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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Podcasting Pet Peeve

I listen to a good number of podcasts. In fact, if I'm not listening to old radio programs, I'm listening to a podcast. Heck, one podcast even plays old radio programs for me.

That being said, I tend to work my way through a show's backlog before I listen to the most current episodes. I find that this gives me a nice background for the show and allows me to get whatever references the hosts are currently making. There is a problem with that way of doing things, however.

You see, if a show is dealing with present day stuff, be it comics, movies, or TV shows, and trying to predict what's to come, it makes it hard to listen to after the fact. Trying to predict the plot of Batman v Superman, for example, is all well and good, except if the listener doesn't hear that episode until after said movie is already out. Now, that's alright for a show to do as a small segment, but if entire episodes are devoted to that, it makes it practically un-listenable later on.

I've actually stopped listening to shows because all they did was review the then-current comic and try and predict what the next issue would hold. Well, that episode only has a shelf life as long as the next issue isn't out. For someone like me who is listening after, sometimes years after, the topic was current it just sounds silly. I'm not saying people can't do that for their shows. These are their shows, after all. I'm just saying that it's something I have a hard time listening to.

That's why the shows I do tend to look at the past. Things I loved growing up, or have rediscovered, but very little on future events. I hope that makes my shows, at least somewhat, evergreen. So that a new listener can start at episode 1 and work their way up to current without what gets on my nerves with shows.

How about you, dear reader? Is there anything about podcasts, or other shows, that just rubs you the wrong way?

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Thursday, October 13, 2016


Back in 2014 we vacationed at Walt Disney World. Since this was going to be Kira's first trip, we went for 2 weeks. Pricing it out (as I tend to do), I found that getting two 10 day passes (for Michelle & Kira) and one Annual Pass (for me) would actually save us money, as the Annual Pass came with free parking. It also came with a MagicBand, but that was shipped to our house and didn't arrive until after I activated the Annual Pass in Orlando.

So, I had a MagicBand, but never really used it. Oh, I unlocked some stuff in Disney Infinity (1.0 & 3.0), but that was it. Now that we're planning our next trip to Orlando, and we're planning on staying On Property for the first time, we'll all be getting MagicBands. Therefore, I decided that I should get used to wearing something on my wrist again, as I've been doing without a watch for a number of years.

I've noticed something now that I've been wearing this regularly. I actually feel better with it on. It's not any "The RFID creates and EM field with interfaces with your chakras" BS. No, it's purely a mental thing on my part, and I realize that. Heck, if I won the lottery I'd move to Orlando and spend pretty much all day, every day in the theme parks. So bringing a little bit of Walt Disney World with me every day just makes me feel good.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Evaluating Vacation Options - Travel

Like most people, I don't live near a Disney Park, so I have to figure out how to get there. We happen to be a just the right distance that there are several viable options, and I've done two of them in my life. So, for our vacation next Spring, I've been looking at all the possibilities, which include flying, driving, and taking the Auto Train.

We (actually, I) drove to and from last time and, while 17 hours behind the wheel is a long time, it wasn't so horrible that I wouldn't do it again. It is also the cheapest way to go, since all you have to worry about is gas, food, and tolls. The major benefits here are that we don't have to worry about how much stuff we're taking and we will have our own vehicle to drive around in.

The second way to go would be to fly. I'm not opposed to flying, even though the last time I did was when Michelle & I got married, I just think it's a little too much hassle for too little reward. Plus, we would have to rent a car and deal with luggage limitations.

It seems to me that the best of both worlds would be to take the Amtrak Auto Train. Yes, it would still involve us driving down to Virginia, and it isn't cheap, but we'd have the car and luggage, and I wouldn't have to drive the entire way from New Jersey to Florida. How does it rate on a dollars and cents basis, though?

Here's our criteria:
Two adults and one child traveling from South Jersey to Orlando Florida

We'll look at the Auto Train first, and pick the Family Stateroom, so we have some place private.

Round trip on the Auto Train would cost $2,035. That includes meals, wifi, and taking the car along. No premium loading/unloading of the car, or anything like that. Total time on the train = 17 hours. Total time getting to and from stations = 4 hours. Total time per directions = 21 hours.

Now on to air travel. I'm going to use numbers from my time share discount, to be fair about it. We'll also be looking at non-stop flights from Philly to Orlando*. For three round trip tickets it would cost us $1,440 on American Airlines. Car rental for this trip, picking up and dropping off at Orlando International, would cost $330 from Enterprise. Parking at Philly would cost around $110 and checked baggage could be up to $210, bringing us to a total cost of $2,090 for this trip. Total time in the air = 2.5 hours. Total time in the airport = 2 hours. Total time getting to and from airports = 2 hours. Total time per direction = 6.5 hours.

