Unusual-to-me Holiday Locations

Growing up we had our holiday routines down.  Our family was consistent.  Every Thanksgiving we drove to visit family and had lunch with one side of the family then over to another side of the family for dinner all in Rock Hill, SC or Fort Mill, SC.  We were always stuffed but it was awesome.

No lie, but one year when I was a teen, after one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals, I sat down on the couch with a full belly, leaned back and stretched.  Just as I did, the button on my pants popped off and flew into the middle of the room onto the floor.  It was just like a cartoon!

Christmas was pretty similar.  We had our own family Christmas in the morning, then drove to one side of the family for lunch then the other side for dinner.

Once Patricia and I married, all routines changed.  We now had her family in Virginia and mine in South Carolina to balance.  At first we would trade Thanksgiving and Christmas with each family.  Once we moved to Orlando, it became difficult to travel to both South Carolina and Virginia every holiday season.  So we began staying home for Thanksgiving and spend Christmas with our family – trading each year with each family. But over the years, we’ve had some unusual-to-me locations we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

In 2003 it was our turn to be with Patricia’s family for Christmas.  This year everyone decided to go to Puerto Rico instead of stay in Virginia.  So we had a hot Christmas outside of San Juan.  It was actually one of my favorite Christmases.  Everyone went swimming after opening presents.

In 2004 when we spent 3 months in British Columbia.  We had a Canadian Thanksgiving in October, but when it was time for our American Thanksgiving we went out to eat.  Just the two of us, and we couldn’t find a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  So we had some of the best salmon we’ve ever had!

In 2006 we got on a plane Christmas Eve and flew all night and all Christmas Day to Kenya for a missions conference.  Now that was an odd way to spend Christmas Day!  But I kid you not, I was asleep on the plane and all of a sudden I woke up and looked at my watch.  It was midnight – Christmas morning!  I still say that it was Santa buzzing past our plane that woke me up.

In 2007, Patricia and I stayed home for the first time on Christmas.  It was strange to be home, but it was fun.  One of our cousins came and spent Christmas with us.

This year, 2008, Patricia’s mom and step-father came down and the 4 of us spent Thanksgiving in a hotel on Treasure Island, Florida.  We found a resturant that served a fantastic traditonal Thanksgiving meal.

So what sort of unusual-to-you holidays have you spent?

Pirates are Real

We (and by we I include me) live in a culture that like to think pirates are fun, glamorus, and swashbuckling.  We even have a day to talk like a pirate.

But did you know that pirates are still real and relevant today?  They have been causing all kinds of trouble in many parts of the world this year alone:

It’s worst off the coast of Somalia.  Just scan the news about Somalian Pirates. In short, what they do is approach an unarmed cargo ship in speedboats aremed with granade launchers and AK-47s, board the ship and hold it for multi-million dollar ransoms.  They almost always get paid.  It’s become Somalia’s largest income base.

These aren’t your Jolly Roger flying pirates. Although they are mostly in it for themselves, there is some orginiazation to their methods and payouts.  Much of the ransom money goes to support warlords in Somalia.  Now they use GPS to spot and chase down a victim.

The UN is taking measures to stop them, but if you don’t want to wait for government officials to take care of it, you can hire a group of ex-Royal Marines from Anti Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS) out of the UK to protect your ship (listen to interview with APMSS CEO Nick Davis).

Yes, the pirate lore can be fun, and the 21st Centry pirates aren’t like the ‘loveable’ ones we know.  But there are real pirates today, and they are a real problem.

UPDATE: After posting this I found a Google Map that plots all of the pirate attacks for the year from Digital Inspiration.

Flying with Carry-on Bags

On my last couple of flights, I was able to keep everything packed in one carry-on bag.  No checking!  I like that.  But here’s the problem: now that most airlines are charging for checked bags, everyone is bringing carry-on bags!

And the trouble is that if you are one of the people boarding after many have gotten on the plane, you may have to check your carry-on anyway.  I don’t think they’ll charge, but it just stinks.  Thankfully I haven’t had to give up a carry-on to be checked.  One reason I don’t like that is because I often have things in there I want with me: books, computer, snacks, etc.

