Greetings to you and your kin. We hope you are in good spirits, good fortune, good health, and filled with His peace.
It's been another big year for us and has involved some transitions. The most significant is that we found out that we have a baby on the way! That’s right – with our first child on the way, we’re now parents, though Kori is doing all of the work because, well, she is the one who is pregnant. Since the baby is due July 5, we’ve nicknamed him or her "Firecracker." We are so happy, and so far, Kori is handling pregnancy well. We had the most recent ultrasound session a few days ago, and there was the baby, beating heart and all (which we heard for the second time), waving, kicking, and looking like he or she had the hiccups. Many of our friends had their babies arrive this year or found out that they will be welcoming babies next year, too.
As for work - two of my (Ken) coworkers who’ve become good friends - True and Marina - left Public Works for another County of Los Angeles department, and some of our other coworkers left as well. I was already looking for a promotion inside or outside County government, but this heaped additional motivation on my search for other opportunities - it just seemed like the right time. At the urging of my two friends, I applied for a position with the County Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures (ACWM). ACWM was looking for someone to pioneer their Public Information Officer position. There was a long selection process that culminated with a two and half hour interview with the Director of ACWM, and at the end of it, he offered me the position. So, in late October, I finished packing up at DPW one day, and started at ACWM the next. It has been going well.
Meanwhile, Kori went to work for Long Beach Miller Children's Hospital (at Long Beach Memorial) for a 13-week contract, working four 12-hour overnight shifts a week. That meant there would be days at a time when we would literally not see each other. She enjoyed her time there and worked with some great people. For most of the year, Kori was still on the books at her previous employer - the one we’ve been having a dispute with since June of 2005 because, after four and a half years of being a great nurse for them even with her disability, they’d suddenly raised issues regarding her disability and wouldn’t let her work. A full day of mediation this year didn’t resolve the situation, though Kori handled the day with poise and strength. Later, they made a tactical offer to bring her back as a secretary - which was odd, considering they’d cited her speech as a reason to prevent her from returning to work. Turning down their offer allowed them to formally end her employment with them. We’re heading to arbitration.
To celebrate the anniversary of our first date, which falls near Valentine’s Day, we went to Las Vegas for a weekend. We enjoyed time with our friends the Wests and the Ippolitos - both families were gracious enough to let us crash with them for part of the trip. I surprised Kori with tickets to KA at the MGM Grand.
In early June, we went back to central Illinois - which we’ve done every year we’ve been together - this time to the Peoria area for my maternal grandfather’s funeral. He had been in fairly good health heading towards his 90th birthday, but felt like he’d lived too long, especially having lost Grandma almost two years prior. After several weeks of failing health, he passed away, leaving behind reassurance to us that he’d lived a full life. After that unplanned trip, we took a planned trip in the later part of June to the greater Dayton, Ohio area to see my dad’s side of the family and attend the wedding of my cousin Chris and his bride, Alex. I hadn’t been there since 1997, and it was great to see uncles, aunts, and cousins and for Kori to meet everyone. As a couple with a marriage that is still just starting out, it was great to witness another wedding and to talk at length with Uncle Bob & Aunt Sharon, who’ve now been married for over 50 years!
In August, we lost our friend Carlo after he fought hard against cancer for two years with True’s help. About a month before his funeral, we attended his wedding to True - the wedding being an example of how he and True lived life to the fullest in the face of his battle. This young man’s life-prolonging fight and his upbeat attitude, and True’s strength and caring were touching and inspiring.
There were a few other events of note - Kori’s ten-year high school reunion was in August; October brought a difficult session of jury duty for her; our second wedding anniversary, in early December, was kicked off by seeing The Lion King at the Pantages. I stood in line to have "Weird Al" Yankovic sign a copy of his latest Al-bum, though I’ve met him and had him autograph stuff at least a few times before. Other than all of the things I’ve discussed in the letter, life continues as usual. We’ve enjoyed having our holidays together for the past year and a half without me working the Disneyland job anymore. We continue to visit Disneyland with our annual passes, which are a little more expensive than free! Homecoming, our church-based group of friends, has been a great place to see babies on a weekly basis. The annual Keel Family Christmas Party went well. I haven’t been doing as much freelance writing as I’d like (TheDisneyBlog.com and LaughingPlace.com), but I hope to get back into the rhythm of that before the baby gets here. Kori bought me a nice headphones-and-microphone set so that I can now provide an audio version of my writing for those who’d prefer to listen more than read.
It is nice to have family and friends with whom we can share everything. Thanks for being there for us. Please keep us updated on what you’re up to. We hope 2007 will be a great year for you.
We finished off this weekend with a visit to Boot Hill in Irvine earlier tonight. The place gets better and better every year. I used to help out with the operation. I certainly can't take any credit for the design and installation. There are some talented, imaginative, hard-working folks who put this together every year. The score was composed and performed by a professional composer I know and some of the sculpture work was done by another pro who does that sort of work for the film industry.
It's been quite a week.
Monday, I cleared out of my space at DPW. First thing Tuesday morning, I was doing my paperwork at ACWM. The three days I've spent there so far have been great. Seems like a great group of people working there, and I'm trying to soak up as much as I can about what they do and how they do it. My schedule has been filled with trips and classes.
Kori continues to sell on EBay. She's not doing it on a large scale, just some items here and there.
There's some other good news developing, but that will have to wait for a later time.
Let us know how are you are doing and what you're up to.
Kori has been on a special assignment (more on that at a later date, maybe).
As for me...
I'm getting ready to transition to another County of Los Angeles Department. Switching departments may not big a big deal a company, but in County terms, Departments are like their own little worlds, though most are run by someone appointed by the same elected Board of Supervisors. The switch I'm making, for instance, means I will be working in a different city with a whole different set of people who are responsible for entirely different services to the public than where I was before.
Since May 1, 2000, I have been with the Department of Public Works at the headquarters tower in Alhambra. It is just down the street from where I went to Elementary and High school in South Pasadena. When I started working there, oddly enough, I was living in Fullerton, which was about 45 minutes away without traffic, which meant it was really 60-90 minutes away. Then, I moved back to South Pasadena to get closer - about 10 minutes away max - to work.
It wasn't long before I got into the media relations activities and then starting functioning as a Public Information Officer. Finally, I got married and moved in with my beautiful bride in Anaheim, which is even further away than Fullerton, giving me a long commute again.
I've been poking around for new position for a while now.
For one thing, I dropped my part-time Disneyland job in the middle of 2005, so we lost that tiny additional income and my status as a "Part of the Magic". Also, being a newlywed gets you thinking about other major life changes. Secondly, given the County's job classification system and what "items" were available in my corner of Public Works and the reality of staffing changes, I had nowhere to advance there. Finally, some of my coworkers who had become some of my dearest of friends left for other County Departments.
Public Works is a great Department. The people there are highly dedicated, professional, and social, whether they are the people patching up potholes, sweeping streets, inspecting sewers, checking tap water, checking numbers in Accounts Payable, operating a dam, training, processing payroll, surveying, enforcing building codes, fighting graffiti, fixing vehicles, securing grants, investigating traffic conditions, providing lighting, inspecting bridges, checking underground storage tanks, reducing water pollution, issuing construction permits, planning for disasters, keeping our office technology running, keeping the Headquarters in shape, managing the construction of Sheriff and Fire stations... you name it.
