eject8As I sit in a bar in Los Angeles right now, listening to some douchebag in a poorly cut, but very expensive suit trash-talk the Seahawks and their fans (myself included), I reflect on what I have set for myself as policy when I deeply disagree with someone.


It’s a work in progress, as I generally have a lack of temper and self-control, but I really don’t have another choice. I get set off easily, and I have a tendency to go off with all guns blazing when someone diametrically disagrees with me. But I’ve gotten better with this for the most part. Minor disagreements are pretty easy to discuss and eventually find common ground on. I can reach out. I can make the conversation not personal.

But I’m at a point where I’m not interested in dealing with racist or other bullshit like an adult. Those are easy calls, but more than that, I have to step out of certain arguments once I have determined one gap: a common language.

I found this with deep political differences. If I’m arguing with a Hard-core, Tea Party conservative, who thinks that any and every action by the government is inherently evil, we can’t have a policy discussion. There is no middle ground. If I’m discussing diet with a Vegetarian or Vegan, you can’t get into the benefits of meat quality. The concept isn’t in the conversation.

We simply don’t have a common language to speak.

So now, my personal policy is to try to disengage. If I think that there is no way to communicate, then I shouldn’t try. Alternately, if something is setting my blood boiling, I try to take that as a clue and back out.

I’ve gone to unfollowing people on social Media, or in the worst case, blocking them entirely.  I don’t need to explain this to them for the same reason that I can’t have the conversation in the first place. It won’t be understood. I’ve also done this to myself when someone keeps setting me off. I’d rather cut one line of communication than permanently destroy all.

It sucks, but we live in a time where everyone has a megaphone, and being loud is more important than being right. I’d just rather be sane than right in some of these situations. I don’t always succeed, but I’m getting better.

But two more beers and I’m going over to piss down this guy’s neck…

WIN_20131212_210532Well that’s just goddamn irritating.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s losing another pub. The Irish pub down by our marina was closed when I stopped by today. The boating season is just getting underway, and A Terrible Beauty has been my off-day and maintenance headquarters. I roll up today, and the place is barren, even the fake Irish signs are gone.

I actually liked using the place for high-speed internet. I came down today to update the maps on my map card. Instead, I walked another block to Dukes and logged in there. I was thwarted again as the update software thinks my card is locked, so I will have to deal with this later.

At least Duke’s is an established place. It shouldn’t disappear unless they tear out the waterfront and replace it with something new. With the way Amazon has been buying everything down here, that’s a real possibility, but for now, it’s safe and I have beer and chowder.

2014_12_31_21_43_02_ProShotAfter three days we are finally getting a break from the cold.

The park has bee a blast, but we managed to come down during a record cold snap, and everyone here is bundled up like they are skiing. We picked up a few extra sweatshirts, and did the traditional Seattle layering up, but this is way colder than we expected. What’s even more surprising, is that this hasn’t hit the size of the crowds at all. We went for new year’s day to Disney and the crowds were crazy. the park was wall to wall with people, and everyone was bundled and wrapped up to the hilt. I was really surprised at how cold it was. I could really feel the heat draining out my feet and head, even with a sweatshirt. In the afternoon Yulia swung by the room and grabbed some extra clothes, and  it was still getting colder and colder.

Main Street was done up with huge screens and a stage for the countdown at midnight, and there was a special fireworks on the schedule. It looked great. The whole park was done up in Christmas and “Frozen” themes. The themes fit well with the temperatures, but we could have done without the added realism. We hit as many of the indoor rides that we could, but the crowds were making that impossible as well. Overall New Year’s Day was nice but just too cold and too much of a zoo to really be productive. I will say that the fireworks were amazing, and all the special Holiday themed rides are great (the Haunted House is done up with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme, the castle is Frozen, and there are decorations all over.)

