Dream Journal : Escape From Toyland…

December 24, 2015 1:43pm
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It started off as a random vacation to an exotic place … Africa, I think.

We had spent the day out viewing wildlife in the desert or something, and were on our way back to the resort where we were staying. The resort itself was isolated from the rest of the country with armed guards and a large, intimidating entry point, which for the time being we all thought was a good thing.

Back inside, I had wanted to try and upload a few pictures of the lions and other scenery that I’d just seen, but instead we found ourselves wandering around this area where everything was made out of Legos – from the trees to the benches, everything – yet something didn’t feel quite right.

It was when I took a closer look and noticed that they weren’t actually Legos, but some weird knock-off that I decided to do a little digging…

Wandering away from the group, I entered one of the buildings and quickly deduced that I wasn’t supposed to be there because it was filled with very nondescript hallways and secret passages. As I made my way deeper into the complex, I overheard some of our guides talking about our group and mentioning that “it was about time to turn us” … and a couple of rooms later I discovered what that actually meant when I walked in on another group of visitors being turned into toys.

Some were life-sized versions of themselves, but in toy-form, while others started at that point and then were quickly broken down into bricks to be used for building the mock Legoland that we’d previously been exploring.

At that point I ran and eventually found my way back to the others to try and warn them, but at the same time we were being led into another area where the transformation was to take place. I was able to break away with a couple of my closer friends, though we were heavily pursued as I ran through the secret hallways that connected the toy areas until one guy finally discovered this strange, artificial land that looked like it might be able to transport us out of there and back home.

This new area was kind of like an interactive encyclopedia, and pulling up a random area we disappeared from the complex and went deeper into the program, though later he explained that we’d never really left and were just hidden from discovery the whole time we were gone. Eventually the program itself slipped apart – we thought we had been discovered, but instead we were back at the very entrance to the resort and at that point we’d thought we could make a clean getaway…

The way we’d originally gotten into this trip was by winning a prize, however this was where we learned that winning wasn’t exactly the right word to describe it. Up on a giant, digital board were dozens of names – ours included, but also some very famous ones – and we watched as it began to spin to calculate who would be the next to win trips to the resort.

At first we thought we were in the clear because all of these other names had filled the list instead of ours, yet what we didn’t realize was that the wealthy people were able to buy special favors to swap their own names out with other people’s and so one by one we then watched them subsequently disappear back off of the list as they got replaced once again with our own.

Realizing that the system knew we’d escaped and that someone would soon be coming for us, the two of us that were on the list tried to run again and quickly got split up. I was about to run back into Toyland to evade my pursuers when he suddenly reappeared, though something didn’t seem right. It was then that he slipped and crashed to the floor in a pile of bricks – whether they’d sent a toy clone of him after me or they’d actually gotten to him already and changed him, I wasn’t sure.

The dream ended with me changing myself into a box of cereal to escape, with pieces flying everywhere that I knew they’d never be able to collect all of to reassemble me…

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This is actually kind of surprising because I tend to swear a lot on Twitter, yet I guess Santa only analyzed my last couple of dozen tweets which at the time happen to be relatively tame!

Mind y0u, we may have to have a little talk about language the next time I sit upon his knee because while I’ll give that the likes of fuck, bitch, shit, and asshole are definitely swear words, I would still contest that dildo, slut, and most of all WTF are certainly not!

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Do acronyms of swear words still count as swear words???

Also, when did I tweet about dildos in the last couple of days?!

Oh yeah – that’s right… 😛

In hindsight it’s something I wish we would’ve just done a year ago, but today we finally bit the bullet and opened Christopher’s college fund.

I think the delay was that the last time I researched all of this, I wanted to go with a plan from Vanguard but their 529 offering requires a $3,000 minimum deposit so we’ve been slowly saving towards that, however in reviewing some of my own retirement savings (through T. Rowe Price) I discovered that they don’t have a minimum at all and it only takes a $50/month recurring contribution to eliminate the nominal $10 annual fee, so I guess I finally just figured why not?!

It’s kind of scary to think of what college might cost 17 years from now when you consider that it’s literally gone up over 1,000% over the last 30 years … I’d like to hope that numerous things will happen between now and then to help get costs back under control, but in the meantime any little bit that we can offer our kid(s) is certainly going to help!

