Plate from a set of 1850 astronomical infographics

One plate from a set of 1850 astronomical infographics with translucent cutouts to simulate the effect of starlight.

Emslie, John, 1813-1875. Astronomical diagrams, [ca. 1850]

Posted in Astronomy | Leave a comment

The force giveth, and the force taketh away…

The Pacific Rim brings lots of news this week!

First, you get a new island in Tonga (Polynesia).

The island – which is 500m (1,640 feet) long – was formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga volcano that started in December.


And then, in tragic news, a cyclone devastates the islands of Vanuatu (Melanesia).

“The damage is quite extensive in Port Vila but there are so many more vulnerable islands. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in those vulnerable communities.”


Tonga is an archipelago (group of islands) with over 177 islands split between 4 major groups and lies two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.

Vanuatu is an archipelago with over 80 islands to its claim – also thanks to the same process that brought us our new Tongan island and lies about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia.

The distance between Vanuatu and Tonga is 1,988 km (1,235 miles)  – similar distance from Boston to Miami – and the flight likely involves a stop in Fiji on the way.  Really not far from each other relatively speaking.    Of course, this week illustrates an interesting snapshot in time as with these volcanic regions, new islands are added but don’t always stick around.

Vanuatu to Tonga



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trip Report March 2015!

This trip was the fastest ride in the wilderness!  Once again – conference time during the Flower and Garden – this time at the Dolphin.  Last conference was in 2013 during the same time but at the Contemporary.   I could get used to this!






We showed up 30 min before rope drop to catch the Magic Kingdom opening.   As we speak I still have the Loading the Train/Casey Junior song in my head and it was worth it!  Then we leisurely hit a whole bunch of rides with minimal lines!


  • Peter Pan’s Flight – LOVE the new queue.  Done really well with great Disney attention to detail.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – this was our first ride!  I definitely want to try it at night which is brave as hell for me if you know how this ride ends.
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Orange Swirl and Dole Whip break at Sunshine Tree Terrace



epcotlogo_thumb[2]For lunch we were going to take the Monorail from Magic Kingdom into EPCOT but it was down for repairs so we had to take the resort bus to Boardwalk and walk to Germany where I tried the wine flight for the first time.



After some rather epic carbo loading we went back to the room for a nap.  Then we headed to Hollywood Studios.  I AM PSYCHED that damn hat is gone!  I heard that the day after we left the spotlights were back too.



While there we experienced the Great Movie Ride in the front row – a totally different experience this way!  Completely immersive.   Since the front row is shorter than other rows to accommodate your Director/Actor Guide through the movies – it can really only sit 2-3 comfortably but I think its worth asking to sit up front if the size of your party allows.

Last, but certainly not least we finished off the park with One Man’s Dream then headed to the boat for “dinner” at Beaches and Cream.  Helpful tip.   If you ask yourself “Should I have the No Way Jose for dinner?”  – just refer to the name of the dessert for your answer.


After hitting three parks the day before we kept it to EPCOT and the Flower and Garden Festival for the day.

IMG_5695 IMG_5839 IMG_5679

After looking at all the flowers we went to breakfast at Sunshine Seasons in The Land. This is one of my favorite breakfast places because with the breakfast platter you get potatoes that have both peppers and onions and you get a biscuit.   Then of course you are rewarded with a charming, and nostalgic boat ride.

  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track – even with a Fastpass this takes forever.  I’m not sure i’m that into it.
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Woof.  I haven’t done this in at least 15 years.  Stupid Judy.  Stupid Energy.   I think that was my last time unless this sucker gets an overhaul.  Its a shame too since its the only thing left that references space (Big Bang) that I can physically entertain without getting sick.

We had lunch at the Flower and Garden Kitchens before heading back for some conference time.   For dinner we had late reservations at La Hacienda.


We were able to see Illuminations from inside the restaurant and made it back to the International Gateway in time for the last boat to the Dolphin.   Its so awesome to walk through EPCOT with barely anyone else around – until you see them locking up gates and then you get terrified you will have to walk to the front of the park and take a cab.



WORST.  BREAKFAST. BUFFET. EVER.  Captain’s Grille.   The cheesy potatoes casserole tasted like a foot.  How can you not have good potatoes at a buffet?   There wasn’t a ton of variety.  Mom ordered a la carte and it was very good.

We walked around Hollywood Studios for a bit after a conference session but there really wasn’t a lot going on.   It bums me out.  Tatooine Traders used to have so much more variety.

We went to Downtown Disney which was a total shit show for parking while its under construction.  When we were there we came across Wentzel’s Pretzels Snack Stand.   I don’t fancy myself a pretzel eater but this was SO GOOD and so PERFECT for a warm, salty snack.  I actually think of it as one of my favorite Disney meals this trip!

The reason we went to Downtown Disney was because Robert Jimenez did a signing at the WonderGround Gallery and I was able to purchase a print and get it signed.

Robert Jimenez – Pele Ablaze

For dinner we went to the Polynesian – our first visit for the new lobby.   I’ve been keeping an open mind till I saw it for myself.   I don’t like it.  Its just another hotel lobby now, a very nice one, but not a place I would go out of my way to visit like I used to the old place.   Maybe once the rest of the construction is done it will have the full effect? Trader Sams will change all this.

