On Journalistic Integrity

[SPOILER ALERT – Minor plot details from “Supergirl” season 2, episode 15]

In season 2, episode 15 of the CW’s “Supergirl” (the most recent, as of this writing), Kara Danvers (AKA Supergirl) is fired from her job as a reporter by her editor, Snapper Carr, for publishing a story on her personal blog that he wouldn’t let her publish in the paper because she didn’t follow basic journalistic principles and could not cite two independent and verifiable sources to back her claims.  Her information was correct, but that was not the point.  Here is what Snapper had to say on the matter:

Kara: “I thought what I was doing was right.”

Snapper: “You weren’t right, you were lucky. Next time, you might not be. One wrong statistic about the stock market, and suddenly we’re in a great depression. One mis-attributed quote from a candidate, and you put a fascist in the White House. The rules are there for a reason: to make sure you get the story right. That’s not luck–that’s being a good reporter.”

Coincidentally, last night I watched Rachel Maddow’s show on which she displayed two pages of a 2005 tax return allegedly representing Donald Trump’s filing for that year.  I say “allegedly” because the “source” for this information is a reporter who had those pages anonymously delivered to him. By his own admission, they could have come from anywhere.  Hell, they could be forgeries! He went on at some length about where they MIGHT have come from, but he has no idea.

Hours, even days will be spent on speculation about these two pages and what they “mean.”  And speculation is all it can be because there are no verifiable facts to back it up. (The White House did release a statement which would seem to corroborate this, but they would have run with the story absent that.) I’m am not a journalist, nor am I student of Journalism. But I question the journalistic integrity of someone who receives information anonymously and decides to publish it without verifying its authenticity. It’s sensationalism at best, reckless and potentially dangerous at worst.

Why Updates Are Important

Almost 30 years ago John, an acquaintance of mine, purchased a Macintosh SE computer and an ImageWriter II printer.  His need was simple: He wanted to type stuff and print it out.  That need has not changed, and his trusty Mac SE is still serving him well in that regard.

In the modern, Internet-connected world, your needs as a User of technology are constantly changing, though you probably don’t even realize it.  You might think to yourself, “my computer is the same as it was the day I bought it, and it was fine then; so why should I update or change anything?”  And you would be right–your computer hasn’t changed!  But the Internet has.  And if you are connected to the Internet, then your needs are changing whether you know it or not.

First, let’s talk about code.  Computer code is the language that describes and controls how computers work.  Code determines how this web page looks.  Code determines what happens when you click on something.  Code secures your online banking transactions.  We like to think of computers as “perfect,” but the reality is that computers can only do what they are told, and it’s computer code that tells computers what to do, and computer code is written by people.  And how many perfect people do you know?

Three principle factors drive updates to computer code.  The first is flaws.  A flaw in code could mean it doesn’t do what it was designed or specified to do.  That can mean any number of things–the code was designed for 10 different things and only 9 of them work (it wasn’t tested thoroughly).  Or maybe when the code runs for too long the computer runs out of memory.  Or maybe it crashes when it runs on February 29th.  It could be anything.  When a flaw in code is found, it has to be updated.  The second factor that drives updates to code is security.  Security can mean keeping your data safe as it is transmitted from computer to computer (this is called encryption).  But security also means protecting the computer on which the code is executed (or “run”).  If a malicious user (frequently, if inaccurately, referred to as a “hacker”) executes code in a manner the author of the code did not anticipate, it could result in the user gaining an unauthorized level of access to the computer on which the code is running and, likely, many/any other computers on the local network to which that computer is connected. These flaws, once discovered, are called “exploits,” and when they are found, code is updated. The third factor is features. People constantly want more and better things, and things produced by code are no exception.  Here’s what the SUNY Potsdam home page looked like in December of 1996, almost 20 years ago as this is written:

Compare that to what it looks like today and all the features it offers. It improved.  It evolved.  It got better.  It was updated!

