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RIP Big Blue

Before you freak out, nobody was injured. In fact, I wasn’t even there. But two weeks ago a friend was driving the car when a pickup truck (whose driver was on the phone) ran a red light and took out the front end. It had some frame damage, making repairs costly, so this morning the other guy’s insurance company made the decision to write it off.

It was a good car. A bit on the small side, but peppy, fun, and reliable – we bought it new and put 90,000 miles on it. And distinctive – my friends in town knew whenever I was around if it was parked nearby. It’s weird to think its days of zipping around town have been cut short. So farewell, 2014 BMW X1! Have fun cruising those highways in the sky.

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09. Oct, 2019
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Disney Skyliner

Today I checked out the Disney Skyliner (aka gondola) with a friend. There are actually two gondolas on the system; we started our trip at Hollywood Studios, transferred once, and ended it just behind the World Showcase, near the France pavilion.

The views from the gondola mostly consisted of roads, groves of trees, and parking lots, with the occasional lagoon, but it was actually really pleasant. And though there was no air conditioning in the gondola cars, the way the ventilation system works kept the cabin quite cool via airflow.

That said, the way the cabins and their sun-blocking windows were designed, it was hard to get a good picture from inside the gondolas. So here is one from the outside!

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30. Sep, 2019
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Cold drinks

Last night I went with a group of friends to ICEBAR Orlando, a place on International Drive where one of the bars is located inside a sub-zero temperature room, featuring ice sculptures, ice stools and chairs, and glasses made out of ice. The other section of the establishment is in “the warmth”, with a DJ and a regular bar. It was fun and Instagram-worthy.

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28. Sep, 2019
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Running in Paris

Amelia ran her second half marathon this morning, at Disneyland Paris! Looking forward to seeing her soon and hearing all about it!

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22. Sep, 2019
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Covers

Two guys have been working on fixing up the outside of the house here in Florida for the past week or two. Here’s one of them today, repairing a cracked pipe.

I don’t speak much Spanish, and he speaks even less English, so I haven’t been able to talk to him much. He came across as rather simple (probably because he doesn’t speak English), but very kind, positive, and hard-working. Well, it turns out a few years ago he was a neurosurgeon in Venezuela, and now he’s here doing what he can to support his family.

It was a reminder that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, especially when the book’s in a language I don’t understand.

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19. Sep, 2019
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Writing fun

Last night I attended a meeting of the Celebration Writers’ Group at the library here in town. It was the third Monday of the month, which meant one of the group members led writing activities for the other members to everyone could practice their writing skills and kick their creative juices into a higher gear.

The final activity of the evening involved writing about what happens to a secondary character when the first character has left the scene. As an example, in a given Harry Potter book, when Harry Potter goes off to Hogwarts, what might the Dursleys do? What would the day following Harry’s departure look like from Dudley’s point of view?

Most members wrote excerpts of fiction, some from the points of views of secondary characters in the stories or novels they have been working on. We were only given 20 minutes to complete the task, so I had to come up with something up pretty quickly. Here’s what I whipped up:

Six of us were standing guard upon that fateful night
I held onto a gun, but didn’t really want to fight

Honestly, I knew my boss was acting kinda shady
But I needed cash so I could take out my old lady

Me and John and his friend Ron were standing in a row
Nearby stood Jack and Wilbur, and some guy I didn’t know

My boss was in his room conducting some godawful plan
Something about a warhead, ransom money, and Japan

So anyway…

I’m standing guard, feeling bored, wishing I had some Scotch
Ron is standing near me busy scratching at his crotch

Jack and John are talking about something really deep
Wilbur’s eyes are closed, that lazy ass is fast asleep

Then suddenly I hear a shout, a gunshot, and a groan
It’s from the guy I’ve never met who’s playing with his phone

His shirt is white, but on his chest, I see a big red spot
And next to him, on Wilbur, there’s a bright red laser dot

“Look out!” I yell, and thinking fast, I dive out of the way
A hail of gunfire sounds and hot lead bullets start to spray

There’s a guy in suit and tie who’s carrying a gun
And in a British accent he says, “there’s nowhere to run!”

He shoots Ron in the head, and then his gun, it starts to click
Is he out of bullets? Or is this some sort of a trick?

Jack and John jump on him, but this British guy is fast
Somehow he breaks their necks, and time is running out real fast

Inside the room my boss is mad, and he shouts “What’s the fuss?”
“That spy is here!” shouts Wilbur, “and he’s kicking all our butts!”