I think the most interesting thing  in the park is the people watching. kids are super cute, the younger ones especially, dressed up as their favorite character in the park. Going on a ride with people new to the park is like being new again. all the laughs and screams from those not expecting the next surprise is just as entertaining as the ride itself. (We also love scaring kids in the Indiana Jones ride with the pole that goes BOOM in the queue. if you don’t know what this is, you are missing out.)

But not everything is great of course. I think the worst thing is people who don’t know how to handle being in a crowd. it isn’t a big deal when the crowds are low, but once things get busy, it only takes a few people to really screw things up. Disneyland is a busy crowded place. They manage thousands of people a day in a pretty small area, and do a really good job at it. but everything grinds to a halt when you get someone from Podunk, Arkansas who things that the local Walmart underpants sale is a pretty big event pulls one of these:

  • Have the whole family of 10 with a stroller and Mom in a mobility cart stop right in the middle of the path to look at the map.
  • Argue about wanting to go through the Fastpass lane without a Fastpass because it’s empty.
  • Drive a mobility cart into a line for a ride, getting stuck in the first turn of the line.

Actually, I think anything with one of those damn mobility carts is on my shit list. We saw a couple of rides where the line to come in the back way with a cart was as long as the line out front. We actually were trapped exiting the Indiana Jones ride to let a series of carts and the families come in the exit. it was crazy.

But that’s just part of the deal. Crowds are full of people, and most people suck. You just have to let them go and enjoy the good ones. And the squeal of a little kid meeting Mickey for the first time with a big hug goes a long way. Even Sasha was excited to meet some of the characters, including Oswald the Rabbit, and Jack Skellington, whom I had never seen at the park before.

I also think that the food just keeps getting better. We had a great dinner at the ESPN SportsBar. The Orange Bowl was on, and most of the people were cheering for one team, so I cheered for the other. I truly didn’t care about the outcome, but it just isn’t fun if you don’t pick sides. We also got tickets to see Trombone Shorty at the House of Blues. The opening act was The Record Company, another Blues band. It was an amazing show. I love blues in general, but this was absolutely over the top. I need to get on the mailing list for both bands. We will be planning to get tickets for the House of  Blues on our next trip as well, the venue is fun, and if you order early, they have some reserved tables. (And by the smell of the place, the Second-Hand Pot is free! )

Our favorite is still the Winery in California Adventure. it used to be the Golden Vine, but they changed it to the Wine Country Trattoria after their partnership with Mondovi Wines ended. The wine selection is mostly Napa and Central California, and the patio has a view right in the center of the park and you can watch people going back and forth to the rides. We overdid the walking on the first few days (averaging around 20,000 steps per day) so we took a several hour rest on our third day while Sasha ran around the park with some friends who were at the park at the same time.

We also had dinner there as part of their “World of Color” deal. You can wait to get a great spot to se the show (even if you grab a show Fastpass you need to get there early), or you you can order dinner with tickets from several of the restaurants in the park (Fantasmic runs the same deal). So we had dinner, wine, dessert, then had VIP spots to se the Holiday World of Color show. Well worth the time and money.

We had a late flight out, so we rented a car and drove to Venice Beach for the midday before catching our flight. Venice is great. It is really a funky old section of Los Angeles. A few of the original Canals remain, and we found breakfast at a joint that had one of the original Gondolas hanging from the ceiling. The weather had finally turned, it was warm on the boardwalk, and we walked up from Muscle Beach past the shops and Green Doctors for a few hours. The whole place is a big hippie zone, The street art and street people are great to see. We easily could have spent the day there (we found an old-school Freakshow which looked great, but we were out of time)

We finished with a walk in the sun, on the beach.  It was good the get the heat that we were hoping for, even if it was just for the last day.

wetLAXI’m not sure if we’ve taken a winter vacation as a family. We might have, we’ve certainly taken trips for Thanksgiving several times, this year included.

When I was younger, our family really didn’t take many summer vacations, but every other year we would head out to Hawaii. This was the big family vacation, and most of our Christmas present too. I loved it. We always stayed in Lahaina, on the island of Maui. I’ve only been back once since we stopped those family vacations, but I still love the town. Despite growth and sprawl in many areas, the town of Lahaina seems to keep it’s character and a bit of “Old Hawaii” feel. We should probably go back again. Unfortunately, the cost of going to and staying in Hawaii is crazy, but I’m sure there is a deal to be had. There’s always a deal.