“But that’s not on MY computer, Rom.  Why should I care if people have to update code on web servers and internet computers?” Well, you’re partly right.  Why should you care if your bank or Google or Amazon.com update their web sites? Frankly, you don’t have a choice. Sooner or later, you’ll be forced to care. Part of updating a web site might be requiring a minimum version of a web browser because previous versions are known to have exploits which could lead to or allow a breach of the web server.  Things are fine today, and then tomorrow when you go shopping on amazon.com, you get an error telling you you have to upgrade your browser. If you want to shop/bank/blog/whatever, you must have the software your bank/vendor/blog host/whatever requires you to have.  If you don’t believe me, find a copy of Firefox 1.0 and see if you can load any of the web sites you usually visit. (If you can even install it on your current operating system…it’s up to version 50 now.)

But it’s not just the Internet you need be concerned about.  The operating system (“OS”) that runs your computer or your phone or your tablet is also code! And developers are constantly making updates for the same reasons: features and security.  Again: because code is written by humans, it is inherently flawed and other humans are going to discover those flaws.  Once discovered, flaws must be fixed because it must be assumed that some person somewhere will take advantage of the flaw. And that fix results in, you guessed it, an update.

“But geez, Rom; updates are a hassle!  They always seem to pop up right when I have something important to do.  I don’t have time for this crap!” You are not alone.  In the last week or so, I have heard from three separate people complaining about their computer or devices functionality.  In each case, a reboot and/or software update resolved their problem.  Sitting through an unexpected software update might seem like a hassle, but they really are necessary and should be checked for and applied regularly in order to preserve the functionality and security/integrity of your device.  They will also SAVE you time in the long run, even if they are a hassle at the moment you encounter them.  If an update notification pops up and you don’t understand what it is or what it is for, ask!  Do some research.  Type it into Google and see what pops up.

Some general tips for end users:

  • Mind the source of the update.  Updates in your App Store are usually safe.  Windows Updates are usually safe.  A window that pops up out of nowhere while you are browsing the web should be scrutinized.
  • Inspect links! If you are asked to “click here,” hover your cursor over the “here” and read the link that pops up.  The part immediately after the “http://” is most important.  Something that says something like “updates.microsoft.com” is likely legitimate, but something that reads “microsoft.updates.thisisreal.co” probably isn’t.  It’s easy to be fooled because it says “microsoft” in it. (Or “apple” or “google” or “some word you trust”.)
  • When in doubt, ask someone who knows more about it.
  • It’s not just you: Adobe Flash and Java do, in fact, update with annoying frequency, and their “updaters” aren’t as automatic as they should be.
  • Simply downloading an update doesn’t mean you have installed it.  Read and follow instructions.  If you don’t understand them, ask someone who does what to do.

Disney Vacation 2016 – Day 4

This was our short day.  We had a flight out at around 7, with the bus from the resort leaving at 4:20.  We packed up and checked out, stowing our luggage with the valet.  Breakfast was in the Kona Cafe at our hotel.  Then we headed straight to EPCOT hoping to get there as the park opened.  The Monorail was inexplicably NOT running, so we had to cram into a bus to get there.  We made it, but the reason we made it STILL had a long line.  The Norway ride was closed last year and was being re-tooled t be “Frozen” themed.  It was the most popular ride in all of Disney.  Despite being there early, we walked into a 45 minute wait.  Long, but the shortest we had seen it while we were there.  So we went!  

Disappointingly, the World Showcase portion of EPCOT didn’t open until 11am, so we waited about 20 minutes and took in the Cinema 360 “Reflections of China.”  After that there was no time to see “the rest of the world,” and so we left the park in time to make our lunch reservation.

Lunch was at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort.  We to some great pics with some characters courtesy of our awesome waitress!  After lunch, we went back to take in the Jungle Cruise, which was now running.  After that we had just enough time to catch “It’s A Small World” a second time.  

Then it was back to our resort and on to the airport!  We arrived in Syracuse at midnight with no delays or complications.  We arrived home at 3am and fell quickly asleep.

Disney Vacation 2016 – Day 3

My leg only marginally improved overnight.  I upgraded my self-diagnosis from “dead” to “numb” and resigned myself to having a slower than usual day.  I could now “feel” it and had muscle control, but topical nerve endings didn’t respond or felt like tingles.  I made an appointment to see my chiropractor shortly after we returned home and we headed out for the day.