Then Wilbur’s down, there’s only me, and now I’m facing death
I’m not a real henchman, I’m trained as a pastry chef

The spy, he aims, and takes a shot, and shoots me in the toe
I yell and wail like I’ve been dealt a terminal death blow

I fall, and flail, and flop around, just like a dying trout
I guess I musta fooled him ‘cause he doesn’t take me out

He left and went to kill my boss, so this is my last verse
They call me Toeless Joe now, but it could have been much worse!

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17. Sep, 2019
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No jams

Went to opening night of the new BTS (K-pop) movie this evening at Disney Springs. I even brought the kids along.

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07. Aug, 2019
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Toronto and Niagara Falls

Earlier this month I traveled with the family to (as the title indicates) my hometown of Toronto, and also to Niagara Falls, Ontario, which is an only an hour and a half away from the city. It was a great trip!

Yvonne initially traveled with the kids to meet up with her sister and her sister’s daughter at our cottage on Paudash Lake, northeast of Toronto, in late June and early July. They had an amazing time. In fact, we discussed making it an annual tradition to bring the kids up to the cottage for Canada Day each year.

When Yvonne and her sister arrived in Toronto after staying at the cottage they visited the Toronto Botanical Garden for a few hours, and had a lark replicating the poses of the various statues placed throughout the grounds.

After they spent a few weeks at the cottage I met Yvonne and the kids in Toronto, where we hung out with some of my old friends. One of the places we enjoyed the most was Snakes & Lattes, which is a board game café in town. There are three Snakes & Lattes locations in Toronto, and somehow I have already been to all three of them! Apparently they’ve also opened one in Tempe, Arizona? Well, I haven’t been to that one.

Shadows Over Camelot

One of the games we had the most fun playing was called 5-Minute Dungeon. It’s a cooperative game where players need to contribute to defeating a variety of monsters and bosses. We liked it so much, we visited 401 Games at Yonge & Wellesley and bought a copy! They’ve created a Marvel version of the game as well which I have yet to try (but I hear it’s just the same game featuring characters from the Marvel Universe).

Snakes & Lattes on Eglinton Avenue in Toronto

And after Snakes & Lattes we had lunch at Sneaky Dee’s, an old hangout at College & Bathurst. In a rapidly changing world, Sneaky Dee’s manages to remain the same ol’ place, which is a good thing.

We stayed at the ÏCE Condominiums at York Centre while we were in Toronto, which is located right next to Maple Leaf Square (aka Jurassic Park when the Toronto Raptors are playing basketball). We stayed on the 51st floor, which was pretty tremendous! We had a great view of the Toronto Harbour.

The view from the ÏCE Condominiums at York Centre
The ÏCE Condominiums fitness center

While we were in the Toronto area we also toured the University of Toronto and McMaster University for Amelia, who at least at this point is hoping to go to medical school one day. She preferred the University of Toronto and its different colleges. And you can’t beat all the ethnic food you can find in the area – we had Korean food multiple times!

Callum at the University of Toronto
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario

After our Toronto visit we headed south to Niagara Falls, Ontario (as the Canadian side is better, of course). We stayed at a hotel right near the Falls (the hotel overlooked the falls, but our room didn’t).

While we were at Niagara Falls we also went on the Hornblower boat tour, which is the Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist (though I swear when I was a kid the Maid of the Mist was also on the Canadian side). That was quite a wet experience.

We also stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which was fun. We played MagiQuest (which we’ve also played at locations in Myrtle Beach and Boston when the kids were younger) and hung out at the crazy indoor water park they’ve constructed inside the hotel.

Finally, we returned to Celebration, and went to Epcot with our friend Melissa. It was really fun! All in all it was a great couple of weeks.

The Bubblegum Wall at Epcot
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Cribbage

Today while going through some boxes I found my grandfather’s old cribbage board he gave me before he passed away. You might notice that it’s been very, very well used. It made me miss him, and the many games of cribbage we played when I was in high school. I’m not so good at counting, but you can be damned sure I can count to 15 ❤️

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29. Jun, 2019
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At the lake back in the day

Found a picture of me at Paudash Lake when I was four years old. I’m happy that my own kids are able to continue the tradition of spending summer days up at the cottage!

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24. Jun, 2019