Saturday, September 30, 2006

Murphy's laws

1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
2. Everything takes longer than you think.
3. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
4. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
5. If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
6. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
7. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
8. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
9. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
10. Mother nature is a bitch.
11. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
12. Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
13. Every solution breeds new problems.

The World is Changing and China is Running to Catch Up

 Shimao International Plaza, Shanghai, China---1094 feet tall (809 feet to the roof) with 60 floors. It was completed in 2005. Posted by Picasa


The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was built in 1929-1931 as a successor to the old Waldorf-Astoria hotel at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building.
Designed by the renowned hotel architects (Sherry Netherland, Pierre) Schultze & Weaver, the 47-storey new hotel cost $42 million and was the largest in the world at the time of its completion. Crowning the luxurious and monumental hotel (2,200 rooms occupying a whole city block), the twin Waldorf Towers rise to 190.5 m, high above the 20 floors of the main hotel building.

The private apartments of the Waldorf Towers, which has its own entrance on 50th Street, has seen many famous tenants from the Duke of Windsor and Douglas MacArthur to "Lucky" Luciano. The presidential suite at the 35th floor has been the traditional staying place of the President of the United States while in New York City. Building's base is of granite facing, and the upper facade is clad in brick and limestone. The towers are topped with stylized bronze-clad cupolas.

There are a number of lobbies running through the building, decorated with murals, and the Park Avenue lobby has the floor mosaic The Wheel of Life by Louis Rigal. The 3 m high clock in the central lobby originated from the 1893 Chicago World Fair and was subsequently bought by the Astor Family for the old hotel. The clock's eight-faced base is decorated with portraits of American presidents and Queen Victoria and the quarterly chime sound is copied from the London Westminster Cathedral's clock tower.

The 53-meter long Starlight Roof was in its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s a high-society meeting place, from which also regular radio broadcasts were sent. The room occupies the Park Avenue side setback and has floor-to-ceiling windows extending along the whole wall, as well as an outdoor terrace. The 6 m high ceiling of the room is covered with a grille and -- giving the room its name -- originally had a retractable roof.

The large hotel ballroom, the place for prominent galas and promotional parties, is four storeys high and several smaller ballrooms are adjoined to it. In all, the hotel's ballrooms could accomodate 6,000 people. Built above the railway tracks leading to Grand Central Terminal, the hotel had also its own underground railroad siding and an elevator for direct entrance from private railway cars.

Chicago is beautiful anytime . . . and especially at night

A Striking Image of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Gateway to the West

Photo credits to:


The Denver Art Museum's Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, opens to the public Oct. 7. A walkway joins the new structure to the original museum.

A Louise Bourgeois spider is one of several sculptures that surround the museum.
ATRIUM: Skylights 120 feet above the floor are visible from the Hamilton Building’s staircase.

Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Violin” hangs at an angle in a Denver Art Museum room.

The Frederic C. Hamilton Building opens to the public next Saturday. Its design dictates slanted walls and ceilings for its galleries.
"Phantom Tattoo" by Washington Color School artist Gene Davis suspends from a wall that tilts away from the painting's top edge.

"Quantum Cloud XXXIII" by Antony Gormley, part of the museum's permanent collection, stands in a room that ends in a narrow wedge of claustrophobic space.

Some of the features of the Hamilton Building are reminiscent of a ship's prow rising dramatically toward the Denver sky. How the Denver Art Museum will sort out is extreme makeover wil be fascinating to watch.

A long, narrow wedge of the Hamilton Building thrusts up and across 13th Avenue to point toward the original Denver Art Museum.

The inspiration of the Rocky Mountains and geometric rock crystals found in nearby foothills is clear in this wide view of the building, which is named for the museum's longtime board chairman, Frederic C. Hamilton.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times

Friday, September 29, 2006

Once in a "Blue Moon"

We've all heard the expression, right? But do you know what a Blue Moon is ??? . . . . . A Blue Moon is the second full moon in the same month. This is a rare occurrence, it happened in 2004 (July 31) and won't happen again until 2007 (June 30).

Yes! We all want to have our 15 minutes of fame . . .

This might be Shangri La

Peru's Machu Picchu (

A thought for today . . . and tomorrow . . . and the next day

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he gets angry, he'll be a mile away - and barefoot.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

Always yield to temptation, because it may not pass your way again.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.

Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.

Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.

Junk is something you throw away three weeks before you need it.

There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.

Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.

Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.

I believe the only time the world beats a path to my door is when I'm in the bathroom.

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.

YOSEMITE: circa 1905 (always breathtaking!)

YOSEMITE: Art of an American Icon, Edited by Amy Scott


If you want my opinion . . .

A Hearst castle that has crumbled but the mystique is still there !!

