Beers and Ears

I am happy to announce that I am now contributing to the Beers and Ears blog. Come on over and take a look at my and the other contributors reviews of beers you will find around the World, Disney World, and beyond.
I finished my first post last night and am about to publish it and have another beer to review tomorrow night so by tomorrow night or on Thursday for a review of a beer that I’ve been waiting to try since I first heard of this project from Sierra Nevada.

Thanks for stopping and I look forward to talking with you further.

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Just a site to talk about today

I know it’s early, but in a way I think this is so cool, while at the same time my wallet is shaking scared.

My daughter may never even want to purchase one of the beautiful dresses that are available from the Disney Bridal collection, but I decided to take a look at the site today. I was totally in awe of the dresses available.

Now for any of those out there that are a bride to be or even still waiting to be a bride don’t think that these dresses are priced out of your consideration. The prices I saw were representative of the design and quality of the dresses.

For the once in a life time opportunity to truly be a princess there is no better place to find the look that you will want. There are dresses designed for seven of the Disney Princesses from Cinderella to Tiana.

For those that are approaching your wedding day head on over to the Disney Bridal site and take a look at the Princess dresses at http://www.disneybridal.com/index.html

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Disney Dream Vacation pt 2

For our second day of vacation we couldn’t ask from anything better. Good friends, good food and plenty of entertainment.
For our first full day in Disney World we made arrangements with our friends to get picked up at All-Star Movies and then we went to Fort Wilderness for a delivery. This was great as I have never been to Fort Wilderness and I was all eyes and ears trying to observe as much as I could.
This opportunity was great as I took notice of how Disney has maintained a great community for those that like to travel via RV’s or campers. I didn’t get to see many tents, but at the same time I wasn’t all that interested in camping at Fort Wilderness in a tent.
After making our delivery we drove to Epcot. Arriving around 9:30 AM set us up for a good day in the park. Now Since I was the only one familiar with Touring Plans I tried to set a plan of attack. Unfortunately with 2 little ones in tow we did need to be quite flexible. We started off really well.
FastPasses
Our touring group comprised of four adults and 2 five year-olds. I mention this so that you can understand our plan for attack. We started off by getting 3 FastPasses for both Soarin’ and TestTrack. The nice part of touring with two five year-olds is that we had their passes to obtain FastPasses with, yet they couldn’t ride most of the E-Ticket attractions. So our plan was to use two FastPasses for two adults and obtain a Child or Rider-swap pass for the other two adults. The only catch we faced was the CM at the entrance of TestTrack seemed a bit inquisitive about how we were going to use the Rider-Swap. Eventually he did let us obtain a pass and use our FastPass. After that all other attractions we were able to use FastPasses and Rider-Swap passes together. We were able to ride TestTrack, Mission:Space and after lunch at San Angel Inn we rode Soarin’.
One of the most anticipated attractions for us was the chance to see Michael Jackson in Captain EO presented in 3D and on 70mm film.
Later that evening we were able to enjoy Illuminations from a private viewing area near the Italy pavilion
We ended the night with quiet walk from World Showcase to our car to which we then back tracked our mornings route.

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Thoughts on Project NextGen

There’s been plenty going around since the presser by Tom Staggs about the innovations that the Disney company is going to be unveiling in the next few years as a part of the NextGen project, and I thought I’d interrupt this usual blog to put down in words what I think the character interactions can and in my humble opinion should be like.

Yes there will be a type of FastPass that can be used to meet and greet the characters in Disney Parks soon. But one thing I notice is how this could be impacting the less planned or scheduled traveler. My thought that would make this beneficial for all would be to turn all Character Meet-n-Greets into reserved/FastPass and to fore go the standby line. But one detail I would like to make sure is that there is an easily accessible way to obtain FastPasses the day of the Meet-n-Greet.

The reason I think this is the best method is that I see this as being a way to set and meet guest expectations, plus this way the Characters times can be more easily maintained. Think about this situation, a young child who may not comprehend the FastPass method and notices other people moving ahead of them in line. The reasoning ability of the child would not be as developed as an older guest, thus disappointment would more than likely be experienced by the all children as the first one would probably start the fuse and each one in line would then notice.

In a way I see the NextGen project could be a big boom for Disney if all popular attractions would become a Reservation/FastPass attraction and make it easy to obtain reservations once entering the parks for those daily visitors.

But hey this is just my opinion, what’s your thoughts?

