My artistic commentary on the state of modern consumerism and credit card debt? Almost, but not quite! What you see there is the remnants of our formerly active (but unused) credit cards which I decided to close the accounts of due to being a victim of identity theft.
Some a****** had gotten hold of my name, SSN, birthdate, credit card number, card security code, the works. The thiefs tried to get the credit card company to change mailing address. Thankfully, the credit card fraud department saw it as suspicous and called to verify. Needless to say, that account got suspended real quick.
However, with all my information, I was wide open to having my credit completely ruined... or was I? Thankfully, we had placed a credit freeze on ourselves some time ago. The identity thieves could not open any credit cards in my name, nor retrieve any credit information on me.
Just to be safe, we closed out ALL our open, but seldom used credit cards - as we hardly ever monitor those. Hence the big pile of cut-up plastic above!
If you're worried about identity theft, look into getting a credit freeze done. It's totally worth it! I'm glad I did. (consider this a public service annoucement)
Here's my oldest daughter during her Yonkyu test in Aikido.
She did well, and was a great way to start off the holidays!
With my relatives in town, our first stop was Tahoe, to play in the snow!
Terrible light, as it was overcast and snowing. On the bright side, the snow was fantastic! It was also very, very cold!!
The snow was so soft and powdery - quite unlike California at all!
A snowmobile rider greets us as we took a short walk on the rim above Lake Tahoe. They had guided snowmobile tours there, which I'm tempted to do one of these days.
First time on the snowboard!
First time on skies!
Of course, they choose to do different things!
After Chirstmas, it was off to Las Vegas! One thing we enjoyed doing in Vegas was eating. HmmmMmmmm good!
Bellagio had an amazing indoor Christmas display - complete with water works.
Being an airplane centric type, couldn't resist Santa in a plane. Notice the prop blur! (the propellers wasn't turning all that fast by the way).
Taking a walk down the strip. COLD & Windy day!
Inside the Paris Hotel, waiting in line for their Buffett. Long, long, wait - but well worth it! This, coming from someone who normally hates buffetts.
Here's the Las Vegas version of the Eiffel Tower. Told my wife we've seen it, don't have to go to France anymore! She didn't buy it...
The volcano show in front of the Mirage hotel.
Of course, we had to catch the musical fountains of Bellagio.
We stayed at the Excalibur hotel. Quite reasonable accomodations.
You can tell it's not the real thing because there's a roller coaster in the background...
While the girls went shopping at the outlet mall, I was out looking for airplanes!
Right in the landing path of the Las Vegas airport. Southwest airlines 737, I think.
Moved a bit to get a more sideways shot of an American Airlines MD-80.
After Vegas, it was off to...DisneyLand! Here's Tigger with the girls.
We're actually in the middle of the Big Thunder Mountain coaster ride here.
The castle looked really nice at night.
The dreaded 'small world' ride. The horror! Eh, but we have to go on it.
I LOVE fireworks.
Unfortunately, so does everyone else at Disney... it was packed everywhere!
The picture perfect spot would be in front of the castle. But I wanted to be closer to the fireworks - so no postcard castle shot. boo!
No fear, you're not missing anything. I had to hand hold these shots. At 4 seconds, the castle was bound to be a blurred mess anyway. If I was a 'serious' photographer - I would have brought a tripod!
The next day was at California Adventure. Here I am risking camera ruin by taking pictures during the water ride. Don't worry, it's a D200...it's got good weather sealing (maybe).
No worries. The camera survived. I did get wet though, and sat through the Aladdin play with a soggy shirt.
It was a really impressive production. Just like a Broadway play!
Kenai from Brother Bear (thanks to my daughter for the correction). Anyone? Anyone? Well, my kids saw it on DVD...
A cool action shot of the water ride.
Of course, we watched all the parades.
One of those spinny ride things - like in a rocket ship. Remember, no tripod! (did brace against something, of course).
The Main Street Electrical parade got shuffled over to California Adventure.
An Oldie, but goodie. After listening to the same music loop over and over though, you'd want to strangle someone!
I wish I brought my external flash. The on board flash recharge time was way too s.l.o.w.
Hey, don't have to go to the Golden Gate Bridge either... saw it at Disney already!
Some dancing cars at Universal Studio's Tram tour.
Jaws! scary rubber thingie.
This was new! A song and dance routine for the Tram tour in Whoville. OMG - They do this for EVERY tram that comes through!
Backdraft had some cool (make that Hot) fire effects.
The Jurassic Park was a fun ride.
Of course we had to go see Waterworld (again).
"I'll be back!"
Didn't try it, but it looked cool! Simulate free-falling.
On the way back home on I-5, we got plastered by a runaway tractor-trailer on the downward strech of the Gravevine in heavy fog. Smashed us up pretty badly.
Thankfully, all 8 of us got out of it relatively unscathed. My oldest is still keeping her sense of humor despite a beat up shoulder.
The 3rd row seat passengers got the worst of it, as the semi's trailer tire smashed into our rear after he hit our front and took off our passenger wheel. Here, the firefighter paramedics stabilize them for transport to the hospital (just in case). X-rays shows nothing broken, and they were subsequently discharged.
This was a brand new 2009 Chrysler Aspen (rental). The accident involved 11 vehicles and closed the highway for a few hours.
Yes, I thank God everyday that he kept us safe that day. It could have been very, very bad...
Safely back home after the ordeal of the accident (getting home was an epic adventure by the way - but that's a whole other story), we take in the sights San Francisco prior to my relative's departure. This one is the real Golden Gate Bridge!
I had some reservations about putting the accident pictures up. But in the end, I went with it for a couple of reasons. First off, I thought they were powerful images, with a happy ending. The incident has made me very humble, and thankful for all that I have. It reminds me to never take anything for granted - and to treat everyday as a gift. So smile, and remember to hug the ones you love!