As usual I am late on this anniversary. In May of 2004 on a server a couple of servers ago I created this blog on Movable Type 2 platform. Today I finished upgrading to MT 5.1. 7 years + 1 month ago this blog started and since I have posted 663 posts. Who knows maybe someday I will blog more in the future.
Recently in Me Category
Since others are doing it and I don’t think I have ever written it down I figured I would share my story of 9 years ago:
I was in downtown DC working at a client in a server room (closet) when I noticed everyone watching a TV. I think that was about the time the plane hit the Pentagon. Not knowing what else to do I kept working for a bit. Then shortly the office closed and told everyone to leave, if I remember basically all of DC was told to leave. I didn't have my cell phone since I forgot it but did have my BlackBerry (very different looking back then) so I emailed boss and he said go home. One problem though was I had ridden the yellow line through the Pentagon in that morning. I rode the blue line to Arlington National Cemetery which was as far as it went because the yellow and blue line were shut down through the Pentagon. After exiting the metro I then walked toward 50/110 hoping to walk home via the GW parkway since it was only a few miles to Roger and my place. The GW parkway was closed to both car and foot traffic though. I just sat down on the wall around the cemetery not knowing what to do. There were others there with me also not sure what to do, most routes out of DC were either closed or jammed and if you didn’t have a car it was even tougher especially near the Pentagon. I considered walking another way but it would be really far since it would have to be something close to 120 and then back over to route 1. I emailed my brother to let my parents know I was ok and then just waited. Sometime around 1 PM I think (maybe later) they started letting the metro pass through the Pentagon. I got home around 2:30 PM and just sat down on my bed and watched TV. I don't remember when Roger got home since he went to a friend's as he was just as stuck having worked across the street from National Airport near the Pentagon at the old Patent Office building.
This spring Kelly came up with the idea to go to Seattle and visit some state and national parks that she had gone to as a kid. A trip in mid-July seemed to work for both of our schedules. It is hard sometimes to find times for vacations since Kelly only gets the summer off and I am most busy during the summer.
We flew out on July 12. Kelly was going to pick me up from work at 3:30 PM for a 5:55 PM flight out of BWI. Around 2:30 PM a massive heavy thunderstorm started. I was still running around trying to tie up loose ends and hadn’t really noticed it. At around 3:20 Kelly called me and said she hadn’t left yet, which meant she wouldn’t be at school by 3:30 for sure. She actually got there closer to 4:30 and it was still really nasty outside. We got to the airport close to 5 PM after hitting traffic due to Artscape road closures.
Luckily once we got to the terminal after a quick bus ride the Southwest line wasn’t too long. As we checked in the computer gave this long and loud chirp to scold us for checking our bags in less than 45 minutes prior to departure. It literally was 5:10 but still it chirped at us. We then got through security again pretty quickly. We immediately went to the gate and found that the plane we were supposed to board hadn’t landed yet which meant it was likely to be delayed, they shortly indicated as much on the departure boards. This thankfully gave us time to get something to eat since we wouldn’t be able to until we landed in Seattle in 6 hours or so.
The flight actually took off at 6:47 PM EDT according to FligthAware and landed at Midway in Chicago at 7:20 CDT. It was a direct flight so we just stayed on the plane while most people got off and waited for the Seattle passengers to get on. We then took off at 8:24 PM CDT and landed in Seattle at 10:36 PDT. Kelly’s mom picked us up at the airport and took us back to her house on Fox Island. We finally got to bed about midnight PDT or 3 AM EDT, which for me meant I had been up about 21 hours straight since I didn’t really sleep on the plane like I usually do. Long day was finally over.
Monday morning I got up to get our second rental car. I rented it at a place I thought was on or near the strip. However I didn't look closely enough. I thought the rental place was at the Tropicana, but in fact it was just on Tropicana Ave a little over two miles away. Luckily the walk wasn't too bad since I had my iPod with me and the weather was still cool and below 70. I did finally get the car a Chevy Malibu (same platform as last one) and I will comment more on it later as well. I went back to the hotel and got Kelly and checked out.
