Wisteria TunnelWisteria Tunnel In Kawachi Fuji Garden In Kawachi Fuji Garden, Japan
November 12, 2011
Wisteria TunnelWisteria Tunnel In Kawachi Fuji Garden In Kawachi Fuji Garden, Japan
June 12, 2011
May 23, 2011
April 26, 2011
Ever want to rent a country?
You’ve heard of renting a palace, renting a mega yacht, even renting an island. How about renting a country? For $70,000 a night with a two-night minimum and a very strict cancellation policy, you can rent Liechtenstein. Yes, the entire country. You can rent the country for a conference, a party – whatever you drum up for you and your 900 closest friends.
Now, if you’re forgetting your high school geography, Liechtenstein is a tiny Alpine country – population 35,000 – tucked between Austria and Switzerland.
So what to do with your own nation? Well, how about starting with a wine tasting at the prince’s estate while watching your own fireworks show. You want to make this a very personal experience? You can rename the city streets and town squares as you wish and even print your own temporary currency with your face on it.
Now, if you do decide Liechtenstein is the perfect place for your party, please don’t cause too much of a ruckus. The nation has only a handful of police officers and no military.
Surely, breakfast included.
March 25, 2011
Just when you thought that the Weimar Republic couldn’t do anything!
In the 1930′s, when most trains were steam-powered, German Rail experimented with an aluminum train pushed by a propeller, which ran as fast as 140 mph.
Conceived and built in 1930 by the German rail company Deutsche Reichsbahn, the Schienenzeppelin was a design alternative to the streamlined steam locomotives of its day. It was a slick and relatively lightweight at 20 tons, running on but two axles and powered by a 46-liter BMW V-12.
The same engine was later used to power the light bombers of the Luftwaffe. The engine sent 600 horsepower to a massive ash propeller, tilted seven degrees to produce downforce. It was one of those designs that would shock and delight even in these times, when aluminum is used not for Bauhaus trains but for high-revving V-8s and computers from the near future.
Originally good for 120 mph — on par with the fastest streamlined steam locomotives — the topped out at a magnificent 140 mph in the summer of 1931. It was a record that stood for 23 years and was never surpassed by a gasoline-powered locomotive.
Unfortunately, the train never made it into production. Problems with propeller safety (!) and reliability kept it from attaining mass production. The prototype that set the speed record was dismantled in 1939 on the eve of World War II.
A train like this would have given a lot of movie train scenes a very different look. Somehow, I can’t see Bogey waiting next to the Schienenzeppelin in Casablanca.
February 14, 2011
February 3, 2011
Every once in awhile, those staid, proper, stiff-upper-lip Brits do something really wild:
An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.
He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is ‘not conducive to the public good’.
As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after travelling to the county to visit family.
The tampering went undetected until the immigration officer was selected for promotion and his wife name was found on the suspects’ list during a vetting inquiry.
Moral of the story: Don’t try to rise above your station.
December 15, 2010
What luck: ticketed for speeding by the same cop — twice — 12,000 miles apart:
The Daily Mail reports that the unnamed driver was pulled over by officer Andy Flitton in the UK two years ago and again recently in New Zealand. The unlucky driver, who island-hopped to New Zealand after 12 years in the UK, recognized the ticket-giver as the same man who caught him breaking the law on the A5 near London. The officer had recently relocated southThe Daily Mail reports that the unnamed driver was pulled over by officer Andy Flitton in the UK two years agThe Daily Mail reports that the unnamed driver was pulled over by officer Andy Flitton in the UK two years ago and again recently in New Zealand. The unlucky driver, who island-hopped to New Zealand after 12 years in the UK, recognized the ticket-giver as the same man who caught him breaking the law on the A5 near London. The officer had recently relocated south after 26 years on the force in England.
November 24, 2010
From The New Yorker, September 2, 1972. anticipating the TSA by almost 40 years:
August 27, 2010
This adorable tiger cub was found in a suitcase packed with plushies when the luggage went through an X-ray machine at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. From CNN:
Officials are trying to determine where the cub came from and whether it was caught in the wild or bred in captivity, wildlife trade monitoring organization TRAFFIC said. Authorities found the tiger Sunday in a suitcase belonging to a 31-year-old Thai national, who was scheduled to board a flight for Ira
Makes one want to introduce whoever did this to an adult tiger.
via Boing Boing.
