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Injured miner making progress

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The survivor of the Sago Mine disaster is slowly learning to speak again, answering questions and learning to articulate words at a rehabilitation hospital, a family spokeswoman said Wednesday. Randal L. McCloy Jr., 26, sometimes responds with a single word, but also uses phrases to answer relatives and therapists, said Aly Goodwin Gregg, a spokeswoman for McCloy’s family. Some of his communication is clear, but much is still difficult to understand. “His family is ecstatic with what’s coming now,” Gregg said. “It’s wonderful to say, ‘Do you want more chicken fingers?’ and for him to be able to say no.” Doctors are still gauging the extent of brain damage McCloy suffered from severe oxygen deprivation, she said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant McCloy’s wife elicits the best responses from her husband, Gregg said. McCloy seldom initiates the talking. McCloy was one of 13 miners who became trapped deep in the mine Jan. 2 after an explosion. The men were exposed to deadly carbon monoxide for more than 41 hours before searchers found them. By then, all but McCloy had died. He was carried out of the mine Jan. 4 with kidney, lung, liver and heart damage, and remained in a coma for weeks before being transferred to HealthSouth Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va. The cause of the mine blast remains under investigation. Gregg said McCloy’s alertness and physical strength are also improving through daily therapy. He eats with some assistance but has a feeding tube to supplement his nutritional needs. That tube could be removed within the next few weeks. last_img read more

Pssssst! Have you tasted this?

first_imgSo they’re turning to women such as Grant – a well-connected mom whose opinion is valued within her peer group. Within the word-of-mouth advertising community, people such as Grant are known as “agents.” But these agents don’t carry eavesdropping devices and disguises – they push household products in exchange for coupons and the very products they’re promoting. Throughout her agent career, Grant has soaked herself in a Ralph Lauren fragrance called Hot, taken Nutella samples to her sons’ play dates and painted her hallway with a light-blue shade of Benjamin Moore paint. The supplier of the products sent to her, Boston-based marketing company BzzAgent, instructs all its agents to tell people that they are getting freebies to promote them. Grant says she doesn’t see any conflict in marketing products to friends simply by sharing samples with them. “I’m not a big sales person with my friends,” she said. “There’s no need to push because it’s just regular stuff.” Some agencies and companies do not require their agents to announce that they are in fact pushing products, preferring to leave that decision up to the individual agent. While that has some worried about the ethical implications of the practice, advocates say tell-a-friend campaigns are more honest than traditional advertising. “Word-of-mouth is actually the most honest form of marketing because you can’t con someone about the experience of a product,” said George Silverman, president of Market Navigation, Inc., a company that, among other things, organizes conference calls for physicians to share opinions about pharmaceuticals. “You don’t expect a salesperson to be objective, but I’ve always found that people don’t lie to their friends, and they generally won’t tell a friend about something unless they genuinely like it.” Silverman says traditional advertising has been losing consumers in recent years because people feel bombarded by information and are tuning out marketing messages. “People are overloaded. I’ve done focus groups with everyone from Hispanic gardeners to Fortune-500 executives. They’re all overloaded. Word-of-mouth is the only thing that cuts through the overload. If you want to buy something, you can spend two months researching it or you can ask a friend. Which is more fun?” For that reason, he said, more manufacturers are turning to word-of-mouth to sell everything from coffee makers to mobile phones. Most programs target big-spending groups such as moms and teenagers, and efforts vary in how aggressive they get. Mothers, especially working mothers, are especially prized by word-of-mouth marketers because they have a large sphere of contacts: through school, their kids’ activities and co-workers. “(Women) are the ones who are controlling all the consumer spending in this country,” said Kevin Burke, president of Lucid Marketing, a word-of-mouth company in Burbank specifically focused on selling to moms. “Their roles have evolved in the last 20 years. The stereotype of the male controlling certain purchases is eroding.” The certainty of that buying power prompted consumer products giant Procter & Gamble to launch a program about a year ago called Vocalpoint. To date, the program has recruited well more than half a million moms, while another unit, Tremor, has enlisted several hundred thousand teenagers to talk to their friends about new music and video games. However, P&G is one of the word-of-mouth marketers that doesn’t require its program members to disclose their involvement. The potential for infiltration of product placement in everyday life – such as name-dropping a particular dishwashing liquid to another mom watching football practice – has sparked a storm of controversy. “It straddles a thin line,” said George Silverman, the marketing strategist. “The bad side of it is using people as shills.” P&G does not require Vocalpoint and Tremor members to disclose that they are taking products because it does not want to tell members what to say, P&G spokeswoman Robin Schroeder said. “They want it to be very natural,” she said. But the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, a fast-growing group founded in 2004, defines that approach as deceptive. “We were formed to take on that particular issue,” CEO Andy Sernovitz said. “Our code of ethics is, marketers have to disclose. … Tremor and Vocalpoint have not signed on to our code of ethics. They are conspicuously missing from the list.” Other marketing experts say companies that explicitly hide their marketing tactics are eventually found out, and the ethics surrounding word-of-mouth marketing are self-correcting. “P&G is just hoping folks will talk about them,” said Kevin Dugan, director of marketing communications at a design firm and author of a blog about public relations strategy. His wife became a Vocalpoint member when she found out about the program from him. “There’s no specific direction to go out and talk to people or to disclose. There are no talking points. The risk they have is, say my wife had Oil of Olay beauty mask. If she doesn’t like it, she’s going to tell someone about it. She doesn’t feel compelled to talk about it because they sent it to her. With the Oil of Olay, she’ll bring it up if it comes up, but it’s not, `I know we’re talking about your kid’s soccer game and I hate to interrupt, but I need to talk about this facial mask.’ “It needs to be organic to be effective.” Like the recent outing of lonelygirl15, the homeschooled girl whose fictitious YouTube identity was revealed a few weeks ago by curious fans, some companies have posed as Regular Joes online and been punished by consumers who have unearthed their true identity. Carmaker Mazda turned off some loyalists when it launched a blog hosted by someone posing as a Mazda enthusiast. Word-of-mouth also has plenty of examples of campaigns that backfired because products were not very good. Irina Slutsky, a video blogger and host of Geek Entertainment TV, received a mobile phone from Sprint six months ago apparently in the hope that she would write about it in her blog. “The display screen broke two months after I got it, so if I had written about it, it would be all bad stuff,” Slutsky said. “I thought, `That’s a silly marketing plan.”‘ Folgers hired BzzAgent to create hype about its home brewing machines. The problem was the machines didn’t work well, reportedly leaking water and emitting smoke. Such backfire worries have kept some big companies form engaging in word-of-mouth marketing. “Companies are very scared of it,” Silverman said. “Nuclear power is very efficient and clean if it handles right, but you’d better know what you’re doing, or you’re going to blow up the place. Marketers are control freaks, and you can’t control a lot of aspects of word-of-mouth marketing.” Secret-agent moms Some worry about ethics Recruiting teens, doctors `Straddles a thin line’ All the talk can backfire barbara.correa@dailynews.com (818)713-3662 Social networking BzzAgent membership www.bzzagent.com/ Procter & Gamble’s program for teens www.tremor.com/ Procter & Gamble’s program for moms www.vocalpoint.com/ Word of Mouth Marketing Association www.womma.org/160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Just hours after Emily Grant plunked down a box of Hershey’s Take 5 candy bars at a PTA meeting, a teacher who sampled the chocolate treat raced out to buy a king-size bar. On the surface, the candy bar purchase was a simple act of impulse buying. But in reality, it was the successful application of a clever marketing tool that uses everyday people to entice friends and family to buy products. Word-of-mouth advertising has mushroomed in recent years as companies try to reach an increasingly inaccessible consumer base – one hiding in a multimedia fog of iPods, video games and infinite Web sites and cable channels. Advertisers simply can’t reach consumers with traditional television, magazine and newspaper ads in such a stratified marketing environment. last_img

