kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Toad the Wet Sprocket! Not everyone's cup of tea, I suppose, but I'm definitely a fan. I discovered them when their Coil album came out in the late 90s--I loved that record, so I went back to their earlier stuff and loved that too. And then they basically broke up, which made me sad. But then they got back together and put out a (fantastic) new album a couple years ago, and I was thrilled to see them on the roster for the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival this year. Hermione likes them too and was interested in coming, but the timing was bad so I ended up going alone. Just as well, I doubt she'd have wanted to stay for 2 sets like I did. Great shows!

A few more pics:
Clicky! )
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!


May. 18th, 2016 01:55 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

On the plus side, I went to a neat new (to me) park on the way home from St. Petersburg yesterday. It's called Edward Medard Park, a little outside of Plant City, and the highlight is an area called the Sacred Hills: Southern live oak trees growing in sandy hills, which have eroded over time and left a lot of the trees' root structures exposed. It was pretty amazing, and I'll have to take the girls there sometime. They love climbing hills and trees, so they'd be in heaven here. But it was already super hot there, so it'll have to wait until cooler weather comes back. Hopefully I'll remember it when that time comes!

So today is the day my employer officially gets subsumed into what is now the 2nd-largest cable company in the US. So I expect the news and changes will start coming down soon. There's already been some--last week we had to register for our e-mail address and intranet account for the new company, and yesterday they told us about some payroll changes. I think I mentioned the pension thing, right? Hm, maybe I didn't. My company has always offered both a matched 401(k) retirement plan as well as a pension plan, which is pretty awesome since it's a rarity these days. So of course with the merger looming, a few weeks ago we got word that they were freezing the pension and would give us some options about what to do with the funds at some point in the future. So that part is interesting, since there could be a lump-sum payout option which might be nice. But I just love the logic: Here's something that makes us exceptional as an employer, and we can't have that so we're pulling the plug. Yay capitalism, indeed. Probably a sign of things to come. I am mostly concerned about whether our (quite generous) management bonus program will also go the way of the dodo.

And we're also waiting to hear about inevitable organizational changes. Right now my boss is in charge of several different but sorta-interconnected parts of the business, and he fully expects that will not be the case as we get more absorbed into the larger company. So I could very well end up with a new boss at some point in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a new role too, who knows. Which might be kinda nice, since right now I feel way underutilized and it makes me feel a little guilty and worried. Picture the scene in Office Space: What would you say you DO here?

In other news, this past Sunday we decided to head down to Downtown Disney--er, I mean Disney Springs--because Heather had read that the second parking garage had opened last week. And that's cool because our main reason for going there is the LEGO store, which is a lot closer to the second garage. So we got there and headed for that.. and found that the garage was closed! So we looped around to the first garage instead, and when we came out of that we discovered that it was the opening day for a whole new section of Disney Springs: the Town Center and the titular fake springs themselves. Since the second garage feeds people right into the middle of the Town Center, they were waiting to open it up until they were done with the ribbon-cutting festivities and whatnot. Anyway, we walked through there and were fairly impressed. The fake springs are quite something, for one thing:

And the selection of new stores was impressive. Though they're mainly high-end clothing and accessory stores, things like Sephora and Vera Bradley and Ugg, which we could care less about. Just another step in the direction of Disney catering mainly to the wealthy and pricing out everyone else, really. Still, neat to (accidentally) be there on opening day to see the new area.

In other news, I've been sickly AGAIN. Feels like I've been sick most of this year so far, if you count allergies (and I certainly do). This time it was another cold type bug, left me feeling puny for a day or two. I feel mostly better, but it's going on two weeks of blowing my nose and clearing my throat and coughing, which is surely as fun for everyone around me as it is for me personally. :)

Anyway. I think that's about it for now, not too much else exciting going on. This evening, if the forecasted thunderstorms don't get in the way, I'm planning to take the girls to the Magic Kingdom for a last hurrah before the summer blackout period kicks in.

Hope everyone out there is doing well!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Autumn decor notwithstanding, fall is taking its sweet time coming to these parts to stay--we've had a few nice days, and mornings/evenings are pretty pleasant, but the highs are still hanging out in the upper 80Fs with no big dips in sight. 86F on Halloween? Sheesh. Still, we've been getting out and about a bit more, which means photos!

Our Disney World passes expired Saturday, sadly. And odd as it sounds to everyone who doesn't live in Orlando, when our passes expire we're usually a bit tired of the place and so we take some time off before renewing. We might wait even longer and do LEGOLand and/or Universal this time instead. But before our WDW passes expired we figured we should make one more visit, so Friday I took the day off work and we went to the Magic Kingdom.

