© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Friday, June 19, 2009

I nearly fell off my seat...

Got this one through a forwarded email from a friend & I nearly fell off from my seat laughing. who ever created this one, I should say, real talent!!

And well deserving for the kind of statements that comes out of people like Jayarajan. Can't they stop making a fool of themselves?

രാഷ്ട്രീയക്കാരോടുള്ള വിശ്വാസ്യത മാത്രമേ നഷ്ടപെട്ടിട്ടുള്ളൂ. ചിന്താശക്തി നശിച്ചിട്ടില്ല! കഷ്ടം!

Image courtesy: Malayalam Fun

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 3 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney World has 4 theme parks and 3 Water parks in Orlando. Water parks are more or less like the Veega Land / Wonder La kind of parks – though I had been to neither of these places :) – and do not even have a good liking for Water Parks. The 4 Theme parks are Magic Kingdom – Built on the theme of the fairies and princesses, Animal Kingdom – Built on the themes of the getting to know the different animal species around the world, Hollywood Studios – A sneak preview of how the different Disney & Pixar animation films are made and EPCOT which is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – An Utopian idea of Walt Disney which was never completed.

I was very impressed by the way they are organized and especially the way how everything is managed in the parks. During the 5 days while we were visiting the Disney Theme Parks, I was NEVER disappointed for anything except the weather – which of course, they can do nothing about :). Parking lots up to the size of 20-30 football fields, trolleys that keep running every 5 minutes to take you to the gates, the SMILE on the face of EVERY employee starting from the parking booth attendant to the sweepers cleaning the walkways– it is just amazing! It is very true that a smile can do wonders and I really wonder how they manage to have each and every employee to have a pleasant and smiling face always - rain or shine. I am sure there must be lot of lessons for organizations on induction and orientation programs for employees.

So, Day 3 belongs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The Park has various streets named Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America, Pixar Place where they had the various attractions & the shops selling Disney Merchandise. The first show that we got into was the ‘Voyage of the Little Mermaid’ – Little One’s favorite – in the Animation Courtyard. Almost every other day, ever since she read the story of The Little Mermaid, she turns out to be Ariel and myself King Triton!! This was a stage show with real people acting up as characters and I was really awed by the way how they created the 3D effects without having all of us wear those polarized glasses. The best one that I thought was very innovative was how they created the effect that all the audience was under the Ocean, They created some mist in the theater by fine spraying of water and used the laser beams on the 4 corners of the theater to make an illusion of the waves at the water level – which was projected on the mist! Little One did not want to go out even after the show ended & made up a small scene there.

We went on to the see another stage show next – Play House Disney. If you are a regular at the Disney TV Channel, you would have come across this show; the only difference was this was live. The kiddos had the option to dance along with their friends Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pooh, Tiger, Handy Manny, Piglet et all (Phew! I got most of them…:) ). Little One was very cranky by the 10 minutes waiting time and added to the fact that she wanted to use the rest room, but wanted to go home & not use the public one – Her paranoia of public restrooms still continues after she got really scared by the noise of the flush after using one in an airplane. She also met Mickey in person near the Animation Courtyard & we took a couple of photos with her & Mickey.

The next pit stop was at the Toy Story Midway Mania where we rode on spinning vehicles wearing polarized glasses to play interactive 3D games by using the Toy Cannons to throw darts/shoot at an imaginary projectile to hit the target. Little One enjoyed this one and I was pleasantly surprised to note that she & SH had a better score than me!! (enough to brush up my male ego… grrr). We went on to see the attraction of the Chronicles of Narnia which did not really excite us – mainly due to the factor that we hadn’t seen the film series and had no clue on what is going on – I had an after thought at this point of time. If Little One had not been in our lives forcing us to read & see most of these story characters, we would have been really lost in most of the places not knowing what was going around. All I knew about animation & cartoons until she came to our lives were Tom & Jerry and Mickey Mouse (mascot)!

