Disney World with Vanessa! A Q&A session

Thanks for conjuring me out of thin air for this weak premise of a trip recap!
Hey, no problem!

So…y’all went to Disney World?
Yup! After the trip to Virginia Beach with my family, we took a vacation with David’s parents and almost all of David’s siblings.

How were the plane flights? Last time they seemed to go pretty well!
They went…pretty OK! These flights were objectively better because they were nonstop to Orlando and back. She was still somewhat fussy on the way there and fairly fussy on the way back, for reasons that will become clear later.

Did Vanessa have a good time?
Seems like it! She’s pretty young for a lot of the activities at Disney World, but she likes looking around at people and things, and she had fun with her cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

What were her favorite rides?
Her favorite was It’s a Small World – the whole ride she just looked around wide-eyed. Hopefully the pictures of her on the ride turned out! Her second favorite seemed to be, oddly enough, the Jungle Cruise, but I think that’s because she got to stand on David’s lap and hold/pat the guardrails on the boat. (she’s very into patting things like that šŸ™‚ )

Was she easier to take care of now that she’s over a year old? (as opposed to the last trip)
Sort of! Food was definitely easier – we brought some stuff for snacks, but for lunch and dinner we just went to restaurants and found something for her there. The biggest problem was that now that she can walk she tolerated sitting in the stroller much less well. But she’s not very good at walking (and she would get run over by people), so the only alternative was carrying her. Which is getting harder!

How’d she deal with schedule changes?
Surprisingly well! We tried to keep her on roughly the same schedule as usual (while staying on Central time), but of course we were often off by an hour either direction, and it didn’t seem to bother her too much.

How was the hotel?
We stayed at the Contemporary, which was very nice. The main reason we picked it was because it’s on the monorail (the monorail actually goes through the hotel!), so that made it a lot easier to get to the Magic Kingdom. (where we spent two of our three park-going days) Since we went back to the hotel every day after lunch for Vanessa’s nap, minimizing transit time for four trips each day seemed like a big deal.

Ooh, monorail!
Yes, many references to the Simpsons’ song were made.

Anyway, how’d that work out?
Pretty well. Honestly, between going through security and walking from the monorail exit to inside the park and then meeting people, transit time was kind of annoying anyway. But then we went to the Animal Kingdom, which we took a bus to, and it was a lot worse! So…yeah.

This was Vanessa’s first time in a hotel room, right? How’d she like it?
Wow, I’m impressed you remembered! She had a grand old time. Of course it wasn’t babyproofed, so we had to watch her like a hawk, which made getting ready in the mornings take a long time. Another downside was that it was just a standard room, so during naps/bedtime we would turn out almost all the lights and then try to make as little noise as possible.

Funny story: at 6 AM one morning David got up to pee, and I was only half-awake. The next thing I remember is David diving back into bed! He later explained that Vanessa was awake and just staring at him. (she did go back to sleep, thank goodness!)

Did Vanessa get any toys she liked?
We brought along some new toys and books, which she liked well enough. At dinner at Restaurantosaurus (located in DinoLand U.S.A. which is a section of the park just like, say, Asia or Africa…) her meal came in a plastic bucket with a shovel. (I guess because the restaurant is paleontology themed) Anyway, we were done and cleaning up and trying to decide whether to keep the bucket and shovel. I was leaning towards no because it was clearly very cheap and didn’t even say Disney World on it or anything, but settled on “whatever”, so David kept it. And now she loves that bucket and shovel!

I know you haven’t been to Disney World in a while – how were the Magic Bands?
Cool! They’re a band you wear on your arm that act as your hotel room key, park admission ticket, FastPass+es, and it makes it really easy to buy things!

Except I lost Vanessa’s on the first day and had to get a replacement. And I wasn’t the only person to lose a band.

So, overall, was it worth it?
Yeah! I mean, traveling is really stressful with Vanessa right now. But she had a good time and we survived.

Would you recommend Disney World with a 14 month old?
Not unless you’re going for some other reason. We spent *checks credit card receipts* *faints* *is revived with smelling salts* a lot of money and went to a lot of trouble for something Vanessa’s not going to remember, although she did enjoy it. I can see her having a great time in a few years, though, just like her cousins seemed to!

Anything interesting happen at the end of the trip?
Funny you should ask! We got back to our house, started feeding her some dinner, and she threw up.

Oh.
Yup.

friday linked list: Carrie Fisher, Texas inmates, Russian spies

Carrie Fisher apparently sent a cow tongue to a producer who assaulted her friend – she was so great. In a similar vein, here’s a list of nice allegations against celebrities, like the time when David Tennant read a random fan’s academic paper!

Texas Inmates Donated Nearly $54,000 for Hurricane Relief – wow, that is something!

Americans Are Sending Too Much Stuff to Houston – …and not enough cash.