We drove out of town about 10 AM heading for the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam is actually really close to Las Vegas it is only about an hour and it only takes that long because of low speed limit roads and security checkpoints. Kelly laughed at me when I said I remember it exactly from the Transformers movie but it was true. We walked around the outside a bit and then went in to take the tour. They take you down to see the pipes that take the water from the lake to the generators and then actually into one of the generator rooms. You can see it in the below picture.
After the tour we did some more walking around the top of the dam. We took a few more shots that are in this set. We then continued on to the Grand Canyon.
Between the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon there is whole lot of nothing. I mean desert like nothing, there are houses and other buildings every now and again but no real cities along the way. Definitely not a time and place you want to run out of gas for sure. It took another 4 hours or so to get to the park itself. We got their about 6 PM and paid the $25 entrance fee. We stopped to look into the canyon almost immediately and then headed to the visitor center. While there we decided that we would do a ranger lead walk into the canyon at 7 AM the next day. Since we were going to be hiking into the canyon we went to the general store to get some supplies. We went and checked into the hotel and then walked over to the rim near our hotel. We caught the tail end of the sunset in the canyon. We headed back to the hotel and unpacked the car. Lastly, we got something to eat before turning in. We went to bed pretty early since we planned to get up early the next day.
We got up close to 5 AM to begin getting ready for the hike. Kelly headed off to get her daily dose and I packed up the car. We had planned to catch the shuttle bus over to the information center but thanks to a bus policy of no drinks and Kelly's coffee we ended up driving over instead. We then caught another shuttle to the hike location. We got there about 6:45 and met up with the ranger and the other visitors for the hike. As we hiked down into the canyon the ranger stopped several times to point out different aspects of the canyon or its plants and wildlife. We even saw a big horned sheep as seen below on the walk.
We made it to the end of the hike in about 90 minutes. We stopped and ate some of our snacks and drank lots of water. We also took some more shots in the canyon. After hanging about for 30 minutes we then had to start the task of the trip back up. It was not nearly as fun going up as down (and down wasn't easy either). We saw another or the same big horn on the way back up. I think the best way to illustrate the way back up is this picture.
If you look closely at the sign you will see the warning below. Which says don't hike to far or you might get ill or die!
It took almost 2 hours to make the hike back up and that was with going without stopping other than resting. On the way down it took longer since we kept stopping and waiting for others to catch up and for the ranger to talk. You can see the hike we did (from a distance) in the below picture.
After making it back to the starting point we walked along the rim path back to our car. Before leaving the canyon we went to a few more sites. All the photos from our visit to the Grand Canyon can be seen in this set. About 2 PM we started back to Las Vegas. The trip back was uneventful but just long. We also found out if you need to go to the bathroom there aren't many chances anywhere near the Hoover Dam.
For our last night in Vegas we stayed at the Luxor in a fancy spa room. Unfortunately a combination of tiredness and some pretty bad sun burns meant that we couldn't enjoy the room too much. I went and returned the second rental car then we went down to the new Luxor More buffet. Kelly went to bed and I went and played a few more slots before we left Vegas. The next morning we got up and flew back to Baltimore. The flight was even better on the way back. We actually landed over an hour early and got off the plane about an hour early. So ends our trip to Vegas for Memorial Day 2008.
Kelly and I got invited to Matt and Morgan's wedding in Las Vegas. Before you think it is was a "Vegas" wedding it wasn't it was simply a normal wedding being held in Vegas since that is where Morgan's mom lives. Since it was over Memorial Day weekend Kelly and I decided to make it more of a vacation. Kelly had never been to Vegas so we planned to do a few things there. We also decided to go to Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon.
We left on Friday morning from BWI. We were able to get direct flight on Southwest which was nice. It left on time and was a pretty uneventful flight. There was a little bit of weather as we landed but not too rough. Once we got to the airport we decided to rent a car for a day. We were going to Morgan's mom's house which was a ways outside the city and we figured round trip cab fair would be more than a rental car for the day. We went to the new Las Vegas airport car rental plaza where eight or so car rental companies are. As we were getting the car it began to rain, kind of rare in Vegas it being a desert and all. It was also only in the mid 60's which was chilly for Vegas. We got a Pontiac G6, more on this and our second car in another post.
