got to go upside down. The scariest part was the 0-60 in two seconds at the start. After that, it was just fun.
Don’t go to Journey Into Narnia: Creating the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It is basically a trailer for the movie and a bit of an ad for Prince Caspian. You do get to stand in a very air conditioned fake winter forest while watching, so if it is hot outside…
The Great Movie Ride was just watching robot actors re-enact scenes from movies. I enjoyed watching it, but I highly recommend you sit in the front of the car system.
Muppet*Vision 3-D was great! The Muppets still have it. I just wish they hadn’t added in the stupid computer generated character. He was annoying and didn’t add anything to the process, except to be more 3-D and in your face.
The Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour needed volunteers again. Woot! This involved a recreation of a WWII battle. They did warn us we would get wet, and they delivered. 800 – 1000 gallons of water were slammed into my engine room. They also typecast us very well. I was the mechanic, my sister was the captain, and my father was the comic relief. The video they made of our acting wasn’t that great to see, but I get to say I did it. Unfortunately it is impossible to get copies of the movie. I didn’t even get to see it, and only watched the next group’s.
We skipped out of the rest of the tour, and pretty much headed home, passing Kim Possible on the way.
Today I went to the happiest place on Earth with my new brother-in-law. Many rides were ridden. And I have come to realize three things.
First, this place has a serious fetish with princesses. They litter the place. Little girls everywhere are dressed up like their favorite princess. And if that is Jasmine, it looks really creepy. A friend told me to kiss a princess, so I did spend time waiting in line to meet the aforementioned Princess Jasmine. It was clear she totally wanted me, but she gave off some weak line that she was married, and the husband (who looks gay) was standing right there. I did get a picture though.
Second, Florida wishes it has snow. They have a Christmas store which shows various characters in snow. For the holidays they have covered Cinderella’s palace with those annoying fake icicle lights. They do pull it off and make it look nice though.
Third, this place is for children. I should understand that better. They do make a few concession to adults, but a lot of the rides were more visual than anything else; Ride the cart through and watch robots do their thing. Cute, but boring after awhile. I need more thrills. And thrills are not to be had when the safety of small children is incredibly important.
When we first arrived we didn’t have a plan. We went to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride first because it was one we both recognized. It was a little disappointing because it was a signature ride that had become legendary. This was a mostly visual piece. There were a lot of the characters from the movie forced in too. I remember hearing that in the past, the pirates were chasing women around the town. That scene had been deemed offensive and so it was removed. I think they have replaced it with scenes of women chasing the pirates off with brooms. Not nearly as satisfying.
We next tried going on Thunder Mountain. We waited in line for twenty minutes before the ride broke and they ushered everyone else out. At least we weren’t one of the poor people stuck in a coaster mid-hill.
So we went to Splash Mountain. This was also a visual ride. We watched robots act like characters from the never-to-be-seen-again movie Song of the South. But the highlight was of course the five story drop into a pool. That was cool! And I liked how they make it look worse than it is by having jets of water shoot high out when you splash down. They are conveniently timed to have the jets spray water on a passing boat. But unfortunately, the ride took too long to get to that point.
The Haunted Mansion was next. A visual ride again. It was very well done though, and I like it better than many of the other visual rides. Nothing thrilling about it.
Then we went to Stitch’s Great Escape. I wanted to do this attraction because it looked like the evolution of a previous one called “Alien Encounter”. My friend,
This was not that ride.
Instead of a horrifying alien loose in a scientific institute, we had Stitch looking cute and adorable. He pulled a few of the scenes from the previous ride, but because it was a cute cartoon character we recognized, the children didn’t pee their pants.
The Tomorrowland Indy Speedway had such great potential. Except that they totally misused the word “speed”. I could walk faster than those cars. The cars did need a bit of steering, but because they were on tracks you didn’t have much choice where you were steering. There was no cutting off of other racers. I have more fun driving an actual car. It was weird having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the vehicle. Gas pedal with the left foot?
Then back to Thunder Mountain for a successful ride. It was a good roller-coaster. No visuals to slow things down. Right to the action. Best ride of the trip.
