March 3rd, 2015

Timeline Project: two mail folders, Flickr and LJ combine to make a Family Vacation timeline

Last December, my cousin S. introduced me to the idea of a personal timeline (which I had probably seen previously on lifehacker but not really paid any attention to). I wasn't really enamored of the product he wanted to us, but I _loved_ the idea of a cloud based Thing which could link together stuff in various clouds (my blog, Flickr photos) with some additional organization that would make it easier to answer silly but somehow still compelling questions like, what year was it that we traveled to location X with people Y?

I noticed recently that two working mail subfolders -- WDW trip and holidayreservations -- had never really been decluttered, and before I got too delete happy, I thought to consider them as input to a timeline project specifically aimed at Disney, and then, ultimately, our vacation travel as a family in general.

Because I really had struggled with how to create a table of the information in question, I am just producing something sort-of narrative like, organized chronologically (which is tricky, because I want to preserve data like, when did I _book_ various components of the vacation vs. when did I _take_ the vacation). And like all retrospective, personal narratives, it is a form of memoir or life review, which dredges up all kinds of past thinking that is different from the way I think now. For example, I called R. (not my husband or my sister) to discuss with her what happened in August 2011, when we left the Cape a day early because we were concerned about Irene, and she chose to stay. From the perspective of 2015, when we've been friends for 4 more years (weird, that sounds like a campaign slogan), I can barely fathom what the hell I was thinking leaving her there. Now, I'd basically insist she leave the Cape with us. At the time, however, I was a lot more laissez-faire about Other Adult Decision Making. As I've gotten older, I've become much more aware of when someone else is making a mistake that they don't even _realize_ they are making, and I am therefore a lot more intrusive on insisting that they at least reassure me that they understand what they are doing, and are consciously taking on that risk. Turned out that even post-Sandy, R. had no idea what could have happened if Irene had come closer to the Cape that summer, instead of fizzling out. Worse, R. had concerns about the risks of last minute travel plan changes in terms of messing up reservations; I could have addressed those if I had known about them, but I didn't, because I didn't ask.

That's the big difference between then (2011), when I was first starting to drag friends and family along on my adventures and now (2015), when I've been doing it for a few years. I realize now that by dragging people way, way, way out of their normal routine, I am exposing them to a bunch of weird possibilities that they might not know about, and I have started really making sure that communication happens about those possibilities. It never mattered much with people like my cousin B., or my friend A., who both have traveled a ton for work. They've already had everything bad go wrong while away from home -- I wasn't going to surprise them with anything. But that hasn't been the case for everyone else.

Ah, life review. Where you realize you actually _have_ learned some things along the way.

ETA: Even with many emailed charge slips, reservation confirmations and the family paper calendar for the relevant dates, it is an enormous pain in the ass to reconstruct all of our weekends at StoryLand and Santa's Village. They've all run together in my head, and while I can work out the dates from the photos in the Flickr albums, figuring out which hotel we stayed at can be a real mystery, since I apparently don't take pictures at the hotels.

Disney Movies Anywhere -- how did I not notice this?

The Verge reviewed it in November 2014. Basically, if you've bought Disney/Pixar/Marvel movies through iTunes/Google Play/VUDU, and you set up an account on Disney Movies Anywhere and you hook your iTunes/GooglePlay/VUDU accounts up, then you can watch movies bought through any of those services on any of the other services or through the Disney Movies Anywhere app or website. I think. One account per provider (that is, only one iTunes account can be hooked up to this thing at a time and if you go switching around there are some long time outs and the usual to keep you from being a scammy freeloader with your extended kinship network).

I'm now trying to remember if I've ever bought anything over on the Amazon side, because they are not participating. Yet?

This feels like Pottermore? But I haven't used Pottermore, so I don't really know. Here are some things I've learned from this process. Some of the codes associated with Disney discs are just rewards codes, and all you can get with rewards points are, well, the kind of thing you'd expect to get: DVDs, some trinkets, some minor electronic gadgetry, some kitschy stuff. Some of the codes do that AND if you want to watch the Digital Copy on a Mac or PC, you need the code to make the player play the movie. Not that that would ever happen with us anymore, because our laptops don't even have optical drives anymore, so we'd have to be at home to bother, in which case we'd just go put the damn disc into a real player attached to a real TV. Some of the codes are for rewards points AND to enter into Disney Movies Anywhere, formerly iTunes etc. to redeem the movie within that universe. Those are the codes worth bothering with. I think I had three of them that came with discs I owned, mostly because these days I buy the everything pack if I bother to buy a disc at all.

Good news: I won't have to re-buy Guardians of the Galaxy to watch it on an iDevice. Yay? Maybe I'll eventually watch the last third of the movie (which was a fine movie, but I got a little distracted and then never finished watching it).

I kind of wish all the video content that I buy worked this way -- buy it once, instead of winding up buying it twice -- I've only occasionally had to buy something three or four times, and that was pre-streaming. But we own a bunch of content in the Amazon system and in the Apple system, and it would great to never have to do _that_ again.

If you're wondering how I stumbled across this, well, I was reading Disney Files and it had a short piece about it and I went, wha - ? And then fired it up, set up the account and went downstairs and extracted all the rewards codes and entered them all. R. skipped over the Guardians of the Galaxy, thinking that wasn't Disney universe. I think the Paranorman code _is_ not Disney, but I should probably figure out how to get that thing entered anyway. Maybe tomorrow. What I really ought to do is _watch_ some of it.