One of the greatest things we saw last week on vacation was Niagara Falls. My Uncle Kenny (and several other people) recommended that we stay on the Canadian side of the falls, and I’m so glad we did. We stayed in the Hilton on the 49th floor, and the view was literally breathtaking.
There are, of course, two different falls. The Horseshoe Falls were to our right. Here was the view of Horseshoe Falls from our hotel room, which had floor-to-ceiling windows.
It was actually hard to see the entire falls as there was so much mist in the air. The American Falls, which were to our left, were much easier to see. Again, this was the view from our hotel room.
At night, they light up the falls with colored lights and set off fireworks above them.
I have seen an awful lot of this country and I have to say the Falls were one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. I’ve said before that the Grand Canyon didn’t hold my attention; perhaps it was too big to wrap my head around. At less than 200 feet high Niagara Falls are infinitely smaller than the Grand Canyon, but something about the motion combined with the roar of the water and the mist in the air made the Falls one of the favorite things I’ve seen.
The next morning, Susan, the kids and I walked down to the falls and rode the Maid of the Mist boat ride that takes you right down to the base of the falls. The view, roar, and experience was amazing. Cell phone pictures don’t do it justice.
Here are a couple of videos I recorded with my phone.
The blue plastic ponchos were free and highly recommended.
Two years later, here we are again. For two years, things have been working as planned. When I post new posts on robohara.com, notifications get posted to Facebook (via the FacePress plugin) and Twitter (via WordTwit). When I need to update both Facebook and Twitter at the same time, I’ve been using TweetDeck.
Over the past week FacePress, WordTwit, and TweetDeck have all stopped working. Cheese and rice, man.
It started with TweetDeck, which forced an upgrade and then informed users that the new version no longer supports Facebook. Essentially that means that TweetDeck now only supports Twitter. That’s stupid. If it only supports Twitter, then why would I use TweetDeck? The entire point of TweetDeck was that I could funnel multiple social streams into one single interface. If TweetDeck only supports Twitter, then I’m not sure what purpose it serves. From now on I’ll just go back to using Twitter’s default interface. TweetDeck has been deleted.
Here we go again.
While troubleshooting TweetDeck, I noticed that my last couple of blog posts didn’t get posted on either Facebook or Twitter. Apparently, over the past week both sites updated their APIs, causing older plugins (like the ones I was running) to stop working. Facebook said, “update your plugin”. I checked the FacePress website and was informed that the plugin hadn’t been updated in three years. Greeeeeeeat. After an hour on Google I found that Jetpack for Facebook offers the same functionality — I just didn’t know it because I’ve been running an older version of Jetpack. After upgrading it, I was able to link robohara.com with Facebook once again.
I had to do the same thing with Twitter. WordTwit had to be upgraded and new security keys had to be generated. After going all of that, I realized that Jetpack handles Twitter connections as well as Facebook connections, so after doing all the work to get WordTwit to work again I uninstalled it and added Twitter to Jetpack as well. Sheesh.
So, two years seems to be the going time range. I don’t know why TweetDeck, Facebook, and Twitter all decided to change their configurations and break everything on the same day, but they did. Two years ago they did the same thing, and I suspect two years from now, they’ll do it again. Tune in during 2015 for WordPress/Facebook/Twitter, Round 5.
After a couple of weeks off, my podcast You Don’t Know Flack is back with a new episode dedicated to the Funspot Arcade. Funspot is the largest arcade in the world, and we recently visited Funspot during out vacation.
A few other notes: one, the voice mailbox number has changed. The new voice mailbox number for the podcast is 405-486-YDKF. That should be really simple to remember. That’s 405 (as in the OKC area code), 486 (as in the PC processor), YDKF (for You Don’t Know Flack). This one should not change.
If you’re relying on this particular feed to know when new podcasts are released, you shouldn’t. The most reliable way is to either subscribe to the YDKF RSS feed over at podcast.robohara.com, join the You Don’t Know Flack Facebook page, or subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher.
We started in Indianapolis, Indiana, and landed in Yukon, Oklahoma, 750 miles later.
Highlights of day eight: we ate White Castles and Krispy Kremes for National Donut Day. Then we got home. Then, we slept. Early estimates are that we covered about 3,700 miles in 8 days. I’ll have to figure out exactly which states we hit and update my list later. For now, we rest.
