Thursday, August 31, 2006

IMAGINATION: It has features you've never even dreamed about

Lexus' LS 460 has it all: seats with massage function, a fridge. It even parks itself and it has an eight-speed automatic transmission, a world first. Finally, relief for the deprived owners of the quaint and rudimentary Mercedes S-class, who get along with a mere seven.

Perhaps your tastes run toward science fiction. The LS 460 L — the long-wheelbase model — offers the optional four-zone climate control, which uses an infrared camera to measure backseat passengers' body temperature. A fully optioned LS 460 L would also be equipped with 11 air bags (another record!), 19 surround-sound speakers, a 30-gigabit hard drive (storage for 2,000 music files with room to spare for the navigation data), and five powered sunshades, to tick off just a few of the car's supernumerary excesses.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Outer Space Inn: Can He Manage It? . . . and Can You Afford It?

The biggest gambler around these days is not a high roller going all in with a pair of deuces. He's a real estate magnate who's betting $500 million that he can open the first inflatable motel in outer space. As far out as the idea sounds, multimillionaire Robert Bigelow has already launched a one-third scale model of his inflatable space module called Genesis I. The spacecraft was launched in July atop a Russian rocket.

"I'm on cloud nine," Bigelow said at his production facility in North Las Vegas, where his team of engineers was tracking the spacecraft after it inflated and entered an orbit 348 miles above Earth. A second launch is in the works, Bigelow said. A full-scale module is scheduled for orbit within five years and in less than a decade, paying guests could be checking in. By Earth standards, they won't be getting much for their estimated $8-million weeklong vacation package: no Jacuzzi, no room service, no mints on the pillow. But then, the best hotel in Paris can't match the view of Earth spinning below as the sun rises and sets every 90 minutes.

Bigelow, a trim 62 with swept-back salt-and-pepper hair, is part of a new breed of entrepreneurs out to break the government monopoly on space exploration. Along with aerospace entrepreneurs Burt Rutan, Elon Musk and others, Bigelow believes there's no reason capitalism can't work in zero gravity. Though Rutan and Musk are building rockets and space planes, Bigelow believes his inflatable space modules could serve as hotels, conference centers, even sporting complexes where hang-time would be measured in minutes instead of seconds.

Bigelow, who made his fortune with the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, acknowledges there are some big hurdles. Chief among them is the economics of rocketing people into space. So far, only the super-rich, such as multimillionaire investor Dennis Tito, have been able to afford the $20 million price tag for a stay at the International Space Station. (excerpts from an article by John Johnson, Jr.)

TIMES PAST 1909: Heat wave spurs ice cream shortage

Aug. 30, 1909: In the middle of a heat wave, Angelenos rushed to buy ice cream by the gallons as merchants struggled to keep up with demand. "It is estimated that more than $20,000 was spent by the public during the day in its effort to keep cool by the ice-cream route," The Times reported. (That's about $410,600 in today's dollars.) "In the residence districts the peddlers of ice cream ran out of every stock early in the morning, and it was almost impossible for them to replenish their supplies."

"In some cases the wagons made several trips from distant points to the factories, each time obtaining but a portion of the stock they required," the newspaper said. "The peddlers found it unnecessary to ring their gongs to attract trade: women and children flocked to the curbs and clamored for the dainty. "Reserve stocks of ice at the factories melted away at the rate of hundreds of tons an hour, and crews at the manufacturing plants were put on double time in an effort to meet the demand. "The only relief for the situation is the prospect of cooler weather today or tomorrow." (TIMES PAST is a column that appears daily in the Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Maria Esther de Capovilla at 116 was the World's Oldest Person

Maria Esther de Capovilla, considered to be the world's oldest living person, died of pneumonia Sunday in her native Guayaquil, Ecuador. She was 116. Capovilla was in good health until she developed pneumonia only a few days ago, said Catherine Capovilla, a granddaughter who lives in Aventura, Fla.

Guinness World Records recently documented Capovilla's age with the help of the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps a global database on people living to be 110 or older. There are now 73 such "super- centenarians" in the world, said Dr. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, based at UCLA. "From age 110 on, it's a 50-50 chance that you'll live another year," Coles said Monday. "There seems to be an invisible barrier at age 112. Hardly anyone lives beyond that age."

