Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007


From the 1880's to the 1950's, California oranges were sent to market packed in wooden crates with big, milti-colored labels pasted on the ends. Among Ben Sakoguchi's early influences were the bold graphics and fanciful images on the orange crates that were stacked behind his parents' grocery store. In the 1970's—after cardboard cartons had replaced wooden crates—beautifully printed labels that had long been stored in packing houses were being sold as collectors' items at the flea markets Sakoguchi frequented. He was attracted by the familiar orange crate label format, and started using it in a series of small paintings. Just as the actual labels had depicted a wide variety of subjects—Sakoguchi's paintings sampled events, issues and attitudes of modern culture. He produced several hundred orange crate label paintings (1974 - 1981) before moving on to other projects. In 1994, Sakoguchi revisited the orange crate label format, and has continued the series. The 218 paintings reproduced here date from 1994 to 2003. They are acrylic on canvas, 10 inches x 11 inches. Above we see his tribute to the Chicago Cubs' Tinker to Evers to Chance Legendary Double-Play Combo.

Some Say I'm Getting Old

Olympic Decathlete C. K. Yang, 1933-2006

C.K. Yang, the 1960 Olympic decathlon silver medalist for Taiwan and former UCLA track and field star, has died. He was 74. Yang died Saturday in Los Angeles of complications from a massive stroke, UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins said Sunday.

A chance meeting in his native Taiwan with two-time Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias set C.K. Yang on a quest to become the world's greatest decathlete. He pursued that dream as a UCLA student, where he was a teammate of 1956 Olympic silver medalist Rafer Johnson. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, the two locked in what is considered one of the greatest duels in decathlon history. C.K. trailed Rafer by only 67 points going into the final event, the 1500m. If he could beat Rafer by more than 10 seconds, he would win the gold medal. C.K. chances looked good, as his 1500m PR was more than 18 seconds faster than Rafer's. But Rafer rallied to run a PR by more than 5 seconds, and finished fewer than two seconds behind C.K., to clinch the gold medal.

C.K. warmed up for his epic 1960 battle with Rafer by winning his first Mt. SAC title. He returned to Mt. SAC in 1963 with a performance that literally changed the record books. His World Record score of 9121 forced a revision in decathlon scoring tables, with points now more evenly distributed among events. This proved to be a detriment to C.K., as it removed the huge pole vault advantage (he was the first decathlete to clear 16 feet) he typically held over his competitors.

It Spun into Synchronous Orbit and into History

The 1963 launch of Syncom, the world's first geosynchronous communications satellite, vanquished forces of time, cost, and geography to begin a communications revolution.

Today more than 180 active descendants circle the equator as Syncom once did. Few would have predicted such all-pervasive global consequences on July 26, 1963, when a Thor-Delta rocket blazed up from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to start Syncom on its journey into synchronous orbit and into history.

As early as 1929, Austrian engineer Hermann Noordung envisioned that an object placed over the equator at a height of 22,238 miles and a speed of 6,878 mph would match, or synchronize with, Earth's daily rotation. To a ground observer, an object in this synchronous orbit would seem to stand still, thus the term "geostationary." English scientist and writer Arthur C. Clarke took this theory a giant step further in 1945. He postulated that three spacecraft set equidistant in synchronous orbit could virtually blanket the planet with continuous radio and television coverage.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Dragon's Pearl and the Search for Tessie

What's that? A sea monster in Lake Tahoe? Well, yes. Each season about half a dozen Tahoe basin residents and visitors report seeing something large, dark, and sinuous swimming in the lake, briefly showing itself, then disappearing beneath the waves. These sightings of "Tahoe Tessie," as she is called (after Loch Ness's "Nessie") have caused quite a stir. On the one hand, those who have seen Tessie naturally believe in her existence, and a Tahoe Tessie Museum and phone hotline for sightings have been established in Kings Beach on the north shore of the lake. On the other hand, some skeptics claim that Tessie eyewitnesses are mistaking logs or waves for sea monsters. Washoe Indian legends speak of monsters inhabiting the lake; local author John Roush argues that Tessie is really just a rogue giant sturgeon.Western Europeans have generally regarded dragons and sea monsters as forces of darkness, chaos and destruction, enemies of civilization that must be hunted down and destroyed. Marduck, Gilgamesh, Hercules, Beowulf, St. George, the knights of the Round Table-- many western heroes have been dragon slayers. The ancient Greeks believed that if one planted dragon's teeth in the ground, a crop of armed warriors would suddenly spring up and attack anything in sight. And anyone who has ever visited the area will agree that there is no such destructive creature residing in Lake Tahoe. The Chinese, on the other hand, regarded the dragon as a noble, benevolent creature, capable of conferring great blessings on mankind. Dragons controlled the weather and the courses of rivers, and possessed great wealth. The Chinese also describe a stone called the dragon's pearl, a large jewel of great power, usually carried by the dragon in the folds beneath its chin. The pearl glowed with light from within, was a vessel of health, and anything it touched grew and multiplied.