The Russian Spies Who Fooled Seattle – I think I remember vaguely hearing about this, but man does this sound more sinister knowing what we know now…

The Origins of All 30 NBA Team Names – I love things like this! (thanks Utah Jazz!) See also the All 30 MLB team names, logos, mascots ranked! thing I did a while ago.

Cancer survival rates have increased dramatically over the past 35 years – that is impressive progress!

The Battle Between Baseball and Cricket for American Sporting Supremacy – interesting, I didn’t realize cricket used to be popular here! (thanks Mom!)

The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline – this is impressive:

Comparing the growth of other kinds of nonprofits, the researchers believe they were able to identify the causal effect of these community groups: Every 10 additional organizations in a city with 100,000 residents, they estimate, led to a 9 percent drop in the murder rate and a 6 percent drop in violent crime.

Holes In The Plot: Suspect Loses Bet With Cops, Turns Himself In ā€” With Doughnuts – hah! (thanks David!)

Call your senators: oppose the tax cut for millionaires!

Yup, it’s that time again! There are many valid reasons to oppose the bill; since my Senators are conservative Republicans, here’s what I went with:

Hi, my name is , and Iā€™m a constituent of Senator . Iā€™m urging to oppose the tax bill in front of the House, as it would balloon the deficit by over a trillion dollars to provide tax cuts for millionaires.

Call today! It just takes a minute!

The tax bill is not particularly popular, so this is something we can beat, or at least convince them to make less terrible!

Here’s a helpful chart about the plan, and who wins and loses under it.

Senator Cornyn’s numbers are: (512)469-6034 (Austin office) and (202)224-2934 (DC office)
Senator Cruz’s numbers are: (512)916-5834 (Austin office) and (202)224-5922 (DC office)

What Happened review

What HappenedWhat Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oof.

I wasn’t planning on reading this book because I thought it would be too painful, and also I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing a typical politician’s spin on things.

But the reviews for the book were surprisingly good – Hillary has clearly decided not to run for office again, and the book is remarkably frank. She confirms what people have suspected for a while – she’s a very guarded person, especially after all the drummed-up Clinton “scandals” of the 90s. And that makes people think she’s hiding something.

The book has a good balance of her admitting the things she did wrong during the campaign, but also the external forces that helped doom it. (Russia/Wikileaks, the Comey letter, etc.)

Good book, but a pretty depressing read all in all. She somehow manages to be hopeful about the future, which is impressive for someone who went through all of that!

View all my reviews

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences review

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex DifferencesBrain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very good takedown of “brain organization theory”, which is the idea that sex hormones in the fetus lead to changes in the brain between men and women, which is why men are better at *pick your stereotype here*.

The author does a very good job at looking at a bunch of studies which purport to show these differences and shows that a lot of them are pretty weak and even contradict each other. One funny example is that traits that were assumed to be signs of masculinization in the 1960s then became signs of feminization in the 1980s! This happened in scientific studies but apparently nobody noticed, because these were “common sense” measures that the author had to do some digging to elucidate.

Anyway, the upshot of the book is that we really need more rigorous and contextualized studies to make the kind of claims that you see bandied about. There probably are some differences, but they’re small and can be easily overcome by environment or deliberate practice. (for example, the often used example that men on average are better at spatial relations – women can eliminate this gap with just a few days of practice!)

I’m not sure if it was because life has been a bit stressful or what, but it took me a long time to get through the book – it’s pretty technical and dense. But overall it was a good read!

View all my reviews

friday linked list: go Astros!, HIV vaccine, the KKK

New antibody attacks 99% of HIV strains – wow! Human trials are supposed to start next year and still a lot of things could go wrong, but this is exciting!

I wanted to understand why racists hated me. So I befriended Klansmen. – wow! Powerful story.

– One of the reasons I left LiveJournal was that they turned off HTTPS, which makes it very easy for people (ahem, Russian government) to get your password and see what you’re doing. Well, to my surprise they turned it back on again! Although there are still other reasons not to use LJ anymore….

– Boston University has developed a preliminary way of diagnosing CTE in living patients, which may have a big effect on the NFL.

– This video for Maroon 5’s “Sugar” is very sweet – they go around LA crashing weddings šŸ™‚ (although would it have killed them to crash a gay wedding? They’re in California!) (thanks Jennifer!)

How the Catalan government uses IPFS to sidestep Spain’s legal block – that is clever!

The Good Place is a great show! If you’re watching it, here a giant list of food pun restaurants from a recent episode, and a ranking of the ones that actually showed up in the episode. (if you’re not watching, that second link has spoilers!)

My Mass Shooting Ritual – it makes me incredibly depressed that I have the same thoughts. See also Our collective happiness on Twitter reaches a new low.

Russian soccer officials add bleachers OUTSIDE stadium to satisfy FIFA – hah! That looks terrifying.