Tag Archives: norm

Good luck, Norm!

Norm (of the infamous vickyandnorm clan), defends his Ph.D. thesis tomorrow, and then graduates from UConn on Saturday.

Not to belittle the professions (doctors, dentists, and lawyers), but a Ph.D. is the highest academic agree awarded for original research. (True, M.D.s spend years in school, but it is technical training, and usually does not involve original research.) We’ve already got one Ph.D in the group, Doctor rmstraus, and I am exceedingly eager to welcome our second, when this weekend, Norm will officially change his first name from “Norm” to “Doctor Norm”.

I must be perfectly honest and admit that I am fearfully envious of both Norm and Ryane. I have often dreamed about going back to school and getting a Ph.D. in some subject that fascinates me. Alas, there are too many subjects to choose from (astronomy, computer science, history, and physics to name just a few), and too little time. And besides, I have grown use to my lifestyle and it would be incredibly difficult to change things now. I’ve had some achievements of which I have been proud (graduating from college, getting my pilot’s license, selling a science fiction story) but getting a Ph.D. makes these achievements pale in comparison in my mind. I am exceedingly lucky to have such hyper-talented friends and I am thrilled for Norm and I wish him the best of luck on his defense tomorrow, although I’m certain he doesn’t need it.

Rainbow Room Birthday Bash 2008

Saturday began early for I was anxious to see everyone and wanted to get an early start. Kelly and I had gone to bed around midnight and I was up at 6:40 AM. I showered and then headed downstairs to sit on the couch and read until everyone else woke up. Kelly was up early too, and so we waited for vickyandnorm (Norm and Vicky) and kruppenheimer (Lisa) to awaken and get ready. It didn’t take too long but it seemed as though it took forever. However, we were ready to go by 9 AM, which is what I was hoping for, and at that point, we hit the road.

How’s this for a great day…

Disney World, Day 2

Today was Magic Kingdom day.  We were up at around 7:30 AM and met for breakfast just after 8 AM.  One of the cool things Norm did was get us a 50% discount on all hotel food, so our meals were cheap.  So we ate a cheap, but yummy breakfast and then headed out to where the shuttle buses were to pick up a bus to the Magic Kingdom.  After some brief line confusion (but others, not us) we hopped on a bus and made it to the Magic Kingdom just in time to catch the end of the opening ceremonies.

The first thing we did was head over to Space Mountain.  Kelly and Vicky shopped while Norm and I waited in line to ride.  It was fun, but I was spoiled after riding the Rockin’ Roller Coaster yesterday.  After the ride, we met up with the ladies and then headed to Buzz Lightyear, which is an interactive ride, and quite possibly one of Norm and Vicky’s favorites.  After that, it was on to the Haunted Mansion, one of Kelly’s favorite rides.  She could barely contain herself, walking over there.  There was really no line to speak of and we got right on the ride without a delay.  My favorite part of that ride is the singing statues.  Long time readers of this blog will recall that I suspected one of those statues followed me to an Orioles game back in the summer of 2006.

From the Haunted Mansion we made our way over to It’s A Small World.  I can’t remember the last time I’d been on that ride.  I spent most of the time taking pictures.  (Norm and Vicky were constantly talking about how they weren’t taking enough pictures, so I was trying to make up for it.

Kelly wanted to go on the Snow White ride, and while we waited in line for that, Norm and Vicky went looking for hats.  Specifically, they were looking for the hand-embroidered mouse-ear hats.  Alas, as they found out, they stopped hand-embroidering the hats a month ago.  Norm seemed particularly annoyed by this.

We stayed in Fantasyland for a while, riding the Winnie the Pooh ride, and then took in Mickey’s Philharmagic 3-D show, which was a good one.  I’d seen it once before last year.  While on that ride, I took what I thought was my funniest picture.  I attempted to take a picture of me being frightened by all of the scenery.  Norm, observing my attempt at a self-portrait, decided to interject himself into the pictures, with what I think is hilarious results 

Vicky needed some water after that ride, so we stopped briefly for some water and then used our Fast Passes for Peter Pan.  We were all getting pretty hungry and so we stopped to get some funnel cake after Peter Pan.  Kelly did a little bit of shopping.  I attempted to feed a friendly duck some funnel cake and got “yelled at” by a Disney employee.  (Norm says I got yelled at; I claim that he simply suggested that I didn’t feed the duck.)  After a quick bathroom break, we headed over to Pirates.

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Kelly’s favorite rides.  I don’t think the ride takes Fast Pass, but it wasn’t very crowded at all.  We managed to zip through the extremely long queue that they have set up for it in no time.  I snapped a few more photos while we waited in the line.  I have to say, however, that I liked Pirates better before they modified it to better match the Johnny Depp movies.  It’s still a fun ride, but it’s just not quite the same.  Also, the Magic Kingdom version of the ride is somewhat different than the Disneyland version and I like the latter better.  But it was still fun.