Precooking may have limited outbreak

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! IRVINE – Nearly 20 years ago, Taco Bell was hailed as an innovator when it began to ship precooked, pre-seasoned beef and bean fillings to its restaurants as a way to save money. The concept was called K-minus because it reduced the need for kitchens at the individual outlets and let Taco Bell sell many of its core menu items for less than $1. Now, as Taco Bell struggles to rebound from an E. coli outbreak at eateries in New York and New Jersey, industry experts say that type of advance preparation may have shielded the fast food giant from a more severe problem. Health investigators were trying to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak and said the investigation will probably focus on produce instead of meat. Precooking and prepackaging of fillings at designated plants reduce the number of people who handle the food and the opportunities for E. coli to take hold, said Randy Hiatt, president of the Costa Mesa-based restaurant consulting firm Fessel International. The method also means the beef gets cooked twice – once at the plant and again when it is reheated at the individual restaurants, reducing the risk of E. coli even further, he said. “I’m sure they have very good controls because it’s really their lifeblood. It’s probably potentially more safe because it’s done in a controlled environment,” Hiatt said. “Location by location cooking has a lot of variables to it.” At least three dozen people have been sickened by E. coli in New Jersey and New York, and apparently all the victims had eaten at Taco Bell restaurants in the second half of November. On Tuesday, the fast food chain announced it was reopening eight restaurants in Suffolk and Nassau counties in New York that were voluntarily closed after the outbreak began. Another restaurant in South Plainfield, N.J., was also expected to reopen. Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for Irvine-based Taco Bell, said all the food at those restaurants was discarded and equipment was sanitized. “Our first priority is the health and safety of our customers. This is a very serious issue, and we are very concerned about the well-being of the people who’ve been impacted by this,” he said. Yum Brands Inc. is the parent company of Taco Bell, which had $6.1 billion in sales in 2005. Bryan Chin, director of the Detection and Food Safety Center at Auburn University in Alabama, said Taco Bell’s K-minus advance preparation method should have wiped out any E. coli contamination, even if meat was tainted before it was cooked. “Since the food is processed in a processing plant, they can control parameters fairly well. Then it is recooked and reheated at the Taco Bell,” Chin said. “So either the processing at the plant or the processing at Taco Bell should have killed it.” Other food industry experts, however, said the mass cooking of ingredients could also be a liability.last_img read more

