Friday, January 20, 2017

Hollywood

After our two days in Disneyland, the next part of our adventure was to take a little bit of time to slow down and go to the temple.  We left our hotel in Anaheim and headed toward L.A. to go to the Los Angeles Temple.

I really enjoyed the peaceful morning in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the past couple days.  Here are a few pictures of the temple.
This is what it looked like as we drove up to it.






One of the funny things about this temple is that there's no chapel to wait in for the session.  They just have a little bench outside of the dressing rooms, so it's kind of a segregated waiting situation.  It was a little weird, but it was fine.

After the temple, we drove in to Hollywood to pick up our niece, Teanca.  She lives there because she's an aspiring actress and future star.  We picked her up at her apartment, made fun of how ghetto her neighborhood is and then took her out for some lunch.
I saw Lando Calrissian's star outside of the restaurant.  Naturally, I took a selfie with it.

After eating, we found an empty star.  Being the embarrassing uncle that I am, I made Teanca take a picture with it because it's her future star.
We went back to the hotel and just hung out for a few hours.  I mostly fell asleep while the women folk talked.
This is what Teanca looks like while chatting in the hotel room.

This is what Robyn looks like while chatting in the hotel room.
We decided that our evening adventure should be going to see Star Wars in the Chinese Theater.
I know that no one else understands how important the Chinese Theater is.  But that's the theater where the original Star Wars premiered.  AND I SAW STAR WARS THERE!

We walked to the theater which meant walking through downtown Hollywood.  Robyn was terrified of all of the people dwelling in Hollywood after dark.  I thought they were amusing.  The funniest thing that happened was a big guy/girl (I know I'm supposed to call the individual by how they identify, but they didn't tell me how they identify.  It looked like a guy with breasts.) came up to me and said, "Well, you're a big boy aren't you?"  I just said, "That's correct!" and kept walking.
This is what Teanca and Robyn look like on the walk of fame.  They're walking.  And they're famous.

Me at the Chinese Theater.  I'm not sure why the guy behind me looks like a zombie.

Me with the Death Star Plans.

The women folk taking a selfie before Star Wars.
It was a fun day.  I got to cross something off my nerd bucket list and we got to hang out with a rising star before she becomes famous.  I'd call that a success.

Monday, January 9, 2017

California Adventure!

After our day in Disneyland, the next day was spent primarily in California Adventure.  (Although, we did spend some time in the main park, as you'll see below.)

Much like the previous day, we got there about 15 minutes before the park opened so that we could be part of the initial rush to our favorite rides.  We marched right behind the Disney employees and went straight for Tower of Terror.  (Tower of Terror was a huge reason for taking this trip, so it was very important.)  Everyone was rushing to get in line for the ride, but no one was getting fast passes.  So we grabbed a fast pass and then went straight to Soarin' Over the world.

Just look at that cutie ready to soar over the world.


That was the right way to do it.  The line for Soarin' was only 15 or 20 minutes, which made it perfect for us to come back to Tower of Terror to use our fast pass.
This is me about to enter another dimension.

It's important to take a picture of the picture.

Robyn was wearing her Captain America shirt, so obviously she needed to pose in front of a sign welcoming her.


 At lunch time we headed back into the Disneyland park for our lunch at Blue Bayou.  It was really neat.  I had order envy though, because my chicken was nowhere near as good as Robyn's Monte Cristo sandwich.

The LED lights in the lemonade were really cool.



The famous Monte Criso
Despite my order envy, the food was really good.  And the atmosphere was really fun.  It was just like being in the bayou at night.  (At least, I imagine it's what it's like.  I should say, it was just like being outside next to a river at night.  I've never actually been in the bayou.)

After lunch we went back to California Adventure.  Our longest line of the day was for the Toy Story ride.  The important thing is that I won.
Robyn made sure to tell me that she's still a better person than me, even though I won the Toy Story ride.  Also, she was quick to point out that she dominated me in Buzz Lightyear the day before.


 We had to buy Robyn a tiara, so she went from Captain America to Princess America.

By 4:00, we had ridden everything we wanted to ride except for the Cars ride.  The line for that ride was 4 hours long.  Fast passes had long run out.  (The line for fast passes was at least an hour until they ran out.)  Since we're old and tired, we briefly pondered, should we stay another 4 hours for 90 seconds of entertainment?  The answer was no.  I was really excited to get off my feet, so we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

Some may say that we didn't get our money's worth because we could have stayed in the parks for another 8 hours.  But I had a great time in the park, and I had a great time relaxing afterward, so I'm happy with it.