Once, in the south of Szechwan Province, a Chinese boy lived with his mother on a small farm. Every day the boy went to draw water from the river, and on his way back home, he stopped at a meadow to cut grass for his solitary goat. Eventually he noticed a remarkable thing about the meadow: it was always lush, green, and pleasant, no matter how hot the summer or how cold the winter, and no matter how poorly the areas around it fared. The meadow seemed to bask in a state of perpetual spring. After thinking about it for a few days, the boy decided to plant his vegetables in the meadow, so that they would thrive like the other plants there.

As he dug in this meadow to plant his vegetables, his spade suddenly revealed a beautiful, glowing sphere. He picked it up, and it was warm in his hand. The boy had found the dragon's pearl that had caused the meadow to flourish.

And who can doubt that there is a dragon's pearl hidden somewhere in the enchanting Tahoe basin? Whose azure waters keep it always cool in the summer, and warm in the winter, and whose skies are sunny more than 300 days a year. Whose forests and trails stretch and wind off into the silent wilderness, and whose soaring slopes have never heard of poison oak or rattlesnakes. Whose mighty vistas charm the spirit, and where every day holds the promise of multitudinous blessings.

They Had Nowhere to Go But Up

Santa Barbara — Building a luxury home on a gritty back-alley patch measuring only 20 feet by 20 feet seemed preposterous on its face. But Neil Ablitt and his wife, Sue, just moved into their pint-sized palace, a whimsical four-story tower that suggests the hand of Dr. Seuss. Each floor has just one room — in ascending order: bedroom, kitchen, living room — all atop the ground-level garage. It's not an arrangement for the weak-kneed. To reach the rooftop patio and its panoramic view, the Ablitts must climb 72 steps from the ground.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Do you know why this car is expected to sell for $12 - $15 Million ??

A spectator (below) views one of the 1930's silver arrow cars, a fabled 1939 Auto Union D-type racing vehicle, said to be one of the most important cars in motor racing history, attracts media attention at an Audi of America dealer on Park Avenue in New York, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007, during a public viewing before the car is auctioned off at Retromobile February 17 in Paris. Christie's, who is bringing the car to auction, is expecting bids in the region of $12 to $15 million for the car. The Auto Union's revolutionary design, conceived by Ferdinand Porsche, place the driver in front of the engine and fuel tanks, with all four wheels benefiting from independent suspension. Only five of the final model D-type Auto Unions remain, and this example is the only privately-owned model. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The "Word of the Year" and the Runner-up with a Fat Chance

The arbiter of Australian English, the Macquarie Dictionary, has declared "muffin top" the word of the year for 2006 — even though it's two words — choosing it over "affluenza.""Muffin top" refers to the fold of fat around the midriff that spills over the top of tight-fitting pants or skirts on overweight people. The usage has spread across the globe.The also-ran word, "affluenza," describes dissatisfaction with consumerism.

(From Times Wire Reports)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Real Glitz: Macao's Gaming Revenue Exceeds Las Vegas Strip's

Macao's gaming revenue surged 22% in 2006, surpassing the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest casino market. The Chinese city's gambling industry reaped $6.95 billion in revenue, according to the website of the industry regulator. Analysts estimate that the Las Vegas Strip took in $6.5 billion to $6.6 billion last year. Macao's gambling revenue started to surge in 2004, when Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Galaxy Casino ended the four-decade monopoly of billionaire Stanley Ho. Foreign investors are staking $20 billion on making the city, a former Portuguese colony, into the gambling capital of Asia.

