Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tragedy at Aguas Calientes

The last stop in our 2007 World Tour was Aguas Calientes and Machu Pichu Peru (see first Sept blog). It was a very memorable place, even though it rained quite heavily.

However, the rain was nothing compared to what has happened there over the past few days. These Vancouver Sun photos portray a very different place than what we saw. What a tragedy.

Although our first impressions were not that positive, we eventually found it to be a charming, interesting village with very lovely people. Let's hope the place can be rebuilt.

Rumble in the Jungle: An unmitigated Success!

"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone"

Last night, after attending an exhibition of art work by doctors and medical students organized in part by my daughter Georgia, Sally and I headed over to the "rumble in the jungle" fund raising gala that was organized by 'the Friends of Bloedel' in a bid to save the 40-year-old Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.

As noted in a good story by Vancouver Sun columnist Steve Whysall, the Friends of Bloedel group was formed to raise awareness and funds to keep the conservatory open after the Vancouver park board decided in November that it needed to close the conservatory because of a $3-million budget shortfall.

The park board has subsequently agreed to keep the conservatory operating as normal to allow "expressions of interest" concerning the future of the facility to be submitted until April 30, and will remain open, even after the April 30 deadline, to give the park board time to review all its options.

While it was expected that 200 to 300 people might attend at $125 a person or $200 a couple, in fact there were closer to 400 in attendance at the sold out event. One of the organizers, Bill McCreery told me they could have easily sold another 200 tickets.

One well known observer of the Vancouver social and political scenes was going around saying there were three groups in attendance: those who have been close to the Bloedel Conservatory for years; those who are a part of the Vancouver/Southlands Nursery gardening world; and people of all political stripes who wanted to publicly show their disapproval with the Vision led Park Board's unfortunate decision to close the facility.

I thought there was a fourth group....those who had enjoyed the Conservatory in the past, but had almost forgotten about it. However, with the threat that it might be closed down, they wanted to show their support for one of Vancouver's few institutions.

I included a reference to the ill-advised decision to close the Bloedel Conservatory in my 2009 Holiday Greeting e-card since I thought it was a terrible decision by people who were perhaps too young, and with too little Vancouver life experience, to appreciate how inappropriate a decision it was.

For me, the answers to the funding shortfalls were obvious. There was a need to embark on a proper marketing campaign and explore new public private partnerships to keep it operating. I agree with Ian Robertson that these approaches should have been undertaken long before the announcement that the facility would be closing.

As evidenced by the attendance at last night's rumble, and the following statistics in Whysall's story, there is already a renewed interest in the facility....

Attendance at the conservatory has soared significantly since the controversy began in November....attendance in December totalled more than 8,000, compared to about 2,500 for the same period the previous year, despite the fact that there was also a free-entry day during that period. Attendance during the first two weeks of January was 5,000...also a record for the time of year....

"People are coming back to the conservatory in droves. They have become aware because of all the publicity that this is a treasure worth keeping.

"They are finding that the place is beautifully maintained and far more interesting than they ever imagined."

The geodesic domed conservatory was a mult-million-dollar gift from lumber baron Prentice Bloedel in 1969. His gift also included the cost of covering the reservoir at QE Park and a piece of sculpture by artist Henry Moore called Knife Edge -- Two Piece.

I do not believe the facility will close. I mean, how can it...a very green jungle of plants, fish, and birds in a city that the Mayor wants to be the 'greenest city in the world'. Indeed, a new story in the Vancouver Sun reports that on the eve of the fundraiser, the Mayor made a new statement about exploring public-private opportunities to keep the facility open. While I'm pleased to hear this, it is a shame that he and his colleagues did not have the judgment to come up with a long term solution before announcing the pending closure.

Of course there's always the possibility that like the message in Joni Mitchell's song, the closure announcement was part of a carefully crafted strategy to generate community support and funding for the somewhat forgotten facility. However, somehow I don't think this was the case.

12 Most Strange Modified People

1)Rick: The Zombie Boy

Meet Rick. He's turning himself into a zombie. So far, more than 24 hours of tattoos --costing over $4,075 Canadian dollars have
got him halfway there and made him a minor celebrity on the internet, where people can’t decide if he’s a body modification visionary or mentally ill sicko.

2) Dennis Avner: Catman

Avner, also known by "Catman" or his native american name of "Stalking Cat", undergone incredible extensive surgery in order to look like his totem animal, the tiger. Modifications include extensive tattooing, transdermal implants to allow whiskers to be worn, subdermal implants to change the shape of the face and the filing and shaping of the teeth to make them look more like a tiger's.