The next day we were off to Hollywood, so stay tuned.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Disneyland!

Robyn and I decided to do a little trip in between Christmas and New Years this year.  It was somewhat spontaneous.  We decided to go a few weeks before Christmas.  For us, that's spontaneous.  I know most people would consider spontaneous to be deciding to go within 24 hours of departure, but we are normally planning trips far enough in advance that you can't even buy the plane tickets yet.  So we're calling it spontaneous.

The destination we selected was southern California.  There were 2 main motivators.  One was that Disneyland was closing (has closed, as of the time of this writing) The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  The other was that we wanted to see Harry Potter world in Universal Studios.

We flew out the day after Christmas, and got to Disneyland bright and early on the 27th.
Robyn did a dance of joy in the hotel room before our departure.

We woke up early to get to Disneyland before it opened.  They let people line up on Main Street before the official time.  At 8 AM sharp everyone made a dash for their favorite ride.  They're pretty smart though because they have employees come walk in the front of the crowd so that people don't trample each other.

We went straight to Star Tours to get a fast pass and then got in line for space mountain.  Space Mountain is now Hyperspace Mountain and it is Star Wars themed.  The moment the ride began and Star Wars music was playing, my heart filled with glee.


In line for Space Mountain
One of the most important things to do in Disneyland is to try on the various hats in the various stores.
Wearing funny hats

Wearing funny hats

I also really loved how much Star Wars has taken over Disneyland.  There has always been Star Tours but now it permeates everything.
Star Wars Launch Bay

We rode all the classic rides, Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn, Jungle Cruise, etc.  One of my favorite things was how many rides had been made over for Christmas.  The Haunted Mansion was completely redone with Jack Skellington taking over.  Even the Jungle Cruise had some Christmas touches such as monkeys wearing Santa hats.

Of course, the Buzz Lightyear ride has a separate Fast Pass system from everything else, so you can have infinite fast passes to that ride.  Naturally, we rode it like 3 times.  Robyn was the best robot killer.  She beat my score every time.

Selfie with Buzz Lightyear
After it got dark, we decided to ride It's a Small World.  It was another one that had been done up for Christmas.  They have them singing Jingle Bells in various languages.  (The mermaids even sang Jingle Shells.  They really understand all cultures.)

It's a Small World

Selfies are important

While we were in line for Small World, the electric parade started.  They stopped the ride and we ended up having pretty good viewing from our vantage point in line.  It was a little weird because people crowded around us to watch the parade, so once it stopped it was a bit confusing figuring out who was in line and who wasn't.  But we got it all worked out and successfully rode the ride.  It's not as exciting as some of the other rides, but after a long day of standing in line, it's pretty nice to just sit in a boat for 15 minutes.

We got back to the hotel and instantly went to sleep.  I was a tired boy.

I know you're thinking, "Wait, but you said that Tower of Terror and Harry Potter world were your main motivators and you haven't even done those yet!"  Don't worry.  We did them both on this trip.  So stay tuned for those posts.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bear Lake with the Fam

This past weekend, my parents traded their time share for a condo at Bear Lake.  They invited us to come up and join them.  Clearly we weren't going to turn down a free lake adventure.

My sister, Mellen, and her daughter, Adalyn joined us for the car ride up.  Adalyn wasn't super excited bout riding in the car for three hours, but we discovered that she doesn't cry as long as I'm singing.  I mean, who could do anything but smile when they hear my golden voice?

We got to the condo fairly late on Friday night, so Friday mostly consisted of hanging with the fam in the condo.

Saturday morning, Robyn and I made breakfast for everyone.  We made epic breakfast burritos.  We cooked more sausage than you can possibly imagine.  The deliciousness was off the charts.

After a lazy morning, we all went down to the beach.  Here are some highlights of our adventures.


Dad wore Adalyn's hat.  I don't really know why.  I don't ask questions, I just take pictures.


I really wanted to get a picture of a pokemon under water.  There were no pokemon at the lake.  But at least that gym back there is blue because it has my vaporeon in it.
Mellen and Adalyn hogged all of the preciousness.
Adalyn and I ate our hats to show family unity.
Mom and dad were just eating up the opportunity to be grandparents at the beach.
Meanwhile, Robyn was the only one who could compete with Adalyn in cuteness.

