Weekend Trip to Disneyland

Jack Skellington comes out for Halloween and Christmas
Jack Skellington comes out for Halloween and Christmas

Last weekend my wife and I took an unplanned trip to Disneyland!

We were talking on Friday night about how some people take vacations by going to the airport and just asking for a ticket to the next plane leaving the runway.

I said that doing that was unreliable. “What if you ended up in a boring place? Or a place that you couldn’t afford? It makes more sense to go to some place that you know you’ll like for a vacation, like Disneyland.”

My wife and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon, so going again will always bring back happy memories for us.

She said she was actually interested in going. Disneyland is fun so I wanted to go to. We decided we’d leave early Saturday morning and spend all day at the park before getting a hotel room and returning Sunday morning.

We looked at plane tickets first, but those cost about $800 for both of us to fly from Sacramento to Anaheim.

We drove instead. A little over 400 miles and 6 hours not counting breaks and traffic.

This was the first long road trip i’d bern on where I was the person driving. It was exhausting, but definitely worth it!

We went through a lot of farm land and dairy land. My wife is a vegetarian and when we passed the occasional stockyard she would clasp her hands together and say, “I love you moo-cows! Someone cares about you! I hope you are safe!”

We checked in to our hotel and headed on over to Disneyland for lunch. It was great being back where we’d had our honeymoon.

After lunch we rode all our favorite rides, Pirates, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Peter Pan, Splash Mountain, and Haunted Mansion (seen above). Dinner fit in there somewhere as well.

At the end of the day we saw the firework display and got to watch the Fantasmic water and light show. I LOVE Fantasmic because of the animatronic dragon near the end. It rears up out of the stage and breaths fire on the river. It’s amazing! I’d love to show you, but the show is difficult to capture on video because most cameras aren’t able to handle the sudden changes in light that the show has. Your eyes can handle it, but mechanical cameras are too slow.

Afterwards we went back to the hotel and collapsed. We drove on back the next day!

It was a super fun trip and my first unplanned vacation ever. Plus I had my best friend with me, my wife!

-Mister Ed

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Solar Freaking Roadways

My wife showed me this cool new technology called Solar Roadways this morning.

She showed me with a Youtube video you can look at here.

The technology is a new type of pavement made out of solar panels.

The video describes it quite well in a funny way (Solar Freaking Roadways!).

Solar panels cover the road. On top of the panels are a few LED lights and then a strong shield of glass.

The glass can support up to 250,000 pound (113,000kg) trucks. The inventor of Solar Roadways, Scott Brusaw, chose that researched weight because the transportation of oil refinery equipment is done at weights of around 230,000 pounds (104,000kg).

The LEDs are used to create lane lines or for other necessary road paint (Pedestrian Xing, Slow Down, etc.).

If every paved surface in the USA were covered with these panels they would generate three times the current energy consumption of the USA.

Other energy sources would still be needed as solar panels don’t operate at night.

The panels can also heat themselves to melt snow and prevent dangerous driving conditions in colder states.

Two underground channels are planned to run along side the Roadway. One will hold water runoff. The other will hold electrical wires.

The wires carry the electricity off the solar panels to consumers.

The channel could also hold telephone lines, fiberoptic internet cables, etc. By placing them underground, storms are less likely to cause outages.

Mr. Brusaw, pictured above in a tractor on the prototype driveway of Solar Roadways, seemed particularly proud of the traction of Solar Roadways.

Some people worry that cars won’t be able to stop on glass, but Solar Roadways glass panels are textured in a way that cars going 80mph (130kph) on a wet panel could stop just as fast as on wet asphalt.

My worry upon seeing the giant textured panels was that bikes would not be able to go on them.

Fortunately, Mr. Brusaw has an answer for that too. Another variety of the panels has a smoother texture that bikes can ride over comfortably.

The smoother texture allows cars to stop in times similar to wet asphalt at speeds of only 40mph (65kph) though. You can’t have everything.

It would be easy enough to build a bike lane out of the smoother panels next to a road made of the textured panels to accommodate both types of vehicles.

If you’re interested in learning more about Solar Roadways you can check out their website or fund them using Indiegogo. The fundraiser is until June 20th 2014.

-Mister Ed

Quantum Roll

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I mentioned that my group uses Roll20 to play D&D.

Roll20 started as a Kickstarter. They got successfully funded and released the beta to the backers before releasing the official version to everyone a bit later.

The folks who make Roll20 have a payment system common to most internet businesses.

The program is free to use if you’d like, but you can also pay a monthly or yearly fee to get access to new features sooner, more dataspace, and fewer ads. Pretty similar to WordPress’s system if you think about it.

Roll20 has an additional feature on their payment system though.

The website doesn’t have the vast following that WordPress has.¬†They don’t make enough from ad revenue to keep the site going like WordPress does.

Roll20 relies almost entirely on people paying for the extra features. Thus is the site has a little tracker saying how many subscribers it needs to “keep the lights on.”

The tracker has other levels it can go up to though. There are a total of five different levels of support on the tracker.

The first level is keeping the servers on to support all the traffic that Roll20 gets.

The second level is having occasional updates done by the developers. This isn’t enough money for Roll20 to be their fulltime job, but its enough to convince them to work on weekends.

The third level is full time work by the developers. The tracker is currently a little ways into this level.

The fourth level pays for a publicist and additional developers to come up with system specific features for Roll20.

The fifth level allows for even more developers to be hired for projects beyond just Roll20.

With the third level not yet complete, the developers are coming out with occasional updates. The new one for May is a bit ridiculous. You can check it out on their blog post here: Quantum Roll

Random number generators on computers aren’t exactly random. It’s complicated to explain, but you can trust the programmers on this one. They wouldn’t lie about a deficiency that they have.

This is frustrating for some people that use Roll20. Real dice are random, shouldn’t virtual ones be random too?

The Roll20 development team has solved that problem by hooking its dice rolling program up to data from a light beam splitter in Australia.

The light splits randomly giving random data details. Roll20 uses those numbers to decide the outcome of a die rolled on the website.

It’s so ridiculous that most of Roll20’s fans have been calling it an April Fools joke or overkill for the problem.

My opinion? It’s a pretty damn cool way to solve the problem using freely available methods. I won’t notice while playing, but I like that the developers care.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed