…canonical reindeer

 

When in doubt, ask Ouija!

The Ouija board appealed to people from across a wide spectrum of ages, professions, and education—mostly, Murch claims, because the Ouija board offered a fun way for people to believe in something. “People want to believe. The need to believe that something else is out there is powerful,” he says. “This thing is one of those things that allows them to express that belief.”

Smithsonian Magazine has a great article up about the invention and history of the Ouija board. Check it out!

Why I won’t be renewing my Disneyland pass…

My husband and I are your typical hardcore SoCal Disney-philes. We’ve kept Premium Annual Passes for nearly five years now. We go to Disney for holidays, birthdays, our anniversary, and anytime when we just want to get out of the house. We go to the park for dinner often enough that, seriously, we can recite the dishes on offer at all the restaurants almost by heart — even all the new menus! We follow all the latest Disney news, and when a new ride or show opens, or they release cool new pins at the pin shop, we’re always there, waiting eagerly in line.

…and yet, because of recent changes at the park, we will not be renewing our Annual Passes.

We have always appreciated Disney’s concessions to guests with disabilities, and were looking forward to using the new “Disability Access Service” (DAS) Card system.

(If you’re curious about the new system, here’s the official info: https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/media/wdpro-assets/dlr/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/Disney-Parks-Disability-Access-Service-Card.pdf)

According to Disney’s newly published materials, as guests who are unable to physically tolerate long lines, we are both eligible for a DAS Card, which would allow us to receive quick-entry return times for rides, by visiting kiosks located throughout the parks.

Despite Disney’s written commitment to guests with invisible disabilities, since my husband appears healthy, he is apparently not eligible for a DAS Card, and since I walk with a cane and have a “visual cue” as to my disability, the cast members insist that I do not need a DAS Card.

Only guests with DAS Cards are allowed to receive return times at the kiosks located at the entry to each area of the park, and so without the DAS Card we must walk to the ride itself in order to receive a return time — that means a lot more walking, which is in itself a challenge, but it would not be insurmountable except for the fact that most rides do not even offer return times!

We are of course eligible to receive FastPass return tickets, just like anyone else, and FastPasses are great, provided we are able to remain in the park long enough to actually use them. More often than not, we go home with at least one set of unused FastPass in our pockets, because we’re simply too tired to stay long enough to use them.

For popular attractions like Space Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers, one needs to arrive very early in the morning to even receive a FastPass — even for return times as late as midnight. So even if we were to arrive early enough to receive a FastPass for those attractions, the likelihood of our being able to stay late enough to use them would be slim.

I understand that lengthy waits are just part of going to any theme park, but the truth is, a FastPass for several hours later just isn’t useful for those of us who only have, on average, about two or three hours in the park before we’re exhausted and need to head home.

Today, we tried to ride four rides:

  1. We got a FastPass for Star Tours when we first arrived at the park — our return time was four hours later, and we were frustrated and tired before our return time came up.
  2. We requested a return time for Space Mountain at a kiosk — we were refused, and told we would need to “qualify” for a DAS Card in order to receive a return time.
  3. We did get to ride the Jungle Cruise — but despite my “visual cue” we were not allowed to use the alternate entrance, nor were we offered a return time despite the long wait.
  4. We requested a return time for Radiator Springs Racers at the ride — we were told return times were not offered. This was when we just gave up and went home.

I asked Guest Services what we should do when return times are not available, especially for popular rides that almost never have less than a 2+ hour wait, and was told that we should “have somebody wait in line” for us, and to “text back and forth, and join them at the front of the line.”

So. To ride a popular ride, we must:

  1. Find an able-bodied friend.
  2. Convince them to come to Disneyland.
  3. Send them to wait, alone, in 2+ hour lines.

That doesn’t seem like much of an accommodation.

…and it definitely doesn’t make for a very awesome date night, either.

Essentially, Disney is telling us that we will never be able to ride Space Mountain or Radiator Springs Racers ever again, at least not when the park is even moderately busy, and definitely never during the summer, on weekends, evenings, or during the holidays.

Under the old rules, I was informed on many occasions that we would not need a Guest Assistance Card because I walk with a cane, but then, of course, when we got to the ride and attempted to enter through the alternate entry, I was always asked for my GAC — and was quite frequently refused entry without it. Everyone insisted this wasn’t policy, and yet it still happened.

Judging by Jungle Cruise, this ‘no card, no entry’ rule is still the case, and so despite being told we should “just go to the alternate entrance,” we can also strike Haunted Mansion Holiday, Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain, and, you know, most of the rest of Disneyland off our list.

