Saturday, October 31, 2009

Really Scary Things! - Happy Halloween

The idea of spending any time at all in prison is pretty scary.

But this truly makes my skin crawl!

Byron Garcia was catapulted to international fame when he made 1,500 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in the Philippines dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” - (How's that for punishment?)

Videos of the dance and exercise routines that he uploaded on YouTube have since had over 70 million hits.

Interested in more of the story? Click Here

Friday, October 30, 2009

So you want to play Tic Tac Toe?

I was bored and decided to goof off a bit.
A friend sent this to help me pass the time!
Be Careful - It's addictive!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cover your Mouth and Wash Your Hands! Here comes H1 N1 and other Viruses!

Next week I'll be hitting the road again. Traveling to Canada for a few days. I'm really not looking forward to security lines, possible flight delays, and much colder weather. I've been dusting off my overcoat, gloves, and scarf and psyching myself up for the change in temps. It's been unseasonably warm out here in Cali. Today it was in the 80's and that's just fine with me. I'll take the snow and cold at Christmas time and when I'm skiing, but the rest of the year - give me warm weather please! I know. I'm a wuss. All of you guys living in colder climates forgive me as I whine......

What further complicates my travel next week and gives me cause to whine, is the perceived onslaught of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus. At least that's what I'm hearing in the media coverage. I've had several friends who've been hit by H1N1 first hand. Fortunately, in all cases it hasn't been serious. A few days in bed and lots of rest and they were back at it. But listening to their reports, it does sound like it wipes you out pretty good when you get it.

Today I caught wind of an animation that shows what happens when you contract a virus. For all of you who loved high school or college Biology, this is going to make your mouth water. And for those of you who hated science, watch it anyway. There's no test afterwards and you can watch it as many times as you like until you understand it. (no one will know how many times you view it) The video was created by David Bolinsky and his team at XVIVO. It was nice to see that "David Bolinsky" actually has a sense of humor. See if you can catch his joke.

Follow the link to NPR

"It was interesting because we did it while he was sleeping"

A tad bit corny but he tried.

So anyway, wash your hands and cover your mouths when you sneeze. Try to keep your immune system strong by eating well and getting enough rest because you never know what's out there. And wish me luck..... I hate being sick more than I hate the cold!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sponge Bob Square Pants! Totally Rocks!

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Sponge Bob Square Pants of course....

Are you hip to Sponge Bob?

Among other things, it is currently Nickelodeon's highest rated show and the most distributed property of MTV Networks.

Frankly, the concept of a sponge hanging out in the underwater fictitious town of Bikini Bottom just totally scrambles my brain. As if I don't have enough animated stuff going on up there - you know what I mean? But the truth is, I like the show. Now don't get me wrong. I've only seen about 10 - 15 episodes and a movie or two so it's not like I sit around and watch episode after episode religiously. I'll confess though - one morning in Sydney Australia, I woke up early and turned on the tube. After catching up on the latest world news, I was looking for something mindless and refreshing. Low and behold, I stumbled upon a channel playing Sponge Bob. I plowed through about an hours worth. And that was before I had a cup of coffee.

After you get past the fact that some of the characters exceed the reasonable and tolerable level of stupidity, it's actually a pleasant and somewhat redeeming show!

So hear me out please; It's difficult for me to walk around being an advocate for a geeky nerdy guy with buck teeth, blue eyes, brown square trousers, and a bow tie. But I like the guy! We've all got our flaws.... He's just got about 9 or 10 really obvious ones. But I think he's cool!

Unfortunatley, the sad thing for me is - People are starting to question my credibility.

So just to be on the safe side, I started asking around to get an idea of what some other well-known and respected people thought of the little spongy guy.

I started by asking the "Black Eye Peas."

Here's what they thought:

Then I thought I'd ask the original "Slim Shady." Mr. Eminem!

Here's what he had to say:

So there you have it:

Sponge Bob Rocks!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creative Ads! See U2 In Concert.....

