Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Most Strange and Unique theme parks

We all like to go to theme parks because of the excite rides, indulging arcades, welcoming cartoon characters, and challenging games. The Disney Land, Wet ‘n’ Wild, and Six Flags all are famous throughout the world for their these features offering fun and entertainment.
But, now a days, the theme parks are not confined to these aspects only. In fact, they tend to be completely different by offering some strange or laughing scenes as well as bizarre rides. You will agree with this after you go through the following top 10 strange theme parks.

Diggerland – England
This is the theme park where you need to operate construction vehicles and machines. Spread in four different locations, this is where you can see a caterpillar or a bobcat moving over the grass or dirt while driving. A unique adventure awaits you here via its 19 varied kid-welcoming rides. Believe it or not, all the rides here are built using the actual construction machines like cranes, diggers, and dump trucks. Further, what further add to your excitement are the dancing machines.
Alien Apex Resort – New Mexico
This is the home of aliens in Roswell, the place where possibly an UFO had crashed in 1947. Its aim is to take you on a trip of the world that is managed by the aliens. It is going to open in 2010 luckily. The center of attraction will be the ride of alien abduction. There will be also an exhibit hall where you can know anything about the extra-terrestrial life. Further, do not miss the Symbiosis show that will dramatically recreate the UFO incident via fireworks, music, and special effects.
Dickens World – England
This is where you will come across the portrayals of Mr. Charles Dickens representing the murky side of the industrial revolution. The theme park is situated in the Kent’s Chatham Dockyard and is packed with the memories of pestilence, ailments, dysentery, and the top world of Victorian England. And sadly, you will even see some starving orphans.
The Holy Land Experience – Florida
This is no less than a heaven in Orlando wherein the life at the time of Jesus is exhibited. Many life events of Lord Jesus are reenacted here including the crucifixion. Actually, the park’s aim is to make you feel the calm and holy life of the people in the ancient days when they used to reside at some Holy Land. You will find here a town replicating the old Jerusalem: several markets, a Temple, a Judean Village, and a Garden Tomb where Jesus was buried.
Grutas Park – Lithuania
Also known as the ‘Totalitarianism Park’ or ‘Stalin’s World’, this park is encircled by barbed wires and several watch towers. Established by Vilumas Malinauskas, this theme zone is the abode of some 100 statues of very popular Soviets such as Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Dzerzhinsky. To add some sense of child-friendliness and lightness to this gloomy park, a zoo full of peacocks as well as ostriches along with other animals is also present.
Bon Bon Land – Denmark
Welcome the fourth largest park of the nation! It is influenced by the Danish confectionary that is expert is forming candies having the shape of strange animals and things. There are some beautiful racy highlights, vomiting rodents, and rides like The Horse Dropping, The Crazy Turtle, and the Dog Fart Rollercoaster that takes you excitingly near the giant piles of dog poo where the speakers around emit fart sounds. But, still this park is family friendly, as it has all the expected fun and events – roller coasters, shows, rafting, and playgrounds.
Memory Village – Haiti
This is a historical park where all the visitors pass through the life of a slave. This means that the park aims at educating the public about the slavery and so, it is the first theme park of its kind on the planet. A participant is given the traditional attires of a slave and is then kidnapped, trapped, and impelled to slot in a slave ship. On the other hand, the other visitors are ‘sold’ and are laid on a plantation. After 12 hours are gone, the participants rebel and free themselves.
World Chocolate Wonderland – China
How it will be for you if you have to look at the Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors in chocolate? Well, to get the experience, come to this park. Opened in Jan 2010, this park boasts everything in chocolate using 176,000 pounds of this yummy treat. Many monumental and famous attractions are in chocolate here, all closed in a glass to avoid melting and biting by the visitors.
Shijingshan Amusement Park – China
Located in Beijing, this is an eerily themed park where all cartoon characters reside uniquely. Can you recall the Walt Disneyland park of Orlando? You can compare this Chinese park to Orlando Disney Park. At the entrance, you will come across the castle that is also at the Orlando’s park. You might feel that the characters here are imported from Orlando to Beijing. You might also feel that the characters are stolen, but this is obviously not true. They reflect those stated in the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi
This is a strange, but high tech park boasting roller coasters, an interactive museum, simulator rides, and a theatre for a play with Italian theme as well as a race track. This is among the leading luxury tourist destinations on the planet. You will surely admire this stunning process of converting a sand pit to a frolicking princess castle.

There's something wrong with Market Dimensions' City of Vancouver Budget Survey Report

In preparation for a discussion re the forthcoming City of Vancouver budget deliberations on Bill Good's CKNW Civic Affairs Panel, I decided to read the Budget Survey Report commissioned by the city. I was suprised by some of the statements in the Executive Summary.

