Songbirds

There’s a bird that chirps all night long here, in varying tones like one of those car alarms from the 1990s. It’s infuriating and I hear it every night, whenever I try to sleep.  I hear it less in the daytime, so I’m assuming it’s a night bird.

I was so frustrated just now that I was moved to poetry.  Ahem:

My sleep is interrupted
by a songbird every night,
my sleep is interrupted,
by a songbird in street light,
my sleep is interrupted,
as he sings away the night,
my sleep is interrupted,
and I wish I had a good bow and arrow to shut that fucker up.

Thank you, and good night.

Star Wars Celebration Orlando

This past weekend, Amelie and I went to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration 2017.  Long-time readers of this blog will remember that back in the summer of 2013, I managed to attend Star Wars Celebration Europe, because it was in Germany and I was already there.  That was a fantastic convention, and much fun was had by me.

This time around, not so much.

Let’s start with opening the first full day of the convention, Thursday morning.   Amelie and I walked to the convention center a short while before the doors were supposed to open, and about an hour and a quarter before the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Panel, which we were both very excited about.

When we got into line, it seemed to go almost the entire length of the front of the building.

Then we reached the corner, and it continued around the entire side of the building.  Then we reached the next corner, and it went the entire length of the *backside* of the building.   And then it looped back in the other direction.

The line for Celebration was literally one and a half times the circumference of the Orange County Convention Center.  Grand Admiral Thrawn was not amused.

11am came and went.  We were able to watch a few minutes of the panel on our phones because it was streamed, but it was hard to see in the glaring sun and when I tuned in, it was- yuck – Hayden Christensen.

Onward we schlepped.

After two and a half hours in the first line, we finally got indoors, where we were treated to yet another line.  The far end of this hall includes the nine metal detectors that were being used for everyone coming to the OCCC.

Reedpop, the showrunners for this convention, forgot to count their ticket sales.

Or the person responsible for logistics in their organization is just some sort of shrubbery with googly eyes glued on the front.

Somewhere around 12:30 in the afternoon, someone in charge realized that the people at the end of the line would not make it into the show floor before it closed that day, so they just started to let every one in all at once, security be damned.  The metal detectors were screaming like the proverbial lambs.

Then we got into- you guessed it-  ANOTHER FRELLING LINE to pick up our badges for the rest of the convention.

By 1:30 in the afternoon, after four hours in various lines, we were finally on the show floor.

Some of the neatest stuff we saw on this trip was in the first section on the first day… there was a custom BB-8 car…

…and a Mandalorian Veloster.

There were lots of great costumes, including this magnificent Luke-a-like.

Partway across the floor was a big droid racing set-up, including this maze for Spheero BB-8s.

As with the other Celebration, there were giant models of things from the movies in various places.

One of the highlights of the day was Amelie getting hugged by (a) Chewie.

I call this photo “Han shot first.”

There were big presences by Disney, Hasbro, Funko, and, of course, Lego.

The new properties were represented by the Droid Builders, too… someone made a Chopper from Rebels!

There were quite a few BB-8s rolling around, too.  It’s kind of amazing how far the technology has come.  This little guy was rolling around, being chased by kids the entire time.

Ultimately, almost everything on my camera is from that first day.  The second day, we weren’t able to get wristbands for the Last Jedi panel because people camped out the night before and, you guessed it, the lines weren’t managed very well.

This was the worst convention I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to a lot of conventions.  We didn’t manage to make it to a single high profile panel, because their bizarre wristbanding method means you have to be on hand at 6am (or earlier) or you get nothing.  Other conventions I’ve attended allow you to simply line up a few hours early, or to pay a little extra for high demand shows.  If you miss the line, you miss the panel.  That would have been preferable to this nonsense though-  at least we would have had a chance to see things.

I appreciate that Disney didn’t want to charge people more for the high profile panels than their original (very expensive) show tickets, but this was just shenanigans all around.    At the Celebration in Europe in 2013, there were loads of panels that were interesting to me.  At this Celebration, at the height of Star Wars being super energized again, there were only a handful of panels that were even marginally interesting, and we couldn’t get anywhere near the really important ones.