Gareth Bale’s desire to play football at the top level brought into question

first_img Getty getty Games: 231Goals: 102Assists: 65La Liga: x1Champions League : x4Copa del Rey: x1UEFA Super Cup x3Spanish Super Cup x1FIFA Club World Cup x4 LATEST Speaking on Saturday, Zidane said he ‘hopes’ Bale leaves Real soon and expects him to seal a transfer away from Madrid imminently.Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, was incensed by those remarks, branding the Frenchman a ‘disgrace‘ for his treatment of the player.Bale has won four Champions League trophies at Real since joining Real from Tottenham six years ago for a then world-record £85million.“I’m just not sure he has the real desire to play,” Cascarino wrote in The Times, echoing the thoughts he expressed on The Weekend Sports Breakfast.“Gareth has been a world-class player and has nothing to prove but what disappoints me most is that I have not heard him say: ‘I need to play football to continue my career so I need to leave Madrid.’”On Sunday, Cascarino told takSPORT he believes Bale should return to English football, but must lower his wage demands in order to make a move a realistic possibility. Getty Images 3 “Gareth has to force the issue and come out and say ‘I want to leave Madrid, I don’t want to stay there’.“He needs to make it clear he wants to be part of something elsewhere, as at Madrid he’s just been banished from the squad.”With that said, the former Chelsea striker maintains that Manchester United, long-term admirers of the forward, is a realistic option for Bale this summer. Zinedine Zidane wants the former Tottenham forward to leave the club in the immediate future Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett, right, was outraged with Zidane’s comments – branding him a ‘disgrace’ He is reported to earn around £650,000-a-week and is unlikely to get that kind of contract elsewhere.“I think he should come back to these shores, because there are clubs playing an exciting brand of football,” Cascarino said.“But unless Gareth gives something back and his demands are not so demanding on a football club where they’re thinking it’s costing us an awful lot of money and yes we’re getting a very good player, then it won’t happen.“It’s got to be structured differently for Gareth, but he can’t expect to be paid the same sort of money he’s on now at Real Madrid. Former Crystal Palace and West Brom manager Pardew takes over at Dutch strugglers deals Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ REVEALED TROPHY latest 3 BALE AT REAL MADRID IN NUMBERS New job targets Liverpool update ‘Champions Wall’ after ending 2019 as European and world champions FAREWELL MOST READ IN FOOTBALL Liverpool news live: Klopp reveals when Minamino will play and issues injury update Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January 3 Matic one of two players for sale with ‘two Premier League clubs’ interested The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Tony Cascarino has questioned Gareth Bale’s desire to play football, as Real Madrid attempt to force him out of the club.The 30-year-old has been urged to publicly express a desire to leave the Spanish side as, according to the talkSPORT host, he is ‘clearly not wanted’ and should target a return to the Premier League.Bale is understood to be keen to stay, however, manager Zinedine Zidane appears to have ended any chance of him remaining at the Bernabeu. Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January Gareth Bale, a four-time Champions League winner at Real Madrid, is surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu “I do see Manchester United as a really viable option for Gareth. But again he’s got to tick the boxes for them,” he added.“What Zidane said was pretty brutal. All we’ve heard is the club’s perspective, be it either Zidane or the club’s president and so forth. We haven’t heard from Gareth.“The fans have made it clear they want him to go. He’s not wanted at Madrid.“Gareth needs to go and speak to the president and talk about what the club want for him and let his agent know. Can it be a loan move or a permanent deal?“He needs to get away from that football club, as he’s clearly not wanted there.”last_img read more

