13 November 2012

Is Your Squirrel Due for Maintenance?

Another week of mediocrity. Or was it? Ba ba baahhmm.
The biggest highlight, I guess you could call it, was trying to fix the clutch in my 2002 Ford Focus.  After doing three motor swaps with my Grand Prix, doing the clutch on a Focus should be easy, right? Wrong! Alright, normally, yes, it shouldn’t be too hard, but when you can’t get past step six out of forty, it’s frustrating. Note: my numbers are arbitrary. A key step in doing any transmission work on a front wheel drive car is removing the axles. If you’ve ever changed your own brakes, you know that at the center of your front wheels is a single, massive bolt. They’re 32mm specifically on the Fofo. When you undo this bolt, and one or two on the swing arm, you can swing the entire brake assembly to the side, and yank your axle out of the transmission.  We could not, despite our best efforts, break these bolts loose. Using a breaker bar, socket, a piece of pipe for leverage, and my dad’s entire body weight, they wouldn’t budge. Even with the brakes applied full force, the nut would just turn the wheel and not unscrew.

I’m sure we would’ve come up with something, but my grandpop offered to help pay the mechanic’s bill as a combo birthday/Christmas present for me.  So Mach is now at Rob’s Auto in Pottstown having its guts ripped out and replaced with some shiny new ones. Ooooh, aaaahh.

The other interesting thing happened yesterday on the way home from work. I had two squirrels run out in front of me, resulting in much wear on the brakes of my dad’s Sunfire. The second squirrel however, was white. I’m not sure if he was a true albino, didn’t see the eyes, and it had a splotch of gray in its tail, but it was undoubtedly white. Though maybe I just scared the color out of it, who knows?

I'm sure the squirrel wasn't laughing...but I bet his friends were. Dicks. 

Until next time =P

29 October 2012

Waiting Out Hurricane Sandy

So I haven’t posted since…late August. Sue me. No, don’t really, you won’t get much from it. Anywho, my posting got interrupted by life. As I mentioned in Keeping Tabs, we had just moved and didn’t have internet at the time. Then in September I got a new, real job. Yaaay! So I’m working third shift for 35k a year.  So now, let me do some re-capping.

Pennsic was fun. Although I was in the same camp as my ex and her new fiancĂ© (‘cause getting engaged after 3 months of dating is a good idea, right?), I still had a good time. My other friends kept things lively. During one of the huge f-all thunderstorms, I decided it was more fun to stand in the rain doing Taekwon-do patterns and drinking than standing under the big tarp.  Of course, this led to my stock of Mike’s Hard Lemonades dropping drastically.  It also led to a tipsy bottle band forming where we all stood around blowing into the empty bottles. Was a good time. 
In terms of the battles, the first rapier battle sucked. The scenario was to retrieve as many bean-bags as we could and get them back to our flag.  This turned into more of a shuttle run/wind sprint exercise than a battle. Doing wind sprints without warming first is a really bad idea by the way. And I suspect it led to my late-week injury.
During the field battle, Aethlemearc’s ally, Atlantia, left us out to dry and we got annihilated. The East/Midrealm army just wrapped around us and ground us to a pulp.  At one point a Hold was called, and I looked behind me to see how our line was holding. It wasn’t. I was surrounded by the other side. This gave me two options, die on the lay-on, or dive through the line opposing me. I chose the 2nd option, there was just enough space between the two fighters opposite me.  I made it through and found myself against the Prince of the East and his cluster of guards. Since I now live in the East, I felt obligated to try killing him. Sadly, I didn’t make it past his guards.  Oh well.
Thursday there was a Cadet Tournament for cadets or people at least sponsored by a White Scarf, OGR, Bronze Ring, etc. I figured since I was fighting for the wrong side all week, I’d get one of the OGRs from Bhakail to sponsor me. I was doing fairly well, was in the groove for the most part, had 1 loss and 2 wins when I took an arrow to the thigh. Well, not an arrow per se, but my quadriceps decided to go the opposite direction that I wanted it to. This effectively put an end to my fighting, and my most of my walking for the rest of the week. Was still a good time.

New House
The house is coming along nicely, but slowly. My bedroom is the most complete so far, being floored and painted. It now also has black-out shades. The back yard is still a little torn up as the shed got knocked down and we’re prepping to put in a larger one. One big enough to hold my mom’s Audi TT, which sprung a leak last year when Hurricane Irene came through.  It still isn’t working, the electrical systems are all messed up.  We do have internet and cable now, so there’s some forms of entertainment.

