Week 7,8,9 and Weekend 9 – California

I spent the next two and a half weeks working hard and the final result was a usable search engine that could be accessed by typing in the URL, typing in a query and clicking Search. The query then went to a crawler which at run time downloaded a lot of pages, extracted the text, removed common words (called stop words), stemmed each word to its root, generated term frequencies, calculated the scores of each page and finally selected the top 10 pages and sent them to the user’s browser as a HTML page.

On one weekend, the IITK interns at Oregon State University came over along with the other Indian interns there. Somehow, 20 people managed to sleep in our 3 bedroom house 🙂 We ended up going to Seattle and looking around. We also went on this cruise around Eliott Bay.

Wednesday, July 4th is a national holiday in the US. I took  Thursday and Friday also off and went for a 5 day trip to California.

I left shortly after lunch on Tuesday for the airport. The Delta flight took off from Seattle at 5 pm and this time I was flying alone. The plane reached Los Angeles at 7:30 pm. I first took a airport van to the Aviation Boulevard Green Line station. From there, I took the train to Norwalk station (this is basically identical to the Delhi Metro). From Norwalk, I took the Metro 460 to Harbour Boulevard. I got off just outside the entrance to Disneyland and saw people coming out with smiles on their faces 🙂 I took the No 43 bus from there to the Hostelling International Fullerton hostel and reached around midnight.

This was my second time at a HI hostel (the first was in Hawaii). Here too, the staff and guests were very friendly. I slept off soon and got up at about 7 am. I had breakfast and then went to the bus stop from where I caught the No 43 which dropped me outside Disneyland.

I had bought this 5 park California Fun Pass which included a 3 day multi-pass to Disneyland and California adventure park, a day pass to Universal Studios Hollywood, a day pass to the Sea World at San Diego and a day pass to the San Diego Zoo.

I went on to the Disneyland entrance and entered after showing my pass. I suddenly felt that I had lost 10 years from my age 🙂  Every single character, every single tune playing in the background was familiar. I then headed for my first rise, the Space Mountain. I had to wait in the line for about 20 min before I got to go for the ride. It was basically a fast roller coaster ride – what made it interesting was that we were supposedly in space which meant darkness all around which made it a little scary especially if one is sitting right at the front (like your’s truly) and appears to be hurtling into darkness.

Once the ride was over, I observer that the wait time had become 1 hour for that ride. Disney has this concept of a FastPass wherein you could get a pass in advance and stand in the FastPass queue which was much shorter – the constraint however is that each FastPass has an expiry time and you can issue a new FastPass only after the one you have has expired or after 2 hours.

So, I decided to do some optimization. I quickly grew 10 years older to become the IITK CS guy, and sat for 5 minutes during which I marked all the rides on the map along with the wait times and designed a traversal that would enable me to go on all the rides with minimum waiting time and minimum walking, taking FastPasses in between. I believe this might have been an NP complete problem. Anyhow, once this was done, I once again grew 10 years younger and strolled ahead 🙂

A few hours later, I had completed all the rides that had appeared interesting in Disneyland. I also got to watch the famous Disney Parade and a few other shows. It was late afternoon by now so I headed to the California Adventure Park which is opposite Disneyland and is targeted more at adults than children. There were a lot of interesting rides here too with the general speed of rides being much higher than in Disneyland.

My favourite ride in Disneyland were Space Mountain. In California Adventure Park, my two favourites were California Soaring and California Screaming.

In California Soaring, there is this huge hemispherical screen into which the audience is lifted into. Then there is a simulation wherin video is shown on the screen (and since you are inside the hemisphere, it appears like a real life experience as you can look up or down and see the sky/land) and there is motion to simulate flying over the clouds along with water and perfume sprays when we fly over the seas… on the whole a very realistic experience.

California Screaming is a very fast roller coaster ride. How fast? Well at one point, my train went in a loop during which I was upside down and did not even feel weightless (by now all those of you who gave JEE must have thought of sqrt(5*g*R) 😛 )

It was soon becoming dark so I headed back to Disneyland to see the July 4th Fireworks. After that, I headed to the exit, caught the 43 bus and returned to the hostel.

The next day I again went to Disneyland/California Adventure Part, only this time Devika was also there. I also got to go for some of the rides I had missed the earlier day. Disneyland is really enjoyable, the only issue at times can be the walking which would make you tired by evening. But then there are lots of places where one can sit inside and just watch clips playing on the screen.

I reached the hostel again late at night, totally tired out. The next day we went to LA to Universal Studios. The park was interesting…they show you how the special effects is done in the movies. There is also a tour around the studio where one gets to see various sets including the set for the filming of War of the Worlds (complete with the crashed plane). There were also a few rides and costumed cartoon characters including Spiderman, Shrek, Fiona and Donkey 😀

I reached the hostel again but this time a little earlier and again went of to sleep fast. The next day, we went to Sea World. Sea World is in San Diego which is a 2 hour drive from Disneyland and so, it was past noon when we reached. Sea World’s main attraction is the ‘Believe’ show. There are also other shows involving dolphis, orcas and seals. One can also see penguins and polar bears.

I reached the hostel again at about 8pm and slept off. The next day I woke up and found that apparently there was a bus strike. Luckily for me, one of the staff was going off duty and so offered to drop me till the Disneyland entrance. This is what makes Hostelling International different from a lodge – the staff are helpful. In return, I gave her my remaining Disneyland Pass. She was quite happy since she hadn’t been to Disneyland for quite a few years.

From there I took the Metro 460, Greenline and the airport van and reached the airport. The flight took off in the evening and reached Seattle at about 10pm. The 5 days were definitely worth it and the time at Disneyland was my happiest during the intern 🙂

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