Truth be told, neither Sara nor I really got any financial help for our respective educations. I didn’t qualify for any grants, but I only did two years so was able to balance the costs between living at home and putting on credit cards what I couldn’t pay with my job at the time. Sara pretty much got student loans to cover both her bachelors degree as well as her nursing degree when she left teaching to go into nursing, and although the problems with student loans themselves are a rant that is entirely too un-jolly for an advent blog post, I will say that based on her current repayment schedule the last of them are set to be paid of in 2029.

In comparison, Christopher should be starting college himself ONLY FOUR YEARS LATER in 2033!

Regardless however, the numbers are still very much in favor of a college education being “valuable” in more ways than just the economic and as parents, we kind of look at it as our job to make options like that available to our kid when he has to make that all-too-important decision of whether to go off to college right away or to jump headfirst into a nightshift position driving a delivery truck that will slowly eat away at his soul until he finally decides to suck it up and give college a try anyways… 😛

So Merry Christmas, Christopher – very much belated since you were born 18 months ago, but we’ll do what we can to catch this puppy up in the years to come!

From the video game lyric’ing brilliance of Brentalfloss comes this delightful, holiday tune about the Presidential candidate who speaks his mind, which apparently is usually filled with mostly asshole thoughts that sadly a surprising percentage of our voting public relates to. Whether this crazy billionaire actually becomes the president that America probably deserves next year or not, at least we have this song to dwell on in the meantime … Mr. Grinch. 😛

I’ve kind of been more into the older, more classic holiday tunes lately, as noted in this year’s 4th edition of my Christmas Mix Tapes – the other three of which can be found right here…

Not sure why I didn’t put one of these together last year, but it’s fun to look back and see which holiday songs I was rocking out to in the previous years and I’ve got a feeling as Christopher gets a bit older and can more eloquently vocalize his radio demands in the car, we’ll be seeing the list trend rather differently still! But until then…

  1. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (performed by Johnny Mathis)
  2. The Christmas Song (performed by Nat King Cole)
  3. Happy Holidays (performed by Andy Williams)
  4. Sleigh Ride (performed by John Williams & The Boston Pops)
  5. White Christmas (performed by Bing Crosby)
  6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (performed by Frank Sinatra)
  7. Let It Snow! (performed by Dean Martin)
  8. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (performed by Andy Williams)
  9. Walking in a Winter Wonderland (performed by Dean Martin)
  10. Christmas Time is Here (by Vince Guaraldi)

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I love buying toys for my kid!

Everybody said that this Christmas would really be the one to remember because unlike last year when he was less than a year old and still crawled everywhere to and fro, a year later he’s very much vibrant and alive and full of energy, and even though it certainly makes him a bit tougher to keep up with, there are definitely other benefits to his newfound interactivity as well…

Even long before Christopher was born, I’ve always loved me some Toys ‘R Us and could spend hours getting lost in their aisles, perusing and goofing off like any kid at heart does, but now that I’ve got an accomplice … a mini-me of sorts to gawk and giggle at the multitude of toys right along with his old man … wandering around our favorite neighborhood toy store has become a whole new level of fun!

It’ll be interesting to see how it is when he gets a little older and really wants all of these things for himself because right now I’m a horrible influence as a parent when we visit Toys ‘R Us. Case in point is the same Elmo that you see aside my bubbly son in the picture above … here we are – only two weeks until Christmas – and do you think that I put his red, furry friend back on the shelf with the notion that maybe Santa will bring him for Christmas if he’s REALLY good?!

Heck no!

Elmo came home with us tonight, along with a new Lego set for me and a couple of random Christmas gifts for others in the family who I promise aren’t me or Christopher. But just as *I* can’t set foot inside of a Toys ‘R Us as a 35 year-old adult without picking out a new toy for myself, it just doesn’t seem right that my son – my own flesh and blood – should have to suffer a worser fate than I!

So yeah, I grew up pretty spoiled and I fully intend to raise my own son the exact same way. I mean, I turned out alright, didn’t I??? 😉

So yesterday we spent the day at SeaWorld Orlando awing at whales and learning about sea turtles and just generally enjoying the Christmas spirit as they pumped Christmas music around the decorated park. We haven’t actually been to SeaWorld in about eight years and even then was only a brief visit during our engagement trip, so it was neat both to revisit the park as well as introduce Christopher to it for the first time, all on top of getting to experience the place all decked out for the holidays for the first time to boot!