In September I got hired at a place called CyOptics. I’m working third shift in the Photoresist Room. Essentially, we get in wafers of Indium Phosphide, and apply photoresist to them. Photoresist, or PR, is a light sensitive chemical. We then expose the wafers under a pattern called a photomask. When the PR is then developed, the pattern is left on the wafer.  If the pattern comes out aligned right, we move the wafers on to the other areas where they are either etched or have metals deposited on them. The end result is ultimately a microchip with a laser emitter or detector on it.  It’s cool stuff.

Until next time, keep respirating.

23 August 2012

Keeping Tabs

Got a lot to talk about but we don't have internet at home yet. Hopefully that'll change tomorrow, but even so, it'll be a while before I can sit down and type out a few entries. Until then: Always look on the Bright Side of Life.

28 July 2012

If Wasting Time Was An Olympic Sport...

I'm sitting here watching the Parade of Nations for the 2012 London Games and decided it's a good time to flurp out a post.  There were so many things I wanted to talk about, and I'm so behind. Time for some time warping. And wasting. Don't forget the wasting.

Last week I got to spend a few days in Avon, North Carolina. It's part of the Outer Banks and one of my friend's uncles owns a few places down there.  Free beach houses are awesome by the way.  While there a plethora of shell fish was consumed and my iPod contains pictures of the horrid aftermath. Sadly, iPods and Blogger don't get along too well.  I also did battle with mosquitoes, the sun, and wind.  I only got a little sun burnt on the shoulders, nothing serious. Our first two days were very windy and I got to fly both my Prism Nexus and Snapshot 1.2.

I also made a standard bad choice in visiting Kitty Hawk Kites, where I purchased the Prism Micron, Prism's smallest, fastest kite. Of course, that day the wind died not to return during our stay. So I'm still waiting to see the little bugger at full speed.

I also have two job prospects at the moment. Before going to the OBX, I had a phone screening with Global Foundries in New York and today I applied to Bridge Semiconductor, where one of my college friends was recently employed.  If niether of those work out, my one cousin is moving to California for grad school and I feel like it's a golden oppurtunity to change up my life by going with her.

In fencing/SCA news, Pennsic War XLI (41) starts this coming week. The first week is Peace Week, no fighting. War Week runs the 5th through the 11th of August. I've gone ahead and ordered some chain mail armor in hopes it arrives before I leave.  It'll be cooler and last longer than any cloth armor. It was pricey, but it's one of those high initial cost, long payoff kind of investments.It also means I can't allow myself to spend too much AT Pennsic.

HAHA, like that'll happen. Make a pile o cash and buuuurn it =D

Until next time, keep it Hysterical.

27 July 2012

New Accommodations

It's July 24th and I'm spending the night in our new house alone. No one has slept here since the 97 year old previous owner moved out. In some ways it's a little creepy. It's a stone rancher, 93 feet from one end to another, give or take, on three acres of ground. There's no street lamps like at my old house and you can actually see stars. There's also coyotes and fox and all that stuff. Should be interesting.

I like this house, but to be honest, I'd rather not be moving with my mom. Her and her boyfriend bought the place, and since I can't afford my own place...here I am. Yay.

In other news...a month or so ago, Planechase 2012 came out. A variation of Magic that involves Planar cards that represent the different worlds of Magic's Multiverse. Each plane has a different effect on the game, and some planes are more dangerous than your opponent. It's a fun way to play, especially when slightly inebriated.

More recently, Magic 2013 has hit stores, so if you've never played and want to try, now is the perfect time. M13 is what is known as a core set. It pulls cards from all of Magic's history and presents them in an easy to understand format. So if you play a card with a special keyword, like Trample, the card will tell you what it means. M13 is also a good way to bolster an existing collection with solid, usable cards like Unsummon and Rancor.

Until next time.
Nicol Bolas is waiting for you.

03 July 2012

Mach Speed!

I'm punching this out on my iPod when I should be sleeping. I've got a 5AM shift tomorrow, bleck, but I'll be home in time for fireworks.

Anywho, I've got several things to talk about, so as long as I can find time, I hope to get a few posts up in relatively quick succession.

First on my list is my replacement car. As I mentioned here before, my Grand Prix got totaled. After searching the local Craigslist for a few weeks I came across a 2002 Ford Focus.

