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Archive for January, 2008

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Seeing The Magic Kingdom – The Greenberg Method

Monday, January 21st, 2008

The family and I have just returned from our third trip to Disneyworld in three years, which I guess earns us some points on the Disney expert meter. To be sure, our family’s approach to The Magic Kingdom is much like the U.S. Army – we do more before 10AM than most people do all day.

This time around, though, we travelled with the University of Pennsylvania Band on a performance trip, which meant we got to hang out with some folks who were not as obsessed experienced with Disneyworld as we were. Their reaction to how we approached the park made me think, hey – maybe this information could be useful to the public at large.

And so a blog post was born. And so: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, presenting your guide to getting around the Magic Kingdom, Greenberg style!


1) Get there before the park opens
There’s a cute show when the park opens that involves Mickey and all his pals riding the steam train from Toontown to sprinkle magic pixie dust on the crowd, which opens the Magic Kingdom for the day. I believe it’s worth seeing (both for kids and adults) and besides, if you want to conquer the park quickly, you’re going to need all the time you can get.

2) Don’t Follow the Crowd
When the pixie dust flies and the doors open, just about everyone is going to run for the stroller rental or to Main Street USA for pictures of the castle, etc. This path leads to the dark side, my young apprentice. Instead, proceed directly to It’s a Small World, which is in Fantasyland, directly behind Cinderella’s castle. Important point here: you’ll need to walk down Main Street USA and around the castle itself to get there. Resist the urge to stop and take pictures of all the cool sights, even though everyone around you is doing it. You’ll have time for that later, and trust me – they’ll all look the same when you do.

3) Ride the Big Rides
If you make it through the gauntlet that is Main Street USA, you will likely be the first ones to reach It’s a Small World. Run through the empty, snake-line gates, reveling in your cleverness, and get in the first boat. Enjoy the ride! When you get out, proceed directly to Peter Pan’s Flight, which is right across the path from Small World. Again, there will be no line at all. Enjoy Peter and the gang as well.

Now you’re on a roll. Hang a left out of Peter Pan and follow the path around to the Haunted Mansion. By now, there may be a couple of families on line with you. Chuckle at what is the longest line you’ve seen so far today, and proceed directly into the mansion (recently redone and beautiful, by the way). After that, it’s a bit of a walk to the Pirates of the Caribbean (also recently redone – now with extra Jack Sparrow!). At Pirates, there will certainly be other people, but no line big enough to make you wait. Once again, enjoy the ride! When you get out, proceed rapidly through the gift shop and marvel at how they place the merchandise in precisely the right place to make the kids scream, “I want one! I want one!” Deflect their cries with talk of the Jungle Cruise (the “punniest” cruise on earth). This isn’t as big a ride as the others, but the line can get long if you wait to do it, so best to get it done early.

4) Pick Your Tier-2 Selection
By now, you’ve been in the park about an hour, and you’ve already experienced most of what people can wait hours in line to see. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Then, put on your thinking ears, because you’ve got some choices to make. There are two more sets of rides that can get crowded, and you have to decide which you want to approach first.

The first set is back in Fantasyland, and includes Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Mad Tea Party (a.k.a., the Teacups), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (the best 3-D show in the park), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Ariel’s Grotto (autograph opportunity with Ariel and a fun jumping fountain for the kids – but no ride), and while you’re there, Cinderella’s Carousel (this one’s a fast moving line at any time of the day, so no big rush).

The second set is in Tomorrowland, and includes Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (a shoot-em-up video game incorporated into a ride – see who in your family gets the high score!), the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, and the Astro Orbiter.

Pick the set you like best and cover those rides, and then move on to the other set. You’ll probably have to break for lunch at some point during the second set, but at least you had a productive morning!

5) Mop Up the Remaining Rides
After that, you have just a few more things to do, which you can spend the afternoon on. The biggest items on the list are in Frontierland – Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This might be the first time during the day you’ll need to use your Fast Pass (get a pass for one and wait on the line for the other).

After that, you’ve basically got the smaller rides left, so you can pick and choose to your own taste. None of them should have super long lines, so despite the crowds, you should find yourself moving at a pretty good pace throughout the day.


So, there you go. The Magic Kingdom in one, whirlwind day (OK, maybe two – it depends how much time you spend in each place). Pass the word along, but not to too many people – we don’t want them ruining our method, after all.

And remember, have a magical day!

Categories: The Disneyverse | 3 Comments »

My first blog widget

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Hey…check out the cool web gadget just below the Previous Posts section in the left nav bar. It displays the last five blog posts that link to familygreenberg.com, including screen shots of the posts themselves. Kind of a trackback system for the entire site, but with pictures!