Breakfast was at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom.  Buffet style with Winnie the Pooh characters dropping by for photo ops.  Then it was off to Adventureland and Pirates of the Caribbean.  We had a fastpass, but we cancelled it when we saw there was no wait.  After Pirates we headed over to Splash Mountain where riders are admonished, “You May Get Wet.”  Right.  We took a sun-filled ride on the Liberty Square Riverboat to dry off.  Now very hot, we went through the Haunted Mansion again to enjoy the air conditioning.  

Lunch was at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  Traditional American fare, I had a really good cheeseburger.  After lunch we headed to Tomorrowland to ride on Space Mountain.  On our way there, we noticed that the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor had no waiting was was about to begin, so we went in.  We had never experienced this attraction before and didnt really know what we were in for.  It turned out to be an interactive stand-up comedy show in which I ended up playing a key role!  A hidden camera focused on members of the audience, but there was one recurring role: “That Guy”. I was That Guy–the camera kept coming back to me, at which point I would pose in comical fashion, pointing both my fingers at the camera.  I got a sticker at the end!  The whole thing was hilarious!

On to Space Mountain where Amanda got to be FIRST on the sled!  (Something she has wanted to do for a long time.). When we came out, it was pouring rain.  Being autumn, some of the trees in the park had lost a few of their leaves, which promptly covered over the storm drains resulting in 4-inch mini lakes on the terraces of Tomorrowland.  We slogged our way to the PeopleMover and went around twice (didn’t have to get off!).  By then the rain had subsided.  We headed back to Adventureland hoping to ride the Jungle Cruise, but it was closed because of the rain.  So we walked over to Pirates of the Caribbean which had no waiting, so we went through it again!  After that, my leg was VERY tired and so I suggested we walk over to Frontierland and take the train back to Main Street USA.  When we got there, it, too, was closed.  But Splash Mountain had no wait!  So we went on THAT again.  When we came out, there was a short line for the train, which started back up about 10 minutes later.  We rode the train back to Main Street and caught the boat back to our resort.

Dinner was at ‘Ohana in the Polynesian Resort.  An interesting concept: they ply you with appetizer fare, and eventually start delivering shishkebobs of shrimp, steak, and chicken.  You can eat as much as you want.  Next time I’ll know not to load up on the appetizers.  I was too full to have very much of the yummy steak!  After dinner we returned to our room and bed.

Disney Vacation 2016 – Day 2

On Monday we woke and took the bus from the Polynesian Resort to Animal Kingdom here we had breakfast at Rainforest Cafe.  We then took the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where the petting area was open and we got to see and pet goats and sheep and a few other exotic, medium size animals.  After returning to the main area of the Animal Kingdom we happened by “Finding Nemo, the Musical” which had no wait, as it was just abut to begin.  We went in and were glad we did!  It was an incredible performance.

Next was lunch at Tiffin’s, a new “upscale” restaurant right there in the Animal Kingdom.  Our dining plan included three meals for each night we stayed.  Given that we were leaving on Wednesday afternoon before dinner, we needed a way to use up an extra meal.  Several of Disney’s dining venues are so “posh” that they take two meal credits when you eat there.  Tiffin’s is one such place.  The lobster/Thai curry bisque I had to an appetizer was worth the price of admission!  Yummy!

After lunch we took the Kilimanjaro Safari.  I applaud Disney’s conservation efforts, but I wish they weren’t so fake about it all.  Don’t point to a cast cement “wall” painted to look like clay and tell us elephants were gouging it with their tusks 5 minute before we drove up.  Even the mud ruts are cement!

Over to “Asia” for the Karl River Rapids.  We used a FastPass for this.  We got to the end of the line and got in our “tube”…and waited.  We could see the escalator/platform that lifted the tubes to the top of the rapids, but it wasn’t moving and neither were we.  We sat there for about 15 minutes.  I returned a phone call.  Our launch attendant hadn’t been informed abut what was going on.  Then we were moving!  The ride continued without interruption, and when we got back to the beginning we were told we could go around again!  Wahoo!

