Sunday, August 13, 2017

Disney World

Until recently, I hadn't been to Walt Disney World in two decades. The last trip was one with my daughter and son in the mid-1990s.

When I was younger, a teenager or thereabouts, I had been to Disney World a few times. It was always a big deal and I always enjoyed it.

Of course, back then, they had the tickets (I think they actually called them "coupons") designating different attractions. A ticket, B ticket, up to E ticket. I always spent my E ticket on The Haunted Mansion. Love that attraction.

Note: Here's another link showing different attractions on some of the tickets.

When I took the children in the mid-1990s, that was, I believe, my first experience without the ticket books. That was great in that I didn't have to choose among certain attractions. The downside? Neither did anyone else. That meant the most popular attractions had long lines. That did put a little damper on things, but I focused on making the trip as enjoyable as I could for the children. I'm not sure how successful I was, but they did seem to enjoy it.

When I became a grandparent, I wanted to take the grandchildren to Walt Disney World. There were some catches, though. When the first grandchildren were born, I wasn't living in southeast Georgia where I grew up. The Columbus, Georgia area is a good six hour drive from Walt Disney World. That meant over 12 hours driving on the trip. Two adults, three children, in a single car, for that time and distance? Not comfortable.

Then, the long lines. Yes, Disney had introduced FastPass, but I didn't know much about that. I can be a quick study on some things, but honestly, I didn't do proper research into it. That's changed, as you'll soon see.

Oh, and the cost of driving and eating and hotels, not even counting the price of admission of adults and three grandchildren. All in all, an expensive proposition. And, it was something we never did. But, it was something I wanted to do.

Now, years later, I have more than three grandchildren. And I still wanted to get them to Disney World. Well, the two year old might be a little young to appreciate it. He'd get almost as much fun out of a sprinkler in the yard, but the day is coming soon. However, he has been to Disney World. More on that in a bit.

While I did want to take the grandchildren to Disney World, there were attractions much closer to Columbus than the one in Orlando. Atlanta has Six Flags over Georgia and Stone Mountain Park. We managed to take the grandchildren to each of those a few times. Even bought year passes for each at different times, but ended up not going that often. Work schedules, school schedules, and self-imposed restrictions that I thought were kinda silly (no, I won't elaborate), all contributed to making it not as often as would have been nice.

Still, the occasional trip to Six Flags or Stone Mountain did happen. Six Flags over Georgia and Stone Mountain Park are great places to visit. What they don't have is the "Disney mystique." I mean, you don't hear Super Bowl winners saying "I'm going to Stone Mountain!"

This year, though, I've been to Walt Disney World twice, and am gearing up for a third trip.

I mentioned that my youngest grandson had been to Disney World. His grandmother, my ex-wife, took him. She had also taken my second-youngest grandson, also her grandson, to Disney World. She's taken him more than once. Note: those are the only two grandchildren we share. My other grandchildren are not also her grandchildren.

This year, at the last minute, my daughter asked about our going to Disney World along with her, her son (my grandson), and her mother (my ex-wife). This was like two days before they were scheduled to go. I was open to the idea. Ex-wife and I get along fine. There's not a bunch of tension in the room when we're in the same place. We've had troubles in the past, but I'm not going to dwell on them, and neither is she, it seems. So, I said if I could work it out (that always means funding) we'd be delighted to go.

Actually, it turned out to not be "we." Wife didn't go. That nearly put a damper on things. Ex-wife expressed concern about that, but after talking with my daughter, it came down to my decision, and I went. And I enjoyed it during the time I was there. I didn't stay for the entire time they were there, but did have a blast riding the rides with my grandson. He rode the rides with me most of the time.

Seeing how much fun he was having made me decide to get the other grandchildren to Walt Disney World. Before I left Orlando, I was already setting things in place for a trip with the other five-year-old.

Wife still didn't want to go, so I ended up taking his brother and sister, both 17, a week later. They were great at keeping up with their brother, and had a fun time. Granddaughter in particular really enjoyed it. From my daughter, I had learned how to work the FastPass+ feature using the app for my iPhone, along with another app. That made the visit a lot more enjoyable, as we never waited in line more than 10 minutes for anything. Okay, there was one 20-minute wait for one ride, but only one. Everything else was either FastPass+ or short lines by noting the wait times on the app.

