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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

PT World Tour, Part 1

Parts 1 2 3 4 4.5 5

We pre-empt this regularly scheduled Psychotoddler Blog to bring you a special series on the PT World tour! Yes, the PT clan is touring the world and elsewhere, and I'll be keeping you up to date on our progress when computer time is available.

I realize that in most parts of the civilized world, vacation stories and photos are considered cruel and unusual punishment. However, if there's one thing I've learned from my buddy Treppenwitz, it's that people will happily look at pictures of just about anything if they're on the internet. So here goes:

Dateline Toronto: (that's in Canada)

The tour technically started the night before last, as we frantically attempted to get all of our stuff packed and ready to leave no later than 4:45 am the next morning. I swore to myself I would get to sleep early, but instead found myself and my wife at Pick 'N Save at 10pm buying a quart of milk and some donut holes. Then I got back home and got in the shower and went to bed, which I hate doing, and this is why: When I woke up at 4:00 am my hair was standing straight up. I looked like something out of a Final Fantasy video game. I stuck my head back into the shower and tried to straighten it out.

The Mrs. had said to me: "If you think the PT is cranky when you put her to bed, imagine what she's like when you try to wake her up." Well no problem there. I had looked forward to waking her up at 4 am for a change, but she was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to go. I guess she's finally at the age where she remembers things from one day to the next and has really been looking forward to this trip.

We davened, ate, packed up the van and managed to get to the dock by 5:15 am.

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The boat is beautiful and the boarding went smoothly. When we finally got underway, I went out onto the stern of the boat to watch Milwaukee recede into the distance.

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The boat's pretty fast (50mph, not sure how much exactly in knots), and it got pretty windy up on deck. In fact, I tried to take a picture of son3 almost getting blown overboard, but sadly, it doesn't convey well as a still frame. But out on the stern, behind the main structure, we're shielded from the wind, so it's very nice.

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The trip was about 2 1/2 hours. The PT is what you'd call "high maintenance." That means she requires a human being to entertain her or to be at her beck and call every second that she's awake. Don't try to sit down and read a book or watch TV or anything personal.

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Lighthouse at Muskegon

After we debarked the boat, (which I found out has nothing to do with trees, BTW, ok I know the term is disembark), we we were in Muskegon, MI, where I discovered two things. First, Michigan looks pretty much like Wisconsin or any other Midwest state, so no really interesting scenery on the roadside. And Second, the Triptiks that AAA sent us were completely wrong, in almost every respect. In the old days, you could really count on the accuracy of AAA maps and Triptiks. You could follow them to the foot. This year, they sent us a computer printout of what really looked like a Mapquest search, so I think they may be using the same engine. Anyone who's depended on Mapquest to get to an out-of-the way place in the past can commiserate with me. Basically, none of the street names or turns corresponded to what we were seeing out the window, so we lost the trail. Thank G-d we had the compass on board, and we basically headed east on a side road until we met up with highway. We ended up taking a longish detour, but we were going in the right direction, so I don't think it cost us much in time.

By about 1pm (figuring in the time difference) we crossed over to Canada at Port Huron and stopped at the visitor center (which had signs depicting picnic tables) for lunch. Unfortunately, only the signs had the picnic tables, since the place was still under construction. So we ate on a big rock instead. Cotton seed or something was blowing around all over the place.

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It was here that we discovered that the power doors on the van had stopped working. Everything else seemed to work, but the alarm was not happy. I checked the fuses and found one that was burnt out. Unfortunately, replacing it did not solve the problem. I queried Mission Control to determine if we should proceed or abort, and she told me we were still "Go" so we blasted off towards Toronto.

We had to stop on the road for gas, which is where we encountered the Metric system. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for the Metric system. I think it's great for medicine, and for the classroom and in theory and all, but I don't think it should ever be used in real life. I tried to figure out how much I was paying for gas and I was stumped. I know that I paid $2.27 a gallon the night before in Milwaukee. This time, I paid 91 cents (Canadian, Heaven help me) per liter. I bought 88 liters. I have no idea if I paid more or less than the night before. I called my sister-in-law to get directions to the restaurant. I was very tempted to ask if they use a different measure of time as well. I half-expected her to say "We will see you in approximately 3 of your Earth hours."

The rest of the way in to Toronto was uneventful if you don't count the driving or the highway system, and I'll leave that to my wife because she did most of that driving and I know she's dying to let off some steam about it. All I can say is, when a lane is going to end, they should tell you in advance. You should not have to discover this when you end up in the side of an 18 wheeler. And none of this "Allen Road in 100 meters" crap! Use REAL units of measure! Is that a lot or a little? How many "Earth seconds" do I have to move over 3 lanes?

Well, we made it to the hotel, but it took us an hour to get to the restaurant due to "traffic irregularities". I think in retrospect they really do use a different measure of time here, because it didn't seem that we went that far and it shouldn't have taken us an hour. But it gave us some opportunities to soak in the local scenery.

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We met my SIL, Laya (Tuesday Wishes) and her husband at King Solomon's table, where they have an amazing all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet for $20 Canadian (I think that's like 33 cents US). I'm sure when we left, the owners were saying "arghh..tis not a man, tis an eating machine..."

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The we went to Laya's Place for a while and saw the kids, who are now all taller than me (even the baby). We went for Mincha to Aish Hatorah and davened Ashkenaz for a change (I was stumbling over the missing words). Before we headed back to the hotel, Pearl stopped by. That was really nice. I know she was exhausted after her recent trip to Lala land. I could say a lot of things about Pearl, but mostly I was amazed that she didn't have a Canadian accent. She sounded more Bronx to me. Anyway, I should warn the rest of you bloggers that if you do meet me, don't call my daughter "Psychotoddler" to her face. As in, "Oh, you must be the psychotoddler." She's in the dark about that.