At the height of the Roaring '20s, newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst built an extravagant house on five beachfront acres in Santa Monica for his blond mistress, actress Marion Davies. It was the grandest manse at the shore, dwarfing the residences of such Hollywood nobility as Louis B. Mayer, Samuel and Frances Goldwyn, Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, Harold and Mildred Lloyd, and Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

Davies, a silent film star, and Hearst entertained assiduously. Their elaborate costume parties drew the likes of Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Gloria Swanson and Howard Hughes, who donned lederhosen for a Tyrolean bash. Charlie Chaplin, rumored to have been Davies' lover, cavorted with her in the 110-foot saltwater swimming pool, lined with Italian marble and spanned by a Venetian marble bridge.

The three-story, Georgian Revival main house, completed in 1928, was U-shaped, with 18 Grecian columns across the back. Davies and Hearst had separate suites connected by a hidden door. Four other houses were occupied by Davies' family, long-term guests and more than 30 full-time servants. Altogether, the complex included 110 bedrooms and 55 bathrooms. As at his sumptuous San Simeon castle on California's Central Coast, Hearst had purchased entire rooms from European locations and had them reassembled in the beach house. He transplanted paneling from Burton Hall in Ireland, a ballroom from a 1750 Venetian palazzo and a 1560 tavern from an inn in Surrey, England. Seventy-five wood carvers worked for a year to complete the balustrades of the main dual staircases.

By the time the mansion was completed, according to "Marion Davies," Fred Lawrence Guiles' 1972 biography, it had cost $7 million — $3 million for construction and $4 million for furnishings and artworks. That would be $83 million today. The interior was palatial, with immense Oriental rugs, Tiffany crystal chandeliers, a room finished in gold leaf and 37 fireplaces.

On special occasions like Hearst's birthday, huge canvas tents were erected to accommodate as many as 2,000 guests. In 1937, partygoers dressed as circus performers (including a bearded Bette Davis) and rode a merry-go-round borrowed from Warner Bros. To make room for it, Hearst ordered a wall torn down and then put back.

In 1945, Davies sold the beach compound and in 1957 the main house was demolished. The state bought the land in 1959 and leased it to the city of Santa Monica, which in turn leased it to the private Sand & Sea Club from 1960 to 1990. The city subsequently operated a day-use beach facility there.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake sent a brick chimney crashing through the roof of the North House. All buildings in the complex were red-tagged. Since then, the site has slowly deteriorated for lack of funds. The North House's windows have been boarded over, as have the historic pool and its whimsical fish tiles. Weeds have sprouted through cracks in the pavement. Railings have rusted and wooden beams stand rotting.

For years, government officials and community activists have worked on a plan to transform the site into a public beach club. For a modest day-use fee, anyone would be able to enjoy the swimming pool where Chaplin and other stars splashed, a sun deck with lounge chairs, volleyball and paddle tennis courts, event rooms, a children's play area and picnic tables. Wallis Annenberg, the TV Guide heiress and philanthropist, has committed nearly $28 million for the project from the Annenberg Foundation. She recalls as a young woman spending glorious summer days at the Sand & Sea Club, where many of the members, like her, were Jewish. Other private clubs tended to exclude Jews. Annenberg said. "It was important to me that this be a lovely fun place for the public to enjoy."

(Excerpts from an article by Martha Groves)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Magic of Yosemite

Thomas Hill, Yosemite Valley, 1876, oil on canvas. Oakland Museum of California, Oakland Museum Kahn Collection

Albert Bierstadt, Yosemite Winter Scene, 1872, oil on canvas. University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Gift of Henry D. Bacon. Photograph by Benjamin Blackwell

Albert Bierstadt, Sunset in Yosemite Valley, 1868, oil on canvas. The Haggin Museum, Haggin Collection, Stockton, California

London's Tower Bridge

Photo by Edward Hasler


Photo by Edward Hasler


Photo by Edward Hasler

Who says you can't beat a dead horse? . . . or bet one, for that matter !!

Earlier this week a South Australian betting agency accepted a bet on a horse that died more than two weeks earlier.

Chicakaloo was the horse's name. It was put down Sept. 9 after breaking a leg. Chicakaloo was listed as a 200-1 shot to win the Epsom Handicap on Oct. 7 — long odds, to be sure, yet not bad for a horse that had been dead for more than two weeks.

Tom Hunt placed five Australian dollars ($3.75) on the horse, and the Totalisator Agency Board accepted the wager. Paul Caica, minister of South Australia's gambling watchdog, said his office would investigate the matter — how it was possible, if not quite encouraged, to bet a dead horse.


Wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."

4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.

6. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.

7. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.

8. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.

9. Comparing the state of dead horses in today's environment.

10. Change the requirements declaring that "This horse is not dead."

11. Hire contractors to ride the dead horse.

12. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.

13. Declaring that "No horse is too dead to beat."

14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.