After getting the car we went and checked into our hotel until Monday morning which was the Fairfield by Marriott. The hotel is located with 3 others on the other side of I-15 behind the Mandalay Bay. After checking we went for a drive down the strip. I hadn't been in Vegas in about 2 years so there had been some changes. Kelly got to see the fun of sitting in stand still traffic on the strip. After the strip we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. We headed over to the dinner and it began to rain quite hard again. This caused the party to be contained inside the house. There was 130 or so people at the party and it was a little crowded. Also for a while the only people Kelly and I knew were Matt and Morgan. Later some people that Kelly knew from swimming at Johns Hopkins showed up. We left a little early since we had gotten up at 6 AM Eastern and it was 9 PM Pacific.
The next morning I got up and went to get Kelly her daily dose of caffeine from Starbucks before 6 AM. Later we took the car back to the rental place. We took a cab to the MGM. We spent some time in the MGM and then headed out onto the strip. We went to the M&M's store and looked around for a while. You can see me standing in front of the M&M's NASCAR car below.
After M&M's we continued down the strip. We stopped in the Planet Hollywood casino and walked around. We then continued on to the Paris casino. We decided to get some lunch in Paris. At first we were going to go to their buffet but the line was really long. We went to their cafe instead, which was still really busy. After lunch we headed back to the M&M's store to watch the 3D movie, however it was almost painful since it was either our of focus or timing between the two projectors or maybe both. We then returned to the MGM to catch the shuttle back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.
We got on the shuttle to the wedding at 1 PM. The shuttle took us to the church which was huge. They have something like 10,000 people that come to this church. The ceremony was most of a full service, it wasn't too long though. There a few shots from the ceremony in this set. After the ceremony we all got back onto the busses to go to the reception.
The reception was at cili which is located in the Bali Hai Golf Club just off the strip. It was a really nice restaurant. The whole place was rented out for the reception. They started the night of with hours devours and drinks. After an hour or so we moved in for the main party. There was two rooms with one edging on the bar and the other surrounding the dance floor. The DJ was pretty good, just cheesy enough and not over the top. The dinner was great, I had a steak and Kelly had some chicken. The wedding cake was an ice cream cake which was both unique and very tasty. We left the party at about 8:30 PM and took a cab back to the hotel. There are a few more shots from the reception in this set.
Sunday morning we got up and headed out to the strip again. We took the shuttle over to the MGM. We walked down to Paris and did eat the buffet this time. It was very good. We walked around some different casinos and headed down the strip. Occasionally we stopped to play some slots. Most of which we lost at but sometimes we won a little. Kelly didn't seem to enjoy it much. We walked through some of the malls as well and stopped at both Tiffany & Co. We made our way to the Mirage. Their volcano was under construction as was the lion habitat just as you walk in. We went to the new habitat they built called Secret Garden. We spent almost 2 hours looking at the dolphins and the big cats. We took quite a few pictures that are available in this set.
We walked around a bit more and ended up at Treasure Island for dinner. After dinner we went and picked up our tickets for Mystère. While waiting for the show Kelly and I played a Price is Right slot machine, she did enjoy this and only spent $2 in almost an hour. We got into the theater about 15 minutes before show. The entertainment began early as an actor began playing tricks on people as they came in. Doing things like taking their tickets, sending them to the wrong seats and throwing popcorn all over the place. The show was really good, one of the few downsides was that at times there was too much going on and didn't know where to look. During the show there was also audience participation. My favorite part was some moves done on trampolines and where the actors climbed poles using just their hands at times. Watching this show it made it seem like it was the pro league almost for NCAA gymnasts, there was at least 50 people that were pretty amazing athletes.
After the show we headed back toward the Belagio (correction thanks to Jerry) and the dancing fountains. I took a video of the fountains that will post at another time. We then headed back to the MGM to catch the shuttle back to our hotel. Some other shots from our day are in this set.
A little over 4 years ago I started this blog. Lots of posts since then and lots of changes for me. Who knows what the next 4 years will bring.