Capovilla, born Maria Esther Heredia Lecaro on Sept. 14, 1889, was the child of well-to-do parents. In her early life, she spent part of each year on a family farm and liked to embroider, paint and play the piano. In recent years, Capovilla lived with one of her daughters, continued to eat three normal meals each day and spent most of her time reading the newspaper and watching television, usually wearing lipstick and fresh nail polish. Capovilla is survived by three children, 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1949.

With the death of Capovilla, the oldest living person is now Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bolden of Memphis, Tenn., who turned 116 on Aug. 15, Coles said. Although diet and exercise are relevant to a healthy life, Coles said, the main ingredient of a long life is genes. "Parents do matter," he said. (excerpts from the obituary by Mary Rourke)

Didn't you want to run away and join the circus ??

Sunday, August 27, 2006

To be continued: on the History Channel

My kind of fishing . . .

On His Holidays by John Sargent Singer (available along with many other works of art at:

I guess you can tell . . . I can't get enough of the "blues"

Amster 1902 oil on canvas

This item is for sale along with many other beautiful works of art at:

An auto elevator lifts a Volkswagen to its appointed parking space in the VW Autostadt "car tower" in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The Autostadt's primary mission is what's called car "collection," where buyers take possession of their new VWs. Up to 40% of European buyers make the trip to Autostadt to receive the keys to their new car in a bonding moment of great ceremony.

Not surprisingly, this process has an architectural component. New cars are stored in two 20-story cylindrical glass towers, each of which has a robotic car lift in the center. At the appropriate moment, the robotic arm plucks the car from one of the honeycomb-like cells and brings it to the ground floor to meet its new owner.

It may surprise American visitors, but VW Group — Germany's largest car company and the very synonym of proletarian transport — owns some of the world's most prestigious brands, including Lamborghini and Bentley. Most of VW's corporate subsidiaries have their own high-tech pavilions at the Autostadt, and if you are that rare aficionado of Skoda or Seat, you will have a really good time.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Emmett Kelly, Sr. - world famous tramp clown, 1898-1979

Emmett Kelly Sr., was the most well-known of the tramp clowns of the circus. His character, Weary Willy, was the perpetual underdog, who never gave up - and, because of it, occasionally won. He was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2007, the Emmett Kelly Museum will celebrate its’ 40th anniversary with an attempt at breaking the world’s record for the largest gathering of clowns.

Emmett Kelly Sr. was born in Sedan, Kansas on December 9, 1898. His father worked the railroad, and his mother ran the family-owned boarding house. Sedan has created the Emmett Kelly Museum in his honor. He grew up, not in Sedan, but on a farm in rural Missouri. He worked at various jobs, finally seeming to settle down working as a cartoonist for a silent film company in Kansas City. It was there that Emmett Kelly first drew the tramp clown character that he would later portray, Weary Willy.

Dare to live your dream

Some men see things as they are and ask why.

Others dream things that never were and ask why not.

– George Bernard Shaw

When I was a lad I happened upon the poem below and it made a lasting impression on me. Today, it's still an inspiration for me, after all these years.

If you think you are beaten, you are;
if you think you dare not, you don't;
if you like to win, but you think you can't
it's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost;
for out in the world we find
success begins with a fellow's Will~
it's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are;
you've got to think high to rise.
You've just got to be sure of yourself
before you can win the prize.

Life's battles don't always go
to the stronger or faster man,
but sooner or later the man who wins
is the one who thinks he can.

Sea monsters are only sailors' tales, right? Probably. But consider the local sightings of an oarfish and giant-squid appendages.

If you don't believe in sea monsters, consider yourself warned: They are among us. Exhibit A lies in a freezer at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, soon to go on display as it appeared before being pulled from the ocean: a serpent-like denizen, 15 feet long and sinuous, with a hatchet-shaped head and a silver body adorned by a flowing crimson mane.

If that's not enough, evidence of larger and perhaps scarier beasts in our seas is under scrutiny at Santa Barbara's Museum of Natural History: a 10-foot slithery tentacle and two stout sucker-pocked arms that had previously belonged to a creature measuring perhaps 20 feet. The recent capture of an oarfish in a Santa Catalina Island embayment, and the discovery by sport fishermen of giant squid appendages near Santa Cruz Island, have scientists excited. Both finds are rare specimens.

The oarfish, a deepwater species so named because of long, oar-shaped fins that dangle from its sides, startled swimmers when it appeared in Catalina's Big Fisherman's Cove on the morning of Aug. 16. It was clearly in distress, moving lethargically and bumping into rocks. Harbormaster Doug Oudin, who donned snorkeling gear and swam with the fish before it eventually perished, described its coloring as "metallic silver with bright blue-brown spots and splotches, along with its amazing pinkish-red full-length dorsal fin." Oudin added that the oarfish appeared to be blind, not surprising, considering that these animals, which have large saucer-shaped eyes, live at lightless depths of 1,500 to 3,000 feet.

