Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Catch Up, Mash Up

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas or Hanukkah break. We took our kids to Disney World for a week over Christmas. I've never been one to crave Disney, so went with low expectations. I'm happy to say I was impressed and had a lot of fun. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, whose gorgeous pool was our home base when we weren't at the parks. Because the Beach Resort was on Disney property, we had access to the parks before they opened and after they closed to the general public. That made getting on all the rides we wanted quite easy. And, Grady and Liam were very proud that they stayed up until 1:40 one morning enjoying unfettered access to the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom.

One highlight for me were the Osborne Lights in Hollywood Studios. Just search for that on YouTube if you don't know what I'm talking about. It was complete with fake snow (foam bubbles) and vendors walking around selling ice-cold bottles of Bud Light. A very good time. Another was riding the Expedition Everest roller coaster in Animal Kingdom with my 6-year old son, Liam. It was his first "adult ride" and I was a bit nervous to take him on it, but he was a champ. He laughed and smiled through the whole scary ride. And, we got the first car, which made it even more scary/fun. I bought the picture of us enjoying it and Liam has it in his room. And, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were the best fireworks display I had ever seen, and I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. (4th of July is my favorite holiday by far.)

We had the whole trip paid for 6 months ago, so that felt good. I had predicted we'd spend $1100 on food, beverages and daily expenses over the 6 days. Colleen had predicted $750. Happily, we came in at $560. Pretty good for a family of four and MANY cocktails around the pool.

I'll post pictures of the trip on Flickr as soon as I can fix our home computer. I unplugged it before we left on the trip before turning the power off, and I came home to a blue-screen Windows XP error. Microsoft's Knowledge Database documented the problem and it requires XP installation disks. Well, it was OEM installed, so I called Dell and they have been great in working with me. The XP installation disks should be at the house tonight and I have an 8:00 p.m. appointment with a tech to walk me through what to do. If that doesn't work, they'll "reach through" to my computer and reformat it. I'll lose everything, but I thankfully had just backed up all my photos and music to my external hard drive. So, it'll mainly be all my settings and drivers. My fingers are crossed that the XP install disks will solve it.

UPDATE: The Windows XP error, displayed as Unmountable_Boot_Volume, indicated a bad hard drive. An hour or so with the Dell tech confirmed it, so I ordered a new hard drive from Dell (which, surprisinly had the lowest price on the web for the Seagate drive) and plan to work on it this weekend. I actually enjoy these kind of projects, and sometimes wonder if I'd be happier if I had pursued a tech career. Back in 1995 I had become certified as a client/server application developer at Boston University and was *this* close to becoming a coder, but the money was too good in PR, so stayed put. No real regrets, but sometimes, like now, I wonder how life would be if I went harder core tech.

Since this will be my last post of 2008, I thought I'd point you to an enjoyable mashup of the top 25 Pop songs of 2008.

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