Granted, it fell a bit short of throwing a giant Santa hat on a 6,000-pound killer whale, but I thought they still did a nice job, particularly unique to the whole SeaWorld atmosphere with all of the illuminated trees lit up across the harbor a la the Sea of Trees. Christopher has gotten more and more into Sesame Street recently and absolutely loved Elmo’s Christmas Wish, and we even got to meet Santa, albeit I’ve never really been a fan of The Polar Express that his “attraction” – if you will – was based on…

We ended up getting passes to SeaWorld (and Legoland!) for Black Friday this year, so I’ll probably have some more to write up about the park in the future, but for now it was just a nice celebration in a new place we don’t normally visit, and my kid got to make some brand new sea turtle friends to boot! 😉

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Remember back when Adam Sandler used to be funny? This video from a recent live show is a great example, unlike pretty much any movie that he’s made in the last two decades!

Oh well – Happy Hanukkah, however you spell it…  :santa:

Dream Journal : The Last Astronaut

December 5, 2015 7:29pm
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It started off like just some sort of adult space camp, if you will – a group of about nine of us got to go up for two launches, we’d fly around in space for a bit, and then come back down … no biggie.

I was surprisingly comfortable with the whole excursion, presumably because a lot of the adventure simply consisted of sleep – we’d takeoff from Earth, fly around a bit once we settled in orbit, and then the next bit was somewhat of a blur as we’d fall asleep for a while and then wake up ready to come back home. One time before this part happened, I recall being slightly concerned about not waking up and how dangerous what we were doing really was, but soon I was out and that was that…

It wasn’t until our group got called back for another run that I learned that something was up.

It turned out that the world was in peril of … something … and we had been tasked to do … something … in order to save the world. There were still nine of us total, each with a particular reason why we had been chosen that wasn’t shared with the others.

When it was finally time for us to go, I accidentally stalled the rest of the group because I wanted a glass of orange juice – which the rest had been enjoying before boarding – but there weren’t anymore clean glasses, which was apparently really important because we had all been sterilized to go out into space, so there was a good bit of scrambling trying to find me a clean glass so that we could go. At one point the captain stood at the door to the spacecraft and shouted, “I’ll go buy him one my goddamn self!” and shortly thereafter, I had my glass and was good to go… 😕

The “sleeping” that we had endured in our previous trials was actually a test to make sure that we could survive the hypersleep required to get us to the alien world which we were traveling to – they didn’t tell us how far away it was, which I figured is never a good sign if they won’t even tell you.

By the time we awoke much, much later, we were quickly being deployed to a planet that looked remarkably like ours … because it was ours, only several hundred years in the past.

Strangely there was nobody to be found as we toured abandoned structures that looked a lot like modern shopping malls that we know today. They were a bizarre mix of modern and thick jungle, and eventually we stumbled upon this puzzle that we identified as what we had traveled all that way to solve. Nothing seemed to make much sense as we moved pieces around and placed different objects on the small altar made of stone, until one of our group was able to playback this weird, 3D rendering from the past that depicted another group like ours trying to solve the same puzzle.

What was different was that this group was very much alien, and each time that they failed, a giant ship would appear in the sky and scoop them all back up just before the world went dark, almost as if these visitors were also trying to save the world and were being evacuated just prior to the destruction setting in…

We hadn’t really thought about how we were all getting back home up until that point.

It was in watching these aliens work that we realized somehow we were off a year in when we had landed to solve the puzzle, and somehow we were able to hop back in time to find that now our offerings on the altar were at least getting a response out of the puzzle whereas before it had just remained silent.

We tried placing a couple of random things we found lying around like rocks and sticks, treating it as if it was some sort of attenuator that just needed a certain weight to trigger what it was looking for. Inexplicably, I had been carrying with me this strange, black anamorphic goo that seemed to react badly to anyone but myself – I tried placing it on the altar, but whenever I tried to back away, it turned into this really nasty bug/scorpion-thing and tried to attack anything near it, so we eventually gave up on that idea.

As everyone split up to scour the mall for items to try in the altar, I found myself in this Disney store that featured all sorts of statuettes from the movies, which didn’t really fit with the times but I wasn’t questioning in this bizarre world at that point. We all came back with armloads of things to try, all of which failed as the clock ticked closer and we kept trying to watch the 3D alien playback for more clues.

It wasn’t until I noticed something that no one else had in the video that I had a sinking feeling of how the puzzle was to be solved.

It was an altar, and altars require a sacrifice.

Somehow it wanted the strange, black goo that I carried with me, but with it only favoring me, I was going to have to stay behind to keep in under control in order for the puzzle to complete.

The dream faded out on this unexpected notion that whether the rest of the group with me could make it back themselves or not, I was going to have to stay behind to save whatever was left of my friends and family back home on modern day Earth.

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