Friday, January 30, 2009

Yosemite National Park

No list of California parks would be complete without a mention of Yosemite. It can be crowded and noisy in the summer, but if you stay clear of the tourist-clogged Yosemite Village, you will see why John Muir, the father of America's environmental movement, said, "No temple made by hands can compare with Yosemite." The real magic happens in the late afternoon, when the setting sun casts a violet glow on the iconic Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall. Yosemite is about 80 miles east of Merced, along California 140. Info: (209) 372-0200,
(Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Mt. Hoffman summit
Half Dome

John Muir Wilderness

California is home to 138 designated wilderness areas, protected by some of the nation's strictest land protection laws. For hikers, the John Muir Wilderness, southwest of Mammoth Lakes, has few equals. With 590 miles of trails, dozens of pristine aquamarine lakes and the most spectacular peaks in the Sierra Nevada, this wilderness area exemplifies the beauty its namesake so prized. The office to obtain permits to enter the wilderness is at 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop. Info: (760) 873-2485,
(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)


A herbivore that could hold its own against the feared T-Rex and one of the two most popular dinosaurs of all time. The function of their frills and three distinctive facial horns has long inspired debate. Although traditionally viewed as defensive weapons against predators, the latest theories claim that it is more probable that these features were used in courtship and dominance displays, much like the antlers. You can decide for yourself. Triceratops was about 30 feet long. It's head, including the frill shield was up to ten feet in length.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


"Icestorm" is by hell.linux and is available as wallpaper (Click on the link below).

Here are some of the most well-recognized filming spots around Southern California

The Beverly Wilshire hotel is perhaps most famous for standing in as the grandiose exterior and lobby in "Pretty Woman." Tony Reeves, author of "The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations," writes via e-mail that "the rooms were a set built at the Disney studio in Burbank and bear little resemblance to the real thing." The movies "Bulworth" and "Beverly Hills Cop" also made use of the hotel's luxe décor.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Built in 1924 for Mabel and Charles Ennis, Frank Lloyd Wright's one-of-a-kind concrete block house was featured in 1959's "House on Haunted Hill" and 1982's "Blade Runne." It was also a vampire lair in the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV show. The exterior is photogenic, but the interior is not open to the public.
(Dale Kutzera / For The Times)

The domes and telescopes of the Griffith Observatory will always be associated with James Dean's iconic "Rebel Without a Cause" knife fight in 1955. Though it's featured in major motion pictures such as "Transformers," restrictions and fees make the observatory difficult for television shoots, according to "Entourage" location manager Bob Lepucki.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Hotel del Coronado is the "Miami hotel where Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis hide out in drag with Marilyn Monroe in the classic 'Some Like It Hot,' " author Reeves writes, in an e-mail, of the San Diego-area luxury hotel, which has offered high rollers a bit of R&R since 1888. This is also where L. Frank Baum wrote at least three of his "Wizard of Oz" books. (The novelist also designed the chandeliers in the hotel's Crown Room.)
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

If it's a freeway chase scene, chances are it's this quarter-mile stretch in Long Beach, says "Criminal Mind's" Spellman, who recently used Shoreline Drive for a freeway in Orange County and as a location for a pivotal freeway driving lesson scene in the Alicia Silverstone movie "Clueless." It's also credited in the movies "Speed" and "Iron Man." Spellman says it helps that the city is so cooperative with film crews. It should be used to them: "CSI: Miami" and "Dexter" both shoot in Long Beach.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reporting from Tampa, Fla. -- The NFL is willing to consider a return to its Los Angeles roots.

Evidently, so are the San Diego Chargers.
While the league is kicking around the notion of playing the 50th Super Bowl in L.A. -- where the first one took place -- the onetime L.A. Chargers appear to be inching closer to a possible return to their birthplace.

As is always the case with the on-again, off-again saga of the NFL's flirtation with the nation's second-largest market, nothing is written in stone. In fact, it's more like murky skywriting, completely at the mercy of the fickle winds of change.

What would a revamped Coliseum look like? Developer Ed Roski unveiled this model (above) of the Coliseum in 1999. That was the year that L.A. was in the running for an expansion franchise that would eventually go to Houston (as in the Texans) because city officials and the NFL could not agree on a stadium site or financing.

This model gives an idea of the scope of the project if Ed Roski and partners were to build a stadium in the City of Industry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peruvian Beauty: the Contrast, the Challenge and the Triumph

Climbing in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Images by Robert Zeithammer -- you can view more of his spectacular and extensive collection on his website. Click on the link below:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

People miss George Freeth

The bare concrete pillar where his statue once stood is a daily reminder that the pier landscape is incomplete without him, and worse - that even surfing legends aren’t immune to the street value of scrap metal.