On August 21, 2005 I wrote about getting Zeus from my my friend Heather as she was going to give him away. Zeus and I had a little bit of a rocky start as I noted in that post but he has been a great cat ever since. He was always a lap cat to the extreme, always wanting to sit in your lap even if there was a laptop or something else already there. When he couldn't sit on your lap because you were in bed he would lay on your head or next to you on the pillow. I admit that at times I pushed him off, but he was always there to give you affection. A few months ago we found out that he had feline AIDS or FIV. Because of this we had to take away on of his favorite things which was going outside. He had become even more creative in sneaking out whenever the door was opened since then. He put up the arrival of Kelly's cats almost a year ago and then Narnia last fall. He often would remind Narnia whose house it was by giving Narnia a whack as he walked by. Tonight at about 8:30 PM he died of what was apparently a blood clot / stroke. He was sleeping on the couch and then coughed strangely almost as if he was choking. Kelly and I were sitting on the couch and I looked at him and his eyes just seemed dead. I tried to nudge him and got no reaction. Kelly then jumped up and grabbed him and we raced to the Pet ER. We got there in minutes but they could do nothing for him. They said he did not react at all to CPR or drugs. After about 20 minutes from the point he coughed we told them to stop trying to recover him. The picture below was taken only a few hours before he died. He died sleeping almost exactly as pictured. He will be missed.
This post is oh about 2-3 months late. The summer is a busy time for me so, um, sorry. All the pictures I took are in this set. I have some smaller sets that I will link to below. There will likely be a revision of this later with Kelly filling in my memory blanks.
The Disney part of our trip started on Friday June 8th, 2007. Kelly went over to our hotel which was the Animal Kingdom Lodge around noon. Her trip was greatly complicated by the incompetent people in the hotel. They had resort "specialists" that couldn't be bothered to help her. She ended up taking a shuttle that got her to the transportation hub and then made it to the hotel. She found out later that there was much easier methods of getting there. Once she got to the hotel the experience was much better, it is a really nice place to stay.
My TechEd day ended just before 5 PM and I took the last shuttle back to one of the Disney resorts. On the way over Kelly and I decided to just meet at the Magic Kingdom. We had some confusion about transportation again but we managed to meet up near the entrance gate. I went through Port Orleans on the way there since that was where the TechEd shuttle went. Kelly had gotten my pass when she checked into the hotel. After having my bag searched we headed over to the lockers. While I was getting a key for the locker (which was $5) I got a Magical Moment and they gave me the key for free which was cool. I left my camera in the bag so there are no pictures of the first night.
Kelly had gotten some books about Disney that serve as route guides and she read or at least looked through them before we went to the parks. She had one in particular that was really good that gave you suggested routes and we used it throughout the trip to best utilize our time. One of the good things about Kelly not liking to ride the coasters is she could use her card for fast passes for me. This allowed us to get easy entry to twice as many rides.
Friday night we walked around and rode a bunch of rides. I honestly can't remember which exact ones. There were a few that were memorable for very different reasons. No matter what someone tells you do not go on Stitch's Great Escape, even though we just walked on it is 5-10 minutes of my life I will never get back. The other was more special for me than anyone else. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor was really cool, it is mostly an animated crowd interaction. At several points during the show they would show the crowd on the screen and ask questions or put captions up. Before it started they showed Kelly on the screen and said "sitting next to stinky" I think. Then several times throughout the show they would say something like "everyone is great except this guy" and show me on the screen. They did it about a half dozen times throughout the show. The last one I remember is Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. It is a moving light gun video game. The first time Kelly got a better score and the second time I won. We got a really good picture of us intensely trying to shoot the bad guys.
Friday night was magic hours for people staying at resort hotels, which means it was open until 1 AM instead of 11 PM. We got armbands for it but didn't really take advantage of the ability to stay that late since we wanted to get up early.
On Saturday morning the Animal Kingdom had magic hours which meant it opened for us at 8 AM instead of 9 AM. According to the book it said to get there 30-45 min before opening. As a result we got up about 6 AM and I got coffee as best I could for Kelly. The cafe at the hotel had a cappuccino / espresso machine but didn't really have anyone who knew how to work it. We got the park about 7:30 AM. They started letting people in a few minutes before 8 AM. They had a moving rope carried by Disney people to ensure there wasn't a stampede to get to the rides. We first headed over to the Expedition Everest roller coaster. Since it was early I could just walk on and we could get fast passes for later. We then headed over to some of the kiddy like rides, even those Kelly wouldn't ride. After the kids section we went to DINOSAUR. This was probably the scariest ride Kelly rode and she wasn't too happy about it.