We tried to get walk up table service at Kona Cafe but it turned out they were full.  What they did do was let us order off the Kona Cafe Menu but sit against the wall at Kona Island.  This worked out because we got to have our backs turned towards the lobby – like we were shunning it.  Still, I couldn’t help feel like the Paper Boy from Spaceship Earth (see #5).

One last trip to MK!

  • WEDWay People Mover x 2
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Electric Light Parade
  • Wishes – it was 56 degrees!

The new landscaping in front of the castle hub is fantastic!  Offers a serene place to view the castle. I wonder if it will be open for enjoying like a park in-between parades and fireworks.



We had lunch at Chefs de France and just enjoyed the flowers and comfortable air before heading home.

IMG_5817 IMG_5824

See ya real soon!  (November…)

Posted in Aloha, Disney | Leave a comment

Impromptu Flower and Garden Visit!

Edit March 9, 2015:   Didn’t make it to most places as the lure of table service at Germany and France was far too strong.    I included pictures from the places we did eat.

Making a quick trip to Disney and I’m once again excited about the food.  My last visit to this was 2013 and grazing the kitchens is fun.  My favorite was the one at Germany which I don’t see on the list yet – but if I get bummed – I’ll just go watch Captain Eo about it.

Items I am most looking forward to:

Botanas Botánico (between the France and Morocco) 

  • Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheesecornthing
  • Coconut Tres Lechescake

Urban Farm Eats

  • Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Pineapple Promenade

  • Pineapple Soft Serve with Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum

Intermissions Cafe

  • Vegan Trio (couscous, tabouleh, and hummus with pita)


  • Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençalgnocci


  • Vegetable Spring Roll
  • South Sea Storm (Guava with Light and Dark Rum) – also a repeat from 2013


  • Mint Iced Tea (I wanted to try this in 2013 but never got to it) – Finally tried it – its basically cold Mint Medley.   I was hoping for the old Snapple Mint Iced Tea.  It was refreshing.  
Posted in Disney | 1 Comment

Ordering in Advance at Be Our Guest

I can really get into this.  There are certain restaurants in Disney where I know EXACTLY what I want to have and I can’t wait for it.   Luckily Be Our Guest is one of them when it comes to lunch.  I think the online ordering system is really neat.

start screen

I like that they aren’t super rigid with the offerings, and that you can still customize:


And pick your sides!


Ordering on the kiosks with all these options can definitely take some time – especially if you’ve ever been caught behind the family trying to customize their meal for 10 minutes, it can be frustrating – especially if you are hungry.  At the very least it can give someone some time in advance to think about their options.   I’m excited for this feature in this particular location!  And my Potato Leek Soup!

Posted in Disney | Leave a comment

Disney Parks Blog Wallpaper

Its long overdue that I mention how awesome the wallpaper created by Jason ‘Tiki’ Tackett is.   They are always my favorite and they look awesome on a full monitor OR your cell phone!  Check some of this stuff out!





Posted in Disney | Leave a comment

Dizzneeland, The Happiest Hell on Earth

Last week’s episode of the Simpsons titled The Man Who Came To Be Dinner had just a little bit of everything to keep me entertained.  I actually saved it on my Tivo which I haven’t done with a Simpsons episode in ages.   Not since the Simpsons visited EFCOT Center have I been so enchanted.

1.  They go to Dizzneeland – there are a VARIETY of nods to the park that make the episode worth watching.


2. They make numerous references to Star Wars and “Dizznee’s” relationship in having attractions related to it in the park.

storm trooper

3. Their version of the Enchanted Tiki Room combines Start Wars with Jabba The Tiki Hut!

jabba the tiki hut

4.  They go into OUTER SPACE and visit the planet Rigel VII.  Not to be confused with the real life Rigel, a star found in the constellation Orion.



This episode also didn’t follow the typical [insert guest star voice and one time character here] formula.   Definitely worth seeing.

Posted in Aloha, Astronomy, Disney | Leave a comment

Happy 2015! We are back to the future world!

Happy New Year!   Its 2015, a year that to many of us in certain age groups see as such a futuristic year.  Based on the movie, Back to the Future II we had some well documented exciting things to look forward to by now:


Things not happening on the regular:

  • Self-fitting and self-drying jackets
  • Jaws 19
  • $40,000 to convert your car to a hovercraft
  • Hoverboards
  • In-wall fax machines  – scanners are super slim but no paper inside the wall exists yet to allow for your incoming faxes.  Good thing we moved towards texting.  That said, if I ever lost my job over text I would be pretty pissed.


Things here or on the way!



There is still a lot of wonder and imagination left in what the future holds for us.   It looks very different from the “retro future” we came up with in the 80’s but it still exists.  Here’s hoping that the folks at EPCOT can return some of the wonder that used to exist in Future World!

Posted in Disney | Leave a comment

Big Year Ahead!

Let the countdowns begin!!

Ohana 2015

star wars

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My 80’s Crush is taking over creative direction of EPCOT!

There’s been recent info about Disney leadership changes and I usually don’t pay much attention to these but this one caught my attention for a few reasons…

  1. This one is related to the creative direction of EPCOT – something I think we can all agree needs some help.
  2. The person taking over this position of “Creative Manager” is Imagineer, Tom Fitzgerald.  Or, you may know him as my BF from the 80’s as seen here:


I mean if the dude who coined the phrase “If you can dream it, you can do it.” can’t make it happen who can?

Posted in Disney | Leave a comment