A Moving Tale of Trust for Christmas*

elephants1In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty four years later, Mbembe was walking through the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant looked at Mbembe as if could see straight into his soul.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

* Yes, this is a repeat of from the last four Christmases. But I have to keep up the tradition. And Lincoln Park Zoo hasn't had elephants for a few years now.

I hope you are had / are having a very merry Christmas.


She's A Winner! But You Already Knew That.

Yeah, yeah, so it's my birthday today.  Not what I want to talk about.

I know most of you already know from Facebook, but I don't care.

Gonna brag on The Daughter over here, too.

Walgreens was running a contest in Chicago and St. Louis for high school students to enter works of art for their "Expressions" contest.  On the day before the contest ended, The Daughter entered a stop motion animation project she'd been working on for weeks.

  • She made the puppet.
  • She made the background
  • She shot the nearly 1,000 pictures herself.
  • She made the stills into a video and added a song in the background.

We were so proud of the work she did, and it was awesome.

And then the people from Walgreens called on the day the contest was ending.  They loved the video, but…

  • The video was 5 seconds too long.
  • The song in the video was copyrighted, and unless she could get it cleared, she had to replace it or just remove the sound entirely.

This news came after she got home from school, and she had to resubmit it by midnight if she wanted to enter, but they REALLY wanted her to enter.

As she heard the clock loudly ticking, she cut the video down to size, removed the song, and removed the lip-syncing to the song.  Then, she found a website that let her mix her own soundtrack for it, and she put that in as the soundtrack for the video.

It's now 11:20, and she went to the website to submit it…

And it was closed!  Turned out, they were hosting the contest on servers in Philadelphia, and since it was after midnight there, they closed the contest.

So, she called the Walgreens lady who had called us.  She gave us an email address to send the video to, and we submitted it with little time to spare.

Then there was a round of public voting (thank you all who voted), where we saw the other 50 or so videos she was up against.

And yesterday, it was announced:  The Daughter won first place in the Chicago Multimedia category.

  • She won $500 for her school.
  • She won $500 for her teacher.
  • She will be one of the guests of honor at an awards ceremony where they will present her with a check for $2,000.

Yesterday, she asked me if I was proud of her for winning.  "I'm HAPPY for you that you won.  I'm PROUD of the effort and dedication you put into it, especially when you had every reason to give up."

And here's a link to the ORIGINAL full video, song and all:

Yup, I'm proud of her.


Mickey Mousing Around For Thanksgiving – Part 2

While I know that many people would consider this a crime against nature, our alarm went off at 4:30 am on Thanksgiving morning.  And we had no turkey to get cooking.  We had to get to Disneyland an hour early for our "Magic Morning" that let us in the park an hour before everyone else.  That let us in before everyone else, which let us ride the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean a couple of times before things got crazy.


We then wandered over and tried to pull the sword from the stone.  Didn't budge for any of us.


The Daughter took her Halloween costume dress (san makeup and wig) and wore it on Thursday.  It was really cool.  A lot of the cast-members (the term for Disney employees) seemed to be genuinely thrilled to see someone her age getting into the magic aspect of it all.

And Jack was impressed.

We then ran over to Toon Town and played with all the sight gags that they've got going on over there.


We ran across the Mad Hatter and Alice playing a musical chairs style game along Main Street USA.  The Hatter played the self-obsessed joker.  Alice was his dizzy blonde assistant / victim.


The whole gang met up for Thanksgiving dinner (and the only whole group shot of the trip) at a restaurant by one of the hotels.  I had the Thanksgiving plate, and it was pretty good.  Even came with a slice of pumpkin pie.  And still suffering from the lack of sleep, I took full advantage of the free refills on the Diet Coke.


And then we posed with the B-I-L and his girlfriend before heading back to the parks.


We then saw "Small World" all lit up for the evening, which was, I have to admit, pretty breathtaking.

We then hopped across the no man's land separating Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.  The park was MUCH emptier.  Except for the weird teenage rave that is the Mad T Party.

And the it was off to the Tower of Terror…


… where I wondered how they ever dusted an attraction that is supposed to look a certain level of dusty?  Until I started wondering why I was flying up out of my seat.


  • When did "guacamole" become a politically incorrect term?  Bought a chicken sandwich in Disneyland that came with "avocado salsa".  Really?  REALLY?  Avocado salsa?  Trust me, I know guacamole, and that was guacamole.
  • The patio in front of the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland is a great place to view the nightly fireworks.  I know they are designed to be seen form Main Street, but that's where everyone is, and you have to fight the crowds, and get there early, and wait in a human corral with the rest of the herd, etc.  Tomorrowland is a lot less crowded, and you still have great sight lines.
  • Hitting a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner is a great way to keep from REALLY overeating.