Record crowd sees Scotland beat Jamaica at Hampden

first_imgScotland warmed up for the World Cup with a 3-2 win over Jamaica in front of a record home crowd of 18,555.The Reggae Girlz were in Scotland as the final opponents for the national team before they head to France for group games against England, Japan and Argentina. The Caribbean side took the lead early on and made Scotland work hard for their win.The opening goal came after a defensive lapse allowed Khadija Shaw a glimpse of goal and her emphatic finish put the visitors ahead after just 15 minutes.Scotland pushed back immediately with Caroline Weir and Kim Little both having chances but it was Erin Cuthbert who got the goal that their efforts deserved. The Chelsea star hit a powerful curling shot from all of 30 yards that goalkeeper Sydney Schneider got nowhere near. Just a few minutes later Scotland were ahead. A free kick on the edge of the box gave Weir and opportunity and she lifted her shot over the wall and past Schneider to give Scotland a half-time lead.A Sophie Howard error allowed Shaw a clear run on goal four minutes after the restart and the Jamaican forward strode on before lifting her shot into the net for her 30th international goal.Both sides made changes with an eye on the tournament ahead but Scotland gained the upper hand with twenty minutes to go. A corner found Howard at the back post and her looping header was too good for substitute keeper Nicole McLure.Kayla McCoy had a chance to level that Lee Alexander was equal to but Scotland saw out the remainder to take the applause of the crowd. They travel to France in good spirits but Kerr will see room for improvement after her side was troubled by a team 33 places below them in the rankings.last_img read more

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 31, 2015: Surviving Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Crowds

