Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm trying out something new

I got an invite from Google today to try this GrandCentral service they recently acquired.  Apparently, it lets you acquire one phone number that you can hand out to people.  Then when people call that number it will either call one or all of the phone numbers you have entered into your profile. 

One of the cool features that it seems to have is the ability to add a "Call Me" button to your blog and have it configured to either actually call you or just send them straight to voicemail.

It's in BETA but I thought it was cool enough to give a try.  So, you'll se the giant "Call Me" button on the left.

If you click it, you'll be prompted to provide a Name and a Phone Number.  Since, I have it going directly to voicemail, it's not necessary to fill in the Name field.  I'll never see that.  If I had setup the service to let the call go to one of my phones, that name box is used to announce you to me and let me take the call or send it to voicemail.  It uses Text-to-Voice technology to read the name put in the box.  But, since I'm sending you all straight to voicemail, it's a feature not used.

By default, it's set to keep your phone number private (I'll just see PRIVATE) on my side.  If for some reason you feel compelled to let me see your phone number, then you'll need to uncheck the 'Keep My Number Private' checkbox.

*** NOTE *** This is NOT a Voice-Over-IP (VoiP) service like Skype.  It will call the number you typed into the applet.  When you pickup the phone, you'll hear my voicemail notification and you can leave your message after the beep.  The call will be coming from California, so you'll want to have it call a phone where you aren't concerned about long distance charges or worried about airtime minutes.

I can also take the voicemail I get and post them back to the blog.  Either as addendum's to the post to allow ya'll voices to be heard, or I can post them as a post by themselves. 

As I said, I'm just trying this out.  The geek in me likes it.  For those people out there that have Blogger blogs, check out the "Blogger Buzz" on your dashboard, you may have gotten an invite.

I figured that those people who also run podcasts, it would be another awesome way to get voice feedback.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Grump's Opinion: What's in your Personal Soundtrack?

What is the first thing you think of when I mention the word soundtrack?  Is is the great music that accompanies the movies that we love to watch?  In regards to Disney, is it such great pieces of music as It's a Small World?, The Enchanted Tiki Room, SpectroMagic?

Well, what would you say if I asked you what was contained in your own personal soundtrack?

Huh?  You haven't heard of a personal soundtrack?  Well, I'm not talking about a musical score that plays whenever you are around.

I first heard of the term listening to Adam Curry's Podcast, The Daily Source Code (Yes, it's that Adam Curry from MTV during their hey-day and his podcast isn't Family Friendly).  He started referring to an Organization he wanted to start called The Organization for the Preservation of the Soundtrack of Our Lives (OPSOL).  It's purpose was to keep to the forefront those songs that shaped our lives.  Each of us has songs that when heard spark memories of the past. 

That is what I am referring to when I say personal soundtrack.  These are the musical elements that are so much a part of your life, that when hearing them they unlock deeply seated memories that seem to only get unlocked with these musical cues.

Well, by now I'm sure you are wondering why I'm talking about this on a Disney Blog.  Well, if you are a Disney-phile, you probably have quite the song list from Disney products woven into your own personal soundtrack.

For myself, there are some obvious choices:

  • A Whole New World - I went and saw this movie 4 times during Thanksgiving weekend the year it was released
  • It's A Small World - I recall my niece and nephew (Regan and Collin) as well as Tim's son, Billy, as they ride through this attraction with the highly addicting tune
  • How do you Do? - Just one of the many great tunes from Splash Mountain
  • Can you Feel the Love Tonight - Conjures up memories of my wife
  • Yo Ho It's a Pirate's Life for Me - Who can resist it's catchy hook (no pun intended)
  • IllumiNations! - Well, duh, I wrote a post about that one (The Grump's Opinion: My Favorite Disney Hymn)

Would The Tree of Life, The International Gateway, or your favorite pavilion at EPCOT's World Showcase be contained within your personal soundtrack?

Yes, many of these lands, objects, and places have their own soundtracks. 

I must be 100% honest with you all.  I never really noticed these very important but hidden details until recently.  I was talking to a friend about some good Disney music to sleep to.  Yes, I wanted to sleep to Disney music.  I knew there had to be elements of the theme park that was designed to be relaxing and calming.

Well, I was told to track down some specific pieces of music.  That music was for The Tree of Life, Japan Pavilion, Expedition Everest, and others.

These were turned into an iTunes playlist and we cue it up at bedtime.