We decided to have our lunch at the Mama’s Italian Grille near the Streets of America where SH & Little One had a bountiful lunch of Raviolis, Pasta and Spaghetti. I ended up paying through my nose for a tuna steak, grilled to perfection (?? huh) on a fire-wood grill decorated by crossed asparagus resembling the swords in the Saudi Kingdom’s emblem. After lunch, we started off to see some of the attractions in the Streets of America. We skipped the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Extreme Stunt Show where they enact the various stunt scenes from the movies to give you an idea on how some of the scenes are shot in the movies. We did some walking around in the Streets of America around the sets created as New York City and San Francisco and we ended up at the Kid’s attraction – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! Based on the movie by the same name, you get into a kids play area where you have large grass & weeds & Coke cans as large as you – A total change in perspective when you get onto a lawn as a small ant or a fly. I rested a while under a ‘leaf’ while the girls went around playing in the play area. I lost my cool for the first time during the vacation because the girls went missing & I ended up scouring the whole area to find them. We then decided to check out the 3D Muppet Show. The waiting time was boring – mainly because we were not a big fan of the muppets, but however the A/C hall on a hot afternoon was welcome :). Indirectly, we were ready to even get bored to hide away from the Florida Sun. It was almost 3:30 PM by then and we decided to get back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Up and recharged by 6 PM, we decided to make a quick entry to the Disney’s Magic Kingdom since we knew that this park is open until 10 PM (We had a park-hopper ticket which actually allowed us to hop between the parks). The best park among the four, truly living up to their punch line – “Where dreams come true” – Magic Kingdom is a true wonder.
From the parking lot, you are ‘transported’ into a Magical World either by a Ferry or by a Monorail (you can chose what to take) and this place is where all the characters in the Disney’s Princesses, Fairies and other animated magical stories live. The kind of happiness and surprise that I saw on Little One’s face when she got to see Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rosetta, Jasmine & Aladdin in life – It is just beyond description! Very true to their slogan and the punch line – To believe in your dreams, you should believe in yourself – they motivate children to dream bigger, larger, king size and to believe in their dreams… It will then come true… It is not a surprise that even now, most of the innovations happen on this side of the world.

The biggest attraction and the icon of the Magic Kingdom is the Cinderella’s Castle. We walked through the Main Street USA which leads to the castle and went through the castle to the Fantasy Land. SH & Little One rode on Dumbo – The Flying Elephant and the Cinderella’s Golden Carousel - The oldest ride in Disney World, while I went out to get the Fast Pass for the Mickey’s PhilharMagic – A 3D movie experience with Mickey & Donald. It was already 8 by the time we finished up with Philhar Magic and we wanted to grab our dinner and get a nice place to watch the “SpectroMagic” parade that starts at 9 PM and “Wishes” - The Fireworks Spectacular that will start at 10 PM after which the Park closes for the day. We grabbed some bites from the restaurant at Tomorrow Land since we could not find a good place to watch the SpectroMagic Parade, and waited for the fireworks to start.

And the Fireworks, it is all in here!!! Just no words to describe (Listen with the Audio on to hear the background theme song – Wishes!)

I was again and again impressed by the management & organizing skills of the Park while at the end of fireworks, thousands and thousands of people exiting out of the park at the same time, and the only way to get back to the Parking lot (real world - as they say) was through the Ferry or the Mono Rail, it took us no more than 25 minutes, end-to-end. Talk about Capacity planning…

Day 3 ended past 11PM while we crashed back at the hotel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The absent minded -

Sometimes, your brain tells you to stop, take a breather and then step on the gas again. And you don't listen because of 'priorities' - A convenient name that most of the professionals use to hide behind. And after a while it starts intervening with your day to day routine.

I had been having very long working hours in the past few weeks - thanks to some of the excellent support I receive from my counter parts. And it started to show off. I came to office one of these days to realize that I left my laptop back at home! Thankfully, I stay just a mile away from office, I could drive back & pick it up with in 20 minutes.

The best one happened yesterday evening. I locked myself out of my office with my car keys inside the office at 6PM. The regular office time ends here at 5, so visibly only a very few folks around. The icing on the cake? The keys to my office AND my home was inside my car! Thankfully, the admin assistant had left her office open last night and I was able to search the drawers to get the spare key to my office.

I & little one would have been stranded yesterday without the car ending up walking to our home or call a taxi to home which is just a mile away and waiting outside for SH to come home at 8:30PM (She carries a pair of the house keys)!

I think I should learn to stop for a while when my mind tells me to -