kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I took Hermione and Amy to Magic Kingdom this past Monday. Hallie didn't come because she's not a roller coaster fan (yet, anyway) and we were planning to ride a couple. Space Mountain (Amy's first time on that one), and I finally scored Fast Passes for the (relatively) new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It was all of our first time on that one, because I never see available FPs for it, and the standby lines are almost always 60-120 minutes when we go. And we live here, so we're damned if we'll wait that long for anything! Anyway, I was worried how Amy would do on Space Mountain since it's dark and all, but she'd done Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom with me a few weeks ago and loved it, even though it had more dark parts than I remembered. So no worries, her first words when we pulled into the unload station at SM were, "Can we do it again?" Heh. And then we all loved the Mine Train--that may be the smoothest coaster I've ever experienced, very nice indeed. Other than that we did Peter Pan, the Haunted Mansion, and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party to kill time between FPs. I must say, it's kinda nice to be able to pre-book rides with the FP+ system these days. Even so, I suspect when our passes expire next year we may be done with the Disney parks, at least for a while. I tend to get a pass because I occasionally book photo sessions at the parks and it pays for the pass, but as a family I think the girls are starting to grow out of it, and/or just generally be Disney'd out. Yes, it's possible. :) So maybe we'll go for Universal passes next year, unless I hear we're still doing our company event out there. I rather expect not in the post-merger world, but who knows?

What else.. the wife's parents are coming for a visit. They get in Saturday evening, and leave on Wednesday. I'm taking Tuesday and Wednesday off, though I don't think we really have much planned. They're both Trump supporters, so let's just say it should be interesting. I think politics will be off the table as a topic of discussion.

Thinking about my day in NYC coming up in a few weeks! I haven't really planned too much out since it's just one day--I may end up just seeing where my feet take me. Central Park is the one place I know I really want to spend some time, that's really an incredible place in my mind. I hope to find some of the nooks and crannies and historic bits that most people don't see. Other than that, I think maybe the Empire State Building since the girls and I didn't make it there. Perhaps a little time in one or two of the museums around Central Park. I could do the Intrepid Air & Space Museum, I think I get in there free which is nice. We'll see what happens, I guess!

And then we've more or less decided to take a trip in early November, a drive up to northern Georgia to spend a few days in a cabin and do lots of hiking. I've found some really nice cabins in the area where we plan to stay, now I have to pick one! A number of them have pool tables, which is a big attraction for me. When I was a kid our neighbor had a nice pool table, and I'd go over there to play all the time. And then eventually he gave it to me, so we moved it over to our house. But once I moved out it was all apartments for a while, and I wasn't going to haul around a huge slate pool table even if I had room for it, so that was that. Anyway, I never get to play anymore and I'd love to see how the girls take to it so I like the idea of getting a cabin with one! Just need to talk the wife into splurging a few more bucks for that, but I think that will be easy enough, especially if and when the pension payout info comes. Which I hope will be soon!

Okay, enough babbling for now. Almost time to call it a day. I hope you're all doing well out there in LJ-Land!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I dunno, LJ. I check in on my flist every day or two, but I never seem to find that much worth contributing lately, either by way of comment or entries of my own. I wonder if I'm not sort of winding down my time here, as many others before me have done. That sounds more melodramatic than I mean it to. But I do still like the idea of having my LJ history as a window into the past, so I suppose I should make at least the occasional post here so future me has more of past me to revisit. So long as LJ itself sticks around, anyway!

So let's see, what's happening lately? I guess I'll start with the work situation, since that's where I sit presently. As I may have already mentioned, the merger that was potentially looming in the future for the past year or two is now in the rearview mirror as a done deal, and change is afoot. Some folks are already gone, some already find themselves reporting to new bosses, even if they don't have new duties. I'm neither of those, or at least not yet. But it seems like I'm going to fall out somewhere closer to my old gig than my most recent one, which is frankly a relief and a Good Thing. The role my boss tried to slot me into for the past year wasn't an ideal fit for me, and didn't actually consist of much. So while having an extremely light year in terms of workload has been nice, it also never made me feel like much of a contributor, and therefore made me feel a bit insecure. We pay that guy how much, and to do what?! So it will be nice if I land in a new role which is more in my comfort zone, and where I feel like I can be more valuable. Whether I also get a new boss or not, I dunno. But that's okay, I certainly don't mind my present boss. If I do get a new boss, it might be nice if they're based at the company HQ in Connecticut, and I have to go visit them there now and then. I wouldn't mind that at all! Still waiting to hear about other changes like benefits, and what our options will be for the old company's pension plan. Some people have been kicking around calculators and it could be a nice chunk of money.

At home, things are mostly business-as-usual. We homeschool, as you probably know, so summer vacation isn't necessarily a thing for us. But Heather usually does take a break from most of their schoolwork over the summer, and we let the girls each pick a summer-camp type thing to go to.

Hallie's was last week--she went to a camp at a horse-riding school in the area, since she's the one who seems to have gotten the horse bug. :) She loved it, of course. We'll probably let her go back there for a lesson now and then. Hermione's camp is this week, she's doing a YMCA one, which is basically what you think of when you hear 'summer camp', though she's not spending the nights there. She's been having a blast too, though yesterday she skipped it because she wasn't feeling so good--maybe 3 days out in the heat (and it has been HOT this week) wore her down, or she caught a summer cold or something. She's there today for the last day, hopefully she's feeling okay and having fun. Later in the summer is Amy's turn, she's doing the camp her gymnastics class offers, so she should have fun at that one.

