September 2003 Archives
Many things have changed since the last time I went to Walt Disney World, and the funny thing is that my access to the internet is worse than it was back then. In 2000, I was able to post my diaries every day to the web site along with pictures from the trip. This year, I don't have a dial-up connection at all. I am going to try and use AOL or something to try and log on. Also, I am bringing my network card just in case there is a wireless access point somewhere near by. Then again, I might just use the laptop for storing the pictures I am going to take and enjoy the trip. I took over 600 pictures in Europe last November (and where are those trip diaries? It is a long story but to be brief I can't find my travel journal and notes from the trip - they are in a box somewhere!) and I'm thinking I might just top that.
I have mixed feelings about this trip, something akin to the ones I had before the Europe 1998 trip, a feeling that not much was well planned before the trip (I like to be prepared and have an idea of what I want to do before I go). I am sure things will be fine, but I remember the last time I took a long trip with some friends, so hopefully things will be better. In an effort to focus on the positive, I give you my list of things I am looking forward to:
Giving a opening crew photo of DL's Pooh ride to the crew of WDW's Pooh ride
Making friends and trying to get a tour backstage
Tower of Terror
Mission Space (hopefully better than the Mission Tortilla thing at DCA)
Space Mountain (that one is for Daniel - its all he can talk about)
So I will try and post some cool things to the site while I am gone, but in case it doesn't happen, just mosey over to the Walt Disney World 2000 Trip Diary. Enjoy the old style before the redesign that will debut when I get back!
Last Thursday, Daniel, Melissa, Leslie, David, Aaron, and I headed for the L.A. County Fair. The last time I headed for the fair was supposed to be a quiet Tuesday in September 2001. I actually did make it there later in the month and I remember not being that much impressed. This year, I decided to go with some friends, and I can say that the L.A. County Fair still does not impress me. Of course, most of you know that I lived in Pleasanton (home of the Alameda County Fair) and in Davis (A hop skip and a jump away from the State Fair in Sacramento). The State Fair by far still holds the mantle as the best Fair I have been to. Why? Maybe it is the monorail. Maybe it is Wet and Wild. Maybe it is the free trees that they used to give out in the forestry section. I don't know. The food isn't that great, but somehow the ambience of the whole affair was just better.
The L.A. version is actually large (considering there are 9 million people in LA County it needs to be) and was fun for a visit, but I did notice that there were not many differences since the last time I was there. Sure the flowers in the floral exhibit were good, but I did notice a sharp decline in the quality of vendors at the fair - not nearly as much "Wow, that's way cool" stuff as there used to be. Maybe I am just getting older and am less easily impressed.
Some of the things I enjoyed: The photography exhibit (always a fav, and I signed up to get some information about possible participating next year - wait. I live in Orange County - D'OH!), the model railroad (Daniel was drooling for hours over it), the vibra-chairs, the tribute to 100 years of flight, and the presence of a "Hot Dog on a Stick" stand near the livestock and other farm animals exhibits (including pigs!! At least we know it was fresh).
Some of the things I didn't like: the price of food was outrageous, you could only buy water at designated "Sparkletts Stands" not at the rest of the food stands (idiotic), admission and parking ($10 to get in and $7 to park). I dunno why prices are so out of control - it is like they are trying to weed out people or something. Maybe its just inflation.
I did take some good pics that I will try and post on here later today. In the meantime, I'm getting all my stuff pack and laundry done for the big trip.
Only one week left before the big trip to Walt Disney World. Luckily, we've managed to doge Hurricane Isabel who decided Virginia was nicer than Florida. The only glitch so far is that one of our travel mates has opted out so it is down to three of us going. The good news is that we can all fit into one room at the hotel and save us some much needed cash.
Inspired by the forthcoming trip, I have begun a massive redesign of the trip diaries section of the site. I am really happy with the look of it so far. I just need to do yet another installation of gallery for the section, and then re-master all of the photos to 600 pixels wide. Photos will be the last thing I redesign, right now, I am focused on the templates. My goal is to get something up before I go on vacation, but I might save the official premiere until I can post the new WDW Trip Diary. One thing I am looking at is whether or not I can publish the new diaries site completely in Movable Typ. That would be way cool - so I'm lookin into it.
While I was checking out some server settings, I noticed that Club Josh is now 250 MB! Holy smokes! I need to go through the entire site and see if I can trim that down a bit. I am over half-way to the server limits. I might have to pony up some extra cash per month soon. The new mondo-quality pics aren't helping either - but I will make the sacrifice for quality.
In preparation of our trip to Walt Disney World next week, I have been busy getting my laptop ready to go. I have added an external USB hard drive since it was the easiest way to update the laptop without pulling it apart and having to reinstall all of the software. The main issue I have has been the compatibility of the laptop (4 years old running Windows 98) and new technology. I also got a USB 2.0 PC Card to upgrade the laptop so that I could transfer files that much faster to the hard drive. It turns out that it only is supported by 98 Second Edition. I briefly flirted with installing Windows 2000 on the laptop, but Cooper convinced me that it was a driver nightmare.
The biggest scare happened yesterday when I tried to check the hard drive by plugging it into the internal USB port on the laptop. Once I started to plug it in, the laptop died. I spent many hours trying to figure out how I was going to buy a new laptop fearing that through some major static discharge, I managed to fry the motherboard. I even found a Dell refurbished 2Ghz laptop for less than $800. Just as mysteriously as it had happened, this morning the laptop booted up just fine. I am now scared to turn it off until I go on the trip.