first_imgRight across the street, even the much-derided Stitch’s Great Escape has garnered quite a crowd. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week ParkingAs any Magic Kingdom veteran knows, simply arriving at the park is an adventure in itself; that’s doubly true during peak holiday weeks. My day of queuing began around 9 a.m., many yards before the Magic Kingdom parking toll booths. After about 15 minutes, I found myself parked in the Rapunzel lot for my first time ever. Though one of the furthest sections from the TTC, I opted for the 10 minute walk over waiting for an overloaded parking tram. As bad as Buzz’s wait time was, it didn’t touch the stratospheric heights achieved by Space Mountain, which broke 2 hours by 9:30 a.m., and approached 4 hours in the afternoon. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week TransportationWhen the Magic Kingdom’s designers decided to make most guests take a ferryboat or monorail before entering the park, it must have seemed like a brilliant aesthetic choice. But when peak holiday week crowds arrive, the Magic Kingdom’s transportation system backfires, becoming a backbreaking boondoggle. Who wants to wait in a line like this before they even enter the park’s turnstiles? …to signature seasonal productions, like Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas afternoon parade: Unfortunately, after a great start my entree fell a bit short. I was eager to try the head-on shrimp, but the kitchen only had tail in stock, so I opted for the Char Sui pork with white rice and broccoli. The bright red meat was dry and tasted remarkably like boneless spareribs from a Chinese take-out joint, and the accompaniments were completely uninspired. Not an inedible dish, but certainly not worth the steep $23 price tag. Santa’s super-sized reindeer are among of my favorite elements of this classic Christmas cavalcade. With my drink, I was also served a complimentary loaf of “celebration” bread, with a saucer of fennel-laced honey for dipping. This is the best free bread services I’ve had in any Disney park restaurant, and practically a reason to visit all by itself. Around the corner, you can meet Ariel in about 45 minutes, or experience her ride in a little less time. Splash Mountain isn’t usually that popular during the winter season, but with Orlando temperatures in the high 80s (about 15 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal) the water ride was wildly popular. At one point, the standby wait was posted at over 150 minutes, with the line starting on the bridge over the splashdown. Long lines for Space Mountain are no big surprise, but here’s a queue that might confuse you: a 20-minute long line for the PeopleMover that stretches nearly to the Tomorrowland stage. These lines may look long, but I got my green Mickey light and entered the park in well under 5 minutes. In the old days of paper tickets and turnstiles, a similar crowd could mean 20 minutes or more in line, so this aspect of MyMagic+ seems to have worked out marvelously. As we cross into Liberty Square, the wait for the Haunted Mansion has also hit triple digits, with the FastPass+ return line snaking all the way to the Riverboat landing. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Attraction Wait TimesWhew! If you survived that lap around the park, let’s take a closer look at wait times at some of the Magic Kingdom’s most (and least) popular attractions. Lucky for you, this video will let you walk through the Magic Kingdom at its most crowded without leaving the comfort of your couch: Walkthrough Video of Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Crowds Magic Kingdom Holiday Week DiningOne sure way to tell how busy the Magic Kingdom will be on a given day is by seeing which seasonal restaurants are operating. When the rarely used Tomorrowland Terrace is not only open but busy, you know attendance will be astronomical. Leaving Tomorrowland, the line for the Speedway stretches almost to the border of the land. Share This!Do you love ginormous crowds of people, endless seas of strollers, and triple-digit wait times? If so, you’ve picked the Best Week Ever to visit Walt Disney World. But even if you are allergic to all of the above, it is actually possible survive the madness of Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds, and even enjoy a visit to America’s most popular theme park during the busiest week of the year, with the proper preparation.In contrast to my relatively calm Christmas Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my December 29 visit to the Magic Kingdom came smack in the center of 2015’s winter peak season psychosis. I braved the Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds in order to share with you a first-person perspective on navigating Disney when attendance is at its most extreme.Without that professional motivation, I’d normally avoid Walt Disney World on days when our Crowd Calendar hits 10 out of 10, but many visitors don’t have another option due to work and school schedules. If the busy holiday week is the only time your family can visit WDW, I hope my experiences will help educate you about the perks and pitfalls of a peak season vacation. Even so, both of these attractions’ wait times peaked at about 30 minutes, making them two of the shortest waits in the park. That wasn’t the situation next door at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, whose wait time hovered around 100 by mid-morning. On another lap around the park later in the day, I found that Big Thunder shut down for at least 45 minutes, leading to a long backlog once it finally began operating again. You know the Magic Kingdom is at maximum capacity when the Swiss Family Treehouse — usually the poster child for always-empty attractions — has a full queue and a 15 minute posted wait time. There was understandably some grumbling from folks who had waited almost 2 hours, but everyone was given a Re-Entry pass valid on most of the park’s thrill rides (excluding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). I usually have to visit a traditional Japanese restaurant to enjoy grilled fish collar (or “kama”) but the one I ate at Skipper Canteen was as expertly prepared as any I’ve had. If only the accompanying soy-based sauce was slightly less sweet and thick, this would be a perfect dish, though the picked slaw the collar is served on serves nicely as a sour counterpoint. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week EntertainmentWhen E-ticket attraction queues are all well over an hour, and even minor attractions require half hour waits, outdoor entertainment provides a best return on your time investment. Performances that you can experience with little or no wait range from modest temporary stage shows, like Tomorrowland’s VoicePlay a cappella singers… Have you experienced peak holiday week crowds at the Magic Kingdom and lived to tell the tale? Share your survival stories in the comments! In the heart of Adventureland, Pirates of the Caribbean was also having a hard day. Once one of the park’s most reliable people-eaters, PotC sported at least an hour and a quarter standby queue for most of the day, when it wasn’t closed for technical difficulties.Here’s a hint if you haven’t been on Pirates since its most recent refurb: refuse to sit in the front row unless you want to wear recycled water for the rest of your day. Working our way counter-clockwise around the park, the first shocking sight is this rare extended queue for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Cast members holding these “line starts here” signs are ubiquitous on peak days during the holiday week. Storybook Circus was gridlocked in certain spots, but surprisingly uncrowded in others, with over an hour wait for Dumbo, but half that for the Barnstormer. Luckily, during the busiest days Disney provides bus transportation from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom. These comfy motor coaches are by far the fastest way to reach the park, with the one-way trip clocking in at about 5 minutes. Even with signs directing people to the busses, many guests are attracted by the romantic allure of the monorail and boats, leaving little or no wait for those who do opt for the alternate vehicles. As other members of the Touring Plans team have reported, the interior of the Skipper Canteen is a delight for fans of the parks’ history, with decorative references to early Imagineers, Disney’s S.E.A. mythology, and Pleasure Island’s Adventurers Club. The 2015 Jingle Cruise will sail away soon, but until it does the Jungle Cruise is as popular as ever, with waits running over 100 minutes. FastPass+ proved especially useful here, and allowed me to board in only 5 minutes.center_img Once past the bag check, my personal favorite part of MyMagic+ comes into play. FastPass+ may have its detractors, but I’ve got nothing but praise for how MagicBands and touchpoints have improved the park entry experience. For my appetizer, I selected the grilled sustainable fish collar, which turned out to be grouper. The collar of the fish is prized in Asian cuisine but frequently discarded by Americans, as the flavorful unctuous flesh requires patience to liberate from the scary, scaly cartilage. Thank the theme park gods that there is still one attraction that is always a walk-on, even on the busiest days. Carousel of Progress offers a nap-friendly haven any time you need it, no matter the crowd level. But even with more elbow room, the path between Peter Pan and it’s a small world remains one of the most congested bottlenecks in the park — especially when the two attractions have a combined wait of 225 minutes! Once through the toll booths, a solid line of cars stretched into the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Speaking of Rapunzel, the Tangled rest area provided a pleasant holiday surprise: for the first time in memory, I found a working USB power port and was able to refresh my flagging iPhone. Now that we’ve made it inside the park, it’s time to see what a 10 out of 10 on our Crowd Calendar really looks like. Originally a FastPass+ kiosk area, this rest area in Storybook Circus is one of the park’s best refuges on busy days. It’s still before noon, but the line of lunchtime reservation holders at Be Our Guest already stretches back across the bridge. The restaurant was fully booked for the rest of the day, with no walk up seats available. A limited menu of snacks was being offered here, with no wait to order. