Friday, August 31, 2012

I am so proud!

K and her camera in action
So photography sorta runs in the family.  Apparently award winning photography really runs in the family.  My mother has won several awards at the Nebraska State Fair for her photos, I have won in the past for several of mine, and now my niece (we'll call her K) has won Honorable Mention two years in a row!

Now to some people Honorable Mention means nothing but let's put it in perspective.  There are almost a thousand pictures submitted to the state fair.  Many of these photos are from professionals. K is not yet a teenager.  There were only 3 pictures better than hers.

K and her picture. Click for a bigger view.
To the left here is a picture of K with her award winning picture.

Way to go, K.  We are so proud of you!

Yep, this kid is a shutterbug.  She gets that from me you know. ;)

--TT


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Traveling Mickey - The Food and Drink Post

Greetings once again!

TT was nice enough to allow me to post again so I thought I would post a little about the food and drinks I had on the recent cruise. One of the things that you are guaranteed when taking a cruise is that you have lots of tasty food and some intriguing drinks.

First off, there is never a table on the ship that doesn't have a drink menu sitting on it.  The first thing you do once on the ship is order up your first drink. it's very important you pick the right one as it sets the bar for the rest of the trip.  Too weak and you just aren't as interested as in getting a drink again (although this will save you a ton of money) and too strong then you are a little intimidated with the rest of the week. My first drink?  I went for the blended margarita.  Yeah, I had to share it with Mrs. T but then who wouldn't?  BTW, I have to agree, anecdotes are definitely funnier with a drink.

One issue you have to be careful of when you are my size is just getting to the drink.  If you are not careful then you will fall in and there are not a lot of ways to get out of the glass if this happens, especially if no one hears you yell for help. Of course my solution was to just drink my way out of the glass.  Thank goodness this was a tasty pink lemonade flavored drink.








The next drink we had was called a Kiss on the Lips.  This lovely concoction was made with mango puree, peach schnapps, and grenadine.  Top it off with a slice of orange and you have one killer drink. It reminded me of an Orange Julius.  This a drink that will cool you off and warm you up all while relaxing in that lounge chair on the deck with a book.  Just be careful try not to have too many of these puppies since they do have a quiet kick.

Maybe instead you have a taste for a classic?  How about a Long Island Ice Tea?  Made with gin, tequila, vodka, rum, triple sec, sour mix, and a splash of cola to make what looks like an ice tea, but most definitely not your momma's ice tea. Unless she likes a little kick in her tea.  In this case the mix was a little off and we didn't finish them, but that should never dissuade you from soldiering on with another drink.


 In this case we went into Cabo San Lucas and visited the cantina owned by the musician Sammy Hagar, Cabo Wabo Cantina.  Here we sampled the tequila and listened to the live band. As you can see, I have a slight problem reaching the lime slices to go with my tequila.

So I have given you an overview of the drinks from the trip, but what about the food?  I had so many delicious meals on this trip, but as anyone knows, the best part of the meal is ALWAYS the dessert.  I had some great options. The first is the apple pie ala mode.  Mmm, the cinnamon was perfect and I loved it!




Next up was the black forest cake. A wonderful amalgamation of chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream that just leaves you wanting for more.  But then the plate is empty and your fork is all that is left to clean.  You mourn the loss and call for the last this needed to cap off the meal...
a cup of espresso.




I asked for a cortadito, but they didn't know what it was and I had to settle for this.

Ah, well life is still good.

--TM

Monday, August 27, 2012

Signs and more

Just thought I would take a break from writing the book sized posts and give you a quick few words about Disney California Adventure park as well as a random picture that should make Mrs. T laugh as well.

First, Let's talk about the bathroom signs in the Pacific Pier area.  I mean really, why is it that the lady on the Women's sign has a 12 pound fish and the guy on the Men's sign only has a tiny little minnow?  Is this some kind of statement regarding fishing skills?  Sheesh.  ;)

And now for something vaguely related...