Speaking of Amy, did I mention that she and I started taking karate classes? I think I did say I'd started taking her, but I joined in myself after watching for a few weeks. :) It's been a lot of fun, and a great weekly workout for me. Plus I'm really enjoying learning it, of course. I was always drawn to aikido personally, but that just never worked out in terms of finding a class at a time and place (and price!) that we liked. So this is far better than nothing, and the teachers we've worked with are good folks. I can't say Amy's really picking it up, mainly because I need to get her to practice with me more at home. But she does try to follow along in class, and she has fun and burns off energy, which is the important thing at her age.

I guess I should mention the Pulse shooting. Just awful. Unspeakable. The evil of some people, and our insistence as a nation on making it so easy for everyone who wants the machinery of mass murder to acquire it, and with less scrutiny than you need to buy a damn package of Sudafed. It infuriated me. And still does. I went to bed Saturday night in the Happiest Place on Earth, and woke up in the city now associated with the worst gun massacre in American history. So far, anyway. But talking about all that is what my Facebook is for, and I sure did, probably until most people following me there were beyond sick of it. But that's the whole problem, isn't it? A massacre happens, we get outraged and talk about it for a few days until we're all sick of it, and then we stop. Until the next massacre, anyway. And there always is the next massacre. Anyway.

It certainly was a rough weekend for Orlando. Before the massacre we had the shooting of Christina Grimmie, who I can't say I'd ever heard of. But still, she died and didn't deserve to die, just another instance of someone off their rocker--in this case an obsessed and demented fan--who shouldn't have owned a gun but did, and decided it would be swell to use it. And then after the massacre there was the toddler killed by an alligator at Disney World, which is just horrible. That it should happen to anyone is awful, but a family here to enjoy a joyful vacation? At freaking Walt Disney World, of all places? Somehow that all makes it that much worse. I'm at least glad to see that unlike the Cincinnati Zoo incident, people don't seem to be blaming the parents. Yes, there were No Swimming signs, but wading isn't swimming in my book, especially if the area in question is a sandy beach, next to a hotel, which extends out into the water. They had no reason to suspect that sort of danger--I'd wager most Floridians wouldn't, and we're aware gators are around, so why should a family from freaking Nebraska?--and I'm sure for many thousands of people in that exact same spot over the last however-many years it wasn't a dangerous place or activity. This time it turned out to be dangerous, and tragically so. Sad, to say the least.

Now it's Friday, and I'm just running out the clock until I can go home. Or actually, before I can go pick Hermione up from camp before heading home. And not much going on today. So here, have some photos, too. Or maybe a whole bunch of photos, now that I take a look!


Hermione's band had a little performance at a homeschooling convention at the Gaylord Palms, so we all went to that. It was probably more trouble than it was worth, but it was nice to walk around there.

Clicky for more! )
And whew, I guess that's all for this episode. Thanks for reading!

CoughCough

Feb. 22nd, 2016 02:37 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Almost 3 weeks and I am STILL fighting the Great Phlegm Wars. Constantly trying (and failing) to clear my throat, and coughing even though the coughing does nothing. It is annoying. But it shall pass. Someday.

This morning.. should I even post about this? We live in an area with city water but not city sewer, so we have a septic system. And we'd never had the thing pumped out, so we decided we should do that before we have actual problems. So that happened. All was fine, and I learned a bit. The odd thing is that there's a pump in the system somewhere, the purpose of which is to pump water to the drainfield in the back yard. And the pump has been unplugged for who knows how long. But even so, everything looked okay with the tank and all. The septic guy was a bit flabbergasted, called it a miracle. Though in my experience miracles don't tend to involve anything septic-system-related. But whatever.

Weekend was pretty okay. Saturday we went over to the coast to visit my Mom, because Amy said she wanted to do that for her upcoming birthday. She'll be 5 tomorrow, hard to believe! Anyway, that was a pretty good visit. We had lunch at a yummy Mexican place we like (and my sister met us there--she is still a moron). Afterwards we went to check out the house my sister is planning to buy, since it was just around the corner from the restaurant. It's a HUD home with some issues, but for the price it's pretty impressive. Nice big separate garage that includes a bonus room and a little bathroom. And the house itself, apparently when they built the separate garage they converted the attached garage into additional living space, so the kitchen and living room were both huge. Sis has huge dreams for the place, though how she plans to accomplish them when she and her husband both live on disability insurance is beyond me. Should I also note that she's a big Trump supporter? Like I said, she's a moron.