Little else is known about these longest of bony fishes because so few have been found, but, like the giant squid, they're steeped in lore, believed responsible for spawning tales of sea serpents and dragons rising demonically to steal crewmen and sink tall ships. Their modern discovery may date to 1808, when a 56-foot serpent-like creature washed ashore in Scotland. In 1901, a 22-foot oarfish drifted onto the sand in Newport Beach, becoming, according to one reference book, "the basis for many sea-serpent stories told by local bar patrons for more than a decade after its discovery."

Oarfish are not monsters, of course. They have tiny mouths and, moving through the blackness the way a snake slithers over land, they prey largely upon krill — tiny crustaceans — and sea jellies.

Below is a picture of the Giant Oarfish caught at the US Navy SEAL training center on Coronado Island, just off the coast of San Diego, California. The photo was taken in 1996! Giant Oarfish are one of the strangest looking fish that you will ever see. It is believed that Giant Oarfish which get up to 50 feet long, have been the source of many sea monster reports. Take a look at the photo and I think you will understand why!

TIMES PAST: Crowds Greet German Airship Graf Zeppelin

Aug. 26, 1929: Tens of thousands showed up at Los Angeles Municipal Airport to witness the arrival from Germany of the Graf Zeppelin, one of several stops on the giant airship's round-the-world tour. "When the Zeppelin first appeared over the field at 1:50 a.m. at a height of about 1,000 feet, a tremendous shout that was distinctly heard in the ship broke from the crowd of 50,000 persons who had waited all night for its arrival," The Los Angeles Times reported. Then the announcer at the speech amplifier asked for silence so that the peculiar drone of the Zeppelin's motors could be heard clearly.

"The crowd was as colorful as any ever seen in Southern California. Japanese geisha girls in native costumes mingled with former German soldiers garbed in their wartime uniforms," the newspaper said. "There were scores of celebrities in the throngs that gained admittance to the field, but as their names were whispered about they were given only a passing glance by the crowds who were interested in the giant silver airship that swayed back and forth slightly with the vagaries of the wind."

The Zeppelin Airship D-LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin was launched for the first time on September 18, 1928. Designed for carrying 20 passengers and a crew of 40, this airship set a host of records, including the longest non-stop flight from Germany to Lakehurst, New Jersey, a 6200 mile trip, in 111 hours and 44 minutes. In August, 1929, she made the 20,500 mile around the world trip in a total of 12 days in the air. On the 90th birthday of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the German airship manufacturer, airship LZ 127 was christened GRAF ZEPPELIN. Although still fully operational, the airship was broken up in 1940, upon the order of Reich Marshal Hermann Göring.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

GLYFADA: a dramatic shot by Kersten Bunz

Top Hat . . . Top Gun ...Can you top this ??

I feel the need . . . the need for tap dancing.

Frankly, my dear, I feel the need . . . the need for speed.

These images and many more "fun" creations can be found at:

Do you remember RODNEY ALLEN RIPPY ??

Rodney Allen Rippy (b. July 29, 1968) was a child actor who appeared in Jack in the Box commercials of the 1970s. In the spots, he was seen trying to wrap his kid-sized mouth around the supersized Jumbo Jack hamburger. His catch phrase was, "It's too big to eat!"

A graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills (Carson, CA), Rippy is a partner in the film production company, Bow Tie Productions, and spokesman for Hurricane Housing Relief.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

TIMES PAST 1912: Police Declare War on 'Hobble Skirts' as a Menace to Traffic

Aug. 24, 1912: Los Angeles Police Lt. John L. Butler of the traffic squad declares war on "hobble skirts," with hemlines so snug that they allow women to take steps of only 8 mincing inches as they cross busy city streets.

" 'It is impossible for these women to move rapidly,' Butler said. 'When they get in front of a streetcar or automobile, the vehicle simply has to stop until they can wiggle out of the way,' " The Times reported. "It takes about a minute to congest traffic on a crowded corner but a good deal longer to straighten it out." While acknowledging that women have the right to wear tight skirts, the irate Butler warned that they run "a big risk of getting killed."

