Monday, August 31, 2009

Small World Destroyed

AP-Anaheim Disneyland's "it's a small world" suffered disaster today, ending in the soaking of dozens of families riding the amusement park attraction, and the complete destruction of the ride.

According to survivors of the incident, things went awry immediately when Ben Grimm, otherwise known as the Thing of Fantastic Four fame, decided to take a ride.

"He looked agitated from the moment he got on," said Emily Smith, a survivor who entered one of the ride's boats just behind Grimm. "As the ride started, he starting yelling at the characters as we passed by, saying they were insulting his intelligence. I was just worried about my kids."

Other survivors indicated that Grimm began to gesture violently at the characters of the ride and about halfway through decided to get out of the boat. Strictly against park policy, the park's security personnel were called to the scene in an attempt to calm the clearly disturbed Grimm.

Soon after, a few of Grimm's colleagues joined him inside the building that houses the ride. Witnesses say that an argument began between Grimm and Johnny Storm, otherwise known as the Human Torch, also of the Fantastic Four. Said Mike Aguirre, "Soon Johnny was shooting fireballs at that Thing."

Nearby riders, huddling in the ride's boats, found themselves diving into the water to keep from getting burned in the fracas. At this point, the building caught fire, and Grimm reportedly began moving from room to room in what can only be surmised as an attempt to put out the fire. This resulted in severe damage to the superstructure of the building itself. One member of the security staff, who was one of the first on the scene and witnessed the incident, said, "It was crazy! This guy was just pounding away at the 'small world' characters. It was kinda like he was trying to put out the fire, but I think that dude has some serious anger issues, too."

The park fire department was called to the scene and additional help was called in from nearby fire stations. Some confusion occurred at the gates when park security insisted that the firemen pay full admission before entering the park. It was only after Robert Iger, Disney CEO, rushed to the scene, yelling, "Let them in, let them in! Small world is burning down, you idiots!" that the firemen were allowed to enter the park to aid in the suppression of the fire.

Several hours later, the building was completely engulfed in flame, with the structure itself collapsing due to the internal damage caused by Grimm. In the end, all the riders had been safely removed from the building and there were no injuries. As clean-up of the site was finishing, Grimm was heard to say, "Oops."

It is expected that charges will be filed.

Meanwhile, it was announced on Wall Street that the Walt Disney Co. is purchasing Marvel Entertainment Inc. for the unprecedented amount of $4 billion in cash and stock. This news was met with Disney stock falling 3% while Marvel stock surged over 25%. Mickey Mouse reportedly squeaked that his good friend Walt was probably rolling over in his grave at the news.

As one person said, "The Happiest Place on Earth is gonna get pretty gnarly."

Friday, August 28, 2009

On Grandparents and Being Old

I just had this little interchange with my four year-old:

"Daddy, how come grandma and grandpa are so old?"

"Um, what do you mean?" I asked.

"They're old!"

"Well, they were born first, so that makes them old."

"How come?"

"Well, they were born a long time ago, and when they grew up, your mom's mommy and daddy had your mom, and your dad's mommy and daddy had your dad. And since we've grown up and now have kids, that makes grandma and grandpa old." Yeah, I'm often helpful like that.

His brow furrowed in a confused look, then he asked, "Why?"

"Well, that's how it works. We all are getting older all the time. So when you grow up, I'll be old."

"So, when I grow up, will you be my grandpa?"

"No, but when you have kids of your own, I'll be their grandpa."

Then he gave me a huge smile, and said, "Thanks!"

I giggled. "My pleasure, kid."

A moment goes by, then he asked, "How come we have three kids?"

"That's all Heavenly Father has sent to us so far."

Silence, then car noises resumed as he played behind me. Based on this interchange, he probably now thinks that if or when my wife and I have another kid that he'll be its dad!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Engineers are Sick and Bored

They stumble upon stuff like this ...

When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection

Important reading. Let's just hope our government has scenarios to deal with just such an outbreak to avoid the doomsday scenario ...