In addition to the people and the great work that DPW does, I like the location and I like the building itself. It was used as the location for about half of "Weird Al" Yankovic's "It's All About the Pentiums" video, and since Yankovic is my favorite performing artist, you know I got a kick out of that. DPW also has two accomplished Toastmasters International clubs, and I have been an active member (and officer) of one of them.
But, as I wrote above, it was time to take that next step. In this case, that means getting a promotion within the County, but to a new place. I have accepted a position with the Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures (ACWM) as their Public Information Officer. If you're asking "What does ACWM do?", then you're making one of the points as to why they need a PIO. They've never had one, so this is a great opportunity to create something new and serve a different team of County employees.
ACWM's two main objectives involve environmental protection (which is also something DPW is involved with), and consumer protection. I had a 150-minute interview with their Director, who seems like a terrific guy, and I'm looking forward to working for him and being able to continue serving the public. That seems to be something that's in the Pellman blood.
Since I start at ACWM on Tuesday, October 24, My last day with Public Works will be Monday, October 23. That's coming up so very quickly, and there's so much to do at DPW as far as transferring my work to others. Already, I've reverted back to missing my breaks (I was actually taking them for a few weeks there) and not leaving the office on time to go home.
So, that's the big news for now.
-Ken *It should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. This our personal blog, with our personal comments. I get paid to write and represent, so if you're not paying me to write this, then it is not written on your behalf and you don't get to approve or disapprove of them in a professional capacity as my employer. The comments are clearly my personal opinions and thoughts, written on my own time using my own resources and not presented on behalf of any employer with whom I have been, am currently, or will ever be employed. If that's still not enough, go here.*
Kori and I have enjoyed a weekend home together, the second weekend home together in the last several months. She had surgery very early on Friday and has been recuperating while I've been taking care of her. While the pain has been intense, she wishes she would have had the surgery years ago.
Five years ago, as we were unknowingly on the eve of the biggest world event of our lives (so far), our lives were different. We didn't even know of each other. Now, we're a few months from our second anniversary. Back then, we both had different working schedules.
Life has changed a lot, both with world events and with our personal lives. Personally, we're both better off. (I think I got the better deal, but I can safely say we're both better off.)
We have friends who've recently given birth and some who will soon. More of our friends are married. There have been a couple of friends who've passed on. I guess that is the natural way at our ages.
Yes, I didn't have enough to do, so now I'm also contributing to The Disney Blog - http://www.TheDisneyBlog.com. If you bookmark The Disney Blog and LaughingPlace.com and visit them both frequently, you'll be up to speed on everything that's happening at The Mouse, why it is happening, and what it will mean for the future. -Ken
It's nice to pause and think about the courage and the vision that brought about the United States of America, where we can go to church without having to fear that some crazed person is going to run around cutting heads off, or that government soldiers are going to find us and send us to Siberia.
Kori and I had a rather busy June. She's working four shifts per week, and actually working more hours than me! How's that for a switch? We traveled out California twice in the month, going to Peoria, Illinois area for my grandather Kenneth's services, and two weeks later going to Dayton, Ohio area for my counsin-once-removed Chris' wedding to Alex. Hence, the picture. In both cases, it was nice to see family. Kori hadn't been to Ohio and it had been nine years since I'd been back there to see the kinfolk.
So, as we celebrate Independence Day, Chris and Alex are getting used to dependence on each other! -Ken
Mr. Palmer was born May 24, 1916, at Edelstein, Ill., the son of Benjamin and Flossie Minnig Palmer. He married Doris Larimore on May 7, 1943, at Arcadia, Calif. She preceded him in death Aug. 8, 2004, in Peoria.
Mr. Palmer was Vice-President of National Accounts for the International Paper Co. for many years. Mr. Palmer was an Army Veteran of WW2, serving as a 1st Sergeant in the Military Police in the Intelligence and Security Division.
He was a former member of the University United Methodist church and was active with the Boy Scouts of America. He served on Board of Directors for the Independent Manufacturing Association for many years. He served on the Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C.
He also Chaired the Steering Committee in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the Mt. Hawley Country Club.
Surviving are one son, Dr. Ronald (Kathleen) Palmer of Dunlap; and one daughter, Barbara Palmer of Pasadena, Calif.; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by one son, Dr. Gerald Palmer and one brother.
Services will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Cumerford-Endsley-Diggle Funeral Home at 428 W. McClure Ave. Mary Jane West will officiate Visitation will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the funeral home. Cremation rites have been accorded.
Memorials may be made to American Diabetes Association or the Salvation Army.
This picture was taken on our most recent trip to Illinois, last year.
My grandfather, Kenneth Palmer, my last surviving grandparent, passed away in Peoria, Illinois. He was just a few days past his 90th birthday.
He had been in fairly good health until a little over a month ago, maybe a little hard of hearing, but otherwise his mental faculties were there, he could walk, drive, etc.
Although he did make a try of it, he never really was able to move on from losing his wife of 60+ years, my grandmother, when she passed away a couple of years ago after a battle with cancer. Until the end, they had been an independent couple. He and grandma had moved in to a nice retirement community in the 1990s, something to which they had been looking forward for a long time.
Grampa estimated that he would have been dead before 90.
Grampa met my grandmother during World War II, while serving in the extremely dangerous California theater. Grandma had come to California, in part, to escape the cold weather of the middle of the country. My mother was born to them in California. My grandfather then dragged Grandma kicking and screaming back the Midwest, to Peoria, where they went on to have two sons.
Grampa is survived by his daughter, his elder son, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His younger son passed away several years back due to complications of diabetes, and Grandma had been ready to go ever since losing her youngest.
Kori's mother and my mother are both unavailable today, so phone calls will have to suffice for the time being.
Yesterday, we spent the day at the beach (Newport Beach) with a few expectant mothers. One of the expectant fathers, James, was celebrating the big 3-0. Ah, I remember those days. I can barely see them in my rear view mirror.
Anyway, it was nice day at the beach with food and sun. I was able to catch up with the birthday boy's older brother, with whom I'd worked for many years at Disneyland Park. He left in 1998 and went up to northern California for a "real" job, and we've stayed in contact via e-mail. I never made the connection between James (from church) and Adam until Adam noticed Kori and I on the evite. It really is a small world.
Friday, after the yummy green corn tamales, Kori and I tore out some of the weeds and vines that seem to be growing wo well in our backyard.
Now, we're just waiting for the washer/dryer repair man to come back for a second visit. *** Oh wait, I mean the Adelphia guy. Yeah, he's making a repeat visit, too, because some of the channels are not coming through at all, and some others are choppy. And to think they offer us Internet service, too. No thanks. the washer/dryer guy will be here a different day.
Okay, it's May 12 and we, just today, finally managed to get to Cafe El Cholo in La Habra so we could have our GREEN CORN TAMALES fix.
You see, they are a seasonal dish offered May through October. Not everyone understands why Kori and I like them so much. Different tastes for different folks, I guess. When my buddy Francisco visited from Chile several years back, I made sure he tried them and he said the reminded him of Grandma's cooking.
Quotes: >>The dredging is needed to clear the area behind the dam that filled up with dirt after the Curve and Williams Fires of 2002, said Public Works spokesman Ken Pellman.
