March 31, 2006


Filed under: Culture — mmrobins @ 8:38 pm

I think Seaworld was more fun than Disneyland. They had a cool roller coaster that did loop-de-loops and goes underground, their shows are amazingly correographed, and they have the funniest pirate show I’ve ever seen – not that I’ve seen near enough funny pirate shows. We didn’t get to see Shamu because the line was ridiculous, but I think we saw most of the major shows. We crammed a lot in before we had to go to the airport, which conveniently was only about 15 minutes away. I’d rant on longer and longer with details, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything when anyone else goes (mostly I’m just feeling lazy right now).

Florida Vacation

March 29th, 2006
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March 28, 2006

Disney World

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 5:39 pm

Yesterday I went to Disney World for the first time. We went to Epcot, one of the four Kingdoms available. For me it was either Epcot, since it’s the biggest with the most to do, or MGM since it had some good rides, and with Kim’s parents around I figured we’d all have more fun at Epcot. I didn’t want to do the Magic Kingdom to avoid all the kids, and pretty much the same for Animal Kingdom. The Disney World website wasn’t very helpful for choosing Kingdoms, but I found a few sites that did help, with this one probably being the most useful. Someday I’d like to come back and see some more. I’d say the highlight of the day was just the overall atmosphere, while my biggest complaints were that the vegetarian choices for food were awful (most places only had one thing without meat on the menu) and there weren’t any costumed characters running around. They’re probably all over at Magic Kingdom, but comeon, it’s Disney World for Pete’s sake.

I really am amazed at how big Disney World is and how much land they have. There’s four kingdoms near Orlando and they’re all bigger than Disney Land in California. Then there’s tons of land owned by Disney aside from the Kingdoms. Driving in there were big road signs that told you what exit to get off for each kingdom and they were spaced miles apart.

Kim’s parents have friends that love Disney and go there all the time, so Jim and Sue were our tour guides: they drove us there, found good parking, showed us around, made recommendations and knew how everything worked. It was nice to have them around, especially since they seemed to enjoy just being there.

The first thing we did was go in the big Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) ball on a ride called Spaceship Earth (not to be confused with Mission Space) that shows the history and future of human progress. It was fun but pretty lame. Nothing seemed very visionary to me, and the ride kept stopping. After that we went and got a FastPass for the most popular ride Soarin, and I’m glad we did because the line got up to 110 minute wait later. We came back after lunch and marched straight to the front. It was a fun ride, but I thought you were actually in superman style position like you would be on a hang glider. It was just a seat, but the screen made if feel like you were flying.

Then we did the few ‘fast’ rides in the park, Mission Space which basically uses centrifugal force (I think there was a ride called the Gravitron in my home town’s carnival that was similar) to make you feel like you’re blasting off, and Test Track, a little roller coaster that makes you feel like you’re in a car testing various scenarious like brakes failing and fast turns. We made use of the singles lines both times and saved a ton of time. We didn’t really even get split up, and it’s not like you can talk during the ride anyway. I think the Mission Space ride was my favorite just because of the feeling of blastoff.

We also did the Honey I Shrunk the Audience 3D movie, which was cute, and the Ellen Energy thing. It was kinda long and just a big schpiel about alternative energy sources and where energy comes from. I don’t think I learned anything, but it was nice to sit down for a while.

For lunch we left the park and went to the Wilderness Lodge to eat at Whispering Canyon. The draw there is that the wait staff joke around, tease and act like they’re insulting you. It was Jim’s birthday the next day so we told our waiter. He stood up in front of the restaurant holding a little cake and we all sang, and when were done the waitstaff ate the cake while he held it. Later they gave him his own.

After lunch we walked around the international area, where sections are themed like various foreign countries. Jim and Sue had dinner in Morocco while we snacked in China and Mexico. In China an acrobat troup of children came out and started performing and they were amazing. The were contorting, and flipping all over the place. The 360 movie of China was awesome too, especially after having been there and seeing a lot of the stuff that was in the movie.

At the end we stayed for the fireworks show, which was nice, but I think it had been overhyped to me. The fireworks were nothing spectacular, but I really liked the way they lit up then entire park in time to the music. Some of the music was awful too, very sappy and poppy.

I had a great time and really appreciate Kim’s parents taking us and treating. Disney really does do a good job of generating a magic ‘feeling. And even with the crowds, we got lucky and hardly had to wait in line. I think that was one of the biggest keys to my enjoyment.

March 20, 2006

Olympic Hot Springs

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 1:29 pm

Before Art and Amanda left the Seattle area, we got together with them to go hiking to some hot springs. We went over Friday night and had dinner at a Thai restaurant in Bainbridge.

Saturday morning we got up to go hiking. Gretchan couldn’t come because dogs aren’t allowed in the park. The trailhead Olympic Hot Springs are at the end of Elwha River Road. Then you hike along what used to be a road, cross a few streams where it washed out, and after a little more than 2 miles you’re there. There are a number pools, although most are very small and not very warm. The best pool seems to be at the very top where people have built up a little retaining wall and the water is probably the warmest. There were a bunch of hicks drinking when we got there, but they were mellow so we joined them.

