Thursday, June 25, 2009

"world's best but little known"

Korean Air's ambition to be one of the world's top 10 airlines is closely linked to an airport that is ranked among the world's best but little known outside Asia.

Incheon International Airport, just outside Seoul, serves as the main hub for Korean Air and its archrival Asiana Airlines. Both carriers are hoping to use the airport as an "air bridge" in which travelers from North America would make the connection at Incheon to fly to other cities in Asia.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Don't look back, something might be gaining on you

"the most dangerous bike ride trail on this planet"

For those who want to experience an unforgettable adrenalin rush, you need to refuse to settle with anything short of the best. For the passionate bike riders who are willing to travel to The Cliffs of Moher there is a treat in store, the most dangerous bike ride trail on this planet. The mere sight of it makes one dizzy. So, if you're willing and brave enough here is a sneak preview of what you could find there.

"completely addictive" . . . they say.

Japan adores to be ahead of the whole world, its people will never get tired of these constant creations and inventions. The Japanese are always making something new, something really interesting and completely addictive. What do you think about world’s biggest artificial indoor sea beach, that was created in the southern Japan?
This time, the Japanese-inventors tossed a challenge to our Mother Nature. Actually, their cool beach is just a huge Ocean Dome (approximately 6 football pitches, it can house 10,000 tourists), that allows everybody to lie on the artificial beach, among artificial palm-trees and enjoy the sound of artificial tide. The real beach is only 300 meters away and it looks really lonely, since if failed to win in this extremely stiff competition.

Ocean Dome is situated on Japan’s southernmost Kyushu Island, 1,500 kilometers south of Tokyo. It has a 85-metre long shoreline and many many shops.

Coming soon to the night sky near you . . .

Last year's Fourth of July grand finale explodes over Bay City,Michigan.

Catalina's Avalon: It's like a dream

A new tour celebrating the Avalon Casino's 80th anniversary takes visitors backstage to where big band players and Hollywood stars partied.
(Hal Stoelzle / For The Times)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Afghanistan dedicates its first national park amid pristine mountain lakes in Bamian, a province little touched by insurgent violence.

Reporting from Band-E-Amir National Park, Afghanistan -- Big dreams are reflected in the azure-hued shimmer of these pristine mountain lakes: Afghanistan's quixotic ambitions of becoming a tourist paradise.

With the dedication Thursday of the country's first national park, made up of six linked lakes rimmed by breathtaking travertine cliffs, officials voiced hope that visitors might slowly begin to return to Afghanistan after three decades of war.

Nic Fiore is said to have taught more than 100,000 people to ski at Badger Pass over a 50-year period.

Nic Fiore, one of America's most influential ski instructors and a legendary figure at Yosemite's Badger Pass ski area, where he taught skiing for more than 50 years, has died. He was 88.

The Canadian-born Fiore is said to have taught more than 100,000 people to ski at Badger Pass, one of California's top ski and snowboard resorts for families. Dubbed "the maitre d' of ski at Badger Pass" by one reporter, Fiore was known as much for his heavy French Canadian accent and friendly grin as for his passion for skiing and knowledge of the Sierra. He directed Yosemite's Ski & Snowboard School at the Badger Pass ski area for 45 years before assuming the role of "ski ambassador" in 2001. The ebullient octogenarian continued to hit the slopes nearly every day and teach an occasional ski lesson into the 2003-04 season. Marek Warszawski, a Fresno Bee reporter who skied with Fiore, told The Times in 2004 that Fiore "was the smoothest skier on the hill, well into his 80s."

Romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds deftly dwells in a space where romance meets revenge.

At the soft comic heart of "The Proposal" beats a cheeky update of "The Taming of the Shrew" -- you know, the arranged marriage, wives-submit-to-husbands rubric that Shakespeare played around with all those years ago. The conceit shouldn't, by all rights, work in a modern world where love, and everything else, is supposed to be an equal opportunity affair. And yet . . .