Without plant roots to hold it down, mud flowed down hillsides into the river and collected behind the dam, Pellman said. [snip] "The contract calls for the removal of 5 million cubic yards of dirt," Pellman said. The sediment-removal project kicks into high gear each spring when the storms stop and the San Gabriel River's waters subside, he said.
"Each year, before we release water, we have to give everything that collected behind the dam a little time to settle," he said. "Waiting for the settling keeps us from gumming up our system and it makes it so we let cleaner water go down stream."
The released water is siphoned into spreading grounds along the San Gabriel River near Pico Rivera, where it percolates into wells and is pumped up for use, he said.
The money for the dredging came from funds designated for flood control and water conservation, Pellman said.<<
Last weekend was a tiring one. I left work at lunchtime on Thursday the 27th to that Kori and I could come home and prepare for Bob & Julie's wedding rehearsal and dinner. The rehearsal went well enough, and dinner was good. In addition to the main gift (I was Best Man), Bob & Julie blessed me with the how-did-we-ever-get-along-without-it Gillette Fusion [warning: Anglo-Saxon words are used in that link] Five Blade Razor, probably because 1)I'm hairy and usually sporting a shadow and 2) I talked a lot about it when I heard it was coming to the market. I just think it is hilarious when The Onion can predict the future so well.
When we got home, we found out that the moveable (it is on rollers and hooks up to the kitchen sink) washer/dryer unit that we bought online was broken again. This is the second time. We have to ask a repairman to come weeks or months in advance. Fun.
Friday (4/28), we ran some errands, including picking up the tuxes for Rick and I and Friar Tux in Lakewood. Prom season was evident. I picked up Rick's tux because he lives in Vegas now.
Saturday (4/29), Kori got up and went to have breakfast with her mom. Later, we went to my mother's for an early dinner. Late at night, drifting off to sleep, Kori and I were thinking of all of the horrible but funny things I could say during the Best Man toast.
Sunday (4/30), - Bob & Julie's wedding day! I got up and went to pick up Bob at 9am for breakfast, and after we ate I promptly dropped him off again at home.
We made it to the Garden Room an hour before the wedding - which was right on time. We didn't need to help seat people or anything, so it was basically hanging out waiting. The ceremony started and we took our places. Bob shed a couple of tears watching Julie come down the aisle. He spoke well, only having one slight stutter during the ceremony. I think he spoke more fluently than I did during my own wedding.
We made our entrances to the reception and remained standing for the toasts. I started off talking about how Bob and I had breakfast together in the morning, and how I let him pick the place because "It will be the last decision you ever get to make." That got a laugh. Then I talked about how, as they may have noticed in the printed program, that Bob and I met as teenagers when we shared the same love. We had watched the object of our interest grow and develop and talked with her father... we couldn't wait for that first touch and to spend time with her. But then we realized that we didn't have to be rivals - we could both enjoy her together. But enough about Splash Mountain...
It was a great wedding and a lot of fun. The DJ did a great job.
We stayed until the end, helping to move stuff to cars, and then went home. It was after 10.
Monday, May 1, I had taken the day off from work to recover, and so we ran some errands. Traffic was great due to the day of activism/demonstration.
I had three days of work during the week. It's a very busy time at the office. We have two seasons... busy and very busy.
Friday (5/5), we ran some errands and then ended up slipping in to Disneyland Park after 10pm so that we could enjoy the nighttime atmosphere there. We checked out the recent changes inside the Haunted Mansion (mostly good), rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and then hit Space Mountain. I was actually able to find a former co-worker to check in with. That can be hard at night, thanks to turnover.
Saturday (5/6), I finished up my latest review. After a nice dinner with Kori's parents, we went to Golden West College to see Kori's sister Kirby in the role of Hedy La Rue in "How to Succeed in Business Withouth Really Trying". She was good, and the play was very entertaining. Afterwards, we joined Kori's sister Kendra and her husband Steve in taking Kirby out for dessert at BJ's, where prom season was evident.
Today, we hit church and then our small group that meets afterwards. I think it was the largest gathering we've had for our small group, and several of the women are pregnant. So, the group keeps getting larger!
What a BABE Kori is. Thanks to her, you get to see pictures like this. She's scanning my pictures into our desktop, so you can see me in all of my young, nerdy glory, before I started looking like Teen Wolf with hair growing everywhere.
Quotes: >>FULLERTON — A proposed $19-million church expansion at the corner of Brea Boulevard and Bastanchury Road does not have everyone’s blessings.
Neighbors in the adjacent President Homes met to oppose plans by the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton to construct a 20,000-square-foot multipurpose building, a 21,640-square-foot administrative building, a three-level parking structure for 787 vehicles and a future parking structure for 227 more autos. [snip] Jenni Key, a church employee, said the congregation also bought a retail center to house classrooms and offices.
"Then as now, the purpose was not to increase the number coming to our church, but to better serve those already in attendance," Key said.<<
Okay, okay... we haven't been giving this blog the attention it deserves. I suppose I could list any number of reasons why. An obvious one is that I often have to eat in to my sleeping time to write here.
Life keeps people occupied, doesn't it?
It was a fairly nice holiday weekend.
I think we just spent Friday resting and taking care of some chores at home.
Yesterday, Kori and I went to her parents' place for what we thought was going to be a too-short afternoon, since Kori's mother was scheduled to work. We had a great meal with her parents, her two sisters, the husband of one, and the boyfriend of another. Pam's shift ended up being called-off, so we spent more time over there. We played Outburst after the meal with guys v. gals.
Today, we went to the 11:30am service at church, which was wonderful. Then we took off to go to my mother's in Pasadena for an early Easter Dinner.
Coming off of the 210 Freeway westbound at Lake, we had a green light to go through the intersection on our way towards Los Robles We were in Kori's pickup truck. Some woman at the intersection, her car facing southbound, decides to pull in to the intersection against the red light, and head down the freeway onramp to join the westbound traffic. She not only failed to look before entering the intersection, she didn't even look at us as I slammed on the brakes. A split second later in my reaction time, and the corner of our front end would have impacted right where she was sitting. She was completely oblivious that she was almost smashed like an Easter egg.
We managed to make it to my mother's condo without any traffic accidents.
My brother, my younger sister (who got to work at 6am today...ah, I remember those days), my older sister, her husband, and their two boys were all joining us at my mother's, along with my mom's annoying dog. Yes, mother, the dog is annoying, and since I don't know the correct spelling of the dog's name, I won't attempt to type it here.
The food was great and I ate too much... as I'm prone to do. Most of us played a game afterwords, and still fewer of us caught the first half of "King Kong" on DVD. Egads, I knew Peter Jackson should have quit after "The Lord of the Rings". I mean, where do you go after you've made perhaps the best trilogy in cinematic history? Almost certainly downhill. And "Kong" was certainly downhill.
Thankfully, my wife tired of looking at real estate with my older sister on my mother's painfully slow desktop setup, and we made our way back to Anaheim.
The younger of my nephews, Macon (pronounced May-sun, believe it or not), is 13 years old and my goodness, his voice is so different from the last time I heard it, which couldn't have been too long ago. When he first came into the room and I heard it, I though someone else had tagged along... nope. He may end up with a voice deeper than mine. Yikes.
Anyway, the weekend is rapidly coming to an end. Maybe I'll be able to go back and fill in some of the rest of the details from this month another day.