Well here’s a couple tips for you if you are flying and trying to get it all in your carry-on:


  1. Katherine Lee, aka the “Delta-safety-video girl” or “Deltalina” gives some tips on how to pack a small carry-on.
  2. Book a good seat.
  3. Put your bag wheels-first in the overhead. Not sideways.  I had to turn a couple other people’s bags so mine would fit.
  4. Plan to put something small under your seat. On a full flight, the overhead is for the big carry-ons.
  5. Put your coat somewhere else.
It’s just crazy how many people are tring to squeeze so much stuff into carry-on bags then spread out all of there stuff in the overhead.  Just use some common sense and common courtesy.  It’s not all that difficult to do.  I promise.


Orangejack Mall Reopened

I revamed the Orangejack Mall.  Please go check it out.  I think it’s much more useful now.  A few stores we’re featuring:

Please stop by.  I hope to add a few more resources and relevant stores in the future.

If you would also be so kind to also give the mall a positive rating at the top of the page I’d really appreciate it.

PS. If you’re going to buy anything on Amazon this holiday season, would you consider doing it through our Amazon store (you can search for anything through it – we’ll get a very small holiday bonus (like 4% or something)?  Thanks.

Interesting at Disney

I still pick up shifts from time to time at Disney as a photographer.  I always shoot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) so I’ve learned that park very well.  I picked up an all-day shift last Friday, Sunday, and tomorrow then will be off for a few weeks.

But these last couple of days have produced some interesting stories.

  • One thing that is really a lot of fun about working in a park is you get a perspective that no one else gets – that is I stay in one spot while everyone else is on the move.  I’ve found a lot can happen if you just stay still.  Friday I was in Africa by the drums. An African cast member came out with hand instruments and started a jam.  A couple guys joined in on bongos, a teen girl took a maracca, a man grabbed a cowbell, and on and on.  They jammed for about 15 minutes non-stop.  Then they all left.  Moments later one of the more interesting characters at DAK came out: the “tree lady” or DeVine.  Meanwhile, behind me, one of the giant black, white, and red male storks was doing what looked like a courting dance while the female stork watched attentively.  
  • Technology is taken for granted until it stops working.  For example, when all the scanners at the gates stop working, thousands of people get in long lines waiting for repairs.  Twice.  Some line up and are still excited to be at Disney.  Some get angry and leave.
  • I’ve worked many hours in the in-park store “Garden Gate Gifts”.  It’s where guests can come view their PhotoPass photos.  It also is a small gift shop.  Lots of stories come out of there! Sunday something happened twice that I’ve never seen happen.  Within an hour of each other, two women came in concerned because their camera stopped working.  We don’t repair guest’s cameras, but we’ll take a look at it.  Turned out, for both women, the batteries were dead.  So we fixed them both when they purchased new batteries.  Sometimes it’s not that easy.  One day a guy lost all his photos on his camera because he reformatted the memory card at the end of the day.  I felt bad but there was nothing I could do.
  • I’ve worked retail many times throughout my life and as far as I know nothing has ever been stolen while I was working.  It’s still true, but the streak almost ended the other day when a lady who was in too much of a hurry thought the line was too long to wait.  So she held up her items and said “I’m just going to leave. If someone stops me then…” I couldn’t hear the rest as she already turned and was out the door.  We all looked at each other with a “what did she say?” look. A cast member followed her out and fortunately she was at another register paying.  I do commend her for at least being honest with us that she was going to steal.  Then she paid. 
  • When you are a guest at Disney (or anywhere for that matter) and you are upset about something, consider taking out your frustration on the appropriate people.  Usually the person at the cash register didn’t decide how much your item costs nor can she do anything about it.  Telling her the entire company is a ripoff is both rude and ironic since you paid so much to visit.  Disney is a magical place, but yes, memories can be expensive.
Disney is certainly a fun place to work – especially now that it is getting cooler outside!