The bronze bust of Freeth, which had been a fixture on the Redondo Beach pier since the late 1970s, was stolen in August. Despite the offer of rewards, police have yet to identify the thieves. It is speculated that the nearly 100-pound bust was stolen for its scrap metal value.

But the statue will be replaced, thanks in part to donations from several residents, cooperation with the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and, now, in the form of a gala fund-raising event to be held Feb. 9.

The “Friends of Freeth” fund-raiser will be held at Starboard Attitude on the Pier at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9. The evening will feature food from pier and boardwalk restaurants, live and silent auctions, and live music by rock band Thin Ice, with proceeds from the event going toward the casting of a new Freeth sculpture.

The new statue will be cast from the original molds created by the late artist Terry O’Donnell, which have been on display at the Redondo Beach Historical Museum.

So, Now You Know !!!

The "BLUE NOTE": In jazz and blues, a blue note (also "worried" note is a note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. Typically the alteration is a semitone or less, but this varies among performers and genres. Country blues, in particular, features wide variations from the diatonic pitches with emotive blue-notes. Blue notes are often seen as akin to relative pitches found in traditional African work songs.

Antarctica is not cooling after all

Scientists have long believed that Antarctica has been bucking the global warming trend, but that is not the case, new research shows.

East Antarctica, as assorted studies have shown, has been cooling recently, but the remainder of the continent is warming at a rate that offsets the cooling, according to satellite and ground data.

Global-warming skeptics have pointed to the presumed cooling of the continent as evidence that researchers' computer projections of climate change are in error, but the new findings reported Thursday appear to refute their criticisms.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Gyroscopic UNO

A young inventor has created a motorbike with a twist -- it uses two wheels but they are positioned right next to each other, giving it the illusion of being a powered unicycle. And even better, it might help save the planet.

Ben Gulak has spent several years building the electric Uno that uses gyroscopic technology -- like the infamous Segway commuter device -- to stay upright.

The bizarre-looking contraption has only one switch -- on or off -- and is controlled entirely by body movement. The rider leans forwards to accelerate to speeds of 25 mph and back to slow down. It has two wheels side-by-side and has been turning heads wherever it has been ridden.
The green machine is so small and light it can be taken indoors and carried into lifts -- and is recharged by being plugged into the mains.

The wheels are completely independent, allowing the bike to turn on a sixpence and the technology takes the balance and guesswork out of riding a unicycle. Its 18-year-old creator is now looking for investors to get the Uno into production and onto the streets. Ben, from Ontario , Canada , said: 'I was inspired to make the bike after visiting China a few years ago and seeing all the smog.

They all drive little bikes that are really polluting and I wanted to make something to combat that. I started with this concept because if something doesn't look cool people just won't be interested.
After coming up with the concept I started to build it and now have the first prototype and the reaction has been amazing. It has two wheels side by side and that means it is easier to turn as they are completely independent and have their own suspension.

The bike has a 'neutral point' and when you lean forward it accelerates to keep the neutral point in the right place.'It has a couple of gyros and is basically self-balancing -- it takes the guesswork out of riding a unicycle. The bike takes a bit of getting used to because you have to learn to trust it. But it doesn't take long.'It takes any weight and weighs 120 lbs and can fit into a lift so you can take it indoors to charge it up.

Currently it has a top speed of 25 mph, but that will be increased greatly with bigger motors. It has a range of about 2.5 hours and it is designed for the commute to work through busy towns. This could be the electrical alternative to the car.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wheels of Misfortune or "Murphy's Law" ???

It was 60 years ago that Murphy's Law was first formerly introduced to the world. Also known as Sod's Law, this is the landmark theory which, put simply, states: If anything can go wrong, it will.

Born in 1918, Murphy was the eldest of five children and attended the prestigious United States Military Academy, West Point, from which he graduated in 1940. A fine and conscientious pilot who was often described as 'no-nonsense', Murphy decided after the war to involve himself in the technological aspects of aircraft design, and went to work as a research and development officer for the Air Force. It was during this period of his life that Murphy became involved in the experiments that would give rise to the naming of his Law.