Sunday it was decided that I'd take the girls to EPCOT and get us new WDW passes. We'd been tossing the idea around for a bit and decided to go ahead. I'm shooting a colleague's wedding this summer, and she asked if we could do the engagement session at EPCOT. I told her that wasn't an option since we were between passes, but then I got to thinking about it, and thought why not? I like to have a pass for myself and photo sessions when they come up, and I generally make enough from photography to cover the cost. So then the question was, who else gets a pass? The wife just wasn't interested--she's not a big fan these days because she says the place is always busy, and she's not too wrong (though I think she doth protest too much). But the girls and I still like to go, and it's particularly unfair to Amy since she's at a perfect age for the place, and would be missing out since we've almost always had passes when her sisters were her age. So at first I suggested just me and Amy, but we decided that wasn't fair to the other two either, so everyone but the wife got one. It's a win for her because it gives me a place to take the girls for a good chunk of the day now and then, which will give her a nice break to sew or clean or just relax in a quiet house with no rugrats. Nice, right? So anyway, we headed out there and had a nice time for a few hours. Didn't do much to speak of, just got our passes, had lunch at The Land, and made the grand circle tour of the world. And I scouted some nice nooks and crannies for that upcoming engagement shoot.

Speaking of photography, I need to get back on the ball with that. I've been feeling like my skills have gone downhill, and that was reinforced this morning while I was waiting for the septic guy to finish. Amy wanted to see photos of herself as a baby, after Heather was telling her we moved in to the house when Hallie was a baby. So they were looking at my Flickr photos from back then, and I realized I just don't take photos that good these days, for whatever reason. I need to figure out why that is, and what to do about it. I should really fire up Shutterbuggery again, if for no other reason than to pose some exercises for myself and whomever else cares.

That said, my Creative Commons photos seem to get picked up pretty regularly. I was paging through a recent Orlando Weekly, which is the free alternative newspaper thing around these parts, and there was a photo of the old mill at DeLeon Springs State Park that looked awfully familiar. I was like, "Is that mine?" And sure enough, there was a credit to my Flickr username. And on FB, someone posted a link to an article with some photos of the Bulow Creek sugar mill ruins, and the majority of photos were mine. Always kinda fun to see that. :) I need to get those chops back up as well.

After EPCOT I took Amy to the home improvement store to get lumber for the additional LEGO cabinet shelves, and tackled that yesterday before dinner. Didn't take long at all! And I think the LEGO cabinet is pretty awesome. I'll have to get some photos to share, because while it's silly to have a huge cabinet full of LEGO, and even more silly to be proud of such a thing.. we do have it, and I am kinda proud. :)

Have a great afternoon!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, the pool pump was a bust. The plastic goo I got is pretty neat, but it only forms a chemical bond with certain types of plastic, and I guess the pump housing isn't one of those types. So it felt nice and solid at first, but when I tightened the bolt it came loose again. So on to Plan B, which is to replace the whole pump housing with a new one, with factory-fresh bolt inserts and all. This will involve a bit of re-plumbing, but I am hoping it will be within my skill set. And if not, it would be a quick (and hopefully cheap) job for a pro.

Weekend otherwise was so-so. The wife and middle kid have both been fighting off some mystery ailment or another, so they were both a little under the weather. But we went to the American Girl store as planned Saturday morning--and now need to go back again, because I didn't think I needed to check the box of the thing we bought to make sure the thing we bought was actually in the box. But it wasn't, which we discovered when we got home. Might use my lunchbreak today to drive back down there and rectify the situation.

Last night I took the girls to EPCOT Center. It was our last chance to hit a park before the summer blackout period, and between Heather's illness and general busy-ness she could use a break from the kids, so off we went. It was a pretty good time! We did more rides than we normally do, including Soarin' (which Hallie and Amy went on once before, but it was Hermione's first time). That was a hit, of course--I think that's one of the best experiences at WDW, though we don't do it much because the line is always long. They're planning to add a couple more theaters to expand the capacity, and I think they're also going to change the film to Florida instead of California, which certainly makes sense. So we rode that, Spaceship Earth, Living With The Land, the Mexico boat ride, and we checked out the store in China and had dessert at the bakery in Norway. Mmm, good. It was a bit warm, but there was a nice breeze so overall it was a very pleasant evening.

I've been splurging a bit on games for the Wii U--I see it as playing catch-up. :) But not too bad, I've mostly been getting good deals on pre-owned games. Let's see, I got LEGO Batman 3 (good game, but now we find it a bummer that the multiplayer on LEGO games is only 2 players--hopefully LEGO Dimensions will rectify that!), LEGO City: Undercover (which is as awesome as I expected, but only 1-player), Wii Party U (we enjoy the minigame collections, lots of variety and quick to play as well), The Wonderful 101 (neat game, but pretty difficult and entirely chaotic), Rayman Legends and ZombiU (haven't even gotten to try those yet!). This Friday is the release of LEGO Jurassic World, which I think I must get immediately. :) Then I'd like to catch up on a few other LEGO games, and grab things like New Super Mario Bros. U and the Zelda games. Just checked, the new open-world Zelda game (which does sound amazing) was just pushed back to next year, that's a bummer. Oh well, lots to get in the meantime!

Amy still only ever wants to play the Mario Cat Game (Super Mario 3D World), of course. And I must say, she's getting better at it! Yesterday we were playing, and she actually outscored me on a couple levels! Mostly because we died midway and had to continue with reset scores, but still. I'm a proud gamer Dad. The other girls aren't quite as into it--they'd rather play on their PC, where Terraria, Don't Starve, and Scribblenauts are the order of the day. And Sims 2 sometimes.

