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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Disney Family Vacation

This post is pretty delayed. Hopefully I can keep on top of the posting and do it more timely.

May 24th – 31st we took the kids to Disney World for the week. It was a great time. Luckily we had good weather down there. The week before, Florida had torrential downpours. Some areas had 27 inches of rain in 1 week. We stayed at the Marriott Grand Vista vacation club complex. It was a great place. Ideal location, near all. It took 10 minutes to Disney, and SeaWorld was 2 minutes down the road. The resort had a nice pool, which Cameron did not want to leave. The pool wipes him out. He was out for the night by 6:30 the days he went into the pools.

On Monday, we spent the day at The Magic Kingdom. Cameron loved the monorail and the train around the complex. When he saw the castle, he got all excited. He knows the castle as “Mickey’s House” from all the Disney movies. He rode the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (and on Thursday got 5 more rides on it). We ate dinner at The Rainforest CafĂ© in Downtown Disney.

Tuesday was split between Disney’s Hollywood Studio and Epcot Center. IN the morning, I got to go on the Twilight Zone Hollywood Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. The lines weren’t bad. They were both good. The best part of the roller coaster was the initial takeoff. It is one of the propulsion ones were it pushes the cars, instead of going down a hill to get speed. Later, we went to Epcot for a character dinner. Cameron and Caitlin liked it. We met Mickey, Pluto, and Chip & Dale. Caitlin was good around them. She didn’t cry (for being almost 1). Wednesday, we visited my dad at his house in The Villages , a 55 and over TOWN. The place has everything, every type of store and restaurants, both chain and independent. Cameron enjoyed the pool a lot. He tired himself out and slept from the car ride home to the next morning.

On Thursday, we went to Disney's Animal Kingdom. The park was OK. The park feels hotter than the others (and the guidebooks say that as well, so it wasn’t just me) Lisa and I rode the Expedition Everest roller coaster. I liked it, Lisa had her eyes closed the entire time. We used the “Fast Pass” ticket to ride it. The wait ended up being 10 minutes, compared to 60 minutes for walk ups. With the Fast Pass, you go to the ride earlier to get a ticket, which tells you when to come back. When you return, you go to a different line and you go right to the boarding area. It is one off the best things they have come up with, and its free (more on that later).

On Friday, we did SeaWorld. I was not that impressed. I went there when I was 8 yrs (1980) and for the most part, the park seems to not have been that updated since then. Comparing Disney to SeaWorld, just on aesthetics alone, it really is no contest, Disney is much better. Plus, SeaWorld has a Fast Pass type of system, were you can slip the lines for the older roller coaster many times and the new roller coaster once, but you have to pay extra for that option, around $25 if I remember correctly.

That night me and Lisa went out to dinner for our 4th anniversary. We went to Bluezoo , Todd English’s restaurant at The Dolphin Resort at Disney World. The food was great. I had the Florida Grouper (with black truffle spaetzle, black radish, and black truffle vinaigrette) and Lisa had Tuscan Tuna. For the appetizer we got the yellowfin tuna tartare and shrimp accompanied by three sauces. We then walked along “The Boardwalk” Disney’s area that resembles a seaside boardwalk, with stores and restaurants below and the timeshare resorts above. Very nice. They sure do know how to design the resort so you enjoy yourself.

Saturday, we spent the day at the hotel, using the pool all day long. It was the only day we used it. I took Cameron out on a boat in the lake. He enjoyed it. I ended up getting burned, because as always, I don’t put sunscreen on.

Sunday we left to go back home. When we landed back on Long Island, Cameron turns to me and says “I want to go back” We had initially planned to go again in about 3 years, but we all had so much fun, we might go sooner.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


On Tuesday, May 19, I participated in my graduation ceremony from The Fordham Graduate School of Business. I finally graduated. It had been a long time coming. I enrolled in September of 2005. The school operated on a trimester schedule, so I pretty much attended school non stop since then, save for 3 weeks a year and one trimester off. When I entered, the economy was flying and had high hopes. What a time to graduate, staggering unemployment and decreased opportunities in the market.

The ceremony was held at The Beacon Theater in NYC. The featured speaker was Joseph Moglia, the former CEO and current Chairman of TD Ameritrade. He is also Fordham alum. He spoke about what it takes to succeed, in both your career and life.

Keep an even balance in work and life. Don’t get caught up in materialistic pursuits. Take everything in and enjoy life. What ever you do in life, commit yourself to it. Don’t act halfheartedly. Dedicate yourself. And lastly, make sure you love what you do. A love of something will lead to the dedication, which in turn will lead to success.

Next up, a posting on my trip to Walt Disney World with my kids.

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Prize Winner

LAKE GROVE, NY/June 3, 2009/FPSnewswire/-- (l-r) Citibank customers Lisa Fleece, Caitlin Fleece (11 months), Cameron Fleece (3 1/2), winner Michael Fleece, and Citibank Vice President and Area Director John Delorenzo after presenting a 500,000 point prize from the Thanks-A-Million Sweepstakes at the Smith Haven Citibank branch in Lake Grove, NY on Wednesday June 3, 2009. (Feature Photo Service)

I was a winner in a major contest. Citibank had a sweepstakes (called Thanks a Million) for their Thank You network, a rewards program for account holders. I won one of the first prizes, 500,000 points. they say it is equivalent to $10,000. Its one of those contests where every time you use your debit card, you enter to win. The more you use, the more chances you have to win. There were six winners in total, 2 grand prize and 4 first prize. 1 winner on long island (that would be me), 1 in NYC, 1 in Nevada, and 3 in California.

First time I ever won anything. They held a reception in our honor at our Citibank branch, where they presented me with one of those large checks, pictured above with the wife and kids. I felt like Happy Gilmore and took it home. At the reception, the one question everybody asked was, "What are you going to do with the points?" I think we may use it for travel, to go somewhere expensive and far. We never been to Hawaii yet, so that may be an option. This trip, however will be without the kids. we just got back from a week in Disney World (best trip -love vacationing and spending time with the kids, but that post is coming later)

Its Been A While...

Its been a while again, But plenty has happened. I will put them in their own individual posting.