"Time and again I have seen a motorman have to use the emergency brakes to prevent running down a woman who was unable to get out of his way after he had been given the right of way," Butler told The Times. "The tight skirt is the bane of the traffic policeman. My men would rather see a truckload of steel beams get stuck in the center of the car tracks than have one of these hobble-gaited traffic-disorganizers, hop or trip into their territory."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Help !! Help !!



Giraffes at Dawn

This image was created by Barbara Durham using two original photographs. (1996)
The image above is available as a jigsaw puzzle and can be purchased at:

U.S. Marines raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945.

Joe Rosenthal, the Associated Press photographer whose dramatic picture of servicemen raising a giant, wind-whipped American flag atop Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi during World War II became an indelible image of courage and fortitude, has died. He was 94. Rosenthal, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for his photograph, died Sunday morning in Novato, California.

Photographed on Feb. 23, 1945, the image of five Marines and a Navy corpsman marked the Marines' costliest battle of the war. In the fierce fighting on the small island 750 miles south of Tokyo, 5,931 Marines died, a third of all Marines killed during World War II. (In all, more than 6,800 U.S. servicemen died on Iwo Jima.)

The photo's publication to widespread acclaim in newspapers across the United States helped instill pride and hope in Americans yearning for an end to the war. Within months, the flag-raising image had been engraved on a 3-cent stamp and emblazoned on 3.5 million posters and thousands of outdoor panels and car cards that helped sell more than $200 million in U.S. war bonds with the slogan, "Now … All Together."

Navy artist Felix de Weldon recognized its symbolism and used the picture as a model to cast a small wax statue, a version of which would later be used to build the bronze Marine memorial at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.

Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites, writing in the Quarterly Journal of Speech in 2002, said the Rosenthal photo had "become the single most powerful image of democratic solidarity in our culture…. "It has set the standard for collective action: There they are, the 'greatest generation,' individuals working together, rising as one to unexpected obligation, and mutely, without question or hint of cynicism."

(From the obituary written by Claudia Luther)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Marlene Dietrich was a legend during her own time

On Aug. 7, 1946: After three years entertaining the troops in Europe, Marlene Dietrich returned to Los Angeles, arriving at Lockheed Air Terminal (now Bob Hope Airport), The L. A. Times reported in a front-page story. She said she was "so happy to be home I would kiss anybody." Then she "proved it by kissing an unglamorous Times reporter," the newspaper said. The story appeared with a photo of Dietrich perched on the side of a car, one long leg crossed over the other. She was kissing the cheek of Times reporter Clark Roberts, who sat beside her, notebook in hand.

"Miss Dietrich, who spent three years visiting the front lines entertaining troops, bounced away from a TWA plane at Lockheed Air Terminal under a barrage of flowers, movie and still cameramen and greetings from hundreds of old friends who hadn't seen her since she made her last movie in 1943," The Times said. "Among the well-wishers were patients from Sawtelle Veterans' Hospital, whom she had entertained overseas. The actress visited Italy, Africa and all the Mediterranean area during 1943, then formed her own troupe and toured European camps until a month ago."

The always revolutionary Marlene Dietrich

Saturday, August 19, 2006

So you think you're having a bad day ??

Tungurahua volcano south of Quito, Ecuador blows its top Thursday, covering surrounding Andean villages with ash.

BANOS, Ecuador (AP) -- Rescuers Friday searched for 30 people missing after the devastating explosion of a volcano killed at least one person, forced tens of thousands to flee and appeared poised for a new eruption.

Ecuador's Geophysics Institute urged residents and tourists who may be tempted to witness the spectacle to stay away from the 16,575-foot (5,023-meter) Tungurahua volcano in the nation's central Andes.

Night view of one of many explosive events at Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador, that occurred during the continuous extrusion of lava in the summit crater in November and December, 1999. In this time-lapse photograph, glowing lava fragments can be seen blasting into the air and falling onto the upper flanks of the volcano. When the hot fragments hit the ground, they typically continue rolling down the steep sides of the volcano, creating a glowing collar around the summit area.

Tungurahua is a steep-sided stratovolcano that towers 3 km above its northern base. Historical eruptions from the summit crater have included strong explosions and sometimes lava flows, lahars, and pyroclastic flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. The volcano's complex historical record includes sudden, violent eruptions. (Photo by Alcinoe Calahorrano on Nov. 2, 1999)

Can you get too much of a good thing ??

