Saturday, August 11, 2007

Best Pictures from Day 3 -- Kilimanjaro Safari

Kilimanjaro Safari is surprisingly cool.  You ride in a sort of all terrain bus looking for animals that live on the Animal Kingdom property.

I'll say again, though, thank goodness for my telephoto zoom lens...without it, most of these pictures would have been blurry specks of nothingness among grass and trees.

"Everybody look left / Everybody look right / Everywhere you look I'm / Standing in the spotlight!"

The giraffe that marks the entrance to Africa -- home of Kilimanjaro Safari -- looks remarkably like the giraffes in The Lion King.  ;-)

An African bison.  I think.  I'm not good with animals.

A baby elephant.  I tried to get it looking at us, but the darn car bounced.

A giraffe.  Duh.

A mama rhino and her baby.

Some sort of elk that was very tiny but actually full-grown.

Some sort of bird.

A zebra.  Also duh.

Best Pictures Day 3 -- General Animal Kingdom

There were a lot of really good pictures yesterday; we went to Animal Kingdom. I've never been there before (it opened in the 90s sometime) and wasn't sure what to expect from a zoo with a few rides. It was gorgeous and the rides were fun. We didn't have time to see the shows (next time!) but I could have spent all day  wandering around with my camera.

The entrance to Asia, home of Expedition Everest (a very cool roller coaster that's more fun and not as scary as I expected, given that it went backwards).

They have a nifty "shipwreck" loaded with ropes and all sorts of stuff for the apes to play with.  Thank goodness for zoom lenses!


A statue in the line for Kali River Rapids.  It was set up like a shrine...very cool, but not air conditioned (neither was the line for Everest or Kilimanjaro Safari...).

My daily I-promise-I-won't-give-you-an-Elvis-smile picture.  :-)

The Tree of Life.  The whole thing is carved with animals.

Imagine carving this!

The Self-Portrait Series

I spoke before about Patrick's unique photography. He's been on a
self-portrait kick...these are the best of his faces. (He's also
done his feet, his thumbs, his hands, his arms, his shirt....)

Friday, August 10, 2007


When we arrived back in our room after a morning at Animal Kingdom (Expedition Everest is very cool, and not at all as scary as I expected, given that some of it goes backwards), we found a heavily tagged wheelchair sitting in front of Patrick's bed.

It had "Priority!" and "Rush!" tags all over it.

According to the tags, it came from Atlanta.  So, somehow, somewhere, someone took Patrick's wheelchair and misread MCO (Orlando) as ATL (Atlanta).


Now, maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I would have thought that out of all the luggage that is handled on a day-to-day basis, people would take even just a little bit of extra care with mobility devices (canes, crutches, wheelchairs, scooters, etc.) 'cause, you know, if someone HAS one, they must NEED it.

Oh well.

Pictures later today.

Also, I added comments to the photo posts from day 1 and day 2.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Best Pictures From Day 2

A fountain at MGM studios.  Miss Piggy is at the top dressed as the Statue of Liberty, but, alas, much of my picture-taking was foiled by cloudy skies and I'm not good enough yet at manually exposing pictures to get a real sky and not a sea of blown-out white.  Still, I love that Animal is the one that turned on the water. ;-)

The upside down waterfall near Figment (the Imagination Pavilion) and the jumping fountains.  It's a little grainy (I used my point and shoot because my SLR was being stubborn and not exposing right) but pretty good.  I discovered the trick of using a 2-second timer for low light shots so that I don't jiggle the camera by pressing the release button.  I also used my arm as a tripod. ;-)

Patrick promised me one good smile picture (AKA Not the Elvis Grin) a day.  This is at a restaurant in the Land, because for some reason, Patrick decided that out of all the things to do in Future World, he wanted to ride Living With the Land (the boat ride, which sadly no longer has the song).

From the Great Movie Ride in MGM Studios (which is way cooler than I remembered, but I get a lot more of the references now) -- a carousel horse from Mary Poppins.  I took about 10 of these for Patrick. ;-)  Again with the 2 second timer trick, but it's a bit blurry because I didn't have anything steady to brace myself on.

Patrick took this neat shot of the sign for the Prime Time Cafe.  He handles the point and shoot while I push him around.  I get a lot of randomness from him (he's an abstract photographer, mostly, and enjoys textures (concrete, buildings, wood) and shoes, but occasionally you get gems like this.)