Not far from those restrooms was a imitation net of fish being pulled from the water below.  Attached to this net was a walkway so you could walk in and have your picture taken in that net with the fake fish.  Mrs. T gamely agreed to do this however, since I am under strict orders not to post her picture without out prior written authorization... in triplicate, I will instead post the picture of me in that net with those fish. As you can tell I was more than willing to ham it up as well.

And finally I wish to provide actual positive that I do actually eat fruit once in a while.  We ate at the bakery and cafe right by that same net, and those restrooms, and the breakfast platters we selected also came with slices of oranges to munch on as well.  Here you see the famous wild American Geek actually eating something healthy.  Shortly after eating this healthy treat he was seen returning to standard fare of coke and Mickey Ice Cream Bars.

--TT

Friday, August 24, 2012

TT meets Cars Land

So, as noted previously, I recently took a vacation.  Now for those of you who are regular readers of this blog you know that I rarely take a vacation that doesn't also somehow involve a large mouse who answers to Mickey and the world built for him.  Well, this time I didn't visit that World... I visit the Land that came first.

In 1955 my favorite uncle, Walt Disney, built the first theme park all around the stories he grew up with as a child and focused on the cartoon character he had started drawing years before.  When Disneyland (DL) opened it was out in the middle of the suburbs.  Within 5 few years it was surrounded by motels and tourist traps and drawing in it's 20 millionth guest. In 2011 the park was smack dab in the middle of the city, and there were 16.11 million guests to see the mouse and his friends.

I know we went the second day, 
In 2001 the latest expansion to the park was opened right across the way, where the parking lot once sat.  The new park was called Disney's California Adventure Park.

Nine years later, in 2010, it was changed to Disney California Adventure (DCA).






The closest we could get to the sign with all the people.
Two years later, in 2012, the largest expansion DCA had ever seen was opened... Cars Land.  And I had 1.5 days to explore both parks.  How ever would I get this done?

Well, we (that would be Mrs. T and I) headed into DL and spent most of the day and night wandering around streaming video on the Internet (I am a member of EyesOnEars, remember?) for all the other fans to see as well.  It was a great time and much fun was had.  More on that another time though.

Soarin' Over California is just around the corner to the right
The second day we decided to catch the rope drop (Disney speak for the opening) at DCA.  Only problem is that they do things a little different there.  We walked in the gate, all the way up to the central hub area, hung a right, and waited.  There was a rope there.  It was white.  There was a security guard there to make sure we didn't step over the rope.  Eventually there was about 80 people standing there with us; all looking at this rope and wondering how it is that one man and a rope can keep us all from further movement. 35 minutes later the rope was gone and we were waiting to board Mrs. T's favorite ride, Soarin' Over California.

After that we wandered around and rode several other favorite rides over the next several hours.  To be honest we really wanted to go check out the brand new Cars Land but the crowd was incredible so we were waiting for it to thin out a bit before we headed over there.  Finally we decided it was time for a break.  We bought a ice cold (no really, it was ICE cold) soft drink and take a seat on a bench not far from the entrance to Cars Land.

As we sat there we relaxed and enjoyed the view.  We watched all kinds of people wander by.  The Asian family of 6 trying to read a map and figure out where they are going, the Caucasian family of 4 that were arguing about there to go next, the Hispanic family of 3 that are smiling and laughing.  So many people so many different attitudes.

TT and Sam, the best Cast Member ever!
The next thing we know there is a Disney Cast Member (this is what they call the employees) stopping by and talking with us.  Her name was Sam and she was from Lake Arrowhead, California.  It turns out that Disney had restarted an old program called the Disney Ambassadors where Cast Members from the Guest Relations team are specially selected to represent Disney in the park.  They handle issues on the spot instead of waiting until they come to the Guest Relations Center in the front of the park.  The satchel she is carrying has instant access to their system and allows her to be in constant access with management. She also wears a radio for the same reason.

