DQ has been doing such a spectacular job, I feel a little silly writing in, but I’ve got a few moments, so here I am.  Pardon any typos.  I’m  on a micro keyboard, and am having a little bit of a problem getting my fingers on the right keys.

We’ve now  spent two days at Disney World, and I have to say that, as I always am at Disneyland,  I’m completely impressed  by Disney’s  relentless attention to detail.  We spent yesterday at Disney/MGM, which is meant to remind visitors of Hollywood, circa 1930/1940. Every facade is a perfectly scaled replica of a classic Hollywood building from the golden era.  The only exceptions to this rule are the parts of Disney/MGM  that are meant to look like backlot replicas of New York and San Francisco.

I also appreciate how immaculate the parks always are — no litter anywhere.  It turns out that the Disney designers studied how people behave with garbage and discovered that they’ll carry the garbage for only so many feet before giving up and tossing it on the ground — so garbage cans are spaced at intervals that encourage people to dispose of things properly, rather than just dropping them.  It’s  that kind of attention to detail that just delights me.

I wasn’t that thrilled with the Disney/MGM rides or shows.   I don’t  like “drop” rides, so Tower of Terror was all terror and no fun.  Even though I didn’t like the ride, however, I was still impressed by the “theming.”  I’ve actually been in the old Hollywood hotel on which the ride is modeled, and  the Disney designers matched it perfectly — except on a much smaller scale, of course.  The wood and tile work were just perfect.  As for the Aerosmith ride — well, the kids  loved  it.

The kids liked the shows too, but I found them too loud for pleasure.  At the last show, too, the water show, we had the bad luck to sit behind a thuggish British family that seemed to go out of its collective way to ensure that the people sitting behind them were interrupted by their standing up, flashing cameras, and wearing huge hats.  I mention “thuggish” and “British” in connection with them, because we were actually scared to ask them to change their behavior.  They really did look as if they thought they were at a British style football game, and could turn the whole  thing into a bloody brawl given any provocation.  I’m  still trying to figure out if the behavior was unique to that family, if it was a class thing, or if they are yet another face of the profound changes in Britain.

Today was Epcot, and we loved every minute of it.  To begin with, it’s so charmingly retro in its vision of the future.  The present  would  have looked so much more attractive if the Disney designers could have been in charge of where we ended up!

The rides are also superb, from  the Test Drive, which was lots of fun without being too scary; to the Space ride (I prefer the easy version);  to Soarin’, one of the most innovative, beautiful rides I’ve ever experienced.  I’d done Soarin’ years before, in  LA, but had  forgotten had great it was.

We also loved Epcot’s international area, although we spent only a short time there.  We’re going  back in a day or two, so I don’t feel  cheated.  Venice looks truly Venetian; Japan is perfectly Japanese;  and we had a fantastic lunch in Morocco, complete with belly dancer.

While there, we watched a very inspiring,  patriotic movie/animatronics show  about American  history in the America section.  Mr. Bookworm, the liberal, made two interesting comments about this show when we walked out.  First,  he  said  that he learned a lot of his American  history from Disney and didn’t unlearn  it  until college.  I   noted that Howard Zinn is very popular in college.  He pointed out, accurately, that we didn’t read Zinn back then, but I could have  responded with   the fact that we were still learning  from Marxist historians.  His  other point was that the video was very Republican.  When I asked him  why,  he couldn’t  answer, but I suspect it was  the patriotism that  earned that adjective.

A few hours after that, we watched a Lion King  show  about  environmentalism that I would have classified as “Democrat”:  it was all about pure  animals and third worlders, who do not despoil  the environment and  the  Westerners who selfishly ruin it for everyone.  At the end, Simba noted that we’re trying  to do better now, but it was quite an indictment of the West.  I  also found  it very amusing  coming from Disney, which must be one of the all time  great energy hogs!

I’m  getting too tired for coherence about now.  I’ll try to check in later, but don’t count  on  it.

The Florida diary continues

This was from a couple of days ago, but I’m moving it up, because it vanished for a day or two.

Today was more of a family day than a Florida tourist day. We visited a relative who lives on one of the keys looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. It was a lovely visit. She’s quite infirm, but nevertheless managed to be a gracious hostess. The kids had a fabulous time. They frolicked in the Gulf, while I sat on a beach as fine and white as powdered sugar and sorted through shells that looked like fairy wings — they were pink, and white, and yellow, and shiny, and scalloped. It was a real treat to sift them through my fingers.

I also spent a lot of time talking to my relative’s housekeeper, a delightful women, about my age (mid-ish 40s). The moment she opened her mouth, I knew we’d have a lot to talk about because it was clear she was from Yorkshire, where I spent my college year abroad in the early 80s. Indeed, I’d lived in her hometown.

