Monday, October 29, 2012

Epic European Tour Tease

We went on an epic European cruise!  It was epic and European and a cruise.  After what seemed like an eternity of traveling on basically every mode of modern transportation known to man, we made it home a week ago.  I will post more details and pictures soon, but for now I wanted to post just a little something saying we're home and we had a great time with Elise and Jeff, and saw so many awesome things and ate so much awesome food and only had a few minor bouts with seasickness.
KERMIT!  (Washington, D.C.)
Like we do.
My wife the lil' bear!
This is Elise being Belle and me being a sheep at this very French fountain.
Elise took this picture of us taking a picture of ourselves.
And this is the picture we took (Sanary, France).
Same situation here.
Perfect companion pieces! (Barcelona, Spain)
I don't have the other side of this one on hand. (Sanary?)
Tres fran├žais!
Riding a dolphin on the roof of the Monaco museum.
Cruisin'.
Now, for the real tease...  Do you see what I see?
Stay tuned for more details!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Promotion!

(I already posted these arts on the art blog, but I wanted to celebrate the occasion here too.)

The Wife is a great little worker bee at her place of employment.  The job came at a pretty crucial time a while after we were married, and I know she's been a valued employee ever since.  Sometimes it can be tedious, but she pushes through and refuses to give it up unless there's a darn good reason (not that I'm really complaining, a dual income situation is great for as long as it's feasible -- those student loans we accrued aren't going to pay themselves off, *grumblegrumble*), which means that she sometimes doesn't get much time to spend on doing things that she really loves, but she's a real trooper.  She works hard and always either reaches or exceed (sometimes greatly exceeds) her requirements or quota for whatever particular project she's working on.  And of course we mustn't forget that they largely provided our unforgettable summer in London.  Anyway, a couple weeks ago was promoted!  The Team Leader for her team was relocated elsewhere, and the powers that be encouraged Julie to apply for the replacement, so she did, and she won!  It's a jump in responsibility and tasks, but also a jump in pay, and of course a leadership position is challenging and interesting, so I think it will make work a little more varied for her.  It's very exciting.  So exciting that I decided to take an old sketch (that I did a long while ago when she was told she was "promotable" -- that Masters' degree really does impress) and color it up. Here it is:
And just for fun, here's the original sketch:
Way to go, Wife!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vegas and Stuff That Happened There

(First I was going to make a punctuation joke about the difference between "Vegas Baby!" and "Vegas, baby!"  But I decided to spare you all.  You're welcome.)

We went there!  The Wife has actually already blogged quite amusingly and thoroughly about our visit to Sin City, but I wanted to document it here a little too (but you should look at hers, it has more and more interesting information than mine).

Several months ago when Southwest was having a big sale on airfare, we just felt like we should take more advantage of it than we already did (details to follow).  The Wife had never been to Vegas, and expressed some interest in seeing this famous locale at some point, beyond driving by the strip on our various treks down to Anaheim, so we looked up and bought some crazy cheap plane tickets for a mid-September getaway.  The time crept by and finally we were booking a hotel and getting ready for a fun whirlwind weekend.

We left early Saturday morning, and after a series of unfortunate events, um, learned what happens when you miss your flight (if I ever take the right exit to Diamond Parking, it will be a miracle to me), but made it to Nevada just a few hours later than we planned.  We took a shuttle to the fabulous Luxor hotel, where we were immediately descended upon by who we later discovered were timeshare presentation hagglers recruits.  We walked away with an appointment to spend a few hours at a nearby resort and a promise of extremely discounted tickets to local attractions, well aware of what we were getting into, and quite determined to turn down their demands offers.  It took longer than we expected, and our dude was very pushy (and the resort basically looked like a hotel, nothing extravagant or anything), but we stuck to our guns, and I learned that Julie is quite skilled at the whole "just say no" thing when faced with vexing, condescending salespeople.  I sometimes try to be nice, but there comes a time when you're just bored and annoyed, and really, insults are NOT the way to sell us things.  So we went on our way with free lunch and discounted stuff and a busload of people laughing together about how we all just came for the bribes and no one really seemed to buy (contrary to our salesman's insistence that everyone in the room was buying).  So, after this enlightening and instructive experience, we were free to spend the next couple of days as we saw fit in this location of interesting things to see and do.  And then we also spent the rest of the weekend avoiding those annoying pests whenever they tried to lure us in with their hooks and bribes.  Luckily there was plenty of hotel to look at instead:
The lay o' the land.  This was right outside our hotel room.
Photobomb!
  