Very Sick

I've been quite down the last few days with the most terrible stomach flu. I've lost 5 pounds, and I am so weary that I've slept hours this afternoon -- something I normally just dream about. It's the worst sickness I've had in a long time, but weird. Aside from my stomach learning to sing in chorus, I'm actually quite well. I have no headaches, sore throat, or stuffy nose. My mind is clear, but, well, so is my intestinal tract. It's not been fun, but I'll count my blessings that it isn't worse.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

35th Birthday Follow-up

Last night didn't go exactly as we planned. On my way home, I was to meet my family at El Torito for dinner. Sitting in the parking lot for ten minutes, I finally got a call from my wife, who was clearly upset. She told me that she was pulling out of the neighborhood on the way to join me and got distracted just enough to over-turn and ran into the curb. No problem, usually, except this time the tire completely exploded.

She was so upset that she wasn't able to think clearly about the situation, and ended up leaving the van parked on the very busy street without the emergency lights even on (even though she probably could have popped it into reverse and slowly worked her way back around the corner ...). Worse, she didn't have the presence of mind to simply change the tire. She felt like she had completely ruined my birthday at that point (we didn't go out to eat, she popped a tire that'll cost hundreds of dollars to replace, she made me sit there forever ...).

Nevertheless, I tried my best to let her know that everything was fine. We quickly replanned: I would come home and change the tire while she took my car to go pick up dinner from the most awesome Stonefire Grill. We'd have a nice dinner at home and still be able to enjoy the evening.

Once she calmed down and we got the plans laid out, things went very smoothly and the entire evening was actually quite nice. It was really good just to be home and relax and enjoy being with my wife and kids. The gifts were great, too. I got a camping shovel, a new card game, some crafts from the two younger kids, a very nice letter from my oldest son, and some new biking gloves from my wife's parents (I lost my old pair a month back). My mother sent me the Transformers movie, half of which we watched after we played a hand of the new card game and sent the kids to bed. And my wife made a great cake, too.

It really was a very pleasant evening once things got settled. All in all, it was just another "regular" day with the family, but I'm counting my very many blessings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

35th Birthday

Well, today is my birthday. I'm 35. A good friend reminded me that I am now halfway to 40, but, being somewhat familiar with math, I corrected him in that I am now halfway to 70. While pithy, I can't claim credit for it, as this was my clever wife's observation.

As it is, I woke up this morning at the usually insane time of 5 am and got in the shower. Afterwards, I went downstairs to have breakfast and was met with our family's traditional birthday decorations (streamers dangling from the hall to the kitchen, balloons scattered on the floor, banners with wishes of a good birthday stretched across the room). I smiled a bit and proceeded to walk towards the kitchen, only to have my two older children pop out and yell, "Boo!" I was surprised, to be sure, but more that they were awake at that early hour than by genuine surprise. My wife was next to them and chided them quickly with, "You were supposed to say 'Happy Birthday!', not 'Boo!'". I giggled, as this is just the way my kids are.

As it was, my wife had actually prepared breakfast for me yesterday in the form of French toast. She had labored during the day to bake the bread from scratch, and after seasoning and cooking it, she placed it on a tray in the freezer for the night. This morning, all she had to do was pop it in the toaster, and it was good to go! It was great.

She sent the kids off to bed again (as far as I can tell, they never fell asleep, but rather just laid in bed staring at the wall ...), then sat with me while I ate my French toast. I eventually sent her, too, bleary-eyed and exhausted, back to bed while I made myself an egg, prepared "over easy." It was a great morning.