At least it was until we wandered over to Space Mountain. That was one of the best rides I’ve ever been on. It was a roller-coaster but in complete darkness, so you were never sure which direction you would accelerate to next. We were shaking when we came out. Which didn’t stop us from going again later. We thought it would be easier the second time, but it actually felt worse. Were the tracks different between them? I don’t know, but this was great. Go do it.
We were winding down by this point, so we started wandering. That took us into another Roller-coaster, Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm. It was good, but it lasted only a minute, and after waiting in line for twenty minutes, it didn’t feel worth it. Interestingly this one has a warning that “Expectant mothers should not ride.” But Space Mountain is fine?
Continuing the wind down we tried the Riverboat as it made a tour of the lake. I can’t say much about this. It was relaxing, but it needs more seats.
We watched a few shows that were being performed at Cinderella’s palace. The main characters can really move when they are on stage. Even lip-sync. But I did feel that Minnie was coming between Mickey and his friends. She was always there, demanding his attention. Meanwhile Donald and Goofy were being stringed along by Mickey. They didn’t even get to bring their girlfriends to the parties and were stuck being sidekicks.
Now don’t get me wrong. I had a great time today. I just have an easier remembering and describing things I disliked than to properly give credit to the great parts. If I did have life to live over, I would have brought the time schedule. It would have helped in planning better.
I wanted to give it a second chance. But no.
The orange juice in Florida continues to be the worst in the world.
And it is nice to change into appropriate clothes. I feel human again.
But my sister is here now. So off I go.
The luggage has arrived.
We gave up on the airlines. We went back to the airport, went to American Airlines baggage claim, saw the luggage, grabbed it, and made a break for it.
With their approval of course.
I really should contact United to let them know we got them. But they did seem a little incompetent.
We’ll probably be leaving this hotel soon, so I don’t know if I will have internet access for some time.
I was really looking forward to this vacation as one I didn’t have to worry about. Someone else was doing all the planning. I could literally take a vacation from vacation planning.
This is a good thing.
The baggage issue isn’t helping. It is the middle of the night and I’m on the phone tracking luggage down. The initial flight was supposed to be American Airlines, but we got bumped to United. United, via their website, says that “Unfortunately, your baggage has not been located. However, we do have it on priority trace. We apologize for any inconvenience we may be causing you. Please check back with us in a few hours for any updated information.” I just waded through the American Airlines telephone hell and they finally told me that the bags are in Orlando for the past eight hours waiting to be picked up.
Left hand really doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
Hopefully we can get this sorted in the morning when people will be awake and helpful.
Bags haven’t shown up. The phone number for checking up on them is entirely run by a computer. A smart computer with good voice recognition, but not a very comforting one.
The first flight to Denver was roomy, but also strange. We were in a row with no windows. It was like they were putting windows in regularly and then decided to entirely skip row six. We could kind of see out of the window ahead and behind, but the kid in the row in front of us had her’s shut most of the time. I did get some sleep in.
The next flight had a movie. Ratatouille. I liked it.
But of course, when we arrived at the airport, our luggage hadn’t. That is the kind of thing I expect to happen when going to Jamaica, not Orlando. It has happened before to me, so when I go to Jamaica I always bring a few essentials as carry-on. But why would I need to do that when gong to the States? Stupid.
Anyway, the airport claims they will send the luggage to our hotel tonight. It SHOULD arrive on a delayed version of the original flight plan. Luckily, the hotel has free wi-fi. Or at least someone in the area does.
The flight was delayed. The plane had no power and they seemed to have trouble finding a mechanic. It is presently boarding, but we won’t be on it. Our (previous) two hour layover in Dallas isn’t enough time now, so we are being rerouted to a different flight that is now going through Denver. Which won’t leave for another half an hour.
Getting up at 3:30 looks like it has been a big waste of time.
Ah, the departure lounge. An hour and a half before the flight leaves. So of course I’m bored and will update my journal.
