Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"The Water Terrace" and New York's Central Park

In their 1858 Greensward Plan, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux called the architectural heart of the Park "The Water Terrace," for its placement beside the Lake and the grand fountain in the center. Once the Angel of the Waters fountain was unveiled in 1873, however, the area became forever known as Bethesda Terrace. At the dedication, the artist's brochure quoted the Biblical verse from the Gospel of St. John 5:2-4: "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called Bethesda whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." The artist likened the healing powers of the angel to that of the clean and pure Croton water, delicately cascading down the fountain, that brought health to the people of New York City. The lily in her hand represents purity while the four figures below represent Peace, Health, Purity, and Temperance.

With their 1858 landscaping plan under construction, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux began adding architectural features to their Park design. Around 1874, Vaux designed a two-story boathouse at the eastern end of the Lake. Here visitors could purchase refreshments, take boat rides, and watch other boats. After this wooden Victorian structure with sloping mansard roof burned down, the current Loeb Boathouse took its place in the 1950s.

Today at the Boathouse visitors can enjoy a meal in any season, with overhead heating helping to extend as long as possible the pleasure of dining on the deck overlooking the Lake. More informal snacks are available on the outside terrace across from the bicycle rental concession. At Loeb you can also rent rowboats or take a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola. This is more than a ride, it is an "event" – with luck, your gondolier might just break into song at some point in the trip.

Fatal Attraction

Golden Gate Bridge officials have completed the first phase of a two-part feasibility study on erecting a suicide barrier — either by adding to or replacing the current railing or adding a horizontal net. "One thing we learned is that there is a workable solution," said Mary Currie, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge. A plan may be ready for public input by as early as this fall, she added.

Ken Holmes, who has been medical examiner since 1998, joined the office in the 1970s. Conducting autopsies of bridge jumpers, he handled bodies so devastated that they were unrecognizable.

The fall from the bridge lasts four seconds and is comparable to a jump off a 25-story building, researchers say. At impact, the body is traveling 75 mph. Ribs and vertebrae shatter, puncturing lungs and other organs.

The study was hailed Monday by one 26-year-old San Franciscan who years ago survived a Golden Gate suicide jump.

Kevin Hines recalls leaping from the span as an emotionally distraught college freshman. His first thought after going into a frantic free-fall: "What did I just do? I don't want to die."

Hines landed feet first and recovered from severe internal injuries. He says increased publicity about the high frequency of such suicides as well as the sheer violence of the impact might have dissuaded him from taking his fateful plunge.

The Pride of Ventura

Ventura’s Moreton Bay fig, native to Australia, was planted in 1874 in Plaza Park. The tree is 73.5 feet tall, 140 feet wide and has an 8-foot, 8-inch trunk.
(Carlos Chavez / LAT)

Moscow's Glowing Concept

An artist’s rendering shows the “Moskva-City” project at night, when floodlights will bathe the towers in colors. The first buildings are due to be finished in 2009.
(Moscow City Government)

Monday, July 30, 2007

On this day in 1965 a new major league record was set for strikeouts in a game: 26 strikeouts, Philadelphia Phillies (16), Pittsburgh Pirates (10)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's about time . . .

Instead of moving our clocks one hour forward every spring, then one hour backward every fall, why couldn't we just move them one-half hour forward this spring and be done with it ??

. . . and do you think daylight-saving time could be contributing to global warming ?? The longer we have sunlight, the more it heats the atmosphere.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Surfing in all it's glory

Happy Birthday to the gracious, beautiful and talented Peggy Fleming

In 1961, when Fleming was 12 years old, her coach William Kipp was killed in the crash of Sabena Flight 548 along with the rest of the United States figure skating team while en route to the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships. Fleming was subsequently coached by Carlo Fassi. She would be forced to define her own style in figure skating, a style that would lead to five U.S. titles, three World titles and the gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. Her award in Grenoble was singularly important for the American athletes and the nation as a whole, for this was the only gold medal that the U.S. Olympic team won in the 1968 Winter Games. It signaled a return to American dominance in the sport of women's figure skating following the unprecedented tragedy of the 1961 plane crash.