Disney was the place my husband and I went to de-stress and enjoy ourselves, to have a nice couple’s night out, to eat overpriced corn dogs, ride a few rides, and maybe watch the fireworks — and we paid nearly $1400 a year for the privilege of doing that any time we felt like it.

No matter how low I’ve felt, just walking through the gates and on to Main Street always made me feel better, it always lifted my spirits. Today, I left the park crying, because Disney has made it clear — they don’t want disabled people like us ruining it for everyone else.

***

 

*Why aren’t we able to wait in lines, you ask?

I was born with a genetic/immune disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It causes chronic pain and fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and degradation of connective tissues; as a result I have two ruptured discs in my spine, am prone to muscle spasms, and have frequently hyper-extended and even dislocated major joints during the course of ordinary, non-strenuous activities.

My husband has relapsing and remitting Multiple Sclerosis. In his case, this causes chronic pain and tingling sensations, muscle weakness, and occasional difficulty maintaining his balance. Fatigue is a major part of MS, and is caused by both the disease and the medications to treat it. Exhaustion can cause flare-ups, which can last for hours, days, or even months.

So, we may be disabled enough to qualify for permanent disabled parking permits from the state, we may both need to see multiple doctors every month, and we may have a small pharmacy’s worth of medications that we take every single day, but we are apparently not disabled enough to warrant accommodations from Disney in order to enjoy the park like everyone else.

 

**Why don’t we just rent or buy wheelchairs?

Lots of well-meaning people have suggested that we use wheelchairs. Even simple wheelchairs are expensive and highly-specialized medical equipment — and they aren’t covered by insurance for things like “going to Disneyland”, so that entire cost would be completely out of pocket.

If we were to rent wheelchairs, it would cost $24 every single time we went to the park. That really adds up. Not to mention, the Disney wheelchairs are not designed to be wheeled along by the occupant, so we would need two friends to push us around the park! Who wants to volunteer?

Cost aside, using a wheelchair is extremely limiting. One can no longer navigate crowded areas, tight spaces, or even see very well from a seated position. There’s a reason individuals in wheelchairs often have an able-bodied person walk ahead of them to clear the way.

Finally, using wheelchairs would actually be bad for our health. If we want to still be able to walk in five or ten years, exercise is important — and Disney, with its bench-lined walkways, and cast members available at every turn, is one of the few safe places we’ve found to get a little exercise.

Brownies so delicious they’re probably illegal in 26 states…

Start with your favorite brownie recipe, or ready-mix box, and make according to directions. Then add a box of your favorite flavor instant pudding mix.

Stir in a various assortment of nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, crushed candy pieces, or mini marshmallows as you like.

The batter will be super-thick. Try not to eat it all as you scrape it into an oiled pan.

Drizzle on sundae toppings like hot fudge, caramel sauce, marshmallow fluff, butterscotch, etc. Drag a fork through if you like to be artsy, but don’t stir.

Bake according to your recipe’s directions, or until they seem done. The more sundae toppings you add, the gooier they’re going to be, even fully cooked.

They’re best warm, but keep for several days. Serve with ice cream if you dare.

What would wine grown on Mars taste like?

From Edible Geography

Scattered across the globe, scientists working in these unearthly greenhouses attempt to optimise an extra-terrestrial agriculture, re-learning the precise irrigation, fertilisation, and drainage needs of domesticated crops as they adapt to extreme environments.

This construction of alien terroir — a combination of simulated geologic and climate conditions and innovative human craft — is a form of remote sensing, a survey device no less useful than a satellite or rover in generating new forms of planetary knowledge, whether they be agricultural, sensory, or embodied.

Oh, the NSA…

Whether you personally have something to hide, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling completely comfortable with the NSA’s unblinking eye running over their correspondence and phone records. As a patriotic red-blooded American, you might think one of two things. Either Edward Snowden is a hero who’s blown the lid off a villainous security state, or Snowden is a snivelling crook. And why would you entrust your personal correspondence to an organization known to employ traitors and petty criminals like Edward Snowden?

More here…

Trusto Corp Art-Bombs An Abandoned Theme Park

This is so me…

A very short list: things to listen to…

1. coffitivity.com offers, as you might guess from the name, ambient coffee house sounds. It’s oddly soothing, I can’t explain why.

2. youarelistening.to streams local police and fire department dispatch, along with a selection of ambient music. The dispatchers are always so matter-of-fact.

Remember that time…

…when Alice Cooper guest starred on The Muppet Show?

 

…and here are the musical numbers, if you just want instant Alice.

Welcome To My Nightmare

You & Me

School’s Out