After Pirates, we made our way over toward Big Thunder Mountain to get some Fast Passes for later.  We wandered around the park for a while, at some lunch, and took pictures in front of the castle.  Then Vicky and Kelly decided to do some more shopping while Norm and I went on Big Thunder Mountain.  It started raining on the way over there.  Big Thunder Mountain was, for some reason, probably the longest line we waited in.  The standby line was 70 minutes and the Fast Pass line probably took 10-15 minutes.  It was a fun, relaxing, and fortunately, most of the rain had stopped by the time the ride was over.  We wandered back through crowds of people, half of whom were caught out in the rain and had shuffled into various shops looking for Disney ponchos.  We met up with Kelly and Vicky and headed back to Tomorrowland. 

We needed a break so we rode the People Mover, which was relaxing.  Then we went to the Carousel of Progress.  I’d been on it last year and I took the opportunity to nap.  And nap I did, through the whole thing.

Norm had been prodding us for silly one-liners for the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor show.  Kelly and I had no one-liners, but we went to the show anyway.  Actually, it was pretty funny and pretty impressive how they make the animated hosts and comedians interact with the audience.  At one point they ask you to text jokes to a number.  Norm texted one on behalf of Vicky and hers was the first joke read by the comedian.  “This one is from Vicky from New York,” he said.  The four of us were visibly pleased.

As the day wore on we rode the Jungle Cruise.  We also walked by an area near the castle where crowds had gathered to watch the Osmond’s (all of them, I think) being filmed for something.  There they were, just a few yards away from us.  The park closed at 7 PM today because of a special event this evening, so sometime around 5 PM we started making our way out of the park.  We went through several shops and I got some chocolate fudge in one of them.  Then we left the park and caught the bus back to the hotel.  Norm had made reservations at a restaurant that I’d been too once before and really enjoyed–a buffet.  We decided to rest for a few hours before heading off to dinner.

Rest we did.  Kelly and I fell asleep almost at once, and when I woke up an hour or so later, I felt sick–nauseous.  I lay in bed shivering, certain I was going to be ill.  We told Norm and Vicky that we’d have to skip out on dinner (I felt terribly guilty for that).  More than likely, I was just dehydrated.  I drank a lot of water and the shivers passed and before I knew it, I felt completely better.  Eventually, I ate a hot dog and some fries (Kelly had eaten a bit earlier) and we invited Norm and Vicky to come to our room to hang out when they got back from dinner.  Norm brought beer with him and he and I drank through the six-pack while sitting around talking.  Vicky went to bed and we continued talking until about 1:30 AM.  We decided to meet for breakfast at 8:15 tomorrow morning.  The plan is to spend the day at Epcot.  Sickness aside, today was a really fun-filled day.

Disney World, Day 1

As it turned out, all travel arrangements worked out perfectly yesterday. Kelly and I got to Dulles, were through security in two minutes, and made our way to the Red Carpet Club. We had a couple of drinks there before catching our 9:35 PM flight to Orlando. Our flight was on time and arrived 5 minutes early. We met vickyandnorm almost as soon as we got off the tram to the main terminal. Norm went to the rental car desk to get the car and we headed out. We ended up with a bright blue car, roomy, but it sure stands out. We spent last night at a time-share property, a condo that was really nice. Full kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room, living room, balcony. Our bedroom had a whirlpool tub in the room. But were were only there for a few hours. We went to bed sometime after 1:30 AM and were up at 7:30 this morning. We had a quick breakfast, checked out, and then headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.

The park opened at 9 AM and were there just a few minutes after it opened. The air was a little cool, but it warmed up quickly. We managed to pack in quite a bit. The first thing we did was the safari, which Kelly had never done before. Then we headed over to the Everest roller coaster ride, and Norm and I went on that while Kelly and Vicky waited. They actually saw us on the ride twice. It’s a pretty cool roller coaster. It goes backwards, there’s one good big drop, and some turns that probably reach 2-gees. We did more wandering and snacking and shopping. We caught a few shows. We had lunch. Eventually, we made our way back to Everest, and Norm and I rode it again, this time sitting in the front. Once again, the line was not long (we used Fast Pass). It was even more fun the second time around.