Tailless and it may become a Legend

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE — An experimental tailless jet that resembles a wing flew for the first time in a program that could lead to more fuel-efficient, quieter and higher-capacity aircraft, NASA said Thursday.

Controlled from a ground station, the 8.5%-scale version of the planned X-48B "blended wing body" aircraft took off July 20, climbed to 7,500 feet and landed about half an hour later, according to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in the Mojave Desert.

The X-48B resembles a wing, but the wing blends into a wide, flat fuselage, NASA and Boeing Co. said. The prototype is 500 pounds with a 21-foot wingspan. It has three engines.

The design is intended to provide more lift with less drag compared with the cylindrical fuselage of a traditional aircraft, reducing fuel consumption while cruising.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Paris 1931" by Scott Murray

Artist Statement

These hand painted block prints and works on canvas exemplify my most recent works. Inspired by my own personal visions, universal symbolism and the rock art of primitive peoples, I feel that I have found a bridge between the modern and the ancient worlds. Each piece tells a unique story and is a visual record of events both real and imagined.

Over the past sixteen years, I have had numerous solo and group shows in the Southwest and on both coasts of the United States. Recent success and appreciation for my work has enabled me to produce artwork on a full time basis and expand my creative horizons.

I reside in an off-the-grid solar community near Taos, New Mexico, an I am actively involved in charitable organizations serving humanity, the earth and the animals.

(for more of Scott's artwork, click on the link below)

It won't go away . . .

Nervous X Games organizers breathed a sigh of relief last August when Travis Pastrana successfully executed a double back flip on his motorcycle in front of a captivated Staples Center audience, providing a signature moment in the 12-year history of the action-sports showcase. …

Privately, they hoped, the death-defying trick would be retired. …

Now comes word of an imitator, which is of little comfort but no big surprise to X Games General Manager Chris Stiepock, who notes, "The way progression works in these sports, riders can rarely own tricks all their own for very long — the copycats follow pretty quickly — and sure enough, this year's best-trick competition will see a rider from Minnesota attempt the same trick." …

The daredevil's name is Scott Murray, and a cautiously optimistic Stiepock says, "He's practiced it a ton and landed it on dirt, so he should be fine." …

X Games 13 starts Thursday.

Trying to kick the habit . . .

Walt Disney Co. is trying to kick the cinematic smoking habit.

In the most explicit announcement by a Hollywood studio, Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said Wednesday that the studio would snuff out depictions of smoking in Disney-label films. Above we see one of Walt Disney’s most memorable smokers: Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Master Remembers Everything

On this day in 2005 Greg Maddux, then with the Chicago Cubs, became the 13th pitcher in major league history to record his 3,000th career strikeout, in a game against the San Francisco Giants. Maddux is renowned among his peers for his encyclopedic knowledge of hitters -- He remembers everything but like the magician who never reveals his trick, the master changeup artist (who's also a skilled poker player) often replies with a wry smile, "I don't remember."

The "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" Contest

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2006 Results

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

Jim Guigli
Carmichael, CA

A retired mechanical designer for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory is the winner of the 24th running of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. A resident of the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, Guigli displayed appalling powers of invention by submitting sixty entries to the 2006 Contest, including one that has been "honored" in the Historical Fiction Category. "My motivation for entering the contest," he confesses, "was to find a constructive outlet for my dementia."

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is the essence of simplicity: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "pursuit of the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

The contest began in 1982 as a quiet campus affair, attracting only three submissions. This response being a thunderous success by academic standards, the contest went public the following year and ever since has annually attracted thousands of entries from all over the world.

2008 Audi R8

Base price: $108,000

Price, as tested: $115,000 (est.)

Powertrain: Mid-mounted 4.2-liter V8 with variable-valve timing; rear-mounted six-speed manual transmission; all-wheel drive.