15. Do a CA Study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.

16. Purchase a product to make dead horses run faster.

17. Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.

18. Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.

19. Revisit the performance requirements for horses.

20. Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.

21. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Step into famous Modern residences

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1924 textile-block Freeman House will be part of a Modern home tour on Sunday. For more information call (323) 651-1510 or go to
(Photo by Julius Shulman)

The Triumph-Palace has classic beauty

Russia's Triumph-Palace in Moscow was completed in 2005, making it the tallest skyscraper in Europe, surpassing Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, Germany. The spire is 153 feet tall and is divided into 3000 pieces with a total weight of 52 ton. With 54 floors and a total height of 867 feet when you include the spire, it's the second tallest residential building in the world; the tallest is the 21st Century Tower in Dubai at 269 meters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Could the MX-5 get any better? You bet, as Mazda pops a slick new roof on its popular convertible.

Mazda wanted to make the 2007 MX-5 Miata retractable hardtop more of a 50-state, all-weather car. The sleek, no-fuss lid makes sense particularly in sunny California.

It takes 12 seconds to raise and lower the top. Trunk space (5.1 cubic feet) is unchanged from the canvas-top model.

With the top stowed, the MX-5 looks like it never had one. Road noise is comparable to a closed cockpit car.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A New Concept Car: The Honda FCX

Honda's FCX runs on a fuel-cell system that is smaller, lighter and more powerful than the current model. The automaker said its new fuel cell was 20% smaller, 30% lighter and 17% more powerful than the present model. It can start in temperatures as low as 22 degrees below zero, an industry best.

In test drives on Honda's banked track in Tochigi, several visiting journalists hit speeds of 100 mph in the hand-built FCX concept sedan fitted with the new fuel-cell system. Honda says the home fuel maker under development will refine and compress 5 kilograms of hydrogen a day from natural gas. That's more than enough for a daily refill of the system's 3.8-kilogram storage tank, which gives the FCX as much as 270 miles of range.

(excerpts from an article by John Odell, L A Times)

The Next Wave . . .

MALIBU, five years ago: The sun is edging toward the cliffs at sleepy Paradise Cove as a cluster of surfers sit idly on their boards, rising and falling with the swells, scanning the endless blue. Off in the distance a lone surfer drifts toward them. They exchange glances. The surfer is standing — standing — on an oversized board, using a long, outrigger-style paddle to snake through the water like a gondolier. Some of the surfers wince. Put the clown in a red-striped wet suit and he might start belting out an Italian love song.

As the figure slowly comes into view, they do a double take. The clown is the brawny alpha dog of surfing, Laird Hamilton. Dipping his paddle into the swells, Hamilton maneuvers along the breakers, occasionally riding them in — but without ever lying or sitting on his board.

Since then, a small but perceptible shift has occurred in the Southern California surfing community. Seasoned surfers and neophytes alike are now grabbing paddles and taking to the water from a stand-up position. On any given weekend, stand-up paddle surfers can be seen scattered along the coast, particularly at Point Dume and in protected harbors and coves.

(excerpts from an article by Janet Cromley; Photo by Anne Cusack)

Could this man be sane ?? . . . or is that Moses parting the sea ??

Laird Hamilton tow-surfing at Peahi, Maui
(Photo by Eric Aeder)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Crossroads of History

 History buffs don't need reminding that the battles of Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge and Chickamauga were crucial to the Civil War. That is commemorated in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, above, the nation's largest military park. Posted by Picasa

Alaskan Sunset

Photo by James Gray (


The forest setting is rugged, but the digs are not. Plump beds, clean linen, cozy tents and an on-site gourmet chef beckon hike-in guests to this luxury camp. NO pain, no gain. That's what people always say to get you to do something hard, like carry 30 pounds of gear on your back, sleep on the ground, eat freeze-dried food and go without a bath. But if you had the chance to get into the wilderness without such hassle — be honest now — wouldn't you take it?

Some die-hard lovers of the great outdoors claim to appreciate the hardships of backpacking. But I felt plenty appreciative when I heard I could sleep on clean sheets and eat gourmet meals at a new luxury tent camp in Giant Sequoia National Monument.

California's Sequoia High Sierra Camp sits on 40 of the 49,000 acres of private land that was grandfathered into the monument. The High Sierra Camp, at 8,200 feet elevation, contains 36 tents on private land within the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The grounds include an open-air dining pavilion and a bathhouse with flush toilets and hot showers.

Roomy tents with concrete floors come with comfortable beds, a table and chairs. Mesh panels let in light and provide mountain views, although not a lot of privacy.

TO LEARN MORE: Giant Sequoia National Monument is administered by Sequoia National Forest, 1839 S. Newcomb St., Porterville, CA 93257; (559) 784-1500, .

(Excerpts from an article by Susan Spano / L A Times)