Speaking of gaming with the girls, I taught them Poker recently! When I was a kid I remember lots of fun nights spent playing penny-ante Poker with the family, so it's cool that we can do that now. I started them with 5-card draw, of course, but next time I'll introduce 5- and 7-card stud. I don't know the varieties like Texas Hold 'Em, maybe we'll try that later on. I also showed them Blackjack real quick, but they didn't like that as much. They like getting more cards, they said. So I guess 7-card stud should be a hit. :)

Otherwise I've been feeling a bit blah. I dunno, every now and then I let the 10% of stuff that isn't where I want it to be distract me from the 90% that's truly wonderful, and I stew in those negative juices for a bit. Mostly I blame myself for being the cause of my own discontent, and for not seeing how I can make it better. Same old, same old, I suppose.

Okay, back to work. Or maybe I'll hit the road for the mall, grumblegrumble. Hope everyone is having a good Monday!

Update!

Oct. 28th, 2014 10:32 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Okay, randomness.

-The weather looks AMAZING for the upcoming weekend. We have a front coming through (unfortunately not in time to make Halloween night very cool) and the weekend highs are in the low 70Fs, nice and sunny. Can't wait! Speaking of weather, for my California trip it looks nice too, though just a touch warm, low to mid-80Fs. Not too bad!

-Speaking of California, I'm still a little up in the air (so to speak) on what to do with myself. I had planned a driving tour along the coast and up through Los Padres and to another park or two. But then I mapped it on Google and discovered the driving time was like 6 hours altogether, and that's no bueno. So instead I think I might explore LA itself a little more--head up to Beverly Hills and Hollywood, see some sights in those parts. And still work in a couple parks and detours on my way to Bakersfield. I sorta wish Disneyland were an option again--timewise it is, money-wise notsomuch. It's silly to me that WDW passholders get no discount on admission at DL and vice-versa.

-Speaking of Disney, last Friday we went to get our new passes, yay! I had some photography gigs coming up out there, so I had a need for my pass and the money from the gigs helps to pay for them. We took a pretty long break between passes, so the girls were ready and excited to go back. We just went to the Magic Kingdom and didn't do a whole lot, but it was fun and I'm glad Amy will have the chance to see Mickey and Minnie since she loves them.

-Speaking of photo gigs, yesterday morning I had a shoot at the Magic Kingdom (so my pass got put to use right away!). It was fun, a very nice couple from Brazil here on vacation, and they wanted a maternity/vacation shoot. I think it went pretty well, though I probably won't get to edit anything until I get back from CA.

-Speaking of nothing in particular, on my way back from Disney yesterday I saw a commercial van for a crane company. The company's logo, displayed proudly on the back and doors of the van: "We Make Shit Happen." And I was like, uh, even beyond the questionale language for a commercial vehicle, the generally understood meaning of "shit happens" would seem to make that a poor motto as well. But then again, it certainly caught my eye, so if I ever find myself in need of a crane to make shit happen, I guess I'll know where to go.

-Weekend was pretty good.. Saturday Heather had a concert at a local art festival type deal, so I took the kids and roamed while she was playing. They had fun in the bounce houses and looking at the art displays from the local schools, and they made some edible art in the form of pixie dust type candy layered in a clear plastic bottle. Not too bad. Sunday I thought Heather could use a break so I took the girls over to Brevard to visit my Mom, and also to meet our friend Holly and her family so I could take some pics of them. On the drive over, Amy started fussing and then threw up. I pulled over to get her cleaned up, and she seemed okay and wanted to keep going. But a few minutes later she threw up again. But by then we were a lot closer to our destination than home, so we soldiered on and aside from some clinginess, she seemed perfectly fine the rest of the day. So I dunno, maybe it was motion sickness, or just a hair in her throat or something. She had two full-sized pieces of pizza at lunch and said she was hungry again not long after, and that all stayed down, so.. yeah. Kinda weird, she hardly ever tosses her cookies. Otherwise it was a good day!

-I still haven't updated about my Indianapolis trip, have I? Ah well, probably not today either. We'll see. I'm sure you're very disappointed,

-In a meeting again, so I guess I should pay attention, eh? Have a great day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I'm working on a blog post with [livejournal.com profile] redqueenofevil, and need to select a few of my Magic Kingdom photos to include. So here's a bunch of my favorites, any suggestions on 3 or 4 of the best?

1
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More! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20140306-IMG_7420_HDR

I'm happy to report that last week's California travels went very well. The short version: The outbound flights were fine, only a slight delay getting into the Orange County airport. Grabbed a quick lunch at the airport, then got my rental car and headed straight to Disneyland, which was awesome. Cursed LA-area traffic on the way to pick up my employee at the Burbank airport for the drive up to Bakersfield. Woke early (as I expected I would) on Friday morning, so I went out for a little exploring before heading back to the hotel to get my employee and our colleague for breakfast and then to the office. After leaving work Friday afternoon we still had some time before we needed to get to the airport, so we drove around Bakersfield and found a neat park to kill some time. Aside from a slight delay before boarding in Phoenix, the flights home were fine as well (though very little sleep was to be had). All in all, a very enjoyable trip!

So first up: my first time visiting Disneyland!
Clicky! Scads of photos, naturally... )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I haven't talked too much about travel lately, but I have some coming up!

