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Day Trip to Los Angeles and Then Some

As I write this I am (was) aboard Virgin Australia Flight 12 from Los Angeles, CA to Melbourne, Australia.  It’s been an uneventful flight so far, which is exactly what you want when you’re flying at 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.  The information screen in front of me tells me we have 5 hours left to go, and that it’s 7 a.m. in Los Angeles.  That means we have been flying for about 10 hours so far.  I feel fine; just the same as if I had not gotten a good night’s sleep.  Tony and I were able to catch a few winks, maybe about 5 hours, and Amy’s still sleeping.  Maybe in a while I’ll try to get a few more hours.

There is plenty of entertainment on board, you can pick from a bunch of movies, music, games, etc.  But the sound in Tony’s seat went out suddenly and we haven’t been able to get it back on.  If he wants to watch a movie he will have to move up to an empty seat.

Our day yesterday was really nice!  We got to do everything we wanted, we had a great day with my cousin Lizzie, her husband Jason, and daughter Sara.  They picked us up from the airport, and we went up to the Disney Studios in Burbank, where we met my new friend Tom Stauffer.  Tom walked us all around the studio lot for more than an hour and we finished up our tour with lunch in the commissary.  No stars to be seen, because everything’s on hiatus.  I did get to peek into the set of Flash Forward and see the lobby of the FBI Building, the conference room, Mark Benford’s office, and the stairs.  We also saw a couple of other sets, but no telling what they were for.  We walked through the old Animation building and went into the lobby of the new one.  In the new building we saw some art from the newest animated feature, called Tangled.  It’s the story of Rapunzel.

The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank is a whole different culture and vibe than anything we have in Orlando.  Not better or worse, but just so different.  The sense of company history and tradition is strong there, while at Walt Disney World we have different traditions, and different history, but we celebrate the new every day.

After leaving the studio lot, we drove down to Long Beach, and stopped in at Lizzie and Jason’s home.  They live in a cute bungalow with solar panels on the roof, a rain barrel and gardens in every nook and cranny of the yard.  It was great to see how they are practicing “green.”  Their electric bills are only about $7 a month with their solar panels.  Amazing.

We went from there over to the Queen Mary which was something Tony really wanted to do.  It was a fantastic self-guided tour of a really marvelous work of engineering.  It’s too bad there’s not a lot of the “real” interiors left any more.  In one of the main hallways, there were cheesy gift shops that reminded me of a flea market.  The exteriors, decks, and the Engine Room are still very much as they might have looked in the day.

I asked Sara what her favorite part of our day had been, when we were relaxing in the bar having a chat before leaving to go back to the airport.  She said the big boat was her favorite.  Sorry Mickey!  For me, the best part was re-connecting with Lizzie, meeting Jason and Sara for the first time and getting to know them, and making a new friend at Disney.

After getting to the airport we had a looooonnnggg wait in line to get through checkin and security.  We boarded our flight after a short wait and we were off to Australia.  At this point I still have 4 hours and 44 minutes to go so I might try to see if I can catch another sleep (even though it is 10:23 a.m. in Orlando – and my body says I should be wide awake).

Continued:  Now it is Thursday (for us) and we are in our hotel in Melbourne after spending the day out and about on the town.  It’s been a beautiful day, and we’re really tired.  Tomorrow we take an all-day tour of the Great Ocean Road.  When I get home from that I’ll update you on today’s activities and the tour.  Now I’ll just leave you with one impression:  Melbourne is a lovely city.  One thing that I have noticed is that we have heard almost no “city noise.”  By that I mean, honking horns, sirens, etc.  The people are so friendly and courteous that someone even backed up their car to let us pass on a sidewalk when they were exiting from a parking garage.  Amazing.

Stay tuned, and check out my pictures on Shutterfly that I have posted so far.

“Mini” Vacation!

I seem to blog a lot about relaxing.

This past weekend we went to St. Pete Beach and spent all day Saturday on the beach in the sun.  Wow was it nice!

We drove down in the Mini, since we got these tickets to a Beach Party from the Mini dealership.  It’s a tight fit with 4 adults and luggage, but we made it work.