Horsepower: 420 at 7,800 rpm

Torque: 317 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm

Curb weight: 3,439 pounds

0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds (est.)

Wheelbase: 104.3 inches

Overall length: 174.4 inches

EPA fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 20 mpg highway

Final thoughts: You can't spell audacious without A-u-d-i

Fish 'n Flush

Since December, the AquaOne Company has sold 1,000 Fish 'n Flush tanks to an odd assortment of customers — despite not having spent a dime on marketing.

Bloggers who focus on home improvement, odd housewares and gadgets have been raving over the 1.6-gallon tank, which includes two aquarium aerators and a filter and retails for $299.

"You love your pet fish, but constantly neglect them…. Instead integrate them into a mandatory part of your life…. Then you can unzip, enjoy and never forget to feed your fish again," wrote Thrillist Nation.

Another happy buyer said, "It's hilarious. If guests ask to use my bathroom, I don't tell them it's there. First I hear them laughing, then they are in there flushing and flushing and watching the water go down, but not the fish,"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The "Eye" of the "Perfect Storm" -- Images of Katrina

Tthere is no artificial coloring on display here -- this amazing but natural coat belongs to Eclyse the Zorse

At the Schloss Holte Stukenbrock Zoo, Eclyse has earned her stripes as one of the zoo's main attractions. For while most zebra-horse crossbreeds sport stripes across their entire body, Eclyse only has two such patches, on its face and rear. The one-year-old zorse was the accidental product of a holiday romance when her mother, Eclipse, was taken from her German safari park home to a ranch in Italy for a brief spell.

There she was able to roam freely with other horses and a number of zebras, including one called Ulysses who took a fancy to her. When Eclipse returned home, she surprised her keepers by giving birth to the baby zorse whose mixed markings betray her colorful parentage. The foal was promptly given a name that is in itself a hybrid, of her parents' names.

Now she's become a major attraction at a safari park at Schloss Holte Stukenbrock, near the German border with Holland, where she has her own enclosure. Udo Richter, spokesman for the park, said, "You can tell she is a mix just by looking at her. But in temperament she can also exhibit characteristics from each parent. "She is usually relatively tame like a horse but occasionally shows the fiery temperament of a zebra, leaping around like one." Horses and zebras are often crossbred in Africa and are used as trekking animals on Mount Kenya.

A Colorful Career On Stage and Off

Milton Berle's career is one of the longest and most varied in show business, spanning silent film, vaudeville, radio, motion pictures, and television. He started in show business at the age of five, appearing as a child in The Perils of Pauline and Tillie's Punctured Romance. Through the 1920s, Berle moved up through the vaudeville circuit, finding his niche in the role of a brash comic known for stealing the material of fellow comedians. He also became a popular master of ceremonies in vaudeville, achieving top billing in the largest cities and theaters. During the 1930s, Berle appeared in a variety of Hollywood films and further polished his comedy routines in night clubs and on radio.

Berle is best known for his role as host of Texaco Star Theater, television's most popular program during its early years. The show had begun on the ABC radio network in the spring of 1948, and Berle took part in a televi-sion test version for Texaco and NBC in June of that year. He was selected as host, and the first East Coast broadcast of the TV series began in Septem-ber. Within two months, Berle became television's first super-star, with the highest ratings ever attained and was soon referred to as "Mr. Televi-sion," "Mr. Tuesday Night," and "Uncle Miltie." Restau-rants, theaters, and nightclubs adjusted their schedules so patrons would not miss Berle's program at 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday nights. Berle is said to have stimu-lated television sales and audience size in the same way Amos 'n' Andy had sparked the growth of radio.

