August 26, 2004

The art of roller coaster designing
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

In order to get psyched for our upcoming trip to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, we watched a Travel Channel special that was an inside look at some of the more popular roller coasters. They covered my two favorites.

In Islands of Adventure, there are two coasters that are my favorite. The first is The Hulk, which has the most exhilarating first 5 seconds of any ride I've ever been on. You start in a tunnel, slowly creeping up, hearing a voice say "the reactor can't take it, it's too much, it's..." LAUNCH! All of a sudden you are propelled forward, feeling your cheeks sucked backwards, as green lights surround you from the tunnel. The next thing you know, you are high in the air outside already dipping downward to start the ride.

The launch sequence (designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, as they usually are) requires so much power that the ride has it's own power generator, lest it cause all of Orlando to lose power just from the ride launch.

But here's the neat thing: I had commented to Matt one year as to how loud it was, we were all the way across the park and I could hear it roaring as it went every time. Well, I found out that the Hulk rails have a hollow buffer around the rail to make it sound like the Hulk is roaring! Whaddya know, it was all part of the ride's experience.

As for the second coaster, that would be Dueling Dragons. It's actually two coasters intertwined. The line starts the same, in a medieval castle, and then you are asked to choose your fate, Fire or Ice. This is where you choose the red or the blue coaster.

The ride is suposed to be a mid-air fight between two dragons. The ride is artfully designed to that at several points along the ride, there are near-misses as the dragons "swoop" at each other. Be noted: you won't even know this unless you're in the front row! The key point in the ride is a fast-approaching game of chicken, in which both coasters veer out of the way at the last possible second, avoiding a head-on collision with the people in the other coaster. Again, you won't see a thing if you aren't in the front row.

This coaster has always been my favorite because it's so smooth, comfortable and quiet (aside from the screaming, of course). You don't get jostled around, it's pure bliss as you can just sit back and enjoy the feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Again - it's by design. You are riding a dragon flying in the air! You should feel like you're soaring. The key feature the coaster designers wanted to add to the experience was that realism. They accomplished it by adding a square-foot buffer of gravel around the rails to absorb noise and shock, leaving nothing but a smooth ride.

So, my hat's off to you, oh designer of gut-tormenting coasters. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, you really do have it all under control...

August 13, 2004

Messing with people
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

At Stop & Shop yesterday...

Matt is in line. Bill's mother walks in and sees him standing there.

Bill's mom: "My god, they let you out?"

Matt: "Well, not really. The cops are outside waiting for me."

Man standing behind Matt in line: *silently picks up his things and moves to a new line.*

August 11, 2004

My right to the armrest!
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

Yes, there has been a long silence. You know when so much stuff is going on internally, to voice something else externally would seem trite and forced, and I didnít want that. That wouldnít be being true to myself, and thatís something that I will always be from now on. So I wrote nothing.

I remembered when I was at an old company, and someone came up to me with one of those little puzzles you get as a trade show giveaway. He said, ďyouíre our only hope. Weíve all been trying to do this, and canít do it, so Iím giving it to you because I KNOW youíll be able to solve it.Ē

I looked over, and there was everyone else in the company, and me. I figured it out in a few minutes, and then sat there. I was this close to taking the whole thing apart and handing it back to him, saying I couldnít figure it out either just so I could be part of ďthe groupĒ. But, in the end, being true won, and I quietly handed it back to him all completed, but there was still something missing.

A few times Iíve also tried to be trendy. It didnít work, and I always seemed to go back to my usual comfy punk look, again with something missing.

I was talking to a friend, who told me something recently that hit me like a bolt of lightning.

Everyone has an equal right to happiness.

If we are in a movie theater, thereís one armrest for two seats. I canít hog it the whole time for a movie, but you know what? Neither can the person next to me, either. We both have the same right to that armrest.

Finally, I found out what was missing. My own acceptance of myself. I have just a right to happiness as the next person. Whether that happiness comes from geeking out playing Nintendo, playing role-playing games with my closest friends or blasting the not-so-subtle Rammsteinís ďDu HastĒ, itís what makes me happy. So it may be a little unorthodox for someone of my particular demographic, all it means is that itís a little harder to find peers with my own interests.

For years I had wanted an eyebrow ring, but never got one for fear of how it would affect everyone around me. But I never realized how it would affect ME if I didnít get it. So, one of the first things I did was go out and get one. Such an action had never felt so right. It still does.

So, with that, whatís a girl to do? Whatever it is I feel compelled to do. And Iíll do it proudly.

Never, ever, EVER sacrifice who you are for anything or anyone. And don't ever let anyone make you feel like you have to, either. You have the same right to happiness as everyone else.

Life is good!

*STATIC* Ö and now back to your regularly scheduled programmingÖ *STATIC*

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