It's a ZTS, which is one engine option down from the SVT (Special Vehicle Team) I believe. It only has about 130 horsepower, but the 5 speed manual transmission makes it fun. What really makes it special though is that it is a Mach Audio Edition.

From what I've seen online only 6000 of these cars were made, most painted Mandarin Copper but some, like mine, done in CD Silver. The irony here though is that the original Mach head units had a habit of dying. They also had a specific wiring harness, so an aftermarket head unit wouldn't be compatible. Therefore, my car no longer retains any of the Mach Audio equipment, just the Mach badges on the doors.

Anywho, the previous owner is a detailer by profession, so the car is slightly lowered, the muffler has been replaced with a straight pipe, and it has professionally tinted windows. It was also kept very clean inside and out. It had 127k miles on it when I got it. I knew when I first saw it that it was a good deal. Compared to everything else on Craigslist in my price range this car was gold bullion.

On top of all that, I'm averaging about 29 miles per gallon, as opposed to my Grand Prix's 20mpg average. Win! =D

My next few posts I'm looking to talk about Magic Planechase 2012, SCA stuff, and life in general.

13 May 2012

And So It Goes

My list of ex-girlfriends got a permanent implant this past week. As I mentioned before, me and my girl were on a break, so she could focus on graduation and life for a bit. When she asked for a break I said it was ok, not great, and as long as she didn't date this one other guy, we'd be peachy. Otherwise, I'd cut all ties with her.

This, Other Guy, had been following my girlfriend around the entire semester. He'd asked her about dating several times and to my knowledge always got turned down. When questioned, my now ex-girlfriend always denied feelings for him, said it would most likely never happen. I believed her, despite the plethora of rumors that reached even from 300 miles away.

Then this past week we were talking, I had taken off of work to come see her graduation and celebrate her 22nd bday but since we were on a break, I wasn't sure if she still wanted me to. She expressed concern about tension between me and the Other Guy, though she never gave a definite yes or no. Since I am currently without my own car, I decided to stay home and look for one, and told her maybe I'd come visit this next weekend for a SCA event.

The next day a mutual friend of ours started freaking out and asking if I was going to cut ties with her too. Didn't take much to figure out why she asking, but it took another day to get word directly from my Ex. And via text none-the-less. She confirmed that she was indeed dating the Other Guy: "...I did a bit of thinking a decided that I may want to give [Other Guy] a chance. Not a long 1but 1 none the less"

I asked her why bother if she already knew it would be short, she said "just to see." this next part will be easier as a list

Me:" You know it's going to cost you, right?"
Her:" I know. I know you'll hate me" (apparently that's not a high cost since it didn't stop her)
Me:" As long as you know that" (I wouldn't say hate, but I didn't feel like correcting her)
Her: "I do know that. I don't like it but I know that...."
Me: "Well you've made your choice and shown your colors. Goodbye."
Her: "....goodbye"

I haven't talked to her since. Part of me does miss her, but I told her what would happen and I'm sticking to it. She me and the Other Guy on for months with this little game, I always gave her the benefit of the doubt even when reputable sources provided a lot of doubt.

And all of this kinda comes as a slap in the face, I know long distance relationships are hard, but we knew that going in. What's she's done is like saying "You're not worth the effort, but this guy is closer so I'll take him"

I've of course gotten the usual "you can do better than that" stuff from my friends, even mutual friends. I'm not sure what better is exactly, but I guess I might find out someday. I heard from friends that she still wanted me as a friend, but after breaking my trust, that simply cannot be an option. Even if she and the Other Guy break up, as many suspect they will shortly, I don't think I could ever take her back, could ever trust her again, and I'm pretty sure no one would approve of us being together. So while my sentimental side wants to check on her, see how she's doing etc, my logical side says to leave it be, pretend she's dead. It'll be easier that way.

That's my news for the week, hope yours has been better.

24 April 2012

Life Keeps Grinding Away

It's been a while since I posted.  I suppose a good bit has happened since last time but I won't remember it all now.

Something in my life needs to change, hopefully it's my state of employment. I can't live at home forever and still being dependent on my parents for everything from clothing to cell phones to car insurance gnaws at me and my sense of self. I was out shopping with my mom now and I know that on my own I would never spend this much on clothing, at least not right now. Yet it's one of those things I should save my money for.