U2’s performing in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl this weekend; Sunday, October 25th, 2009. Tickets are selling fast. You know it's going to be a great show. The Rose Bowl stadium is the proud home of the Tournament of Roses Football Game and UCLA Bruin Football. It's a National Historic Landmark that was built in 1922 and is also known for hosting five NFL Super Bowl Games, and the 1984 Olympic Soccer Matches. This has the makings of a tremendous performance. So get your tickets to see U2 before they sell out.....

But if you can't make it - Guess what?

Someone has come up with the great idea of streaming the concert live on YouTube.

Watch This:

Did you see the creative advertising?

First Global Concert Webcast on "U2ube"

Nice going guys!

The link for the concert is: October 25, 2009 - 8:30 PM (Pacific Time)

But here's the kicker!

Unfortunately, the concert is not available in some territories. Only YouTube users in the US, UK, France, Canada, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico, India, Israel, South Korea, and the Netherlands will be able to see the live performance.

Unless of course, you're really - really - Creative!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ring "Da Bell" - Debell Golf Course Burbank, CA

A few weeks ago I had the chance to "Ring Da Bell." In other words, I played golf at Debell Golf Course in Burbank, CA. For years, locals have murdered the name "Debell" and called it "Da Bell." Kinda like "Da Bears!" I'm not mad at them; I think it's added a bit of charm and mystique to the course - sort of a Cheers flavor. And over time, the act of ringing "Da Bell" has become symbolic with playing golf there and something I look forward to doing.

About a few years ago, the course began renovations on a badly deteriorated clubhouse. And my recent visit was the first time I've played there since the renovations began. The renovations were completed in December 2008 and I've been eager to stop by since, so when a relative called and said he was in town I quickly arranged for a tee time.

The course sits high in the hills just above Burbank and you can usually get a last minute tee time unless there's a tournament going on. I've even had luck with walking on without much of a wait. As you drive up the canyon just past the shorter par 3 course, you can't help but notice the new construction. They did a nice job on the clubhouse. I guess that's what 9 million clams can buy you these days.

In the past, I've enjoyed playing at Debell. Generally the course is in good condition and it's secluded enough from the big city to allow you to relax and enjoy the outdoors. It's not uncommon to see all sorts of wildlife on the course. Anything from deer to rattlesnakes. I've even seen a coyote or two. It's a break from the typical Los Angeles municipal golf courses in design. There are a lot more trees in play and a dry ravine that runs through part of the course makes Debell an unforgiving experience for some golfers. Some of the par 4 holes are chopped up into 300 -400 yard tracks which are not suitable for a a driver off the tee box. I find myself taking two iron shots to get to the green. Sometimes it's a 6/8 iron combination and sometimes it's a 5/9 iron combination to reach the green. The greens are generally small and fun. I once heard Debell referred to as a "thinkers'" course. I think that's an accurate handle. It's very much a finesse course. Leave your driver in the bag for most holes. A tip if you ever play here - most of the balls break towards downtown Burbank. You'll know what I mean if/when you play here.

The 12th hole which used to be the 3rd hole- they've switched the front nine with the back nine- is the signature hole. It features a par 3 with a partially blind shot to the green. You'll either like this hole or hate it. Some players view it as a circus hole, others enjoy the challenge. I generally try to hit a high draw. I can usually avoid the face of the hill that obstructs the green. The problem is guessing where the flag is. Over the years, I've learned to take a look at the flag when I'm playing the prior hole.

So now comes the treat..... After you've putted out you get to ring "Da Bell" to signal waiting golfers that you have cleared the green. Remember, they can't see you from the tee box.

See that white dot out there? I love it when my drive is in the fairway...... I think I hit my next ball a bit fat.

This is the view from the #10 green looking back towards Burbank. You can see the Hollywood hills in the background.

A nice treat for all visitors is a newly added bronze statue.

The piece is titled Impact and was created by artist Shiela Cavalluzzi. After doing some research on the web, I found this link:

Cruise through the link, it tells a great story with nice photos.

Hole #18 finishes at the club house delivering a subliminal invitation for a nice refreshing beverage.

DeBell Golf Club is located at

1500 Walnut Ave. in Burbank.

(818) 845-0022

Monday, October 19, 2009

Courageous or Dumb? Balloon Boy's Parents.