August 25, 2010
August 24, 2010
This may be the defining case of “dumb luck”:
We were taking pictures outside the Capitol building and I wanted to get a timed shot of the whole family all dressed up. So I put my bag down, placed the camera on a wall, got everyone to line up, set the timer for ten seconds, and jumped into the photo. I took a quick look at the image and liked it.
We then started to walk away when I realized my bag was missing. I went inside the building to see if someone had turned it in, but no luck. I ran outside and circled the building, but still no luck.
I then realized that I might have caught the thief on camera and I checked the shot again. When I saw the guy with his hand in my bag, I ran back inside and found the Capitol Police. They were amazing. They immediately sent out a description of the thief using the photo I took. In a few minutes, one officer had found him still in the area. The thief had dumped some things from the bag in a nearby trash can—the flash for my camera, a small backpack of kids toys, a bag of cables, extra SD cards, my mini tripod—but still in my bag were my wallet with cash, credit cards, hotel keys, rental car keys, and my iPad.
The Police recovered everything and hauled the guy off to jail.
August 12, 2010
This post is for my sister-in-law, Heidi, who recently ate at the Cliff House.
It’s one of the most famous San Francisco images, seen on postcards galore. I never realized what an epic story is attached to it and the photographer who is believed to have shot it. (Also, it’s not lightning, nor a storm, as is commonly held.)
According to this Cliff House book project site, on the back of the original print is the following inscription (neither dated nor verified):
“A Japanese boy, noticing the approach of lightning and thunder storm, took the last car for the Cliff House at 10:30 p.m.
The night was dark. He took up his position with his camera on the beach, and patiently waiting until 2 o’clock a.m., was able by leaving his camera open to obtain this picture, the “flashlight” being Nature’s own–the bright strokes of lightning at the moment. The patience of the “Oriental,” together with his keen preception of the opportunity, give us this photographic rarity, thunder storms and lightning being a rare occurance in the “glorious climate of California.” –Copyrighted.
That is patience! (NB: While it was no doubt standard in 1901, the phrase “patience of the ‘ Oriental’” is jarring today.)
The photographer had a very interesting life.
The following story is included in a detailed account of Imai’s life:
“Tsunekichi Imai was working in his Polk Street studio when the 1906 earthquake struck, and he described to his family how the pictures hanging from his shop walls shook and gyrated wildly, many tumbling to the ground. In the days that followed, the rapidly spreading fire which followed the quake overwhelmed firefighters and threatened to destroy the entire city. To stop the fire by depriving it of fuel, officials decided to create a firebreak by dynamiting a swath of buildings east of Van Ness Avenue. The Imai studio was located in one of these buildings.
“The structures to be exploded were evacuated hurriedly and Tsunekichi Imai thought that all his equipment and furniture had been lost. Someone suggested that he go up to Lafayette Park at Washington and Laguna streets, and there he discovered stacks of personal possessions and household furnishings covered by tarpaulins that firemen and other volunteers must have rescued from the doomed buildings. He found most of the things from his shop piled together and even labeled with his name. Ironically many of the photographs and other personal affects that survived the earthquake and fire were lost during the period that the Imai family was interned during W.W. II at Camp Topaz in Utah.
“Tsunekichi Imai took a number of photographs in the earthquake’s aftermath, the most notable, according to his son, Ted, showed a man trapped on the upper balcony of a burning building pleading for help as the flames engulfed him. The picture was taken just as soldiers on the ground shot the man with their rifles to put him out of his misery. Ted says his father was fearful of the possible legal implications of taking this photo or even witnessing this event, and eventually destroyed it.”
June 12, 2010
Donna (front right) and Alex (in stroller, center) at Disney World
Thirty years ago, when Alex and Donna Voutsinas lived in separate countries, long before they met and married, a family photo of little Donna at Walt Disney World also shows Alex in a stroller in the background.
That fateful realization came just one week before their wedding eight years ago. Alex and Donna had been going through old family snapshots. There, in the blurry background of a picture of 5-year-old Donna was 3-year-old Alex being pushed down Main Street at the same moment in 1980 by his father. The senior Voutsinas’s distinctive jet-black hair with its white tuft caught his eye. …
We’ve taken pictures of the kids,” [Alex] said, “and they say they’re looking for their future wives in the background.”
Okay, it really is a small world after all.
May 19, 2010
2012 Olympic mascot “Wenlock” (orange) and Paralympic mascot “Mandeville” (blue)
Clearly, these guys were designed by …