Last week I totaled my Grand Prix. Pulling out from a stop sign making a left, I saw a blinking light on the oncoming Toyota Highlander. I learned as I was pulling out that he was in fact, not turning.  He slammed into me at about 40mph and now my Grand Prix sits in ruins in my dad's driveway.  I now have the lovely task of trying to track down a suitable replacement for it.  I've been checking Craigslist a lot, but most of the cars there are overpriced pieces of junk or otherwise not worth it.  I really like the Subaru Impreza but there's two problems with them. 1) Some moron has modified the f$%# out of it trying to make it a race car and/or 2) Imprezas before the 2006 model get worse gas mileage than my Pontiac did, and I was already spending $300 a month on gas. So getting something worse on gas is not high on my agenda.  That leads me to look at Hondas or Toyotas and such, but I run into much of the same #1 problem as the Imprezas.  E.g. "I swapped the motor with an acura but now it doesn't run, gimme $5,000" Or the car has something like eight billion miles on it.  Either way, the used car market does not have much to offer to one of my financial status.

To top things off, my girlfriend and I have decided to take a break.  Distance and the stress of life has lead her to need some time to herself. I certainly can't fault her for this, you can't force someone to stay with you if they aren't happy with the situation.  I still plan on visiting her from time to time, and seeing her at SCA events of course.

Well, until next time, smooth sailing my friends.

03 March 2012

Wage Slave Dance

I'm sitting at a Home Depot store meeting. It's 6:20AM on a Sunday. It's only been nine hours since my last shift ended yesterday and I'm running on five hours' sleep.

One of our managers is droning on about departments making "plan," or their expected sales. Overall, it's stuff I personally don't care about.

I've decided that Home Depot feeds off the crushed hopes and dreams of its employees. Most of the people here aren't here by choice, I know of at least two in particular that graduated from college with cool degrees, ended up here, and got stuck. I'm desperate not to end up like that. There are also plenty of people here who should be, and some who were, retired. For the most part it's a dead-end-job kind of place but the management tries so hard to care and be enthusiastic about it.

When I started here I felt pretty good about the job, but lately I'm just full of loathing and spite for the place. Maybe it's the drive, maybe it's cause I'd rather be running an SEM, I don't know.

Now we're watching a video on FIRST, Home Depot's customer service concept. I just watched this in my initial training in August. No one here cares, they're watching the video but there's no interest in their eyes. The little scenes are poorly scripted and staged and don't reflect reality very well.


Unplanned Vacation

So last weekend a buddy of mine and I rode out to my alma mater to see our girlfriends. Mine had no idea I was coming till I got there. Work had made the mistake of giving me off on Friday and Sunday, so I made sure I came down with a wretched stomach bug for Saturday. Later on Saturday they called me back and cut 17 hours from my schedule, meaning no work again until this coming Saturday. This being the case I decided to stay in California, PA until Friday and take Amtrak's The Pennsylvanian from Pittsburgh to Paoli station. It takes longer than driving, but at $49.00 one-way I can't complain.

This only made my girl all the happier and I got to attend the fencing practice on Thursday that I helped start. I also got to play lots of Magic with my friends, including Shane over at Argyle State of Mind. I made several new card acquisitions as well such as Kiega, the Tide Star, Hivestone, Crosis, the Purger, Dromar the Banisher, Chandra Ablaze & Sorin Markov.  Keiga, Crosis & Dromar work wonders in my Scion of the Ur-Dragon Commander deck, and I'm thinking Hivestone plus Karona, False God will make an awesome Commander combo as well.

Now anyone who knows me knows that trains are one of the many things I geek out over. Everything from trackside scenery to our own locomotive's horn just make me feel more like a kid than I already am. Rolling through the town of Altoona really had me sitting up and looking every which way. I don't think I've ever seen so many locomotives in one place. They even have a bunch of old Pennsy cars and a burgundy GG1 sitting near the station. I believe I mentioned GG1s in an earlier post after New Years. The Harrisburg station even had a green GG1 and Pennsy bobber caboose.
GG1 at Harrisburg
The Pennsylvanian

13 February 2012

Philly Auto Show 2012

So on Saturday I went to the Philly Autos Show. (I might get pics up later) Saw a lot of neat cars, as per usual, but saw a lot of practical cars. At the same I'm surprised at the number of gas guzzling SUVs still on the market.

Some of the cars I Checked out/sat in were the Subaru Impreza STI, Scion IQ (for gits and shiggles), the Ford Fiesta & Focus, aaaand....some other stuff. I sat in a Jaguar, it was nice. So is the Tanq & Tonic I'm working on.