Day Five: We made it to Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire mid-afternoon. I and both kids each put $20 bills into the token dispensers and went to town dropping those tokens into machine after machine. Susan played a lot of Skee-ball, Morgan played ticket redemption games, and Mason spent his time between the ticket machines and playing the old classics with me. Me, I never left the third floor, dropping coin after coin into retro arcade classics, some of which I hadn’t seen in 25 years. After the last game was played, we moseyed over to the Crazy Gringo and had some Mexican food before hitting the road and heading north to Maine.
Day Six: We arrived in Porter Cove, Maine late at night and couldn’t tell what the view was like until the morning. On the morning of day six we watched the sun rise over the ocean. After relaxing near the ocean for a bit (too cold to go in) and letting the kids play bean bag toss (need to get some of those for the backyard) we headed to downtown Porter Cove where we hopped on a small tour boat and motored down the coast to go see some historic Maine lighthouses. 90 minutes later and back on land I had a lobster roll from Barnacle Billy’s for lunch. So, so good.
At this point, we had to make a decision. We had intended to head to New York City next, but Susan had just been informed that she needed to be on a plane next Sunday. With our current plans that would have put us in NYC Wed/Thurs, with Fri/Sat left to drive 25ish hours back to Oklahoma. After weighing the pros and cons we decided to cut off the NYC leg of the trip and save it for another time. This allowed us to spend a bit more time in Maine, and drive back to Oklahoma over three days instead of two.
We headed southwest and stopped in Albany (again) for the night.
Day Seven: We drove. We left Albany in the morning and landed in Indianapolis, Indiana last night around 1 AM. Our only real stop yesterday was at Duff’s Famous Wings outside of Buffalo, New York. You have to have buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York — that’s a given — and Duff’s are famous for a reason. Even Mason, who doesn’t eat wings, ate some and loved them.
This morning (technically day 8) we got up and head breakfast here at the hotel. The kids are swimming off some energy. Check out time is 11 AM at which point we’ll be hitting the road again.
It’s 11:15pm on Day 4 of our vacation and this is literally the first chance I’ve had to fire up my laptop and jot down a few notes from the trip. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you have already seen several dozen photographs I’ve shared and have some idea of where we are and what we’ve been up to. For those of you who don’t, here’s where we’ve been the past four days:
Day One: Mason, Morgan and I loaded up the car and hit the road around 6 AM, headed for Chicago. In pre-kid days, sub-twelve hour trips to Chicago were possible. With “Bladder #1″ and “Bladder #2″ on board, it’s typically closer to fourteen hours these days. Surprisingly we made pretty good time and pulled up exactly 13 hours after we left. Upon arrival, my phone began blowing up with messages asking me if I was alright. What we didn’t know was, a tornado touched down in the El Reno/Yukon area. The tornado hit a few miles south of us, right along the line where my mom, dad, and sister’s family all live. Fortunately everybody made it through (again), but this year’s storm season has been deadlier than most. I am glad my family missed the tornado, but I wish we had been home to help with the cleanup. While everyone back home was hunkered down in their cellars and closets, Susan (who flew in from Washington D.C. to meet us), the kids and I were enjoying Chicago pizza on my Grandma O’s front porch.
Day Two: We left Chicago and headed east to Cleveland. Our first stop there was at the house where the perennial classic A Christmas Story was filmed. When I have more time I’ll write a dedicated post to that place. Both the house and the museum next door were super cool. Seems like we did something else that day, but it escapes me. We stayed in a hotel just outside of Cleveland.
Day Three: While still in Cleveland, we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Man oh man, so man incredible artifacts in that place. I took a million pictured in there and will be posting them soon. We then hit the road again and drove to Niagara Falls, Canada. There, we checked into our hotel room on the 49th floor of the Hilton and spent some time staring at the falls from our room. The view from our room and the falls were equally amazing. After dinner we went back to the room and watched the Sunday evening fireworks that they shoot off above the falls. Wow.
