Why Disney’s trackless rides can be a lot more fun than their predecessors

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Heard about “trackless” rides?

Beginning in 2000, Disney began deploying rides, both indoor dark rides and outdoor, free-motion rides, which, instead of rooting riders on a traditional fixed track, employ sensors on the ground and an array of local positioning systems. WiFi, GPS, even, reportedly, barcodes are among the technologies being used to give ride vehicles a freer range of motion.

One of the chief pleasures of this technology has been the roll-out of vehicles that move in unanticipated ways, spinning and bucking in synchronization with narratives: as one ride developer of my acquaintance puts it, this “articulates” the ride, making riders feel more like participants rather than passive onlookers.

Another virtue is that multiple rides on the same attraction aren’t repetitious. Carriages propel riders to different locations in a room, creating a range of experiences so that repeat trips are different experiences.

I have been fortunate to visit each of Disney’s five far flung parks with a trackless ride. In order of best to least-best, here’s a brief, trackless ride around Disney’s 21st century world.

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Mystic Manor. Hong Kong Disneyland

This 2013 stunner is not solely a showcase of trackless technology, but, more significantly, uses it to amplify one of Disney’s most satisfying non-movie themed rides. Mystic Manor’s storyline is set in motion by a mischievous, child-like monkey named Albert who fiddles with a forbidden magical music box, causing Disney-esque mishaps to ensue. Being freed from a track, riders in carriages are immersed in differing degrees of the mayhem Albert has caused as they travel through rooms and down separate hallways …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

One of the worst cooks in America calls East Bay home

LIVERMORE — Many people may consider themselves lousy cooks, but few can claim they are among the worst cooks in America.

Livermore’s Jonathan Farhat, 37, can.

While he considers himself a good dad at home and skilled safety expert at work, he admits he is a disaster in the kitchen. Now, he even has a title to prove it. By television standards, he was the worst.

After Farhat cooked a tasteless corndog and messed up baking bacon, he became the first contestant bounced from the Food Networks’ 12th season of “Worst Cooks in America” on an episode that aired earlier this month. The reality show, a kind of culinary “Survivor” drama, playfully roasts bad cooks under the glare of the television camera and uses professional chefs to try to teach them. Contestants compete for a $25,000 prize for the top dish prepared at the end of the season.

Farhat’s attempt to win the money failed like a fallen souffle, but he picked up a new nickname: Corndog John.

He admitted that he earned his day of infamy on the culinary charts by accidentally oversalting an omelette and baking up a greasy mess with bacon.

“It’s no secret. I’m not a good cook. I was never trained,” said Farhart, an Army veteran who works as a health-and-safety technician at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “My mom cooked for me when I was young. Then I joined the Army and I got three squares a day. Then I got married and my wife cooked.”

His mother, Karen Farhart of Livermore, said her son, a Livermore High School graduate, was like many boys who were too busy to cook while growing up. “I’m proud he’s trying to learn now,” she said.

Farhat said he learned a thing or two about cooking on the show that can help redeem himself at …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

Trump to March for Life: ‘We are with you all the way’

By Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence signaled their support as thousands of anti-abortion activists rallied on the National Mall at the annual March for Life on Friday.

“Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden, in a speech that was broadcast to the marchers gathered near the Washington Monument.

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The march – which typically draws busloads of Catholic school students, a large contingent of evangelical Christians and poster-toting protesters of many persuasions – falls each year around the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a legal right to abortion and intends to pressure Congress and the White House to limit legal access to the procedure.

Trump said he was “really proud to be the first president to stand with you here at the White House;” Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush addressed the march by telephone when they were in office.

Megan Ensor, who came from Atlanta to attend her first March for Life, expressed her enthusiasm that Trump took the time to speak to the marchers. “When it comes to the greatest moral evil of our time, the question that is most important is that he cares. . . . When he comes today, that’s a good thing. We don’t have to agree with him on everything,” she said.

Trump touted his administration’s anti-abortion policies, including new orders on Thursday and Friday establishing an office to support medical professionals who do not want to perform abortions and making it …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health

California net departures by moving van at 11-year high

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Outbound moves from California via three giant moving companies in 2017 outpaced arrivals by the widest gap in 11 years.

Van line moves are worth watching as a benchmark of the vitality of a state’s economic climate because the folks relocating by major van line across state lines are typically well-do-to households. My trusty spreadsheet, filled with annual migration data from United, Atlas and Allied van lines, shows 28,144 outbound moves from California in 2017 vs. 24,179 vans coming in.

That net outmigration of 3,965 was the nation’s second-biggest gap between ins and outs behind Illinois. And it was the state’s worst performance since 2006’s 6,673. In both years, just 46 percent of California van moves were in-bound.

In some ways, this is no surprise. This van net outflow data aligns with a recent state population report. California had a 105,211 more people leave to other states than arrive in the 12 months ended July 1. That net domestic migration was down from 163,922 in the previous 12 months but was the second highest outflow in seven years.

Please note the 2017 van-line stats do not signal a growing exodus out of the state. In fact, mobility in and out of the state by moving van is way down: Last year’s departures — as well as arrivals — are roughly 40 percent below the 2006 levels. It’s part of a growing trend of Americans moving less as the nation’s population ages and relocating gets pricier and less popular.

Plus incoming relocations exceeded moves out for California among the three companies in every year from 2008 through 2015. Adding it all up, 365,500 vans came to California in the last …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

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