Yeah...I hope this doesn't need an explanation.  I like how it exposed, though -- I took this from the monorail, and was pretty.

The roof in The Land, which is cool, and Patrick's head, which I must have forgotten to crop. ;-)

Epcot has changed a lot -- none of the rides are the same, though many are very similar (Listen to the Land is almost exactly the same except for the song; Figment is very different but ends with an homage to the first one; Universe of Energy still has the dinosaurs, but it's a Jeopardy! nightmare of Ellen's.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Okay, so my comments on the pictures disappeared.  I'll resurrect them later.  I'm knackered.

Best Pictures From Day 1

Cinderella Castle.  It's bigger than Sleeping Beauty Castle by quite a bit (after all, there's a restaurant and a special hotel suite inside) but surprisingly doesn't feel that way when you're actually there.  It's a testament to Sleeping Beauty Castle's forced perspective, I suppose. 

City Hall.  Everything on Main Street looks...the same but different.  That is, Main Street at Disneyland is supposed to be Walt Disney's hometown (Marceline Missouri) around the turn of the century.  So what they did for Disney World is "age" it up -- it's supposed to be the 20s or 30s, where everything has evolved and gotten bigger.

It's nice, and pretty, but just a little disconcerting.  If it looked totally different, I don't think it would be, but when you know Main Street like the back of your hand, it takes a few moments of getting used to.

The Grand Floridian from our balcony.  The Grand Floridian is pretty, and Patrick wants to stay there, but I'm digging the Contemporary. ;-)

Patrick doesn't like his hat, or the sunglasses, or having his picture taken -- but he was having fun, I promise. ;-)

Main Street.  Just 'cause.

On the PeopleMover.  Pardon me -- on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  But it's really the PeopleMover, just covered.  Patrick loved it -- after we got off, he wanted to get right back on.

Patrick took this picture of a poster in line for Mickey's Philharmagic -- a neat 3D show where Donald steals Mickey's sorcerer's hat and ends up in the middle of most recent Disney movies.  Patrick loved it.

The train station.

The Pilot Found the Airport

Yay! :-)

But of course, travel is never without its complications. Our luggage has arrived in our room (we used Disney's Magical Express, where they take you in a bus from the airport and bring your luggage themselves), sans wheelchair.

Sans expensive wheelchair.

Sans expensive wheelchair I bought specifically for this trip.

My mom and Patrick are down in the lobby right now trying to sort it out, while I took the first of probably 15 cold showers today. (Actually, it's not nearly as bad as I was's hot, yes, and humid, but not intolerable.)

The First Monorail Ride

More about the flight later. Suffice it to say, the Unisom didn't work.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Killing Time


On the Flyaway

Okay...I'll stop wasting my battery now.

Also, RIP Hal Fishman (KTLA).

Picture Test

Waiting for the Flyaway

Off We Go

This is a test...I'm making sure I know how to email my posts to
Blogger in case something goes amiss with the Contemporary's wi-'s easier to post from my iPhone by email.

We're leaving for the flyaway around 4:30...I'm in my usual last
minute flurry of updating my iPods, which I always say I'll do the
week before and never do.

So here's to a less eventful flight than the last time I went to
Orlando, where the pilot (1) couldn't find the airport and (2) almost
botched the landing once he did find it.

He, of course, said that the airport had asked him to circle and
abort the landing, but my dad's dad was a pilot and my dad, peering
out the window the whole time, called his bluff. (Never did say
sorry for that, Amie -- I know how little you liked flying at the wasn't the most tactful thing to do.)

Patrick has confessed to having "butterflies" in his stomach and goes
monosyllabic whenever I ask him if it's the flight, so I'm assuming
it is. I bought some Unisom and will probably slip it to him as
Advil, since we're flying non-stop. Having attempted the same when
we flew back East for...someone's...funeral, and having had to drag a
nearly comatose Patrick through O'Hare airport in Chicago because our
plane was late, is not an experience I care to repeat.

So, I'm going to try to post a little each day. If not, I'll see
everybody in a week. :-)

P.S. Could someone please comment on this so that I know it posted
all right? Thanks. :-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hosted by Stephen Hawking

A few days ago, Wil Wheaton griped on his blog about all that's wrong with television today -- how shows can be killed before they even have a chance to develop a following.

He was, in particular, speaking of ABC's new anthology Masters of Science Fiction -- where they take short stories written by, get this, masters of science fiction, and adapt them into hour-long episodes.