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are Margaret and Andrew, the love match at the center of this story, which unfolds through a prism of corporate ambition, fractious families and immigration regulations. All of which might sound rather dreary if not for the caustic yet comfy chemistry created by its two sparring stars, who somehow make the incompatible compatible in some very amusing ways.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How would you like to see this coming at you in the rear view mirror?

(built by an Orthopaedic Surgeon)

Tragedy in Yosemite

Monday's report on the death of Manoj Kumar, who slipped and fell 200 feet as he was descending the cables on Half Dome, stirred robust debate.

Some people merely commented on what a wonderful experience it is to achieve the summit of the massive granite shoulder in Yosemite National Park. Others discussed the care required of those who wish to make the daylong climb safely.

Then there were those who strongly suggested the laddered cable system should come down, or argued that the cables should remain in place.

As one who has never climbed Half Dome but hopes to someday, I believe they should remain. This is not because of selfishness and I mean no disrespect to Kumar, his family or friends.

They ought to remain because they provide a reasonably safe means by which careful hikers can conquer a truly majestic landmark within a spectacular wilderness setting.

There is risk, but also reward and presumably a feeling of major accomplishment among park visitors, young and old, who complete the marathon hike and climb.

A primary risk is ascending or descending the 400-foot cable system in wet weather, when the granite and cables become slick.

Kumar and others should not have been on the cables at the time of his fall. Storm clouds were in the vicinity and it had been raining frequently during late afternoons inside the park. His fall was followed by the controlled evacuation of 41 hikers who had become caught on the cables in rain and hail.

A week earlier a woman was seriously injured when she slipped and fell while descending the cables. It was cloudy and damp then too. The only two fatalities involving women on Half Dome were off-season, when the cables were "down," or laying flat against the granite without pole support. Both occurred during wet weather.

In fact, park spokesman Scott Gediman said, there has been only one fatality when the granite and cables were dry. That occurred when Hirofumi Nohara slipped and fell June 16, 2007.

It's worth noting that the cable system has been in place since the early 1930s, and that an estimated 55,000 people successfully climb Half Dome annually. As Gediman implies, people might be safer on Half Dome than they are in a car on the highway. Exaggeration? Perhaps. But the park has no plans to take the cable system down, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"his name became an adjective"

Happy the poet whose life and work remain so well-remembered that his name becomes an adjective.

George Gordon Byron, sixth baron of that title, is certainly a poet who stands in that rarefied company, though it's hard to believe that even the linguistic laurels represented by the now commonplace modifier "Byronic" would have made this protean artist and contradictory -- frequently appalling -- man content for very long.

Edna O'Brien, the distinguished Irish writer, is Byron's latest biographer, and she defines "Byronic" as denoting "excess, diabolical deeds and rebelliousness." It also connotes a certain impetuous and passionate intensity, which isn't a bad description of the spirit that animates O'Brien's own work. The fascination she finds in that implicit kinship is one of the things that makes "Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life" such a pleasure to read. This is a book not only for those who value perceptive, independent intelligence, but also for those who treasure lovely writing for its own sake. At this stage in her long career -- and who can believe that O'Brien is now in her 79th year? -- this is an author who seems incapable of composing a clumsy or uninteresting sentence.

"In Fast Company"

Saab will be owned by “super-car” maker Koenigsegg under a deal in the making. Its vehicles include the CCX, shown in Geneva, which can reach speeds of 240 mph. The deal would leave General Motors with only its Chevrolet brand in Europe as the automaker continues its effort to downsize and return to profitability. The price was not disclosed.

"True Blood"

HBO's sultry vampire drama "True Blood" has become a surprise hit for the pay cable network and has almost single-handedly taken the network back to the top of the cultural zeitgeist.

The show, whose second season premiered Sunday to numbers the network hasn't seen since the last days of its mob drama "The Sopranos," is also on track to become HBO's next cash cow.