How did I ever work a second job on weekends? This is the last major holiday that I'm newly enjoying free from working a shift. Since the Summer of 1990, I had worked all major holidays, and that ended in June of 2005. No more imploring the family to start without me and then having them schedule around me anyway.
Quotes: >>"This was the most challenging effort resulting from last year’s storms for this area," said Ken Pellman, the spokesman for the county’s Department of Public Works.
While the road was under repair, a pilot car would have to escort a dozen or so other vehicles at slow speeds through the road during rush hour because a portion of it ran on a bridge with only one lane.
"It was just to get these people through who depended on that road for their commute, because otherwise they would have quite a detour and that would have increased traffic on other roads," Pellman said. "This is an important link between Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley."
A two-lane temporary bridge was completed and opened March 15, Pellman said, and the road had to be completely shut down for two weeks during its construction.
"The road is done until we go and build the permanent bridge, which we don’t have on a hard timeline yet," Pellman said. [snip] Pellman said he expects traffic to be able to flow on San Francisquito Road during most of the construction of the permanent bridge.
"The important thing is that we wanted to get two-lane traffic," Pellman said.<<
For the record... this was an April Fools joke. Thank you for playing along.
Quality Family Entertainment and Consumer Products Leader Acquires Retail Clothing Trendsetter BURBANK, Calif. & SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr. 1, 2006--The Walt Disney Company
• Paul Pressler Named Chairman over combined Disney, Pixar, and Gap Brands • Cynthia Harriss Named Chief Store Operations Officer • Byron Pollitt Named Chief Financial Officer
Furthering its strategy of finding new applications for its creative content, Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, announced today that Disney has agreed to acquire retail clothing trendsetter The Gap, Inc. in an all-stock transaction, expected to be completed by this fall.
Under terms of the agreement, 0.67 Disney shares will be issued for each Gap share. Based on The Gap's fully diluted shares outstanding, the transaction value is $16.24 billion (a).
This acquisition combines The Gap’s talented executive leadership, preeminent retail resources, location presence, brands, clothing, and accessories expertise with Disney's unparalleled portfolio of world-class family entertainment, characters, theme parks and other franchises, resulting in vast potential for new landmark retail output and brand extension that can fuel future growth across Disney's businesses. With an impressive 3,000-plus stores worldwide, including throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan, The Gap's exceptional executive team and 150,000 employees generated USD$16 billion in revenue in 2005.
"With this transaction, we welcome and embrace The Gap’s unique brands, which include the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Forth & Towne names, including GapKids, babyGap and GapBody, which are some of the most fashionable worldwide. The talented Gap team has delivered outstanding retail sales coupled with compelling brands that have clothed customers of all ages worldwide and redefined the industry by setting a new standard of excellence," Iger said. "The addition of The Gap significantly enhances Disney Consumer Products, which is a critical financial engine for driving growth across our businesses. This investment significantly advances our strategic priorities, which include -- first and foremost -- delivering high-quality, compelling creative content to consumers, the application of new technology and global expansion to drive long-term shareholder value."
Gap President and Chief Executive Officer Paul S. Pressler will serve as Chairman of the new Disney, Pixar, and Gap Worldwide Brands reporting directly to Iger. In addition, Gap brand President Cynthia Harriss will be Chief Store Operations Officer, where she will provide her expertise in retail branding and operations to operating all Disney-owned stores worldwide, including those inside Disney's theme parks, as well as all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Forth & Towne stores, reporting directly to Pressler. Gap, Inc. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Byron H. Pollitt, Jr. will be named Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company.
"Disney and Gap can now collaborate on strengthening brand names, expanding store operations, and distributing Disney content," said Pressler. "Disney shareholders will regain a presence in the mall and shopping center market."
"At Gap, our brands are about building compelling stories - ones that our customers see themselves in, are passionate about and want to be part of," said Pressler. "That's very much in line with Disney. Also, Gap's executive culture has its roots in Disney. We are excited to bring our additional clothing, accessories, retail, and outlet experience back to a magical company," said Pressler. "Gap brands will have access to Disney characters and content, and, in turn, Gap clothing and accessories can supply the clothing needs for Disney's Resort Guests as well as the costuming needs for Disney Resort Casts and Disney stage, television, and cinema productions."
The acquisition returns to Disney the talented managerial team behind the Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort expansions, who will now be involved in the nurturing and expansions of these properties and others. Paul Pressler joined Gap Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer in September 2002 after 15 years with Disney, including the roles of Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, President of The Disney Stores, and Senior Vice President of Disney Licensing. Cynthia Harriss joined Gap Inc. in February 2004 as President of Gap Inc. Outlet after many years with Disney, including roles as President of the Disneyland Resort and Senior Vice President of Stores for The Disney Store. Byron Pollitt assumed his position as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Gap Inc. in January of 2003 after 13 years with Disney, including the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
As Chairman of the new Disney and Gap Worldwide Brands, Pressler will oversee all Disney, Pixar, and Gap-branded products, services, and operations, including Walt Disney Pictures, The Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Radio Disney, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Consumer Products, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Disney Vacation Club, Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Cruise Lines, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Forth & Towne.
"We are always looking to partner with other entities, and leverage synergistic opportunities to increase shareholder value with strategic executive recruitment," said Iger. "Returning these executives to Disney, acquiring the Gap properties, and aligning Disney and Gap segments accordingly will provide worthwhile integration of both talent and content. With Paul Pressler overseeing the Disney, Pixar, and Gap brands, I will be able to confidently concentrate on growing our other brands, including ABC, ESPN, Touchstone, Miramax, Hollywood, Hyperion, and the Muppets."
Doris and Don Fisher opened the first Gap store in San Francisco in 1969 as a place to buy blue jeans. Today, the company has expanded into several brands. Gap is about fresh, casual American style. Banana Republic is an affordable luxury brand. Old Navy brings fun, fashion and value to the whole family. Forth & Towne is a destination offering a new shopping experience for women. On March 2, 2006, the company reported net sales of $865 million for February. On Feb. 23, 2006, Gap reported that fiscal 2005 earnings per share were $1.24. Net sales for the fourth quarter were $4.8 billion, net sales for the fiscal year 2005 were $16 billion. The Boards of Directors of Disney and Gap have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antritrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Gap's shareholders.
The Disney Board was advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Bear, Stearns & Co. The Gap Board was advised by Credit Suisse.
(a) Based on Disney's closing share price of $27.89 as of 3/31/06.
About The Walt Disney Company: The Walt Disney Company together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company, had annual revenues of nearly $32 billion in its most recent fiscal year, and a market capitalization of approximately $53.7 billion as of March 31, 2006.
Investor Conference Call: An investor conference call will take place at approximately 2:15 p.m. PT / 5:15 p.m. ET Monday, April 3, 2006. To listen to the Webcast, turn your browser to www.disney.com/investors/presentations or http://www.gapinc.com/public/index.shtml.
If you cannot participate in the live Webcast, re-plays will be available for domestic callers at (888) 286-8010 (PIN 56666399) and for international callers at (617) 801-6888 (PIN 56666399), or at www.disney.com/investors/presentations until 4:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, April 18, 2006. An .mp3 version of this Webcast replay will also be available approximately 24 hours after the Webcast concludes at www.disney.com/investors/presentations.
Quote: >>"The six bridges the county is committed to upgrading in the unincorporated areas are mostly in rural areas, and as such are awaiting regulatory and environmental approvals due to the location of the bridges," Public Works Department spokesman Ken Pellman said.