We spent the evening at the pool party at a resort just down the beach, called the Postcard Inn on the Beach.  The music was hip, and a bit loud.  There was a naked lady (painted body) walking around.  I really must post that picture.

Amy and Alex came with us, and they had fun, too, just hanging out with us old folks. 

Australia — 2 weeks and counting!

Waiting…

I must admit, I’m kind of worried.  I’ve been through this before, the last time was 2001 right after 9/11.  But in those days it was only the travel industry that was hurting, not the whole economy.  Disney was right up front saying that Information Technology (IT) was not affected.  This time is very different.  The whole economy is down and I can’t think of a single industry or business that is not somehow affected.  Not too many companies are hiring IT professionals these days, really, not too many companies are hiring, period.  And so we wait.  Word will come soon, and when it does it’s going to be hard, no matter what it is.

So keeping busy is the only therapy.  Amy has helped a lot in that regard.  She is now playing Water Polo and the practice and game schedule is quite aggressive.  This week, we have 3 games plus another one on Saturday.  So far the team is 3 -1.  Amy scored a goal in last night’s game!  And even though we’re in Florida, these kids are swimming in the evening in pools that are barely heated, and it’s c-c-cold out at night!  Oh to be young again!!  Anyway, check out the water polo pictures here.

Anyway, not too much more to say at this point.  I’m keeping my hopes high but I’m realistic and know that things can change any time.  I’m not making too many plans until I know for sure and that should come soon.  I’m hanging in there.

Thanksgiving

So it’s Thanksgiving day…again…it does tend to happen every year around this time.  It’s a good thing, but I’m always amazed at how it seems that it comes around quicker and quicker every year.

I could write about the things I’m thankful for…I guess that is what people tend to write about at Thanksgiving and it’s important to do that.  So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Thankful for everything…we are all in good health and in good spirits.  Even a teenager with an attitude is something to be thankful for because if they can roll their eyes and say, “oh, Mom, you’re so embarrassing” then they are perfectly normal and perfectly teenager and that’s something to be thankful for, because the alternative would be pretty sad.  We have a nice home and both have good jobs that are likely to continue, although no one knows in these days what will happen.  But it’s still something to be thankful for.  We have good friends and lots of family that we can visit, not only close by, but scattered across the world on three continents.

So, that’s the story… it’s been a good year and we have lots to be thankful for.

Catching up on the news since I was in Seattle:

  • College tour to Tallahassee (Florida State University) with Amy, our friends Marty and Peggy Maddock, and their daughter Nicole.  Marty and Peggy’s son, David, attends FSU currently and they were going for his birthday.  It looks like a great place to go to college and Amy would love to go there if she can.
  • Saw the movie “Australia” which I would recommend to anyone who wants to see a movie that I would compare with “Gone with the Wind” but set in the outback.
  • In Vero Beach for Thanksgiving (today) and then tomorrow we head off on a cruise to the Bahamas for 3 nights.  I will post later with some pictures of that.  We will be with our friends Deanna Huber and her two boys and three of Cameron’s friends from college, and Deanna’s fiance Rick.

My New Newsletter Page

I have been threatening for years to move my newsletter page to a better blog site, and I think I have found one.  I’m going to start blogging here and send out invitations to the usual list of suspects for their viewing pleasure.

I can see some advantages of this site over my existing site:

  • More functionality — this site just does more stuff
  • Easier to publish — I was getting loads of errors on my old site, I would write some thoughts, press save, and instead of save it was lost!  So that meant I wrote a lot of thoughts in a text editor, saved, then copied, pasted, and then saved again, hoped for the best, and sometimes had to do it again.  I am hoping (fingers crossed) that this site has better performance.  We’ll see…as with all things computers…
  • More space for pictures — my old site had 10 G, but this one has 50 G but it also plays nicely in the sandbox with photo sharing sites such as Flickr and others.  It also has the ability to do slideshows and that I think I will like a lot.
  • People can leave comments — you couldn’t do that before.  I do want to hear from you.  I am hoping that I can review them before they’re published, in case we get some whacko out there leaving rude comments…but if not, please don’t blame me for what other people say. 
  • You can chat with me if I’m online, or leave me a message…see the box over to the right.

So let me know what you think, and how you like the new look.


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