Monday, October 27, 2008

Barack Obama

George and I went to hear Barack Obama speak on Saturday afternoon. He stopped in Las Vegas to give a speech, after he appeared in Reno earlier that morning. The rally was held at Bonanza High School at Del Rey Avenue and more than 18,000 people came.

While Barack has not necessarily derived much from the other speeches he has given recently, he was still inspiring. He emphasized on the many problems this country is facing that other politicians would rather not talk about or just sweep under the rug. He said that we could solve many of the ills but that we can not rely on Washington alone. Among other things, he explained that it takes each and every one of us to help clean and save the environment, every parent to get involved in their children’s lives and their education. Furthermore, those big corporations have to finally stop just pocketing all these insane profits and start helping to re-invest into new technologies and their employees to make America competitive again.

People standing all around us seem mesmerized by him. One father proudly held his little daughter up into the air and asked her if she could see him. “Do you see him? Can you see him? That’s our next president.”

Now, George and I are not that naive to think that Obama is just going to wave a magic wand and everything will be solved when he’s become president. After eight years of utter incompetent, ignorant and devastating reign of King Bush’s administration, this task is going to be next to impossible. Bush, his puppet-master Cheney and all their cronies have literally destroyed a country, which once truly was the best country in the world. I do not recognize this country anymore nor its people. This is not the United States of America that I once knew. I grew up next to an authoritarian police state...and believe me...there’s not too much of a difference anymore.

And just when one thinks it can’t get any worse and America couldn’t possibly stoop any lower, along comes John McCain and his barbie doll of a ditz. It’s like a really bad joke. Unfortunately, it’s not. There’s a real possibility that the Bush administration will continue on if McCain gets elected. This idea just makes me shudder.

Surprisingly, there were only a handful of Republicans demonstrating outside where the event was held. They were circled by a few cops and even some mounted police officers. For the most part the opposing demonstrators were quiet. Despite its reputation of being “Sin City” and an adult’s Disneyland, Las Vegas is very conservative. As soon as one steps away from the “Strip,” it is very apparent.

Enough already. Enough of the usual conservative ways of thinking and doing. Enough of the churches meddling in politics and other people’s lives. It’s been done for eight disastrous long years. We had a guy leading this country, who supposedly was “one of us,” “someone you could have a beer with,” “folksy.” Enough is enough. I don’t want folksy. I don’t want to have a drink with the leader of the most powerful nation.

I want the president to be intelligent, smart and educated. I want him to be knowledgeable in world affairs and in cultures of other countries. I want our leader to respect other nations and their wishes and be humble when it comes to ours. I want the next president to treat each and every American citizen as absolute equals, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or religion. No more cowboy diplomacy. And sure as hell no moose and ice hockey diplomacy. The United States needs a true world leader. Not a pal one meets at a bar down the street.

We had that nonsense for eight years.

Look where it got us.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Walt Disney World (part two of many)

Of the four theme parks inside Walt Disney World in Florida, we like Disney's Animal Kingdom the best. As the name might suggest it is basically a zoo. This being Disney, it's not like any ordinary zoo. They've done a remarkable job to recreate the natural habitats for most of the animals as close as possible to the real thing.

This theme park is gigantic. There's even an "African Savanna," where animals can roam around freely. This park is also extremely lush with vegetation and there are areas where one truly believes to be in the middle of a jungle. Disney's Animal Kingdom has an amazing array of the most diverse animals. It also houses a research center and a veterinarian hospital.
While there are some thrill rides, attractions and shows, they never take center stage. The true stars in this park are the animals and the environment in general.

We took too many photos to show them all here. Therefore, here are a few impression of this incredible park. We may add more pictures from Disney's Animal Kingdom down the road.

Music is everywhere. Whether is authentic African music or
your Disney favorite.

The park host animals from different continents such as Asia
and Africa. It also celebrates their culture and heritage.

The research center and animal hospital. Here people can learn
how to do their part to save the environment.
Of course, there are also thrill rides. It's still a Disney park after all.
"Expedition Everest," one of the best roller coasters around.
A little bit of India, in the Asian section. With tigers, flavorful indian
cuisine and a whole lot more.
George and I have a thing for bats. Obviously, so do the Disney folks.
One can find them ones, carved in stone or
wooden ones hanging from the ceiling inside a restaurant. Bats are
just fascinating and not at all creepy. We never understood why
they always get a bad reputation.
More impressions from "Asia,"...
...and "Africa."
A Disney visit without an obligatory photo-op with a Disney character?
Of course not. This is me and Rafiki from the "The Lion King."

Oh, this explains it then...

...on so many levels.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Walt Disney World (part one of many)

I’m finally getting around to write a bit about our amazing trip to Walt Disney World in Florida and to upload a few of the hundreds and hundreds of photos we’ve taken. And this will only be a very small snippet of the whole trip. If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, then it’s hard to describe just the incredible size of the place alone and all the different activities it has to offer. It’ll require a few seperate entries in this blog over the next few weeks to even scratch the surface of all the things we’ve expereinced.

Let’s just hop right in, shall we?

A beautiful sunrise at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport, where we had a layover before continuing to Orlando in Florida. And an inside view of the cabin of our Boeing 767-300, before take-off to Orlando.

We left on a Friday night, taking a Delta Airlines red-eye flight to Atlanta, GA and then on to Orlando, FL where we arrived the next morning. This was also the very first time we ever used a travel package, which included hotel room, park tickets, transfers and pretty much everything else. The Disney Travel Co. would take care of everything. And they did. We checked in our luggage with specially marked tags at Las Vegas McCarran Int.’l Airport and haven’t seen it until it was inside our room at Disney’s All-Star Movie Resort the next day. The Disney folks picked us up from the Orlando airport, transferred us to our destined hotel where we were able to check in right away. While checking in, they gave us each a card which is all we needed while staying at Walt Disney World.