Clicky! )
And now I should get some work done around here. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
-Watched a little of the first Democratic debate last night, and have been catching some more highlights and postgame action today. I must say, I was impressed with Hillary. She clearly knows her stuff and is on top of her game, and really made no missteps. My man Bernie did well, I thought, though I don't think I heard anything that was new to anyone who's paid attention to him over the past year or two. I thought his defense of Hillary on the e-mail issue was pure class, and he did a great job turning it back to his refrain of forget the nonsense, let's talk about the issues. And speaking of issues, I was impressed at how much time was spent on issues that have gotten almost no mention in the hours of GOP debates: climate change, inequality, reining in Wall Street, gun control, etc. The 3 also-rans were just that, but everyone on that stage was civil, intelligent, focused and fact-based, and that alone was a clear difference from the GOP debates. I feel pretty confident that our next President was on stage last night, whether Hillary or Bernie. I'd prefer the latter, of course. :)
-Been dealing with an annoying malware infection on my websites. I have my photography business site, of course, and there's one for my wife's sewing business, and one I built for a friend of hers who does live music performance for weddings and whatnot. Apparently my ftp login was hacked a while back, and they injected some malicious code into the websites, plus a backdoor to let them re-infect even after I changed all the passwords and cleaned up the malware scripts. I've been working with my webhost, who have been great at identifying and removing the infected files. I think they finally found and removed the backdoor this morning, so hopefully that will be the end of it once I get everything cleaned and restored. I hope so! Hackers are among the types of people I really despise, causing mayhem for no good reason, just because they can. Grr.
-I haven't talked gaming lately! Yesterday I saw a really good deal on Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U, so I snagged that and we tried it out last night. Definitely a big hit with the girls, even though we had no idea what we were doing. I read up a bit this morning, so I understand the concept a bit better now. :) I've also been having fun playing LEGO City: Undercover--I finished the story part of the game, so now it's all about exploring the world and finding the little things to unlock and complete. Fun stuff. I haven't been doing much PC gaming lately, really. Saving it up for when Fallout 4 comes out, probably! Might have to ask for that for Christmas. :)
-Our Disney World passes expire in a week or so, which is sad. We usually let them lapse for a few months when they expire, to take a break until we miss it enough to dive in again. After the NYC trip it's definitely not in the budget to renew just yet anyway. We need to get out there a couple more times before we can't, though--we went to the Magic Kingdom Sunday night, but it was crazy busy (Columbus Day weekend, I guess?) and we didn't get to do much. So I'm planning to take next Friday off and we'll go there again, hopefully spend more time and do more things. One more trip to Animal Kingdom sometime would be nice too, we didn't go there much.
-Hm, can't think of much else right now. It's almost my lunchtime, better figure out what I feel like eating! I might just go to the grocery store and get a couple frozen dinners, those are nice to have on hand anyway.

Hope everyone is having a fine week!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Working from home today. Well, sorta working. :) I went in to the office this morning and my eyes were driving my batty with the itching and the burning and the oozing, so I finally said screw it and went to a walk-in clinic. The nurse quickly diagnosed pinkeye, and gave me a prescription for the antibiotic eyedrops. Frankly I was hoping for a prescription for a stronger antihistamine to deal with the allergies making me miserable in the first place, but oh well. Maybe it's the pinkeye making me miserable at this point, so we may as well knock that out before it gets worse. Since it can be pretty contagious, my employee talked me into working from home the rest of the day. So here I am.

It did give me a chance to edit the photos from last night! It was a pretty nice day, so we headed for EPCOT Center after I got home from work. Which probably didn't help my eyes, especially since the Flower and Garden festival is underway. But oh well, we had a good time. I took Hermione and Amy on Test Track--they tried that for the first time recently and became fans. Hallie tried it too, but the look of terror on her face for the last bit of the ride makes me understand why she's not interested in going on it again. :) now I need to drag someone onto the Tower of Terror with me! And Space Mountain. And Expedition: Everest. I think Amy will be up for anything and everything when she's tall enough.

Not too much else going on, really. I'm gearing up for my Canada trip, which begins a week from tomorrow. And starting to pick dates for my next round of work visits. But I've mentioned all that already, so yeah.

Okay, enough for now. I think Heather and the girls are heading to the library soon, which will mean I'll have some time to watch a movie on the tv. Nice! I hope everyone's week is going well, and that your eyes are not oozy like mine.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

It was a 3-day weekend, but it felt shorter because we stayed busy--the weather was glorious, mostly sunny with highs in the 60s. Seasonable, for a change, and we did not waste the chance to be out and about in it!

Saturday I saw that a B-17 I wanted to spend some time with was going to be at the Ocala airport, which is about an hour away from home. So I suggested we go up there, and check out some new parks in the area as well.

Clicky! )
And that was the weekend! Now back to work. Hope everyone is having a good week so far!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

It's a slow day at work, and I'm still a little sickly and not feeling much like working. So what the heck, here's some photos to catch up on the past few weeks!

Clicky )
I feel another post coming momentarily. Thanks for looking!