I always forget how big the Olympic Penninsula really is. We got a late start on the hike so we didn’t get back to Bremerton until around 8, so Kim and I spent another night there.

March 13, 2006

Vegfest 2006

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:38 pm

Kim and I spent most of the weekend at Vegfest in Seattle center, half volunteering, half just wandering around and eating. Saturday we both worked in the kitchen with Julie Hasson making all sorts of chocolate dishes. We later did Indian food with Sunita Shastri. After we prepped everything the chefs would go out and prepare the recipe in front of an audience.

Sunday I helped out cooking spinach pancakes for a demo station while Kim stayed in the kitchen. Both days we wandered and sampled all the great food. Some stuff was really, really tasty, including the stuff we helped cook. At the end of Sunday all the frozen and refrigerated food went on sale for cheap, so we got a bunch of stuff. I’ve been eating the fake chicken nuggets the last few days and they’re really good.

I think this was a good chance for Kim to meet some people in the vegetarian cooking world and see what the scene is like. I was honestly surprised how big the event was and how many people there were. I heard that there were 600 volunteers and I there was almost never a dull moment as a volunteer. There was always more food to prepare and questions to answer for people. I think if more people knew the benefits and of vegetarianism and how many great meat alternative foods there were, there’d be a lot less meat consumption, and an event like this will make a huge impact on the public’s knowledge and perception.

Birthday Time

March 8th, 2006
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March 8, 2006

Suncadia Construction

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 3:11 pm

Krekow Jennings is working on a development near Roslyn and Cle Elum Washington. It’s new for us in that it’s an out of the area job. The Suncadia construction is one area that we’re building in. We’re building custom homes there and in the Tumble Creek area. We’re hoping that our project management experience in out of the area jobs will apply to future jobs all over the country and possibly the world. It’s been pretty interesting being some of the first general contractors into the area since there isn’t high speed internet, let alone power! We’re running one job off a generator and using wireless internet to manage all our data. It was challenging at first, but the process seems to have smoothed out a lot.

March 5, 2006

Zoo Concert

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 6:00 pm

Kim and I played flute and violin for the Orangutans at the Woodland Park Zoo this Saturday thanks to our friend Michael, one of the caretakers. He wanted to see how they’d react to music. We started playing for Towan and Bela outside. When I brought out my guitar they ran away and Towan did his mating call to show that he wasn’t really afraid. After a while of Michael calling to them Towan came back and listened. I played Low by Cracker and some classical stuff like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. I know Kim played the Entertainer. He seemed more interested in Kim’s flute playing, but that could be partly because he has a thing for pretty girls.

We went inside to play for Melati, Chinta and Heran. We decided to have Kim play first since the flute was less intimidating. Michael warned us that they might spit on us for attention here and to just ignore them if they did. Sure enough, Kim got a little spit shower mostly from Chinta while she played. Heran went outside and Melati watched from above. I played and got spit on less. Kim said that Chinta was pretty fascinated watching my hands. In here I played Hotel California and Kim sang with me.

It was a blast getting to go behind the scenes and have a personal guide like Michael to answer questions and tell us all kinds of interesting stuff. He and his new wife are going to Africa soon to do a research project on educating locals and teaching them to grow trees instead of just harvesting wood from the national parks. I think he has a website that I’ll link to if I get it.

March 1, 2006


Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 11:25 pm

I’ve been going to Aikido classes now for about three months at Puget Sound Aikikai and really enjoying it. It’s a great workout, and I’ve always liked the concepts behind this martial art. I took some intro classes in college at the Seattle Ki Society and always knew that I wanted to continue. I noticed that there was a dojo just a couple blocks from where I work, so that was the main factor in deciding which one to go to.

The teaching style is quite a bit different at the two dojos. PSA is considered more traditional and teaches more like a martial art style: very vigorous and physically focused. The Ki Society was much gentler and focused on Ki, energy, and mind body connection. The vigorous workout fits me better right now since I really need a physical activity midweek since working a desk job has been making me lazy. I think long term the mind body focus is more interesting to me though. Either way, I’m learning a lot.

A lot of the instruction at PSA is non-verbal, which is a change for me. It’s difficult for me to get used to, but I think it helps develop a skill that most people never get a chance to. It’s a lot different learning something just by watching and then doing than the usual method most people rely on where they wait to be told what to do. There’s still plenty of chances for the teachers to correct what I’m doing, but words seem to be a last resort.

I’ll probably be taking my first test in the next month or two, depending on when they’re offered. I think the main thing will just be remembering what names go with what moves since all the names are in Japanese. I saw others take their 5th kyu tests (the ranks start at 5th kyu and work up to 1st kyu before the black belt rankings start) a few weeks ago and was surprised that I knew most everything they did. Now I just need to memorize some Japanese.