Tag Archives: Universe

Park People Parade Purposefully

Pick your poison, dudes.

If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, I simultaneously envy and pity you. I have a massive love-hate relationship with Mouschwitz, knowing how much happiness it brings to most and how much misery it’s brought to me in the past.

Still, this last time, I actually had more fun than not. And that’s something of a first for me.

How to describe the Magic Kingdom? It’s been called (relentlessly) The Happiest Place On Earth and the cast members there certainly try to force you to live up to that logo. They are smiling all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that facial smile fatigue is the most-treated concern at the Disney Docs.

Completely covered in concrete, the Magic Kingdom is what first comes to mind when most dudes think about Walt Disney World. It’s made up of Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland , Main Street USA, Mickey’s Toontown Circus and Liberty Square. Crowds enter on Main Street and are forced to walk down the double rows of shops and emporiums on their way to Cinderella’s Castle at the end of the street.

Once there, they can branch off into any of the different areas. Famous rides include Space Mountain (my favorite as it’s almost a thrill ride instead of a theme ride), Splash Mountain, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (my third favorite), the Haunted Mansion (my second favorite), the Jungle Cruise and many, many more. Since we went in December, it wasn’t as broiling hot as in the summer months (although most days it got up to 85 Fahrenheit) and the crowds were lighter.

All in all, we had a pretty tremendous time. Hyper Lad enjoyed a lot of the rides, with one severe exception, while the wife and I had a good time as well, actually going on all the rides together, instead of a certain someone sitting it out.

Animal Kingdom was, I thought, very much improved over the last time I went there. In addition to a simply amazing safari ride, I finally experienced the Expedition Everest roller coaster, in which we “escaped” from a Yeti attack. The Animal Kingdom is divided into sections featuring Africa, Asia, Dino Land, Camp Minnie-Mickey and Discovery Island. We had a lot of fun watching the various animal antics and going back in time millions of years to get screamed at by a Carnataurus.

EPCOT was home to three of what turned out to be very, very fun rides. At Mission: Space, Hyper Lad and I went on a virtual Mission to Mars, which featured some very convincing combinations of physical movement and video to make us think we IMG_4184were piloting a ship down to the surface of Mars. At the Test Track, Hyper Lad designed his own massively powered car, which we then drove around a track to “test.” We also enjoyed Soarin’ in The Land section, which combined a moving bench and a very large video of flying, to make us think we were in a hang glider.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, though, was the most disappointing. Although we enjoyed Star Tours (a virtual ride in an out-of-control spaceship in the Star Wars universe) and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, there wasn’t much else at the park to hold our interest. Although I did get to ride a speeder, so there was that.

All in all, I’d have to say that Disney World made a much better impression on me this time around. Maybe I’m older and less easily angered or annoyed (although I seriously doubt that last one), or having older young dudes along for the ride made for a less-stressful experience, but, whatever the case, it made for an enjoyable short vacation.

Not sure if I’d go back there, but I feel like I can actually recommend other people go without feeling like a hypocrite.

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Too Much Time On His Hands

Some days, it doesn’t seem as if there’s enough hours available to get done what needs to be done. I mean, who hasn’t wished for a 30-hour day every once in a while?

Either when you’re having fun or when there’s just so much work due and due right now.

I’ll tell you who.

This dude. This dude right here has way too much time on his hands. And the excess time somewhat explains this. Somewhat. Maybe. Maybe not. You know. . . let’s just take a look at what I’m talking about and we can decide together.

Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why. Several months ago, I watched a fun-filled video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme. This theory covers every Pixar production since Toy Story. 

Jon Negroni, the owner of the blog post in question, then spends the next who knows how many thousand words detailing the order in which the Pixar movies should be viewed, the order in which they take place in the Pixar timeline, starting with Brave, far in the past, and ending with A Bug’s Life, in the distant future.

He finds connective tissue in various characters he says are the same across movies. Like, for instance, the Witch in Brave, who keeps disappearing through doors or not being there when a door is opened, is actually a very-much-aged Boo, from Monsters, who mastered time travel through doors to find her beloved Sully again.

