Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Leonardo Da Vinci - A Legacy of Immortal Genius


Heaven smiled and he was born Da Vinci, Leonardo. The impact and resonance of his contribution to humanity is not measurable in mere mortal terms. Driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, his life's work is an awe inspiring synthesis of art, science and technology.

How is it that a figure who lived nearly five centuries ago, continues to fascinate and engage our interest today? With the recent discovery of a studio of a Da Vinci's that had been sealed for centuries and the ongoing debate regarding the true origin of the alleged Da Vinci Code, time again has resurrected and revitalized interest in perhaps the greatest thinker of all time.

Born the illegitimate son of a notary, Leonardo was born in 1452 in a small farmhouse in Anchiano. In 1457 he moved to Vinci where he stayed with his fathers family even though he was never legitimized. At the age of 14 Leonardo moved to Florence to begin an apprenticeship in the workshop of Verrocchio. At the time, Andrea del Verrochio was the most famous artist in Florence. During his tenure with Verrocchio, Leonardo learned the mixing of colors and painted simple parts of paintings. In June, 1472, Leonardo was listed as a member of the Painters Guild of Florence.

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, painted in 1480-1481, now hangs in the Louvre. It is a small painting with a deep and misty landscape with highly detailed flowers in the foreground very typical of Leonardo's style during his time in Florence.


By far one of the most famous paintings of all time, the Last Supper was painted between 1495 and 1498 at the Santa Maria delle Grazie Monastery in Milan. This biblical scene, commissioned by the Friars of Saint Dominic is significant for it's incredible composition and the subtle emotional interplay between the apostles. Featuring great dexterity and mastery of the human form, this compelling work is at once a moving testament to Christianity and a marvel of DaVinci's virtuosity and technical finesse as a painter. This painting firmly establishes Leonardo's position as the supreme master artist of the high renaissance. At all times, Christ is the central focus of the scene. This is accomplished by placing Christ in the center of the painting and by placing all of the spatial lines and perspective points within the framework of the painting to draw the viewer to the very center of the tableau. The apostles are in fact supporting characters and each and every figure is majestically formed to frame and enhance the focus on the Christ figure. The years surrounding the period in which the Last Supper was painted were periods of intense anatomical studies for Da Vinci. It is a well known fact that Leonardo dissected cadavers in order to fully understand the complex workings of the muscles and inner workings of the human body. Of huge importance is to understand that the individual apostles are reacting to Christ’s announcement that a traitor is among them. This is the very heart of this timeless, enduring image. The “Pathos” of each figure is brilliantly executed through gestures and reactions that reveal each apostle's individual astonishment, disbelief, and fear. Certainly one of the worlds most widely copied paintings, The Last Supper has greatly deteriorated over the years. This was due to Da Vinci's experimentation with pigments and the natural time-related decay. Initial conservation efforts date back to the early 18th century. The more recent restorations lasted twenty years concluding in June 1999.


Began in 1503, the Mona Lisa was a commissioned portrait of the Florentine nobleman, Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi de Giocondo's third wife, Lisa di Antonio Maria di Noldo Gjerardini at the age of twenty four. Painted on poplar wood, the iconic imagery of the Mona Lisa is so ingrained into western culture that the enigmatic smile of the mysterious woman is nearly synonymous with art, itself. As with many of da Vinci's works, this painting has a stunning history. The allure and myth of the work Is matched with the technical and artistic virtuosity of the piece. The sublety of the magnificent smile, the richly layered and highly detailed background are hallmarks of a process known as sfumato. Utilizing layers and layers of glazes, the illusion of depth is achieved. This technique, highly developed by the Dutch masters, was adopted and perfected to such a degree by Leonardo that it became a Da Vinci trademark. Another fine example of sfumato is The Virgin of The Rocks (1484) National Gallery, London.

