Friday, October 25, 2013

Where Have I Seen That Name Before?

About a month ago while watching the cable anthology show "Mysteries at the Museum"; I saw a segment on the 2009 hijacking of the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama in ocean off the coast of Ely,Somalia, Africa. It's the story that serves as the basis for the recently released Tom Hanks movie, "Captain Phillips".

The reason for the segment on a show about museum artifacts is that the orange bullet-marked 5-ton fiberglass lifeboat that the pirates used in their attempt to escape is on display at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.   

At the time I saw the show the name "Maersk" looked familiar to me. But I dismissed it as just a type of "Deja Vu." 

Then last weekend when I went to see "Captain Phillips" seeing "Maersk" on the big screen it's familiarity was once again confounding. I couldn't make the connection. 

Then this past Thursday while working on my Lego VW model I looked in the back of the instruction booklet. That's where the Lego company usually puts pictures of other sets that may be of interest to their customers. 

That's where I realized where I had seen the name before. It was in a picture of Lego play set #10219.

See the logo of the Maersk Shipping Line Inc. on the train and cargo trailers?

I like the train its really cool but the set's retired. The selling price on E-bay starts at $200. Don't like it that much. 

Anyway, personal mystery solved. Now I can move on to finding out why I recognize the star of the new Fox show "Almost Human." 

Building Brick Update

 About 3 weeks ago I posted about my Lego VW bus kit. When I wrote that post I had every intention of starting to build it that same week. Unfortunately, other things in my life have prevented me from doing that. 

Returning to work after knee surgery and writing a Christmas play for the children in my church are at the top of the list.

But just because I haven't started on the "big project" doesn't mean that I haven't been working with plastic building bricks. 

After my recent trip to the Lego store in Nashville, I know have enough Legos to make "Merry Christmas" in block letters to display this season. 

Now I know I did this last year but it was multicolored bricks borrowed from some of my sets to complete the sign. 

This year the sign will be made from only red and green bricks; and along with some mini figures from the Lego Series 11.  When I put it together and set it up on the shelf in our living room I'll post a picture so you can see it. 

Speaking of Mini-Figure Series 11; I completed my collection of the 16 figure set on October 15. I also discovered that Lego actually makes a cool way to show them off. 

I also put together the "fall scene" mini-kit offered at the Lego store last month. 

My favorite "build" over the last 20 days is the model I got during my trip to Dollywood the first week of September. 

It's a miniature locomotive made by a toy company called "Wange" (rhymes with "range").

I like it because it reminds me of the fun train ride we took while at Dollywood and the overall good time we had with our friends in Pigeon Forge, TN. 

One other note about this model. Because of the confusing way the instructions were illustrated I had difficulty putting it together. I had to start from "step 1" several times. I think the what turned it around was some advice I got from my friend, Mark. 

He and his wife, Patty, were about to leave after spending the evening hanging with us. Seeing my slight frustration with the model he humorously reminded me: "The wheels go on the bottom". 

Soon after he left I realize what I was doing wrong and completed the train. Believe it or not it had something to do with the wheels. 

This brings me to today. I finally decided that it was time to start working on "the bus". I put our card table and a folding chair up in our living room and spread the bags of pieces out.

I only completed 9 of the 115 assembly steps but it's a start. I'm already excited about the experience of putting this cool model together. 

For those of you who were lying awake at night wondering; there you have an update on my activity for October (so far) with Legos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Miss My Doggie

Three months ago today our family had to say "good-bye" to of one of our beloved pets: our dog, Dory. 

She was very sick and we didn't want her to suffer any more. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. 

I am still heart broken. Although I mentioned it on Facebook at the time I didn't write anything about her on this blog. 

I've healed a little over these last 90 days but there are still plenty of times when I miss her so much. I picture her in my mind and my heart once again overflows with grief. 

The sorrow fill my eyes; blurring my vision and all I can say to Paula is: "I miss my doggie." 

For 9 years Dory was a loyal and loving companion. She was my exercise partner, a creature of comfort and a very sweet dog. She was a very special part of the family Everybody loved Dory. 

She loved walks, eating chicken, doing tricks for snacks, and sleeping on her pillow in the corner of the living room. 

I don't want to come across as a weepy over sensitive girly man but I really DO miss her. 

As a tribute to my beloved "grinning beagle" I am writing a children's story about a dog with the same name who is adopted from an animal shelter by a loving family. Just like Dory was. 

These past 3 months have gone so fast it seems like only yesterday that she was still sleeping in the corner, eyes open (that was kind of creepy) with her tongue sticking out. 

Since she was such a important part of my life and now she's gone; I simply have to mention Dory on my blog. 

Let me end this post by simply saying one more time: "I miss my Dory girl."

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Disney Makes Magic

Time to make a case for one of the many reasons I'm a Disney geek. It's the way the staff and management treat their guest at Walt Disney World. 

This is not my story. It's an experience of my pastor, Tim, and his family during their fall break this past week. 

While in Florida on vacation Tim made plans to preach on Sunday, October 7 at a church, just outside of Orlando.  

A kind church member, who was a cast member at Disney's Magic Kingdom offered to get them into the park for free that Tuesday. 

After the morning church service, he and his family went to check in and spend a few days at the "Little Mermaid" section of the new "Art of Animation" resort in Walt Disney World.

When the family arrived at Animation Hall, it was packed full of other guests in line to check in as well. The wait was over 2 1/2 hours. 