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Security Screening and Entry TouchpointsWith all the recent news about enhanced security screenings at Orlando’s theme parks, you might expect a huge logjam at the Magic Kingdom entrance — and you wouldn’t be wrong: The wait to meet Mickey Mouse in Town Square was nearly an hour when I arrived in the morning, and didn’t drop until late in the late afternoon. Tinker Bell always seems to have a significantly shorter line than Mickey. I started with the Schweitzer Slush, which is by far the best novelty beverage I’ve had in a Disney park. Ever since Universal invented Butterbeer, Disney has been trying to concoct their equivalent, with notable missteps like LeFou’s Brew. This boba-topped slushy is easily their best effort yet, with a good balance of sweet and tart; it’s still no Butterbeer, but I liked it much better than Diagon Alley’s boba-laced Fishy Green Ale. Jungle Navigation Co Ltd Skipper CanteenA leisurely table service meal can be like an oasis in the middle of a stressful day struggling through holiday crowds. I stopped by the brand-new Skipper Canteen for lunch, and was delighted to find that they could seat me in only 15 minutes. Prepare for that to change once the restaurant starts accepting advance reservations. I was also able to book a same-day FastPass+ for Anna & Elsa. Could this be a sign that the Frozen fad is finally fading? Perhaps, but by later in the day the wait times had reverted to their usual hierarchy, with the sisters sporting the longer wait. As far as the food goes, the Skipper Canteen boasts the Magic Kingdom’s most adventurous menu, with attempts at authentic ethnic flavors that go far further than we’re used to seeing inside a Walt Disney World theme park. Happily, my meal ended on a high note with the Kungaloosh Cake. It might not taste anything like its namesake Pleasure Island cocktail, but the killer combo of dark chocolate, coffee, and caramelized bananas satisfied my sweet tooth and then some. Whatever method ultimately moves you to the Magic Kingdom, you might see some special seasonal entertainment when you arrive. This toy soldier marching band from the holiday parade was serenading ferry guests as they disembarked. At Princess Fairytale Hall, I noticed something surprising: the wait for Anna & Elsa was actually shorter than the one for Cinderella and Rapunzel. Moving on to Fantasyland, we find the standby line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wraps halfway around the mountain, ending near the entrance to the Mad Tea Party. If waiting up to 3 hours for a 3-minute ride doesn’t appeal to you, I hope you booked a FastPass+ far in advance, since none were available on the day of. Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Ticket LinesHere’s the first, best tip I can give you for visiting Disney during a peak time: buy your tickets before you arrive at the park! These folks are wasting valuable touring time waiting to buy tickets that they could have taken care of online in advance. Don’t let this happen to you! One benefit of the New Fantasyland expansion was the addition of much-needed strolling parking. It didn’t help matters any when Space Mountain shut down while I was waiting to board with my FastPass+, forcing the cast members to turn on the work lights and evacuate everyone through unglamorous back hallways. Further into Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had standby waits of around an hour and a half and up. Even FastPass+ had a back-and-forth queue before the initial MagicBand scanner, though my total wait to board the train was barely 12 minutes. Final Tips for Surviving Magic Kingdom Holiday Week CrowdsTo summarize, you can have fun at Magic Kingdom even on the busiest days of the year, but it requires mental preparation and advance planning to avoid apoplexy. Here are are my top tips for tackling the Magic Kingdom on a 10 out of 10 day, derived from my 2015 holiday week experiences:Acquire your theme park tickets in advance so that you don’t waste time during your visit at the box office.Go online as soon as you are eligible and book FastPass+ reservations for three top attractions, preferably determining your selection with the aid of an optimized Touring Plan.Arrive early, ideally long before rope drop. The first hour of operations is your only chance for anything like normal wait times, and even then lines will escalate with every minute after opening.If not arriving for rope drop, resign yourself to experiencing a limited number of standby attractions during the day. Make sure you at least arrive by 10 a.m., or you may find yourself unable to enter the park due to capacity closures.Use bus transportation (if offered) for the fastest route between the TTC and Magic Kingdom entrance.Focus your touring agenda around your preplanned FastPass+ bookings, working in attractions with moderate standby waits. Look for attractions with long experiences relative to their wait time: the Liberty Square Rivership, Tom Sawyer Island, Carousel of Progress, Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney World Railroad, and Country Bear Jamboree are all great peak day picks.Budget extra time to move through the heavy crowds, especially if you have strollers. Try to enjoy the people-watching along the way.Take a break at one of the park’s handfuls of quiet hangouts: the rest areas under Tangled town and in the rear of Storybook Circus, the path from the Fantasyland train station to Space Mountain; the new gardens in the Hub.Take advantage of seasonal entertainment that you can enjoy without waiting, especially parades and fireworks. If there are two performances of a particular show on the schedule, the second is almost always less crowded.If you can secure a seat, a table service lunch makes a great refresher after a full morning.Don’t try to stay from opening until closing. Plan on leaving the park at the peak of the afternoon, if only to monorail-hop to a hotel lounge. Return for the last few hours of the evening, if you have the energy.Look for the passageway behind the Tomorrowland side of Main Street USA when trying to enter or escape the park once it becomes packed. However, as intimidating as those lines might look, they moved amazingly swiftly, thanks to the huge number of staff. Despite discussion of TSA-style body scans, only two walkthrough detectors were in use, and only a tiny number of randomly selected guests passed through them.Aside from the increased use of handheld metal detector wands and third-party security guards, the actually bag check procedures didn’t seem significantly stricter or slower than in the past. In addition, the “No Bags” line is still in operation, and remains a great time-saver if you can stuff all your belongings in your pockets. The parade packs the sidewalk of Main Street, but since the hub’s expansion there is always plenty of lounging room on the AstroTurf, despite gridlock everywhere else. It’s important to note that the Magic Kingdom’s tools for controlling crowds during parades and fireworks include a corridor behind the east side of Main Street. This backstage passage between the Plaza Restaurant and Tony’s Town Square has been lightly themed, and is only opened to guests when Main Street becomes mobbed. If busses are in service when you arrive, they will be your best bet for reaching the Magic Kingdom quickly. They may not look very magical, but they’ll get you to the magic much quicker; you can always take the monorail or ferry back to your car later. While some gets stake out curbside seats for the parade hours in advance, it really isn’t necessary. I found a great spot in the hub a few minutes after the parade stepped off in Frontierland, and had a fantastic view with no waiting around. If you’ve never seen this passage opened, watch this POV video, and keep your eyes peeled for it next time you visit the Magic Kingdom during a peak period.last_img read more

