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Monday, November 29, 2010

BlizzCon 2010, Part 6: The Awesomeness that Didn't Get to Happen

Considering it is just about December, it's pretty much time to wrap up these BlizzCon recaps!  So on that note this will finally be my last post!

By now, BlizzCon 2010 had ended, and the Sunday after the Con was upon us.  Originally, we had some epic plans scheduled for this day -- a trip to Legoland and a meet-up with my and Mr. L's close friend, Ephraim) -- but a wrench got thrown into our plans.  On the way home from Anaheim Saturday night, we stopped at a gas station to refuel the car and get back to the hotel.  For some reason, Mr. L's credit card was declined.  I hurriedly accessed the Navy Federal website to check on our account and see what in the world was going on.  We realized our money was still there, but that we had a suspicious charge for about $175 from some Best Buy in the midwest.  We had never even been to the midwest, much less visited a Best Buy there, so Mr. L called Navy Federal to report the charge.  We ended up canceling the card -- better to be safe than sorry when you're on the other side of the United States.

When we canceled, I immediately thought, "Oh no -- we were going to go to Legoland tomorrow!!"  So Joe and I decided to spill the beans on the secret we'd been keeping from Mr. L since May.

(We'll get to you one day, Legoland :( -- Source)

He was pretty much flabbergasted; he had NO idea we had been planning something so awesome.  We decided that due to lack of funds, we had to put Legoland on our to-do list the next time we made it out to California.

To make a long story short, the next morning we found out the charges were actually made by us when we preordered Collector's Editions of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.  For some crazy reason, charged us in the middle of October instead of in December when the game officially releases.  While we were so thankful no one had stolen our information, I was still sad that we still would not be making it to Legoland.

Instead, our friend Ephraim drove up from San Diego to spend some time with us!  We went out to eat at Red Robin and talked for a good while.  It was so nice getting to see him since he'd been deployed for a long time and was unable to make it to our wedding :(

(Eph, Mr. L, and me -- personal photo)

After lunch, we said our goodbyes to Ephraim (who spent the rest of the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain!) and got on the road.  The guys kept each other entertained while I took pretty scenery pictures.

(personal photo)

And by the way, by "entertain themselves" I totally meant "played a computer game to keep Joe awake."  Don't believe me?  I have proof:

(Playing video games while driving in the rain -- I might have been a little nervous)

We made it home on Sunday evening and spent the next two days being super lazy and recovering from our trip.  Joe had an interview for a potential job on Tuesday, so he and his mom arranged for an airport shuttle for Mr. L and I to take to Sacramento International Airport.  From there we made our way back home to Florida.

It was a fantastic trip and a wonderful experience, but I don't think we'll be going back to BlizzCon anytime soon since it was pretty expensive!  I do, however, foresee at least one trip to California when we're in Hawaii; after all, Legoland and Mr. L have unfinished business.  :)

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Friday, November 19, 2010

BlizzCon 2010, Part Five: The Convention Ends

Our second day of BlizzCon actually didn't happen all at the Anaheim Convention Center like on the first day; in fact, we spent at least four hours right in the middle of the Con at Downtown Disney.

What the heck, right?!  We spent $300 on tickets for this event (not to mention airline tickets and other expenses) and didn't even spend all of day two--the last day!--there?  Trust me, we're not crazy (okay, okay, actually, we kind of are), because we had a perfectly good excuse: college football.

Mr. L's team had a huge game that day versus a mutual SEC rival, LSU.  To many, this probably wasn't a good enough reason to miss a good chunk of BlizzCon, and to be honest, we didn't plan on spending that much time there.  But when you've got a fun group of people hanging out with you as well as food and alcohol, well, you don't really want the good times to end.

But let's start from the beginning of the day.

We woke up a little earlier than the day before and made our way to downtown Anaheim for the last time.  All three of us were pretty excited about the final day, but Mr. L and I were just a wee bit more excited about it being Game Day.  Mr. L's team, Auburn, was looking at a big game rank-wise, while my team, Alabama, was looking at a big game historically speaking (Alabama versus Tennessee, a very old rivalry).  We'd made plans to head to a sports bar in Downtown Disney called ESPN Zone (which was pretty awesome by the way!) to watch the Auburn-LSU game later in the day.