I’m at the Calgary airport, not Edmonton. I drove down yesterday, met the family, and together we will fly to Orlando. Customs and security wasn’t bad. Although American security is a bit more anal-retentive than what I’m used to. Because we left so early, there weren’t crowds. But it still would have been nice to sleep in a bit more. 3:30 is far too early an hour to expect someone to be functional.
On the way to Calgary I discovered that it is almost exactly a two hour drive between the two airports. It probably takes about half an hour to fly between them. So with this new knowledge, I realize that if I ever have a flight with an hour and a half connection in Calgary, it is more worth my time to just drive there instead. Saves money, if not time.
Of course I would have to come back the same way.
I remember in 2000 having an overnight layover (with hotel) in Calgary on the way to the Turks and Caicos. I feel like a fool now.
Edmonton has free wi-fi too. Calgary does not.
The gingerbread went well. I didn’t make anything myself, because the other plans being wrought seemed good on their own. Besides, I had my chance to design last year. I did content myself to help others with their creations. The gingerbread cathedral was very nice. The trojan horse was a delightful change from the ordinary. There was the standard retarded beaver design as well. We all made fun of the guy who came with the pre-made unassembled gingerbread house from Superstore.
But like a typical guy he didn’t read the directions.
All of our works at this annual event seem to take a grisly tone. Last year gummi bears were dying all around the houses. This year snowmen seemed to take the brunt of the abuse.
Sordid tales, one and all.
There is a gingerbread house party tonight. Not a house party, in a place made of gingerbread. That would be silly. A party in a condo devoted to the construction of some gingerbread houses.
I had trouble sleeping last night so I googloed gingerbread house templates. You can’t just slap something together, you need a plan. Well, all the plans on the internet are for the same house. A plan so simple that you don’t need to be given it; You can make it on your own. A retarded beaver could make those templates.
I wanted plans for something more than four walls and an angled roof. Last year I templated a castle. (I had to leave before I could see the end product. I think it turned out well.) I want to see some creativity. At the least, there should be those windows with their own roofs (I forget what they’re called.) A porch would be nice. A concave corner on the outside.
I want a challenge!
I feel somewhat upset that the only times I seem to blog these days are after I’ve been running. Is my life so bereft of interest?
I did run inside this time. I have wisely started following my too-cold-to-run-outside policy again. The frostbite on my cheek from Sunday has taught me well.
I have discovered how to enjoy treadmill running. Usually I can only keep it up for twenty minutes before mind-numbing boredom sets in. You don’t want to be bored while running, because then you start to realize that you are running. (Also of note, if you have the treadmill set to 9.0 mph, it blows a fuse. So forget about that ending sprint.)
There is a regular podcast magazine, called EscapePod that gives me short science-fiction stories to listen to. (Go check it out.) This is a distraction that seems able to keep my interest for at least twenty minutes, frequently longer. Thankfully I am quite behind in listening, so I have lots to listen to. If I ever catch up totally, I’m going to be in trouble.
The story I just listened to was Niels Bohr and the Sleeping Dane. What made this most interesting was that it was set in Denmark, specifically Elsinor castle. I was just there! Woot!
I’m thinking at least four weeks is a good amount of time between vacations. I had only three weeks between Europe and Jamaica, and I don’t think that was enough. I felt very stressed over the whole thing. That might have also had to do with Halloween being in there, but let’s not get into that.
I’m actually feeling fairly rested and not stressed. So I’m ready to go to the Disney provinces in Florida in a week. I’m looking forward to it.
Okay, it may have been -20 out, but that milkshake at lunch was really good.
I could have easily justified not running this morning. The temperature was below 20, which is my cut off. Heck, the windchill made it closer to thirty.
But I sucked it up and went. Even when the buckle on my water bottle belt broke. Because this is my last chance before I go off to Florida, missing the next two Sundays. And I want to see if my friends recognize me after all this time away. The one person I saw took awhile before he clued in. I’ll go to brunch now and see if the rest of them take as long.
Now that my legs are warming up again, they are feeling really itchy. I haven’t that happen in a long time.