The flights for California are booked: I'm flying to Anaheim (SNA) on Thursday the 6th of March. I get there around 10:30am, whereupon I'll grab my rental car and head straight to Disneyland for the afternoon. The park closes at 8, but I'm expecting shortish lines so hopefully that will be enough time for a decent introduction to Walt's park. :) I need to make a plan, though--here at Disney World there's generally no plan to speak of, we just wander and go on what we feel like going on (assuming lines are reasonable). There are definitely things I want to check out at DL, though, and really I'm not even sure what all is there! So I need to do some homework on that for sure. After I leave Disneyland I'll head to the Burbank airport to pick up my employee, and then we'll drive the the rest of the way to Bakersfield. With the time change I wake up pretty early out there, so I usually have time to roam Bakersfield a little before I head to the office, and maybe an hour or two before we head to the airport as well. So I should identify some nearby options to maybe get in a short hike, or at least some photo opportunities. We leave out of BFD at 6:45pm, which means we're in the air overnight and get home Saturday morning. So it's a short trip, but I'm expecting to pack it pretty full with Good Stuff. :)

Then in mid-April is Nashville, for which I need to go ahead and book the flights and hotel. As a matter of fact, I think I'll go ahead and do that this afternoon. I hadn't asked the wife about extending my stay there, but then I noticed that the Nickel Creek concert at the Ryman already sold out, so I guess it's a non-issue anyway. I should have expected that! Oh well, maybe I can catch them somewhere else on the tour. Hmm, they'll be in Indianapolis in early May, maybe I can make that coincide with my visit there. I like that idea! I still hope to add one day to the Nashville trip, though--the conference runs Tuesday through Thursday afternoon. If I add Friday I can catch a special Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman Thursday night, and then spend the day Friday roaming around some of my favorite spots. I'm hoping for nice weather all around, obviously!

And then I also need to visit Indy, Birmingham, and Detroit sometime in the next couple months. Glad I got my Southwest Visa card, I am going to be racking up the points! :)

Meh.

Feb. 3rd, 2014 08:56 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
That pretty much sums up the weekend, I'm afraid. A bit of a dud, really.

After a few chilly, rainy, gloomy days, we were looking forward to a nicer weekend. Saturday was indeed warmer, but it rained pretty much all day, which ruled out most anything outdoors we might have considered. So instead I took the two older girls to the science center for a few hours, which was a pretty good time--though a lot of other people had the same idea, so it was a bit crowded. Still, they had a good time and it got us out of the house for a while.

Sunday looked to finally bring an end to the rain, so we planned to head out to the Magic Kingdom for one last visit before our passes expire. My thought was to wait until late morning and stop for lunch before going to the park, but I was overruled because everyone was eager to get out of the house. That meant dealing with the morning rush of people parking and heading to the park, and the crowds near the entrance. It also turned out to be a busier day than expected, so lines were long. And the rain did indeed stop, but it left lots of humidity and stickiness in its wake, which made the weather a bit stifling and uncomfortable. Hermione and I tried to go on Pirates, only to have it break down while we were in line, so we ditched that. The main thing Hallie wanted to ride was the Haunted Mansion, and we checked it a few times but the line was always too long. So we really only went on a couple things before calling it a day, and it made for a not very good last visit. Ah well, on the other hand it reinforced our decision to take a Disney break when our passes do expire. :)

We took the car to Disney because I checked the oil in the van that morning and found it quite low, and rather than just add oil I wanted to do an oil change since it's been a while. So when we got home I got cracking on that. At first I thought I had everything I needed, but it turned out I needed a filter, so I headed to the auto parts store for that, and I also figured I'd get oil and a filter for my car, which is about due as well. Turns out the car uses the exact same filter as the van, so that'll be convenient! I'd already drained the oil from the van, so all I needed to do was install the filter and fill up the oil, no problem there. Then I started on the car. And I must say, I finally found something to really dislike about my car. The filter is only accessible from the bottom of the engine, which is unusual for me. And it's hidden by a plastic panel, something else to remove. As is the drain plug, which is also pretty far back from the front of the car, making it rather difficult to reach. Plus the plug was apparently really overtightened whenever it was last changed, because I could not get it to budge, and in fact I was starting to round off the damn bolt head. So I eventually gave up since I was doing more harm than good. I'll have to attack it with the floor jack and stands next time so I can really get under there, maybe even get the impact wrench involved if that might help. But first I think I need to order a new drain plug. :/ One of those things, I guess--once I get it done once, doing it in the future shouldn't be so bad. But sheesh, it should not be this hard!

What else.. oh yeah, we got our info together to file our taxes. We knew we'd owe since I had nothing withheld all year, we just wanted to get it overwith so we'd know how much, and from that we could take a guess at how much will be leftover from my upcoming annual bonus. The tax bill came to just over $1k, which was a bit more than I expected but apparently less than Heather feared, so I guess that's not too bad. We'll use the bonus to catch up on a couple things, and probably put the rest aside as a buffer for my upcoming trips--I get paid back for them, but the delay between paying for the airfare and whatnot and the reimbursement sometimes takes more than one billing cycle of the credit card, and it doesn't make sense to pay finance charges on business travel that technically shouldn't be costing me anything.