She told me that the town had changed beyond recognition, partly because of new construction and because so many London businesses had opened branches there. The main difference, though, is the influx of Pakistanis into the North. She said that everything I’ve read in the British newspapers about what’s happening in England, and especially in the North is true, except that the reality is 10X worse. Every English person she knows is putting to together whatever money he or she can find to retire outside of England.

She says heroin addiction is at record levels in England, with the Pakistani immigrants serving as the main suppliers, with many getting hugely rich in the process. She said that schools now have the school’s name written in Arabic as well as English. She said that the Pakistanis enter the country and line up for the dole. She doesn’t think new immigrants should get any benefits at all, but they and all their wives get money, and then many go back to live in Pakistan on English money.

She went on and on, getting quite emotional about England’s suicide. She blamed Tony Blair’s government, saying that the government lives in the South where it’s insulated from the grand social experiments that are destroying England, beginning in the north. England, she says, is the only country with unlimited immigration paired with unlimited government benefits.

Lastly, she said that everyone in England quotes Enoch Powell who, in the late 1970s or early 1980s was fired from government warning against taking in the Muslims since, he said, there’d be blood in the streets. “He knew what he was talking about.”

And now to bed, for Disney’s Animal Adventure Park (or whatever it’s called) awaits us tomorrow.


More Florida moments

I tried to post once from a Blackberry, and am not sure it went through. I’m trying again from a real computer, so we’ll see what happens this time.

Sadly, it’s not my real computer. Mr. Bookworm brought his beloved tablet computer with us, only to suffer a double whammy: it broke and he forgot the external wireless dealy-bopper. Fortunately, the hotel we’re staying at has a business center, and the kids need to fall asleep in the dark, so I’m sitting alone at a strange computer, see what I can shake out of myself blog-wise. Mostly, it’s random thoughts. In no particular order:

The Everglades are spectacular. I happen to be very fond of our country’s national parks, and this one is definitely a winner. We saw so many alligators the kids actually started getting bored (no doubt helped by the fact that they were jet-lagged, hungry, and generally tired). These amazing monstrous creatures are everywhere, just sunning themselves. It’s very hard to look at them, and they were all completely inert, and imagine that they’re such fearsome killing machines. Take away the teeth, and they simply look rather foolish with those bulgy bodies and little legs. It’s almost a matter of cognitive dissonance to imagine them running at speeds of over thirty miles an hour, swimming at speeds in the high twenty miles per hour, and scaling fences like cats — but they do all that. What’s also impressive is the fact that, from near extinction in the 1960s/1970s, they’ve reemerged to a population of more than 1.5 million through Florida (which actually seems like a bit much to me).

We also saw dozens of egrets and herons, which were beautiful albeit less impressive. The fact that they didn’t stun me with their looks and style has less to do with the birds than with familiarity on my part. Back home, we live near a marsh that is home to many egrets and great blue herons, so they’re commonplace for me — beautiful, but commonplace. Incidentally, they too returned from near extinction to a thriving population. Nature is so much more resilient than we are wont to give her credit for being.

Another thought, and this is a very un-PC one, so feel free to skip the next three paragraphs. In California, there are lots of Hispanic residents. You and I have seen the ones in LA, marching along to insist that they get full American benefits without uniting their hearts to America. We also have a lot of immigrants where I live, and an enormous number of them are illegals. And to be honest, I resent them. I feel as if they want to take my country away, not because they’re Hispanic, but because they don’t want to be Americans.

I find myself feeling very differently about Florida’s hispanic population. Rightly or wrongly, I assume that most of them are Cuban, and that they are (a) American citizens who are here legally and (b) that they love this country fiercely. I find that I don’t mind being surrounded by people speaking Spanish, and innumerable Spanish language stores and restaurants, because I don’t feel that my nation is being eaten away. I feel that these are people like me — immigrants or the children of immigrants who are simultaneously proud of their heritage and proud of America. They want to embrace America and thrive here, not come to America to leech away her benefits without contributing, not their labor, but their love.

I’ve got to head up now and put myself to bed. I’m completely discombobulated time-wise. Because I’ve been working so frantically on projects lately, I’m very underslept. So, even though 9:00 p.m. Florida time should only be my 6:00 p.m. California time (meaning I should be tired), I’m midnight exhausted.

I’ll try to post again in a day or two. We’re visiting with a relative tomorrow, a very lovely and aged lady, so it should be a bit of a slow day. Then on to Orlando, where the madness begins.



A quick note from a Blackberry with a few impressions:

The Everglades are amazing.

Today’s kids get jaded quickly. A couple of hundred gators and they’re bored!

Navigators make travel in new places immeasurably easier. We’re
eating in a clean, friendly place, with two tired kids thanks to Navi.