The remaining 49 bridges are waiting for local funding match commitments from the cities where the bridges are located.<<
Quotes: >>EMERYVILLE – A man separated from his wife but not quite divorced is suing the popular online matchmaker eHarmony for refusing to help him find a date. [snip] EHarmony's policy against still-wed singles is at odds with some other online dating services. Match.com allows users to state in their online profiles whether they were never married, are widowed, currently separated or divorced. [snip] “I just think I've got a right as an individual trying to recover from something that wasn't the high point of my life,” Claassen said in a telephone interview Monday. “If that includes dating now, why can't I?”<<
You can! Just not with eHarmony.com!
eHarmony.com worked for Kori & I. But then, we'd ever made the mistake of marrying the wrong person and so we were not married when we used the service. It would be a shame if eHarmony.com had problems because it isn't for everyone.
Here's Jessica Beach and Patrick Walsh getting married. Kori has known Jessica since childhood, and she's one of the few people still in contact that remembers Kori before she got sick as a child and started to stutter. The wedding yesterday was in Palm Desert. The ceremony was literally on a golf course and the backdrop was beautiful. It was a very nice ceremony with the reception at the same location, though inside. The "DJ" was terrific.
The online map said the drive would be about 90 minutes, but even on the weekends you can't go by that in southern California. The wedding was set for 5:15pm, and we decided to head out of town well before 3pm. Sure enough, there was traffic. Our timing ended up being perfect.
At the reception, we sat with another "newlywed" couple and had a great time talking with them as we seem to have some big things in common. It was also nice to talk with the other people at the table - a girl and her father. The wife/mother couldn't make it. Turns out she works at the same place Kori does.
It was a great evening. Kori and I stayed until the end. She even danced up a storm with that energetic little fellow. We drove home through the wind and rain, getting home around midnight. The newlywed couple we sat with offered us a place to crash, but since we weren't prepared to spend the night away from home and since traffic would likely be horrible today, we decided to pass. It was very nice of them to offer, though.
I must have been completely wipe out, because I slept in big-time this morning.
In this column, Ken reminisces about the expanding winter holiday season at Disneyland Park. He also reviews a DVD featuring video of the holiday happenings at Disneyland Park this past season.
Check out the column and tell Ken what you think by using the feedback form at the end of the column. Talk about the column with others by following the link at the end of the column to the discussion boards. Then, spread the word. Thanks!
There's not much to report about this weekend. We met up with some friends for a Mongolian BBQ dinner last (Saturday) night, and tonight we got together with a couple from our small church fellowship at their place and mainly talked. I have three day weekends and I wish they were longer. I like to be with Kori all of the time, and there's just so much to do at home. Such is life. -Ken
Quotes: >>After nearly a decade of false starts, GardenWalk is close to becoming a reality. [snip] Plans once included movie theaters, an aquarium and an interactive discovery museum. The latest vision calls for an outdoor mall with about 80 restaurants and shops, three tony hotels, a 400-room timeshare, a high-end fitness center and a 3,200-space parking garage. [snip] And it will all happen as people start moving into some of the 9,000 condos, lofts and apartments in the nearby Platinum Triangle by Angel Stadium.<<
Hmmmm. Too bad Disney didn't get that property. I don't know how worthwhile yet another mall like this will be. Earlier versions were a hit because they weren't in every neighborhood, unlike now. High or overpriced lodging, dining, and shopping? No thanks. How about putting in what the Disneyland Resort area is lacking, like Walgreens, Trader Joes, Burger King, El Torito, and so forth? If it isn't at Downtown Disney or on Harbor or Katella, add it there.
It is hard to have any uniqueness to these places when we're seeing coast-to-coast Generica.
I could have used some help with the traffic tonight. After being delayed by a meeting, traffic was a nightmare and it took me 90 minutes to drive 26 miles. Still a little sore from moving furniture, too.
Quotes: >>The signals -- near Del Aire, Hawthorne, El Segundo, Athens and Gardena -- are the first to be connected to the county's new traffic management center. Signals in other unincorporated areas with heavy traffic, including Marina del Rey, will eventually follow, said Ken Pellman, a spokesman for the county Department of Public Works.
"These signals right now are timed, and most of them are synchronized ... and the only variation (in how long they stay red or green) is caused by detectors in the pavement, which are triggered by the cars passing over them," Pellman said.
"We're going to equip these signals so that they can be controlled and monitored," he continued. "We can change the timing to alleviate some problems, and we can respond to malfunctions faster because we'll be able to see what's going on from the traffic management center." [snip] "If there's an accident, and one intersection is blocked, we'll want to change the timing on nearby intersections to clear up traffic. Or if we need traffic to go straight through for an extended period of time -- maybe for a presidential motorcade -- we can put the cross streets on red for a longer period of time," Pellman explained.<<
The technology has been proven elsewhere, and it will save County money, so it is a very good thing.
Ah yes, another weekend gone by (three days for us), and here I am, up too late, writing away to my reader.
Friday, as you read earlier on this blog, we went to the Disney shareholder meeting. That's always a treat.
Saturday, I got up in the morning to go meet my friend Bob and his wife-to-be Julie to help them move into what will be their marital apartment. This involved transporting items from three different locations in the nearby area (Orange County/Long Beach) to their new place in La Palma. Bob has been a friend for about half my life and I'm going to be his Best Man. The picture in this post is from when he popped that classic question, "Will you be my Best Man?"
To repay me for my help, they bought me a Double-Double (animal style) combo from In-N-Out.
This moving process took about six hours, and I was way eager to get back to my own bride at the end of it all. At least I had already done more than my 30 minutes worth of daily expercise. I'm still a little sore.
I ended up falling asleep before 9pm and staying in bed until about 9am this morning. That was nice. Kori, meanwhile, came to sleep at about 3 or 4 am.
Today, went went to church in the evening (the pastor has started on Ecclesiastes), then our small group met at Wahoo's in Fullerton, where I ate too much spicy fish in a burrito and enchilada - mercury be damned.
From there, most of us took off for the Disneyland Resort, where we rode California Screamin' (and managed to keep dinner down) before switching over to the Disneyland Park side to stand in a prime spot on Main Street, U.S.A. for the fireworks show. Since everyone was leaving after that, we decided to ride Star Tours while the line for the parking structure tram thinned out a little.
It worked, as the wait for the tram was minimal when we made our way out there. Two Disneyland visits in two weeks. I'm liking this.
Shelby had taken it upon herself to dig through the trash again while we were out. Nothing too bad. That little furball.
And now, here I am, up too late. I'm fine now... but just wait until that alarm goes off tomorrow morning. -Ken
The Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting 2006 Friday, March 10, 2006
Fridays are the first day of my three day weekends after working long hours Monday through Thursday, yet Kori and I got up at 7am (her with very little rest) to make our short drive to the Los Angeles Pond of Anaheim. I wasn't going to miss the first shareholder meeting in Anaheim since Michael Eisner faced everyone after Mike Ovitz left and got scores of million of dollars for his year with the company. For some reason, the meetings seemed to stay away from the traditional Anaheim and Orlando locations after that.
Registration was supposed to start at 8, seating at 9, and the meeting at 10. We arrived shortly after 8am, and were able to go right in and get our seats, which was good, being a chilly day for Anaheim.