ABC's new anthology, which airs at 10:00 on Saturdays. I think. (I have TiVo.) In any event, it airs at some awful hour destined to kill it.

I watched this past weekeend's episode, and rather liked it. It reminded me very strongly of the 90s version of The Outer Limits (with good reason; Sam Egan was involved in both shows).

Anyhow, that's just background. What I want to talk about is one of the comments on Wil's post.

Viewers of The Outer Limits (original and 90s) will recall that a "Control" voice gave an intro and a closing to each episode -- rather like The Twilight Zone.

In Masters of Science Fiction, the narrator is Professor Stephen Hawking -- which I think is awesome. Of course, I was also tickled pink when he appeared on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It proves that even geniuses watch TV. ;-)

In any event, the comment in question was that the poster thought it was "cute" that Stephen Hawking's "voice box" narrated the show.

For my non-nerdy visitors, Stephen Hawking has ALS (Lou Gherig's disease) and speaks with a voice synthesizer he controls with (I think) his thumb.

I immediately felt uncomfortable with the post, for two reasons. One -- if some other science genius (say, Carl Sagan if he were still alive) narrated it, I doubt it would be considered "cute." But when Stephen Hawking does so, it's "cute."

Two -- it's not his "voice box" narrating -- it's Stephen Hawking. His "voice box" doesn't mysteriously compose messages to speak -- Professor Hawking does so (painstakingly, laboriously). To say that his "voice box" narrated is to imply that it was not Professor Hawking narrating, but some nifty computer gadget.

The thing is, the only difference between Professor Hawking's voice and mine is that he composes his thoughts, which are spoken electronically. I compose my thoughts, and a variety of body parts work together to speak them organically.

That's the only difference -- his thoughts go from brain to electronics, while mine go from brain to muscle.

I might be reading too much into one comment, but I don't think so. I think it speaks to society's still very pervasive prejudice against people with disabilities -- people with severe disabilities in particular. I think it also speaks to the common misconception that severe physical disability must -- must -- always correlate to severe intellectual disability.

There's a perception that alternate modes of communication are worth less. Therefore, Stephen Hawking's narration is "cute," where Albert Einstein's could have been "unnecessary" or "trite," I find it difficult to believe that it would have been called "cute."

People use alternative communication all the time. They text, email, blog, IM, picture-message...they might even gesture insistently at the sink if they need to wash down that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But when all those other means of communication are not accompanied by speech, people's perceptions immediately change.

And that's a shame.

A few weeks ago was the anniversary of the ADA, and comments like this, which point to a (perhaps more silent) pervasive prejudice that still exists regarding people with disabilities, just show how much farther we have to go.

Edit: For what it's worth, Wil's right. It's ridiculous that shows can be killed before they even have a chance to develop a following. If X-Files premiered today, it'd never have lasted a month. And that's sad. Maybe that Alien Nation movie wasn't so wrong when they had a show cancelled 10 minutes into it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Internet is Cool

I didn't start watching Farscape until it had been cancelled.

I didn't start watching Babylon 5 until its 3rd season.  It barely saw its fifth.

I have left a long line of cancelled shows in my wake.  The neat thing, I suppose, is that I often discover these shows over the summer hiatus, which makes the reruns "new" to me -- thus alleviating summer boredom.  Always a good.

Well, last summer, my TiVo, having by now figured out I am interested in programs about folks with disabilities, TiVod as a recommendation a little show on PAX called Sue Thomas F.B.Eye.  It was cheesy but cute and I immediately fell in love.

(It did not hurt that two of the main characters were clearly in love with each other (I'm a 'shipper; what can I say?), nor that one of the other characters had an absolutely adorable Australian accent -- that I later learned is semi-genuine, he having lived in Australia for several years as a kid.)

It had already been cancelled (of course), but they were re-running it nightly.  Of course, I came into it about 10 episodes into season 1, and before I'd seen all the reruns, it stopped airing them.

There are no plans to produce DVDs in the immediate future.

Occasionally, I google "Sue Thomas .torrent" to see if I can find episodes to download (official voice) NOT THAT I WOULD EVER DO SO (ahem).

Tried again tonight, and I found roughly the first half of the episodes, with more being uploaded about every week or so.

Of course, I am not downloading it as we speak, because I would NEVER DO SUCH A THING.