I think I willed myself to forget about GoogleEarth. It burned up hours of time, and gave me the illusion of learning. It also gave me headaches. Running the thing full screen on a 30” monitor taxes the connection and the computer, and you could either bumble about in Magoo-view, everything blurred, or wait a second – or a second and a half, which is 50% more interminable and annoying – for the views to pop into focus before you moved along, skittery as a squirrel. But I’m ungrateful and bored and anxious for new sensation, and hence the low-res 3D buildings aren’t quite the draw I thought they’d be. It’s more interesting to hover over at the altitude of the opening credits of “West Side Story” and float over towns, following roads into the countryside. All roads end in the countryside, eventually. Or the drink.
The terrain mapping leads to some interesting sights: here’s the 35W bridge, which appears to have been snapped just as it collapsed.
You really have to gun it to make it up the bank.
I mention this because I finally got around to exploring the 3D Disneyworld. First thought: it’s like Doom invented by pacifists. If you ever turned off clipping in Doom, you remember what it was like to zoom through walls – well, here you actually enter the interior of buildings, but they’re wrong, somehow, all smeary and empty, and it feels as if something bad happened in here, or you showed up an hour after the world has passed from the plane of time and was waiting to be devoured by Langoliers.
They didn't just do the amusement parks - they did the resorts. You can revisit the places you stayed or preview the places you'll visit. You learn things, too. I had no idea, for example, that the interior of the Coronado Springs' main building had a giant breast in the atrium.
It’s supposed to be this, but it got inverted somehow:
I’ll give them hearty applause for putting something there, and the entire project deserves a standing O. It's tremendous fun. I enjoyed retracing my footsteps around the resorts where we’d stayed – blocky as the pictures may be, the illusion of moving through space on a computer screen is more “realistic” than passively absorbing a film of the same thing, even if I shot it. Something in the brain is more jazzed by a fictional event happening now than a recollected reality that actually happened then.
That sentence could either get me beaten by the Clarity League or offered tenure somewhere. But you know what I mean. No? Let's move RIGHT ALONG -
Well, no. In the situations where there were other people present - the interior of the buildings, for example, or Main Street - the vacancy of the pictures was unnerving. But the places were I'd walked alone? They seemed quite realistic. It's almost as if the brain remembers experiences you had by yourself differently than the ones you shared with others. SOLIPSISTIC MODE is more appropriate for computer-enabled recreations. Oh, what are the chances of that.
Anyway Eventually I got a headache, and the controls started acting up: on the Mac there seems to be a panic mode that sends you running sideways at full speed. All of a sudden I was jerked out of Disneyworld, dragged across the surface of the lagoon, and drawn across the flat world at the highest possible speed, as if I’d been abducted. I wanted to wait, see where I ended up - Cuba? Neverland Ranch? But I bored of it, and I was happy to leave, if you want the truth. The original GoogleEarth made you feel spiffy to be alive in a time with such wonderful toys. This one makes me impatient for a photorealistic real-time version, a parallel Disneyverse.
Can you imagine the online communities that would spring up around such a thing? You’d wander by the Haunted Mansion at 3 AM and find a hundred gothy Mickeys bobbing around. It would be odd to walk around the real Disneyworld and know that someone was occupying the same space in the fictional online version; it would be cool to be in the fictional Disneyverse and know you were occupying space trod at the same moment by real people. It's likely that people would use their future super-powerful iPhone devices to occupy both places simultaneously, too. Which could be nifty – if you met someone in one world, you could join up in the other – but it could also be depressing if it meant people leaning on the railing of the paddleboat, looking at screens that showed them leaning on the railing of the paddleboat.
Everything I just described will probably happen in ten years. That's tyour future: a family on the boat in real life, and dad hands his wife the iPhone with the browser showing the two of them on the same spot, younger and thinner, making out. She gives him the elbow: oh you. Then he sets the characters on auto-explore and checks the RECORD option, and downloads the parallel day when they get back home. Ther would be a kid's version too, something that tracked your movement through the park and put your favorite character by your side. If there's a God in heaven, Disney will disable this feature while you're in the park, and make it available only for download later.
I found the spot where we had supper one night, and maneuvered the camera to the spot where I was sitting, and looked out at an empty square with an old-timey car and a merchadise cart and a 2D man holding a bass drum, frozen in imaginary space forever. Until they upgrade. And they will. This is just the beginning.
As mentioned before – or not, who keeps track or cares much – I talked to the service manager at the Honda place about the problems I have when I put the Element through a car wash. He seemed surprised to learn I’d been told that all Hondas, every Hondas, lose their A/C and heat if you don’t close the vents tight. He said that simply wasn’t the case. He would bring in an ENGINEER to look at my car. Well! Visions of some no-nonsense Heinlein-era guy poring over schematics, muttering grimly, barking commands. I took it this afternoon, and explained the problem to the fellow at the service desk.
“That’s the case with all Hondas,” he said.
I gritted my teeth. I have dealt with this fellow three times out of the six visits. I don’t expect him to remember me, but I knew that he had gotten that line from some “service bulletins” he unearthed the last time I took it in. If that’s the case, I asked, you’d think the owners manual would note the fact. No? And if not, could you explain why two seconds of water dumped from on high causes the thing to short, and 20 minutes of driving in a torrential rainstorm doesn’t?
Once again, I got a rental – this time a KIA Crappe, or something. All tin and plastic, with an interior that smelled of cigarette smoke. (G)Nat liked it because she could roll the windows down with a crank. COOL! Much more interesting than the boring old push-button style. When I put the car in the garage and turned the engine off she said NO WAIT, she hadn’t rolled up the window. I said you could do them with the power off. COOL!
Wonders never cease.
I’d picked her up from the last Spanish class. They always have a little presentation for the parents. She was an utter ham, making elaborate bows, clowning through the skits, full of end-of-the-school-year spirits. I don’t know why they bother with this week – the kids are already gone, out the door; everyone’s spirit is a mile in the sky with a kite string tied to their desk. Wednesday is the last day. I gave her my old Flip camera to take to school to shoot videos of her friends and her classroom, and it’ll be interesting to see what she does. (She spent the hour before dinner shooting a Pokemon video for her YouTube debut.)
Here’s a sample. Turtwig in the backyard, along the mysterious path behind the Big Tree. We all did this as a kid. Warning! For Bleat completists only! It's a 3 MB flash file of a kid playing with an action figure, for heaven's sake. (The story continues for another six minutes; she didn't leave it there.)
(Apologies if you’re being asked to get the latest Flash – nothing I can do about that, it seems, since I have the latest Flash encoder.)