Now, I'm at work, with plans to be stuck in meetings most of the day, but I do intend to cut out as early as I can. This evening, we'll go out to eat (I wanted Thai food, but we don't have a current coupon, so I will "settle" for Mexican food), then have cake and ice cream and open gifts. It's a simple day, but I'm delighted. I don't need a big party or celebrations; for me, the best birthday is a simple one spent with my family. And when I do hit 70 (since I'm halfway there), I hope that I can spend it exactly the same way (well, minus the going to work part ...).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dodger Game

I took my two oldest children with me to a Dodger game last night. It was a great game. The Dodgers were playing against the Braves. They were down early in the game and stayed that way all the way until the end of the game. The children, my daughter, in particular, were cold and tired and anxious to leave, and I was inclined to leave somewhere during the eighth inning. However, I decided we'd stick it out because I wanted to send the message to the kids that it's important to finish what you start, and not to give up.

Little did I know what was about to transpire. Going into the 9th inning, the Dodgers were down 4 to 2. They manage to get three outs on the Braves and then began batting. It wasn't going badly, but no runs to home had occurred early on. As the inning progressed, the Dodgers found themselves with a runner on first and a runner on third. Manny Ramirez got up to bat and the Braves did everything they could to distract him. They took a time-out mid-batting, and delayed things as long as they could to distract him. It worked.

Then Andre Ethier came up to bat. Things weren't going so swimmingly for him, either, but then, suddenly, the loud crack of the bat against the ball slowly made its way to us as we watched the ball sail off over right field ... all the way to the bleachers! A home-run, three runs in, and the Dodgers won the game.

At this point, my lethargic daughter woke up enough to celebrate, and her adrenaline kicked in. They started screaming and yelling and raising their arms above their heads, and were amazed that the game could be over just like that. The audience in the stands were on their feet everywhere (those that didn't leave early) and the team all ran out onto the field and formed a jumping mass of players around home plate.

It was like something out of a movie, and I am so glad that we stayed until the end. We don't go to baseball games very often (read: once a year, tops), and I really hoped the kids would have a good experience.

I spent $5.50 on a bag of peanuts, and it was really funny watching them as they uncomfortably dropped their debris on the floor ("Dad, can we really just leave our garbage on the ground?"). Their guilt was evident in their hesitancy, and it wasn't until after somebody sitting next to us said that it's all right to just drop your garbage where you are that they loosened up a bit. Eventually, they settled into the habit of dropping peanut shells on the ground, but my daughter, unfortunately, developed the habit of flipping the crumbs off her lap onto the person sitting in front of her. I apologized often.

Later, I spent $3 on a bag of cotton candy because my daughter was starving. You'd think she'd learn to eat her dinner when it's time to eat ...

The highlight of the evening for me, though, was about halfway through somebody started the "wave." My daughter got so excited. She would track the wave as it progressed around the stands with an outstretched finger, giggling and laughing the whole time. Once, she yelled, "Look! Look! That is funny! They're going to get caught in the wave!" It was totally adorable.

As for my son, he was more mature in a public place than I have seen him in a long time. A few weeks ago, we had gone on a tour of Dodger stadium, so he took great delight in being the know-it-all and telling her sister what everything was around the stadium. The funny part was that he kept telling me everything, too, which was funny because I was on the same tour as him and probably learned more than he did. It was great just to be with them, though, and to have that experience. And even better that the Dodgers won!

The following images are some pictures from the earlier tour, which we took with my son's cub scout pack. We were able to go out on the field, which was really cool, but they wouldn't let us go on the grass. I thought that paranoia was funny, but I totally get it as I'm pretty uptight about my grass at home, too.

The day we went on the tour there was a yoga session going on down on the field.

A few years back, they renovated and put in new chairs. When they did, they restored the original colors, which were symbolic of life in Southern California. The yellow represents the ground we live on, the brownish color represents the sands at the beach, the blue-green represents the ocean, and the blue represents the blueness of the sky.

We saw the sign to the umpires room (can you figure out the joke there? ...)

The saw the press room, the private rooms, the "training" rooms, the first aid and security rooms, and even the organ that a little old lady plays live during each home game. The boys loved being down on the field, and especially being in the dugout.

It seemed like every time I took a picture, though, my son was making some goofy face. Here's the finest example:

What a crack-up. It was a great time.

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