After that, we got some soft serve ice cream and headed for the park exit. Kelly lost her camera case, but it was a cheap one and no one was really upset by it. From the Animal Kingdom, we headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) park. I’d never been there before. We got a wheelchair for Vicky (who is 5 months pregnant with twins) and who had done a great job on her feet for the first 4-5 hours of the day. Once we had that, I ran over to Star Tours to get FastPass tickets and then met up with everyone else. Vicky and Kelly decided to shop, while Norm and I hit the two big rides: Tower of Terror and the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The Tower of Terror was fun, kind of like Free Fall, but more random and more dropping. I estimated about 1/2-1 second of true free-fall. But the Rockin’ Roller Coaster: Whoa!

The Rockin’ Roller Coaster is touted as the fastest, wildest ride of all of the Disney Parks and it lived up to it’s reputation. The ride “features” Aerosmith. When Norm and I got to the line, there was a 45 minute wait. We opted for the “singles” line and managed to get on the ride and get in the same car in 10 minutes. The ride itself was amazing, beginning with the initial 0-to-60 MPH boost in 2.8 seconds. There were loops and whirls and you name it–all in the dark like Space Mountain–only much faster. It was awesome! And best of all, they play Aerosmith while you zoom through the ride. strausmouse would love it!

After that we needed a rest and went to two shows. I slept through both. The first was only a few minutes long. The second was The Little Mermaid show. It was 17 minutes long and I slept soundly through the entire thing. By that time, it was dinner time. We had reservations at The Hollywood Brown Derby. The food there was excellent. We luxuriated through dinner, taking our time, talking, and really enjoying ourselves. Vicky and I had fillet mignon, Norm had duck and venison, and Kelly had salmon. It was terrific.

Finally, dinner was over and we made our way over to the “Hollywood Hills Amphitheater” for Fantasmic. This time, Vicky’s wheelchair managed to get us good seats. We arrived about 30 minutes early, but it was already packed and so the good seats helped. The show itself was great, although much-changed since I last saw it at Disneyland back in the 90s. Once the show was over, it was 9 PM and we made our way out of the park and to the Dolphin resort, where we checked in. Norm and Vicky’s room is right across the hall from ours, both facing east into the resort. Our rooms each have two balconies, very, very nice. The plan tomorrow is to hit the Magic Kingdom. It opens at 9 AM. We are meeting for breakfast just before 8 AM, so we should all sleep well tonight.

There were a number of amusing things that happened throughout the day, but I’m beat now. It was all I could do to write this all up before crashing. I’m getting in the shower and then heading off to bed. More tomorrow.

New York weekend, day 1

[Written on November 12, 2007]

Kelly and I hit the road at 7 AM. The GPS predicted a 11:12 AM arrival in Stony Point at vickyandnorm‘s house. We were there at almost exactly 11 AM. Boy, making that drive with someone to talk to in the car makes a huge difference. The time flew by and what was ultimately 4 hours seemed like a mere 60 minutes. Kelly is an awesome driving companion!

Come join the adventure

Welcome to the blogging ranks, Vicky and Norm

Those of you who read this regularly will recognize vickyandnorm as fairly regular commenters. Feeling left out of the blogsphere, they have decided to start a blog of their own. Because they are both (a) more witty and (b) more terse than I am, you can be sure that their blog will be funnier and shorter than mine. They are good people, despite the fact that Vicky is a Mets fan, and you can be sure their blog will be entertaining. Check it out, when you’ve got a moment.

Stony Point, day 3

The food-fest continued this morning as Vicky made some excellent blueberry muffins. Maddie began to come out of her shell and was less shy and more playful this morning as well. After breakfast, I convinced Norm and Vicky that we should take a walk somewhere and Norm led us to what was supposed to be a nearby hiking trail, but what turned out to be some kind of dead-end utility road. On the way back, however, we found the entrance to The Long Trail and decided to hike it for a short distance (spraying ourselves with bug spray to avoid the myriad of insects that seemed to enjoy the oppressive heat and humidity).

We played a little more Scrabble and then Norm and Vicky prepared lunch and I helped–a little. Vicky made an excellent BBQ sauce, and hamburger patties. Norm grilled those patties, along with corn on the cob, and I helped by pouring olive oil on the patties, and adding some salt and pepper. My BBQing experience has thus been tripled. There was also bacon and the burgers with Vicky’s BBQ sauce turned out to be excellent. So did the corn, which Norm had buttered and then grilled in the husks. It gave the corn and deep yellow–almost golden–color and it was delicious. Once again, I felt spoiled.

It started to rain just as we finished our lunch, which we ate sitting out on the deck in the backyard. And shortly after lunch, it was time for me to head home. It rained pretty steadily for at least half of the drive home and it was a long drive. Having left Norm and Vicky’s at about 2:30 PM, I didn’t get home until after 8 PM due to quite a bit of traffic on I-95.

Tomorrow, I go back to work. I’m getting up at 4:30 AM to head to the gym. After work tomorrow, I pick Zeke up from the vet.