Oh, and my poor Amy. Apparently Friday she was goofing around and smacked her mouth on the coffee table. Heather said there was a lot of blood, so at first she was afraid she'd copied her older sister Hallie, who knocked a front tooth out at about the same age (though that one happened on my watch). So far the teeth seem okay, but she had a pretty swollen upper lip all weekend, and obviously complained a lot that eating hurt, poor kid. Hopefully that will all heal up good as new in another couple days.

So yeah, a bit of a subpar weekend, no paddling (again), not a whole lot of fun, and not even really any photos worth sharing. Hopefully this week will go quickly and next weekend will be better! Hope everyone out there had a better weekend.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20140129-IMG_6309_HDR

As planned, yesterday I took the day off from work and headed out to Disney World. It was a pretty cold, miserable, rainy day--but it still beat working! I got to Hollywood Studios about 15 minutes before 9am, when the park opened. They let us in a few minutes early, and I made a beeline to Toy Story Mania, which I'd never actually gotten to ride before. As one of the first folks to get there, I got on very quickly, and it was a heck of a lot of fun! I kinda knew what to expect, because we have the very-similar (and frankly rather mediocre) Wii video game, but the mechanics of the "gun" and the nature of the ride really made it fun. After riding it once, I thought I'd grab a FastPass to do it again later, so I did. But "later" turned out to be 5 minutes, so I took a brief stroll and then went back to go around again. And I'm happy to say my score improved quite a bit from the first to the second time!

After that I did the Tower of Terror (with hardly any wait!), then the Rock'n'Roller Coaster (only a couple minutes' wait since I used the single-rider line), then the ToT again (much longer wait that time, for some reason). And after that I was actually pretty satisfied, but it was still early so I headed over to Star Tours for a quick ride since I had a FastPass for that as well. Then the weather was still miserable and it was getting close to lunchtime, so I figured I'd call it a day. I decided to skip the Magic Kingdom and plan a visit for all of us this weekend instead, and that will be it until we decide to get a new round of passes sometime. I need to get some more photo gigs to pay for that, I think!

Speaking of FastPasses, this was also my first time trying the new FastPass+ system, which is replacing the old FastPass program. Under the old system, you could only have one FastPass at a time, and you generally had to get it near the attraction itself. So, for example, if I wanted a FastPass for Toy Story, I'd have to go over there, put in my ticket, and get the little slip of paper telling me the time window to come back--and I couldn't get a FP for any other attraction until that window had passed. So it made for a lot of backtracking and was a bit inconvenient, even though it did save some time waiting in line. With the new system, you can get FastPasses for 3 attractions at once, and (to an extent) you can even choose the times you want. Eventually you'll be able to do all this online even before you enter the park; for now they have self-serve kiosks or cast members with tablets to walk you through the process. It was pretty easy, and worked very well--except there's no hard copy to remind you of the times (at least not when using the cast members with tablets, maybe the kiosks do provide something?), so I had to snap a shot of the tablet screen with my phone, which was pretty kludgy. But anyway, overall I think it's an improvement over the old system, though for now we won't have much opportunity to experiment with it!

Anyway. After I left Disney I grabbed lunch at Firehouse, and then stopped by Home Depot on the way home. There were some hanging-stuff-on-the-walls projects I'd been neglecting, so I got the stuff I needed to get that done and spent a little time on that in the afternoon. Not much of a day to do much else! Though it was pretty active at my birdfeeder for a change--several tufted titmice, a cardinal, and a couple other little brown birds. I was glad to give them a snack on a chilly day!

I did get a few decent photos at the Studios, despite the gloom. Have a look? )

Day off!

Jan. 28th, 2014 02:03 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, despite my slight illness and potentially ugly weather, I'm planning to go through with my day off for tomorrow. The idea, as I mentioned, is to hit 2 or 3 Disney World parks and get in some of the rides that I rarely get to enjoy when we visit with the kids. And who knows, maybe the gloomy and cold weather will server to keep people away and crowds will be even lighter than expected! I plan to start at Hollywood Studios, where I may even be able to get in a ride on Toy Story Mania if I book it right over there. That ride has been open for several years now, and I have yet to ride it because the wait is always insanely long later in the day. And apparently it's not even that great a ride, even though it invariably has a long queue. Ah well, at least I'll be able to say I've done it. From there I'll probably bounce back and forth between the Tower of Terror and Rock'n'Roller Coaster a few times, as long as the lines remain short. Then I'll maybe hit Animal Kingdom for Expedition Everest, or maybe just decide to head to the Magic Kingdom and visit the mountains (well, probably not Splash Mountain if it's too chilly). Or who knows, maybe I'll get my fill of rides at the Studios and spend the rest of the day playing video games at home instead. It's a crazy world, anything is possible! :) But I do plan to bring a camera, so perhaps I'll want to roam around the parks making photos. Unless the weather is really icky. Yep.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20130320-IMG_8006

The weekend was basically a gloomy washout--when it wasn't raining, we couldn't be sure it wouldn't start raining again soon, so most of the tentative plans we had got scrubbed. But we did get out a little, and I realized I never posted about the end of last week, so I figured I'd cover it all in one photo update.