Going by by the bottom line of each version, Amtrak is cheaper and has less restrictions on what we can take. Yes, it takes longer, but since much of that travel is overnight, and I'll get to relax during it. I'm willing to deal with it.

* I should point out that we could travel with Spirit Airlines out of Atlantic City as well. Round Trip for the three of us there would be $477 (saving $$963). Parking there would be $130 (adding $20), but the baggage fees could be $530 (adding $320). So net change for Atlantic City would be saving $623, or a total cost of $1,467. Quite frankly, paying the extra money to not have to deal with plane travel/rental car/etc, is worth it to me. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Silent Knight

One of the "lost" characters from DC Comics is The Silent Knight. One of the three characters to kick of the "Brave and the Bold" comic back in 1955, he lasted until Issue #22. He reappeared in the 80's, brought back by Roy Thomas during a "Crisis On Infinite Earths" crossover in All-Star Squadron #54 & 55, along with his costars Golden Gladiator & Viking Prince. He has since by retconned to be an incarnation of Hawkman and an ancestor of Jonathan Kent, neither of which I'm thrilled with.

What I like about this character is that he works both with superhero and Arthurian tropes. Brian is the son of a Lord, Sir Edwin, who shares power with Sir Oswald. Oswald kills Edwin in the first story and Sir Grot, an aged knight, is charged with training Brian. Knowing that Brian will be killed if he's perceived as a threat, Grot makes sure to demean the lad in front of Sir Oswald.

One day, Brian finds a suit of armor in the Forest Perilous, a place known for being enchanted, and puts it on. He's soon fighting off bandits to save Lady Celia, who knows Brian. Fearing that he might be recognized by his voice, Brian doesn't speak and is thus dubbed The Silent Knight.

Brian hides the armor in the forest, where he goes to retrieve it when he needs to. He maintains his secret, even though Lady Celia drops hints that she knows, even going so far as to protect Brian's identity at least twice. Sir Oswald seems to suspect Brian every now and then, but is always thwarted in his attempts to find out the true identity of his nemesis. Later stories move away from Sir Oswald and focus more on the Knights of the Round Table, culminating in The Silent Knight being proclaimed the greatest knight in the land.

I've read all of the Brave and the Bold appearances, as well as his guest spot in All-Star Squadron, and I have to say, I really like this character. The stories are straight forward and well done, working well in the anthology title. If you can find them, I'd recommend picking up these issues.

If you want to hear me talk more about this character, I was on Ryan Daly's Secret Origins Podcast to talk about his appearance in Issue 49.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jack Webb TV Shows

Thanks to streaming services, especially Hulu, we've been watching a good amount of old TV shows. Among those are the 2nd version of Dragnet and Adam-12, both produced by Jack Webb, who also starred as Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet.

One over-riding theme on these shows is the purity of the main characters. Friday and Gannon on Dragnet are by the book, incorruptible cops. They solve crimes, and dish out facts, in a straight forward way. The same can be said of Malloy and Reed, the patrolmen on Adam-12, although they tended to have a little more personality.

I completely understand that these are not nuanced shows. They present the law and order side of things and show why the other side is wrong thinking, almost to the point of propaganda. That appeals to me, though. If you went by D&D alignments, I'd be Lawful Good, so this is right up my alley.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Walt Disney World has Quality People

Those of you that know me (or just read this blog) know that I LOVE me some Disney, especially Walt Disney World. Well, this year WDW is turning 45 and I, like most people, won't be able to make it down there to celebrate on the actual birthday. So, being in a somewhat silly mood, I posted something to Twitter. What happened after that was something that I did not expect, but really made me smile. Here's the entire conversation:

As you can see, the Cast Members at Walt Disney World are some great people who obviously love what they're doing. I don't know who was running the WDW Today Twitter account on that day, but I want to thank them for being a great sport.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

I think that the image above says it all.

OK, it says a lot, but not "all". Yes, today is Star Trek's 50th Anniversary. The effect that this franchise has had on my life cannot be overstated. First of all, it's responsible for my geekiness, as I described on my first ever podcast episode. The main reason for that, beyond that I was young when I first saw The Motion Picture, was that it made me think. Star Wars is a great adventure, as is Flash Gordon & Buck Rogers, and that's fun, but Star Trek gave me stuff to mull over and think about after the episodes were over.

What I would consider even more of an influence, however, is that I became an engineer specifically because of Scotty. I've always been good at math & science, but Scotty, or Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, gave me a direction to focus those skills in. From that I not only have my career, but I met my wife in an engineering class. No engineering, no Michelle, and no Kira.

So, yeah, my life would have been COMPLETELY different without Star Trek.

Want to hear me talk more about Star Trek? Well, I did some guest appearances on other people's podcasts recently. Here are the links for those:

Super Mates 59: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration

Gimme That Star Trek Ep.1: What If the Cage Went to Series?

Listen to the Prophets #048 - The House of Quark

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