For example, on page 7, the Exec Summary says residents think the city should pay more attention to green projects or infrastructure....including placing charging stations in public areas for electric vehicles. For the life of me, I couldn't believe that Vancouver residents thought this was something warranting further attention. So I started to plow through the detailed statistics in the appendix, but never found any clear support for this. But more importantly,

On page 4 it says "after a declining trend in the past two surveys, signs of recovery are evident in residents' perceptions about the change in quality of city services. While 28.1% see a decline, 37.1% think the quality has improved.....

HOWEVER, at the top of page 61, the detailed survey results show that 46% say things are worse or much worse. In fact, whereas during the past 11 years only 4% to 8% said things were much worse, this year 35% said things were much worse. 35%! And yet this is completely ignored in the Executive Summary.

I think there is something wrong with the Executive Summary of this report, and I invite people to review the document themselves and let me know if I am mistaken. And if I am not wrong, then I would like to know why a professional firm would present such a distorted view to the public and City staff and Council. You can find the document at http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20101130/documents/rr1_appendix2.pdf

Deathday: Author & Poet Oscar Wilde 1900

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer, poet, and prominent aesthete; who, after writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the tragedy of his imprisonment and early death.

Wilde's parents were successful Dublin intellectuals, and from an early age he was tutored at home, where he showed his intelligence, becoming fluent in French and German. He attended boarding school for six years, then matriculated to university at seventeen years of age. Reading Greats, Wilde proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. His intellectual horizons were broad: he was deeply interested in the rising philosophy of aestheticism (led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin) though he also profoundly explored Roman Catholicism and finally converted on his deathbed.

After university Wilde moved to London, into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured America and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art," and returned to London to work prolifically as a journalist for four years. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde was one of the best known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays; though it was his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which brought him more lasting recognition. The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, combined with larger social themes, drew Wilde to writing drama. He wrote Salome in French in Paris in 1891, but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success—his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, was still on stage in London—Wilde sued his lover's father for libel. After a series of trials, Wilde was convicted of gross indecency with other men and imprisoned for two years, held to hard labour. In prison he wrote De Profundis, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.


By 25 November Wilde had developed cerebral meningitis and was injected with morphine, his mind wandering during those periods when he regained consciousness. Robbie Ross arrived on 29 November and sent for a priest, and Wilde was conditionally baptised into the Catholic Church by Fr Cuthbert Dunne, a Passionist priest from Dublin (the sacrament being conditional because of the doctrine that one may only be baptised once — Wilde having a recollection of Catholic baptism as child, a fact later attested to by the minister of the sacrament, Fr. Lawrence Fox). Fr Dunne recorded the baptism:

As the voiture rolled through the dark streets that wintry night, the sad story of Oscar Wilde was in part repeated to me....Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional baptism, and afterwards answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying. As the man was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious… Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last Sacraments… And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.
Wilde had flirted with the Church all his life, expressing his intention to convert a number of times including a discussion with a journalist after his release from custody about his romance with the Church, "I intend to be received before long."

Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900. Different opinions are given as to the cause of the meningitis; Richard Ellmann claimed it was syphilitic; Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson, thought this to be a misconception, noting that Wilde's meningitis followed a surgical intervention, perhaps a mastoidectomy; Wilde's physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear (une ancienne suppuration de l'oreille droite d'ailleurs en traitement depuis plusieurs années) and did not allude to syphilis.

Wilde was initially buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris; in 1909 his remains were disinterred to Père Lachaise Cemetery, inside the city. His tomb was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, commissioned by Robert Ross, who asked for a small compartment to be made for his own ashes which were duly transferred in 1950. The modernist angel depicted as a relief on the tomb was originally complete with male genitalia which have since been vandalised; their current whereabouts are unknown. In 2000, Leon Johnson, a multimedia artist, installed a silver prosthesis to replace them.

The epitaph is a verse from The Ballad of Reading Gaol:

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)Oscar Wilde's Wit and Wisdom: A Book of Quotations (Dover Thrift Editions)Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (Collins Classics)Oscar WildeWilde (Special Edition)The Secret Life of Oscar WildeThe Portable Oscar Wilde (Viking Portable Library)The Picture of Dorian Gray and Three StoriesThe Soul of Man Under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose (Penguin Classics)The Unmasking of Oscar WildeBuilt of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar WildeThe Oscar Wilde Collection (The Importance of Being Earnest / The Picture of Dorian Gray / An Ideal Husband / Lady Windermere's Fan)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dundarave Festival of Lights: November 28 to January 7, 2011

I spent a good part of Saturday with my daughter Georgia and former Vancouver Social Planner Susan Anderson decorating a Christmas Tree as part of the Dundarave Festival of Lights. Geller Properties, which is proposing an infill development in the 2000 Block of Esquimalt Avenue is happy to be a Tree Sponsor. Funds raised from the sponsors support the North Shore Emergency Lookout Shelter, providing services to the homeless and those in need. Yes, sadly, there are people on the North Shore in need too.