Ready to go? )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Since it was a rather photographic weekend, I thought I'd share some shots, including some from the paid shoots, which I don't normally share here. So enjoy!

20130217-IMG_6738
I'm actually gonna go backwards, chronologically speaking: this is the inflatable wheel thing we got Amy yesterday. It was a hit, but no one wanted to ride it down the stairs. I was all like, "How are we ever going to get on America's Funniest Home Videos if we never do anthing stupid?!" Oh well.

Continued! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
It seems like most of my substantial updates these days are weekend recaps, as if my life only occurs on Saturdays and Sundays. Hmm, I should do something about that. But it's not all that inaccurate either. Weekdays, I get up and come to work, then get home and have dinner, then spend a few hours putzing around the house or going out shopping if we need something, and then our evening routine. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's not a bad life, but it's not exactly riveting either. :) Well, before long it won't get dark so damn early and maybe we'll get in some more fun in the evenings. I hear there's a movement afoot to get Florida to adopt Daylight Savings Time all year, which would mean in the winter it would get dark at 7 instead of 6. I kinda like that idea, personally!

So this weekend was a good one, but it left me pretty sore!

Friday I left work a little after 3 and headed for the Magic Kingdom for that surprise proposal shoot. As I left I thought to myself, "Eh, it's only 3pm, I-4 shouldn't be that bad yet." Ha! There was an accident past downtown, so it was stop-and-go pretty much all the way, and it took me over an hour just to get parked. Then there's still a ways to go to get to the park itself! So I wanted to get there by 4 and it was actually more like 4:40, but oh well, everything worked out anyway. The client excused himself from dinner for a moment and came out to meet me so we'd know who we each were looking for, and then I headed to the spot I'd already staked out. He brought his girlfriend down shortly thereafter, and the proposal went off fine. Quickly, but fine. And she said yes, of course. :) After that he let her know I was there, and we spent most of the next 2 hours--until well past sunset, as a matter of fact--shooting around Main Street and the Castle. They were great, fun to work with, not bad-looking, so it made for a good time and I'm pretty proud of some of the images we got. I'll have to make a couple posts to share some photos from that and the other shoot I had this weekend.

...Which was Saturday morning! Twice to Disney parks in less than 24 hours and I didn't even get to go on any rides! Oh well. We all packed up bright and early to get to EPCOT right at opening Saturday, with the plan that Heather and the girls would go around and do some rides and whatnot while I walked over to the Boardwalk resort to meet the family I was shooting. It took us a bit longer than expected to park, get through security, and then into the park, so I was a few minutes late, but it was all good. The family was from Utah--a couple and their 5 (mostly-grown) kids, plus their oldest daughter's husband. They were a lot of fun and the Dad was into photography so we talked a little shop. Started out slow but then we started clicking and they all had good ideas, plus the Boardwalk is a really nice backdrop--lots of variety and color to work with. I'll have to share some of those as well!

After the shoot I met up with Heather and we played with the girls a bit. The annual Flower and Garden Festival is a few weeks away, and they always set up some good playgrounds around EPCOT for that. This year one of them is themed after the new Wizard of Oz movie, and they opened it a few weeks early, I guess to get that bit of added buzz before the movie opens. So we checked that out, and it was cool. Then we ate the lunch we'd brought, and after that the park was getting busy so we headed home. That was a lot of walking between Friday evening and Saturday morning, not to mention the squatting and crouching I tend to do while shooting, so my legs and feet were a bit sore.

Back at home, I set about installing the tow hitch I'd ordered for the van. Did I mention that? The main idea right now is to be able to use the receiver-hitch-mounted bike rack we've had for years and never been able to use, so we can load up all our bikes and take them to parks and trails. But later on maybe we'll get a little trailer for our pedal boat, or a kayak trailer, or a camper, whatever. Now we can have options. So anyway, the first step in installing the thing was to try to get bolts through the existing mounting holes/weld-nuts on the van, which have been exposed to years of muck and whatnot being thrown up by the rear wheels. It was not an easy task, especially working at the angles required, and my hands took a beating from the torque required to force some of them. Plus I managed to break one of the weld-nuts loose, and the only way to get to it (which was a necessity, since there was no other way to get the bolt out once it broke loose) was to run to the store and get a hole saw to cut a hole in the trunk well to access the frame. But once I got all 6 of the nuts crud-free all the way through, and figured out a good way to jack up the hitch so I could get the bolts started, it went pretty quickly. It just took all.damn.afternoon to get to that point!

Sunday dawned bright but cold, and due to the chill we decided to ditch our initial plan of putting the hitch to use with a bike ride. Good thing, because when I tried the bike rack out later, I quickly realized that Heather's bike won't fit! We need an adapter bar, a gizmo that creates a temporary top crossbar for mounting a ladies' bike to the thing. So that's on the way for next weekend (maybe). Instead we decided to go to Toys'R'Us and look for a better present for Amy's upcoming birthday! We initially got her a baby doll with its own potty, to assist in her ongoing potty training. But since then she's really gotten the hang of it pretty well, so we may return that. Instead we got a big inflatable wheel for Amy and the other girls to have fun with. We went ahead and gave it to her, because she has no clue when her birthday is anyway. :) There was also a sale on LEGO sets, so I decided to spend some of my photoshoot money on a set for me and a set for the girls. And any day with a new LEGO set is a good day! After that, lunch, then home to play with LEGOs and clean up, and Heather came up with a new furniture-rearrangement plan (which is our main hobby, you know) that we can implement pretty soon.