I was taken in by the stunt. I, like many others, was in the middle of a busy day but I still found time to divert a little bit of emotion and compassion towards this event and hope and pray that the kid would be found unhurt, or rescued. Now I'm a bit disturbed to learn that it was all a hoax and that the viewing public was taken for a ride.

I'm sure it sounded like a great idea over a 12 pack of Budweiser!

Think of all the resources wasted to cover this story and recover the balloon.

Definitely a dumb idea. I can't imagine the judge/jury will be very sympathetic.

Looks like they'll be getting the publicity for their reality series..... "Mom and Dad Did A Dumb Thing."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Creative Commercials..... Lebron James doing Kid N Play!

Wait a second, I happened to catch a State Farm insurance commercial and I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought I saw Lebron James holding a Kid N Play CD in his hand and then I saw him doing the um....... Kid N Play Dance???

I had to investigate further. Was it a subliminally suggested idea or what?

Thanks to YouTube and the power of the pause button, I was able to find the commercial and correctly identify Lebron James in a commercial holding the aforementioned CD. The rest I'll leave for your viewing pleasure.

Lebron, few will question your moves on the basketball court. I'll even give you credit for looking pretty intimidating in a football uniform and concede that you'd be tough to stop as a runner or a receiver. But I don't quite get the dance act on your State Farm commercial. Don't get me wrong, you move okay. Maybe I just missed something. Your dancing didn't make me want to run out and switch my insurance to State Farm.

Let's leave the dancing to Kid N Play......

Now those guys can dance!

If you're not familiar with Kid N Play; Kid 'n Play was a hip-hop and comedy duo from New York City that was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Christopher "Kid" Reid and Christopher "Play" Martin made up the duo.

Kid and Play amicably split in 1995. Reid continued acting, guest starring in a number of television sitcoms, most notably Sister, Sister, and hosting shows such as It's Showtime at the Apollo and Your Big Break. Martin became a born-again Christian, and devoted his time to working on Christian-based hip-hop music projects. He eventually took his industry experience and founded HP4Digital Works, a multimedia company that provides pre- and post-production for film, digital, and live theater productions. Check them out at:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Days of Rain! Tony Toni Tone

Somehow I missed the weather forecast. I've been busy doing my thing. Lost in my own little world. Not a lot of traveling lately but working diligently on two deals. One with a company in Canada which may or may not pan out but I'm enjoying the process. I'd heard that it could rain this week but what the heck! I didn't pay it much attention because "It never rains in Southern California!" That's what they tell me. Besides, I did some mental calculating, and I couldn't come up with the last time it has rained in my neighborhood. As best as I can remember, it sprinkled one day back in early June. Not even enough to turn on my windshield wipers in my car. So I figured the chances of rain were slim. I guess that's what I get for moving to the desert. Right?

So after 4 months of water rationing, drought, forest fires, heat, and smoke, we now get two full days of rain. Pretty heavy at times. It appears the weather people got it right this time. Not in a bad way though... I'm actually enjoying the breif change.

But I think Fall is definitely Here!

Here's a little something to listen to while you enjoy the weather in your neighborhood!

And here's a little bit of information about the group Tony Toni Tone

(pronounced Tony Tony Tony)

Tony Toni Tone, formed in 1987 in Oakland, California. They enjoyed a number of hits and good album sales for a considerable part of the nineties. The group primarily consisted of family members with brothers Dwayne and Raphael Wiggins teaming up with Cousin Timothy Christian.

The group's popularity really took off when they introduced the smash album The Revival. They became mega-stars due in part to two hit singles; the ballad ‘It Never Rains (In Southern California)' and the club dance tune 'Feels Good.'

In 1993 the group scored again with another big hit; ‘Anniversary' written by Raphael Wiggins and the bands keyboard player Carl Wheeler. It featured Gerald Albright on sax.

Somewhere around 1996 the members went on to pursue solo careers.
But that's another story to be told on another rainy day.......