We are heading to Disneyland. I hear from a lot of our friends that it’s nuts to go to the same place so often, but aside from simply liking Disney a lot, we have found a lot of advantages to the Disney Resort in California. This is something we learned when we visited Disneyworld in Florida years ago.  Our friend had a timeshare in Florida so we flew out to stay there and try Disneyworld and Epcot for a change. What killed us on that trip was the spread. Everything was spread out so far, the condo was a long drive into Disney, each of the Disney parks were separate from each other, and it was a wait and a Monorail ride to the next park. The parks were bigger too, but had the same amount of rides, so basically everything was just father apart. It ended up that we walked more and did less with our time.

Disney in Anaheim is the opposite. You have two parks, Disneyland and California Adventure packed in a fairly tight spot. Between the parks is the Disney  Downtown, shops and restaurants. Most hotels are in walking distance. It makes a huge difference in our time off when we can get so much more done without driving. Of course, we are near Downtown LA, so we can rent a car and drive in if we choose to do so (and we have done that before.)

Topping off our decision this time is that the park is all done up in winter decorations, with lots of stuff from Frozen. Apparently the whole castle is frozen solid, with extra parades and everything. That should be cool.

We are also staying in a smaller local hotel, instead of one of the resort hotels. We wanted to try it out and see if it adds too much to our walking distance. We will be back in the summer and if we like it we will use it again.

Yeah, we might be kinda nuts.

Seattle was around 27 degrees when we left. It was actually pretty clear, but we were freezing our asses off. We got to the Airport early, and missed the big security lines. This gave us some extra time to get food and a few drinks before the flight would start boarding. I’ve been really surprised at how much the Airport has improved. The food is pretty good, though expensive as shit, but the drinks are always great. We had some really good wine, and a value price of $19 for a 9oz. glass.

What a deal.

We missed the chance for a first class upgrade. Apparently they have changed the process for scoring this, you used to be able to check in online and if you were early, you would get offered the upgrade. Apparently you need to use one of the kiosks or ask at the gate to do this. We didn’t know and had we checked earlier we could have scored a full upgrade. Nuts.

Takeoff was smooth and easy. We grabbed some more drinks from the Sky Waitress and found that they had movies streaming on the internal Wi-Fi for free. This was pretty cool, but the system was pretty sketchy, and it took a few tries to get it going.

About halfway down, the first turbulence hit.

The weather report for Los Angeles was showing rain and a big temperature drop. It was supposed to hit 32 degrees overnight before warming back up again to the mid 60’s. We were hitting the front of this on our flight in. It was rough enough to stop drink service for the second round, so they now had my attention. We bounced around for the final 30 minutes of our flight, and made a wet and rainy landing into LAX.  LAX is never a pretty place, but wet and cold did it no favors. We wandered about until we could find our hotel shuttle, and had a rainy drive through LA traffic to Anaheim.

The weather cleared a bit as we got closer to the hotel, and the Disneyland area itself was dry. Windy and cold, but dry. The Hotel is right across the street from California Adventure, and Yulia (as the member of several Hotel Honors programs) scored us some nice upgrades on a suite. The place is old, but recently remodeled, so you get a bit of old California flavor in the place. The restaurant in the hotel is inexpensive, with great food and wine. After dinner we walked out into the bar next to the pool to see what the place looked like.

The the wind rolled in.

We were chased off the patio by cold winds whipping the palm trees around. No rain, but it was cold and uncomfortable. We went back up to our room and hid. We could see the big Ferris Wheel and roller coaster still running across the street. We would hit the parks tomorrow. For us the rest of the evening was in the room watching TV and listening to the winds outside. Some beer and snacks from the gift shop were dessert.

Welcome to Winter in Southern California.