If you want to add it to your blog, click on the Add This to Your Blog link on the top of the widget, or just click here.

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 1 Comment »

Mysteries of the Universe – Solved.

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Both of these stories seem like they should be bigger news:

1) Scientists have discovered the source of antimatter. No word yet on what this means for Star Trek-inspired inventions.

2) Experts at Germany’s Heidelberg University have discovered the true identity of the Mona Lisa. The painting, which is also known as “La Gioconda” (Italian for “joyful woman”), is a portrait of a woman named Lisa del Giocondo. Lisa? Giocondo? Go figure…

Categories: The Future is Now | No Comments »

Historical Primary/Caucus Results

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

If you’re like me, you’re wondering whether these caucuses and primaries really matter, or whether it’s just something to occupy the news media until the nominating conventions. Here’s some data that may help:

Iowa
Year Democrat Nomination? Republican Nomination?
2004 John Kerry Yes George W. Bush(*) Yes
2000 Al Gore Yes George W. Bush Yes
1996 Bill Clinton(*) Yes Bob Dole Yes
1992 Tom Harkin No George H.W. Bush(*) Yes
1988 Dick Gephardt No Bob Dole No
1984 Walter Mondale Yes Ronald Reagan(*) Yes
1980 Jimmy Carter Yes George H.W. Bush No
1976 Uncommitted No Gerald Ford Yes
  Success Rate: 62.5% Success Rate: 75%

(*): Ran unopposed

New Hampshire
Year Democrat Nomination? Republican Nomination?
2004 John Kerry Yes George W. Bush(*) Yes
2000 Al Gore Yes John McCain No
1996 Bill Clinton(*) Yes Pat Buchanan No
1992 Paul Tsongas No George H.W. Bush Yes
1988 Michael Dukakis Yes George H.W. Bush Yes
1984 Gary Hart No Ronald Reagan(*) Yes
1980 Jimmy Carter Yes Ronald Reagan Yes
1976 Jimmy Carter Yes Gerald Ford Yes
  Success Rate: 75% Success Rate: 75%

(*): Ran unopposed

So on the one hand, yes, it does matter. Over the last 32 years, Iowa and New Hampshire have successfully predicted roughly 75% of the major party’s nominations. On the other hand, as has been the case more than half the time, the Iowa winners did not win in New Hampshire. So clearly, two of the four will be incorrect this year.

Conclusion? Not really. I think the best we can say is the winners have got to be feeling good about themselves, but it ain’t over yet.

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

What am I doing here? What are YOU doing here?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

You can’t help but chuckle at a story like this:

Man spots wife during visit to brothel
WARSAW, Poland – A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment’s employees.

Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

“I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming,” the husband told the newspaper on Wednesday.

The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.

Categories: The World Wide Weird | 1 Comment »

Familygreenberg.com – 2007 Statistics

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

In lieu of a “How People Found Me” post in December, I thought I’d tip my hat to the New Year by summarizing my site stats for all of 2007. I know, I know – it’s too much excitement to bear all at once. Go ahead, take a minute. I’ll wait…

Better? OK, on to the fun:

Summary Stats

Visits: 18,322
Pageviews: 28,486
Pages/Visit: 1.55
Bounce Rate: 79.30%
Avg. Time on Site: 0:47
% New Visits: 88.65%

Well, it’s not quite USA Today. But on an average day, fifty people around the world click over to my website and look at an average of 78 web pages. Frankly, that’s a larger readership than I ever thought I’d have in any medium, let alone one that costs me nothing and offers me completely creative control. Thanks to all who stopped by last year – I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing.

The Top 10 Pages

Page Name Pageviews % of Total
Concert Review: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden 4,020 14.11%
I Should Be Sleeping (main page) 2,824 9.91%
Celebrity Look-Alike 1,706 5.98%
Taxi! 1,333 4.67%
Billy Joel plays the oldies… 685 2.40%
Making Yahoo Mail Work with Outlook 2003 680 2.38%
ISBS Review: “All My Life” by Billy Joel 594 2.08%
Sherry 586 2.05%
Brian 548 1.92%
Billy Joel – All My Life lyrics 538 1.88%

I like this mix a lot. It’s Billy Joel, Technology, a few random odds and ends, and some personal info. Not a bad way to describe the site. The only thing missing that would really round out the year is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which just missed this list at #13 (424 pageviews).