According to Mr. Negroni, the artificial intelligences that manipulated Syndrome to kill off the supers in The Incredibles, continued to develop throughout the intervening years, eventually developing into a faceless corporation called Buy ‘n’ Large, known as BnL, or the company that ruled the Earth, destroyed it by pollution and then arked the remaining humans out into space and special fat suits.

So machines decide to control humans by using a corporation that suits their every need, leading to an industrial revolution that eventually leads to…pollution. When the animals rise up against the humans to stop them from polluting the earth, who will save them? The machines. We know that the machines will win the war, too, because after this war, there are no animals ever to be seen again on Earth. Who’s left?

fanpop.com

Yeah, having Cars take place in a post-humanity apocalypse certainly makes sense and definitely explains why I got such a creepy feeling whenever I tried to watch this particular horror.

Congratulations, Mr. Negroni. You’ve managed to think about this for far, far too long. Even worse, now I’m starting to think about it, seeing how things make sense and start considering ways to explain some of the paradoxes inherent in this thesis.

I believe I might need help. A lot of help.


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A Universe Of Worlds, Each Separate And Alone

To look at a child with severe autism from the outside, is to see a child fully immersed in a world that can be shared by no one else. It is a world of one, a universe of one. No matter how many people surround and love the child, there can be no response.

Across a gulf of infinite space, the child’s mind drifts alone, unconnected, unreachable.

Or is it?

According to Dr. Robert Melillo, founder of the  Brain Balance Achievement Centers, an internationally recognized expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and author of the recent book,  Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders–and What Parents Can Do Now, it is completely possible to cross that gulf and bring connections to that child’s isolated mind.

“There’s nothing preventing change. There’s nothing damaging his brain (if he has an ASD). So, why can’t he get better?”

I sat down with Dr. Melillo recently and asked him about this. Well, I sat down at my desk and he was at his desk and we were both talking on the phone. But we were sitting down. It counts.

Before we get any further, let’s define a few things. It’ll make for a slightly easier discussion later on. Autism isn’t a binary disorder. That is, it’s not a question of you either have it or you don’t. Unlike pregnancy, you can have a little bit of autism. That’s the reason for the Autism Spectrum Disorder bit up above.

Think of it as a sliding scale. On one end, you’ve got your completely neurotypical individual who performs within the norms on all tests. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got a person with very severe autism, a person who might exhibit symptoms like complete withdrawal, rocking back and forth, head banging on walls, everything most laymen think about when they consider autism.

Those are the outliers, though, dudes. Most of the people on the spectrum (which is what it’s called these days) are somewhere in the middle. Think of it as a classic bell-shaped curve with neurotypical on one end and completely withdrawn autism on the other.  Included on the spectrum are disorders such as Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Asperger’s Syndrome and others.

So, you see, saying someone has autism just doesn’t work. For a diagnosis to do any good, you’ve got to do a lot more testing and find out where on the spectrum that patient is, what kind of symptoms present and the rest. It is, as you might guess, a delicate task that involves a lot of work. And, to make it even more difficult, we don’t know what causes ASDs. We think there’s a genetic disposition and, probably, environmental triggers, but we don’t know.

Despite the difficulty in correctly placing people with ASD on the spectrum, we’ve seen an amazingly steep growth curve in the number of diagnosed cases in just the last decade.

“People think that autism’s cause is purely genetic,” Melillo said, asking how, if the cause is genetic are we suddenly experiencing such an upsurge in cases? “There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. But look at the prevalence of autism. We’ve gone from one in 10,000 to one in 50, as of last week.”

Now, when something like this shows up in such huge numbers, my first thought is that it’s not an actual increase in cases, but, rather, doctors simply are doing a better job of recognizing and diagnosing the disorder. Melillo, though, said that just doesn’t cover what he’s been seeing.

Melillo said that is one of the reasons he wrote his first book. “People are completely unaware that you can prevent it.”

We’ll talk more about that one tomorrow.

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