Outside, there were "free speech zones" with nobody in them (I had been told that cast members were going to make a showing), LOTS of Disney characters, and a merchandise tent.
Guest Relations cast members were everywhere, and every person through the door was getting a single-day passport. Copies of Enviroport and the Shareholder Report were available.
I was surprised to see many families (or at least parents) with small children in attendance. These events have to be horribly trying for a young child. The crowd was also full of elderly folks. Scanning the crowd is a reminder that American shareholder corporations are owned by you, me, and your grandmother, and when you hear someone saying that we should "make corporations pay", they are really talking about making these people pay… some of whom rely on their investment income to survive.
Chairman, Senator George Mitchell got moderate applause when he started off the meeting. I'd say about 75% of the available seating was full, maybe less.
Mitchell's mention of Steve Jobs got applause. Roy E. Disney got hearty applause.
There was a video shown about all of the wonderful things Disney is (I think the score was from "Curse of the Black Pearl"). There would be several videos throughout.
President & CEO Bob Iger was not introduced; he simply walked out and started talking. He really seems like a nice, sharp guy, but also kind of plain – which could have had to do with the task at hand. He's at a shareholder meeting, not a dinner show.
Iger got applause at the mention of the meeting being in Anaheim for the Disneyland 50th Anniversary. He talked about acquiring great storytelling, wanting us to think of Pixar, but he was really talking about Oswald, which got some more applause. He said that every part of the company was focused on three things:
Creativity & Innovation Application of New Technology Global Expansion
When he showed a video of what is going on with the theme parks, there was no mention and very little emphasis (images) focusing on Disney's California Adventure or Disney Studios Paris.
The mention of Tim Allen got scant applause. "The Shaggy Dog" was released today, and "The Santa Clause 3" is coming. So, Allen is staring in yet another Disney remake, and yet another sequel. That could have been the reason for the lukewarm reaction.
Iger insisted that Feature Animation is "top priority", pointing out what we all know – that from Feature Animation comes most of the rest of the company's products. Brining up Pixar and Steve Jobs got applause, and the mention of John Lasseter was strongly applauded.
John Lasseter was very well received when he was introduced, and was the most engaging speaker of the event. He mentioned that attractions and films should be developed simultaneously to capitalize on the success of the films. As much as I agree, I also see the risk if the film doesn't do well. The attractions must be able to stand on their own as great attractions. He showed a new "Cars" preview trailer, and then a scene from the film. We also got a bit of the 2007 Pixar film, "Ratatouille". Both were well received. Lasseter talked about being a cast member and when he first worked for Disney in animation, and going to work for Lucas. He talked about Jobs buying the operation from Lucas in 1986, and how they lost a lot of Steve Jobs' money over the next ten years before things started to take off. He told us that Bob Iger is a great guy. It is interesting that someone who is "new" to the company would be the one who made us feel better about our own CEO, but we know that Lasseter is an old-school Disney guy.
Tom Staggs took the stage to talk about the financial performance of the company, and told a cute story about his son. Since the "entertainment" was through, a lot of people left. Mitchell returned to conduct the formal business of the meeting and then host the general questions from those in attendance.
The questions (paraphrased) and the gist of the answers along with some comments from me, not necessarily in order:
We should buy/build our own factories in China. This was more of a suggestion, not a question, so I don't recall there being a response.
Disneyland cast members should get better contracts. Two different cast members brought this up (since negotiations are at a head right now). Iger's response was that other cast members have accepted similar terms (perhaps he's referring to the Foods cast members, who have departed in huge numbers?) and that Disney is competitive in this area. I thought Disney is supposed to be better, not just competitive, but I do understand his point that it is not typical for a company to provide benefits to people who work only 30 hours a week. What wasn't mentioned was that just about all of the people who are only "required" to work 30 hours a week in fact work 40+ hours a week most of the year, and are required to work 40 hours many weeks out of the year. As Iger noted, health care costs are high. On the other hand, I know how hard it is to attract and retain good hourly cast members at the Disneyland Resort, and how the pay rate doesn't go very far in southern California.
Why isn't there more classic programming on the Disney Channel – stuff for the baby boomers? My wife Kori had thought of the same thing earlier… why not have a Disney version of TV Land? Iger said there was no plan to change the programming strategy of the Disney Channel to bring back Vault Disney and the like. He encouraged people to buy the home video product featuring classic programming and that he himself enjoys the "Spin & Marty" stuff on DVD.
Why don't you release Song of the South on home video? This got considerable applause. Iger said he had viewed the film recently and that he and others were not comfortable with everything in the film, even considering the context, and that he thought it might not be received well by the general public, which may not even consider the context of the production, and that he's rather protect the image of the company from such a risk than make money on releasing the film on DVD. So, the answer for now is "no" but it may change in the future.
With the success of the Haunted Mansion overlay, is it true that we may lose Tim Burton's cooperation and talent? Iger didn't know, but Dick Cook assured people that Disney is on good terms with Burton.
Is Anaheim going to get a third theme park? Iger said there are no plans in that area right now – that DCA needs more help first and there are things to do with Disneyland Park.
After the Anniversary celebration at Disneyland Park, then what? What's going to keep people coming? Iger referenced an earlier video and said there are things coming our way, included the new version of the submarine attraction. No mention of a new E-Ticket.
What about hand drawn animation? Iger took the opportunity to talk about new technology Glen Keane is using for "Rapunzel Unbraided" where the animators draw by hand into a digital tool.
An advocacy group brought up the topic of banning smoking in the films. Iger stated that he hates for smoking to be glamorized in films and that they are working to reduce it in Disney-label films, except for certain period piece depictions.
Can't Disney have a Hall of Fame to recognized and publicize the people who have given their entire careers to the company - but keep Michael Eisner out? Iger referred to the Disney Legends ceremonies and annual service anniversary ceremonies that the company conducts. As for me, I think something could be set up, especially with the space at Walt Disney World Resort, complete with a Walt Disney Archives and perhaps even a display of select "extinct attractions". As I like to say, nostalgia is very powerful. As for Eisner, that's ridiculous. Michael Eisner and Frank Wells preserved the company and had a good run. After Wells' life was cut short, Eisner did a lot of things that were not successful and/or were not well received, but that doesn't erase the fact that he left his mark on Disney in many positive ways as well.
Someone asked why cameras weren't allowed at the meeting. Mainly due to the video presentations, including some of which had not ever been shown in public before.
Are there plans for Disney's California Adventure? Yes. Iger says he likes the park. His mention of Soarin' Over California got a lot of applause. He does NOT come across at all like a DCA apologist, however.
Will the entrance of DCA be changed? There are some plans, but they are a surprise.
Are there plans to spin off more parts of the company? That's always a consideration, as are acquisitions.
Does Disney accept unsolicited submissions? Iger said everyone from the person who does his hair to the person who does his teeth pitches ideas to him, but that no, Disney does not, because it is a legal liability. Often Disney is already considering something very similar to what people want to submit, and doesn't want to be accused of stealing those ideas. Someone complained about lack of nighttime lighting at Disneyland Park. Iger noted that many cast members were in attendance and he was sure it would be taken under their consideration. I really don't like questions like this as I do not think it is the time and place for such topics, unless it is brought up in the larger context of a lack of upkeep, but even the person asking the question said the park looked great in the daylight.