Well, that and...more money to buy food, souvenirs and the like.

The porte cochère to Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and their hotel lobby.

This card was our hotel room key, our I.D. while staying at the Disney property and for using their immense transportation system, and our ticket to every themepark, waterpark, Pleasure Island and Disney Quest. There was actually more but there was simply not enough time to take everything in.

Mickey Mouse is ubiquitous. Towels in the shape of the mouse greeted us as we arrived at our nice hotel room.

Pleasure Island was part of Downtown Disney and an adults-only section of night clubs, discos and comedy venues but has closed since we’ve returned home. We checked it out on their last night, which was quiet crowded and happening.

But now back to us Mouseketeers again...

Since we’ve arrived somewhat early on Saturday morning and also had dinner reservation for the “Boma” restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we decided there was just enough time to check out the “Blizzard Beach” waterpark.

George at the bus bays in front of Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, waiting for our bus to Blizzard Beach. And me at the entrance to Blizzard Beach waterpark.

Weatherwise, it was the most gorgeous day. The bluest, clearest sky one can imagine and the temperature were just perfect. Not humid at all. My biggest fear was that we’d have to suffer through a muggy mess and sweat our you-know-whats off. Still, we couldn’t wait to finally jump into the cool waters of the gigantic wave pool or whisk down all those crazy water slides. “Blizzard Beach” was definitely a fun way to start our amazing Disney World vacation.

By the time this waterpark closed, we both worked up a mighty appetite. So we hoped on the appropriate Disney Transportation bus which would take us to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. A visit to this grand and amazing hotel alone is worth the trip.

We were far too early for our dinner reservation at Boma restaurant. But the host did squeeze us in within the following ten minutes. This restaurant was busy and later there was a long waiting line. The South African food was served buffet-style and simply delicious. Every single dish was just scrumptious. We can highly recommend this place, if you’re looking for something different for your taste buds.

Inside the Boma restaurant at the lodge

After dinner we were highly content but also very stuffed and needed to walk some of this gained ballast off again. Not a problem, since the Animal Kingdom Lodge itself is a huge complex and there’s lots to see and do. In typical Disney fashion, they spared no expenses and left out no detail to re-create this African-themed resort.

The spacious lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

It is one of the deluxe hotels of the many Disney resorts and hotel guests have a fantastic view from their balconies over the open “African Savanna” where they can see the animals running around freely. Can you imaging looking out your window and there’s a giraffe peeking in. It’s all right there. We enjoyed a nice walk around the huge premise and watched many animals grazing in the setting sun. It was almost like a scene out of “The Lion King.”

Okay...get ready...cue in the song “Circle of Life”!

Yup, by now we definitely knew we were in Walt Disney World.

We returned late to our hotel. The All-Star Movies Resort comprises of several buildings, each one themed after Disney films. Our's was "The Love Bug." And Herbie would greet us every morning and every evening when we returned from our adventures in Disney World

Friday, October 10, 2008

Moose Diplomacy

You know, just like seeing Russia from your kitchen window in Cowtown, Alaska really makes you THE expert in foreign affairs.

And since you're a hockey mom, you too have the sensibility to look really deep into Putin's eyes to sense his soul before one your brats accidentally (of course) hits that red button inside the White House.

Great, we'll move from Bush's cowboy diplomacy to Sarah Palin's moose diplomacy. In the meantime, John McCain will be too busy doing other important things. He's lost count of his homes again.

That'll make us all warm and fuzzy inside.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We're Back!

Yup, we’re back from our little trip to Florida. How time flies when you’re having fun. This was definitely one of the best…if not the best vacation ever. We had a great time at Walt Disney World and everything was just simply amazing.

Now we’re back to reality.

Boy, oh boy, are we back to reality. Thrown right back into the daily craziness of the rat race. But we’re holding up pretty good. I’m still humming or whistling corny Disney tunes. I’m so happy.
For nine days we didn’t see or hear any kind of news or any presidential election coverage. We simply didn’t care. Not that we didn’t care what was happening to the world, of course. But this was our vacation, damn it!

And from what we can tell so far since we’ve been back, nothing much has changed anyway. I already knew ten years ago that this financial disaster was going to happen. No, make that since Ronald Reagan was de-regulating the crap out of everything back in the 1980’s.

So, no surprise here. However, I am astounded that not more of the larger banks went bankrupt. I also don’t get why the rest of the country is so bewildered and stunned about all that’s happened. All the signs were right there in their faces. Oh yes, that’s right. Just like the saying goes “Love makes blind,” one can also implement that for money. Money, greed, selfishness…whatever you want to call it. The constant urge to having more, living even bigger and spending well beyond one’s means. Were people seriously expecting the American Way of Life to go on until all eternity?

Just like any dream, the American Dream had to come to an end eventually.

But by the looks of how people are reacting and over-reacting, one would think we’re still at Disney World. Ironically, the Disney folks have their act together. Unlike those politicians, CEOs and business people, or the majority of the population for that matter. They’re all acting more like spoiled brats who didn’t get their way and now they’re having a big-time fit. What’s up with the name calling, finger pointing and throwing these ridiculous tantrums. Not the way how mature adults are suppose to handle delicate situations in a rational and realistic way, is it? Yup, we’re back to reality alright!

Can we go back to Walt Disney World? Please?