3) Julia Gnuse: The Illustrated Lady

Julia Gnuse, also known as the illustrated lady, was born with a condition called porphyria which causes her skin to blister regularly and ultimately scar। In order to cover this up she started getting tattoos applied over the affected areas. After 10 years she was covered in the bastards and holds the Guinness Record for being the most tattooed woman in the world.

4) Tom Leppard: The Leopard Man
Formerly considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the world's most tattooed man, Tom Leppard, now 73 years old, fled society years ago after spending £5,500 to have his body covered in leopard-like spots. He lived in a small cabin on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Once every week, the ex-soldier travelled by canoe to buy supplies and pick up his pension. However, in 2008 he moved into a small house on Skye after a friend offered to move him by boat. "I'm getting too old for that kind of life," he said.

5) Eric Sprague: The Lizardman

Born Eric Sprague in 1972, the Lizardman was one of the first people to have a split tongue and in some circles is seen to be wholly responsible for the recent popularity of this particular modification. This 37 year old man has transformed himself into a reptile via 700 hours of tattooing, five Teflon horns implanted beneath the skin of his eyebrows, filing down of his teeth into sharp fangs, bifurcation of his tongue, and stretching of his septum and earlobes.

6)Horace Ridler: The Zebra Man
A professional freak and sideshow performer, Horace Ridler exhibited himself as The Great Omi or The Zebra Man. Horace was an English aristocrat who returned from the First World War to Twenties' London where he began his transformation into one of the world's greatest oddities. Tattooed from head to foot in black and white stripes, he became Omni - the Zebra Man. As the years wore on the Omi’s appearance became more and more outrageous as did his personality. He took to wearing lipstick and nail polish and signed his pitch cards, ‘the Barbaric Beauty’. Despite his appearance, “underneath it all, I’m just an ordinary man,” he insisted shortly before his death in 1969.

7) Lucky Diamond Rich: World's Most Tattooed Person
The ultimate in multi-layered tattooing is represented by the chainsaw juggling, unicycling, sword-swallowing Lucky Diamond Rich from Australia, who has spent over 1,000 hours having his body modified by hundreds of tattoo artists. He began by having a full collection of colourful designs from around the world tattooed over his entire body. But not content with stopping there, Lucky next opted for a 100% covering of black ink, including eyelids, the delicate skin between the toes, down into the ears, and even his gums. He is now being tattooed with white designs on top of the black, and coloured designs on top of the white! He is now, officially, the world's most tattooed person, having a full body coverage.

8) Elaine Davidson: World's Most Pierced Woman
Elaine Davidson is the World's Most Pierced Woman, according to the Guinness World Records. When examined by a Guinness official in May 2000, Davidson had 462 piercings, with 192 in her face alone. Performing at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005, the Guardian reported that she now had 3,950 body piercings. She has more piercings in her genitalia than in any other part of the body - 500 in all, externally and internally. The total weight of her jewelry is estimated to be about 3 kilograms. As of May 2008, Davidson's piercings total 5,920. As of Feb. 2009 her piercings total 6,005.

9) Paul Lawrence: The Enigma
You've probably heard about The Enigma. Paul Lawrence is the guy with blue puzzle pieces tattooed all over his body who has made a name for himself performing stunts such as sword swallowing, pushing a moving power drill up his nose and swallowing various liquids, pumping them out of his stomach and swallowing them again. The Enigma is also an accomplished musician.

10) Tiger Lady: Enigma's ex-wife
The Tiger Lady is the stage name of the heavily modified female performance artist and tattoo artist Katzen, whose full body tattoo theme is that of a tiger. She received extensive tattooing on all parts of her body and wears tiger whiskers attached via piercings on her face. She was once married to "The Enigma". They got divorced and now she works at a tattoo shop in Austin, Texas.

11) Etienne Dumont: Living art
Etienne Dumont is an art & culture critic for a newspaper in Geneva who just happens to be covered head to toe in some of the most vibrant tattoos ever mande. He also has silicon implants under the skin which give the horned appearance, 2.7 inch rings in each earlobe and plexiglass piercings through the nose and under his bottom lip. And he claims to wear his tattoos like art.

12) The Tentacle Man
This unknown brazilian man shows some heavy tentacle suction-cup implants, done by Dark Freak at Luck All in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

The curvilinear floating house

This is the Fennell Residence in Portland, Oregon, designed in 2001, completed 

The Fennell residence, as a floating house, presented a unique opportunity for design. 
The imaginative use of curved glue lam beams evoke the poetry of the ripples and contours of a river. The expansive glass facade embraces the river and frames the sunset, and one accesses the deck via an expansive sliding glass door.
A master bedroom sits over a study and looks out over the living dining area and out to the river beyond.
The curvilinear forms create spacial differentiation that enhance the experience of time as light plays through the daily and seasonal changes.

