Education.

For probably the first time in over a year, YouTube suggested something to me that I find quite interesting. It’s a television series from 1961 called, “Mrs. G. Goes To College”. A quick Wikipedia hit reveals the show was later called “The Gertrude Berg Show”. The cast includes the aforementioned Gertrude Berg, Marion Ross (later on “Happy Days”), and the perennial Mary Wickes.

Prior to this suggestion I was unfamiliar with this show and Gertrude Berg herself, for that matter. The Wikipedia hit mentions she was a writer, actor, producer and more and basically a female pioneer in a very male dominated industry at the time.

The concept of “Mrs G. Goes To College” is she’s a widow in her early 1960s and decides to go back to college. I’m halfway through the first episode as I write this and I’m already finding it fascinating. I really like Mrs. Berg’s understated method of acting and line delivery. And not only does it appeal to my love of black and white film and other media and the graciousness and manners of the era, but the concept of lead character Sarah Greene going back to college in her early 60s gives me a sense of hope.

We need more hope.

Mechanical.

Our condo for this trip is in The Paddock at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Spa and Resort. The Paddock was built in the mid 2000s and is up for refurbishment over the next year or so. Because of the impending improvements, this will probably be our last opportunity to use one of these:

We enjoy having a washer and dryer available in the condo because we pack half the clothes we need and do laundry every night. We go home with clean clothes. This reduces the stress of going home after vacation.

The original-to-the-condo washer and dryers are marked as a “Quality GE Product”. The washer is a traditional washer that fills up with water, with an agitator up the middle. It fills, washes, spins, fills, rinses, spins and calls it a day. This design washed clothes for decades but has given way to more efficient designs. Newer washers spritz some water on the clothes, thump them around while making cricket noises, spin, spritz, and spin again. The new design is suppose to be eco-friendly but I never feel like our clothes are clean with these energy efficient washers.

One of the things I love about this old school washer and dryer is that it has mechanical controls. Push the knob in, click click click to your cycle choice and pull the knob to start. We did it thousands upon thousands of times when I was growing up. Pulling that knob and having the water start was always so cool. Pressing “Start” on the new fangled washing machines to start the spritzing just isn’t the same.

Mechanical controls are also much more reliable. There’s no need to “reboot” the washer or dryer. The motor turns the knob, the relays click at their appropriate times and the washing machine does what it’s suppose to do.

With the refurbishment of the condos here at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, they’re replacing all the appliances. The new washer/dryer combination units are made by Whirlpool and they are all electronic with the cricket noises during operation.

This means the mechanical controls found on the condo dishwasher are also going away.

Interestingly, GE owns up to the manufacturing of the dishwasher, but the washer/dryer combo unit apparently isn’t worthy of the GE logo.

Nowadays the GE logo has been leased out to a company called Haier, as GE no longer makes appliances. I’m pretty sure the appliances we had in the house before we moved to Chicago were actually made by Frigidaire but branded with the GE logo. Parts could be exchanged between Frigidaire, GE, Westinghouse, and Kenmore appliances. Geeks online called them FriGEmore appliances.

I’m all for technology doing great things for us, but not for the sake of making things cheaper and the lessening of the user experience. The appliances in this condo are well over a decade old and have been used by countless different guests and families and they’re still going just fine.

We need GE to bring good things to life again.

Data Geek.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Since my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1997 I have been fascinated with their use of technology. When Earl and I were first here back then, I promptly noticed Disney was using a modified version of the IBM 4680 General Sales Application for their retail needs. At the time they were using IBM 4695 touchscreens in the food outlets, running software I was unfamiliar with.

If you look in older stores at WDW, you’ll notice holes in the counter that used to accommodate the customer display as pictured above.

With each visit to Walt Disney World I’ve noticed evolutionary steps in their use of technology. Point of sale systems were upgraded. The food service program I noticed at the first visit (MATRA) was then used throughout the entire property. IBM 4695s gave way to NCR touchscreen terminals. iPods started making an appearance as another point of sale device. RFID capable credit-card sized tickets were introduced. Then they were capable of unlocking our resort/hotel door. The cards gave way to Magic Bands, which can be used for tickets to the park, charges to the room, unlocking doors, identifying who you are for photo opportunities; the list goes on.

Tonight I noticed several of the Disney establishments are upgrading their point of sale terminals again. The size of an iPad, it looks like they’re still running MATRA but they take up half the space of the preceding terminal. The customer information display is bigger and brighter.

When we check into a FastPass+ attraction, the cast member monitoring entrance activities has the opportunity to say, “Hello, John!”, as my name appears on their screen.

Technology is awesome when it’s used responsibly and enhances our real life experiences. Having a Disney Cast Member take our photo and have it appear in our Disney Parks Photo Stream on our phone 10 minutes later is awesome.

Technology has come a long way since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, apparently using Sweda Model 46 cash registers, as evidenced by this receipt I found online.

Cultural Mingling.

I’m a people watcher. Find my a bench near busy pedestrian traffic and I could sit and watch people all day long. I’m fascinated by the many elements of the human equation.

One of my joys of spending time at Disney is the blend of cultures in progress at any given moment. There’s almost always a whole bunch of languages in use within one’s given proximity. Folks from different continents are looking for cuisine that fits their expectations. And laughs and smiles on a Disney attraction is universal.

The successful blending of people in this manner in the “Happiest Place on Earth” proves that with a little effort and with a common goal, we can all get along just fine. The color of our skin, the language we speak, whom we are holding hands with: none of it matters when we’re all just looking for some happiness in our lives.

Don’t worry, be happy.