In 1949 the U.S. Air Force was keen to assess the impact of G-forces (gravity force) upon pilots, and set up a series of experiments to test the human tolerance for G-forces during rapid deceleration. Murphy was involved in these tests, which were conducted on the 'Gee Whiz' - a rocket-powered sled mounted on a railroad track. As fragile-looking as it was dangerous, this contraption could reach supersonic speeds.

Murphy arranged for one of his assistants to hook up a series of 16 sensors to the subject's body, and the terrifying speed and stop test was then carried out. To Murphy's surprise the sensors failed to pick up any readings. After investigating, he discovered the sensors had been installed the wrong way around, invalidating the entire test. Furious, Murphy was heard to say of his assistant: 'If there are two ways to do something, and one of those ways will result in disaster, he'll do it that way.' Later at a press conference the success of the team's safety record was attributed to their willingness to anticipate and factor in disaster. It was termed 'Murphy's Law', which was explained as 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.' The press picked up the coinage, and it quickly spread until it became common usage.

Others have teased out subtle intricacies, noting that nothing is as easy as it looks and everything takes longer than you think, while others have observed that left to themselves things always go from bad to worse.
The practical applications of Murphy's Law seem endless, with some notable gems including:

No matter how long or how hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it, it will be on sale somewhere cheaper;

The other supermarket queue always moves faster;

In the military, the more sophisticated your equipment, the further you will be from civilisation when it fails;

Your best golf shots always occur when playing alone;

A valuable object which falls in a hard-to-reach place will land at a distance which just exceeds the tip of your fingers;

And if you want something bad enough, chances are you won't get it.
The principle underlying this law is as old as humanity itself, with numerous descriptions of the phenomenon recorded in the 19th century and before.
And the classic example of Murphy's Law - the slice of bread landing on the butteredside - was noted in a poem as early as 1841:

'I never had a slice of bread
Particularly large and wide
That did not fall upon the floor
And always on the buttered-side.'

While it is easy to label Murphy's Law as the ultimate pessimist's charter, there is an undercurrent of optimism running just beneath the surface of this Law, one that wryly acknowledges that although things will probably go wrong, recognising that fact is the first step in being prepared for when that actually happens.

The "Master of Suspense" is back

The American Cinematheque shares "Hitchcock's Confessions" at the Aero Theatre this week, while the Egyptian Theatre celebrates the "New Hollywood" of the late 1960s and '70s.

The Alfred Hitchcock festival opens tonight with the 50th anniversary screening of his sexy romantic thriller "North by Northwest," starring Cary Grant as a confirmed bachelor and mama's boy who is mistaken for a covert government spy. Eva Marie Saint is the cool blond, with James Mason and Martin Landau as the villains. The Mt. Rushmore chase sequence is among the director's best. Friday's programs are devoted to the late screenwriter John Michael Hayes, who penned several of Hitchcock's films in the 1950s, including the 1956 remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and the frothy 1955 romance "To Catch a Thief," pairing Grant with Grace Kelly.

On tap for Saturday are two classics from his first decade in Hollywood: 1940's "Rebecca," which won the Oscar for best film, and 1946's highly charged "Notorious."

A couple of his blockbusters from 1954 -- "Rear Window" and "Dial M for Murder" -- are set for Sunday. His 1960 shocker "Psycho" and the 1963 chiller "The Birds" will have audiences cringing on Wednesday.

Shown above is Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson in 'Rebecca'

The poster below can be purchased at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This mosaic portrait of Barack Obama is made out of photos of his supporters. The ones included in this mosaic are people from ths USA. But there are millions in the world who look with hope on this extraordinary man. He has been called a "once in a generation leader" and the whole world is watching with great expectations.

Let us hope that we are not disappointed.

“Man of the World”

“Man of the World” lives on and can be seen in a smaller-scaled bronze version in “The Art of Blake Edwards,” a retrospective of the director’s work including “Man of the World” (above)can be seen at West Hollywood's Pacific Design Center through Jan. 30.

Sentenced to an evening with Barry Manilow

Fort Lupton, Colo. -- The guiding principle in Municipal Judge Paul Sacco's courtroom is an eye for an eye. Or rather, an ear for an ear.

So when teenagers land in front of him for blasting their car stereos or otherwise disturbing the peace in this small northern Colorado city, Sacco informs them that they will spend a Friday evening in his courtroom listening to music -- of his choosing.

No, they can't pay a fine instead, he tells them. So, he adds with a snicker, ever heard of Barry Manilow?

For the last decade, Sacco, 55, has administered a brand of justice somewhere between "cruel" and "unusual."