Now soaked, we wandered into “It’s Tough to be a Bug” (No waiting!). It was a fine source of schadenfreude when Hopper came out and several kiddos were frightened out of their wits and had to be removed by their parents.  I don’t like seeing kids cry, but parents should pay more heed to the content warnings!  Still soaked, we returned too our hotel to shower and change before dinner.

Dinner was at EPCOT’s Coral Reef restaurant with windowed views of the massive aquarium Disney has.  Sharks, rays, and sea turtles were among the undersea dwellers to be seen while we dined.  Early for our dinner reservation, we took in the Finding Nemo ride in the same pavilion.  (Also no waiting!). After dinner we went on “Soarin’,” which we were not able to catch last year because it was always a 3 hour wait with no fast passes. WOW!  Part ferris wheel, part IMAX, it really can’t be described.

EPCOT was closing, so we headed back to the Magic Kingdom by Monorail for one of the last performances of the Main Street Electrical Parade before it is packed up and shipped to Disneyland.  As we got to the park, fireworks following the 9:00 performance of the parade were just ending.  Tons of people exited the park.  Amanda and I planted ourselves on the “downstream” side of a trash can just north of the main street buildings on the east side of the street and waited.  About 20 minutes later, the crowd subsided and we waited some more.  In short order, Disney’s salute to animation was portrayed on the front of Cinderella’s Castle, which is “transformed” into a projection screen in a way that only Disney could pull off.  By now we are tired of standing, so we sit on the curb in preparation for the 11:00pm showing of the Main Street Electrical Parade.  (11pm and I couldn’t believe how many strollers were still there.). I live streamed the parade on Facebook, much to the delight of several friends.

Although I didnt feel it, something went wrong while I was sitting on the pavement for those 90 or so minutes.  When the parade was over and I attempted to stand, I had difficulty.  My entire right leg was dead!  I had lost all feeling in it.  It was there, but I only knew that because I could see it.  I figured it had just fallen asleep, so I turned down the offer of a wheelchair by a cast member.  Amanda and I stood there for about 10 minutes waiting for the feeling to come back, but it didnt. We returned to the boat launch, me using Amanda as a crutch the whole way.  I went to bed hoping it just needed a little time.

Disney Vacation 2016 – Day 1

Last Summer Amanda and I took Brady and Kyle (and ourselves) to Walt Disney World as sort of a last Family vacation.  Brady was about to go to grad school, and Kyle had one more year of High School left.  I didn’t expect to be back so soon!  But a few weeeks agao Amanda and I both came to the realization that we needed to get away from, well, everything.  Disney was the first thing that came to mind.  We are back staying on-Disney at the Polynesian Resort this time.  We have no plans part from our arrival and departure.  We are making everything in between up as we go along.

Today was Day 1.  We arrived dry late last night and went straight to bed.  This morning we woke and took the boat transportation from the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom where we had breakfast reservations at the Be Our Guest restaurant in FantasyLand.  After that we went to TomorrowLand and enjoyed the PeopleMover and Carousel of Progress.  e then explored Liberty Square and went through the Haunted Mansion.  Then it was time for our scheduled FastPass appointment at It’s A Small World.  

We had lunch reservations at the Sci-Fi Drive In Diner at Hollywood Studios, so we made our way to the bus stands and caught one to Hollywood Studios.  We meandered our way to the diner.  A little early, we decided to just wait about 20 minutes.  After lunch we enjoyed Star Tours and The Great Movie Ride.  We walked down Sunset Boulevard, stopping in a few shops.  By then we were both a little tired.  So we took the boat from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT, walked through the park t the Monorail and caught that back to the Transportation Center, transferring to the Resort Mnorail and back the Polynesian Resort where we each took a shower/bath.