Right now, there's one more grandchild that's still in school (she's also 17) that hasn't been to Disney World. That's being remedied Labor Day weekend. And, this time, I won't be the only adult in the car. Wife is finally going. She went decades ago, before we met, but I don't think she particularly had a good time. Maybe that'll be different this time around. After all, I'm such a delight to be around.

Oh, remember that I mentioned that one granddaughter really enjoyed her trip? Well, she wants to go again. Only, I had to tell her "no." I explained that I wasn't going to take her twice and the others once. And my focus was on getting her cousin there, and that I wasn't going to buy her another ticket just yet. Undaunted, she said she was working and asked what if she bought her own ticket. I told her that, of course, we'd take her along. Which changed my "no" to a "yes." So, she bought her own ticket. This trip will be two adults (Wife and me) and two teenagers (cousins), which will mean the car is as full as it can be, what with luggage and a six hour trip. I am so looking forward to this trip with three of my favorite people.

There are still a grandchild that's in college. I have an idea how to manage getting her to Disney World. And, there's another that's not in college. We've discussed how to deal with that, too. We will work something out.

Anyway, I've been to Disney World twice since last month, and have another trip coming up next month. I'm not sure when I'll get Disney Fever out of my system. Maybe never.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hating TiVo

I don't really hate TiVo. In fact, I love my TiVo devices and the TiVo service. Sure, they're expensive, but they are top notch devices and the service is outstanding. Let me emphasize again, I love TiVo. But, I also hate it.

The problem isn't the cost. I willingly spent the money for devices and for lifetime service.

I first got a TiVo device back in 2006, and have been a fan through all the years, upgrading as time went on. And, after my pleasure of working with a TiVo Roamio, I was excited when the features of the newer TiVo was announced a couple of years ago. I was ready to upgrade my TiVo Premiere and anxiously awaited the release date.

Then I saw one.



I am not putting something that looks like that in my house. I don't know what kind of crack they were smoking, but I won't get near that thing.

Sure, the specs are great. And, if it looked like something a normal person would have in their house, I would have bought one when it came out.

But, I'm not spending my hard-earned money on something so stupid looking as that.

So, I decided to wait. Surely, they'll make something that a sane human being wouldn't be ashamed to be seen near. But, as the years have passed, there's been no indication that they're going to fix that abomination any time soon.

I've spent a decent amount of money over the years, purchasing a Series2 (that should have been my first indication that their brains were cockeyed when they left out the space between "Series" and "2"), a Series3, multiple Premiere, and a Roamio.

Speaking of Roamio (stupid name, another flag I missed), I have an OTA that is sitting in a box. But, where I want to use it -- that is, where I currently have a Premiere running -- has a cable package. There's no antenna, and the location is far enough away from TV towers that an indoor antenna won't do the job. And I'm not going to go through the time, trouble, and expense of putting up a sufficient tower and antenna. So, there's a Premiere still running there, not a Roamio (which I'd buy if I could find a new one that supported cable card) or a Bolt (which looks stupid as hell).

So, I'm hating on TiVo. The dumbasses at TiVo that came up with the idea of the appearance of the Bolt, and the dumbasses who won't put a decent-looking device out in its place.

I'll just keep my money.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Missing Music

When I got my new(er) car back in February, it had a SirusXM radio that had never been activated. Which means it was still eligible for the complementary three months service thing they do.

I'd had SiriusXM since I got Vlad (the Impala) in late 2007. It was actually XM Radio at the time, before the merger with Sirius Satellite Radio in late 2008. I'd gone through some cutbacks over the next few years, and was preparing to drop XM (it was Sirius XM by then), but one of the reps offered me a really cheap plan just to keep me on. Didn't offer much, none of the 60s on 6 type of channels, but it had Symphony Hall, Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl, The Bridge, and Laugh USA, so it was enough to keep me entertained while driving. Overall, around 50 channels.

I don't see the plan I have online, so I'm assuming it was a retention plan, keeping me as a customer for $6/month (it just went up to $7/month in June) rather than losing me altogether.

Where was I? Oh. The radio in the new car. Right.

When I retired Vlad and put Abe into service, I contacted Sirius XM about switching service. Because of the plan I had, I couldn't do it online, and had to call them. I intended to simply switch service to the radio in the new car and leave everything as is. Well, that's when the CSR found out that Radio ID has never been used with the three month introductory plan. And, yes, it was still eligible. So, they put that on, and scheduled it to return to the previous plan ($6/month at the time) when it the three months were up.