We spent a little bit of time at the Con and met up with our friends again.  I think the guys managed to get a little Diablo III playing time in before it was time to head to the bar.  Our friend "Barackas," a fellow football lover (and Alabama fan!) tagged along with us to join in on the fun.

ESPN Zone was a pretty awesome place.  There were even TVs in the ladies' restroom with our game on!  I really wish we had one around us -- I'm pretty sure we'd spend almost every Game Day there having a blast.

We saddled ourselves up to the bar after figuring out which TV had our game on and started having a great time!

(Just arrived and getting ready to get trashed, I think -- personal photo)

(View from our seats! -- personal photo)

The original plan was to only stay until halftime, but when that rolled around, the game was tied up and the guys were pretty buzzed on their beers.  So I told them we could stay another quarter (although I don't think Mr. L or the others really realized what was going on by then).  I'd made friends with the woman sitting next to me by then anyways and was talking to her for a good while.  It turned out she was a good friend of Gene Chizik, Auburn's head coach, so she was there to root on the Tigers to a victory over LSU.  Our bartender was also looking for an Auburn win, but only because he'd bet on the game ;)

"We'll leave at the end of the 3rd quarter" soon turned into "Okay, we'll watch the whole game," so we ended up staying at the bar for about 4 1/2 hours.  But the guys really enjoyed themselves, so I figured there was no harm done.  Well, except the harm to their sobriety -- for example:

(Joe kept thinking throughout the rest of the evening that I was taking pictures of him when I was in fact recording video)

Somehow, thanks to Barackas's level headed albeit drunken self as well as my trusty GPS, I drove us back to the convention (thank God there wasn't a lot of traffic!) in one piece.  We made it back inside and they made me take pictures of them in front of things, which they didn't remember at all later.

(They made me retake this picture later because they thought they hadn't gotten one with the statue. -- personal photo)

We spent the rest of the evening enjoying the convention, and it was a lot of fun when we got to meet the rest of Steamwheedle Cartel that made it to BlizzCon!  I'm pretty sure there were like, 20 people or so just from our realm, which was crazy.  I had no idea that many would be there, but it was nice to meet everyone and listen to Joe and Mr. L try to drunkenly recruit for our guild!

We only stayed at the meet up for about 20 minutes or so because we had to find some kind of seats for the closing ceremony.  We ended up standing next to a wall since no more seats were available :(

What was the closing ceremony?  Just Tenacious D.  :)

They were awesome and really rocked hard!  It was a great way to end the two-day nerd extravaganza.

We hung out for a little while after the concert, but it was pretty evident that we were all exhausted.  So we said our goodbyes to our new (and no longer virtual!) friends, promised to keep in touch on the game, and headed back to the hotel to crash.  However, before we left the convention, Mr. L and Joe made me stop and take the same picture I took before (although they didn't believe me when I said we'd already taken this picture until I actually showed it to them...)

(personal photo)

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

BlizzCon 2010, Part Four: The Convention Begins

(Photo heavy post ahead, and also, all photos by me unless otherwise noted!)

We woke up relatively late on Friday morning (around 7am or so) considering the doors to the convention center were opening at 10am.  We figured we didn't really want to wait for hours on top of hours when we'd be let in at a reasonable amount of time if we got there later.  It seemed like a good idea in theory (it meant we got to sleep in after being so busy the night before!) but when we made it to the convention center and actually saw the giant-humongous-seemingly-miles-long-line, we were wondering if we'd even see the opening ceremonies.

Oh, hello, long-ass line, nice to see you.  Not really.

The above picture shows where we were standing the day before (on badge pick-up day).  Yeah, we walked for probably about 10 minutes before we made it to our final "waiting" place, which was another part of the Anaheim parking lot:

Same line :\
Since we weren't going anywhere anytime soon, we took some pictures of ourselves.