It was a fun weekend.   We headed home after a fun Saturday and got to sleep in our own bed.  All in all, the trip was a success.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016/1941 Hugo Votes

This year the Hugo committee decided to do another Retro Hugo Award.  The year they are retroactively awarding is 75 years ago in 1941.  Unfortunately, I was not a very good reader this year.  Normally, I would try to vote in every category for both 1941 and 2016.  But I didn't do all the homework.  So here are all the categories that I voted in.  There were some very good works this year.


1941 Best Novel

Slan was a lot of fun.  A little bit dated, but it was basically X-Men.  How could I not love it?

1               Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, Dec 1940)
2               Kallocain by Karin Boye (Bonnier)
3               Gray Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
4               The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White (Collins)
5               The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Mar 1940)

1941 Best Novelette

Does my bias for Heinlein show?  Probably.   This was a really fun story about a neat technology.  I agree.  The roads must roll.

1               The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940)
2               Blowups Happen by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Sept 1940)
3               Vault of the Beast by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1940)
4               It! by Theodore Sturgeon (Unknown, Aug 1940)
5               Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates (Astounding Science-Fiction, Oct 1940)

1941 Best Short Story

My bias for Asimov is even greater than my bias for Heinlein.  But Robbie is his first robot story.  That's some serious history.  

1               Robbie by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, Sept 1940)
2               Requiem by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
3               Martian Quest by Leigh Brackett (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940)
4               The Stellar Legion by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, Winter 1940)
5               Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (Sur, 1940)



2016 Novelette
This was a hard one.  But I really liked Stephen King's story.  It was pretty unique, and a bit frightening.

1               Obits by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
2               Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
3               Flashpoint: Titan by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
4               What Price Humanity? by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
5               And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015)


2016 Short Story


I really liked this story.  Stories about artificial intelligence are always a lot of fun.

1               Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer ( Clarkesworld, January 2015)
2               Seven Kill Tiger by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
3               Asymmetrical Warfare by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
4               No Award


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Helicopter over Kauai

Another fun adventure that we had on Kauai was riding the helicopter.  Remember that time we rode a helicopter to get out of Havasupai?  This was way, way better than that.

That ride lasted about 6 minutes.  This one lasted about an hour.  That was to get us to our destination as fast as possible.  This was to enjoy the ride and the scenery.

When we got there, they had a little briefing on how to use the life jackets and everything.  It was kind of like every time you get on a plane, only they did it before we boarded.  They also explained to us that the rotors are way above our heads and we didn't need to duck down.  But when it came time to get on the helicopter, there was still a little 5 foot tall lady who was bending way down so that her head wouldn't get chopped off.  It was funny to watch her stooping way low, when the rotors were a good ten feet above her head.

Robyn and I paid extra to get the good seats next to the pilot.  That was soooo worth it.  They loaded everyone else into the back, and then it was our turn to get up front.  I was next to the window, so I got in last.
Robyn putting her headgear on.

Cutie Robyn and the pilot, Trevor.

Me.

Our shadow on the fields.

Jurassic Falls
The above waterfall is very important.  That's actually the waterfall that they show in Jurassic Park when the helicopter comes in.  The helicopter pad that is in the movie was destroyed by a storm like 10 years ago.  But the important thing is that I actually flew over Jurassic Park.
Na Pali coast

Na Pali Coast


Tunnels Beach  (Where we went scuba diving)
Flying into the volcano

Little waterfalls inside the volcano

I know you think my caption on the above 2 pictures is a lie.  Kauai is the oldest hawaiian island, which means its volcano has been extinct the longest.  It's had 4 bajillion years (that's an exact number) for nature to take its toll.  One side of the volcano has completely eroded away.  That's the side we flew in to.  Inside the volcano has been completely taken over by vegetation.  The waterfalls aren't normally there, but it had rained the night before.  (Trevor told us we were very lucky to get all the waterfalls, and yet have it be clear enough to have such good visibility.)

Overall, it was a great experience.  There were a few spots when the helicopter would bank to one side or the other where my tummy was not too happy about it.  I do tend to have problems with motion sickness.  But it was no worse than flying in an airplane.  (In fact, it was much better than flying in an airplane, because the chair I was sitting in was comfortable and the views were much better.)

When it was all over, I jumped out first and turned around just in time to snag a cute picture of Robyn.
I call this masterpiece, "Disembarking Robyn"
The moral of the story:  Helicopter = Awesome.


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