Monday, November 26, 2012

Catch up time - Disney World!

 Fall break and a chance to go back to the House of Mouse.
We were on our own this time. No expert guidance from our friends who helped us navigate our first trip back in April.

We choose a non-Disney property hotel for our stay, but after the first night we moved on property. Nothing was wrong with the hotel, but they had mis-represented their shuttle service for access to the parks. We were expecting several shuttles a day, but found they only offered two going to the parks, and only one returning, with that one only returning at 10 p.m.
Needless to say, with that one ride taking almost two hours with all the stops, and not wanting late nights every night, we moved on property to a Disney resort.
Room was not as big, but we had plenty of shuttles, places to eat, and lots of other stuff to do.
 We arrived early enough on Sat. to spend some time in the park in the afternoon.
We hooked up with some old friends, (that is not a fishing joke for Ariel, by the way). 

Here with Tigger.
 Made a new friend at Sleeping Beauties Carousel.

(Here with one of the evil step-sisters)

 Spent a good 20 mins or so dancing Bollywood.
 Paired up with a dynamic duo.

 Of course the place was all decked out for Christmas.
 Even Mickey
 and Minnie.

 The park did a terrific Christmas program late our third or fourth night.

While putting on a fun musical the castle kept changing color.

 We were lucky enough, our last morning in the park, to catch a new area open for dress rehearsals. (Which means the cast got to see how things were working and where things needed tweaking.)
 We found a new Little Mermaid ride open, and the lines were so short we got to ride three times, one right after the other.

Happy after three rides.
Gaston's new tavern was open, here with Gaston showing a young man how to hold the mug so his, Gaston's, mug is showing.

We did make it to Epcot this year.
Not a lot to do for the little one, and a bit crowded with a food and wine festival going on.

But we will return and experience it again.
We did however get to eat at the English Pub.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What that money would have bought.

The cost of the 2012 election will top a record $6 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If you find it difficult to visualize that figure, here are a few other ways to think about what $6 billion could buy:
— 30 million iPhone 5s;
— 3,000 New York City subway cars;
— 200 F-15 fighter jets;
— 981 public elementary schools;
— 15,503 Lamborghini Aventadors;
— 451 small hospitals;
— 545,454 1-carat Tiffany diamond engagement rings;
— 18 million iPad minis;
— 1 year of lunches for 11 million public school students;
— 4 Burj Khalifa skyscrapers (the world's tallest building).
And one more way to look at it: $6 billion could pay off less than 1 percent (0.67 percent, actually) of the projected 2013 federal deficit.

Just VOTE!

I got to the polls about 15 mins. before they open today and found myself about number 50 in line. (Ended up only taking about 15 mins.) While walking in one of the poll workers was telling everyone in line the rules we needed to follow while in line; No phones (good idea), no recording devices (another good idea), no music players or other electronic device (still good ideas), then she said no talking (what!). I hoped she was kidding, but I couldn't really tell. There wasn't much talking that early anyway. I did hear some 'goodmornings' and some 'just be glad it's not raining'. Other than that it was pretty quiet. No one while I was in line talked politics. Well, being me, once she said no talking I made every effort to at least say good morning, or thanks or something to every poll worker I came in contact with. But with that said, I do believe in certain etiquette rules at times like that, and, again, at least while I was in line everyone seemed to be well behaved. There were a couple of voters that seemed to think their time was more valuable than others and seemed to be in a hurry, but other that that. . . .. Posted below is a good piece from NPR.

Just vote!

Voting Queue Etiquette: Hey, Buddy, That's Out Of Line!

