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Star Wars Launch Bay

This evening we checked out the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. We got pictures taken with Kilo Ren and Chewbacca, and checked out the various models of ships and equipment from the various Star Wars movies that they had on display. I didn’t go to the movie beforehand – Yvonne mentioned it’s just a bunch of clips from the Star Wars movies.

Some people feel that the Launch Bay isn’t as impressive as it could be – it’s more of a mini-museum that doesn’t offer guests as much interaction with the Star Wars universe as a full attraction might. However, I’m pretty sure that the Launch Bay is a temporary installment to keep guests interested while the real Star Wars land is being constructed elsewhere in Hollywood Studios. For what it is, I thought the Launch Bay was pretty good. We rushed through it this time as we had FastPasses for Midway Mania, so I’ll probably go back to check out more of the models another evening.

While at the Launch Bay you’ll find a few unruly Jawas roaming the premises, making illicit trades with guests. If you bring a trinket from home to the park you can attempt to trade it with them for droid parts. Here’s me trading a Batman eraser with one of the Jawas; he’s checking out my potential trade while I keep an eye out for the authorities. He went for it, so I’m now an R2-D2 head richer. Afterward I asked him if next time I saw him he’d let me drive the sandcrawler. I don’t think he went for it.

A Jawa at the Star Wars Launch Bay

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You said what?

Brian Crawford on TwitterPeople don’t blog as much as they did back in the day. Nowadays people rely more on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and the like to share their thoughts and experiences online. This is okay, but posting on social media sites is kind of like throwing your experiences into a bottomless pit. You see your posts for a while as they fall down the hole… then they gradually fade away until they disappear entirely.

I was reminded of this the other day when I checked to see how far back my Twitter posts go. The answer is, currently they go back to April of 2011. I am sure that Twitter keeps those posts archived on a server somewhere. But for all intents and purposes, those things I tweeted from when I joined Twitter in July of 2008 to April of 2011 are now gone for good.

That is too bad. It’s not that people look that far back on peoples’ Twitter feeds – only the most serious stalkers do that – but it’s nice to know that if you wanted to see what you happened to be doing in July of 2008, you could. If you were to blog that information, you could hold onto it as long as you kept backups of your blog. On Twitter, it’s history.

So I decided I’d copy and paste a few tweets from my past that I found meaningful – things that remind me of the time and place I was experiencing when I tweeted them. I’m not expecting people reading this blog to care too much about them, or even read them, but it’s fun for me to get a glimpse of how things were.

So here is the first installment of Tweets from the Past

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

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27. Jul, 2016
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It’s a tragedy

At 11:30 AM I got the call to head to Redgrave’s Children’s Home. Three children had been accidentally poisoned. The neighborhood was in shock. The saddest part was, two children had been poisoned there last October, and another one a few months before that. Chief Carson sent me over to the home to try to make some sense of what was going on.

When I arrived at the children’s home, Mrs. Redgrave met me on the front porch. I could tell she had been in tears most of the morning. I showed her my badge. Still shaking, she led me into the house.

Inside, the home was roomier than I thought it would be. A couple of kids, maybe five years old, were playing with toy dinosaurs on one of those big oval carpets you used to see a lot in the 70s. Piled high by the closet was a big pile of bags of pesticide. Walking further into the house, I noticed more bags of pesticide on the dining room table. There were more stacked by the TV. Some kids were playing video games in the family room, sitting on big bags of pesticide, some of them ripped open and leaking powder onto the floor. I took out my notepad and scribbled a few notes.

“It’s all so senseless,” said Mrs. Redgrave. “Such a tragedy. I just can’t understand how this happened.”

“Ma’am,” I said. “You do know you have big bags of pesticide all over the house?”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Redgrave. “You never know when you are going to have a pest problem.”

“Do you have a pest problem, Mrs. Redgrave?”

“No. Would you like some tea?”

I brushed pesticide off one of the couch cushions and sat down. Mrs. Redgrave fetched me a cup of tea and placed it on the table beside me. I didn’t drink any.