The Top 10 Keywords

Keyword Visits % of Total
billy joel concert review 524 3.99%
billy joel concert reviews 386 2.94%
celebrity look alike 269 2.05%
billy joel concert playlist 184 1.40%
brian greenberg 114 0.87%
billy joel opening act 113 0.86%
dell wl6000 120v 6.1 stereo speakers with subwoofer 104 0.79%
billy joel all my life lyrics 90 0.69%
billy joel all my life 83 0.63%
liberty devito 82 0.62%

6,653 unique keyword searches drove 72% of the site’s traffic here in 2007. I’ve had a lot of fun this year with the keyword searches, pointing out the stranger ones (not to mention the most pornographic ones). This list is a little dull, though, since the queries that bubble up to the top tend to be the more mundane ones that hundreds (or dozens?) of people would type exactly the same way.

The Top 10 Referring Sites

Referring Site Visits % of Total
gothamist.com 892 22.78%
images.google.com 622 15.89%
blogger.com 460 11.75%
google.com 313 7.99%
bloglines.com 233 5.95%
jeffporten.com 98 2.50%
scalzi.com 74 1.89%
burlaki.com 64 1.63%
mail.google.com 62 1.58%
jason.bennion.com 60 1.53%

21% of the site’s traffic come from referrals like the ones above. As above, I’m very pleased with this mix. Gothamist was the flash in the pan (97% of its visits came in a four-day span, September 18-21). After that, it’s the corporate feeders (google, blogger, and bloglines) and my fellow bloggers (Jeff Porten, John Scalzi, Ilya Burlak, and Jason Bennion) that drive my traffic. When Page & Brin founded Google, they referred to hyperlinking as the web’s equivalent to peer-reviewed journals. I’m pleased to have such distinguished colleagues. Much obliged, gentlemen…

The Top 10 Referring Countries

Country Visits % of Total
United States 14,118 77.05%
Canada 1,068 5.83%
United Kingdom 827 4.51%
Australia 192 1.05%
Germany 152 0.83%
India 151 0.82%
Philippines 142 0.78%
Netherlands 100 0.55%
Spain 79 0.43%
Japan 78 0.43%

As you can see by the map, I had visitors from 129 countries in 2007, basically spanning the entire globe. We see so many graphics like this around the web these days that we take it for granted, but it’s just insane that the words I write are read so broadly around the world. Obviously, the large bulk of my visits come from within the United States, but the rest of the top 10 represents almost 3,000 visits from four of the world’s seven continents. The complete list covers six continents (come on, Antarctica, pull your weight around here!). So, to my international friends, I say a hearty Hello! G’Day! Guten Tag! Namaste! Huy! Hallo! Hola! and Konnichi wa! It’s nice to have you here…

(Oh, and to the one guy in Liechtenstein – Hoi!)

In Conclusion
A part of me wants to take this opportunity to think about how I can broaden the reach of this site, and maybe see 35,000-40,000 visitors next year, as opposed to the 18,000+ I have today. Then the sane part of me smacks that first part of me upside the head and says, “Idiot! Don’t overthink these things.” (Note: never underestimate the pain involved when one part of you smacks another part of you upside the head – Ed.). If there are lessons learned from 2007, they are these: write about what everyone’s talking about, pray to the Google Gods, and the pageviews will come. Also, it helps to have an occasional “blog event” on your site (like the burning taxi or the Rockefeller Center Tree). I’ll try to look for those in ’08 as best I can, or maybe even make them up as I go along. As long as it’s fun for me and entertaining for all of you. That, after all, is the point.

Happy New Year, everyone…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 1 Comment »

Familygreenberg.com Health Check – December Edition

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
Metric November December % Change
Visits 1,942 1,452 -25.23%
Pageviews 3,226 2,317 -28.18%
Pages/Visit 1.66 1.60 -3.94%
Avg Time on Site 0:50 0:47 -5.90%
Bounce Rate 78.42% 79.68% +1.61%
% New Visitors 87.33% 88.29% +1.10%

Well, you can’t win ‘em all. After two excellent months, December fell off the cliff in a big way. I’m tempted to blame it on two things. First, I went away the last week of the month, so there was no blogging. Second, everyone else went away the last week of the month and didn’t do much browsing. So maybe this is just seasonal? After all, it’s the first December I’m tracking stats this way.

Hopefully, I see a rebound in January to confirm my theory. That, or I’ll have to pray for another burning taxi or giant Christmas Tree outside of my office window…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | No Comments »

Some Cool Optical Illusions

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

It’s been a long time since an “Internet joke” e-mail contained anything I wanted to see, but these came through my inbox yesterday and I was rather impressed:

Good vs. Evil:
Me & You:
Optical Illusion:
Teach & Learn:

And finally…how many F’s are in this sentence:

Wrong. There are six.

Yes, I’m serious. Try it again.

Still don’t believe me? How’s this: the second letter of the word “of” is an F. Now read it again.

Told ‘ya…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

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