Dec 312007
Part of the Carnival Midway Games Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Despite the Christmas trip being cancelled, Z and I headed up to Vallejo and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on Saturday. The trip was canceled because I was no longer going to support her spoiled nature. The DK trip was permissible because she paid her own way. The primary motivation for the trip (other than riding Medusa) was “The Biggest Christmas Tree In The World”. And let me tell you, this tree was BIG! We’re talking over 125 feet tall (compared to Rockefeller Center’s meager 85 foot tall tree and the puny 41’9″ National Christmas Tree in Washington), a branch diameter of 55 feet, more than 9 1/2 miles of lights with 42,000 bulbs, and a weight of more than 24,000 pounds!

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…

We decided on Discovery Kingdom while eating and headed on up after breakfast. Due to the lack of planning we didn’t arrive in Vallejo until shortly after 1pm, and were surprised to discover the parking lot still chained up. Turns out the park didn’t actually open until 2pm! So, we wandered around Vallejo a bit, stopping for lunch at Togo’s and returned to the park a few minutes after opening. After a quick stop in the shops (so I could buy a warmer shirt – the one I’m wearing in the pic to the right) we ogled the world’s largest Christmas tree for a bit, then headed straight to Medusa. Although I’m not sure she’s actually said it, I’m 90% sure Medusa is Z’s favorite roller coaster ‘evah’. We took walk on seats in the very last row and the ride was as smooth as ever. The back is nearly as exciting as the front, although the little “rest stop” in the middle of the ride isn’t quite as impressive from the back.

After that necessary stop we wandered the park a bit checking out the holiday theming Overall we weren’t that impressed with anything outside of the tree itself. The rest of the park seemed rather haphazardly decorated and roughly 1/2 (by my estimate) was closed including most of the animal areas and both Vertical Velocity and Roar. We did, however, find Santa’s Office. He wasn’t around, but we took the opportunity to take a picture of ourselves in his special, limited edition, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom sleigh.

And then it happened… the unthinkable… I got robbed on the Midway! Okay, it’s not as nefarious as it first sounds, but here’s my story…

While wandering we somehow found our way to the midway. Yeah, yeah, I’m an addict so this isn’t really surprising. However, what was surprising was that Discovery Kingdom had replaced all of the prize critters on the water gun racing game with holiday prizes: stuffed Rudolph, Santa & Abominable Snowman. In all my midway adventures I’ve never seen a plush Santa prize, so Z and I settled in for our latest duel. I, with years of experience, took an early lead. At least I did so according to the game op who was providing color commentary during our battle. But then, just as I was about to claim my victory he announced “Uh..oh.. looks like number one [Z] needs a little help” and then bent over and blocked my stream of water with his hand(!), announcing “look at that come behind victory! The little lady wins a prize!” It was all in good fun of course, and the guy actually reminded me a bit of myself in my early carny days – anything to keep people entertained and playing.

Next up was the Looney Tunes Seaport which we had bypassed on our first trip back in Halloween since it is the primary “kiddie area”. However, I learned after the fact that there is a roller coaster in that area so we went to ride it and further my long term goal of riding every coaster in California. As we approached we saw it running with a mostly empty car, but we got distracted by discovering all of Bugs Bunny’s furniture laying around the area. Z and her newly (and underhandedly) acquired Santa Clause plopped themselves in to two of Bugs’ easy chairs to watch a little television. I finally managed to drag them away from The Tube, but by the time we got over to the kiddie coaster the ride op informed us it was not running. She was talking to a friend as we approached, so both Z and I think she was just being lazy, but there wasn’t much we could do about it without damaging our day as well, so we chose to move on.

I’ve written before about how much Z loves Discovery Kingdom’s top spin ride: Voodoo, so I knew she’d want to ride it. In that same ride report I explained why I don’t like the ride, so I took a smoke break while she rode. I managed to discover some familiar wildlife. I watched the adventures of this squirrel trying to find his way out of one the (drained) water rides. He did manage to find a way out eventually, but not before getting soaking wet in a rather large puddle of remaining water.