“Mrs. Redgrave,” I said. “Do you think maybe having all this pesticide sitting around constitutes a risk?”

“Of course not,” said Mrs. Redgrave. “We would only use it if we had a pest problem. And we would make sure that when we spread it around the house, we’d tell the kids to be very careful where they stepped.”

“But there’s so much of it,” I said. “Why do you need so much pesticide?”

She frowned at me. “What are you saying?”

I shrugged. “I’m just trying to make sense of what’s going on.”

“Owning pesticide is not a crime, Officer.”

“I realize that. But maybe if you just got rid of some of these bags…”

“We can’t do that,” said Mrs. Redgrave. “We’ve always had pesticide. Our neighbors have pesticide, too. If they used their pesticide and we didn’t have any, the bugs would move from their lawns over to ours. Can you imagine?”

“I suppose,” I said. I sighed. “So what are you going to do now?”

“Same thing as last time,” she said. “We’re going to post pictures of the victims, so everyone knows all about the promising young lives that were tragically cut short. We’ll hold a candlelight vigil for them. We’ll use social media to talk about how horrible we all feel. And then I guess we’ll do our best to get back to our daily lives, and pray that this never happens again.”

I closed my notepad. There wasn’t much more I could do here. “Thank you for your time.”

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Autocorrect

MacBook Pro keyboardIt should come as no surprise to anyone that I spend a lot of time on the computer. And a lot of that time on the computer is spent writing. I do a lot of different sorts of writing: writing fiction, creating posts, leaving comments, composing emails, chatting with friends – the list goes on.

Since I started using word processors to write fiction a long time ago, things have changed in many ways. Word processors themselves don’t seem to have changed that much… there are new tools available, and I really like using Scrivener to write fiction due to the way you can manage different pieces of your writing, and customize the way you want to publish your finished drafts. But generally the writing itself, and the various writing tools you use to accomplish writing, haven’t changed a whole lot.

That said, one big change that I’ve noticed is the addition of the autocorrect feature. It kind of snuck up on me. At first, autocorrect corrected a bunch of various simple corrections, but over the years it has become much more robust, until now, when almost anything you type incorrectly can and will be autocorrected. Autocorrect will also frequently correct things that are correct, which can be a bit of a pain at times, but generally it’s quite reliable. I have noticed that autocorrect will now also correct series of words – if you type a string of words into your word processor, autocorrect will try to correct them based on context. I find this pretty amazing.

The reason I am posting about this today is because this afternoon I realized just how much I rely on autocorrect. The truth of the matter is, while I’m actually a pretty good typist, I tend to be lazy with my typing. I knowingly typing slews of errors knowing that I don’t have to worry about them because autocorrect will take care of them for me. I noticed this because while I usually do my work on a MacBook Pro with autocorrect turned on, today I spent quite a bit of time on a Windows machine without autocorrect (because Microsoft Publisher is unfortunately only available for Windows). After working with Publisher for a while, I switched to another window to leave a few comments on a web page and used my (now) normal method of devil-may-care typing. I kept having to back up to correct my lazy errors. A few years ago I would not have left those errors, because back then I was more careful to input things correctly the first time (knowing that if I didn’t, I’d have to go back and fix the errors myself).

I wonder if anyone else has adapted their typing style to take into account autocorrect’s usefulness? It’s an interesting paradigm, and one that I didn’t see coming. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to type some serious garbage into our word processors, and autocorrect will magically change it into the most colorful of poetry! I’m looking forward to it.

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26. May, 2016
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On the off chance

Me in the waiting roomOn the off chance I don’t make it through tomorrow (because hey – you never know), I wanted to mention that I’ve been pretty lucky, and for that, I am thankful. I’m thankful for the life I’ve lived so far. I was fortunate to have been born to fantastic parents living in a free and beautiful country who raised me with love and care, and who provided for me so that I could become healthy and educated. I have an amazing wife and kids whom I love very much, and who fill me with joy every single day. I have a diverse group of amazing friends who lift me up. And I’m happy to have been to the places I’ve been, to have seen the things I’ve seen, and to have met many people from all different races, cultures, traditions, and affinities. These things have made me the person I am today, and I am happy to be that person.