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Disney Dream Vacation part 1

Getting to Disney World
Our vacation couldn’t have started any further from being a Dream vacation. We had a 6 AM flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, and we are no where near morning people in this house. The morning of February 25th we were getting just a light rain/snow shower here in the Twin Cities, which made it just a bit more interesting. We arrived at Terminal 2 at 5 AM to find that the AirTran ticketing was the busiest we have ever seen. They were asking for those that were on the Milwaukee flight to move to the front of the line. Checked our bags and we were off, off to see there was an even bigger line for the TSA screening. Oh what a day. We made it through TSA in decent amount of time, but were more than a bit rushed. We were running to the gate, which just happened to be the furthest gate from the security screening. It was cute seeing my DD5 running to the gate with her luggage as I was holding my pants from falling down.
Whew we made it with maybe 5 minutes to spare, as believe it or not someone else was later than we were. Lesson learned from this, either book later flights or get to the airport 90 minutes early.
But hey, “we’re on vacation” so now that we’re on the plane what else could be so bad? Well it was between 5:30 and 5:45 and we found out that the plane needed to be de-iced. Insert sad smiley here. But hey “we’re on vacation” so let’s keep this positive right? Well the good news was that we were flying to Milwaukee which in the past we’ve flown to Chicago and that flight was only 45 minutes and this flight was scheduled for 1:20, so we should easily make it to Milwaukee before our 7:50 flight from MKE to Orlando, right?
Well the de-icing seemed to take longer than I would have expected, but at least we were leaving the gate at about 6 AM, which was our scheduled departure time. After that though, it seemed like the pilot took the route to drive us half way to Milwaukee. We didn’t actually take-off until approximately 6:30 AM. But hey “we’re on vacation”, what could be so bad? Besides the pilot even mentioned there was plenty of padding added to this schedule so we should be fine.
OK I have to admit leading up to this day I was having worries about missing our flight, and even though I was already on the plane I was still a bit worried about our next flight. So we landed at MKE and it was about 7:15, again the pilot must have thought we wanted to see the scenic points of the airport, and before that I have to thank air traffic control for plotting the most exciting scenic views of Milwaukee, which by the way for the record, been there; done that and we didn’t really need to see it again.
We get to the gate and the flight crew was already asking those that were not in a rush to please let those that were off the plane first. Well that didn’t go so well.
I suggested that my wonderful wife run ahead to the next gate and get us checked in while I get the stroller and DD5 there. But unfortunately someone decided that we were not going to board the plane. They must not have been familiar with the “Minnesota Nice” that we have back home, as we got to see our plane docked and such while the gate attendant ran to the plane to see if he could get us on the plane. Yet After waiting for what seemed to be 10 minutes we got to wave good-bye to our connecting flight to MCO. Now I have never missed a connecting flight for as long as I can remember, so this was a first. But hey “we’re on vacation”, and I thought I remembered AirTran having as much as 5 flights to Orlando from Milwaukee a day. Well not this day! Turns out the next flight that I thought would have been mid morning, wasn’t until 1:45 PM! WHAT?!? 1:45 PM?!? If they would have let us board that plane we would have been to Disney’s Magical Express check-in before this plane was even scheduled to take-off!

Time to kill, way too much time.

Five hours in a terminal at the MKE airport may not sound as bad as you may think, but let me tell you about the terminal. There’s a Chili’s Too, a deli, two stores at least two sets of bathrooms, about 20 gates and a “kids play area”. If one would want to go to any other terminal they would have to leave the secured area and go through TSA again, no thank you!
Now I won’t get started on how we paid $35 for a simple bacon and eggs breakfast from Chili’s Too that would have even made an over priced Disney breakfast appear to be a great value. But the fact that it seemed more of a fast food delivery instead of a relaxed sit down meal that really made the $35 breakfast seem so much more appreciated, not!
We now had 4 hours and 35 minutes to kill in MKE. We decided to go and setup camp near the gate that we would eventually board the plane at. Fortunately after sitting for about 30 minutes I was able to spot a free outlet, yea, airport Wifi and we had our netbook too. Well that seems too easy! Then I found out that the Wifi at MKE wasn’t free. Well thankfully I recently updated my Android to Froyo, and the mobile WAP was enabled on my phone as well. This gave us a little distraction while waiting, but our DD5 couldn’t sit still, which really brought out the aspect of the MKE airport that disappointed me most. I walked her around as long as I could, but she really wanted to go play in the kids area.
Don’t touch that
Yes, there was a kids area at the terminal, but whoa this place really brought out the germ-a-phobe in me. The kids area was basically a 20′ x 30′ room with a rubber floor material and plastic blocks. One aspect of plastic that simply makes me puzzled about the design of this kids area is that plastic is highly conductive to static electricity. As shocking as this may sound, the plastic was so charged with static that you could see and feel the electricity in the room. You could also see all the dirt and grime clinging to everything in the room. It looked like this room hadn’t been cleaned or even updated since the first Bush administration.
Yea, we made it!
In a bit of an effort to save my and your time I’ll skip the next 3 hours and 45 minutes of waiting, you can thank me later. We made it to MCO and that meant our vacation has now really started! But the long day had really worn us out. We were hoping to meet up with some friends that were also in Disney World but since our planned 5 hour journey took us almost 12 hours we decided to just check in our room at the All-Star Movies and get a quick meal. Then get to bed early and meet our friends for an early and all day touring of Epcot.
Before I end this I just wanted to again mention why we like Disney World so much, it’s the Cast Members. After having such a rough journey we found many Cast Members at the All-Star Music resort that really made the effort to either give us a laugh, a quick pick-me-up or even better an all out welcome to Disney World for our youngest traveler. Seeing her interact with the Cast Members is one of those things that bring happiness as you can see how they too enjoy the experience to help bring a little joy and happiness to young visitors.