Day Four: Our longest day yet. This morning we woke up and had breakfast in the hotel before visiting the giant indoor pool. After swimming, we ventured out down to the falls and rode the Maiden of the Mist boat ride, which takes you literally to the foot of both sets of falls. Again, I’ll be writing and posting more pics from this adventure later, when I get more time. After that we walked up and down Clifton Hill, which was a cross between Vegas and a circus sideshow. We went through a wax museum of questionable quality, but it was fun nonetheless. After walking all over town and eating we went back to the hotel, got our car, and drove to Rochester, New York, where we met up with my friend Steve and his wife Karen and had our first ever garbage plate. I had been told two things about garbage plates — that they were delicious and that they looked like garbage — and both turned out to be true. Basically they involve picking two “meats” and two sides and then having them tossed into one big pile with mustard, onions and hot sauce thrown on top. I picked “cheeseburger” and “fried egg” on top of macaroni salad and home fries for mine and Susan got I think a grilled-cheese sandwich and a scrambled egg on top of home fries and baked beans for hers. It was very unique and very delicious! After dinner, Steve and his wife accompanied us to a beach on Lake Ontario where we had some ice cream and let the kids run around on the beach and play in the park and burn off some steam. We left Rochester around 7 PM and arrived in Albany around 11:30 PM, which is where we are now.
Tomorrow we’re going to let the kids swim in the morning before driving over to visit Funspot in New Hampshire for a few hours and then landing tomorrow night in Maine, a state none of us have been to before.
Well, we missed it. The kids and I hit the road yesterday, headed to Chicago. I didn’t see or hear about the tornadoes until we got here. This one hit my town, Yukon Lots of family members without power and a few without shingles. Glad that the kids were nowhere near the storms but wish I was there to help out. Heard that it tore up our old neighborhood near Reno and Czech Hall pretty good. Also started to hear about a few fatalities — I selfishly hope it’s no one I knew. Everyone stay safe and save a pile or two for us to clean up when we get back.
Monday night I had the honor of joining Sean and Steve from the Throwback Reviews podcast. If you haven’t listened to it before, on Throwback Reviews Sean, Steve and “Door” review classic films from the 1980s (mostly). On this week’s episode, while Door is out on vacation I convinced Sean and Steve to watch the “classic” film Under the Rainbow from 1981. I tend to use the word “classic” loosely. Chevy Chase once referred to this as “one of the worst films ever made.” Slightly more positive, Carrie Fisher merely called it “one of the worst films I ever worked on.”
Anyone who has ever worked toward completing a collection has probably mashed their teeth while paying money for something they didn’t want. Every Atari 2600 collector knows that Pac-Man and E.T. are universally panned, and yet they all own them.
The challenge in collecting Star Wars figures is that especially toward the end of the run, Kenner really began scraping the bottom of the barrel. The original line of figures launched with a now famous 12 figures — one Luke, one Han, and so on. By the type Return of the Jedi wrapped, you had Luke in Hoth gear, Luke in Bespin gear, Luke in Stormtrooper armor, Luke in Jedi outfit, Luke in Endor fatigues, and so on — and that’s just Luke. Did you know Kenner cranked out at least six different Ewoks? I do, because as a collector, I’m in the midst of tracking them down. Toward the end of the line, anyone who appeared in a Star Wars film for more than a few seconds was fair game. This brings us to General Madine.
General Madine is the guy on the right, the one with the white stick. In a room full of guys with lobster heads and a woman in her pajamas, he’s easy to miss. In the film, General Madine has about three lines of dialogue. After informing a room full of rebels that the Rebellion has captured a Tyderian Shuttle, he asks Han if he has assembled his team yet. That’s it. No kid in the history of kids ever asked for a General Madine figure. No kid, while playing with Star Wars, wished they owned a General Madine figure to re-enact his two line speech.
I, however, a stupid collector, have a spot missing where General Madine must stand.
This weekend was the 36th anniversary of the release of Star Wars and the 30th anniversary of the release of Return of the Jedi. With Star Wars on the brain, I set out this weekend to work toward finishing off my vintage Star Wars figure collection. Fortunately I did not have to look far, as the first Vintage Stock I visited happened to have a loose General Madine figure for $2.99.
Next to my X-Wing fighter, I have a spare Luke. Next to my TIE Fighter, I have a spare Stormtrooper. Next to my Hoth Playset I have two or three spare Snowtroopers.
General Madine will stand on the shelf alone, where he belongs.