(2 days later) Now where was I? Right, cars. The Subarus were nice, and didn't seem badly priced. An Impreza STI started in the mid 20,000s, and with auto loan rates what they, such a price doesn't seem so impossible for an underemployed graduate such as myself (but one must remember fuel, parts, & insurance in costs as well). Subaru also had their new rear-wheel drive BRZ on display. Certainly wouldn't mind test driving one of those someday.

I looked at some of the new VWs, like the redesigned Beetle, but didn't spend too much time on them. I eventually worked my way over to the Scion display. Of all the Scions, I hate the tC the least, but at 110hp I don't think I'd ever get one. A test drive isn't out of the question. They had a new car there, the iQ, which is strictly a compact people-mover. It's about the size of a SmartForTwo, maybe even smaller, at boasts it is the world's smallest 4 seater. Me and some awesome guys who happened to be there decided to test this and we did indeed get four humans in that car. Granted we were all under 6ft tall and agreed that no one would want to spend long periods of time in the vehicle.

I mosied through the Chevrolet area, checked out the Sonic, looked over the Camaros and surprised that the two Corvettes present had no special display. There was a brand new ZR-1 sitting on the floor covered in smudgey fingerprints (cause people just have to touch, right?). You couldn't get in the ZR-1, but it still got plenty of abuse.

Down at the Ford exhibit I sat in both the new Fiesta and Focus. I'm not a big guy, and the Fiesta was claustaphobic. So i certainly wouldn't buy one, even though Top Gear stormed the beaches of Normandy with one. The Focus was actually pretty nice, but I'd have to drive one and see how much pep it has. Cars should be as fun to drive as they are functional.

After Ford I proceeded to check out Audi, Porsche, Cadillac, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat & Mini. Audi's V10 R8 and Porsche's Cayman R triggered appropriate levels of drool. Cadillac was, well, Cadillac. Dodge is releasing a new Dart, though the letters on the trunk look like Dort.

Jeep's new Wranglers are nice yet simultaneously all wrong. I used to drive a '97 TJ, and something about the the Wranglers is wrong, from body style to gear setting.

Fiat has finally released an American 500 Abarth, which is nice to sit in, and might be worth looking at. At one point I was comparing hp/weight ratios between Fiats & Minis, but I forget what came out on top. On that note, I also sat in a new Mini S for the first time since I first saw them at the Philly Auto Show several years ago. I would totally get one for the right price.

One of the big sights at the Philly show comes not from any one maker, but a local dealership, F.C. Kerbeck. First, a disclaimer: I would NEVER buy a car from them. From annoying commercials screaming about Cadillacs to horror stories on the net, these guys are shady. Second: They're the only people at the show to bring Maserati, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini.

Yes, Lamborghini. And this year they had both the brand new Aventador and a 25th Aniversary Countach. I was actually more surprised by, and spent more time looking at, the Countach. The Countach was Lambo's first super-wedge car with "scissor" doors. It succeeded the Miura (a drop dead gorgeous vehicle by the way), and was in turn succeeded by the Diablo. The Aventador is the first true re-design of Lambo's standard V12 engine since the Countach.

You could easily spend all day at the show if you wanted to sit in every car and talk to reps from each vendor, but being a broke college grad, new cars are just for looking at right now.

16 January 2012

Wherever I May Roam

So life since New Year's hasn't been terribly exciting.  My hours at work have been pretty dismal and I've heard nothing back about a potential job in California.  My only injury of note is the removal of my right pinky fingerprint, pretty much all the skin got sheared off by some rusty metal.

Last week at the Bhakail fencing practice, a couple of Aethlmearc fencers stopped by.  They hail from the the Barony of Endless Hills, up near Scranton, PA.  Baron Gunnarr, Lord Po Silvertop, Gunnarr's son and one other were there.

Lord Po is unsuspecting.

For some history, at my first Queen's Rapier Championship in Aethlemearc, Po was my first opponent.  Since I had only been fencing...less then a year(?) at that point, I did of course lose, but not before getting a double-kill on the first pass.  Ever since then, I make a point of fighting him whenever I get the chance.  A couple of my local group, Hartshorn-Dale, also made it to the practice, which I was glad to see.  The HD group is pretty small and doesn't get out much, so seeing them fence people other than each other and me was nice.