Although the budget for each program was a modest $15,000, many well-known entertainers were eager to appear for the public exposure Texaco Star Theater afforded, providing further viewer appeal and popularity for the program. The one-hour live shows typi-cally included visual vaude-ville routines, music, comedy and sketch-es. Other regular features included the singing Texaco station attendants and the pitchman commercials by Sid Stone. Berle was noted for interj-ecting himself into the acts of his guests, which, along with his opening appear-ance in out-landish costumes, became a regular feature. His use of sight gags, props, and visual style seemed well-suited for the TV medium. In 1951, Berle signed a contract With NBC granting him $200,000 a year for 30 years providing he appear on NBC exclusively.

His was one of the first television shows to be promoted through merchandising, including Unc-le Miltie tee-shirts, comic books and chewing gum. When other programs evolved to compete with Berle's popularity, his domi-nance of the television audience began to wane, and Texaco ended its sponsorship. In the 1953-54 season, the Buick-Berle Show was set into the 8:00 P.M. Tuesday time slot. Facing greater competition and sensing the need for more determined effort to compensate for the dwin-dling novelty of both the program and the medium, Berle's staff and writers changed focus from the zany qualities of the show's early days to a more structured format. Berle continued to attract a substantial audience, but he was dropped by Buick at the end of the season in 1955. Hour long variety shows had become more difficult to orchestrate due to higher costs, in-creasing salary demands, and union complications. Also, Berle's persona had shifted from the impetuous and aggres-sive style of the Texaco Star Theater days to a more cultivated, but less distinc-tive personality, leaving many fans somehow unsatisfied. The next year, a new Milton Berle Show was produced in California for the 1955-56 season, but it failed to capture either the spirit or the audience of Uncle Miltie in his prime. Berle was featu-red on Kraft Music Hall in the late 1950s and Jackpot Bowling, a 1960s game show. In 1965, Berle renego-tiated his 30-year contract with NBC, allowing him to appear on any network. He later made gu-est appearances in dramas as well as comedy programs. In addition to televi-sion, Berle's career in the later years includ-ed film, night clubs, and benefit shows. He has been the subject of nearly every show business tribute and award, including an Emmy and TV specials devoted to his contribu-tions and legacy in broadcasting. (B.R. Smith)

MILTON BERLE. (Mendel Berlinger). Born in New York City, New York, U.S., 12 July 1908. Attended Professional Children's School. Married 1) Joyce Mathews (twice) (divorced, twice); two children; 2) Ruth Gosgrove Rosenthal, 1953; children: Vicki and Billy. Began career by winning contest for Charlie Chaplin imitators, 1913; childrens' roles in Biograph silent film productions; cast member of E.W. Wolf's vaudeville children's acts; in theater since Floradora, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1920; debuted in New York City with Floradora, 1920; in radio, 1930s; toured with Ziegfeld Follies, 1936; television series and specials from 1948; lyricist of more than 300 songs; contributor to Variety magazine. Honorary H.H.D., McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois, 1984. Member: ASCAP; American Guild of Authors and Composers; Grand Street Boys; Friar's (re-elected honorary abbot emeritus, 1968; president [Los Angeles] from 1978). Recipient: Yiddish Theatrical Alliance Humanitarian Award, 1951; Look magazine TV Award, 1951; National Academy of Arts and Sciences Award, Man of the Year, 1959; Emmy Award Nominee, 1961; AGVA Golden Award, 1977; Special Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1978/79. (Source: the Museum of Broadcast Communications)

The waves have come and gone

Decades ago, Long Beach was something of a surfing mecca, with wave-pounding beaches where legends like Duke Kahanamoku held the first national surf contest in 1938.

About nine miles of solid rock changed that.

The breakwater, a 50-foot-high wall of rock built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s, stopped the waves. And by creating a protective barrier, the wall allowed the Port of Long Beach and surrounding marinas to expand and thrive.

For generations, surfers and environmentalists have sought to "break the breakwater" and bring waves back to the Long Beach coast.

That's still a distant dream. But the City Council is expected to decide whether to fund a study on reconfiguring the roughly two-mile peninsula area breakwater, which lies at the east end of the city away from the huge port complex.
Waves crashing on the Long Beach coast led to the building of ornate apartment towers and the Pike amusement park, shown in 1925. Some in Long Beach believe removing part of the existing breakwater would restore the city’s appeal to tourists.

