On Thursday night I was a volunteer character at Goofy’s Mystery Tour.
It’s a yearly competition at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after park hours. Three hundred teams (four players each) spend an hour answering 80 really hard multiple-choice Disney trivia questions, then they’re set loose in the park with a puzzle (math, logic, rebus, wordplay, &c.) on a sheet of paper. Solve the puzzle, find the right group of characters to verify it (Scientists, Skiiers, Dapper Dans, Disco Dancers, &c.), and they’ll get the next puzzle and a clue for the final puzzle. 15 puzzles, 2 hours, and if they can gather enough clues they might be able to solve the final puzzle.
I rarely buy things for myself, but recently I’ve been splurging. Here’s everything I’ve bought for myself from Amazon in the past two weeks.
Jill and I celebrated New Year’s Eve at home for the first time in years.
We usually go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios early (around 10 AM) and camp out at a picnic table in front of Min & Bill’s (to the left of the end of Hollywood Boulevard) all day. Back before DHS became one big construction zone, they used to have DJ Elliot alternating with Mulch Sweat & Shears all evening, culminating with MS&S performing a live show synchronized with the fireworks at midnight. It was a great experience. But this year the midnight show at DHS was the usual Star Wars fireworks show that we’ve already seen several times. Magic Kingdom is insane on NYE (you’ve got to try it at least once in your life, but you don’t need to do it any more than that), Animal Kingdom closes before midnight, and Epcot doesn’t have any particularly comfortable places to sit for fourteen hours.
Jill made us lunch reservations for Via Napoli at Epcot, so we went there … and almost wished we hadn’t; driving distance was about 10 miles, but the roads were packed and traffic was at a standstill so it took us nearly two hours to get there. At one point we were stopped in traffic beside a parking lot tram which was being brought in from another park. But we went and dined and got New Year’s hats (paper this year) and got home safe.
At midnight we Skype-chatted with Eve while we had the Dick Clark celebration on TV and the Magic Kingdom fireworks on Jill’s laptop. We then heard our neighbors out front so we joined them for a little while in an impromptu street party with lots of sparklers.
I’ve had the past week off work because I was maxed out on vacation and I hadn’t used any of my floating holidays. I feel accomplished – I tackled lots of things on my to-do list. Fixed, upgraded, restocked, and otherwise tended to anything that needed attention around the house. So I feel a little bit centered, balanced, as we go into twenty eighteen.
I’m really enjoying the new anime series “Kino’s Journey,” a remake of the 2003 series in which a traveler and a talking motorcycle visit many strange countries, staying exactly three days in each. It’s very Twilight Zone, setting up a strange situation and exploring how characters respond to it (like: what if there were a country where murder was legal?).
I watched the previous series five years ago, and I feel much the same about this remake: the episodes are largely standalone, the protagonist is mostly a blank slate, but the artwork is gorgeous. The theme of the series is “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is beautiful.” I can get behind that.
This evening I watched the episode “Kind Country,” which I remembered from the original as soon as I saw the little girl’s cherry hair-clip. It’s wonderfully bittersweet, as is the episode that’s coming up next week, “Country of Adults.”
I’ve also been watching the series “Recovery of an MMO Junkie,” which is a romance between players of an online videogame in their 30s. The concept is cute and it’s done with a sweetly innocent touch, but I’m disappointed that it seems to have run out of steam and coasted to a halt. Yesterday’s episode (the tenth one) is apparently the final one, aside from an OVA which Crunchyroll is broadcasting next week, if that makes any sense.
Jill and I each have a Nintendo 3DS. They’re great little systems for some quick gaming now and then. She likes the Mario games, I like puzzle games (especially Professor Layton and Ace Attorney), and we both still visit our Animal Crossing villages every now and then.
One of my favorite features is StreetPass: when I carry the 3DS around with me for a while, the number of steps I’ve taken and the other 3DS owners I’ve walked past will “power up” some minigames. It’ll give me the names and home states of the people I meet this way. Carrying one around a Disney park will usually get us a few connections, though not as many as it used to.
Best Buy stores have something called a “Nintendo Zone”, where bringing a 3DS into the store will “meet” other 3DS owners who’ve been there recently. (This used to also be offered at McDonalds and Starbucks as well as a few other places, I think.) But I’ve long been curious about how exactly this works, and how to set up a Nintendo Zone in our own house so we can make lots of these connections much more often.
Turns out it’s easy! In short, all it needs is an open access point named “attwifi”, with a MAC address that’s set to the same thing as being used by other access points. More detailed instructions at “https://www.reddit.com/r/3DS/comments/1k0g58/setting_up_a_streetpass_relay_at_home/“. It can be done with a laptop, or a wireless base station, or a Raspberry Pi, or a wide variety of other devices.
I set one up yesterday and I’ve already “met” people from Canada, France, Japan, Australia, and lots of other places.
I found myself nose-to-nose with a ferret – in a figurative sense at least, as he stood on his hindpaws to roughly half my height. He was standing on the doorstep. Paws clasped together in earnestness. Friendly smile on his face. “Budgeron Ferret,” he said by way of introduction, “and I understand you could use my help. May I come in? And do you have tea?”
I saw the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel twice on opening weekend: on Friday courtesy of my employer, and then on Saturday with Jill. So I’ve had lots of opportunity to think about what I thought of it.
(Spoilers follow.) Continue reading
Jill and I just saw the new Beauty and the Beast in the theater.
It was … regrettable. Came across as “an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast starring Hermione.”
I was listening to an interview on NPR with the president of the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative thinktank), who said:
You know, one of the things that I ask when I’m in front of audiences is to do a little thought experiment: What would happen if all of the poor people in America just disappeared? Would you know it if all the poor people in America suddenly disappeared? I daresay that most people listening to us today wouldn’t even know about it immediately. They have no emotional or moral connection to them. … We’ve gotten incredibly good at helping poor people. We could be better, of course. But we’ve gotten terrible at needing people.
And then Jill and I were watching John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” on HBO Now, where he briefly turned the discussion away from politics:
I know the world is a bleak place right now. So we wanted to leave you with a happy story. And it involves Bolivia. [map of South America appears, with a country highlighted as Bolivia] A country you think about so little you don’t even realize that’s not Bolivia, that’s Columbia, except it isn’t, that’s Venezuela [map updates], THAT is Columbia [map updates again], except it isn’t, that’s Bolivia, which is the one we were looking for in the first place. Which one’s Columbia? There is simply no way to know.
I feel sad and ashamed that even though the world is so small these days, I still don’t know very many people in it.
Last weekend I upgraded Jill’s Hackintosh to macOS Sierra.
As with every Hackintosh upgrade, the story neither begins nor ends there.