After talking with her for a while we started to say our goodbyes and head on when she asked where we were headed.  When we said we were going into Cars Land we heard the most amazing question: "Would you like a guided tour?"  Hmmm, let me think about that for a minute.

Of course we took her up on that offer.  I did ask if she minded if I streamed the tour.  She had no problem with that and actually Sam did a great job not only talking with the Mrs and I but also talking with the viewers on EyesOnEars as well.

Wonder if there is room in the inn?
As we wandered into the newest of the park she began to tell us all kinds of information about this area. First off?  This is the only area in the park without portable carts for all kinds of goods sitting along the pathway.  All the retail areas were incorporated into the locations such as the Cozy Cone Motel where you could get refreshments, or Sarge's where you could buy various souvenirs.  All this was just another example of the attention to detail that Disney commits to everything they do.


KA-CHOWW!!!!
'Mater!
As we were walking down the street we were asked to step aside because Lightning McQueen was headed to the Cozy Cone and needed room to get through.  Yes, I said Lightning McQueen.  As you can see from the picture he is actually moving on his own and we actually encountered several times as we walked around the area.

I don't know how they do it, and I didn't ask, but there were no handlers carrying controllers, and Lightning was actually talking to people as he drove out and back.

The other purpose for the Cozy Cone was the Meet and Greet location for the Cars characters and as you can see there were more than just Lightning McQueen showing up for pictures.  Tow Mater also made an appearance at the Cozy Cone.

Sam mentioned that the vehicles moving to and from the Cozy Cone was something new to her as well and she had never seen this before.  How fun!





All the stores and locations you see in the movie including Luigi's Casa Della Tires.  Luigi's has an attraction called Luigi's Flying Tires. The legend is that in Luigi's homeland they have a holiday every year that celebrates a day that tires actually will fly.  On this ride you will get onto tractor tire size ride cars and play bumper cars with others who are also on the ride.

If you look closely you can also see that there are beach balls in there as well.  the story behind this is that the Imagineers (the geniuses that design and build everything Disney) had originally had installed joysticks on the tires to control the direction of the tires movement, but there were issues with this approach so they removed them and made it so that the riders leaned the car to make it go in any direction.

When they had the Cast member preview they discovered that people didn't naturally know that you leaned to drive the tire.  Once again, Imagineers to the rescue.  They threw some large beach balls into the ring and encouraged the riders to reach for them.  As they watched the test continue they found that the beach balls actually made the ride even more enjoyable. So they left them in and everyone rejoiced!





What beautiful flowers!
We walked back to the main street and saw even more buildings from the movie.  Walking down to the end we walked right up to the Fire Station and there was the statue of Stanley just like in the movie.  Sam took a few minutes to tell us about the area, including the incredible details that were in the whole of Cars land. For instance the flowers we were standing next to were made up from tail lights and the planters are tires.

Once again, attention to detail.


And now for the best moment of all.  As we are talking with Sam and learning a great deal about this amazing area she looks at me and calmly asks, "Have you seen the Hidden Mickey yet?"

Yep, a perfect Mickey.
I looked around and couldn't see anything.  Nothing, not a thing.  Mrs. T looks around and sees nothing as well.

Sam smiles and calmly says, "Look above you."

And there it was.  A Hidden Mickey.  Those Imagineers are some sneaky people.  Will I tell you where? No.  But I will give you a picture and you can see it for yourself.




As it turns out the video is still available and you can view all what I have told you about and a lot that I didn't.

Click here for the video.

Sam, if you ever read this...
Thank you very much for one of the greatest moments in all my Disney visits.  You are awesome.  I hope you have a long a prosperous career with Disney and all your dreams come true.

--TT

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No post today



This post not displayed due to work on a large one coming.

Sorry.