Driving Business Success: Limiting How Much We Look Back

first_imgSince I’ve been working from my home office the last few years, it strikes me that I don’t drive much anymore.  Well, I drive to the airport a fair bit, but day-to-day driving is a thing of my past.  I was thinking about it because I have young teens who are already anxiously focused on learning how to drive.  When we are in the car, they ask tons of questions about how the car works, what the driving laws are, how other drivers respond, etc.  It struck me that when they asked about mirrors and how often I use them, I really don’t look in my rearview mirror much.  Sure, I use it to check when I’m backing up and going that direction, or to do a quick check to ensure that someone else is not going to hit my car from behind.  What I don’t do is use the rearview mirror to determine my direction or progress driving forward.So, why do we spend so much time looking back in business when we are trying to drive the organization forward?I first ran into this thinking when I moved from the HR practitioner/ leader ranks to that of a full-time analyst. The thing that surprised me the most was that analysts tend to do surveys that predominantly focus on what happened in the past as a way to predict the future.  Now, that IS very valuable, however, business leaders don’t necessarily benefit from only looking to the past to determine their future direction or approach.  In fact, there are some clear barriers to predominantly focusing on the business rearview mirror.Barriers when we look backBest Practice- Analysts and companies provide statistics on the “best practices” of an industry or company.  These are certainly interesting data points to consider in your organization, and I do value these.  However, when we try to adopt some other organization’s “best practice” without understanding what our real business issues are, we run the risk of choosing and implementing a process or solutions that may not apply to our workplace.  It also may not drive the appropriate business results.False Solutions- A trap many leaders bring to a new organization is proposing a solution based on what they did in a prior company.  Similar to the best practice, this false solution may not address any of the current company’s problems.  Time and again, we find leaders pursuing a solution in search of a problem, not the other way around.Failure Focus- There are nay-sayers in every organization.  The barrier is letting these people get you hung up on what went wrong in prior projects and letting that derail future progress.Excruciatingly Slow Data Analytics- A majority of organization leaders I talk to say that they do not have access to all the data they have.  This means they have no simple, efficient, accurate way to pull data together in order to make a business decision.  By taking too long to get data on the past, the data becomes stale and can lead to missing out on opportunities to make the organization better today.Future Fear- Showing other leaders that we fear the future is going to influence them in embracing their fears as well.While there are many other barriers, you get the point that by primarily focusing behind us, we may be missing out on opportunities to excel, to drive the business forward, or to fall behind competitors.  Everything we do should not be a response to someone else’s move.  As leaders, the best thing we can do is suggest new and innovative approaches to process, to thinking and to solutions.What are you doing today?  Are you looking back, or to the future?  Let me know what techniques you use to move yourself, your team and your organization forward.  Please share in the comments.  Originally posted on HR Ringleader Blog.last_img read more