It was so hot, and at this moment, SO bright.  I couldn't even open mine eyes.
"Did you get it??"
"Good, let's GET OUT OF HERE!!!"
Julie noticed one foot should have been a little forward, as she demonstrated here.
We were in the pyramid.  Just look at that slanting wall!
Authentic Egyptian decor.
Great view.
Just enjoying the fine artwork.
Like we do.
It didn't take long for Julie to get the idea of what the Strip really is, but it was good for her to see and experience it all for herself, and for us to share a nice weekend together (and we often wondered, as we saw families with SMALL children in strollers... why in the world would you take such little kids on vacation to Vegas?  What is even there for them?).  I asked Julie on the way to the airport what she was looking forward to/hoping to experience in three words, and she said fish, food and fun.  And we found all those things!  We liked looking around at the pyramid-shaped hotel and all the other interesting resorts on the Strip (skilfully avoiding eye contact with the poor saps who were employed literally handing free porn out to anyone and everyone who passes by... seriously, no matter how many times I go there, I'm always surprised at what is staring right at you from the very street).  Thanks to our timeshare experience, we were able to go to Excalibur's Tournament of Kings after all, which we had decided against since it's normally so expensive.  Though I have often heard of these sorts of Medieval Times sorts of things, this was my first time seeing one, and it was pretty darn dorky, but you get into it and it's fun and the food is great and the entertainment is amusing (though the accents/lip-syncing are terrible).  We were in the Dragon section, so we cheered for the bad guy.
Ah yes, that grand and magical sword, Excalibu.  (Props to The Wife for skilfully cropping out the smutty fellows right below this perfectly family-friendly ad.)

Taking pictures was FORBIDDEN, but they said we could take some after, though the cast didn't come out as promised.

The next day, again thanks to the timeshare experience, we visited the pretty neat aquarium at the Mandalay Bay resort.  It's small, but has a lot of neat things, including a pretty impressive shark exhibit (hence its name).
OMGoondess guyz a dragon
These lizards had no shame about being snuggly in front of guests.
Look at the sea creatures!
 
Her lifelong dream of going through an aquarium tunnel has come true.
Sharks swimming on the 'bove!
 
I was entranced by the jellies!  The little plaque said I would.
We touched some rays.
It was like a sunken ship!
My feet were tired.
This girl loves trying on funny hats.
This girl also loves aquariums.
Time for some jumping pictures!
 

Oh yes, and food.  We had to try a buffet, but then we discovered our hotel (the buffet at which was appropriately called MORE) had a deal going with the Excalibur next door that you could pay one price for unlimited foods at buffets for both hotels.  So we did this.  And visited both buffets for each meal.  Which means we basically ate at six buffets in one day.  It was excellent.  It was funny how our portions sort of shrunk with each visit, but it was fun to try little bits of lots of different things and compare and contrast.

So we spent the rest of our time walking up and down the Strip to see the lights and resorts (which would get old pretty fast due to crowds and heat and well-designed maze-like paths, calculated to make you lose all track of time and direction and therefore spend more time, and therefore money, in casinos and shops), doing some shopping of our own (where I bought my very own Survivor buff!!! XD), hanging out in our hotel room (where we learned that Drew Peterson is SO totally guilty), and swimming in the fancy pool (though not as fancy as you might expect).
Just happy to be here.
It's almost just like the real thing!  (Almost.)
Also almost just like the real thing!  (Which we'll see for ourselves in a couple weeks...)
There are some pretty fancy shopping malls here.
Our shopping goal was to find both H&Ms, and we definitely did.  This one was much bigger than the other one.

We also finally saw the fountains at the Bellagio!  It was pretty cool, but I really expected it to last a little longer (it was only one song at a time, we saw the water dancing to "One" from A Chorus Line).
What a jaunty angle my hat is sitting at.
... singular sensation...
 

AND, I also learned that I can't leave my wife alone for two minutes without worrying that some dude is going to try to make some moves on her.  Seriously, this happened twice.

There's that whole "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" thing, but I don't think that's really true.  I think it's much more like 1) What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, because there's the internet and stuff, and someone will find out what you've been up to, or 2) What happens in Vegas SHOULD stay in Vegas, because YIKES.

(This turned out pretty long after all.  Well, that's what I do, alas.  Visit The Wife's blog anyway!  She's funny.)