Well, for three months, I had the big package. All the channels. And that's when I started wandering around the dial. Before that, I had programmed the channels I was used to on the presets. Then I went wandering. The Decades channels were there (you know, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, and so on), along with many others I had heard before. It was nice.

Of course, some channels were gone. 40s on 4 had been replaced by some nonsense on 4. Then, I stumbled across SirisXM 74, 40s Junction. So, 40s on 4 had actually been incorporated into a 40s-style station. I say that because they'd actually play songs from the 50s that were stylistically 40s music. For example, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White is a 50s song, but it sounds like something from the 40s. It was written in 1950, and was a major world-wide hit for Perez Prado in 1955. They didn't play that on 40s on 4, but did on 50s on 5, even though it sounded like something from 40s on 4. They do play it on 40s Junction.

The point is -- at least, now this is the point -- that I discovered how much I missed the 40s music. I never listened a lot to it, but would listen to some. I spent most of the next three months listening to 40s Junction.

The three months ended, and my subscription to the Sirius Basic plan kicked in again, right in the middle of some song. I toyed with the idea of upgrading my plan, but the cheapskate in me won out. Back to classic rock and classical music.

But, I do miss the 40s music.


[The YouTube]

I miss it a lot.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Watching the Un-MSTied versions, Update 1

I mentioned in June that I was watching the un-MSTied versions of the movies shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Actually, I had mentioned that in April, but that was in passing. In June, I began focusing on doing that. Still am.

Since the, I've only watched five of the movies I haven't previously seen in un-MSTied form:
  • The Deadly Bees
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • The Mole People
  • Prince of Space
  • The She-Creature
Why only five? That's all I could find. I had to subscribe to Netflix DVDs to get those. Yes, I actually did that. And, it leaves me with 45 movies still to go:
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • At the Earth's Core
  • Carnival Magic
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • Daddy-O
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Devil Doll
  • Escape 2000 (Escape from the Bronx) (Bronx Warriors 2)
  • Final Justice
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon
  • The Green Slime
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Legend of Dinosaurs
  • Lost Continent
  • Master Ninja I
  • Master Ninja II
  • Pod People (The Pod People) (The New Extraterrestrials)
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Red Zone Cuba (Night Train to Mundo Fine)
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • San Francisco International
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • The Sinister Urge
  • The Slime People
  • Soultaker
  • The Space Children
  • Space Mutiny (Mutiny In Space)
  • SST - Death Flight
  • Superdome
  • The Starfighters
  • Teen-Age Crime Wave
  • Teen-Age Strangler (Terror in the Night)
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die
  • Time Chasers (Tangents)
  • The Touch of Satan
  • Untamed Youth
  • Village of the Giants
  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • Wild Rebels
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet (The Prehistoric Planet)
A few are available via Amazon by renting them. Over a dozen are listed on Netflix DVDs, but not in stock. So, I'm gonna ride Netflix DVD until that peters out. Will probably take a while, what with having to wait a couple of days inbetween each mailing. I've found other movies, unrelated to this project, that I'd like to see anyway, so I'm having Netflix send me those until the MST3K-related movies are back in stock.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Don Henley is now a tired old man

Remember the Don Henley song, "The End of the Innocence?"


Don Henley The End of Innocence by HollieMario

The lyrics at 1:59 refers to President Reagan as "the tired old man that we elected king." Now, while the song was co-written by Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby, and both sang it in concerts, the song and video were released by Henley, so he owns this, as far as I'm concerned.

Now, let's do some math.

From Ronald Reagan's birth to his inauguration was 25,551 days.

From Don Henley's birth to today is 25,551 days.

Don Henley, as of today, July 5, 2017, is now the same age Reagan was when he took office.

I wonder if he considers himself a tired old man. Maybe he should have just stuck to mentioning political references instead of trying to get personal. Because getting personal will always bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Watching the Un-MSTied versions

I mentioned a while back that I was watching the movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed. The original versions. Without the riffing.

Why am I doing this? Heck, I don't know. Lots of things I do for no good reason. It's what I do.

Anyway, I've actually seen most of the movies. I've got 25 more to go.

