Saturday, April 26, 2008

Here we are now! Entertain us!

Minnie and Mickey Mouse

The Magic Kingdom was our first destination in Walt Disney World, and my favourite for sentimental reasons. It is truly a place of magic, dreams, childhood fantasies and imagination. When I look back on our trip I am struck by the amount of effort that went into making me feel this way - in every Disney park - I was definitely being entertained and I was never disappointed. Of course, for me it is enough that this is classic Disney; Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh! Even though we were there for eight days I was not ready to leave (didn't help that while we were enjoying the +30° Florida sunshine it was -10° and snowing back home in Edmonton).

Space Mountain

Just the sight of Space Mountain gets me excited. It was the first coaster I ever rode at Disney (in Disneyland) and I love it! I'd have to admit though that I enjoyed it much more at Disneyland - the music makes all the difference for me. I love Roller Coasters and I adore the lengths that Disney goes to with each theme. In Magic Kingdom there is also Big Thunder Mountain Railway and Splash Mountain (Raven's Favourite) that we enjoy quite a bit.

Space Ship Earth at EPCOT

Never having been to EPCOT before I was skeptical as to what kind of experience we would have there with teenagers. However I was delightfully surprised - we all loved it there. The park's dedication plaque says it all: "Epcot Center is inspired by Walt Disney's creative genius. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the wonders of enterprise, and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May Epcot Center entertain, inform and inspire. And, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere."

End of the Line? Think Again!

Vying for the title of my new favourite Disney ride is Expedition Everest - an awesome roller coaster that was a fabulous first ride experience and didn't disappoint with repeat riding. There is so much at Walt Disney World to compete for my attention, but when I recall the thrills this is the ride I think of. Animal Kingdom is the newest of the parks and certainly one that we had a lot of fun in. When I finally get the pictures up on Flickr they will be a testament to the variety of experiences we found in this park.

Hamming it up at for the Camera

Here's Mickey posing for me to take his picture while we were eating at the Garden Grill Restaurant (I have a thing for rotating restaurants). I love Mickey but don't tell him that Minnie is actually my favourite - I even saved the first page of my autograph book just for her! My first sight of Minnie Mouse (and Mickey, to be fair) always transports me back to my wonder filled childhood years. That's really what is so special about Disney, the stories are a part of who I am.

The Adventure of a Lifetime

We spent a good part of a day at Islands of Adventure which was full of amazingly cool rides like the Incredible Hulk, the Dueling Dragons and Spiderman. If you love Roller Coasters then this is the place for you! When I rode the Hulk for the first time - it launches you into several inversions - I found that place I love to be; the place where there is no fear, excitement or other emotion filling you up, just the thrill of living in that exact moment. I am alive!

Fried Pickles are Very Addictive

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to add a Florida Hooters to the list of Hooters we have visited across North America, especially since there was one so close to our resort. Also, the American Hooters are the only place I can get those fried pickles (had them first in DC, can't stop thinking about them!). My mouth is watering even now.

Here's the customary Hooters pic.

The Birth Place of Speed

Standing in the Atlantic Ocean

Daytona Beach, Florida. Although Daytona is way more than a beach, that's what lured us there... the promise of 23 miles of white sandy beach, surf, sun and the Atlantic Ocean, something I'd never seen before. We noted with interest certain landmarks as we drove by, like the the world-famous Daytona International Speedway, but visions of white sandy beaches kept us going until we were finally parked on the beach itself.

The entire beach is her canvas

While I was still taking in the sights, sounds and smells of an Ocean I had never seen before Raven was already digging furiously in the sand. Wesley walked as far into the surf as his clothes would allow and Duncan and I strolled the beach, taking pictures and beach combing.

Ocean breeze in his hair

Duncan still has his playoff beard here... the day we went to Daytona Beach was actually the day the Flames played Game Seven of their series against the Sharks. Needless to say we were sad when he had to shave it off the next morning. It was a good series though!

Things that make me happy

My Thing 1 and Thing 2 had a blast playing on the beach. I am so glad that we had this opportunity to visit the beach as it offered us a lovely time out from the hustle and bustle of our vacation (Walt Disney World is a lot of fun but it is busy every second of the day!).

Our Future Family

We've been talking a lot about having a baby and exploring what that would mean for us and our family... but when I saw Raven's family portrait in the sand I realized just how much we all had already made a space in our lives for our future family member to join us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wishing Upon a Star...

Like Dreamers do...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dream Without Fear and Live Your Dreams

Since I first discovered Randy Pausch I have become a big fan. Two things are happening today I want to tell you about. First, you can see Randy on TV tonight with Diane Sawyer (ABC) at 10pm (check your local viewing times). Second, his book "The Last Lecture" has been released and is available in a bookstore near you.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On the Razor’s Edge

I first became aware of increasing contrail activity by accident after I unwittingly stumbled across a web culture built on the premise that "the government" is using airplanes to slowly poison us all.

Chemtrails they call them, Aerosol Crimes, or even the "attempt to implement the New World Order," depending on how deep you look. There is some horrendously outrageous stuff on those webpages.

I easily dismissed this as a conspiracy theory and even laughed about how crazy it was.

But then, one day as I walked down the road noticing many contrails criss-crossed in the sky, I started to think about it. I realized that I honestly couldn't recall ever having seen contrails stay in the sky like they do today.

So I started to wonder if the conspiracy theorists were on to something - not that they were right, rather that they had simply noticed something out of the ordinary before I had. It’s been known to happen - once in a while.

Reading Discovery News today I have found that this is indeed a relatively new climate phenomenon that scientists known as "contrail researchers" at places like NASA study. Their research regarding these "contrail outbreaks" and "contrail clusters" has been published in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.

Apparently colder air combined with an increased humidity at higher altitudes is producing contrails that persist rather than just evaporate like they have in the past. These contrails eventually expand to form an artificial layer of cloud cover which the scientists study to determine if they play a role in global warming, or visa versa.

Sorry for taking away the mystery chemtrail freaks, but all other things being equal the simplest solution is usually the right answer.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Made in China

The Olympic Games is not a political event, nor is politics the purview of the International Olympic Committee. That makes the IOC a bad choice to target with protests regarding China on human rights issues.

But how, when China has made this international Olympic torch run about how glorious and wonderful they are, can one just let it pass by without saying anything?

I was fairly disappointed when China was awarded the games for 2008. I assumed that a country like China would never be asked to host the Olympics. I do think that there was some hope at the time that the Olympics would be a turning point for the Chinese people; instead these past months leading up to the beginning of the torch run has seen them suffer some unbelievable brutality.

While the government of China expresses it's "disgust" with the protests occurring along their torch route, protesters promise to meet the relay everywhere it goes on it's way to Beijing. They do this for the people of China, the people of Tibet, even the people of Darfur.

However, I am not sure China actually cares. Sure, who wouldn't want to manage this public relations scenario a little better? No one likes it when someone rains on their parade. But for China, politically, economically, this protest changes nothing - and as long as Canada remains in the top three of China's export markets, a fat lot of good us being upset about anything will do.

Matter of fact, as long as Canadians continue merrily to buy products that say "Made in China" we might as well cede the futility of our protest.