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Flashback! ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Okay, so I get this call from my Mother the other day. Normally she wants to talk and talk..... Usually about good stuff, but sometimes it's about nothing important at all. Just random happenings, gossip, relatives, or ailments (hers and mine). This particular call, she really didn't say much at all. In fact, she was sort of short. She says; "oh here's your Father. You want to talk to him?" Sure, why not? I respond. So Dad gets on and after we exchange our typical pleasantries he starts harassing me about football. NFL teams and such. Before I know it, he's baited me into a wager on who will win the NFC North Division. He allows me to take the Chicago Bears who are currently 3-1 and he takes the Minnesota Vikings who are 4-0. Funny thing is - I'm a Minnesota Viking fan! Da! Go figure.

After that, he sucks about 1 hour of tech support out of me because his computer wasn't cooperating. The other funny thing..... I don't know jack about computers; but I manage to help him get his computer fixed.

Dad, you are one shrewd Dude! It sure was cool waking up on weekends and watching ABC's Wide World of Sports with you!

"Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport"

and of course the well known:

"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!"

Dad, and everyone else who remembers those days! Here ya' go:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Courageous or Dumb? Giving Obama the Nobel Prize!

Unless you've been living in a box with your ears stuffed with cotton and your eyes taped shut, you probably know by now that The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm pretty sure it was one of the first things I heard this morning as I turned on the television to catch the morning news.

All I could think was this must sit like a sticky and volatile mixture of gasoline and nitroglycerin on the already smoldering faces of Obama haters. That thought was hard to deal with before I had my coffee so I quickly moved to a different perspective; I thought it's kinda like sitting next to the guy who wins three times in a row at Bingo, including the nightly Jackpot, and then waking up the next morning to see his face on television cashing in the winning Lottery ticket. You gotta concede the guy is living right or perhaps the smartest or luckiest guy around.

Was there any doubt that the Obama-haters would jump out right away and blame President Obama? Come on, it's not like he really had anything to do with this award - I'm sure he was as shocked as most of us to hear the news. None the less, the barrage has already started. The irony here is that the man, Alfred Nobel, who is behind this award

must literally be rolling around in his grave at all of the turmoil and uproar that today's selection has caused. Here we have an instrument that is supposed to recognize efforts towards peace creating so much discord.

According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Alfred Nobel's will stated that the prize should be awarded by a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Norway and Sweden were at that time still in union, and with Sweden responsible for all foreign policy, Nobel felt that the prize might be less subject to political corruption if awarded by Norway.

So presumably, this committee spent seven months scrutinizing the 205 resumes of dissident monks, human rights advocates, political figures, and other nominees before concluding that President Barack Obama was their man.

Quite possibly, Barack Obama was their best man. Think about it. When was the last time YOU did anything to promote or work for -" fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

I'm not sure I've done any of that stuff lately. Heck, I don't even know what most of that means!

If President Obama did anything at all this year to that end, then I'd submit that he probably did more than anyone else because there are people fighting all over the globe and I don't see anyone out there doing anything to stop it or even slow it down.

In my heart of hearts though, I must consider if this was a political move by the committee to, perhaps, stimulate President Obama to keep working for and pursuing those lofty and illusive goals of peace.

Are they the puppeteers manipulating the puppet? Are those five members sitting around tonight sipping vodka thinking -"We've really done it! Alfred Nobel will be proud of us. Shucks, we deserve the Nobel Peace Prize."

Was this a Courageous move or a Dumb move by the Nobel Committee?

I don't know.... It's too close for me to call. But I enjoy thinking about it!

Time will surely tell!

Pins on a Map!

When I first started traveling I used to keep a big map in my garage with pins stuck into the different places that I traveled to. It was cool coming home and sticking a pin into a brand new spot. I'd stare at the map and marvel at all of the pins sticking out. I thought I was a "big time" world traveler.

Just recently, I ran across a site - - which has taken this pin sticking process into the digital era. On a whim, I decided to stick a few pins into this digital map. It was somewhat of a humbling experience to learn that I've got a long way to go to see the world! I've only been to 29% of the countries on the globe.

That's not even half!