A paradise too costly to maintain . . .

A Costa Mesa community college that was given a craggy British Columbia island has agreed to sell the property to an unnamed Vancouver man for $2.4 million, school officials said Monday.

Orange Coast College had hoped to transform the ecologically delicate Rabbit Island into a field research station, but the school's foundation deemed the 36-acre swath too costly to maintain.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A close shave . . . mower or less

On this day in 1994 O.J. Simpson pleaded “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty” to charges he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole and restaurant worker, Ronald Goldman; and the case was assigned to Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito in Los Angeles. Simpson was found "not guilty" and has been searching high and low for the murderer ever since, mostly on the golf courses of Florida.

Is this what they call a "head shot" ??

The "Babe" was "All Things"

On July 22, 1926, Babe Ruth proved that he could catch a baseball TOO!! In a stunt at Mitchell Field in New York, Ruth, a private in the National Guard, caught a baseball that was dropped from an airplane. The plane was at 250 feet and traveling at about 100 miles-per-hour. As the cowhide hit the leather of Ruth’s glove, the ‘Bambino’ said, “Eeeeeeeooooooowwwwwcccchhh!”

Click on the mosaic above for the full effect.

You can't beat fun at the old ballpark . . .Whoops, this is the wrong scene, I meant Wrigley Field !!

Up, Up and Away and into the National Aviation Hall of Fame

A record-setting daredevil and the first American woman in space are among the five people to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton.

Steve Fossett, 63, of Beaver Creek, Colo., holds world records in ballooning and with powered aircraft. The image above shows Fossett's balloon. Sally Ride, 56, a California native, became the first U.S. woman in space when she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.

Also being inducted:

Evelyn Bryan Johnson, 97, who took up flying in 1944 while running her husband's laundry business during his military service in World War II;

Frederick Smith, 62, a former Marine pilot and founder of air freight giant FedEx Corp.; and

Walter Boyne, 77, historian, author and former director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Dubai builds world's tallest skyscraper

BURJ Dubai, a tower rising in the booming Gulf emirate, yesterday became the tallest building in the world at 512.1 metres, developers said.

Burj Dubai, or Dubai Tower with 141 storeys so far, surpasses Taiwan's Taipei 101 which is 508 metres tall, Emaar Properties said in a statement. The skyscraper, being built by South Korea's Samsung and scheduled for completion at the end of next year, is one of a string of grandiose projects taking shape in Dubai.

The statement did not reveal the final projected height or the number of storeys of the tower, which Emaar has kept secret since its start in January 2004. But Emaar officials have said the skyscraper, which will have cost $US1 billion ($1.14 billion) by the time it is completed, will be more than 700 metres tall and have more than 160 storeys.

Burj Dubai is the centrepiece of a $US20 billion venture featuring the construction of a new district, Downtown Burj Dubai, that will house 30,000 apartments and the world's largest shopping mall.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Presenting the "1914 Miracle Braves"

1914 - Boston began what was called its miracle drive as the Braves went from worst to first in the National League. They won the pennant and the World Series as well.

We loved "Our Miss Brooks"

Our Miss Brooks, starring Eve Arden and Gale Gordon, debuted on CBS radio this day in 1948. Arden played the role of Connie Brooks. The program stayed on radio until 1957, running simultaneously on TV from 1952 to 1956.
Miss Brooks taught English at Madison High School. Her pal, the bashful, biology teacher Philip Boynton, was played by Robert Rockwell. The crusty, blustery principal of Madison High, Osgood Conklin, was none other than Gale Gordon.

Supporting Eve Arden was Jane Morgan as Miss Brooks’ landlady, Mrs. Davis. The main problem child in the classroom, the somewhat dimwitted Walter Denton, was Richard Crenna.