Why all this upgrading? Serious memory issues. My laptop only has 3GB (a lot in 1999) of Hard Drive space. So my new external is 80GB which means I could fit the contents of all of the hard drives of all of the computers I have ever owned onto it. Pretty darn impressive. I have decided to rip all of the CDs I own and fill up half of the drive so that I have a music collection ready to go whenever I travel. The other half will be for the massive photo sizes from the new digital camera. I had figured that I had about 2-512MB memory cards of storage (about 400 photos) on the existing HD and considering I took 600 photos in Europe, I knew that I wanted to be able to take as many as possible while in Florida (and New York in December).
One work note: I snuck a shift at the Matterhorn in yesterday - it was good to be back!
After much waiting, I have finally automated the PDA archives via Movable Type. It has not been an easy process, and there are still all sorts of navigation that I need to add, but now the archives are where they should have been over a year ago when I was converting to MT. In the process of researching and noodling around with the code, I discovered all sorts of cool plug-ins that are now available for the software. When I get another free day like today, I will have to experiment some more.
Next up on MT: Porting over all of the What's New archives into it and generating the latest updates links on the main page. Also, I would like to create a Blog for all of my Trip Diaries. Me thinks I will need to design a new section for it. Eventually, I will get around to creating a more custom Daily Update archives, as opposed to the current templates that I just tweaked to create my site. I have seen some cool sites out there - but again I need some more computer time to get it all done.
You can download the new archives (via Avantgo) via the Take Club Josh With You page.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to work the ABC Primetime Preview weekend at DCA. Basically, standing around trying to lure people into the audience for ABC's Casting Call and ABC's Reality Check. Both shows allowed members of the audience a chance to re-create a scene from an ABC hit with a star from that show. One of the highlights for me was with Constance Marie of "The George Lopez Show". I had the chance to escort her with her VIP guide back to the hotel. She was good humored and was always willing to pose for a quick pic with a fan in attendance as we made our way back to the hotel. She even made an elderly Latino woman in a wheelchair start walking.
All in all, the stars I got to see up close and personal were:
Anthony Russell from "Life with Bonnie"
Kevin Weisman from "Alias"
Constance Marie from "The George Lopez Show"
Amy Davidson from "8 Simple Rules"
Bill Brochtrup from "NYPD Blue"
Zachary Levi from "Less than Perfect"
and Andrew Firestone and Jennifer Schefft from "The Bachelor"
It was a welcome change of pace from the grind. Monday, I spent the entire day training some new people at Winnie the Pooh, only to have them both either call in or get out of their training on Tuesday. I was a bit bitter (mostly cuz it felt like I was wasting my time all day Monday), but I did get to go into rotation at trainer rate.
I decided to go ahead and leave early so I could pick up my Sleeping Beauty DVD. I almost got the Core as well, but I decided to skip it for now since my vacation is coming up in just two weeks. I will say that the Sleeping Beauty movie on the DVD is stunning - rich, crisp colors. It's too bad it is just a regular release, the extras are a bit dull and standard (very similar to Dumbo). Next month is the release of the Lion King and then in November it is Finding Nemo. Time to save the pennies!
People should not die on vacation. As a cast member at the resort, even though I do not work the ride the news of today's accident on Big Thunder hit me like a ton of bricks. I have heard all of the other death and injury stories in the two years I have worked there, but this is the first time it has happened while I was a Cast Member. Knowing how much I care about the safety of each guest on the rides that I work, and how hard I train CMs, I can only imagine what the CMs on that ride have gone through. Almost trivial is what is going to happen to their jobs? With the recent land-locking of CMs in a particular area, some only know Big Thunder and with reduced hours in the park since it is the offseason, finding a place for them on short notice is going to be a challenge. A tragedy like this not only affects the guests on the ride, but also the CMs who work it. They are all victims.
I have always had an interest in analyzing media reports during events like these. It was interesting to see how Disney-owned ABC was towing the line and only reporting the facts while CBS 2 and NBC 4 were already jumping to conclusions about what happened (Man thrown from train, person crushed, person died on the scene from heart attack, person died while trapped in car, etc.) Whatever the causes are, I will be watching to see how it all comes out.
It has been six months in the new apartment, and I finally decided to ante up for another year. One of the things about my apartment that I have not been happy with is my thermostat. The timer inside the little box is so loud, that since I moved in, I have slept with my bedroom door closed to stifle the sound. When I was sick at the beginning of July, it was one of the noises that led me to spend the weekend at my Dad's. So I happened to mention it casually to the rental lady in the office, and she says the repair guy will come to look at it (along with my door lock which sticks and makes the key hard to turn and the noisy fan that Mom insists is loose).
Fast forward to today: Repair guy shows up and WD40's the lock (works beautifully) and inspects the fan (Just loud, nothing loose or amiss - sorry Mom). Then he turns his attention to the thermostat.
"It's noisy", I say. "It's the timer", he replies. "I never use it", sayeth me. "Oh, then we can just do this", he states and with one swift move he silences the beast. What does silence look like? This:
Now, I can sleep easily.
At work, thinks have also quieted down. The crowds have dropped into the high teens/low 20s and the construction walls are going up fast and furious. Splash is closed for two months, and Mansion goes down next week for the annual holiday layover. With both of them down, and the new landlocking in place, I have been squeezing out hours where I can. This weekend I will be working the ABC preview weekend at DCA. Speaking of celebs, I saw Mr. JAG himself, David James Elliot, yesterday (He's very tall!). He asked me for directions to the train station in New Orleans Square. Andrea nearly had a heart attack outside the attraction - she was that excited.
One final note, while enjoying the quietness of the park, I took some more morning photos, this time of New Orleans Square and Critter Country.