That's all for now. I'll try to check in from Niagara falls or Syracuse next.

Parts 1 2 3 4 4.5 5


treppenwitz said...

OK, first of all not just any pictures will do. You'll notice there are almost no pictures of me on my site. That right there is the secret of a succesful photo entry. No pictures of me. I see that you've gone ahead and followed this format without having to be told. Kudos.

Next, stop bitching about your hair standing up in the morning. There are people out there (so I've heard) wwho would kill to see hair standing up on top of their head in the morning!

Otherwise, a first class post... Nicely done.

Doctor Bean said...

1) Your kids all hit 11 on the cute meter.
II) The pictures make it seem that there are an Avogadro's number of them.
c) I'm so glad you met Torontopearl. Since she met me only 5 days ago, it's almost like you and I met. She's nice.
delta) She doesn't know she's psychotoddler. Gotcha. Does she know she's very very cute? My four year old knows it, and she uses her cuteness as a weapon.

Essie said...

Sounda like a cool trip! Enjoy.

torontopearl said...

This Bronx-wannabe accent of mine is not Canadian; it is simply my Jewish accent coming through!

I was pleased to meet you and your clan. Sorry about the slip-up -- "OH...so THAT'S the PsychoToddler!" Yes, I deserve to be punished for that comment. ("Pearl, no blogging for you today. No blog today. No blog tomorrow." It's the Blog Nazi speaking.)

Hope you have a wonderful and safe journey. BTW, tell your Perel that this Pearl enjoyed meeting her; she's lovely and charming!

Wickwire said...

Good reading here PT. Yer making some good lifetime memories for you and the PT clan.

Looking forward to chapter II.

Ralphie said...

It won't be long til PT can read your site, you know... She'll probably figure out what you've been calling her behind her back. All I'm saying is that in addition to the day school fund and the college fund, it might be wise to start a therapy fund.

Semgirl said...

Very nice phhotos. Looking forward to seeing shots of Niagra Falls.

ball-and-chain said...

Drat, now I want to take a trip with the Beanlets. We weren't planning on one. It renminds me of the trips of my youth. Except, of course that my brother and I have the task of being as much trouble as your six. I think we did it though.

PsychoToddler said...

i've got pictures and a story from niagara falls, but i cant get to a computer now and i cannot do it justice on this pda. i hope to get access tomorrow.

tuesdaywishes said...

Thanks for visiting. I didn't really get a chance to talk to the boys, but Perel has really grown up these past couple of years. I think she'll do fine at Stern. Hope you had fun at the Falls. See you in September (iy"h).

Stacey said...

Love hearing about your trip! The boat ride sounds so fun.

I will be in Syracuse in 2 weeks...very excited. Too bad we are not there the same time so that you can meet another blogger (no fair that Pearl gets to meet everyone!). :)

Be safe and enjoy the rest of your trip and visiting your folks. Keep us posted!

Jack's Shack said...

SOunds like you are having a great time.

Shira Salamone said...

I was supposed to give your blog a quick look and then go to bed, but I was too busy laughing, so I had to finish the whole post. :)

Your, ahem, Youngest Daughter seems to be a bit like our son was at that age. He was another "high maintenance" kid who needed constant attention. Somehow, both the parents and the kid(s) manage to survive.

As to, er, speaking of your youngest daughter and your blog name, well, er, um , let's just say I'm glad Ralphie said it first. Er, um, well, I mean, er. . . dude, what were you thinking? She's gonna have your head on a silver platter when she's old enough to figure it out. Eek!

I seem to recollect that she has a Hebrew name that starts with a Y, er, Yod. Should I happen to encounter her at a pizza parlor in the near future, I'll be sure to use that name.

Kiki said...

your trip sounds like so much fun! Welcome to Canada! I am so glad you are on my turf - wish i would be able to drive out to meet you at Niagara - but Montreal is an 8 hour drive from there and I have kids n stuff. Anyhoo - enjoy the rest of your vacation - your kids are adorable. Your oldest daughter - she must get so many comments on her beautiful hair.

Man - you are so blessed!

JoeCool said...

Two words: Fill Flash

PsychoToddler said...

Joe: What's fill flash?

I'm going to redo these pictures when I get to milwaukee. I don't know if they look so bad because I resized them in the camera or because I uploaded them from my PDA (it was very complicated and they may have been "converted"). Check back next week to each of these posts for more definitive photos. I just wanted to update quickly so you could feel like you were on a "virtual vacation."

JoeCool said...

Fill Flash: When photographing in bright sunlight, especially with the sun behind or at an angle to the subject, harsh shadows on faces and other important features can be softened and lightened by using a fill flash. This technique is also useful when shooting subjects in the shade on sunny days. In both examples, by exposing for the bright areas of a scene, and using the flash to fill in the darker shadows or foreground, a more pleasing balance of light is created.

PsychoToddler said...

Joe: You sound like a Japanese camera manual.

I try to use fill flash in those conditions, but it does introduce a noticable delay from the time I press the button until the picture is taken.

JoeCool said...

A japanese camera manual would have had a few mysterious phrases such as "Innernational Warrentsy". "AV/TV Dial", and "ASA/DIN/GOST setting".

The problem you describe is very common to PHD (push here dummy) cameras and especially digicams. You basically have two choices: patience and slower shooting or very dark silhouettes when shooting against bright background.

PsychoToddler said...

I just bought this fancy-shmancy nikon digital camera for my wife. It's got a bazillian different modes and settings and we're trying to figure out when to use what. It has the default PHD button but that's not good for a lot of things. The shutter speed is very slow when you don't use a flash, so we're still playing with it. But I did get some very cool shots on the road that I hope to post when I get home.