And now we have made the Llama sad.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Splendor and Cabo San Lucas

Good Morning!
As Traveling Mickey noted last week, the family went on a vacation a 7 day cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines.  It was a grand vacation, one that was sorely needed by this person and definitely recharged the batteries.

We traveled out of Long Beach California on the the Carnival Splendor.  Before getting into the trip let's talk about the ship itself.

Ship Name: Carnival Splendor
Launch date: 6-30-2008
Tonnage (weight): 113,300
Speed: 22.5 knots (25.6 MPH)
Length: 952 feet
Beam (width): 116 feet
# of Decks: 13
Crew: 1160
Guest capacity: 3006 (4914 max)

The ship had a problem several years ago with it's power system, but it has since been repaired and is now running very well.  One thing we did notice is that Mazatlan, Mexico is no longer on the stop list.  This is probably for the same reason that there was an increased security at the Puerta Vallarta port... increased violence in Mexico. Fortunately the cruise line is taking a great deal of effort secure their equipment and even more importantly their guests.  Based on what we saw, they are doing a great game protecting both.

The first stop was Cabo San Lucas, a port city on the tip of the Baja California, that has been around for a very long time.  The port is actually smaller enough that we had to tender (think of it like a water taxi) from the ship to the marina.  As you can see the port is very beautiful.  As is with most tourist ports I have encountered there were a large number of vendors gathered at the port constantly trying to get you to stop and buy their wares or take their trip.  One was unique enough that we actually stopped to hear his spiel.  His line was "can I just talk to you for only a Mexican minute?"  That worked out to about 5 minutes.  We didn't buy from him but we did get a good laugh with that line.

A great majority of the excursions from the ship involved water. Glass bottom boats seemed to be the biggest draw both on the excursions and in the marina.  There are even boats shaped like submarines that allow you to sit below deck and look out into the water.  Along with the underwater viewing there are also a lot of above water activities.  The out bay of the port is literally criss-crossed constantly with jet-skis and other pleasure craft, and even further out are the parasailers floating on the wind 200 feet above the water.

For those with less desire to be athletic and instead admire the view there is plenty of wonderful views.  The port is a bay and one side is actually a long out cropping of rock surrounded by the ocean and very popular with the divers and glass bottom boats.

A wonderful place to visit and we spent two days there. Next time I will give you a little on one of the most famous night clubs there.

--TT

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet Traveling Mickey

Hi.  My name is Traveling Mickey.  I am fairly new to the TT family, and I go on trips with TT and  I will be be making posts here as well to give you my own take on these adventures.

Recently the family went on a cruise from Long Beach, CA to Mexico, and I went along on my first journey, It took a while for most of the family to warm up to me, well some warmed up quicker than others, and things got a little wild.




We left Long Beach on the Carnival Splendor.  This is a special ship.  Carnival has 6 different classes of ship in their fleet of 24 ships, and this ship is the only ship in the Splendor class.  At 952 feet long and 116 feet wide, this ship is no slouch in the size department. She carries about 1160 crew and 3000 guest to ports of call all over the world.  In this case it was Cabo San Lucas and Puerta Vallarta.

I won't cover the whole trip in this post, just cover the first hour or two since there is so much to talk about.  The first thing I did was go out on deck and enjoy the view.  It was so exciting to see all those cargo ships, water taxis, sailboats, and yachts out on the water.  They all looked so amazing out there.



After that I decided to pull up on a lounge chair and relax.  I thought about working on my tan, but everyone insisted that I wear lotion for some reason.  This was a wonderful way to start a cruise and and even better way to start a vacation.

See you again soon!

--TM





One quick side note, this is the 200th post published to the blog.  Thanks for sticking in there with me!
--TT

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A sign of reality...

...in a fantasy place.

As we were walking through Disneyland the other day and ventured into ToonTown.  For those of you who are not familiar with this location let me give you a little bit of background.