At the end of Star Wars Celebration, all we left with was our con crud. (I’ll take “Sinus infections and Antibiotics” for a thousand, Alex.)

At least this guy had his Dianoga.

What’s the worst convention you’ve ever attended?  Or the best?

[#AtoZChallenge] D is for Decamp

The A to Z challenge will not be completed by me this year.  I’m finding that my attention is split between too many other things.   I came to this conclusion after I spent forty minutes trying to come up with a D word, and I wound up somewhere between Aught and Zilch.

As I write this exit stage left, I am sitting in Orlando with Amelie, and we’re making plans for the next few days.   Today was a day for MyStuff, which mostly consisted of looking at potential places to live.  (I could have written an entire post called D is for Decision, but I already talked about that two days ago.)   Tomorrow is a day for HerStuff, which will mostly consist of going to places that might help her land an Orlando job.  Thursday is unplanned so far, except for one more apartment to view just before dinner time, and Friday after work will likely be spent at least partially on Disney property.   Saturday is a family event in nearby Kissimmee, and on Sunday we drive back to South Florida for a few days.

About halfway through next week, we come back to Orlando for another four days- Star Wars Celebration.  The following weekend, we drive back to Orlando, and then back again.

It’s like this on and off throughout April and May-  we’re flipping between South Florida and Orlando, as we try to get our respective ducks in a row, while simultaneously juggling my job, my on-call time (roughly half of every month), both of our gym work outs, and our ridiculously complicated entertainment calendars.

How’s your April going so far?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

[#AtoZChallenge] C is for Cookie!

I have a sweet tooth.   I like cakes and chocolate and pastries of all kinds.  There’s one type of sweet that will always be my favorite, though.   As anyone who knows me really well could tell you, I really love cookies.  I have a passion for cookies that is only slightly less frenetic than Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

A few months ago, Amelie and I were near the University of Central Florida for a concert, and we stopped for dinner at a little sushi place, but  I got slightly turned around and we parked on the wrong side of the little complex of shops and restaurants.  Because of this slight unplanned detour, we walked past this little shop:  Insomnia Cookies.

I probably looked for all the world like a starving puppy with my nose pressed to the glass on that first night.   The sign on the door, if you can’t read it, says “warm cookies delivered until 3 am.”   This is true.  They even have an app to place your order.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You can get an app on your phone.  With that app, you can have warm cookies delivered to you, all the way until 3 am.  This is pure bliss for me.Here’s some of the varieties available.  I haven’t tasted all of them yet.  Yet.

There’s about a hundred locations now, in different states.  There are two in Orlando, and another one in Miami Beach.   If you buy a six-pack, it comes in a small box that looks for all the world like a tiny awesome pizza box.

For this particular visit, we got two chocolate chunk, two snickerdoodle, one oatmean raisin, and one white chocolate macadamia.   Their snickerdoodles are balls-out amazing.

The real danger of Insomnia Cookies, as I see it, is that while I always wind up with a box of six cookies, they sell a 12, an 18, a 24, and even 50, 100, 200, and 300 cookie packs.  When I have cookies in the house, I usually can’t stop myself from eating them.  Yesterday, I put the box on top of the fridge so that I wouldn’t keep eating them.   Fast forward to two hours later, while Amelie and I were cooking dinner-  she turned around to find me on my tip-toes, peering into the open box of cookies with an absolutely delighted expression, and pretending not to be eating one when she asked.

Yup, a box of six cookies is just too dangerous.  Better make it a twelve-pack, just to be safe.

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

[#AtoZChallenge] B is for Bungalow

I’ve been looking for a new place to live.

To recap, my last lease ended on the 9th of December.  I knew that my employment with Previous Mr. Company was ending on the 15th of December, but sixty days before the lease ended, I didn’t know what was coming next for me.   Since I had no certainty, I took the safer path, and put my stuff into storage, once more occupying the spare bedroom at my brother’s house.   Regular readers of this blog will remember that I stayed there twice before- the first time was just before I moved to Germany, and the second time was right after I came back, until I could populate a new apartment locally.