(From: Bloomberg News)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Frank Gehry unveils new Marqués de Riscal 'City of Wine'

Marqués de Riscal 'City of Wine,' a winery, hotel and spa in El Ciego, Spain, also happens to be the latest creation from architect Frank O. Gehry.

Vinos de los Herederos de Marqués de Riscal is renowned as the vanguard of tradition and innovation in Spanish winemaking. Founded in 1858, it was the first winery in Rioja that produced wine according to Bordeaux techniques, a completely revolutionary concept at the time. In 1972, Marqués de Riscal was the first winery to introduce Sauvignon Blanc in Rueda, which ultimately led to the formation of the region as a DO. It was also the first winery to create a “Super Rioja” wine. Today, Barón de Chirel. Marqués de Riscal products can be found in more than 70 countries and its wines have earned some of the most distinguished international awards and acclaim as well as media recognition.

In Spain, Santiago Calatrava's Winery Design Blends in with La Rioja's Landscape

Las Brisas is Timeless, Exquisite and An Inspiration

This beautiful image is by Jim Krogle.com and captures the beauty and intrigue of Las Brisas so well: a view that is unsurpassed. For more wonderful images from Jim Krogle, click on the link below: http://www.jimkrogle.com/gallery.htm
Picture Laguna Beach in the 1930’s…An artist’s village and beach town far removed from the cities of Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south. The Pacific Coast Highway was only a few years old having reached Laguna in 1926. Freeways were years in the future. The population of the town was barely 300; Orange County was home to fewer than 200,000. The Hotel Laguna had just been reopened after the original wooden structure built in 1889 was taken down. The Pageant of the Masters and Festival of the Arts had just been conceived in 1932.
In that setting, late in the depression era, on the cliffs above the Main Beach, a remarkable landmark building was built called the Victor Hugo Inn. Given its spectacular view, beautiful setting and the graceful service and fine cuisine offered, it is no wonder that the Victor Hugo Inn became world-renowned soon after opening in 1938. The restaurant’s guest book became a who’s who of Hollywood and royalty through the 1940’s and 50’s.
As the original proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Marcel Langlois, neared retirement in the late 1970’s, they looked for a new generation of restaurateurs to take over the business. Larry Cano, founder of the El Torito family of restaurants, came forward and purchased the restaurant with plans to create an elegant dinner house inspired by the restaurants of the Mexican Riviera.
In late 1979 the building was remodeled to its present contemporary elegance, and at the turn of the decade it was ready to open its doors as Las Brisas– the namesake of the most famous resort in Acapulco. Since that time, Las Brisas has acquired its own worldwide reputation. Under the leadership of Executive General Manager Fouad Ziady since 1980, Las Brisas has stood out as one of Southern California’s most popular restaurants. With a newly remodeled interior (1999) and open-air patio (2003) Las Brisas is poised for the new millennium receiving yet another generation of guests from around the world.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

"Reflection of . . . "

Chosen one of the Best Photos of 2003.

Stunning Photography by B Mully on Flickr

B Mully alerted me to this beautiful shot of Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park which is scheduled to open this week. The sculpture is Alexander Calder's "Eagle."
Here's another dramatic shot by B Mully of Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Going to EXTREMES in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo., is no stranger to world-class events: It will be hosting the Winter X Games, which run Thursday through Jan. 28 at Buttermilk Mountain. Winter X, now in its 11th year, will draw more than 250 of the world's top athletes (including 28 Olympians) to compete in all things extreme, such as the ski superpipe, the snowboard half-pipe, mono skier X, snowmobile freestyle and the moto X (above).
The event becomes a swirling madhouse of athletes, music, parties and kids of all ages.

Here we see a NO HANDS BACKFLIP being executed.
Some people call it "Insanity for Fun."