KENOSHA, Wis. — It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but slipping into a vat of viscous chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old man Friday morning. Darmin Garcia, an employee of Debelis Corp., a company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said he was pushing the chocolate down into the vat because it was stuck. But the chocolate gave way, and he slid in. "It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," said Garcia, who has worked at the company for two years. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move."

The chocolate was at 110 degrees — hotter than a hot tub — said Capt. Gregg D. Sinnen of the Kenosha Fire Department. Co-workers, police and firefighters tried to free the man but couldn't get him loose until the chocolate was thinned out with cocoa butter. "It was pretty thick. It was virtually like quicksand," said Police Capt. Randy Berner. Garcia was treated for minor injuries and released.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Here's a preview of what the new Yankee Stadium will look like.

After more than four years of numerous discussions and rumors, the New York Yankees officially announced plans for a new Yankee Stadium in June 2005. The new state of the art stadium will be built adjacent to the current Yankee Stadium and open in April 2009. The Yankees will pay for all costs, estimated at around $800 million for construction and all maintenance costs. Ground breaking occurred on August 16, 2006 and the stadium will be completed in April 2009. The Yankees will finance the $800 million project, and the City of New York will spend $220 million for infrastructure and other improvements in the area. Most of the shell of Yankees Stadium along with the field will be preserved, and the city and state will help build a hotel, convention center, a high school for sports medicine and sports management, a museum and other offices in and around the current stadium.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Fallingwater, one of the most well-recognized works by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, has been studied by many architects and students. It is a great example of a house that is wonderfully integrated into its site, so that it becomes part of the site and the site part of it.

The house was built as a vacation home for the affluent American Edgar J. Kaufmann family. It is situated over a waterfall that becomes an integral part of the experience of the house, and from which the house's name "Fallingwater" comes. It features strong horizontal lines that give it a very protective feeling, and expansive outdoor terraces that extend the living environment out of the house. In addition the the main house, there is also a guest house and quarters for domestic staff on the premises.

Fallingwater, Located in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., is open for public tours, with its original site and furniture remaining intact. For more information, see the Western Pennsylavania Conservancy website. (

  Posted by Picasa

A prism of beauty and light that Frank Lloyd Wright would approve of

William Wesley Peters was Frank Lloyd Wright's first apprentice, and for three decades he was a structural engineer and project architect for commissions that helped to define American design, most notably Fallingwater, arguably the most acclaimed home ever built in the U.S. Though relegated to a footnote in the telling of Wright's storied career, Peters did leave behind a portfolio of his own work, not the least of which is an idiosyncratic house that sits modestly on a most unmodest stretch of the Malibu coast.

Drive past the tabloid photographers camped outside Brad Pitt's compound on Pacific Coast Highway, get buzzed through a white entry gate, then ramble down the long, sloped driveway, and you'll see it — the Benton House, one of Peters' last creations, part Modernist box, part Buddhist temple. The pitched roof looks Asian in inspiration, sheathed in shimmering tiles, each shaped like a rolling wave and glazed a cerulean blue.

  Posted by Picasa The front door leads to a living room that feels like a temple of sorts, a reverent homage to Mother Nature more than any deity. Walls are spider webs of glass, geometric grids of copper mullions patinated blue with age, each framing an angular window to the Pacific.

"Strangely enough, when I first saw the house, I didn't like the diagonals across the glass," says Sinan Revell, a painter, photographer and performance artist who bought the house in 2004 with her husband, Graeme. "But I really have grown to love the design and how the lines actually frame the view. The little squares are so delicate. Of course, once you step outside, all heaven breaks loose."

Indeed, the Revells' 5 acres form a miniature peninsula that tilts gently, then drops precipitously 100 feet to the ocean. Stand on the lawn, and seagulls flap at eye level. The backyard feels like the end of the Earth — because it is.

A path wends down 185 steps to the biggest surprise: a petite and private promontory where Sinan likes to meditate, accompanied only by black cormorants and views stretching half a dozen miles south to Point Dume. "Sometimes," Graeme adds, "you can see dolphins surfing."

Peters, who died in 1991, clearly understood that the magic of the property lay not in any structure he could erect, but rather in the land itself. On a coastline studded with grandiose mansions and the architectural equivalent of a hurricane, this house speaks in soft sunlight and ocean breezes.

(Excerpts from an article by Craig Nakano)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cloudy skies on a heavenly day

The beautiful Catalina Island, off the coast of La Romana, Dominican Republic, and stopover for many cruise ships. Photo by Dave Brosha (