The reason for the long lines was that the reservations computers throughout the entire Walt Disney World resort were offline. 

As they got in line for the long wait a resort manager came by. He sincerely apologized and explained the reason for the wait. He gave those in line a free one day park pass with the park hopper encouraging them to go use their pass and come back later when the issue was resolved. 

Tim decided to wait for as long as he could before he had to leave to go back to the church to fulfill his obligation to preach at the evening service. 

His wait was in vein. By the time he had to leave he had still not gotten his room key. 

Because this is a lengthy post, I'll make a long story short. Thanks to the go-the-extra-mile attitudes of 3 Disney cast members (2 resort managers and a check-in agent) by the time Tim and his family were checked in that Sunday night they had been given 12 free one-day park hopper park passes. 

Add that to the free admission because they were the personal guests of the church member, Pastor Tim, his wife, his son, and daughter were able to spend 4 days in the Walt Disney World parks. That's close to a $1500 value FOR FREE!!!! It changed their vacation from fun to magical.

Tim told me he still can't believe that his family could be that lucky. Ultimately it could be considered a blessing from God. But it was facilitated by handful of people who are part of a culture of outstanding customer service: Walt Disney World cast members. The company's devotion to raising the level of their guest's experience is legendary.  

The degree of enjoyment and the memories that is the result of Disney cast members going the "extra mile" for guest is what has become known to Walt Disney World fans all over the world as "Disney Magic." It's what sets the Disney parks apart from ordinary amusement parks. 

Each week I explore a plethora of Disney focused podcasts, emails and newsletters. I read about dozens of examples of acts of kindness by Disney World employees that transform the vacation experiences of resort guests.

Although they were relatively small, I experienced some of Disney magic during my 2010 birthday trip to "The World."

Being allowed to sit up front on thrill rides like: Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain Railroad and having dozens of cast members wish me a "Happy Birthday" made for some special memories of my 50th birthday for me. 

My pastor's story is one of the best "Magic Moments" I've ever heard. What makes it particularly special is that it happened to someone I know very well. I'm happy that it happened for the sake of Tim's family. But as a Disney fanatic I'm totally jealous. 

By the way, I'm not easily setting aside the idea that Tim's experience was mostly a blessing from God. 

You see, in October our church celebrates Pastor Appreciation month. Church members are encouraged to show our pastoral staff what they mean to us by blessing them in some way. Perhaps the Disney thing was God's way of participating. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

In Pre-Production

What's the last thing you crossed off your "Life Goal" aka "Bucket" list?

Today I reached the first major step in the process of crossing off one of mine. 

I finished writing the Christmas play that's going to be presented by the children of our church this year. 

It's been about 2 years since I decided that I wanted to write a script that could be presented as our annual kids' Christmas program. 

At the beginning of this year, I came up with an idea for a story that revolved around a retired ventriloquist and his memories about a special Christmas show when he worked at a local TV station. 

I had written a few pages but had a bout of writer's block and set the project aside. 

Less than 3 weeks ago I was asked by the church leadership to come up with an idea for this year's play and help with the production. 

That's when I offered to use my idea and write this play. 

This is the first two-act play that I've every written. Though I wouldn't call it a "musical" there is music in it. Since I'm not a song writer I will use classic Christmas carols to help move the story along. 

Over the writing process I've lost the ventriloquist character but have kept most of my original ideas. 

The plot revolves around a small town television station, a local children's choir, and a Christmas Eve snowstorm. 

Not only am I the writer of this play; I'm going to team up with the church associate pastor, who is also one of my best friends, to direct and produce "Christmas On The Air." 

Now that the script is finished I have a lot of work to do: casting, set design, staging, finding costumes and props, creating choreography, and rehearsals. 

The date of the performance is Sunday, December 15. That's just 10 weeks away. 

Although I have helped with several of our children's Christmas musicals in the past I've never taken on this much responsibility. It's going to be a challenge. 

But when all is said and done I be able to cross "write a Christmas play" off of my life "to do" list. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

1300 Piece Challenge

As I get closer to marking the 1 year anniversary of becoming a Legos enthusiast, I am advancing even deeper into the hobby. 

The next project I work on is going to be one I'm going to like and be very proud of when it's finished. 

I picked out the "expert" level Lego Creator kit myself at the Lego Store in Nashville back in July. But it was "officially" a birthday gift from my wife. She allowed me to get it early so she was sure I would get the one I wanted. 

This is the kit: A vintage Volkswagen Bus Camper.

Because this promises to be the most difficult projects I've worked on, I'm going to be changing where and how I work on it. 

Since most of the 1300+ pieces are very small they could very easily be lost. 

Therefore I'm only going to build it at home. I will not be taking it back and forth to work on it at my desk in the call center. I will work on only at home. 

I will be at a table and not on the couch in the living room as I have other Lego projects. This will make it easier to keep track of all 1330 bits of molded plastic. 

I'm going to take my time with this VW Bus so I make sure it's built right. There are 115 assembly steps and that does not include the many sub-assemblies within those instructions. That's a lot more than any other kit I've built. 

My goal is to have it completed by the Thanksgiving or at the latest Christmas. I will be posting pictures and updates from time to time. So if you're interested in seeing keeping up with my progress, make sure you keep checking back. 

Who knows when I'm finished I may just find some "hippie" mini-figures to go with it.