I think the same person as above asked about avoiding the problems in China by making the Disney products in the U.S. After all, when you charge $25 for a t-shirt, surely a profit can be made with American-made t-shirts. Iger talked about the realities of international trade and that these other countries are also Disney consumers, and Disney does do business domestically as well. The question, in my mind, showed a lack of understanding about economics. Yes, the shirt can still make a profit if made in America, but not nearly as much of a profit. Yes, the shirt is expensive, but if people are willing to pay it, why should Disney charge less? Also, as Iger touched on, these other countries also buy American products (especially American entertainment). If they do not develop their own economies and a consumer base with purchasing power, how will the people there ever be able to buy Disney products or travel to our resorts?
Will the Disneyland monorail be extended to other locations in the area, and will Downtown Disney be expanded? The answer was no to both – at least there were no plans to do so.
The meeting was adjourned some time after noon but before 1pm.
All in all, Mitchell and Iger handled the questions well. At one point during the meeting, cast members in the audience were asked to stand up and received applause. That was nice touch. If there was anything lacking that I really wanted to see more of, it would have been more recognition and promotion (and thereby demonstrating a commitment to) Walt Disney Imagineering, but then there was a lot that wasn't mentioned because the meeting was only so long and the company is huge and diverse. Specifics about the future were a little sketchy and scant as well, other than that there are some films coming our way over the next couple of years that we already knew about. Although the Muppets briefly appeared on screen, they were also glaringly absent in mentions of the past and the future.
Bob Iger stressed that keeping "status quo" is not an option, but also noted that as much as Disney is embracing technology, he knows that technology is not a substitute for good storytelling.
The overall mood was light.
We saw Doug Marsh and we also saw my friend Dale, and bumped into current cast member JVW. Another current cast member I chat with about Disney matters in general stopped by to talk with us where we were seated. Other than that, we didn't have interaction with familiar faces.
The picture is my weak attempt at getting a shot of a fiber-optic sign in the dark without a flash while in a moving boat.
That's from Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. It's now going to be closed for months to change it by adding in some tie-ins to the movie series. That was the risk of having a hit movie. You don't see anyone clamoring for Eddie Murphy to be put into the Haunted Mansion, do ya?
Yes, Kori and I went to Disneyland Park just to ride Pirates, and then we finished of the night with our "Homecoming" group.
We didn't watch the Oscars.
And thus ends another weekend. Good night and good luck indeed.
We're back from my mother's place. Without traffic, we're about 45 minutes away. We pretty much kept Shelby and Carrot apart. Carrot spent all of the time either in the arms of my brother, in another part of the condo, or in her cage. Here, Shelby says hello to Carrot, who must have been thrilled that this smaller, strange dog had the run of the place. -Ken
Enjoying another weekend. They seem to go by too fast. It is amazing that I used to work two or all three days of my weekends. Now that I have the time free, I still don't get through so many of the things I want to do.
So here I am, procrastinating some more. I wanted to post this picture of Shelby, since I often mention here here in this blog. There's the little four pound wonder. She looks doesn't look like that right now, because we had her groomed while we were in Vegas and she was stuck at the vets. So, her hair was cut very very short and she looks like a skinny little thing.
If anyone cares, I'm listing the "The Very Best of Dr. Demento" on CD.
Some of you know about the Cave. A few of you have actually seen it.
The Cave was created in the spare bedroom of the condo early on in our marriage. I was living in South Pasadena, Kori was living in Anaheim. I rented, she owned.
So, I moved to Anaheim.
While living in South Pasadena for the second time, I had an old-school two-bedroom apartment with my lil' sister. I pretty much kept my stuff in my bedroom, and that allowed my sister to keep the rest of the place clean. The entire time I was living in South Pasadena, I was working 6-7 days a week, usually ten+ hours days, often at work or play late and always up early... like before dawn. The times I was home and awake, I toiled away at the desktop.
My room was a disaster.
And then I got married.
Kori and I did not cohabitate before we got married. We met in February and married in December of the same year. Plus neither one of us believed cohabitation in the non-platonic sense was a good idea. There were weekend nights where I'd stay in the spare bedroom at her condo, usually after I had worked at Disneyland Park and would be returning to a shift there the next morning. Often in those cases, she would leave to work an overnight shift at the hospital.
Yeah, it was hard to retire the spare bedroom with a hot babe nearby. But that's where I slept each and every time I stayed over before the wedding.
When we got married, we went on our honeymoon right after. I had moved some essentials into the condo, and place was a mess. When we got back from the two weeks away, we'd found that one of Kori's sisters, future brother-in-law, and parents had cleaned and organized the place. Great!
But then, we still had to move most of my mess from the apartment to the condo. And, most of the mess was eventually sent to the spare bedroom, when I decided it was not good for emotional health of either of us for my wife to keep poring through the casual and formal chornicles of my life... the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It bacame a giant, unorganized closet in there, much to the dismay of my wife. Spare matress and box spring. Old computers. Clothes. Books. An unassembled bookcase. Many, many boxes. I'm a bit of a compulsive info hoarder... magazines, brochures, books, notes, etc.
So today, we decided to move the spare box spring and mattress onto the properly placed box spring, removing the smaller mattress. Still don't know what we're going to do about that. But it is the first step in a new effort to do something about the Cave, because we'll be able to assemble the bookcase, move the filing cabinet, and have a better shot at going through the boxes in a meaninful way.
Hopefully, this is the start of the final effort to make the Cave a spare bedroom again.
My latest Kenversations column is now up at LaughingPlace.com. In this edition, I talk about the single-season wonder of the Light Magic show at Disneyland Park, which was supposed to be a permanent replacement for the long-running Main Street Electrical Parade. I also review a DVD featuring video the first public preview of the show.
We celebrated one of our anniversaries lately. It was my turn to plan the celebration, hence the trip to Vegas and seeing "KA". My actual physical present to Kori was a bracelet that she wanted.
Tonight, UPS delivered her present to me...
Two great books!
One is _Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies_ by Jason Surrell. Jason has certainly given Disney and theme park fans a great resource on the attraction. Plus, he thanks Rick West, our friend at ThemeParkAdventure.com, for his extensive research into the attraction.
The second book is _The Wave Maker: The Story of Theme Park Pioneer George Millay and the Creation of Sea World, Magic Mountain, and Wet'n Wild_ by Tim O'Brien. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Millay when he received his lifetime achievement award from the Themed Entertainment Association. Mr. Millay just passed away recently, so if this book has a second edition or a paperback version, it can complete the story of his life. Flipping through the pages, it looks like it fills in many historical gaps for this theme park enthusiast. Great stuff.
It was a great weekend in Las Vegas, even though we don't drink (actually, I'll have a little wine now and then) and I didn't gamble a dime.
I went in to the weekend without having gotten enough sleep.
On Friday morning, we took Shelby to the vet to board her for the weekend. She was non too happy about that. Last time we left her there, she pretended not to know us when we picked her up.
The vet was in the opposite direction of Vegas, and so that added hours to our trip. I was a grumpy hothead all morning.
My friend Rick had called me before Kori was even awake, and he called me again while we were by the vet, fueling up. He'd call up many more times to check on our progress. "No, we aren't there yet!!!"