It was nearing 5:00 by now and we headed back to the main courtyard for the lighting of the World’s Largest Christmas Tree. (You remember the tree, right? The post’s about the tree.) Although we managed to meet up with a lovely Gingerbread Couple along the way. We also picked up some seasonal hot apple cider to warm us while we waited for the lighting. A crowd gathered, of course, but it wasn’t nearly the size of the crowds for the Thriller zombie performances during Fright Fest. Captain Lee Munro made a few quick announcements (read: plugs), a quick countdown and voila! It truly was impressive watching 42,000 Christmas bulbs covering over 125 feet of pine tree simultaneously blink on. And that’s coming from a confirmed grinch!

I must be getting old, because at this point I was both cold and tired. Z reminded me, however, that there was a new holiday “ride” in the 4-D Iwerks theater – “Santa’s Late”. Unfortunately, something was wrong with the projector, so we had to settle for meeting a couple of Santa’s reindeer. Of course, we couldn’t head home without another ride on Medusa as well, so it was only after that thrill that we finally headed back out to the parking lot.

I’ve probably made it pretty clear throughout this post, but The Biggest Christmas Tree In The World is definitely a must-see event. This is truly a majestic bit of Holiday cheer. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be open daily through January 6th so if you’re in Northern California I can’t recommend a trip more highly.

Part of the Carnival Midway Games Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Dec 292007

The interconnectivity and searchability is both a blessing and a curse. Especially when it comes to maintaining a personal site such as Philaahzophy. Everyone’s Googled themselves at some point and they’ve likely used the Big g as a starting point for finding old friends, lovers and acquaintances as well. Much of my past I like to remain in my past, but this holiday season has brought surprise greetings from past friends and associates that were welcome as well. The most intriguing was from a pair of slam poets I used to do worj with back in my non-profit days. Their pieces were always fairly personal ones and many were about their day jobs, so I’m going to need to look up some of their more recent work and see what they have to say about being New York movers. I’m not talking ‘high society movers and shakers’, but good old fashioned furniture movers. I’ve always pictured movers (especially New York movers) as big grumpy guys easily schlepping heavy items up eight flights of stairs, pointlessly grumbling about it all the way while munching on two week old cigars. The funny part is this description couldn’t be much farther from the truth if I tried 8)

Dec 272007

It’s always a struggle trying to educate people when it comes to politics and government. Although it’s often easier to educate children because they haven’t been quite as brainwashed by the state (yet), the conversations tend to be quite different. Today, Jim Pontillo from the formykountry blog, gives us a great example.

The bulk of the post relates his tale of woe at being regularly defeated at Halo 3 by the neighbor’s 12 year old. Once he finally achieves a victory the kid calls him “a heartless conservative”. Here’s Jim’s chance. He quickly explains to Little Brandon that if they were playing by “Liberal Rules” then Brandon (since he’s better) would have to give one point of every three he earns to Jim, the oppressed minority seeking to improve his lot in life .. er .. game. Brandon, of course, calls this cheating and storms off home.

While the story is both entertaining and (a bit) heartwarming, Jim seems to have either missed the point himself or just have a rather large blind spot. After all, it’s the so-called conservative Republicans who have grown the government by leaps and bounds over the last several decades, not the liberal Democrats. George W. Bush has overseen the largest growth in the federal government since it was first founded more than 200 years ago, not to mention taken away far more rights than any other single individual.

Taxes aren’t a result of liberal thought, but rather of government itself. If you really want to live (or play) fair, you need to get rid of government all together. Brandon clearly understands this as he rightly calls the point tax unfair. Now if only he could find a way to show that to Jim…

Dec 262007

I just received notice that eBay will be having a one day only sale on their insertion fees. All listing fees for auction and Buy It Now listings started today, Thursday, December 27, 2007 will only be $0.10 regardless of the items starting or reserve price! This is a savings of up to $4.70 depending on your starting price. Yeah, there’s going to be tons of competition and the search results are going to be overflowing with garbage, but you can mitigate that somewhat by choosing a listing length other than 7 days. Besides, it’s only a dime 😉

Check here for the official announcement!

Dec 262007

Yeah, yeah, I know “if you’re not the lead dog, blah blah blah”. But you can’t just start out at the head of the pack. You’ll need some advice, training and guidance along the way. Although I’ve been posting a fair amount about different direct marketing services of late I haven’t really gone into the details of how to handle a successful direct marketing campaign. there’s one very good reason for that: I’m still learning myself. And one of the sites I’ve used for sales leads has recently posted a Top 10 Ways to Boost Direct Marketing Results that is a must read. So head on over to The Lead Dogs and read it yourself!