The really funny thing was that when we were walking back from the Pangani Forest Trail Meet at MouseFest, my wife asked me if I was tired.  I told her that it wasn't even lunch time yet, why would I be tired.  She pointed out that we were walking by The Tree of Life.  At that very moment, I was able to pull out of the cacophony of sounds and noises the music that we sleep to at night.  For the first time, I was able to separate that music out from the rest of the park theming.

Why would Disney Imagineers go to so much trouble to add musical elements that may go unnoticed by a majority of the park guests?  The only thing I can think of is that the original Disney Theme Park, Disneyland, was built as a living representation of a movie (i.e. The Windows are the opening credits). 

Well, if you expand this philosophy to all the parks around the world, then these seemingly hidden elements are just as important to the overall Theme Park experience as is the work of the artisans who create the soundtracks, sounds, and music for the movies we love to watch.  Not every musical element in a movie is blatantly obvious to the participant, just as the elements I'm discussing here.

Why am I writing another post about music?  That is an interesting question since a room full of cats in heat can carry a better tune than I can.  But, as you are gathering from this post, music forms the soundtrack of our lives.  I couldn't imagine a person who doesn't have their own personal soundtrack.

Well, these subtle, yet important musical elements of the theme parks are starting to be edited into my own personal soundtrack.  As I walk the parks, I try to keep an open ear listening for new pieces to add to my ever growing soundtrack. 

What musical elements (blatant or not-so-obvious) do you count as a part of your personal soundtrack?

[Edited To Add:  Craig from Running to Disney makes an excellent comment that one's personal soundtrack isn't isolated to Disney music and musical elements.  I knew this, but wasn't sure of the best way to slide in all the various, yet odd non-Disney music that is my own personal playlist.  Those songs that can bring up memories of smells, sounds, and events from the really distant and not-so-distant past]

[Edited to Add (03/01/2008):  After reading some of the comments and talking to friends about this post, I came to the conclusion that the word "soundtrack" can be interpreted in the singular OR plural form.  In the case of this post, I'm referring to the overall plural form of the word.  Your personal soundtrack is the overall list of songs and music that can unlock life memories.  The confusing thing is that when you are talking about music from Disney Movies and Themeparks, the singular piece is often referred to as a soundtrack as well.  So a soundtrack can be one piece of your overall soundtrack.... haha]

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Quilts: Addendum

For those of you who don't follow Tim's profile over at DisFriends, he posted a Journal entry about the quilt my wife, Enchanted Rose, made for his son, Billy.  He also included pictures.  For the curious, check it out....

Enchanted Rose's Quilt - Now with pictures!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Mickey's Have It


DreamTeamLogo Dream Team Auction Quilt Fabric The polling is closed and the majority wins.  Just a sneak peek at some of the fabric.  We just want to give you enough to get the imagination flowing.

More to come soon.........




Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Apology

To all my loyal guests:

I would like to extend a heartfelt apology for my seeming neglect of "The Hollow".

Lately, my life has gotten a bit chaotic.  My line of work is project based and client based.  That means there are lean times, normal times, and "you want it done when" times.

I'm in the "You want it done when?" phase right now.  If you add my time at the gym with my time at work you get 10-15 hours (averaging 12 hours).  Add in 8 hours to sleep, you get 18-23 hours of my time already committed.  It seems that lately it's been closer to the 23 hours than the 18. 

So, unfortunately, that doesn't leave me much time to post.  So, until things calm down, I am hoping to get a post up a week.

So, once again, if you haven't subscribed to the RSS feed or e-mail notification, you might consider it.  It really will make it easier for you to know when a new post shows up.

Once again, I apologize, but I have found I don't have that super human strength like Lou Mongello to function off of caffeine and sugar alone.

Thanks again for sticking with us.  I have a lot of blog post ideas but just need the time to get them to "paper".  I definitely know that my wife will be doing a series of posts documenting the quilt she is designing for the Charity Auction at MagicMeets

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Finding Nemo Quilt Back in June my nephew Collin (through my sister) invited Tim Devine and his family to join him on the Finding Nemo Submarine ride at Disneyland.  Because of Collin's multiple handicaps, he is unable to wait in line for rides, and the Devine family was able to bypass the four hour wait by accepting his invitation.  Through Collin with his Quiltthis chance meeting my nephew has been able to touch even more lives.  Even though Collin is nonverbal, he has the power to make people remember him and his spirit.  His laugh is contagious and his smile infectious.  Tim has been able to repay the favor five times over through his unique brand of kindness.