Next time on my blog…
In the next section I’ll write up a little review of the All-Star Movies room we stayed at before heading to the Disney Dream. Before reading that if you’d like take a look at Touring Plans info on the Resort here.

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Walt & El Grupo

After enjoying the movie I sat there saying I really need to write a review of this. Now I’m not a professional movie critic, so please take this with a review with a pinch of salt.

Walt & El Grupo tells the story of a difficult time in the Walt Disney Studios history. The artists were rallying to form a union while Walt a genuine family man was trying to keep his studio away from outside influences.
With his studio in peril financially and the animators on the outside with the negative influences that were smearing Walt’s name while the rest of the world entrenched in the early part of the second world war.
It was at this time that the United States government proposed a good will tour for Walt and his team of artists. This tour was win for all parties involved at the time. Walt needed his time away from the troubles at the studio while the U.S. government needed the German influences out of the Sourthern American countries.
The one thing about this documentary that really struck me was the use of historical documents, photos, videos and even recordings of Walt himself describing the events. The reading of personal letters by family members of those who were personally invested in these communications helps give the viewers a great perspective of the artists involved in this world changing event.
Life was so much simpler at this time, but this was not a simple business trip. The officials who made this trip possible for Disney and his artists new the best way to keep the western hemisphere peacefully from entering a war when there was so much in common for all American’s, Northern and Southern.

I would highly recommend this movie for anyone that is interested in the history of Southern American cultures especially that of art, from dance to music to cartoon animation. Of course this is a great movie for any fan of the history of Walt Disney himself and the Walt Disney Studios.

Before watching this movie I did get a chance to watch ‘The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story’, which I hope I can write up a brief review of this movie this weekend.

There’s plenty going on in my life now so I hope I can cut a little time out to type up these reviews from someone out there to read and enjoy.

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March pumps for homebrewing

Now I am no expert at homebrewing or March pumps, but I just wanted to write a little about the use of said pumps in homebrewing. First off, don’t drop them from 1 foot off the ground :-( the slightest off-balance may render them useless.
These wonderful tools will save years of wear and tear on your back. Now when I bought my first pump I was wondering what would be the best way to hook it up. Well unfortunately I was sold in to the cheapest and easiest way. It worked but it also meant the use of tools setting up and taking down, thus it added time and hassle to my brew day.
Since that time I started purchasing quick disconnects from Midwest Supplies. They may not be exactly cheap but it’s worth it. I didn’t, until recently, look at using QD’s on my pump. Now that I have been using QD’s, I wonder what was I thinking to have not done this sooner!
So here’s a quick and dirty list of parts that I purchased to use with my pump. They work great and make for an easy clean up and storage.

Take care.

Parts List:
March Pump
1/2″ Valve
Quick-Disconect’s X2
Female-to-female 1/2″ adapter
Teflon Tape
Connect the 1/2″ valve to the out connection on the pump head. Then connect the female-to-female adapter to the in connection on the pump head. Last but not least connect the QD’s to each end. Be sure to use plenty of tape to seal the threads.

Tubing:
High-Temp hose - Pick your preferred length
1/2″ Quick-Disconnects or Auto Shutoff - I prefer with out to hang and dry the hoses.
Tubing Clamps

Tools
1/2″ wrench
Standard Screw-driver
Philips Screw-driver – Optional, if you want to take the pump head off for ease of working on the pump.

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