Eve Arden was so popular as Miss Brooks that she was frequently asked to speak to educational groups and at PTA meetings. She was even offered teaching positions at real high schools.

Ah, the power of radio and television!

Ready for "take-off"

Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz announced today that it will offer the SLR McLaren super sports car in the form of a roadster. Showcasing the latest in Formula 1 technology, the SLR McLaren is constructed almost entirely of carbon fiber, providing a very high degree of safety as well as extreme torsional rigidity for outstanding handling characteristics. Powered by a supercharged (Kompressor) 5.5-liter, 617-hp AMG V8 engine, the SLR McLaren Roadster can achieve a top speed of 207 mph. Thanks to its fully retractable top, the Roadster offers undiluted open-air driving pleasure at the highest level, providing occupants with a comfortable open-air experience suitable for everyday use. U.S. deliveries of this new model will begin in Fall 2007.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener"

Every now and then a commercial jingle becomes something other than a commercial. It becomes a part of Americana. And so it goes with the Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle (“I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener...”). But long before the jingle/song entered our lives, Carl Mayer, nephew of Oscar Mayer, invented another quaint entry into Americana: the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

The first Wienermobile rolled out of General Body Company’s factory in Chicago on this day in 1936. The Wienermobile tours around the U.S. fascinating children of all ages as it promotes the famous Oscar Mayer wiener. If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Wienermobile in person, don’t think only the folks in your part of the U.S.A. are the lucky ones, because today there are six of the silly-looking cars.

John Muir told America about "God's country"

Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful…

John Muir,
Entry for "July 19" from
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911.
California As I Saw It, 1849-1900

On July 19, 1869, naturalist John Muir set pen to paper to capture his experience of awakening in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra is based on Muir's original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the vicinity of the Yosemite River Valley. His journal tracks his four-month visit to Yosemite and his ascent of Mt. Hoffman and other peaks in the range. Along the way, he describes the flora and fauna as well as the geography and geology of the area.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Around the world, newspaper headlines trumpeted the shocking upset !!

At the time, the English were considered the "Kings of Football", with a post-war record of 23 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws. Conversely, the Americans had lost their last seven international matches (including the 1934 World Cup and 1948 Summer Olympics) by the combined score of 45–2. The odds were 3–1 the English would win the Cup, and 500–1 for the U.S.

England won the toss and elected to kick off. Within ninety seconds, Stanley Mortensen sent a cross from the left wing to Roy Bentley, who let off a shot that was barely pushed aside by U.S. goalkeeper Frank Borghi. By the twelfth minute, England had six clear shots on goal but could not convert, with two shots hitting the post, one just going over the top, and another brilliantly saved by Borghi.

The U.S. struggled to move to the offense, and finally managed a shot on goal in the twenty-fifth minute, which was blocked by Bert Williams. The English counterattacked with three successive clear shots at the goal in minutes 30, 31, and 32, but failed to score. Mortensen twice went over the crossbar, and Tom Finney's header to the top corner was tipped away by Borghi.

In the thirty-seventh minute, Walter Bahr launched a shot from twenty-five yards out, but as Williams prepared to make the save, Joe Gaetjens (pictured above) dove headlong and grazed the ball enough to put it past the reach of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The crowd exploded as the U.S. improbably led 1–0, and they held on to win. Final score 1-0.

How do you jam 200,000 people into a stadium ?? . . . You don't. they just come rushing in.

The MaracanĂ£ Stadium got into global soccer history after the incredible 1950 World Cup final which Uruguay surprisingly won against home team Brazil in front of 200 000 fans, both official and unofficial (many people succeeded to illegally run into the stadium). This figure represents the largest crowd ever to attend a soccer match in history. After the game, desperation ruled all over the country and several people even committed suicide!

Finding Inspiration in the Lives of Others

Natalia Karp, a concert pianist who was spared from execution during the Holocaust after playing at a party for the commandant of a German concentration camp, died July 9, British news outlets reported. She was 96.