It is my hope that, after I am gone, people will continue to work to understand one another – to endeavor to place themselves in each other’s shoes or sandals. I believe that most people want to do what they feel is right, and do not naturally come from an evil space. Knowing this, people can choose to work in harmony and trust toward a better life for everyone. It might not be easy, but it is the right thing to do.

And if you and I both make it through tomorrow… onward we go!

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12. Apr, 2016
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Earth Day

It’s April, and Earth Day is coming up – not really a holiday – and certainly not a vacation day – but a day to take some time to think about our planet, how we as a species treat it, and what things we can do to make life better for all living creatures on Earth.

I am fan of Earth Day as I am a fan of all things natural. That said, I do realize that I tend to spend most of my time sitting indoors. I do try to get out, of course, as it seems do most people. But it would be great if being outdoors in nature was somehow integrated into the fabric of our daily lives as it was for our ancestors. I’m not saying I want to become a farmer, of course – just that the way many modern vocations are designed, people tend to spend a lot of their days out of touch with nature. In the future, as it becomes easier to work anywhere, I predict we’ll see more interesting ways that people will be able to work and play in harmony with our planet.

Ontario cottage at dawn

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04. Apr, 2016
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Huge success

Callum spent a good chunk of Saturday searching for various tips, tricks, and exploits to do speed-runs of different Portal levels. Well, nobody ever accused him of not being my kid.

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27. Mar, 2016
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Mindfulness

It is amazing all the simple beauty that surrounds us every day that we don’t notice when we aren’t paying attention.

A purple flower in the spring

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20. Mar, 2016
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Wax

This evening we visited Madame Tussauds on International Drive here in Orlando. We have one of those annual passes where you can visit a bunch of different attractions in the area, including Madame Tussaud’s and LEGOLAND, so why not? It was a pretty fun visit.

I’ve seen wax exhibits before, but I don’t believe I have been to a Madame Tussaud’s in particular before. There were several things that I found interesting about it:

  • The wax mannequins were not as realistic as I thought they would be. I mean, they were pretty darn realistic, but you could tell they weren’t real.
  • There were lots of interactive play areas inside the museum. You could throw basketballs, put on different costumes, do some boxing, answer interactive quizzes, and so on. You could also touch and otherwise interact with the wax figures. I hadn’t been expecting this; I had assumed it would be more museum-like, with the exhibits cordoned off. It was a nice surprise.
  • It was neat to see how tall, short, big, or small people were based on their wax replicas. When you see someone on TV you don’t always get an accurate representation of their size. Not that it’s important – ’cause it’s not – but I found it interesting anyway.
  • I kept thinking someone was going to jump out at me.

Uncle Sam at Madame Tussauds Orlando

Wax Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam sign at Madame Tussauds Orlando

We also visited the Orlando Eye (part of that same chain of attractions for which we have an annual pass). That was pretty fun as well. It was colored green for St. Patrick’s Day, which was a nice touch.

On the Orlando Eye

On the Orlando Eye.

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18. Mar, 2016
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Raccoon cubs

The other day I was on a morning walk with Lilou, our Shetland Sheepdog, when I came across a neighbor poking around in his front yard. Apparently he had found three raccoon cubs (or raccoon kits? Either way, they were baby raccoons). He hadn’t been able to find the mother raccoon. The baby raccoons were pretty nervous to have us watching them – I suppose I would be, too. For the most part they hid in the bushes beside house and attempted to remain inconspicuous.

Naturally I took Lilou home, got out my camera, and headed back to the neighbor’s house to take a few pictures. I managed to get a few good ones before my camera’s battery ran out – oops.

I went back again the next day to see if the raccoon cubs were still hanging around the neighbor’s yard, but they were nowhere to be found.

Raccoon cub in a tree

Raccoon cub on the ground

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06. Mar, 2016