Susan was happy to help out since she lives across the lane from the proposed redevelopment and wants to see it approved. Like many West Vancouver residents, she knows there is a growing need for more well-designed housing choices in the area.

The Dundarave Festival of Lights can be found at the foot of 25th Street and continues until January 7th. A number of different events are planned including a Christmas Wassail and Bonfire Night on December 18th. Details can be found at http://www.dundaravefestival.com/ Thanks Georgia for helping out. And congratulations to Mary and all the organizers for what seems like a very well organized and successful event.

Deathday: Author Washington Irving 1859

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works include biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects such as Christopher Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra. Irving also served as the U.S. minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846.

He made his literary debut in 1802 with a series of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. After moving to England for the family business in 1815, he achieved international fame with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1819. He continued to publish regularly—and almost always successfully—throughout his life, and completed a five-volume biography of George Washington just eight months before his death, at age 76, in Tarrytown, New York.

Irving, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving was also admired by some European writers, including Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens. As America's first genuine internationally best-selling author, Irving advocated for writing as a legitimate profession, and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.

Final years and death

Irving's grave, marked by a flag, in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York.Returning from Spain in 1846, Irving took up permanent residence at Sunnyside and began work on an "Author's Revised Edition" of his works for publisher George Palmer Putnam. For its publication, Irving had made a deal that guaranteed him 12 percent of the retail price of all copies sold. Such an agreement was unprecedented at that time. On the death of John Jacob Astor in 1848, Irving was hired as an executor of Astor's estate and appointed, by Astor's will, as first chairman of the Astor library, a forerunner to the New York Public Library.

As he revised his older works for Putnam, Irving continued to write regularly, publishing biographies of the writer and poet Oliver Goldsmith in 1849 and the 1850 work about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In 1855, he produced Wolfert's Roost, a collection of stories and essays he had originally written for Knickerbocker and other publications, and began publishing at intervals a biography of his namesake, George Washington, a work which he expected to be his masterpiece. Five volumes of the biography were published between 1855 and 1859. Irving traveled regularly to Mount Vernon and Washington, D.C. for his research, and struck up friendships with Presidents Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce.

He continued to socialize and keep up with his correspondence well into his seventies, and his fame and popularity continued to soar. "I don’t believe that any man, in any country, has ever had a more affectionate admiration for him than that given to you in America," wrote Senator William C. Preston in a letter to Irving. "I believe that we have had but one man who is so much in the popular heart." By 1859, author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. noted that Sunnyside had become "next to Mount Vernon, the best known and most cherished of all the dwellings in our land."

On the evening of November 28, 1859, only eight months after completing the final volume of his Washington biography, Washington Irving died of a heart attack in his bedroom at Sunnyside at the age of 76. Legend has it that his last words were: "Well, I must arrange my pillows for another night. When will this end?" He was buried under a simple headstone at Sleepy Hollow cemetery on December 1, 1859.

Irving and his grave were commemorated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1876 poem, "In The Churchyard at Tarrytown," which concludes with:

How sweet a life was his; how sweet a death!
Living, to wing with mirth the weary hours,
Or with romantic tales the heart to cheer;
Dying, to leave a memory like the breath
Of summers full of sunshine and of showers,
A grief and gladness in the atmosphere.

Washington Irving : History, Tales, and Sketches: The Sketch Book / A History of New York / Salmagundi / Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (Library of America)The Legend of Sleepy HollowWashington Irving : Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveller, The Alhambra (Library of America)Knickerbocker's History of New York, CompleteWashington Irving: Three Western Narratives: A Tour on the Prairie / Astoria / The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (Library of America)Washington Irving: An American OriginalGeorge Washington: A BiographySleepy HollowSleepy Hollow [Blu-ray]The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (Disney Gold Classic Collection)The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (50th Anniversary Edition) (Disney's Masterpiece) [VHS]The Legend of Sleepy HollowSleepy HollowShelley Duvall's Tall Tales & Legends - The Legend of Sleepy HollowSleepy Hollow [HD DVD]