Sarbanes-Oxley: After Ten Years Still Too Early to Pass Judgement?

first_imgRonald Butler, Arizona managing partner for Ernst & Young in Phoenix, said that “Companies get used to it. It becomes part of the fabric of the corporation…  Good companies with great innovation and a need for capital will eventually find their way to the public markets, regardless of regulatory requirements.” To regulate, or not?  July 30th marks the ten years anniversary of Sarbanes-Oxley.  Given a ten year retrospective, one would think that there would be some sort of general agreement about whether the law has been successful or not.  But that’s not the case.  The debate over the costs and efficacy of Sarbanes-Oxley have persisted over the last ten years and continue today.The arguments continue on both sides.  It’s a balance between limiting fraud in companies versus the costs of implementing and maintaining compliance with the law.  Some argue that the law makes it difficult for some companies to go public and ultimately limits the creation of jobs.  But continuing scandals in the financial world cause some to argue that even tighter regulations are necessary.Here are some comments heard in this debate:Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Professional Practice Executive Committee of the Center for Audit Quality, said that “The benefits of Sarbanes-Oxley are substantial.  And in my view, it serves capital markets and investors well… The benefit is to the cost of capital because of that assurance and that higher level of rigor from that internal control.”Steve Sanghi, president and chief executive officer at Microchip Technology in Chandler, reported by AZCentral, said that “Our auditing costs have doubled, and our inside costs also have increased substantially.  When you add it all up, our costs have at least doubled…  Anytime there’s corporate malfeasance, as with Enron and others, Congress goes crazy and passes more laws that they think will address the next crisis, and they never do. There are and were plenty of laws on the books — they just need to enforce them.” Scott Saks, a corporate partner at Paul Hastings in New York, said that “You can regulate as much as you want, but if someone wants to commit fraud, they’ll do it.  If companies want to get around regulations, they’ll find a way.”last_img read more

District of Columbia ~ Corporate, Personal Income Taxes: Important Information Issued for Bulk Withholding Filers

first_imgThe District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) has announced a change to its withholding filing requirements, offering corporate and personal taxpayers the ability to bulk file the quarterly return, FR900Q, in 2017. In order to bulk file, taxpayers must obtain a login ID on the new tax portal, MyTax.DC.gov. Information about obtaining an ID will be available after the portal officially launches in November 2016. The first bulk filing may be made on April 30, 2017.Files must be created using a CSV or text (.txt) file format; zip or compressed files will not be accepted. Files smaller than 24MB will upload as CSV or text files (.txt). Any files submitted that are 24MB or larger will be rejected, so they must be submitted as multiple FR-900Q submissions. Taxpayers are informed that they may use a naming convention, such as QTR12017.txt and QTR22017.txt, but there are no restrictions on the naming convention.The file status ACCEPTED indicates that the file has passed all quality checks and an email will be sent to the taxpayer that displays the word “pending.” The file status REJECTED indicates that the file did not pass quality checks, and all errors will be displayed after hitting the submit button and front end validations occur. Taxpayers should then correct the file and resubmit for processing. The file status COMPLETED indicates that processed submissions denoting the bulk submission have been processed. There is no return level completion, just that the file was processed.Press Release, District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, September 1, 2016last_img read more

I take pride in being a fierce competitor: R Ashwin

first_imgR Ashwin has been performing very well for his team in this seasonAdvertisementRavichandran Ashwin has been the frontline spinner for the Indian test team for a long time now. However, the last time he represented the nation in limited-overs was way back in 2017. “I take pride in being a fierce competitor”, is what he said when asked about being replaced by young leg-spinners.R Ashwin has been performing very well for his team in this seasonAs a captain of an IPL side though, R Ashwin has had a very good season this year, being the most successful bowler for his team, the Kings XI Punjab, taking 14 wickets in 12 matches.Here is what R Ashwin had to say when he spoke to the Hindustan Times:“I like to do new things, learn new things and am not afraid of trying different things because T20 is one format where the bowlers need to contend with the fact that they will get hit,” Ashwin said when asked about his variations.Ashwin was also asked to pick the best spinner of this year’s IPL, and this is what he said: “Once I have become an expert and I am paid for it, I would do that job (assess other spinners). But right now, I would like to think that I am right up there and I have been for a long time now. ”Kings XI Punjab is in a do-or-die situation and they will be depending on the results of the other teams for their chances in the playoffs. When asked about this situation, Ashwin said, “For all franchises, you are mostly judged on your results. But to get the results, you have to tick every box. It’s that stage where every two points are a massive boost for the teams and we will be looking to go all out. For us, every game from now on is a knockout game.”KXIP’s next game is against KKR in Mohali, on Friday. Advertisementlast_img read more