After that rest it was time for dinner.  We decided to g back to EPCOT since it was the park open the latest tonight.  We caught the Monorail from the Polynesian, rode it to the transportation center and caught the EPCOT Monorail.  As we entered the park we noticed almost no line for Spaceship Earth, so we went on that.  We then  headed straight for World Showcase, deciding to dine in the Mexican Pavilion–our favorite restaurant at all of Disney World.  We had about an hour to kill, so we checked out the Norway Pavilion.  The new Frozen ride, despite not having any discernible line extending outside the building, advertised a 2-hour wait!  This was confusing as it was 7:30 or so and the park closed at 9:00.  We left ant went to kill the hour we had in the Mexican Pavilion, taking The 3 Caballeros ride and browsing in the shops.  Dinner finished, we made our way back to the Monorail.  When we got to the Transportation Center there was some technical problem with the Resort Monorail, so on a whim we took the express over to the Magic Kingdom and then rode the boat launch back to the Polynesian Resort.  (Its actually a very short walk from the transportation center to the Polynesian, but we’re on vacation and had walked enough!)

I must say we led the charmed life as far as line lengths.  We waited no more than 10 minutes to get into anything we wanted to do (except Frozen).  Hopefully our luck will continue tomorrow!

Hitching The Hard Way

As I was pulling away from the last light-controlled intersection in Potsdam yesterday, bound for Camp, something jumped up in front of my car. It was smaller than a bird, and wasn’t anything kicked up by another vehicle. It seemed to land somewhere on the hood close to where it meet the windshield, but I couldn’t see what it was. 10 seconds later, it jumped up again, this time landing on the little ledge of my door, just behind the driver-side mirror. It was a tree frog!!

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At this point I am up to speed and doing 30 MPH.  The little guy is still hanging on.  I reach the village limits and speed up to 45, thinking he’d have enough of this and jump for it.  Nope!  He still hangs on.  With the 55 MPH sign in sight, I pull over.  The frog just sits there.  I start to lower my window and realize that’s going to squish its leg, so I open my door.  The frog jumps down.  I don’t get out of the car–I just close the door, roll up the window, and head on my way.

St. Regis Falls…Paul Smiths…Bloomingdale…Franklin Falls…Wilmington…Jay.  I stop to visit a friend.  And just as I roll to a stop and my shifter slides into Park, up from out of seemingly nowhere comes the frog!!

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Where the hell was he that whole time? If reptiles are capable of experiencing fear, I can only imagine this thing was terrified!  I got out of the car and took one more picture.  Then I poked him and he jumped away.  To the ground.  And away from the car this time.  (I checked.)  So if anyone is keeping track, as of yesterday Potsdam NY is minus one tree frog, now a resident of Jay.

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The Resort Life

While my Disney Vacation was awesome in almost every respect, Disney and I did have a small clash.  At the end of this post I will share the letter I wrote to Disney after the Day 2 Monofail incident, which garnered positive results; but I’ve done a lot of thinking about how and why that happened.

First, there is no disputing that Disney had conflicting information.  Even they acknowledge that.  I “travel well.”  I have stayed in lots of hotels.  I know the ins and outs of flying in the post-9/11 world.  I can figure out a bus schedule and a subway system.  But the sad fact is that I am just not well-suited to a resort-style vacation.  The very notion runs contrary to my personality type.  I like doing things myself.  I like being ABLE to do things for myself.  I do not like creating work for other people, even if it’s their job.  I like planning things.  I like details.  I like getting them right.

And so I planned.  We sat in the airport in Binghamton planning our days at Disney.  When necessary, I looked something up.  They have a great web site and a WONDERFUL app that lets you plan everything, make dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, etc.  They encourage it!

But it’s a RESORT.  Literally every employee you see is paid to help you and do things FOR you!  But they aren’t mind readers.  Had I gone to the front desk/concierge with our ideas and “must-sees” they would have fallen all over themselves to help us plan our day(s).  I would have been presented with the weekly pamphlet detailing park hours and monorail hours of operation and never have even seen the web site with the conflicting information.

It simply didn’t occur to me to ask.

Next time will be different.