Kuelap – the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru

Kuelap is the largest building structure of the Americas. It is estimated to contain 3 times more material than Egypt’s largest pyramid. Peru considers Kuelap to be as good as Machu Picchu and is trying to make this its equal and a 2nd major destination. It is twice as old as the Incas and in remarkably better condition before restoration.
Kuelap is an unknown giant just waking up. Peru is a huge country the size of the 5 west coast states, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Montana. At present 99% of the tourists only go from Lima to the south while only 1% goes to the void north of Lima. Until this new century, the largest unexplored mountains in the in the Americas was in this zone. When the Spanish arrived, the Incas ruled the Andes.

The reason this zone is America's best kept secret is that the first dirt vehicle road came only 35 years ago. Previous to this the natives say that few came or went by their only access, -- a two-month walk on ancient Inca major routes. One “Inca highway” goes through here in a partially explored zone from Columbia to the Inca heartland. Another unexplored lateral route goes from Levanto and Kuelap to the coast through Cajamarca where the Inca was captured. This former Kuelap East-West road may have been the “gold and feather route” used by the spectacular Moche and Chimu cultures from the coast to the Moyobamba jungles zone. No other cultures reached their superior level of goldsmiths, and hundreds of pyramids.

Kuelap’s mystery has barely been studied. Construction began about 800AD at the same time that the Andes’ most spectacular empire began its expansion from Bolivia. This was the Tiahuanaco or Wari Empire, known as “The Golden City Building Era of the Andes”, or the Middle Horizon. The Wari (or Huari) built most of the “Inca roads and trails” and almost every ancient city. They were in power 300 years compared to less than 100 years of the Incas. The Wari evolved to an empire of cities sustained by a sophisticated transportation system implying specialization of labor, engineers, artisans, etc. Today the Wari Empire is barely known because the Spanish did not discover and document them with their gold. A parallel comparison would be similar to the Mayans which the Spanish ignored because of their decline in power and gold. Today the world’s interest in the Mayan Culture has grown to pass the Aztecs, as studies reveal their ability to write and build spectacular cities & structures. A great reference book about the complete Andes history is “The People and Cultures of Ancient Peru” by Luis Lambrates, translated into English by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

The spectacular photos are by Dan Heller. Click on the link below for more of their beautiful photos:

On the Prowl Again in Germany

SOUNDING OFF: Wolves reappeared in the Saxony forests in the mid-1990s, when a lone male crossed the Neisse River from Poland and now they are increasing in numbers and threatening the hunter's lifestyle in Germany.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Memorial to African Slaves

These statues in Le Diamant, on the island of Martinique pay tribute to African slaves who died in a shipwreck in 1830. A new book Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman traces their journey along the Atlantic Slave Route.

Shark diving in the U.S.A. is an exhilirating, yet safe way to view one of nature's most awesome creatures! That's What They Say ??

Sharks are quite possibly the world's most feared animals. From the smallest sand shark to the enormous whale shark, they are sleek, muscled, and some are almost as agile as a dolphin. There is no doubt that they are the most evolved predators in the ocean. Row upon row of teeth and capable of sensing the blood of an injured animal from over a kilometre away, its not surprising that they are the most feared creature beneath the waves. And of them all, the Great White is the most awesome.

The Agony of Defeat

For every winner there are dozens of losers . . . odds are you're one of them.

Stan "The Man" was INVINCIBLE !!

Stan Musial played right field and first base for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1940's and 1950's. He's one of the outstanding all-time greats in baseball history. The fans all across the country voted Stan "The Man" Musial as a starter into most All-Star games during the 1940's & 1950's. Stan was in the U.S. Military during 1945 but he won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1943, 1946, & 1948. This all time great was among the leaders in batting throughout his career. Musial's hot hitting was evident when he led the St. Louis Cardinals to four (4) pennants in five (5) years (1942-1946) and when the Cardinals won the World Series. In 1954, Musial established a new major league record by hitting five (5) home runs in a doubleheader. Musial dominated the sporting headlines all during his career. In 1958, Stan registered his 3,000 lifetime hit against the Cub's pitching star, "Moe" Drabowsky. Highlights of Musial's great career include .331 lifetime batting average along with 3,630 hits, 725 doubles, 177 triples and 475 home runs. Stan "The Man" Musial owned the National League with his torrid bat during the 1940's & 1950's. In the 1950's, as a Cubs fan, I feared Stan "The Man" more than any man alive.
On this day in 1969, and rightly so, Stan "The Man" Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.