So yup, all in all a good weekend, though my hands still hurt! Glad I did that AFTER the photoshoots. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20130209-IMG_5781

Hmm, that looks more orange/red than I recall. I wonder if I'm due for a monitor recalibration or if it's because Chrome isn't color-managed. Google needs to fix that. Oh wait, now I see they did! So maybe it's my monitor. Or my eyes. :)

Anyway, that was a shot from our visit to Animal Kingdom Saturday. My initial plan was to head further afield to visit some new state parks, but we didn't feel like driving quite that far and thought we should get in some more Disney time before the weather turns unbearably hot. And it was already almost too hot this weekend! We could use a little shot of that northern cold, please. Not enough to freeze the plants, just enough to make it feel like February! Anyway, it was a pretty decent visit, but it was pretty crowded. And we didn't make it to the petting zoo because only one train was running and there was a wait. Oh well, that's why we have passes, so we can go back and try again!

Speaking of excursions, I finally ordered a tow hitch to install on the van. I was under the impression that it would be a difficult thing to install, but it really doesn't look to be--the holes are already there, and even threaded. I just need to clean them out and bolt the thing on. That will let us use the bike carrier I've had for ages but had no receiver hitch to use it with, so we'll be able to start taking our bikes on excursions. That should be fun, and sorely-needed exercise too. Especially for me, since I haul Amy (and sometimes Hallie too) in the bike trailer.

Heh, just got ANOTHER inquiry for a couples session in the Magic Kingdom. None of my last batch of inquiries have been from locals--all couples and families coming to town to visit the Mouse or otherwise vacation. I'm okay with that, of course, though it does mean the chance for repeat business is pretty much nil. At least there are a couple locals who I can count on to come back to me at least once a year. I should work on some more, though, maybe drop a line to former clients to see if they want a repeat--especially the folks I've done newborn shoots with.

Talked to the Surprise Proposal guy yesterday, and now he's concerned about the weather Friday. There is a chance of rain in the forecast presently, so we'll keep an eye on it and adjust as necessary. I think we'll stay on schedule, though.

And now it's almost lunchtime, so I guess that'll do for now. I need to update about the kids, but that'll be another post. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Surprise Proposal, Magic Kingdom
Family, Disney's Boardwalk Resort
Couple/Honeymoon, Magic Kingdom
Engagement, Magic Kingdom

I'm seeing a pattern here. I guess I better buy my annual pass, eh?

Actually, the plan is for me to do that tonight or tomorrow--we're just debating whether just I should get one, or if we should go ahead and get one for everyone again. I suspect we're leaning that way. We were ready for a break from Disney World (when the kids say "Again?!" when you ask if they want to go to Disney World, you know it's time), but we just really do like having the option to go stroll around the parks when we feel like it. And the Flower and Garden Festival is around the corner, which we always like to check out. So I'm sure we'll break down and go that way. Maybe I'll take the girls and get all our passes this evening while Heather goes to band. Either way I need to get out there this week and scope out the location for that surprise proposal shoot--I want to get some shots of the area for the guy so he'll see what I have in mind and where he needs to stand and point them when he does the deed. :)

I'm actually happy that business is picking up again. Last year was pretty slow, partly because I didn't advertise much, partly because I wasn't feeling the joy from it. But I'm kinda psyched up again for some reason, ready to get out there and make some great images. I don't usually post any of my non-personal work here, but maybe I'll start tossing some in if I'm particularly proud of them. Stay tuned!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Ever see that one? That was one of my favorite movies as a kid.

Anyway, the title comes to mind because of a photoshoot I have coming up next month. Dude's bringing his girlfriend down to Disney World, and he plans to pop the question while they're here. He's engaging my services to document the occasion. So my first thought was, okay, he's going to tell her that he booked a photographer for a couples session to remember the trip, and then somewhere along the way he'll whip out the ring. But I chatted with him today, and nope, he plans to keep everything hush-hush and is even concerned that a photographer will make her suspect something is up. So the plan is for him to give me a quick call when they're wrapping up dinner, and I'll stake out a position to shoot from a distance when he does the deed. After THAT he'll introduce me and we'll go do some posed shots around the park. So I'm intrigued by this plan, of course, because it should be pretty cool if it works out. But I am also scared because there are any number of ways that it might not work out! Maybe I'll end up in a poor location, maybe they'll be facing the wrong way and I won't be able to give them direction, maybe some other tourist(s) will stroll through (or crowd around) and block my angle. I think I need to head out there sometime before the shoot to take a look at the area he has in mind and find a few good spots that I can move between if needed. Maybe also give him some sample images of the layout so he can know where to bring her and how to point her. Anyway, I hope it works out well. :)

And now I need to renew my WDW pass (or get a new one, more accurately)! We'd let them expire and hadn't planned to renew, but I keep getting inquiries for WDW shoots--just got another one a few minutes ago!--so at least my own pass can pay for itself. I don't mind being able to go to Disney whenever I want anyway, though I'll feel guilty going without my girls.

But just a little. :)

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