A few days before the employment ended, but well after the lease was past the point of no return, I learned two very important things:  First, I learned that I would be getting a contract to provide support to my Current Mr. Company, and second, I learned that this would be entirely remote work with very reasonable hours, so I could live absolutely anywhere.

Amelie and I immediately started making plans about where our next home would be.   We’re also both pretty tired of South Florida –  the traffic is horrendous, the people can be downright obnoxious, and we’re both pretty much done with having 11.5 months per year of hot-and-muggy weather as the norm.   We talked about Atlanta, Virginia, Portland, and one or two international locations.  We also talked a lot about Orlando.

So: Orlando.

Both of us have lived in Orlando at different times in our lives, and we both love the city.  Before any of my friends argue that the traffic is no better than in South Florida, I will say definitively that I would take I-4 over I-95 any day of the week.  Once you get away from the attractions and east of the Orlando sign over I-4, the traffic is downright pleasant.

As for the weather, it may have been 90F on Sunday, but by bedtime that night, the temperature had dropped to 74F.  And Orlando’s humidity was barely half of the humidity in Miami.   As I write this at 10:30pm on Sunday night, Ft. Lauderdale weather is 78 but “feels like 83,” while Orlando weather is 74 and feels like 74.   The low next Saturday drops down to 52.  I cannot wait.

I have already partially moved to Orlando-  whereas I’m in my brother’s spare bedroom in South Florida, my Orlando residence for the moment is… my brother’s spare bedroom in the other house he owns.    It’s a tiny bedroom in a very pleasant house on a lovely tree-lined street, and it’s coincidentally (and amusingly) just a short walk from where Late to the Theater‘s Jen lives.   Most of my stuff is either in the Orlando house or in a 5x5x5 storage unit nearby which costs me about forty bucks a month.  A very small part of my stuff is still in South Florida, but that’s probably not more than one carload on a future trip.

This was all supposed to be temporary though-  I just needed to figure out what was next.  I didn’t want to be a roommate for more than a few months.    My current employment situation wasn’t a known detail when I arranged this situation, and I believed that I would be able to pivot to something new very quickly when I moved in with my brother.  Four months later,  I’ve come to the conclusion that my situation is not so perilous that I can’t find an apartment of my own up here in Orlando.    I’m not being rushed to move out by my brother, but I also know he’s been very generous to me so far and I don’t want to abuse that hospitality for a long time.  Besides, I much prefer having my own space, my own kitchen, my own closets.

I wrote exensively just before I moved out of the last place about what I want in a new apartment.  I’ve extended that list out quite a bit, but I can be pretty flexible because the cost of living is lower here.  A two bedroom apartment in suburbia here costs less than what my final rent was on my one bedroom/one bath place in South Florida.

There’s one more thing that I’m considering here-  there are numerous places in and around downtown Orlando that are well within my price range.  There are one bedroom apartments in towers overlooking the city, and there are tiny little single-level apartments in the streets near Lake Eola, just a few blocks from downtown Orlando.  The appeal of both if these is tremendous-  I would love to live in a highrise apartment, where restaurants and fun things are all just outside my door.  To be able to walk to a movie theater or a concert in ten or fifteen minutes from my apartment would be amazing.  Plus you all know that I love tall places- it should be no surprise that I want to live in one.

Alternately, I could look for a place a little bit outside of downtown, and have considerably more space for a lot less money.  I’ve seen luxury apartments with seven or eight hundred square feet for less than a thousand dollars.  I saw one older (but still somewhat charming and beautifully located) one bedroom for less than $700 a month.

I have minor analysis paralysis, because I can literally live anywhere right now.  The problem is that by the end of the summer this contract will most likely end and I’ll be job hunting.  If the next employer is too far from wherever I choose to move now, I’ll have to move again.  For the ninth time in six years.

I’m kind of over it, so I hope I guess correctly.

Where do you prefer to live?  In a city?  In a suburb?  What would you choose if you were me?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.