10 Odd Things you can buy from Amazon

World Largest Book

The gigantic book BHUTAN is a breathtaking photographic adventure across the legendary last Himalayan kingdom. Teams from MIT and Friendly Planet took over 60,000 photographs on four extensive expeditions. Portraits of people are life-size or bigger. Panoramas convey the staggering sweep of the Great Himalayan Range and the awesome and unique ancient architecture. Tantric Buddhist dancers, clad in a rainbow of sparkling brocade silks, almost seem to be leaping off the page. According to Guinness World Records, at over five by seven feet (and 133 pounds),

this beautiful photographic book is the largest published book in the world–about one of the world’s smallest countries.
More info: World Largest Book

Wedding Chapel
Delivered Fully Assembled! Great for a church service getaway wedding chapel or other experience you want to remember forever! . INCLUDES: . Hinged Windows. Screen Windows. Wooden and Screen Doors. Tin Roof. Attic Ladder. Exterior Stain. Chinking Inside and Out. Rough Cut White Pine . Full Assembly. Front Porch. Tongue and Groove Flooring. Wood Roof.
More info: Wedding Chapel

UFO Detector

Over the years many UFO sightings have reported magnetic and electromagnetic disturbances. The UFO Detector is designed to sense these disturbances and will signal their presence by flashing an LED and beeping. The elegantly designed transparent acrylic case is a handsome sculptured conversation piece that’s suitable for display on a desk, shelf or bedroom dresser.
More info: UFO Detector

Inflatable Bondage Chair

This chair is great if you want to hit the road in your RV or camper but don’t want to leave the joys of S&M behind. It folds up into it’s own little pouch bag so you can carry it on day hikes and you can blow it up(or order it blown up) with a bicycle pump or even by mouth. The exterior is not really tough enough for the rough stuff, but the simulated plastic covering makes clean ups a snap. And please remember folks, while this chair is great fun in the family pool(the velcro restraints make great beverage holders) this is NOT intended as a safety flotation device.

Wolf Urine
Use our 100 percent urine lures to create the illusion predators are present in the area you wish. Great for photographers, gardeners, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. Due to changes in shipping regulations, we cannot ship this item to California.
More info: Wolf Urine

Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown. Shipping Information: We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52. Radioactive minerals are for educational and scientific use only.
More info: Uranium Ore

Uterus with Fetus Model
These five flexible lifelike, uterus with fetus models illustrate fetal development and the changes in the uterus at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 15 weeks, 20 weeks, and 40 weeks.

Drive Thru Kit
Kit includes the drive thru unit (pictured), all equipment needed for start-up, start-up supplies including product and small wares, membership in the E.A. Brevita Cooperative Association for one year featuring product discounts and online, video-based training 24/7.

Hand Crank Van de Graaff Generator
Thrill your high school and middle school students with exciting demonstrations as impressive as Paul Hewitt’s. Show sparks fly. Make hair stand on end. Illustrate how positive and negative ions attract or repel, and more. It’s easy with our new low-cost Van de Graaff Generator. This hand-crank model can develop potentials of up to 200kV and produce a spark up to 3.2 inches long. Measuring 28" high with a 10" dome, it includes a variety of accessories including a 16" discharge electrode, electric plume, and the electric whirl. Best of all, it’s less than half the cost of a traditional Van de Graaff generator, so you’ll be able to conduct spectacular electrostatic experiments without breaking your budget.

Superhero Megan Fox?

Superhero Megan Fox? 
Superhero Megan Fox? 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

12 Coolest Google Street Finds

This lucky guy gets caught walking out of a strip club. Let's hope his wife or girlfriend is understanding. (Link)

This gun enthusiast was photographed on a Rapid City, South Dakota street after apparently leaving First Stop Guns, a family-run Main Street establishment "specializing in high grade and collectible firearms." (Link)

Just a normal epic battle in a yard in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Don't worry, there is an explanation for this, on May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh's Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. (Link 1 | Link 2)

If you're ever caught short in broad daylight and decide you really must relieve yourself behind a parked car, it's probably a good idea to make sure there isn't one of Google's Orwellian Street View spymobiles lurking nearby. According to Spanish paper El Mundo, this delightful scene was spotted in Madrid by sharp-eyed bloggers, who wasted no time in broadcasting it to the world. Within 12 hours, Google responded by scrubbing the image altogether. (Link)