(Keep in mind that I had to edit some of the places in the world that I've been to because if I told you I was there- I'd have to kill you!) -smile -

Still, if I included those extra countries and added the few that I've visited but forgotten, I'm sure it wouldn't even push me over the 30% mark.

I've just come to the realization that I've got some more traveling to do!

Here's my map if you want to take a look.

If you want to make your own it's pretty simple. Click on the link above and start clicking countries.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creative Ads.... Remember this one?

I just happened to run across this ad a few days ago and the message continues to resonate. I must admit, it made me stop and think for a moment. In my thinking I concluded that I was a victim of this conditioning, rationalization, and subliminal brain-washing.

Not that I always spend the extra money when I should but I usually can't keep from calculating the risk of not spending the extra money and buying the more expensive product.

This ad was produced for Fram products. Fram, characterized by their bright orange coloring and black letters produced several types of automotive products but they were primarily known for their oil filters. The message in the ad "You can pay me now, or pay me later" clearly stated that you could spend a few extra dollars and buy a quality oil filter and prolong the life of your car's engine. Or you could buy a cheaper, non-Fram, product and change your oil less frequently which would yield untimely damaged to your engine resulting in expensive repairs or replacement costs.

The end result..... I'm constantly doing the mental math.

(assume I buy a new computer)

Do I spend a few extra bucks and buy the warranty coverage or pay the huge repair bill in 4 months when it breaks?

(assume my breaks are squeaking on my car)

Do I take it in now and replace the pads or wait a few months and then have to do a complete rotor job for 3 times the money?

You get my message don't you?

The funny thing, I don't think I purposely bought Fram products thinking that they would ward off costly repair bills. But I'm sure I've purchased some other "more expensive" product assuming the quality would save me money in the future.

I wonder how much money I've saved over the years!

I wonder if I should sue Fram for mental trauma!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ronald Jenkees - That's How You Do It.

I don't know where I've been the past few years but I've just learned of this guy - Ronald Jenkees.

He's clearly a Youtube sensation racking up millions of views on several compilations. Jenkees supposedly began playing music at 4 years old, when he received a toy keyboard for Christmas as a gift during his stay in hospital after being diagnosed with mild autism. (This fact is contested and has not been substantiated)

Here's an excerpt from,

He learned simple melodies and played with friends. He attempted piano lessons in the seventh grade, but these were unsuccessful. Jenkees discovered how to sequence and layer music using his Yamaha keyboard, and began playing hip hop music. He joined a marching band in high school, and despite being unable to read sheet music, the band director let Jenkees create his own keyboard parts and "jam out" in state competitions. The band director encouraged Jenkees to learn to read music. (click here to read more: Ronald Jenkees)

All I can say is - Impressive finger work! Watch and listen to him in "Throwing Fire"

Jenkees independently released his first album in 2007 (Ronald Jenkees) and has recently released his second album, Disorganized Fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Courageous or Dumb? Menage 'a Trois

Would you order a Menage 'a Trois in a restaurant?

Let's say you're sitting there with your boss, your date, spouse, friends, or parents, and the waiter/waitress walks up to the table and asks.....

"What can I get you?"

Uh, let's see... I'll take a Menage 'a Trois!

(I'm thinking- it might be okay with your friends, date, or spouse- but what if your parents or your boss was present? -That could be tricky)

So let's assume you have the guts to order one. After the initial shock, everyone at the table looks at you like you're a pervert and thinks of one thing- And you all know It's not the bottle of wine that you just ordered.

You've probably figured it out by now, this post is about wine. More specifically, it's about

Folie a Deux's Napa Valley Menage a Trois Red 2008

That's a mouthful. Literally - but I'll get to that later.

For starters, this wine may seem to have a lot going against it. The simple fact that some people might be hesitant to order it based on the name might be of concern. That wasn't an issue for me. In fact, I picked up a bottle a few years ago in a discount wine store probably because of it's catchy name - I've been on a quest to find a great (red) wine for under 5 dollars (see my post: 7 Deadly Zins)- So when I eyed this bottle with a slightly scandalous name, I picked it up and read the label. It read:

Take a walk on the wild side and explore the pleasures of our Menage 'a Trois. Surrender to the seduction of Dark, rich berry with a hint of pepper, a lush lingering finish leaving you wishing for more.

