Attic treasures

Last Christmas I helped my Dad clean out the attic, which hadn't been touched since my family moved to Oklahoma City before I started 7th grade. We found lots of old stuff, including several ancient toys that I never knew were up there! Most of the things I discovered weren't too amazing (I can't believe how many magic sets I used to have!), but I did find some great childhood treasures that I brought home for my Toy Museum. I've been slowly taking Instagram photos of these long forgotten items, and it's so much fun remembering all the time I spent with these toys. Here's a few of my favorites:
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century action figures (Mego 1978): I found four of these figures, including Buck himself and a tiny little Twiki.
  • The Black Hole action figures (Mego 1979): I found five from the classic Disney movie, including the menacing Maximilian, but I sure wish I had kept V.I.N.CENT.
  • Battlestar Galactica action figures (Mattel 1978): I found two Colonials, a sparkly Cylon (unfortunately without his rifle), and the incredible Ovion with four articulated arms!
  • E.T. The Extra Terrestrial items: I found a cool figure with telescoping neck and little Speak & Spell, plus a weird keychain.
  • Star Trek items: I'm amazed I kept my old cheap Remco phaser with click trigger, and it was so nostalgic to find the Spock ears I used to wear while playing (which I bought at my first Star Trek convention with Dad).
  • Dungeons & Dragons miniatures: Like every D&D player, I used to buy tiny pewter characters and paint them, and surprisingly they were almost all intact (and anything broken was easily glued). I remembered my favorite knight figure right away!
  • Star Wars action figures (Kenner 1978): Although I already have a near complete set of Star Wars figures properly stored in excellent condition, I discovered a bunch of "doubles" that I had forgotten about (extra Stormtroopers and so on). These were in pretty bad shape, but I sold them quickly for a nice price on eBay anyway!
View photos: Instagram


Cruising on the Disney Dream

For my annual vacation with my parents this year, we decided to give Las Vegas a rest and go on a Disney cruise! We've been on other cruise lines in the past, but that was ages ago, so we were excited to cruise again on the beautiful and huge Disney Dream. Of course, we knew we would have fun, but we were all amazed at how perfect and magical our vacation turned out to be! We flew in the night before and stayed at the Hyatt right at the airport (highly recommended, since they take care of getting your luggage to the ship), so on our cruise day we woke up early and were the first family to check in. Before we knew it we were at the cruise terminal and on the incredible ship! After a hectic lunch at the overcrowded Cabanas buffet (actually the only thing we didn't enjoy), we explored the pools and soon found the adults-only area, which was a heavenly place for margaritas! Next we checked out our room, which was absolutely wonderful and downright huge compared to other ships, and soon it was time for our first deck party. After that was dinner at Animator's Palette (all of the food was fantastic and the selections were great), then our first session of Bingo and my Mom's first win! Then it was showtime for the Golden Mickeys, followed by a nightcap and then Mickey Bars delivered by room service!

Our first port was Nassau, but we had already been there on a previous cruise, so we stayed on the Disney Dream to enjoy the ship. We got to meet the princesses (and I got choked up watching Mom hug them all), play miniature golf, ride the incredible Aqua Duck water coaster, relax by the adult pool, watch a presentation on the making of the ship, get our photos taken with Mickey and the gang, win at Bingo a second time, enjoy dinner at Enchanted Garden, check out the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party, watch Villains Tonight (my least favorite show but still cool), then it was back up to the deck for fireworks and a nighttime ride on the Aqua Duck! What a day!

The next day we arrived at Castaway Cay, Disney's private and perfectly themed island, so we got off the ship to explore for a while. We immediately got to meet Captain Jack Sparrow, then relax on the beach with a beer at 9:30 AM! Next we rode the tram to the adults-only Serenity Bay, where I played in the ocean, had another drink and took a short hammock nap. Back on the ship, we got spiffed up for dress-up night and had a drink, then attended our third Bingo session where Mom won the final snowball jackpot (which was considerably huge)! By this time Mom was friends with the Bingo crew who all loved the "lucky flowers" she wore in her hair each day. Our last dinner was at Royal Palace, and the final show Believe was my favorite (and brought a tear to my eye).

Getting home went perfectly also, from customs to flawless baggage handling. We were all truly impressed with Disney's impecable service, which made our cruise experience on the Disney Dream another cherished family memory to last a lifetime!

View photos: Disney Cruise 2012


Japanese study update

A couple years ago I decided to stop directing my studies towards the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), since the level I was attempting was starting to include topics that I couldn't stand (like writing formal business letters), so I adopted a new relaxing study philosophy based on fun! Although I never really expect to be "good" at Japanese, it's still one my favorite hobbies that I never want to give up, so I gladly spend some time every day with it. I really don't have a goal for my studying, other than just enjoying the act of learning something new. Each morning I study kanji using KanjiBox on my iPad (a very helpful app that has definitely improved my reading), and I'm a devoted paying customer of iKnow, since I absolutely love the feeling of accomplishment I get from working through their online courses. Most importantly, I meet with my excellent tutor Kumiko every week for reading and translation practice. We have been using a fantastic book that I bought years ago called Issai kara Hyakusai no Yume (1歳から100歳の夢), which contains short essays written by 100 people aged 1 to 100 answering the question "What is your dream?" Most of the essays are fascinating and often touching, and the progression from little kids to adults has been a nice match to my Japanese learning progress! Each essay begins with that person's typical daily schedule, so recently I thought I would write one of my own just for fun. See if you can figure out my exciting day!

5:00 起床
5:30 iPadで漢字を勉強
6:00 朝ご飯
8:15 電話で両親と話す
8:30 出社
8:45 仕事
11:30 家で昼ご飯
12:00 インターネットで単語を勉強
13:00 仕事
14:30 散歩
17:00 帰宅
17:15 趣味(漫画、レゴ)
18:30 晩ご飯
20:00 ビデオを見る(特撮映画、アニメ)
22:30 就寝