A stag night gone too far in Shoreditch (unfortunately, the image is no longer available on Google). (Link)

If it's not Britney getting out of the car, somehow these shots just seem pervy. (Link)

Guy carrying an inflatable sex doll in Paris. (Link)

There he is: Where's Wally character “planted” in Putney High Street by Google. (Link)

The most dramatic discovery in Google images has been made in Phoenix, Arizona, where the Google Street View Van has come across a pretty serious accident involving a Range Rover and an Audi in a collision at a junction. (Link)

Ouch! This probably hurt. (Link)

One could say he is peeing, but look closely, he is just fixing his bike. (Link)

We could open our web browser and find zillions of pictures of hot babes within seconds. In better quality. And more naked. But, there's something about finding a blurry pic of a semi-naked babe drawn on a truck accidentally that is much more fun. (Link)

Wild toughness: 12 Amazing Photos of Animal Fighting

1.Lioness Vs Buffalo

This picture shows the moment a water buffalo becomes a road-hog at Kruger National Park in South Africa. 

2.Bullfrog Vs Sparrow
Either the sparrow didn't know the frog was there, or didn't know the danger

3.Kingbird Vs Hawk
This is the David vs Goliath moment when a plucky kingbird hopped onto the back of a huge hawk and pecked at its head in a bid to defend its youngsters. Although small, the species can become very aggressive in the breeding season. This one easily saw off a red-tailed hawk that ventured too close to its nest. 

4.Pelican Vs Dog
In one of the most unlikely power struggles of the animal kingdom, this extraordinary image show the moment when a one-year-old exotic bird bit off more than it could chew. Captured by Roland Adam at his exotic bird farm in Germany, they show how Petri the pelican and Katijina the Rhodesian Ridgeback played out an improbable contest for a free meal.

5.Zebra Vs Crocodile
This hungry crocodile may have bitten off more than it could chew when it took a bite at the head of this zebra. The stricken animal was attempting to cross the Mara river in the Masai Mara game reserve in south-western Kenya when the reptile attacked. The poor zebra's chances did not look very good as two of the croc's hungry friends lurked menacingly in front of it as well.

6.Owl Vs Mouse
No doubts about who won this fight, right?

                                                             Mouse Vs Leopard

This mouse diced with death when it tucked into the lunch of a hungry leopard. Seemingly unaware of the beast towering over it, the mischievous rodent grabbed at scraps of meat thrown into the African Leopard's enclosure. But instead of pouncing on the the tiny intruder the 12-year-old leopard, called Sheena, appeared to be afraid of the daring mouse and kept her distance. At one stage she tried to nudge the mouse away with her nose, but the determined little chap carried on chewing away until he was full. (Link)

8.Swan Vs Fawn
As the temperature in Britain hit 79F (26C) during 2009 summer, a young deer ventured down to a pond in London's Richmond Park for a dip. Unfortunately, a resident swan wasn't so keen on sharing its spot and threw the fawn out on its ear – with a deftly aimed peck. (Link)

9.Mouse Vs Lemur

With the sneakiest of moves, a hungry lemur almost manages to get this unsuspecting mouse in his clutches. But the mouse felt something wasn't quite right and managed to escape, leaving the lemur licking his lips and cursing his luck. The moment was captured on camera at Five Sister's Zoo in West Lothian by tourist Alasdair Preston. (Link)

10.Dolphins Vs Salmon

How far would you go to grab yourself a bite to eat? This is the moment when a pair of bottlenose dolphins decided that two heads were better than one as they teamed up to snare a salmon. Scottish photographer Alistair Kemp was amazed when the hungry duo leapt out of the water chasing their unfortunate prey. Despite its best efforts, there was no escape for the salmon. (Link)

11.Daddy Long Legs Vs Venus Fly Trap

Even if the most beautiful rose has spines, why would this Daddy Long Legs come closer to the ugly Venus Fly Trap? (Link)

12.Tom Vs Jerry

A prowling pussycat eyes a lone mouse stranded all alone in the snow. Then he swaggers over only to find the plucky rodent is prepared to put up a fight. Echoing the best traditions of Tom and Jerry, the mouse remains undaunted and even raises a paw to fend off his larger foe. Felix the cat appears a bit bemused by the mouse's reaction, which is not quite the response he had expected. However, there's only so much a proud cat can take and Felix soon lashes out with his left paw. But in true cartoon style, the mouse leaps for his life and scurries across the snow to freedom. (Link)