Let's do some numbers real quick. There are 213 episodes of MST3K, counting the revival series on Netflix, and the local season on KTMA TV-23 in Minneapolis way back in 1988-89. There's also the movie from the "pilot" episode, which was really just a demo reel, not an actual pilot episode. That brings us up to 214 episodes.

Now, keep in mind that nine of the movies from the KTMA season were later re-done in Season 3 on Comedy Central. That means there are 205 movies to watch. Well, I've watched 155 of them. That means there are exactly 50 more to go. Here they are, in episode order, with alternate titles, or sometimes, original titles, listed along with them.
  • The Green Slime
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • SST - Death Flight
  • Superdome
  • The Legend of Dinosaurs
  • The Slime People
  • Untamed Youth
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet (The Prehistoric Planet)
  • Wild Rebels
  • Lost Continent
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon
  • Pod People (The Pod People) (The New Extraterrestrials)
  • Daddy-O
  • Master Ninja I
  • Master Ninja II
  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • Teen-Age Strangler (Terror in the Night)
  • Teen-Age Crime Wave
  • Village of the Giants
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Starfighters
  • The Sinister Urge
  • San Francisco International
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Red Zone Cuba (Night Train to Mundo Fine)
  • Escape 2000 (Escape from the Bronx) (Bronx Warriors 2)
  • The Mole People
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die
  • The She-Creature
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • Prince of Space
  • Devil Doll
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • Space Mutiny (Mutiny In Space)
  • Time Chasers (Tangents)
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • The Deadly Bees
  • The Space Children
  • The Touch of Satan
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Soultaker
  • Final Justice
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • Carnival Magic
  • At the Earth's Core
All of the other movies, the other 155 movies, I've watched. Some I watched before there was an MST3K. I enjoyed some of them. Some, I absolutely hated. Which movies fall into which category is something I'll get into when I'm done watching them all.

Of course, that assumes I'll be able to watch them all. But, I know me. I'll figure out a way. In fact, 17 of these 50 are, or have been, recently available on DVD. The other 33 might be difficult. However, many of those have shown up online, though sometimes just briefly. There are only about four that I've not seen as available online or on DVD, even if briefly. I suspect I'll be able to see them all before the year is out.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kudos to Comcast

Up front, let me tell you that I absolutely hate those sorry grawlixes at NBC news. NBC can just cease to exist as far as I'm concerned.

Having said that, I do want to say some nice things about their parent company, Comcast.

Several days back, my mother's home phone went out. She has Comcast's XFINITY Triple Play, with cable TV, Internet service, and home phone provided by them. It's what she wants, it's what she's got.

Only, her home phone went out, and the local office -- people that have always been good to her and seem to want to take care of their customers -- told her that it would be a week and a half before someone could go by and service her account.

I jumped on social media (The Twitter and The Facebook) and let my displeasure be known about their making an 81-year-old widow woman do without a home phone for 10 days. Well, turns out that Comcast reads The Twitter and The Facebook. They reached out and asked for more information. After some communication back and forth, they left word that someone would be by on Sunday. That was last Sunday. And, someone did come by.

Comcast service tech Patrick made the visit on a Sunday afternoon, and, before he left, her home phone was working. He inspected all the lines under the house, in the attic, and outside. He found an issue -- actually, something that was still working but would become an issue in the future -- and got that fixed. She and I were happy with his service.

But that's not all. Let me relate about a family friend from the church, an 81-year-old woman who lives alone. She had DirecTV service that hasn't worked since summer, plus AT&T home phone, Internet (6 Mbps DSL), and cell phone (flip phone) service. They weren't giving her any discounts, despite having four services from AT&T (remember, they own DirecTV). She was paying out a lot of money.

No more.

Today, Comcast made their scheduled service installation visit, and hooked up her cable TV, Internet (75 Mbps), and home phone (ported her number). Service tech Eddie came by within the service window, and set to work to make her a happy customer.

He didn't work fast, but he didn't piddle around, either. He went through the steps, verified everything was working at each step, worked to clear up some hiccups along the way -- yes, I was there and watching -- and, when he left, she had everything she was wanting. And, she'll pay less for more. She's happy.

As much as people dump on Comcast -- and I'm sure much of it is deserved -- I think it's proper to say when something goes right. Maybe those people that trash Comcast have legitimate complaints. I'm certain they do. But, what they don't have is Patrick and Eddie serving them. People like Patrick and Eddie make Comcast look good.