For Time Warner Inc.'s HBO, it couldn't come at a more opportune time. Over the last few years there has been a perception that the network has been in a creative funk since "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" ended their runs. Although "Entourage" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" have loyal audiences, neither has broken through the way "True Blood" appears poised to do.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

World’s Largest Observation Wheel

In December 2006 Color Kinetics added another global landmark to its growing list of prominent installations: the British Airways London Eye.

Situated on the South Bank of the River Thames and often called the “Gateway to London,” the London Eye is the world’s largest observation wheel at nearly 450 feet (135 m) high, and is visited by more than 10,000 people daily. It was previously lit by fluorescent tubes that proved costly to maintain, and required the manual installation of gels to produce colored light for special events.

Color Kinetics was approached to replace this system with an LED-based alternative. Approximately 640 ColorCast® 14 units were supplied, installed and programmed by UK-based Architainment Lighting Ltd. and Lighting Technology Projects. Each unit may be individually programmed to generate millions of colors that are seamlessly produced by Chromacore® technology, as opposed to the use of colored gels. This technology gives the London Eye the cost-effective ability to display precise colors for corporate clients and special occasions, while predominantly displaying white light.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Capturing the Imagination with a transcontinental journey

Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of the first woman to cross America behind the wheel of a car. In 1909, a decade before women would be given the right to vote, Alice Huyler Ramsey proved to the world that a woman had the necessary virtues to drive from New York to San Francisco.

A Maxwell Automotive company executive discovered the driving skills of this 21-year-old Vassar graduate and New Jersey homemaker and asked her if she wanted to drive the company's new 30-horsepower, four-cylinder Maxwell across the country to prove that the car could make it and that a woman motorist could do it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Castillo del Lago . . . part of the folklore

Castillo del Lago is a Hollywood-inspired mansion that over the years has become part of L.A.'s folklore.

"It's a magical house, almost like a fairy-tale place," said owner Joe Pytka. The filmmaker and prolific commercial director spent 15 years restoring the rambling Mediterranean on about 3 acres of hillside above Lake Hollywood.

Recently listed for sale at $14.95 million, the fortress-like estate has 300-degree views encompassing the L.A. basin, downtown L.A., the mid-Wilshire area and the ocean. "It's an isolated and a huge property in the middle of Hollywood," he said.

There are nine bedrooms and six bathrooms in 7,783 square feet and such amenities as 25-foot-high beamed and coffered ceilings, a wine cellar, an elevator, a swimming pool, rose gardens, fountains and, befitting a castle, even a tower.

The uncompromising John DeLario-designed structure -- built in 1926 for an oilman who invested $250,000 in the project -- "very much reflects the times of the original architecture," Pytka said.

Under a succession of owners, the place was leased to Bugsy Siegel for use as a speak-easy, damaged by fire and sold for back taxes. It alternately deteriorated and underwent restoration efforts.

When Pytka bought the mansion from pop music icon Madonna in the mid-'90s for roughly $5 million, he considered it a standout compared with what else was on the market. "Nothing was remotely close."

Under her ownership, the house gained its notable red-and-yellow exterior. Although Pytka researched the home's history and looked at the original color, he opted to keep Madonna's color scheme.

"If you go to Portofino, [Italy] there are houses like this all over the place," he said. "It's fabulous."

Will it happen ???

The proposed $2-billion Hollywood Park Tomorrow project calls for a new neighborhood in Inglewood with parks, office buildings, a hotel, a lake, a waterfall and possibly a school.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Space Shuttle gets a lift

He's still at it

Sydney, Australia -- A French skyscraper climber nicknamed "Spiderman" was arrested today after scaling a 41-story building in downtown Sydney with his bare hands, stopping traffic on the busy street below.

About 200 people gathered to watch as Alain Robert, known for scaling some of the world's tallest and best-known buildings without ropes or other equipment, climbed to the top of the Royal Bank of Scotland Tower.

Police closed off the street, causing gridlock. The crowd cheered as Robert, 46, reached the top. He then climbed back down, where police waited.

Robert has climbed more than 70 skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building, Sears Tower and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to his website.