Anywho, my main two points for writing today are these; Awards, & Pennsic.
This past weekend in Aethlemearc was 12th Night.  Most of my old group, Silva Vulcani went.  My girlfriend, the current Seneschal of the group got inducted into the Order of the Keystone. You can read her story here.  While I'm very happy for her, it got me wondering; as a founding member of that group, would I have gotten something similar by now if I hadn't moved home to eastern PA and the Kingdom of the East?  I know my back-and-forth during school didn't help my fencing game, as people who started shortly after or about the same time as me advanced past me. Missing summer practices put a hurt on me as I couldn't track down the HD fencers at that time.  Back in AE I'm fairly well known I think, between the huge amount of people at Silva Vulcani practices and the amount of events and traveling I did with them. Here in the East, only HD and Bhakail know anything about me.  I hope to change that this weekend, at the Iron Bog Baronial Investiture.  I'll be putting my best forward and making sure they all see the escarbuncle, Aethelmearc's symbol, on my drape.  (Also, I've yet to make a drape for the East.)

Now for Pennsic.  This year is Pennsic 41, and for the first time since Pennsic 1, the allies are getting mixed up.  Traditionally it's East & Co. vs. Mid & Co. This year it's Aethelmearc & Antlantia vs East & Mid.  This puts me in a hard place. Majority of friends will be fighting for AE, but I now have obligations to the East.  Both sides have also promised to single me out on the field.  This is of course assuming I can make it to Pennsic this year. It's not a cheap event.  Have to take a week off of work as well as paying to get in, buying food, camp gear, etc.  If I do go, I'll probably camp with Northern Cross, the household of both the current King and Queen & their successors.  So if I choose to fight for the East, camp could get hysterically awkward.

Such are the woes of a trans-kingdom fencer in the SCA, now if you'll excuse me, I need to go work on point control with my left hand.

03 January 2012

Vanilla Vodka and Orange Soda

The Nor'easter
Is delicious.  Haven't posted in a while. Life's been either too boring or too busy to sit down and write up a post.  Christmas was alright but kinda lack-luster.  It's not as exciting when you're not getting off of school or anything.  I worked the day before and after, so other than excessive amounts of gluttony the holiday wasn't that spectacular.  I got some nice coats and a hat and stuff, though two of the stand-out gifts were a real Black Woods Cuckoo clock that is now ticking away in my room and the Bachmann Nor'easter HO scale train set.  The Nor'easter has an Amtrak Acela HHP-8 loco and 3, LED-lit passenger cars plus track and whatnot.  In real life the HHP-8 (High HorsePower 8000) generates 8000 horsepower (never would've guessed), and runs shorter distance commuter trains than the actual Acela.

New Year's was far more exciting as my girlfriend and other friends came to visit.  My girlfriend and other visitors are from Western PA, so we spent the week doing touristy things.  Our first stop was Philadelphia to see the historic district.  Unfortunately we couldn't get into Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell Pavilion (line wrapped around the building), but we still got to see some neat stuff.  That night I took them to the Bhakail fencing practice so they could get a proper butt-kicking. =P  After the practice we went to the diner with everyone and had a good time.  Thursday we had planned on going to NYC, but we were too beat.  Instead we went to Strasburg.  Strasburg is located out in Lancaster and operates steam-driven passenger trains on a short branch-line.  While we missed the last train of the day (see a trend here?) we did spend a healthy chunk of time in the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.  Me, my girl, our friend, and my dad and half-sister are all pretty big train fans, so it was a good time.

The next day I took the girls to Valley Forge National Historic Park, and our first stop there was General Washington's Headquarters.  Both girls are history majors and loved every second of it.  We drove around to the park's other major sites, as it was too chilly and time-consuming to walk.  When we had made our loop of the park we had some time to kill before going to Longwood Gardens with my dad, stepmom, and half-sister, so we went to the King of Prussia Mall.  It's the largest mall on the east coast and it was packed! The only store we really got to go into was the LEGO store, which took its toll on all our wallets.

We then met up with my dad and went to Longwood.  So. Many. Lights.  I can't imagine putting up the Christmas lights at that place, it was nuts.  Gorgeous, but nuts.  They also had a pretty awesome garden railroad display that was pretty cool.

Saturday we hung around waiting for the rest of our friends to arrive and when they did we spent New Year's Eve drinking and playing Magic.  New Year's day we took our enlarged group to KoP for a more extensive shopping experience, though the LEGO store was still a hotspot.