• What Now?

    You find yourself in a dark forest, the thick canopy above creating a perpetual twilight. Looking around, you see trees marching off into the infinite distance, their trunks standing in a sea of thick underbrush, the rough bark covered in dark moss and lichen. Here, there is no sense of place or time, no sense of direction or distance. You stand immobilized, trying to decide what to do next, unable to make a decision.

    Eventually, you realize you can’t stay here forever. Surveying the immediate vicinity, you see the brush and ivy make some areas nearly impassable. Finally, you choose a direction, picking your way carefully lest you twist your ankle on some hidden rock or divot in the terrain. Some time later, though how long is impossible to say, you find a small stream, the clear water trickling musically in the deep silence. Thirsty, you drink, the water cold and refreshing, and as you crouch there, the dark rocks of the bank slippery beneath your feet, you resolve to follow the stream, hoping it will lead you out of this place.

    How long you walked like that, it’s impossible to say. But eventually, after what seems like many hours, the forest ahead of you starts to change, the brush seeming to thin, occasional bursts of light breaking through the trees above. Soon, you catch a glimpse of the edge of the forest, it’s green leaves shining in bright sunlight, and you break into a run. Careless, you trip and stumble, barely catching yourself on the trunk of a nearby tree, the bark cutting deep scratches into your palms. And suddenly you are in the open. Before you a hill slopes down into a great open plain, tall grasses marching endlessly into the distance, their blades swaying rhythmically. Turning your face skyward, you see the sun directly overhead, the sky clear and unmarred.

    As the minutes pass, the initial excitement fades, and you begin to realize that you have no more idea of where you are now than you did before. Ahead of you, the plain fades into blue obscurity, the horizon an unbroken line with no feature to recommend one direction over another. In the back of your mind, you discover a small part of you regrets leaving the forest; at least there, the dark trees and thick plants meant you had few choices to make. But here your options are limitless. Overwhelmed, you sit in the deep, warm grass. What now?

    <table/note a> a: In case you were curious, this would be my attempt at describing where I am in the piece I’m currently working on. Why didn’t I just stay in the damned forest? —-

  • That Was A Long Vacation

    I didn’t think I’d like Disney World. The kids. The strollers. The cranky parents. The constant barrage of Disney-branded products. And that damned Mickey head everywhere! Really, it sounds like my worst nightmare.

    But it wasn’t that bad. Okay, sure, it was cheesy, and there really was a constant barrage of Disney-branded products. It was crowded, expensive, and the weather sucked. But oddly, I had a pretty decent time. We spent our first day in Animal Kingdom, which is basically a large zoo. Day two was dedicated to Magic Kingdom, which is the Disneyland replica. And day three found us in Epcot. Yes, we chose to forgo MGM, since neither of us cares that much about rollercoasters or movie trivia.

    I can’t say I can really pick a favourite among the parks. I enjoy zoos (at least ones that have decent animal enclosures and work hard on conservation efforts and so forth), and they had some decent attractions. The Magic Kingdom had quite a few good attractions, and I particularly enjoyed the Haunted Mansion (some of the effects there are quite impressions) and Space Mountain. Of course, the Dream Fastpasses we won, which allowed us to hit each FP-enabled ride once whenever we wanted, were pretty darn nice as well. And Epcot has some fantastic simulators (the space simulator was particularly impressive), and a ridiculous fireworks show at the end of the evening.

    So, yeah, overall, good experience.

    After that, we visited Lenore’s friend Michelle and her family in Alabama, which included a visit to the Huntsville Space and Rocketry center, which is run by NASA. That was very cool, and gave me a chance to see the Pathfinder shuttle, a real Saturn V rocket, as well as a vertically standing replica (the Saturn V will actually collapse under it’s own weight if it’s stood vertically without being fueled), and a ton of other artifacts, including a capsule from one of the Apollo missions. Very cool stuff. And, as a bonus, one of Michelle’s friends, a guy by the name of Andre, joined us. Andre works at NASA. Andre was involved in the Cassini mission, and now finds himself working on the liquid stage for the Ares I rocket!

    So, in the end, a good trip. Exhausting, but good.