Letters to Lu: Luca

Dear Lu,

I’m writing this a while after I originally had this thought. It’s probably in my physical notebooks somewhere, but posting here anyway.

Your mom and I were watching Luca. Great little flick about bravery and becoming who you want to be. Whenever I would go to the movies, my favorite part was the escape into the main character’s world. But even more than that was I would try and feel like the main character. When the movie was over I think about how I could overcome a similar challenge the character did or “be brave” or “stand-up for myself” or whatever. Movies make me cry…I think because they push me to think about things I’m scared of and know I need to step into to conquer them. This happens all the time…

Except for ‘Luca’. There was a moment early on in the where Luca’s parents are being very cautious and not wanting Luca to get hurt or get into trouble etc. Then it hit me.

I’m no longer the main character, I’m the worried parent. Now I’m crying for other reasons but mostly because I want you to be the most confident and strong person in the world. And want nothing more for you to be safe and never get hurt. Super weird feelings.

Anyways, love you very much,
Your Dad

The Blaze – Heaven

I lost my marbles…revisited

I wrote this blog post about 4 years ago on an old service (cough…Myspace…cough) and it was time for me to repost. It’s one of my favorite projects.

For years I would go to  Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fka MGM Studios, and ride the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. It’s easily one of the best rides at Disney. While waiting in line there was a certain section that I was obsessed about, an amazing set of doors made of marbles that I LOVED!! Seeeeeee. Anyway, one day I got the nerve to try and make this myself, and I did it… and for not a ridiculous amount of money either, which was exciting. Most of the time invested in this project was planning and the help of my great friend Matt was absolutely necessary, but we kicked this projects butt. The marbles even roll when you run your hands across just like the original. The key to the whole thing was finding the metal.

So let me show you what we did.

It’s a 3’0″x 6’8″ solid core exterior door. It took just over 3,200 marbles (80lbs) and over 100 1/8″ rivets to complete. The total weight of the door is around 150lbs and is supported by 4 barrel hinges. We lucked out on the metal plating that is holding the marbles, the average marble is 5/8″ in diameter and I happen to find a person selling large pieces of 3 gauge perforated metal with 1/2″ round holes. I asked the supplier to cut 2 identical pieces of metal, I then sandwiched the marbles between them, and riveted the pieces together. I’m still in shock that I was able to find the metal. Securing the slab of metal and marbles in place was also a bit of a challenge. This is where Matt came in. We used a table saw, a router, and made a jig to create a wood railing/trim that the slab sat in. Once we framed everything out, we prayed, and then slid everything into place. A few nails later we were golden.

There are a few things that are different from the original.

  • Disney uses square holes for their metal. It looks awesome, but it’s custom which makes it very high dollar. It would of added many hundreds of dollars to my overhead and I figured Disney can have this one detail.
  • Disney also uses a sheet of plexiglass on the back of the door that you’re not able to see because the doors are propped open against a wall. I’m guessing this is for insulation.
  • Disney also does not use a pattern for the marbles. This would of made things easier, but I wanted to have fun with a pattern.  I made a grid using MS Paint (yeah that’s right!) and was able to overlay a pattern. I was then able to count out how the marbles should lay on the metal.

A couple things to keep in mind. If you’re doing a pattern, make sure the grid is backlit. The marble colors are the same when light isn’t openly shining through them. Also, try and find an average door size. I went with a beefy exterior door because of where I was using it, but now I don’t know where to put it. It currently resides in my parents garage which I’m sure they love.

Ok that’s it. Pictures below. Please keep in mind that we had just returned from the beach….so Matt is wet from swimming not sweating. And I was wearing my favorite Millencolin t-shirt…goodbye poor shirt…goodbye 🙁

New Chapter

Well, Yvette is gone. This past Saturday I dropped my motorcycle off in Tallahasee. It has been sold. I did well on it. I figure the whole experience of having a motorcycle with tires, service, parts, accessories, and a speeding ticket probably only cost me a total of $1,000 after I have sold everything. That’s pretty good I think for enjoying something for over 3 years. That’s a little less than a $1 a day. I tried to show as many people how to ride on it as I could. I just really wanted everybody to enjoy it as much as me. It was a sad day, but I had my fun and now it’s done.

December/November Update:
December and November were quite the busy months, as I’m sure they were for everyone. Sam and I went and did a quick run through of 2 Disney Parks (Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom) around Thanksgiving to get into the Christmas spirit. We even enjoyed an awesome dinner in Germany within Epcot.

Movember! Jacksonville kicked some booty in Movember this year. We raised over $14,000 and worldwide the organization brought in over $60,000,000. YeeehaW

Movember - Jacksonville - Before and After

New Years though took the cake for good times. Exhausting, but good. My friend Jon, his fiance Dominique, her sister and husband, and Sam and I all met up at Epcot around 3:00 in the afternoon New Years Eve. It was the busiest I had ever seen the parks. They closed Magic Kingdom at around 10:00 am due to capacity. They wouldn’t even let you park at the transportation and ticket center or take the monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom.

Well on to a new chapter and a new year.

The Wizardy World…

I took my sister to the Wizardy World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adeventure on Saturday. They do a good job, but I think Disney would of done a better job.

Things I liked:

The ride is awesome. People are going to get hurt on the conveyor belt that puts you on the ride. It’s super fast with no railing and you have to transfer to another belt that is moving at a different speed, but other than that….its awesome. Take your sandals off!!!!! They don’t tell you this….you just have to know. My toes were just holding on for dear life to my flippy floppies. It’s super innovative, it incorporates a little something from every style of amusement park rides available and it’s pretty intense and would scare me when I was kid.

Butter beer: It’s just plain great. I really liked it and may try and make my own. I’m sure there are recipes out there.

The park employees: Universal has a program for interns that brings students in from England. That way they have an authentic Harry Potter land…..very clever!


My sister and I both feel that they did a good job, but something was missing. A gay man or multiple gay men or just an anal retentive somebody to really nail down the little details. This is why we believe Disney could of done it better. I hate picky people, but now I see why they are needed. We both feel it could be due to the scale of everything. Maybe they didn’t have a ton of space, but things just seem small. Maybe children will feel differently over this factor….as they should (they didn’t make the movie or park for adults).

I understand that the point of anything in business is to make money, but Universal really rakes you over the coals. For example: Disney has free fast passes for almost every ride. At Universal you have to pay quite a bit more money to have a fast pass, but then (without notifing the purchaser) they don’t work on the new Harry Potter ride. The price to get into the park went up to around $90 a ticket just for Islands of Adventure when the new section opened which just sucks to pay that much for a single day. They try to upsell you go to the basic Universal Studios….which is the lamest park in the world (they got rid of some of their best rides….specifically King Kong).

Tips and Tricks

The main trick I would say is get to the park about  a half hour before it opens so that you can walk to the Harry Potter section. The line was only 45 min which isn’t bad for a new ride. At one point it was at 2.5 hours. Also, it is super duper hot right now. I live in Florida and the heat was just terrible this past weekend. If you are able to push it off till October or November it will be worth it to wait. Maybe in that time lines will go down and Universal will go through and tweak things a bit to button up some of the loose ends my sister and I saw.

Lines are going to be crazy. Just be ready for it. The line to get into the Harry Potter gift shop was over a 1.5 hour wait that wrapped around the whole area. The candy store on the other hand was like a 5 min wait….I bought the Every flavor beans which I thought was a joke, but its not…the first one I ate was Lima bean followed by black pepper and then potato….mmmm delicious.

If you go have fun and enjoy.