Clearly a bit tantalizing and obviously playing on your senses and psyche. In essence, this wine is a blend based on three varietals - Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I found that part appealing and attractive enough for me to take the plunge. I figured - WTH - and I picked up a bottle for about $8. When I finally got around to popping the cork, I was pleasantly surprised. This wine has a very full, fruity, and jammy taste with a hint of pepper. A mouthful indeed.

Here's part of a more complete review for Menage 'a Trois 2004 vintage:

"When I see a bottle labeled "table wine" even though I know better it always prejudices me a bit against it. In the US Table Wine simply means the wine is a blend and does not have enough of one grape to call the wine legally a Zinfandel or Merlot and has an alcohol level of 7-14%. Thinking this three grape blend of my top favorite US Red Varietals (Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel) might be similar to a light burgundy or decent Meritage I picked up a bottle.My one regret? I now have to go back to Costco and buy more. This is an excellent red wine with a lot going on."

Click here for the rest of the review - 10DollarWine

I concur - for an everyday wine priced at about $7 - $10, this is a good choice for me. My quest for the perfect $5 bottle of Zin/Cab continues. But at least I can enjoy a Menage 'a Trois from time to time in the interim.

A Courageous name for a wine!

Cheers! Drink responsibly!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Courageous Ideas - Cactus Jack!

Do you watch Shark Tank?

Shark Tank, a reality show, premiered on ABC on August 9, 2009. The series is the U.S. version of the Japanese program Dragons' Den, which has spawned numerous local versions in other countries. The series stars five "Sharks" — multi-millionaire business tycoons — who hear investment proposals from entrepreneurs and consider whether to invest in the businesses.
The series is produced by Mark Burnett who signed a deal in 2008 with Dragons' Den format-holder Sony to produce an American version.

I watch the show from time to time and enjoying hearing about and seeing the many entrepreneurs and their creative ideas. When I don't have time to watch the show I sometimes record it and watch it later. It just happens that I had a bit of time on my hands this past weekend and I was running through episode 5 which featured a character who goes by the name of Cactus Jack. Now some of you may have heard of him - he's been around the block once or twice and has patented a few products. One product is a cleaning tablet fashioned in the shape of a .45 cartridge(bullet). Anyway, Cactus Jack jumped into the Shark Tank first with his product Body Jac. According to Cactus Jack, Body Jac makes it easier to do a pushup by using rubber bands to lighten the load. Two of the investors were immediately out of the bidding. But Barbara Corcoran, a self made real estate millionaire who sold her company The Corcoran Group for $70 million in 2001 and Kevin Harrington, a pioneer in the Infomercial Industry who banks tens of millions of dollars in sales each year, offered to invest in the product but wanted 50% of the equity in the new venture and added one additional requirement. Cactus Jack would have to lose 30 pounds thus making himself a better and more influential advocate of the Body Jac.

And that's when it got interesting. Daymond John, founder of FUBU (his company has made record sales of approximately $6 billion dollars) jumped into the bidding but added a twist. My thought is he tuned into the marketing, entertainment value, and appeal of this character - Cactus Jack - and eliminated the 30 lb. weight loss requirement but wanted a piece of all of Cactus Jack's products!

See below what happened:

Did you catch that?

"You can trade hours for dollars or you can trade ideas for millions! Guess which one I chose?"

Cactus Jack, I like your style..... But I like your Dad's a lot better! My thinking - Lose the weight, market your product, and then retire on the beach somewhere and drink delicious tropical drinks topped with rum!

Good Luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Free Download- Really Cool Software!

Speaking of space travel......

Now that I've settled down from my jealous rage after learning of Guy Laliberte''s trip to the space station, I think I can go on posting.

Furthermore, as a treat, I decided to download a pretty cool software program and I want to share it with you all. It's called WorldWide Telescope and it's produced by Microsoft. And here comes the best part - It's absolutely free!

