Reality TV

Reality TV when the Rubber Meets the Road-Justin.tv An Internet Phenomenon

A camera zooms past some well tended plants, past the well lit exterior of a mansion, and into a well lit glass “closet.” All we hear is a muffled shriek of frustration. Tears dribble down a young woman’s face as she sobs into the phone over the “stupidity” of all the other people she lives with. Something tells us that this may not be “reality” as we know it. Many of us had our share of reality shows such as “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and the countless other spinoffs that pose to be reality shows, but are in essence the concoction of media giants having meticulously designed scripts and editing. Nowadays, the reality show furvor has subsided as fast as we could say “you are voted off the island.”

How then has the recent video account of one typical, tech entrepreneur enflamed viewership upwards of ten thousand people at one time? Especially when this person’s life is utterly “normal,” completely unedited and unscripted, filmed for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? Justin.tv is a new internet reality TV show that documents the life of Justin Kan for a full 24 hour day. The show differs from previous attempts at reality tv because there is no show editing and the mounted camera on his head enabling anyone to take a look at what is going on in this person’s life at any one time, even while he is sleeping or going to the bathroom. Recent archived clips show Justin talking with friends, eating, or doing mundane tasks like cleaning up empty cans after a party. Why would anyone want to watch someone else’s life when he has his own to live? A recent slogan for the website says it all: “Waste Time Watching Other People Waste Time.”

Kan is the new internet phenomenon and justin.tv a new chat room hub, with people watching the website even while Justin is sleeping for hours at a time. Not all are so patient, however. Much of justin.tv ‘s fame has been fueled by pranksters changing caller ID through their computers to call 9-1-1 on his apartment through his phone, prompting police to burst in the investigate the alleged stabbing. Another time a fire was reported, but the fire trucks were not caught on camera. Now Justin’s telephone number is listed as a potential prank number so that law enforcement confirms if there really is a fire or a crime before dispatching to this phone number. Another prank included ordering 63 dollars worth of pizza hot to his front door.

Other ways to add some spice to Justin’s life to entertain fans is to have “auctions.” For example, a recent bid said that if the website recieved 100 emails within the next 20 minutes, people would jump into a pool fully clothed. The site had 300 emails quite quickly. Other bids include bids for blind dates and an open forum for suggesting Justin to do fan’s requests. Is justin.tv slowly turning from the everyday life phenomenon that made the site famous into the trite “reality” shows on televison that has lost its sense of reality? Tune in to justin.tv to find out for yourself, just be sure its not when Justin is peeing.

Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is a Disaster in of Itself

Blizzard Beach Water Park at Disney World in Orlando, Florida is one of the most disappointing water parks ever made. It’s one of two water parks in Walt Disney World Resort, the other being Typhoon Lagoon, which is where you should really be spending your time if you want some cool water park action, not here. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh, Blizzard Beach actually does have some cool rides but they’re a pain in the butt to get to (I’ll get into that shortly) and the running theme and concept behind this water park is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it’s very cool and it’s something different, then again, it’s a curse because it makes commuting from ride to ride a living hell.

See, the idea behind Blizzard Beach is some big snow storm attacked Florida and now there’s a ski resort there. And then somehow the warm weather returned, thus beginning the melting process. Now what you’ve got as a result is a ski-themed water park. So let’s talk about the good stuff first. Blizzard Beach houses one of the biggest and fastest water-slides in the world which is Summit Plummet — standing at 120 feet high, it’s a free-falling water-slide with a 12 story drop at a speed ranging between 50 to 60 miles per hour. Other cool water-slides include the Slush Gusher, Snow Stormers, the Downhill Double Dipper, and Toboggan Racers.

Then you’ve got your tube and raft-based rides like Teamboat Springs and Runoff Rapids. Furthermore, there’s the main star of the water park — the almighty chair lift. While it’s not necessarily a ride in the sense of the other attractions at Blizzard Beach, it serves as a mode of transportation and nothing more. However, this the park’s mighty downfall, so to speak, because having to wait to go back and forth on the chair lift is quite torturous. To make matters worse, it’s the easiest way to get to the top of the park where most of the rides await, otherwise you’ll have to navigate your own hectic journey up Blizzard Beach’s pathways and stairs.

Last but not least, you’ve got the two most important attractions which a water park can not live without – the wave pool and the lazy river. Every water park has them, to take them away would be like taking french fries off of McDonald’s menu. At Blizzard Beach, Cross Country Creek fills the shoes of the lazy river quite well. Then there’s Melt-Away Bay, the park’s very own wave pool — spanning over one acre, this wave pool is decorated with a number of waterfalls and extends up to about eight feet. Overall, if you want your time well spent in the water at Disney World, you’re probably better off at Typhoon Lagoon.

Winter Fun and Travel

Time to Book Your 2011 Winter Fun and Travel

Booking a winter wonderland vacation means many different things to the traveler. It is that time of year to begin looking into booking that winter trip. Remember the first tip to planning an inexpensive trip is booking early.

Make a list of those great places that you want to visit. This is the most important planning step for any traveler. Once the list is created then it is time to check and see who will be traveling with your party. Perhaps this winter you wish to take children or grand children. Prices always change from season to season and it is best to remember that traveling with children can be less expensive if you choose the off season for those theme parks and other activities geared to the young.

If getting away from your hometown’s weather is the reason for a wintertime trip, plan to visit a place that is experiencing summertime during your winter months. Places like South Africa have their spring in August. Research every detail of the weather and be sure to search out the historical weather patterns of the area being considered. Recently when planning a trip to South Africa myself, I used Accuweather at www.accuweather.com/ to check on the best time of year for travel. Don’t always depend on your travel agent to know exactly what the weather has been like or will be like in the future.

After choosing who is going and where you are going now it’s time to find out the price of that trip. When booking for overseas travel it is best to use a travel agency. One like Costco Travel can give a traveler a great price. Their upcoming 2011 season includes trips to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Italy, Spain, and more. When using a travel agency they are able to find some all-inclusive packages for travelers that include ground transportation and meals in the total cost of the package. Keep in mind that the agency is adding a cost for their services so a comparison of prices when booking with your agency and on your own can save money in the long run.

Booking a trip from beginning to end can be stressful but it can be done. Choose the dates, air travel, hotel, and then visit Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and use your search guidelines to include air, hotel and rental car. It is a good idea when booking a trip like this to put in anytime as your flight time, locking yourself into a specific time of day can cause the prices to rise considerably.

If your choosing a place such as Italy, Spain, France or another destination that may have lots of driving, it may behoove you to chose to stay in more than one hotel/motel or even a villa. Research for these extras will need to be done separately as you cannot put in more than one destination when using sites such as Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity.

Make sure when booking an overseas destination that the cost is being quoted in US dollars and not the currency of the geographical area. It is easy to use the currency calculator but the rise and lowering of the currency exchange can be several hundred dollars from day to day. Travellers need to keep this currency exchange fluctuation in mind when travel time comes also. Pick up some of the local currency at the airport before leaving the US. Most major airports have a currency exchange office. There will be a charge to change money over both leaving and coming from and to the US.

Travelers Checks and credit cards are not recommended. During our recent travels in South Africa we used a personal credit card, which was then compromised and used in Italy, Spain, and with several rental car agencies. If a credit card is a comfort issue then purchase a pre-loaded credit card to use on your travels. That way if the card becomes compromised it is for a specific dollar amount and will not affect your personal credit.