They're such BAMFs.
Me and Mr. L with our nerd gear on
I took a super quick video panaroma of all of the people that surrounded us (and this was only a fraction):

Also, apparently we had someone famous standing in front of us (you can see him on the video as the guy with the super long hair).  He's George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, the vocalist for the band Corpse Cannibal.  I honestly didn't know who he was since I'm not big on metal, but I guess we can at least say we saw a celebrity :D

After waiting a while the line finally started to move!  As we exited the parking lot area, I turned around and saw just how many people were left behind us:

Lots of people!
About fifteen or so minutes later we made it back to the spot we'd been at the day before during badge pick-up.

Almost to the entrance!
And then we made it in!

We're here!
Blurry pic of the doors we just walked in
We didn't have any time at all to start looking around because we had to get to the giant room for the opening ceremonies.  We found our CBC friends who had kindly saved some seats for us and we waited for the festivities to begin!

Waiting for the opening ceremony!
The president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime kicked off the convention, welcoming us to Anaheim.  Then the VP of Creative Development, the famous Chris Metzen, gave a passionate speech on what it means to be a "geek":

Courtesy of Youtube

Immediately after the ceremony we stayed put in the hall to listen to a panel on Diablo III.  Mr. L and Joe enjoyed it, but I was zoning in and out since I don't play the game!  After the Diablo panel came the World of Warcraft Dungeons and Raids panel, which I enjoyed a little bit more.

Blizzard employees discussing WoW: Cataclysm dungeons and raids
After the panels, the guys wandered off to play the new World of Warcraft expansion and Diablo III while I walked around and took pictures of the pretty sculptures and art.

Where the guys spent their time
Where I spent some of mine!
I was really impressed with the life-size sculptures they had around.  The details were pretty amazing.

A character in World of Warcraft
An orc on his wolf
I was also impressed with the drawings they had on display for the art auction.  I don't know if I would've purchased anything if we had the money; it would be interesting to have to explain what it was to all of our house guests!

Some of the art on display at the gallery/auction
We spent the majority of the day getting our bearings and soaking in the atmosphere.  We basically did whatever we wanted to do -- saw panels we wanted to see, played games, looked at the decor, etc.  We all met back up for the big event of the evening, the costume/dance contest hosted by  Jay Mohr and Kat Hunter:

Way better picture than I could have gotten of them!
The contests were very entertaining, and the costumes were very elaborate!  People put a lot of hard work into them and we could definitely tell.

Day one was a lot of fun, but it was really tiring!  We were going to eat at P.F. Chang's after we were done for the day, but unfortunately the hour and a half wait told us it was time to drive back to Santa Clarita.  So we ended up driving back, and on the way home stopped at this little institution some of you might have heard of:
Joe popped our In-N-Out cherries that night, and it was pretty good food!  And with our bellies stuffed, we called it a night.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Note to My Husband on this Veteran's Day...

(Sorry for the break between BlizzCon recaps, but this post is definitely worth it!)

Mr. L,

I just wanted to tell you thank you.

You've done so much for me over the nearly six years we've been together, and since you've been on this shore duty you've done even more than I could imagine.  This period in our lives has been a true blessing for us, and I'm so happy to have had this time with you.

But it's getting to the point where we're looking forward to the next chapter of our lives, and unfortunately in that chapter our country will call on you to leave me and the new family we've created to go defend the freedom to which we are so desperately clinging.

Before we get knee-deep in that new chapter and all of the emotions that will come with it, I just wanted to tell you thank you -- truly, deeply, and from the bottom of my heart.

People like you, with your bravery, courage, and eternal optimism, are keeping this country safe from threats across the world.  People like you are our protectors, and I honestly couldn't feel safer.

I love you with all of my heart, and thank you so incredibly much for serving in our country's military and making so many sacrifices to protect those things we hold dear.


I would now like to take this moment and thank my family members, two who have passed on, for their courageous service to our country:  my Nandad, a WWII Army veteran; my Grandpa Roy, a Navy Korean War veteran; and my oldest brother for currently being a member of the Alabama National Guard and who also recently added another year onto his service contract.