Finally, after 11am, we were on the road, in lovely southern California traffic. It was after 1pm before we were into the Cajon Pass. We stopped in Barstow for In-N-Out. There was an accident - and thus traffic - near State Line. We ended up in rush-hour traffic in the Vegas area, since it was well after 5. Rick wanted me to call when I hit the offramp he told me to take, and then had me call back a few more times along the way to his place, because he said the directions were complicated. They really weren't all that complicated. But, hey, he got us there.
So there was Rick, his wife, and their little daughter, who is a really adorable kid. She was one of our flower girls, after all.
Rick took Kori and I out. We ate at a cafe in Luxor and talked about family. Then we went to the Bellagio for the water show, and forgot where exactly that we parked. That was fun.
We then hit the Wynn, where Rick and Kori played the penny slots. At one point, while Kori and I were watching Rick, a woman was walking our way and Kori got out her driver's license before the woman could even ask. Rick turned around and was like "I didn't hear any of that." I told him it was because no words even needed to be exchanged. Kori looks young, lucky me.
We went back to Rick's, where Rick fell asleep snoring on the couch while Kori and our hostess bonded and had really deep conversation past the wee hours of the morning. I was on my back, on the floor, tired as hell. About ten minutes after 4am, I went over on to my stomach and fell asleep. Next thing I knew, it was 4:30am, our host and hostess were gone (upstairs), and Kori was in her pajamas. We took out the sleeper sofa and went to sleep.
Saturday, Rick, the little girl, and I went to get something to eat at the Gold Coast buffet, which Rick wanted to try.
After we finished, ee went back to drop off the girl and pick up Kori. The three of us went to Caesar's to check out the Forum Shops and the show there, where the acoustics just don't work for the show. What a shame. We walked across the street to Harrah's, where Rick and Kori again played the pennies. (Kori only played a total of two dollars all weekend, and broke even as far as that goes). We had to get back to Rick's so Kori and I could get ready for the show that night.
I decided to tell Kori we were going to see Cirque's "KA" at MGM when it was time to get ready, so she'd have some time to be excited about it, rather than wait until we were sitting in our seats, like I had done with the Sarah Brightman concert. She was very excited. We had great seats for the 10:30pm show. Kori hadn't eaten anything all day, so while we were waiting for the show, she had a muffin and some milk and I had an apple fritter. I should have had something with caffeine, because I struggled to stay awake all through "KA". It wasn't boring... it is just that it was dimly lit, the seats were comfy, and the music and the movements are a little hypnotic. Struggling to stay awake was a distraction. The show was great. It had come highly recommended by friends who are able to properly judge such things, and they were right.
After the show, we drove out to stay with a different set of friends - Deena & Vito. We stayed up until 4am... all of us talking.
Sunday, we got up around noon and talked some more. Finally, we went to a "local" place with a buffet, where we treated Deena & Vito. At least, we tried to. They redeemed some frequent customer points so that one of them was free. It was our one meal for the day. The line was long there, thanks to the holiday weekend.
We finally got to our hotel after 6pm, and weren't able to get our room until 7pm. It was the Renaissance Las Vegas, part of the Marriot company. It opened up about a year ago just off of the strip (near the Las Vegas Hilton) and used to be dilapidated apartments. I went to sleep before midnight while Kori stayed up late watching the Olympics.
Yesterday, we checked out of the hotel before noon, then went back to the Wynn for their buffet, which Rick says is the best. It was good. We went back to the MGM so that we could check out the stuff next to it... the M&Ms and Coca-Cola stores. The places were really crowded. I saw a former Disneyland coworker who had hired in about the same time I did and quit last year before to go to Las Vegas. He was working the register and was too busy, I so simply used a "secret code" to get his attention, and he looked around and saw me. We exchanged nods, and that was it.
After gassing up the car, we were on the road home around 3:15pm. When we got to Baker, traffic slowed to a stop and literally inched along for many, many miles. Apparently, due to a couple of accidents and holiday traffic, the entire way from State Line to Barstow was bumper to bumper by then. Ugh!!!
Things got better as we approached Barstow, and we stopped at McDonald's (like everyone else, apparently). We ended up getting home around 9:30 last night. I had to get up this morning to go to work.
Office stress erased just about all of the relaxation from the trip. That's life.
We're back from a holiday weekend trip to Las Vegas, which doubled as our celebration of the second anniversary of our first date. We usually keep Valentine's Day low-key and avoid the crowds by placing the emphasis on our own personal annivesary.
I'll have to fill you in on the details of the trip at a later time. It is past my bedtime, thanks to some lovely bumper to bumper traffic.
Quote: >>BASSETT - What can government officials do to improve an intersection that has 86,000 daily vehicle trips, three sets of train tracks, up to 60 daily train crossings, and is near five freeway onramp roads, three offramp roads and a river?
For now, the answer for the intersection of Valley Boulevard and Temple Avenue is "nothing," according to area traffic experts.
For years, motorists have been clogging the intersection, which engineers agree is probably among the most congested spots in the San Gabriel Valley.
"Let's put it this way, it's beyond saturation point, way beyond it," said Ken Pellman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. "It's a really, really bad intersection."
The county rates intersections from A through F. A has the best traffic flow. F has the worst. The Valley and Temple intersection in Bassett is "way past F," Pellman said.<<
It's a lovely Saturday morning, and things are going well.
A little over a week ago, we had a fairly busy Friday. It was filled with appointments, including a business one for me. In the evening, we got together with my father and his wife for a long-overdue dinner. It was at a lovely place in Long Beach, along the shore - Parker's Lighthouse, and my father and his wife graciously picked up the tab.
We hadn't seen his wife since our wedding, which had been about 14 months prior, and my wife had seen very little of my father. This was because there had been a bunch of hurt feelings that were not addressed soon enough.
[Life lesson: Even if you think that someone's reaction to your actions is ridiculous or unwarranted, don't ignore it or think it will go away. Someone's feelings are real, even if they are based on misunderstandings. By addressing it, you just may learn how you could have handled the situation better, gain insight, or at least show that you care.]
The dinner ended well, and we exchanged overdue Christmas and birthday presents.
It wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized that the situation with our wedding was inevitable, given that it was the first big whole-family event since my parents ten years before. Not since then had my entire biological family - my three siblings, my mother, and my father - been together with my father's wife and her three adult children. There had been no deaths, births, or wedding that had drawn the entire lot together, and my father and his wife married about six years before our wedding.
It stinks that Kori was subjected to the outcome of this reality. If I would have figured this out sooner I would have tried to set something up (besides a wedding-related function) months before the wedding. Not that it would have been possible to get everyone together.
The rest of that weekend went well, and we had some people over for the Big Game.
The week was pleasant enough. Some things may come out of it that we can discuss later.
Heard good news about our friend Carlo, who has been showing amazing endurance against a medical problem, so that was good news.
Kori and I are looking forward to our second "First Date" anniversary. It is close enough to Valentine's Day that we combine the two. We switch off on who is responsible for the special occassion planning. I'd be happy staying right where I wake up in the morning, as long as she was going to stay there, too. But I think she needs a little more creativity than that.
My advice to any unmarried men is to find a gal who's birthday is either on Christmas Day or Valentine's Day, and then get married on the other day. Cut those four occasions down to two. Okay, so I'm kidding. Sort of.
We married in December of 2004, our daughter was born in June of 2007, and our boy was born in August 2009. We live in Anaheim, California, like to make Disneyland visits, and have a dog who likes to be our guard.