Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Simpson Iyers

Sasank Gopinathan, who is working as a Product and Automotive Designer, was approached for a custom saree design.  He was asked to modify the Simpson Family to look like they are South Indian Brahmin family.  I liked his work so much and asked his permission to reproduce that in my blog. Sasank kindly agreed.

Sasank has done so many projects which are worth viewing.  You can follow Sasank on his Behance profile.

The Simpson Iyers!

Bart Iyer is wearing a kurta and pajama with sandals. His Iyer vibudhi (holy ash) mark is visible on his forehead

Homer Iyer is wearing a Veshti in tamil brahmin paalathaal style. His sacred thread is also visible, and so are his Iyer vibudi markings on his forehead and arm

Homer Iyer dozed off after eating his favourite vadai with chutney

Lisa Iyer is wearing a typically south indian paavadai and dhaavani. She also adorns jimiki earrings

Maggie Iyer sports an adorable paavada blouse, a little loose for her maybe. She also has a mole drawn on her cheek, something that parents tend to for little kids in India.

Marge Iyer is seen wearing a saree worn in traditional tamil brahmin 'madisar' style.

Marge Iyer wearing another saree, this time a kancheepuram silk saree worn in the more common style.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Final Stop in Atlanta - CNN

The last place we visited in Atlanta was the Headquarters for CNN.  You all know that CNN (Cable News Network) is a popular television station that is broadcast all over the world.  At their headquarters location, they conduct a 55 minute tour eight times a day.  The tour starts on the 8th floor after you cross a security checkpoint on the ground floor. 
Now how do you get to the 8th floor of the CNN Center in Atlanta? 
Elevator?…nope!  Good guess though.
Stairs?  Heck NO!
Maybe an Escalator?  What…are you kidding me!  Really?  An escalator?
An escalator that goes up to the 8th floor from the ground floor with no stops in between?
YESSSS!  This is the world’s largest free standing escalator (according to the Guinness book of World records) and the only way to get to your tour.
CNN was founded by Ted Turner, who was the owner of Turner Broadcasting System which is now part of Time Warner.  CNN started operating at 5 PM on June 1, 1980.  Turner’s intent was to provide fierce competition to the three TV news networks that were dominating at that time (ABC, CBS and NBC).
On this tour, we could see in detail the Control Room Theater, Special Effects studio, and the Interactive News Desk section.  We were able to understand what all it takes to produce a newscast.
At any given moment there are 99 cameras in various places in the world ready to be shown as news.  Now which one will they show for the TV viewers?  The Programming Director decides that…and makes quick decisions if there is breaking news at any time.
What if another news network breaks the news first?  Oh yes, CNN is also monitoring/watching the other networks…just in case someone else gets the jump on CNN when a developing story occurs that CNN also should report on.
We were also able to see how tele-prompters work and how the news anchor is able to read the news while staring into the television camera. Watching how the weather anchors do the weather is also pretty cool (no pun intended). 
What we see at home is the weather anchor standing in front of the weather map and giving us a weather forecast.  That is not how it works in the studio.  The weather board is somewhere else and the weather reporter is standing in front of a plain green wall.  Somehow, due to the technical magic of television, we watch the reporter right next to (or in front of) the weather map on our TV.  Cool stuff.
Why Green? Well…
When applying artificially created backgrounds or effects, two separate series of images have to be combined. The technical term for this is 'chroma key'. Any color can be used for the background that will be 'dropped' but the two most popular choices are Green and Blue - this is because these two colors are the most unlike skin tones and will not cause problems when removed.
Did that make sense?  Or was that explanation as clear as mud?

                                                          Flags from all the countries




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tidbits from Atlanta

Next post will the last on our Atlanta visit.  It will be about our tour of CNN Headquarters.  I think I have bored you all enough.  However, I have a few tidbits to share from our visit to Atlanta. 
We stayed at this name brand hotel.  They have a nice customer service.  If you are going to a touristy place (like CNN Headquarters), the hotel van will drop you.  When you are ready to return to the Hotel, call them and the van will come and pick you up.  One morning we were boarding the van to go some place.  The driver is a black gentleman.  My wife (LG) boarded the van first and she was going towards the back seats.  I asked her to sit in the front seat.  The driver heard this.  He told my wife:
Please sit in the front madam. Those days are OVER.
He was very emotional and the way he said “OVER” was louder and more pronounced.  (Remember Rosa Parks' story? She refused to sit in the back of the bus in South when non-whites were not allowed to sit in the front seats.) (I had a chuckle.)
Remember on the last day we were held up in our hotel room and could not go anywhere because of heavy snow and ice storm!  That evening we went to the hotel lounge to have a drink.  How long we can stay in the hotel room?  (We later found out that the Police Officers working in that area could not go home due to heavy snow.  They were put up in our hotel with an instruction that they are on 24 hour duty.)
We entered the lounge and sat in a corner.  We saw about 10 Police Officers nearer to our table and drinking orange juice.  I originally that it was vodka and orange juice.  I had an eye contact with one of the officers.  He smiled.  That is enough for an extreme extrovert like me.  I smiled back.  And, I said: Hey guys, this is the safest place in Atlanta now.  They had a question mark in their faces.  I said I am glad Atlanta’s finest is here to protect us. Full of smiles all over.
Then I offered to buy them a beer.  One of the officers said: “Thank you sir.  But we are on duty now.  May be some other time.”  I replied: Yeah sure.
I want to end this post with a photo.  So here is a photo of Georgia Dome, the home of the Atlanta Braves, a professional American Football team in Atlanta, Georgia.  I know, unless you are a die hard American Football fan, you won’t give a damn about this.  Seating capacity: 74,228.  This is the largest indoor sporting facility in the United States.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