My letter:

———-
Hello,
My Family is having generally wonderful time on our vacation.  Thank you!  It has not been without its specific frustrations, however.  This morning did not get off to a good start.  We had 8:40am breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom.  We are staying in the Contemporary Resort.  Your web site states: “The Walt Disney World Monorail System operates from one hour prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing.” (
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/monorail-transportation/ ) Planning on that, we were up in plenty of time, descended to the fourth floor at 8:00, only to be greeted by a guard, a locked gate, and a sign indicating that the Monorail runs from 8:30am.  Given that the Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00am today, we expected that the Monorail would have been operating since 7:00am (per the web site).
The guard was helpful in that he directed us to the bus terminal.  So we went to the bus terminal.  By 8:30, no bus for the Magic Kingdom had arrived, so we went back inside and joined the line for the Monorail.  We didn’t get to Be Our Guest until 9:00 or so.  (They took very good care of us!)
I am not writing for myself.  I am writing for the next person who takes your published information at its word and makes plans based on them.  Please either update your web site to reflect actual operation of the Monorail, or update the service to bring it in line with what is published.  I hope you’ll agree that’s a reasonable request!
Sincerely,
Romeyn Prescott
Potsdam, NY
PS: I have since learned there is a walkway from CR to MK.  We will be investigating that, weather permitting.

Disney Vacation Day 4

Today was Magic Kingdom Day.  It was OK, but we’re very tired!

We forewent scheduled breakfast and decided to “wing it” in the Magic Kingdom.  Having an early FastPass reservation for Thunder Mountain, we walked in the entrance and went straight up to the train platform–a shortcut to Frontierland exiting right next to the ride.  It being so early, there was only one train running and we JUST missed it.  It would be half an hour before it returned.  On our way there we stopped in Starbucks and got breakfast.  We also got notified that the ride was closed and our Fastpass was now good for any of the other rides in the area, anytime that day with no reservation required.

We went to the Haunted Mansion, then It’s A Small World (again for me and Brady!), Splash Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island, A ride around th park on the WDW Railroad, Space Mountain, Carousel Of Progress (at Kyle’s request), the Wedway Peoplemover, lunch with Winnie the Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace, the Swiss Family Treehouse, The Enchanted Tiki Room, The Hall of Presidents, and finally (after 4 tries) the Liberty Square Riverboat.  After all that, we were pooped and bored and so returned to the hotel.  Amanda and I availed ourselves of the pool facilities.  Brady had actually returned earlier, nursing a sore stomach.  We had dinner at the Contempo Café in our hotel and Amanda and I left the boys to return to the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, “Celebrate The Magic,” and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (fireworks).

I’ll have another post soon on the folly of my expectations for aspects of this trip, which clearly were unreasonable; but there were a few things today that were disappointing.  Today was the only day with “bad” weather.  It’s very interesting to see what happens to this place at the mere HINT of lightning.  RIdes close down (like the Jungle Cruise).  The street vendors from whom you all of a sudden have a nasty craving for a bottle of water or Coke are suddenly nowhere to be seen.  The damned Liberty Belle leaves every half hour, SHARP.  If you are 3 seconds late, too bad.  Now, I applaud punctuality.  But when the attendant looks right at me from the boarding ramp as I shout from the gate, “room for one more?!” and ignores me instead of politely, but firmly informing me, “No, I’m sorry, sir!” I get annoyed.  Chef Mickey’s, a venue that takes walk-ins for buffet-style breakfast with cartoon characters inexplicably transforms at the end of the day into a hyper-exclusive hot-spot that is booked solid 6 months in advance for dinner.  The…I guess I’ll have to call him the Maitre’d…will not only tell you this, he’ll barely contain his contempt as he sneers the information at you.  There are 5 elevators in the Contemprary Resort.  They dont tell you this, but I was able to deduce that at dinner time they commandeer two of the elevators for express/direct service between the conference center on the second floor and the rooftop restaurant.  This makes for a LOT of disgruntled people on the 4th floor (the “hub” of the hotel) who see these two elevators blowing right past floor 4, despite the “up” and “down” buttons being pressed.

If I haven’t said it already, the food everywhere here is amazing.  We have not had a bad food experience yet.  Staff, presentation, quality–all get top marks!  The Electrical Parade hasn’t changed much.  But the “Celebrate the Magic” presentation on the face of Cinderella’s Castle defies description.  And the “Wishes” fireworks presentation sure makes a hell of a lot more sense from in FRONT of the castle than it did while standing in the middle of Fantasyland behind it, looking up somewhat bewildered (which is where I was on Sunday night).  The show is well-choreographed, but has to be seen from in front of the castle to be properly appreciated.