One of my latest quilting projects included a first for me.  I made matching Nemo quilts for Collin and Billy Devine to celebrate this occasion.  I don't plan to have any  other two of a kind quilts.  My quilts are  one of a kind creations by nature.  Billy's quilt was finished just hours ago!  I can't wait for Billy to get his belated birthday present, and I hope that this small thank you gives many years of loving warmth.  Collin is already loving all over his quilt.  

For the people who are interested in the details:  the fabric for the quilt was purchased at Hancock Fabric and the pattern is the Log Cabin Foldy Stuff.

Sorry George.... no time for the splash mountain quilt.  Already working on the auction quilt :)

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Request from Enchanted Rose

My lovely wife, the Enchanted Rose (aka Nancy), is seriously contemplating making one of her fantastic quilts as an auction item for Lou Mongello's Dream Team Auction at Magic Meets.

She heard from talking to people at MouseFest that a good portion of the items up for auction are branded merchandise (aka swag).  She felt that something that was made from the heart would be well received and since she is a quilter, that is the first thing she thought of.

She has a bunch of Disney Theme fabric she has picked up over the years when shopping for other quilting projects.

My wife has asked that I throw up a poll to help guide the creative process.

The question at hand is this:   If you were to bid on a hand-made quilt (meaning not store bought), what theme would have the best chance of getting your attention and your bid?

You'll find the poll on the left-hand side of my blog right above the "Blogs of Interest".

She wants to make a quilt with the appeal to the greatest number of Disney fans.  Since this item will be ultimately auctioned off, you want to be able to raise money.  The best way to do this is to provide an item that the greatest number of people are interested in.

If you want to see some of the other quilts that she has done, you can check out pictures on our flickr collection

So let me know what you think.

[Ed Note:  Sorry Nerdy Boys, no Splash Mountain theme quilt this year]

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Grump's Opinion: My Favorite Disney Hymn

We've gathered here tonight around the fire as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us... to share the light... and to share a story. An amazing story as old as time itself, but still being written. And though each of us has our own individual stories to tell, a true adventure emerges when we bring them all together as one. I hope you enjoy our story tonight: Reflections of Earth.

IllumiNations Have you ever found yourself standing in a Disney Theme Park and suddenly realize that the music you are enjoying is causing an emotional response?  That the music you are listening to makes you feel something bigger than childhood nostalgia?

I'm sure the most novice of Disneyphile has already guessed where my quote comes from.  For those who are still trying to place where they know those words from, they are from IllumiNations:  Reflections of Earth.  It is EPCOT's nightly pyrotechnic masterpiece.

Every person has a favorite nighttime event at Walt Disney World and for many of us, we are very passionate about their favorite.  My wife loves Wishes! but I'm an IllumiNations man.

For me, it's not a Disney vacation until I hear the words quoted above.  But the real punctuation mark is when the narrator blows out the gigantic propane torches that surround the World Showcase Lagoon.

So, you are probably wondering what the meaning is behind the title of this post.....

Those who know me in the real world, know that I'm not a very religious person.  But, I have been around religion, specifically Christian faiths, enough to know many people who love to talk about their favorite Church Hymn.  The people will gladly tell you the emotional response they have when they hear these particular pieces of church music.  Some will even go as far as to tell you how they feel like they can take on the world after hearing their favorite hymn.  But, in an even greater case, they will tell you the hymn gives them a warm, all-encompassing feeling of being loved.

Well, it was during our trip in September 2007, while sitting around the World Showcase Lagoon watching IllumiNations that I noticed that I was having many of these feelings I have heard my more religiously inclined friends talk about.

It was at this time that I came to the conclusion that secular music could have the same impact on people as the non-secular tunes people enjoy every Sunday at their favorite religious service.

When I'm watching this particular spectacular at EPCOT, I cannot help but get into the music.  To me it's like a musical roller coaster.  There is a point near the middle of the show where I always feel like I have just climbed the big hill and it is going to be nothing but thrills to follow.  I'm not a musical person, but I think that's called building up to a crescendo.

The music tugs at my heartstrings which I find amazing since it's mostly an instrumental score.

To top everything off, you get some highly choreographic pyrotechnic displays which seem perfectly matches to the musical score.

During MouseFest 2007, I was able to get an added bonus in the form of the Holiday Tag at the end of IllumiNations.  As I think I described it in my Trip Report, it was like an explosion of glitter in the sky.

Sometimes when I'm feeling a bit down and suffering from a rather serious case of Post Disney Depression (PDD), I listen to the IllumiNations soundtrack.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to my 2008 trip to Disneyworld so I can get another dose of my favorite Disney Hymn performed by the masters who made it great.

What is your favorite Disney Hymn?