ToonTown is an area in DisneyLand that is based on the community of the same name in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" except this is real and the main citizens are Mickey, Minnie, and their friends.  Everywhere you turn you see various interpretations of the same locations you find in every day communities outside of this land of fantasy.  Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL did have a ToonTown as well, but it was removed to make way for the Fantasyland expansion.

In the next few posts I will show you more of this community, but first let's address the most logical sign I have ever seen, and the one sign that should probably explain so main drivers out on the road.

I saw this sign post and immediately thought of all the people who cannot drive straight for anything.  I then realized that something like this would make all their driving legal and explain their tendency to cross lanes and swerve erratically.  They took driving lessons in ToonTown!

BTW, the sign is actually located on the right edge of the circle pictured in the first photo of this post.  You can see this with the gentleman with the striped shirt in both pictures.

It is so refreshing to see honest signage.

--TT

Friday, August 10, 2012

no post today


This post not displayed due to traveling difficulties.

Sorry.


And now we have made the Llama sad.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zoofari

Let me introduce you to an great place to get up close with the wildlife.  A place where the wolves are having a howling good time and the deer roam and lounge with ease.

This place would be Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari located at I80 and the Ashland exit.  I prefer the old name of Zoofari over this less than stellar new name, but then it's really all about teh critters sin't it?

At this park you can get up close and personal with an owl chick.  Personally I think he needs a new stylist.

You can visit with the wolves at their enclosure and also drive through with the buffalo and other animals.

Take the time to visit, it will be worth your time.





--TT

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baby Poo or Delicious Condiment?

The wife and I recently went to dinner at a quick service restaurant not far from the house.  I order a burrito bowl and so did she, and as we were beginning to ring out I added chips and guacamole.

Although I have always held the opinion, much to my dear wife's chagrin, that guac looks like green baby poo I have until recently also felt that eating poo was not on my menu.  Until recently that is.  But as I looked further at this particular container of guacamole I can't help but see the resemblance to baby poo with the chunks of yellow and red.

*Shudder*  Sometimes people really need to just eat things without looking at it.

--TT

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Latest Parking Ticket

So I was onsite with a customer recently and as I returned to my rental car after a long, very long, day in the office working on fixing problems, configuring servers, and updating software I found this brightly colored piece of paper on my drivers window.

Obviously I have blocked out the address on the ticket to keep the location hidden you can see that this is a parking ticket and that I have been cited for something.  Unfortunately, the written text is not visible in this picture, mostly because it was barely visible in real life.  I had to get this out in the sun for a nice bright light to barely read "Parking is for visitors only" written in the Location field.

Come again?  I had no parking pass, I was parked in the visitor lot, and I was definitely not an employee.  Obviously someone was a bit mistaken and over zealous when writing me this ticket.

We did get this worked out and it was sorted out to the fact that the landlord had not yet gotten my access turned on even though their system said it had and so security thought I was as an employee although I am actually a visitor.

But only after I had the Duh message of the week.

--TT

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Yellow Car Post

Sometimes life is full of interesting irony and views of life and the world from different angle.

The other day I finished my lunch and walked outside to enjoy the fresh Florida air as I walked back to the customer's office.  As I walked down the side walk taking the sunshine, the fresh air, and the cool breeze I noticed a vehicle in front of me that just cried "LOOK AT ME!"

A bright yellow Lamborghini was parked at the curb just begging to be ogled and drooled over.  I, of course, took out my phone and took a few pictures of this beauty for the blog.  I have to say, this thing looks like it should be speeding just sitting there.  The Italian's certainly do know how to made a work of art that also is functional and exciting.



Several days later, as I was leaving to fly home, I walked through the parking garage and something else screamed out "Hey you! Look at me too!"

It was a yellow Fiat.  A French made car that has the same general color but definitely not the same style as the "Lambo" I saw earlier in the week.  The big detail in favor of this tiny little Fiat?  It does use less fuel and less money out of your pocket to own it.

But then if I have the money, I am probably not worried about that am I?

--TT