MLK, Jr. National Historic Site

When we were in Atlanta, we visited the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.  He was born in Atlanta in this home.
He became a Pastor in this Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The Civil Rights Movement was lead by MLK. He chose to do this via non-violent protests and civil disobedience.  He was definitely influenced by the philosophy of non-violence practiced by Mahatma Gandhi.  He went to India in 1959 to study Gandhi’s techniques of nonviolent resistance.  There is a big statue of Mahatma Gandhi in this Historic Site.
MLK, Jr.'s tributes to the Mahatma.
The Charkha
The eternal flame
Few photos from the MLK museum

The famous "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, in Washington, DC.  This speech is among the most acclaimed in U.S. History.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sunny Afternoon,

On A Rainy Day.

                                                                  The street I live

Continuation from my last post “World of Coca Cola”. I wrote how bad it tasted the soft drink made in Italy (Beverly) by Coca Cola. I stumbled upon this YouTube video where 2 guys are tasting this soft drink, Beverly. See their reaction.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

World of Coca Cola

After attending a wedding in Birmingham, Alabama we planned to go visit the “capital of the South” - Atlanta, Georgia.  It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from Birmingham and pretty much a straight shot across one freeway.  We planned to stay for 3 days in “Hotlanta” but we could only do sightseeing for two of those days.  You see when we were there, Atlanta was anything but “Hotlanta”.  In fact, it was “Damn Cold Lanta”.  We spent our third day there cooped up in a hotel room due to the heavy snow and an ice storm.  The whole city shut down for the storm and there was nowhere to go and nothing to do.
But I digress…
When we first arrived in Atlanta we visited the World of Coca Cola.

Atlanta is the headquarters for Coca Cola and of course they have a Coke Museum.  We visited the museum and enjoyed the mostly self-guided tour very much.  It’s a pretty neat place that’s fun and informational about everything related to Coke (not the illegal white powder, I mean the soft drink).
Dr. John Pemberton invented Coke in 1886.  In 1891, Asa Candler bought this Company for $2,300.  In 1919, he sold Coca Cola for $25 million.  Today, Coca Cola is worth $164 billion.
                                                              Dr. John Pemberton
The Coca Cola Company keeps their secret recipe for Coke in a heavily guarded vault at this location.  This is the magical recipe that combines the Coca Cola syrup with carbonated water and makes this delicious soft drink (which of course is bad for your health but so addicting because it tastes so good).
                                                                   Vault Entrance
                                                                Actual Vault
A few years ago, a disgruntled secretary in the Coca Cola Company stole a copy of the secret recipe and offered to sell it to a senior executive at a rival company (Pepsi).  You know what the senior executive did?  He called the police and also informed the Coca Cola Chairman.  That is what I call honesty and integrity in business.
So at this museum, they have a fully functional but miniature bottling plant.  It produces 8 oz. glass bottles of Coca-Cola.  We were able to witness a behind the scenes view of the actual bottling process. At the end of the tour, every visitor gets a complimentary 8 oz. bottle of Coke.

Of course, the highlight of the tour is the immensely popular tasting room.  It was pure fun and we couldn’t get enough. They have 5 stations to taste local soft drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola around the world.  Each station represents a different continent and each “continent tasting station” has countries listed and the Coca Cola products offered in that country.

You can sample any country’s drink that is made by Coca Cola.  Add to that, you can drink as much as you want without any time limits or quantity limits!
For example, the Asia tasting station had soft drinks made by Coca Cola representing Japan (2), Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, India, and Thailand.  Altogether, the tasting area must have had over 100 different soft drinks to taste from…from around the world. If you drink a full cup from each country, you cannot taste more than 10 samples.  So we just took a few sips from each country and we tasted more than 50 drinks from around the world. 
Now which country’s Coca Cola product tastes the best? The best in my opinion is “Bibo” made in South Africa.  It is a combination of kiwi and mango. It’s the best in my humble opinion and the people that I was with also liked it very much.
The guaranteed worst is “Beverly” made in Italy.  This is not just my opinion but everyone’s opinion. It’s clearly the worst drink in the tasting room and 100 out of 100 people will agree on that.  If you are ever in Italy, don’t buy this drink (even though they don’t make it anymore).  I would rather drink animal vomit than drink “Beverly” again.  YUCK! (no, I won’t REALLY drink animal vomit but you get my point).
Was there a Coca Cola drink representing India in the tasting station room?  Of course!
We tasted Thums Up…in Atlanta of all places!  The reviews for Thums Up were actually pretty good from the fellow drinkers standing around me.  Even I enjoyed it when compared to the other drinks from around the world.

Towards the end of the tour, I was talking to the Floor Supervisor in the Tasting Room.  I told him that I didn’t know that Thums Up was manufactured by Coca Cola.  He said that Coke bought Thums Up in order to become Number One in India.  He said that Coke was originally Number Three in India behind Pepsi and Thums Up.  He also said, “We want to be Number One in every country in the world.”  I was amazed at his knowledge of the company’s products and also impressed with his company loyalty.
Thums Up to him!
(or should I say Thumbs Up?  Never understood why the b was omitted in the name of the drink)