Some Pics!

Nov. 25th, 2014 02:42 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
As promised, some photos from the past couple weeks!

Weekend before last, I took Hallie to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the Indiana Jones stunt show. We'd gone to it once before, and they only did half of it because it was rainy. Plus there's a rumor that Disney is going to close the show soon to make room for an expanded Star Wars area, so we wanted to make sure we saw it before that happens. I like the show a lot, I think Hallie did too. Being such a fan, how could she not?

Clicky! )
And that's it for now. Thanks for looking!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So the weekend was pretty decent. Still mired in the hot and sticky mess that is the neverending Florida summer, but it's starting to get a little better since the days are getting shorter. We start out just a tad bit cooler, and the air's just a tad bit drier, and the evenings get a tad bit more pleasant. I wish we could have gotten the tiniest shred of that big cold front that dipped down across the rest of the country last week!

Anyway. After running the aforementioned D&D idea by the girls, they were excited to dive right in, and loved the idea of heading to ACME, a big comic/toy/game store not too far away. So we went to a park we like in the area, did lunch, and then ACME. And.. kind of a bummer, really. I guess D&D is rather passé at present, as all they had was a few smallish cardboard trays of miniatures and a stack of old books. My main notion was to see if the girls could pick out a miniature to represent their characters, but since there wasn't much to choose from we figured we'd stick with the LEGO idea for now.

So the D&D Starter Set arrived in the mail that afternoon, and I spent a bit of the afternoon looking over the rulebook and the included adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelver. The first encounter is a goblin ambush along a forest road, so I had the girls build a tree-lined road from LEGO while I built the wagon our party was using to haul a delivery of goods. I also assembled some LEGO goblins and other things we'd need. We took those (and our LEGO characters) to the dining room table, I set up the wagon and told them the basic premise so far. Then I plopped down two "dead" LEGO horses on the road ahead, which their characters investigated. Then I sprung the goblin ambush, and the game was afoot!

Now, since we're all new at this, and I'm trying to keep it as loose and as fun as possible to maintain their interest, I have a feeling that the way we played it would look very little like "true" D&D to anyone very familiar with it. I left out all the stuff that I thought would go over their heads or bog them down in details (which is a lot) and all the stuff that I myself am clueless about at this point (which is even more), and stripped it down to the very basics. We rolled for initiative, and then I just let them choose which goblin to attack and how, giving them some options. I didn't even (gasp!) worry about attack rolls, I just presumed every attack was successful and let them roll the damage. Hermione's character is a wizard, so I'd suggest a spell or two she could use and what the effect would be (without bothering about the memorization aspects of spellcasting), and she grasped that well. Hallie chose a rogue, so her basic MO is to sneak around behind the monsters and backstab them. To increase the size of our party (and to make it even more fun for the girls), I let their characters have "pets" which would also make attacks--Hermione's is a little unicorn, and Hallie picked a LEGO ant named Bob who is amazingly good wielding an axe. :) And I had a character in the party as well, in addition to trying to get the hang of running the game as DM. So yeah, as a proper D&D experience, I have no doubt it was terrible. But the girls and I had a ball, and at this point I consider that a lot more important. :)

Sunday I thought giving Heather a quiet morning at home would be a good idea, so I packed up the girls and we headed to Downtown Disney. It was already too hot, and it didn't help that I had to park pretty far from the stores we wanted to go to because of the major construction Disney has going on down there. But we played at the LEGO store for a while, and we played in the Once Upon a Toy store for a while, and then it was time for lunch, so we made our long way back to the car, did lunch, and that was that.

About as soon as we got home, Hallie started asking when we could play the game some more. So I guess that's a good sign of success as well! But I'd been meaning to change the oil in my car, so I did that, and confirmed my belief that it is impossible to do that job neatly where my car is concerned. Oil everywhere, and as a bonus I accidentally dropped the drain plug into the container of used oil, which meant plunging my hand in to get it, and eww. But that was done, eventually.

After dinner I gathered a bunch of our pre-built LEGO buildings to represent Phandalin, the little town at the center of our adventure. We finished the goblin hideout cave part of the adventure that we'd started the first night, and then I took us to the town to cover some of the NPC interactions and whatnot on the agenda there. And the girls had a great time again, but the actual playing of the game was rather lost in their exuberance this time around. They were more interested in just playing with the LEGOs and characters and going off on their own tangents, so I slipped in what story elements I could, but mostly just let them have fun. I don't even really consider that a gaming session, more like playtime with a tiny bit of game thrown in. But oh well. I know they'll want to play again tonight, so hopefully I can get them to settle down a little as we explore the hideout of the gang of ruffians terrorizing the town. :) I'm debating how to present the map for that one, though. LEGO, dry-erase board, something else?

Already almost time to call it a day! I hope everyone's week is off to a fine start.

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