Young people in Fort Lupton know that if they're caught, they're in for a night that could begin with the "Barney" theme song, move on to an opera selection and end with Boy George's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me."

Sacco's answer to that last question: Yes, he does.

Or rather, he wants a little payback to the scofflaws blaring their tunes without regard for their neighbors -- a vexing habit in this blue-collar community of about 8,000, said Police Chief Ron Grannis.

For a while, Sacco -- a part-time judge who also has a law practice -- issued tickets, $95 apiece, to the noise violators. But one day, as he ordered a teenager to pay a fine, he realized the kid's parents, flanking him, would probably just pay it for him.

"It just seemed I was a rubber-stamper," he said. "I hate that."

What he really wanted to do, Sacco thought, was give the kid a dose of his own medicine. And the "music immersion" sentence was born.

The concept was simple: Stick the kids in a room -- on a night they'd rather be out socializing -- and turn up the volume.

Manilow immediately came to Sacco's mind. Not because he disliked Manilow, but because he knew they would. But the playlist also features other artists, mostly selected for their ability to annoy the younger set.

Found at last . . . after searching over all the golf courses in Florida

That's what the lady said.

"I don't apologize. Ever. Of course, it helps that I'm never wrong."

Booming over some 570 radio stations was one loud, defiant voice, saying no -- never -- to President Obama and the thought that America may be headed toward better days.

Rush Limbaugh made clear that he's prepared to mock, scorn and badger the man with the daunting job of trying to turn our country around.

Radio's biggest blusterer doubtless has real problems with Obama. But he's clearly inspired most by a fresh opportunity to inflate himself to ever greater proportions.

Asked recently if he was depressed by the shift in power, he scoffed: "I am energized, I am honored and I am happy to be the last man standing."

He greeted Bill Clinton's presidency with the refrain "America held hostage." Now it's "the last man standing." Get ready to hear it for at least four years.

In other words, the last true conservative. The last stalwart with no intention of cutting the Democratic president an inch of slack. To do so, Limbaugh suggests, would be to give in to socialism.

In recent days, he has harrumphed about Obama as a "cult" and a "full-fledged leftist." He has mocked the fledgling administration as "a giant public relations stunt."

El Rushbo appears to believe some of this stuff.

As he told partner-in-narcissism Ann Coulter this past week on his "Excellence in Broadcasting" network: "I don't apologize. Ever. Of course, it helps that I'm never wrong."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Going up or down ???

Michael Johnson of Austin searches for nooks to place his hands and feet. Unlike rock climbers, bouldering enthusiasts don’t use equipment but climbing chalk helps ease the way.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)


A statue of explorer Leif Ericson greets visitors outside the Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran church in Reykjavik, Iceland.
(Andreas Tille)

The Northern Lights

The aurora borealis shimmers in the inky sky over Iceland. The island nation is an ideal auroral stamping ground. At 66 degrees latitude, it is usually in the brightest swath of the auroral zone encircling the north pole. Its treeless terrain provides clear views. And it boasts the little urban gem of Reykjavik as a daytime counterpoint.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rumpole of the Bailey

Trained and critically acclaimed in theatre, a successful character actor in movies, Australian performer Leo McKern made his most indelible mark in television. In the mind of many audiences, he became irrevocably intertwined with the title character of Rumpole of the Bailey. the irascible British Barrister created by author John Mortimer. Starring as the wily, overweight, jaded-but-dedicated defense attorney for seven seasons, McKern brought an intelligent, acerbic style to the character which was applauded by critics, audiences and creator Mortimer and ascribed to the character just as the character was inscribed on McKern's acting persona. More than once McKern vowed he would not return to the series because of the inevitable typecasting. Yet, he was always persuaded otherwise by Mortimer who himself vowed that no one but McKern would play the role of Horace Rumpole.

The program, which began in 1978 in the U.K. and was soon exported to the United States via PBS's Mystery! series featured McKern as an attorney who profoundly believed in a presumption of innocence, the validity of the jury system and the importance of a thorough defense. It was an unabashedly civil liberties position. In the course of each show the character typically dissected the stodgy and inefficient machinations of fellow barristers, judges and the legal system in Britain. His resourcefulness and unorthodoxy matched U.S. television's Perry Mason, but with his askew bow tie and white wig, his sidelong looks and interior monologues, Rumpole was more colorful and complicated.

