Monday, September 27, 2010

DVC Trades

I was trying to keep this blog updated, at least with minor entries, but the last few weeks have been dry for me. It seems my brain has been too occupied with the political debate (if you want to call it that) going on in this country, as I've been doing some light research on the health care bill (aka ObamaCare) and on federal spending. (I made a couple of blog posts over at my Rambler blog on Journalscape. If anyone's interested, there's a link over there on the left side of your screen.)

So Disney has been fairly far from my mind over the last couple weeks. Until this weekend. We are Disney Vacation Club owners, and one of the main reasons we bought it was because of the potential to trade for weeks at nice properties around the country and world. They have an exchange program with RCI Timeshare properties, but it is something that till now we haven't attempted to utilize.

But this weekend, we started thinking about possible trips for spring break of 2011. So we pulled out our DVC book, and started looking at the locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. There are a few very nice properties listed in that area. So we picked out two or three, and called to see if they could check availability.

No availability at any of the properties we wanted.

So we did the same thing for San Francisco, but this time rather than spending an hour searching the internet for the various resorts and figuring out which ones we'd like to maybe try out, we called first. No availability in the entire state of California for that particular week.

The second agent was much more informative than the first - she let me know that the way most people do this is that they put their names on a "wait list" and wait for someone to give up their week to the exchange program. She said that it usually happens within a couple months. The trouble is, the airfares we were looking at were this price, today! Two weeks ago, they were more. Two weeks from now, who knows what they'll be?

Perhaps this is simply the way this exchange program works, but it was one of their major selling points when we were buying, and though I asked all the questions I could think of before we bought, no one explained that it was likely to be difficult or to take time to actually get trades through. In fact, just the opposite - the guy making the pitch suggested that since Orlando was the number 1 tourist destination in the world, trades were easy to make and happened very quickly. He went through the process, calling DVC and requesting the trade. But he seemed to suggest that it was about the same as using our points to book a vacation at a non-DVC Disney property, except cheaper, points-wise.

I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with the way this worked out. I and my kids really love Disney, but there is more to life and to the world than Disney property vacations. If I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn't purchase DVC points again...


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Imagine(er) That!

This is a poster which can be found in the Innoventions pavilion at Epcot.

Don't you sort of wish there really WAS a reality tv show called this?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Music: My favorite band ever

I'm a huge Beatles fan. I believe I have everything they've recorded on CD, and I was smart enough to keep some of my old vinyl records of their recordings, including stuff like Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. These young men were musical geniuses, in my opinion. They shaped the course of rock music, and they continue to influence people today. The recording technology has gotten better, but the music has not advanced as much, in my opinion.

I'm a musician myself; my main instrument is keyboards, but I also play a passable guitar and am a fair drummer. I've played in a lot of bands over the years, and it seems we almost always covered at least one or two Beatles songs, even if it was just Twist and Shout and I Saw Her Standing There. But we've tried a ton of 'em...Harrison numbers like Something, Lennon songs like Glass Onion and The Ballad Of John and Yoko, and McCartney tunes like Back In The USSR and Lady Madonna.

Not surprisingly, there are tons of cover bands, groups playing the Beatles' catalogue, and some doing it very well. I've not seen a ton of Beatles' tribute bands. But the few I've seen are good. American English is a group that plays around the Midwest, and they try to look and sound like the Fab Four. The Fab Faux is a bunch of guys from New York who don't care so much about looking the parts; they prefer to do the music perfectly. Saw them at the Vic Theater in Chicago where they did the White Album in its entirety just before Christmas last year. (Did I say they do the music perfectly?)

The only other Beatles tribute band I've seen is this one: British Invasion. If you have visited Epcot and lingered in the United Kingdom pavilion, it's likely you've seen them too.

I'm led to believe (by my wife and others) that, as a musician, I look for different things than casual fans do. I listen for guitar riffs, for drum fills, for vocal harmonies, for bass runs, for all the little things that make the songs sound close to the originals. And I hear those things when I listen to British Invasion. They appear to be top-notch musicians, on the order of American English (the band I referenced earlier). And they appear to love the music they are performing.

These are just a couple of pictures I had in my camera of the band performing in their gazebo in the courtyard of the UK pavilion. I hope to catch a set by them when I'm there later this fall.

Rock on, British Invasion!