Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Annoyed at Disney

My note to Disney tonight. I think it's pretty rational.

I was getting kinda frustrated dealing with arranging my dining reservations. So, I decided to click the Contact Us button. Here's where I went:

It is so difficult to deal w/ dining reservations. None of them are connected to my lodging reservation or at least it appears so on the 'net. Why do I have to access each one individually? I'd like to go to 1 spot that has all of the info at-hand. Otherwise, what is the point of having it? I have to manage each dining reservation individually.

Why is it so difficult to manage? It's just silly!

As a database person, I'm trying to understand why you're not householding dining reservations w/ the lodging reservation. How about having a calendar planning tool that shows me what my schedule is?

Is that weird? Are calendars an odd idea?

If I have a username & ID, why do I have to go to my other email & pull up the reservation number to input on here? Why isn't my stored reservation securitized by my login?

I've been thinking about tattooing the reservation numbers on my arm, but I'm running out of room. What's the point of having a secure login if you have to put in your DNA sequence?

This is my 3rd Disney vacation in 1 year & it is so frustrating to navigate the website. And to pull up every single email with confirmation & reservation numbers for every individual event is extremely frustrating. We're not dealing with my bank account & health insurance here. They're frustrating enough, why is my vacation planning so much more difficult? Especially given the fact that your DRC is not 24/7 and it's not a toll-free call, the online tools should be easy to use. I have had several great calls w/ your reservation agents, but why don't you leverage technology better?

The Interweb has come a long way, baby. I can check all of my credit card transactions, my health care claims & access my cats' veterinarian. But to deal with my Disney vacation, it's 18 layers of security.

I'm going with extended family & I said I would work on the dining reservations. Writing everything down, keeping track of the changes after we discussed itinerary changes & planning our days has been difficult to handle. We divided a couple of things up in terms of reserving things but there's no way to consolidate our reservation plans. Doesn't that seem silly? If my sister-in-law makes plans for Chef Mickey's Breakfast and I make plans for 1900 Park Fair for the same day for all of us, shouldn't there be a flag that gets triggered to alert us? Why can't we connect our reservations? And maybe some partnerships w/ Google Calendar or Outlook to help a bit?

Planning a Disney vacation is somewhat easy until you come to the eating part. If you want to eat at the Quick Service restaurants, easy enough. But going to the character breakfasts, Cinderella's castle, the Brown Derby - they're in high-demand. They demand reservations! Setting them up is somewhat complicated...Hopefully, I've done it well!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Libraries & Masterpiece Theatre

Books - They're pretty special to me. I love the line in Sex & the City when Big asks Carrie why she gets books from the library when she can obviously afford to buy them. She tells him she loves the smell. Me too.

My first book collection was mostly my brothers' hand-me-downs. There was a bookcase in my room, filled with Hardy Boys' mysteries and kids' histories/biographies. That bookcase did not belong in my room - walking into the mint-green painted room would not have made one think about a dark wood bookcase with Hardy Boys' books.

But I loved that bookcase. When I couldn't sleep (insomnia at the age of four isn't normal?), I'd re-explore that bookcase. It contained about 50 books. I'd go through it & try to find one that interested me. I did eventually read the Hardy Boys' books.

The library was magical for me - the Gaithersburg library burned down in 1981. When we read about it in the Gazette, I felt like my world had fallen apart. You see, I had NOT read EVERY book there. And because it had burnt down, I wouldn't even know what I hadn't read. If the card catalog was gone, so was my future.

I survived. The county built another library and I dragged my mom there just about every 12 days in order to obtain more books. She'd run over to the mall (not that I didn't go to the mall with her, but my mom rarely came into the library with me) and return in 25 minutes for me. (Who does that with an 8 year old anymore?) I would inevitably have 22 books in my arms and be struggling to open the car door.

Since I quit my job in December, I had been going to the gym, enjoying happy hour at Iron Bridge, and relaxing more. I'd do my strength exercises at the gym & anticipate my cardio when I could read. I'd choose a well-lit spot at the Bridge so I could read. I stayed awake until 2 AM often, unable to put down a great book. When I had foot surgery in January, I brought in a book to read while I waited for pre-op prepping.

I had returned to my old habits - ordering tons of books, like Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall using the Howard County Library system...I got up to 44 books being out. (Please realize, this included 5 or 6 books for Lily & a couple books about Disney World for upcoming travel.) (Not that this makes it any better.)

When I dropped off 2 books & picked up 3 last week, the librarian checking me out looked me in the eye, and said "You know, you can only have 60 books out" in a scolding voice. Although I'm 34 with a child of my own, I instantly reverted to "I think I have a book in the car that I forgot to bring in!!!" in a defensive, pleading for probation type of voice. And I did, really. There was a book that had been buried under the detritus of kid stuff & mail & newspapers that is my actually gorgeous car.

But now I'm working, which is preventing me from reading my books on a timely basis (3 weeks??? to read 40 books?? seriously?) (um, ok)

Howard County is sending me nasty emails every other day - "Notice - Overdue Items" - I feel so demeaned by the government to which I pay ridiculous taxes. (Sarcasm is evident, right?) I keep the emails because I think that I'm going to use them to categorize the piles of books.
  • go ahead & return me because you're not going to have the time to read me and I'm such a great book that 1) people are demanding me & 2) you don't have the ability to focus on me like I deserve
  • tenth of the way into the book & still not really interested & aren't you glad that you didn't actually buy me
  • 7 people in the Comments section of the Washington Post Book Review said they found deep, profound insight in this book that has changed their lives forever (this one's just kidding, 'cause I don't really read this type of book, but c'mon, you know what I'm talking about)
  • cover is fascinatingly intriguingly gorgeous - but the print inside is kinda small & I have to cross my eyes to actually read it
  • smelled good

Which brings me to Masterpiece Theatre. I'm attempting to watch Sharpe's Challenge. It's pretty good. But I'm forcing myself to watch it. There's no way I would have read this...military, ehh. I don't usually look to Masterpiece to substitute for my reading, but given the other 44 books I have to read, sometimes TV helps. Althought right now, I'm watching Sharpe cut a horse, so I think I'm done for the night.