Our shuttle to the airport leaves at 12:20 P. M. tomorrow.  We have all morning to do “one last thing” if we want.  I think we’re going to take the Jungle Cruise and Big Thunder Mountain Railway!

Disney Vacation Day 3

Today was EPCOT day!  And it was a great one.

More Monorail troubles, however.  Knowing that we couldn’t get out of our hotel using the Monorail until 8:30 (we learned that yesterday), we left early to take a bus to the Ticket and Transportation center where we could catch the other Monorail that goes to EPCOT.  We got there at 8:30 only to find THAT Monorail closed too, with a sign stating it doesn’t open until 9:00.  We had to wait almost half an hour for a SRO bus to EPCOT.  *sigh*  I write this having had not 20 minutes ago a conversation with a Front Desk rep.  When we got back to our room tonight there was a message light on the phone.  Disney had read the letter I wrote yesterday and it got results!  [Yes, I’m “that guy,” the one who writes letters when he feels customer service could be better.  More on that in another blog post soon.]  I don’t know if they will change the web site as I requested, but it turns out there is a timetable at the front desk which details the daily schedule for the Monorail, and it’s different almost every day!  That would have been nice to know before.  The chap I spoke with was very nice–even sympathetic.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Disney’s own transportation system seems stacked against the patron who wants to actually BE at any of the parks when they open!  We’d have been better off calling a local cab, if they even allow them on the property.  But forewarned is forearmed.  Tomorrow will be better, now that I have this new information!

Enough negativity.  Today “felt” better than yesterday.  We weren’t rushed and saw almost everything we wanted to.  “Soarin'” was the only thing we didn’t get to, and none of us really cared.  Here’s the rundown of how today’s itinerary ended up: Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, Bus to EPCOT, Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Living With The Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant, Captain EO; then a tour around the lake of the World Showcase pavilions, including the “O Canada!” cinema 360 movie, the France movie, Voices of Liberty (America), a snack at the Liberty Inn (after which I helped a pollster troubleshoot her tablet which wasn’t working), Reflections of China (also cinema 360), Dinner at the Mexican Pavilion, and the evening capped off by the fantastic “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” light show and fireworks display.

Some notes: Turtle Talk with Crush was hilarious and probably rather underrated.  It uses the decades-old gimmick of a real person who can see the room (but who can’t be seen) voicing the surfer dude turtle from “Finding Nemo,” but what was really amazing is that he also seemed to be able to control the turtles animation, including lip movement.  It was like a digital marionette and for an I.T. guy, it was impressive to watch.  The entire “Sea” exhibit is incredible.  The aquarium is so huge, the globe of Spaceship Earth could fit inside it!  Did you know it’s illegal to touch a manatee in the wild?  (It’s OK if they touch you, however.  I checked.)  Captain EO…I had never seen it.  I’m not sure I care now that I have.  🙂  The “O Canada” movie has been updated since I was last here.  Martin Short now hosts and narrates.  Dinner at the Mexican Pavilion was amazing.  I love the “outside inside” ambiance of that pavilion!  It is eternally twighlight/early evening in there.  Very beautiful.

Someone on Facebook today asked about the weather.  I’ll admit I thought it was lunacy to come here, of all places, in the middle of July.  As a speaker at a conference I recently attended said, “Going to Disney World in July is like going to the surface of the sun, and then going to the DMV they have there.”  But we spend almost no time outside!  All of the buildings are air conditioned, as are all of the rides.  IF a line is long enough to snake outside of a building, you aren’t outside for very long.  Even the walk around World Showcase wasn’t bad, as we were constantly ducking in and out of stores.

While in between rides, I discovered that Boar’s Head had noticed my Instagram post from Saturday.  I have been asked to call their customer service line to discuss the matter with them.  I’ll try and make time for that tomorrow.  If not, definitely on Thursday while we are waiting at the airport!