Next we went into the Tree of Life for It's Tough to be a Bug, which was a lot of fun. We then spent a bunch of time walking some of the animal trails and seeing the wide array of animals. We also rode the Kilimanjaro Safaris which is where a large amount of the pictures I took came from. Lastly we went to Conservation Station. There was a train ride to another section to get there. There was a petting area and some other interactive activities. We ran out of steam around 4 PM due to it being quite hot and humid. We managed to see and do everything we wanted to do in that time, but we were really moving. For all the pictures check out this set.
We headed back to the hotel. We took showers and a nap. Later in the evening we headed back over to the Magic Kingdom. We tried to go to the rides we had missed the night before and walked around and saw stuff we had missed. We remembered the camera and actually took some pictures this time. The ones from this part of the trip are in this set. We got trapped by the nightly parade as you can see in some of the pictures.
Sunday was Epcot day pretty much. The pictures of the day are in this set. I think there were Magic Hours at Epcot that morning meaning it opened at 8 AM instead of 9 AM for us. Again we got up early and headed over to get there at opening. We used a pre-determined path for the most part to try and optimize our visit. I rode Test Track and Mission Space pretty quickly, both I would highly recommend. We then headed over to The Land Pavilion. In there I got Kelly to ride Soarin', which she wasn't to sure about but ended up enjoying.
We ended the morning in The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion, which had some more animals to see. I took a few pictures but most didn't really turn out.
My feet had been deteriorating over the first days and it was about this time I really started limping. I had worn the wrong shoes at TechEd and messed my feet up and even after switching to better shoes I was getting worse and worse. I was in pretty bad pain and became grumpy due to it. Kelly finally convinced me to go back to hotel and try and deal with my feet a little after noon. At hotel I got some flip flops to make sure my feet were no longer squished by shoes. Kelly bought some band-aids and other things to repair and protect feet. You can see my feet later in the day after Kelly attempted to patch them here and here.
While we were at the hotel we took some pictures out our window of the animals that were roaming about. We also took some pictures of the massive entry area for the hotel. It was really pretty. It was about the size of a football field and 3 stories high. The pictures we took can be seen in this set.
After fixing up my feet and resting a bit we decided to head back to Epcot about 4 PM. As were riding the bus to Epcot it started to rain (and lightning). The bus driver thought it would just blow over in a few minutes so we got off the bus under a loading area with a roof but no walls to wait it out. Within minutes the wind picked up and then hail started coming down. Soon it was going almost sideways and hitting us even though were under 10-15 feet of roof. The hail was as big as grapes at points and it was really starting to hurt. We got on the next bus that came not caring where it was going. We ended up in Port Orleans (second time for me). Kelly and I were freezing so we went to the gift shop and bought a beach towel as a blanket of sorts. There is a picture of us here as drowned rats.
After the rain finally ended (so much for blowing over in minutes) we got back to Epcot a little before 7 PM. Our goal was to make it around the international lake shore and visit all the pavilions. We stopped and saw a few shows, there aren't really any rides in this section. As you can see from the pictures in this set we also took pictures along the way. We pretty much made it and even managed to exit the park before everyone else after the nightly fireworks. We got back on the bus and were back at the hotel by 10 PM. We promptly passed out at that point after two and a half days of Disney running.
The next morning we got up and flew home. We were able to see almost all of 3 of Disney's parks in the time we had, which is pretty good I think. It could have been a bit better if my feet weren't destroyed and we didn't have the hail hurricane, but it was overall a lot of fun. Next summer we will be going to Disney Land thanks to Kelly going to ALA there. In case you missed it above all the pictures are in this set.
For the first time in almost 11 years I am staying in a dorm again. Before you ask, no I am not going back to school at least not for very long. I am at La Salle University in their St. Basil dorm for the week. The room feels a bit smaller than the room I had at U of I but very similar. There are two long twin beds, two dressers, two desk and a closet like area (no door). I am not sharing the room but I do get to use the shared bathroom down the hall.
The one big difference I noticed was they use key cards for access to the building and the rooms instead of keys. They also have individual Ethernet ports for each person and a phone jack for each person. Since these dorms are newer they also have AC built in. The room has a small fridge, but I am not sure if that is just for summer or if all rooms have them all the time.
I also get to eat in the dining hall, which seems to be a small food court like thing. Nothing to special and pretty small.