And, of course, there are the wonderful friends Mr. L and I have gotten to know over the years who have either served or are still serving:  Joe, Ephraim, Shane, and Brendon.  You all hold a special place in our hearts.

Thank you all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

BlizzCon 2010, Part Three: Badge Pick-Up Day

The next morning started off nicely -- mainly because we got to sleep in after our super-long drive!  We didn't have to get to the Anaheim Convention Center until a couple hours before badge pick-up (which didn't start until 4), so we took advantage of our leisurely morning.

After relaxing for awhile, we got in the car and headed for Anaheim!

On the road again!
On our way to the convention center!
Luckily we made it without any problems, even though it did look like it was going to rain on us at some point.  We parked at the convention center and made our way to stand in the line that was already forming.

Waiting in line and looking tough
Some people we knew from our server in World of Warcraft were heading to the convention as well, and we planned to meet up with them after badge pick-up to finally meet each other in real life.  They are all members of the horde guild <Crimson Blood Clan> on Steamwheedle Cartel, and for the sake of anonymity I'll refer to them as their toon names -- Moonora (of MooingDruid Machinima fame -- definitely check out her channel!), Xaero, Czisix, Barackas, and Nieman.

Unfortunately we didn't find them right away because they were late.  We laughed because their hotel was within walking distance of the convention center while we were staying an hour away, but I'm pretty sure they were flying in that day so I can understand the time crunch for sure!

After probably close to an hour and a half of waiting, the line finally started moving forward.  We were getting pretty excited as we snaked our way around the building.

Anaheim Convention Center
Front of the Convention Center
We made it inside the building, only to realize we had to keep on waiting -- hundreds of people were already waiting down a level in a giant room where the main stage would be set up for the first day of the convention.  We were pretty amazed by the number of people since we'd only seen a fraction of them while waiting outside.  Unfortunately I didn't snap a picture, although I did get some the next day after being overwhelmed by the crowds again.

We finally did pick up our badges and goody bags and stood in the front of the convention center to wait on our friends.  They were a couple hundred people behind us, but they managed to find us!  It was very cool to meet people we'd "virtually known" for a while, and we definitely hit it off.  After talking for a little while, we made plans to meet up for dinner at Downtown Disney.

If you've never been to Anaheim or Disneyland, Downtown Disney is basically a collection of shops and restaurants just outside of Disneyland's entrance.  We had a nice time walking around and popping in and out of the stores while waiting for dinnertime.

I think it was a highlight of our vacation, mainly for Mr. L.  Why for him, you ask?  Oh, only because of this place:

Oh yes, friends, that is most certainly a Lego store.
Mr. L is absolutely obsessed with Legos, and I think when he saw this, it absolutely made his day.  I took a picture of the guys in front of the store and then immediately entered.

They wandered off to browse while I took the liberty to snap some pictures of the amazing Lego sculptures throughout the store.

Life-sized Lego Darth Vader
$400 Lego Death Star
I found Mr. L and Joe at the store's "Pick A Brick" wall, in which you can choose either a small or large container and fill it as full as you'd like with all different kinds of Lego bricks.  The guys were definitely enjoying this and both picked up a large container to fill with bricks.

To my complete and utter amazement, Mr. L walked out of the store having only spent ten dollars -- I was expecting WAY more than that to be out of our checking account!  I'm actually pretty proud of him for resisting all of the temptation lurking around him :)

After browsing around Downtown Disney, our friends finally made it and we picked a place for dinner.  We opted for Tortilla Jo's, a Mexican restaurant.
We ate and talked with everyone and worked out a game plan for what we would be doing the next day.  It was great getting more time to get to know everyone.

From left to right: Nieman, Czisix, Barackas, Mr. L, me, Joe, Moonora, and Xaero
We were all definitely very excited for what was to come, so after dinner Joe, Mr. L, and I called it an evening and headed back to the hotel.  We needed our rest since we had to get up early for the first day of BlizzCon 2010!

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