WorldWide Telescope puts the power of all the greatest and latest telescopes right in front of you. It does for the sky, galaxy, and universe what Google Earth has done for the planet. This program lets you explore the impressive content from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and other famed ground- and space-based telescopes.

It takes a little time to master the software interface but the download went very smooth and literally within minutes I was staring at some beautiful sights. Two features that I found very helpful:

  1. You can save your favorite places in the universe to visit them later under "My Collections."
  2. You can watch guided tours of the universe conducted by experts and other users.

Here's a photo of Saturn that I took with my camera after playing around a few minutes with the program.

A view of Saturn from WorldWide Telescope

I must give you fair warning though; if you like gazing at the stars, this program could be quite addictive. So use caution.

Here's the link to and a review of the program (via CNET) if you want to try it:

Happy gazing!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Guy Laliberté - Space Tourist & Rocket Man

Okay, Now I'm a tad bit jealous! I'm a bit late but today I learned that Guy Laliberte', the Canadian billionaire, is now the first clown in space! I say that jokingly of course. Some of you know that Mr. Laliberte' (notice the Mr., a sign of respect) was a former stiltwalker and fire-eater before he founded and became chief executive officer of Cirque du Soleil.

Well, he's now filled in one more square on his long but shrinking "To Do" list. And he's probably purchased himself one of the finest birthday gifts ever!

Imagine buying yourself a trip to the International Space Station to celebrate your 50 th B-Day.

Guy Laliberté will spend about 9 days at the International Space Station (ISS) on his little space vacation. It's not official how much Laliberté paid for his mission but the last space tourist, US software pioneer Charles Simonyi, paid $35 million (£22 million) and that seems to be about the going rate.

The Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Laliberte is the first Canadian civilian to enter orbit. He is travelling with Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev and American astronaut Jeffrey Williams. Laliberte' has scheduled a global broadcast from the space station on Oct. 9 to raise awareness about the world's dwindling clean water supply. Laliberte plans to return to Earth on Oct. 11, while Williams and Surayev will live on the station for nearly six months.

Here's to you Rocket Man! Happy Birthday!
You Rock!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Who Gets the Olympics for 2016?

Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, or Chicago?

The door closes on Chicago and Rio gets the nod!

Is it really a surprise that Rio de Janeiro won the bid for the 2016 Olympics?

Rio de Janeiro

After all of the hoopla, politicking, and lobbying; it's a done deal. Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the summer Olympics in 2016. To many, it seemed that the race would come down to a decision between Chicago and Rio. I joined the ranks of many others who were stymied to learn that Chicago was eliminated in the first round. Even Tokyo - the universal underdog - did better. Personally, and humbly.... I think the IOC got it right this time. As nice as it would be to have the Olympics close to home again - Isn't it about time they had one in South America?

Additionally, Brazil has arrived! So it's time for them to join the international community and represent. And it's time for Brazil to pull some of the load and be held accountable. That means they'll have to pull out their check book and spend a few reais. You know R$. Centavos? Brazilian Dollarini's... ?

You know what I mean? I certainly mean no disrespect but the Olympics should be a global responsibility and a global benefit. Yeah it's going to be a tad bit costly but think of the spillover benefits. New housing, athletic venues, jobs, and infrastructure. Perhaps they'll clean up some of the crime as well.

Furthermore, I'm thrilled that the world will have a chance to view and experience some of Brazil's rich and extensive culture. Many athletes and staff will have an opportunity to visit a part of the world that ordinarily would have escaped them. Chicago is a great place to be in the summertime, but Rio is a new and exciting venue! Millions of viewers will now have a chance to enjoy Brazil right from their living rooms as they watch and observe as their athletes compete.

My hat is off to President Obama, Oprah, Michael Jordan, and the many others who spent political capital in an attempt to bring the games to Chicago. A valiant and noteworthy effort. Sadly, I fear that had Chicago won the bid, many in the world would have viewed this as just another example of the United States applying economic and political dominance.

Way to go Rio!

But I'm sure pulling for Chicago in 2020!

Let's see, ......... how old will I be then?