She arrived at the camp with her sister Dec. 9, 1943, and expected to be shot when she was summoned to appear at the birthday party of Amon Goeth, the murderous commandant of the Plaszow work camp in Poland.

Instead, he commanded her to perform.

"I had not played since 1939, and my fingers were stiff," Karp told the Independent of London in 2005.

"The guests were all looking at me, and Goeth called me 'Sarah' — the Nazis called all Jewish women Sarah — and told me to 'play now.'

"I sat down and started to play Chopin's Nocturne because I have always found it very sad," Karp said.

When she finished the melancholy Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Goeth declared, "Sie soll leben" — she shall live. She replied, "Not without my sister." Goeth complied.

Liberated the day after V-E Day in 1945, Karp and her sister made their way home to Krakow, Poland. On Polish radio, Karp gave her first major postwar performance in 1946.

She was born Natalia Weissman on Feb. 27, 1911, in Krakow to a wealthy industrialist and his wife, who sang opera arias around the house. At 4, she started playing the piano by ear, and her grandfather sent her to Berlin at 15 to study under pianist Arthur Schnabel.

She went on to a career as a concert pianist and performed into her 90s. Karp was well-known in Britain and performed with the London Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among others.

When playing, Karp often placed a pink handkerchief on the piano. To her, the slight piece of fabric purchased for a few pennies in Warsaw after the war symbolized a luxury and femininity that she could only dream of while in the concentration camps.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Mind That Wants To Know . . .

Clive Eric Cussler (born July 15, 1931 in Aurora, Illinois)is an American adventure novelist and successful amateur marine archaeologist. Clive Cussler began writing in 1965. His most famous creation is marine engineer, government agent and adventurer Dirk Pitt. The Dirk Pitt novels frequently take on an alternative history perspective, such as "what if Atlantis was real?", or "what if Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated, but was kidnapped?"

The first two Pitt novels, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were relatively conventional maritime thrillers. The third, Raise the Titanic!, made Cussler's reputation and established the pattern that subsequent Pitt novels would follow: A blend of high adventure and high technology, generally involving megalomaniacal villains, lost ships, beautiful women, and sunken treasure.

Cussler's novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strives for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean's novels. Pitt himself is a two-dimensional, larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines. Clive Cussler has had more than 17 consecutive titles reach the New York Times fiction best-seller list.

As an underwater explorer, Cussler has discovered more than 60 shipwreck sites and has written non-fiction books about his findings. He is also the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization with the same name as the fictional government agency that employs Dirk Pitt. Cussler owns a large collection of classic cars, several of which (driven by Pitt) appear in his novels.

Cussler's web site claims that NUMA discovered, among other shipwrecks, the Confederate submarine Hunley. This claim is disputed by E. Lee Spence on his web site. Both claims appear to have some element of truth. Although Spence described finding the Hunley with a magnetometer back in the mid 1970s, the first expedition to bring back conclusive proof was the 1995 H.L. Hunley expedition that was partially financed by Cussler. The 1995 expedition appears to have relied, at least to some extent, on Spence's earlier work.

Cussler's work in marine exploration has often raised eyebrows and tempers alike. Not the born diplomat, he often steps on the collective toes of the academic community, local and national governments and at one point, as can be read about in his first non-fictional work, "Sea Hunters", the British Secret Service, Mossad and the CIA. Many have disputed the work of Cussler and NUMA, and while some of his finds do have their controversy over "who really got there first", Cussler has been the first to provide conclusive evidence of the location of several ship wrecks.

Following the publication in 1996 of Cussler's first nonfiction work, "The Sea Hunters", he was awarded a doctor of letters degree in 1997 by the Board of Governors of the State University of New York Maritime College who accepted the work in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis. This was the first time in the college's 123 year history that such a degree had been awarded.

A little out of the ordinary . . .