South Floridians stood in long lines Sunday during the last day of early voting in Miami.
South Floridians stood in long lines Sunday during the last day of early voting in Miami.
Alan Diaz/AP
For most of us, Election Day marks a welcome end to months of relentless political ads and partisan bickering. You show up at your polling place, run the gantlet of sign-wielding campaign volunteers, and join your fellow Americans in long lines that inch toward the voting booth.
Maybe you while away the time quietly reflecting on the choices you're about to make. But in an age when the rules about when it's OK to express one's political opinion seem to have frayed, what if someone decides the line at the polling station is the place to talk politics?
Just ask Laura Hughey, who says she remembers one man who was "especially pushy" in making his views known as she waited to vote a few years ago. That experience has colored her views on how people ought to act at the polling station.
"Voting is a sacred privilege, says Hughey, a Dallas resident. "I don't need you to know whether or not I voted, or which candidate I voted for. I don't care to know your status or opinion either."
Gail McDonald had a totally different experience when she recently cast her ballot in Florida. She says she was surprised by all the people in line who were wearing Obama and Romney garb, because her former home state of Georgia bars such forms of "passive electioneering."Hughey was one of many people who responded to a question on NPR's Facebook page about polling station etiquette.
"I actually had a great conversation with the lady behind me in line," writes McDonald, who is a campaign volunteer for President Obama. McDonald says she felt compelled to start a conversation because the woman was wearing a button that declared: "VOTE — your vagina is counting on you."
They wound up passing the hour in line discussing politics.
Unlike Florida, many states have laws against passive electioneering, such as wearing political buttons or T-shirts within a certain distance of the voting machines — usually the demarcation is within 100-150 feet. Ann Brekke of Chicago found that out in 2008 when her 9-year-old daughter accompanied her to the polls wearing an Obama T-shirt. An election judge intercepted them and told the girl to turn the shirt inside out.
Still, electioneering laws differ and enforcement can be spotty, says Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.
"It varies from state to state and even from county to county," MacNamara says. "Even what steps a poll worker takes [to prevent passive electioneering] vary by state."
Of course, there's no law that keeps people from discussing their political opinions as they're queuing to vote.
Christopher Mercer claims he isn't shy about letting you know who he's voting for, and that he wears political shirts and buttons when he goes to the polls. "While standing in line, I will openly engage in discourse with members of the opposition," he writes in an email to NPR.
But count Kimberley Bryan-Brown among those who believe there's a time and a place for such conversations.
"I have to say even the overheard discussions bother me, because for some reason it feels like it's breaking some sort of ethical boundary," writes Bryan-Brown of Seattle. "When it comes to the moment of voting, when you're there at the gates, so to speak, there should be a kind of political silence."
Thomas Hollihan, a professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, says that for him, voting is "a bit like church."
"Elections are civic rituals, which in some ways are similar to formal religious rituals," says Hollihan, who wrote the book Uncivil Wars: Political Campaigns in a Media Age.
"I think it means one should be on their best and most polite behavior," he says. "And that does mean to respect that in America we honor the privacy of the vote, and that we allow each person to make up his or her own mind."
Allan Louden, a professor of political communication at Wake Forest University, agrees that voter-line etiquette means talking politics is out.
"In that spot, you don't do it. That's my experience," he says. "Besides, you could even have a backlash effect. If someone's being rude, you might not want to support their candidate."
Even so, there were plenty of people who responded to NPR's Facebook call-out who thought political conversations and even buttons and T-shirts are just fine.
"It's not going to change my mind one way or the other at that point," says William Falls Jr. of North Carolina. "And really, it's not much different than the candidates' pollsters standing in front of the building with their handouts."
Katy Cline of Tyler, Tex., says the voting line ought to be as quiet as the library. So when she and her husband waited along with their 4-year-old son, Dashill, during the GOP primary, they had no intention of talking politics. Dashill had other ideas.
"There was no line at the Democratic primary, and he asked why we can't go wait in that line," Cline recalls. "So, I thought, what better time than the present to talk about it?
"I was careful not to mention who we planned to vote for," she writes, "but we told him that the next time we voted, we would all be together in one big line and that you could vote for whoever you wanted. It didn't matter which line you'd waited in this time.
"I was quite nervous when I started to talk to him about it, but everyone was pretty supportive," Cline says. "I got mostly smiles from the people in line and the poll workers."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Colorful time of the year.

 My favorite time of the year.
First a wonderful display of color, followed by cooler days and chilly nights.

Of course it also means making a swing for the front yard tree.
 And getting the pumpkins ready for Halloween.

 And playing more in the swing.
And the pile of leaves.
 And outfit this year for Halloween (again made by wife)
is Lucy from Narnia.
 Our two attempts at Jack-o-lanterns.

and his brother, 'Happy'.

The pair guarding the front door.