Monday, November 1, 2010

The Nicest Muggers Ever

I've never really been mugged, though I think I once had a close call on the A train headed from the George Washington Bridge to 72nd Street when I was fifteen years old. Two unsavory chaps wer eyeballing my overnight bag, which did actually have some valuable stuff in it (my Nikon FM and lenses). I had enough sense at the time to simply open up my bag (which had clothes from staying at my buddy Walt's house for a couple of days). I casually displayed my dirty socks, underwear, and shorts, keeping the good stuff hidden. They lost interest and moved on.

But in another sense, I witnessed a mass mugging last week. I spent the week in Orlando, with visits to Disney, SeaWorld, and the Kennedy Space Center. I have been to Disney before, am am still amazed at how good they are at getting people and their money to part ways. From the expensive food to the stuff kids must have, there cannot be any spending restraint. It would probably be easier to simply hand over your wallet upon entry, and kindly asking them to please let you keep your driver's license and family photos. And the muggers always say "Thank you." I felt bad for the families with little girls who just had to buy a princess dress to wear around the park, or go to the salon for the princess treatment (it was packed). The giant Disney store at Downtown Disney appears to be a printing press for cash for The Walt Disney Company (DIS). They were really good at it.

But, the parks were super clean, well-staffed, and set the standard for how parks should be. The boys had a great time, loved Space Mountain, and didn't nag about buying junk (maybe the drills are starting to take??). As crazy expensive as it is, I really do enjoy Disneyworld. They don't cut corners; the FastPass system is great, and even the line queues are nice. No fake backdrops, lots of shade.

SeaWorld's shows were nice, though shorter than I expected (must be a limit to the working hours set by the Whale & Dolphin Union Local 383). The park was nice, and the boys had a great time. They loved the Mantis roller coaster (very cool coaster). Gabriel has become a roller coaster fiend, and I think given the chance, will ride anything.

Kennedy Space Center

I have wanted to go to Cape Kennedy (as it was called in my youth) for four decades, and as much as I enjoy the space shuttle stuff, it is the Apollo program and the Saturn V building I really wanted to see. I was not disappointed. This is the "space stuff" I grew up with, fantasizing and playing with models of the command and lunar modules, and watching launches on television. The Apollo astronauts were the heroes of my youth (and still are). There really was much to see, and I'm really glad I went. The gift shops had tons of stuff, some cool (enough Apollo stuff (some signed by the astronauts) to construct an Apollo shrine at home), to junk (who wants an "official" Matchbox tour bus like the ones used to ferry tourists around KSC?). Anyway, KSC is a pretty neat place for people (like me) who like this kind of stuff.

Even now, I am still in awe watching launch videos: here is a sample:

Marathon Preparation
October has not been a very solid training month; I have basically gone for runs, deciding what I was going to do as I started each time. I didn't put in the miles, nor enough speed work, and had too many inactive days between runs. I'm feeling it now, as I have what appears to be the initial stage of shin splints in my right leg. Not enough to keep me out of the race, but an annoyance. I'll have plenty of time to rest after.

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