As the program was shown around the world through 1996 McKern could not escape what he called the "insatiable monster" of television which blotted out memories of earlier performances. But that did not stop the Australian periodical The Bulletin from naming McKern one of Australia's top 55 "human assets in" 1990. And in fact television did offer McKern another distinctive, if more transitory, role much earlier than Rumpole. In The Prisoner, a British drama aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in the late 1960s, McKern was one of the first authority figures to repress the hero.

The Prisoner, still a cult classic dissected on many web sites and Internet chat groups, was created by the then enormously popular actor Patrick McGoohan and was intended as an indictment of authoritarian subjugation of the individual. McGoohan in the title role was kept prisoner in a mysterious village by the State, represented most forcefully by the person in charge of the village called "number 2". Engaging in a battle of wills and wits with Number 6 (McGoohan), Number 2 typically died at episode's end to be replaced by a new 2 the next week. McKern played Number 2 in the series' second program, "The Chimes of Big Ben," and helped set the tone of serious banter and political conflict. Killed at the end of the episode, his character was resurrected at the end of the series the next season in "Once upon a Time and Fallout" to demonstrate a change of position in favor of the hero and opposed to the State. Not completely unlike Rumpole, McKern's Number 2 was a system insider who understood principles better than the rest of the establishment (if only belatedly).

"a powerful new scientific eye in the sky"

(AP) There will be a powerful new scientific eye in the sky come summer. NASA and Northrop Grumman on Thursday unveiled two unmanned drones that will be used for atmospheric research. One of the two Global Hawks, a version of the Air Force's top-of-the-line unmanned spy plane, will be outfitted with science instruments this spring and conduct its first earth science mission in June for NASA.

The planes, which are capable of staying aloft for more than 30 hours, will sample greenhouse gases responsible for ozone depletion and verify measurements by NASA's Aura atmosphere research satellite.

"It's a whole new ballgame for us," said project scientist Paul A. Newman of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I wonder if this guy can walk on water ???

A Philippine participant makes his way in a crowd during a procession to mark the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila. Thousands of people from around the country travel to the Philippine capital each year for the event.

Last one in is a Epiphany !!!

Bulgarians take the plunge into icy waters to collect a cross that a priest threw into a lake in Sofia on Epiphany Day. It is believed that the first person to retrieve the cross will be healthy throughout the new year.

Will we ever learn to live together in peace ???

A monument stands amid a few remaining graves at the cemetery at Manzanar National Historic Site, where 10,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were interned during World War II because of their ancestry. The interpretive center at the site eight miles north of Lone Pine shows how internees played, studied, farmed and worshiped. A helpful resource:

"I am not a number, I am a free man!"

Patrick McGoohan, the man who embodied hope over despair in the coolest way imaginable in the 1960s cult TV classic The Prisoner, has died--he was 80 years old.

The Prisoner was a British TV series that aired in America starting in 1967. Only 17 episodes long, The Prisoner was a strikingly original show about a former British spy who wakes one morning to find himself in a psychedelic fantasy-land that's not all candy and sunshine--it's a combination British village/futuristic prison, and McGoohan's character was stripped of his identity and known only as "Number Six." McGoohan (who'd starred in an earlier spy show, Danger Man, which was titled Secret Agent in the U.S.) had the rugged good looks and clipped accent that leant The Prisoner a gravity its giddy alternate-worldliness might otherwise have lacked. Number Six's famous cry, "I am not a number, I am a free man!" became both a counterculture catchphrase as well as an anguished plea for freedom. The Prisoner was James Bond for acid-heads, and McGoohan's straitlaced image made his small-screen version of a hip spy all the more appealing.

McGoohan also appeared in many films, from Ice Station Zebra to Braveheart, but for TV fans, he'll always be The Prisoner.

"sanctioned public weirdness"

L.A.'s kitschiest man, local "histotainer" Charles Phoenix, serves as grand marshal of Pasadena's "other" parade, the 32nd Occasional Doo Dah Parade, a once-a-year pageant of sanctioned public weirdness. In the past, it has included such acts as the Synchronized Napping Team and the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin. Old Town, East Colorado Boulevard and North Raymond Avenue. Pasadena. 11:30 a.m. Sun. Free.

Shown above: the 50 mummers from the 2008 parade.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Are they getting the message ??? . . . . . I hope so !

On Sunday at Detroit's auto show, General Motors Corp. revealed the Spark (above), a tiny two-door hatchback that the company says will get 40 miles to a gallon and will be in the market by 2011. Toyota Motor Corp. announced plans to introduce, by 2012, its own pint-sized hatchback, the FT-EV (shown below), based on its iQ model, that will run entirely on battery power.