The duck-billed platypus arrived in America in 1922, direct from Australia. It was exhibited at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. For those of you who have never seen this unusual mammal, it has webbed feet, a duck’s bill, a beaver’s tail; is seal-like, yet hairy and it lays eggs. Go figure...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Steve

Born on this day in 1947 - Steve (Steven Michael) Stone was an outstanding pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Steve pitched in the World Series in 1979, won the Cy Young Award in 1980 and was chosen an "all-star" in 1980. Steve was a sportscaster for the Cubs for many years, with Harry Caray (shown above), Tom Brenneman and later with Chip Caray (Harry Caray's grandson). Steve's analysis and commentary was always interesting, informative, colorful, straight-forward and accurate. Warmest regards on your birthday, Steve -- Cub Fans everywhere miss you very, very much.

"The Virginian"

Novelist Owen Wister was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 1860. His 1902 novel The Virginian helped create the myth of the American cowboy. Reared and educated on the east coast, Wister first visited the West in 1885. Set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, The Virginian's tender romance between a refined Eastern schoolteacher and a rough-and-tumble cowhand, with its climactic pistol gunfight, introduced themes now standard to the American Western.

Could use a little "reality" here . . .

Privacy is becoming more difficult to preserve.

LONDON — Britain is attaching cameras to the caps and helmets of police officers, tightening a web of video surveillance that is the most extensive in the world.

The country has a network of about 4 million closed-circuit cameras, and privacy advocates complain that the average Briton is recorded as many as 300 times a day.

The Home Office said it was allocating $6 million for the plan, enough to buy more than 2,000 cameras for the country's 42 police departments. Judges and jurors will be able to "see and hear the incident through the eyes and ears of the officer at the scene," Minister of State for Police and Security Tony McNulty said.

The Home Office said it was exploring other uses for the devices, including fitting them with the ability to send live video to a command center, or special license-plate recognition software that would enable police to identify stolen or suspicious vehicles just by looking at them.

Jen Corlew of the civil rights group Liberty praised the guidelines for using the cameras, noting that police were to inform people they were being recorded and that video not being used in an investigation had to be erased within a month.

But Ben Ward of Human Rights Watch said privacy issues would depend on "whether the safeguards, including on notification and storage, are uniformly respected." Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern and predicted the U.S. would soon give police the same power.

(From the Associated Press)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Making History and "Who was that player?"

Trivia time

Ichiro Suzuki's inside-the-park home run Tuesday was the first in All-Star game history.

What player set the major league record for inside-the-park home runs in a season with 12 in 1901?

Trivia answer

Sam Crawford, then with Cincinnati.

The Hall of Fame outfielder also played for Detroit, where he was a teammate of Ty Cobb's, and finished his career with 51 inside-the-park homers, a record that still stands.

A Little Coffee Maker: Indonesia's kopi luwak is a rare delicacy of peculiar provenance -- beans plucked from the droppings of wild civets.

Bandar Lampung, Indonesia — TO connoisseurs of fine coffee, only one is good to the last dropping.

Human hands don't harvest the beans that make this rare brew. They're plucked by the sharp claws and fangs of wild civets, catlike beasts with bug eyes and weaselly noses that love their coffee fresh.

They move at night, creeping along the limbs of robusta and hybrid arabusta trees, sniffing out sweet red coffee cherries and selecting only the tastiest. After chewing off the fruity exterior, they swallow the hard innards.

In the animals' stomachs, enzymes in the gastric juices massage the beans, smoothing off the harsh edges that make coffee bitter and produce caffeine jitters. Humans then separate the greenish-brown beans from the rest of the dung, and once a thin outer layer is removed, they are ready for roasting. The result is a delicacy with a markup so steep it would make a drug dealer weep.

It's called kopi luwak, from the Indonesian words for coffee and civet, and by the time it reaches the shelves of swish foreign food emporiums, devotees fork out as much as $600 for a pound — if they can even find that much. The British royal family is said to enjoy sipping it. A single cup can sell for $30 at a five-star hotel in Hong Kong