The original Mona Lisa was actually larger than the present 77 x 53 cm. Originally, there were two columns one on each side of the figure which made it much clearer that the young woman is seated on a terrace. Leonardo worked on Mona Lisa for 4 years and kept the painting himself. Some believe that he was simply unable to part with it. Nine years later, arriving in France, the painting was in his baggage, and was sold to King Francis I. Amboise, Fountainbleau, Versailles, Ludwig XIV's collection and the Louvre were all homes to this alluring masterpiece. Napolean removed the painting from the Louvre and hung it in his bedroom. Upon his banishment to Elba, the Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre.

In 1911, the painting was stolen by an italian art thief. Ironically, two years later, the Mona Lisa resurfaced in Florence, the city of its true origin! Eventually the painting made it's way back to the Louvre. In the 60s and 70's, The Mona Lisa was exhibited in New York, Tokyo and Moscow. Today the masterpiece is in permanent residence in the Louvre and international law prohibits any foreign exhibition.


In addition to Leonardo's extraodinary contributions to the world of art, his powers of divine intellect led him to explore many other fields of endeavor. The renaissance was the period in which science and art blended together in the search for the purest, logical, and analytical observation of nature. The Homo - Vitruvianus by Da Vinci is a study of proportions with the human figure inscribed in a circle and a square is a superb example of this philosophy and the period's quest for scientific analysis.

Leonardo again placed himself at the forefront of this new age of reason and intellect. His commitment to observation of the human body is unsurpassed and included skeletal and muscle studies, respiratory and digestive systems and the evolution of the fetus within the womb. The collection of Leonardo's anatomical studies consist of roughly two hundred folios and are kept at the Royal Library at Windsor, England. Additionally daVinci's vast study of nature include the action of light, the growth of plants and the flow of water.


Considering the scope and vision of Leonardo's power of expression and the multitude of interests that inspired and intrigued him, it would be next to impossible to list them all. His spirit of scientific inquiry coupled with a daring and inventive mind allowed him to explore and elaborate on inventions and concepts as varied as engines, gears and pulleys flow mills and irrigational aqueducts. Fascinated with flight, Leonardo carefully observed birds and their wing structures. Applying these deceptively simple principles to mechanics and technology, he made numerous illustrations depicting machines of flight which are in essence the “working plans “ for hang-gliders, planes and helicopters which exist today. This is but one of the many examples of why Leonardo da Vinci is considered an enigma that lived centuries ahead of his time.


In autumn of 1516 Leonardo arrived in Amboise, at the invitation of King Francis I. He lived in the small castle cloux and pursued his hydrological studies. At the age of 67, the great master passed away on May 2, 1519. His health had severely deteriorated and paralysis had taken over the right side of his body. Leonardo da Vinci's remains are in the Chapel of St. Hubert situated within the king castle complex in Amboise, France.


Considered the last of Leonardo's verifiable works, this painting is strikingly different from previous visual conceptions of the saint. It is a powerful work in it's subtle simplicity and contains four recurring elements or themes consistent with Da Vinci's other dazzingly poetic paintings: the flowing curly hair defined with incredible precision, the enigmatic smile, peering through deep, dense shadows and perhaps most poignant, a finger pointing to heaven.


1.) Self Portrait. 1512. Red Chalk on Paper. Biblioteka Reale. Turin, Italy.

2.) The Annunciation. c. 1472-1475. Oil and Tempera on Wood. Uffizi Gallery. Florence, Italy

3.) The Last Supper. 1495-1498. Oil and Tempera on Plaster. Fresco, 460 x 880 cm (15 x 29 ft)
Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, (Refectory). Milan, Italy.

4.) The Last Supper (detail of Jesus) see above.

5.) Mona Lisa. (La Gioconda) 1503-1506. Oil on Wood. Louvre, Paris, France.

6.) The Virgin of the Rocks. 1503-1506. Oil on Wood, 189.5 x 120 cm (6 x 4 ft.)

The National Gallery. London, England

7.) The Proportions of the Human Figure (Vitruvia Man). 1490. Pen, ink and watercolor over metalpoint.
Galleria dell ‘Accademia. Venice, Italy.

8.) Female genitals and foetus in the uterus. 1510-1512. Windsor, Royal Library (RL 1901r: K/P 197v)

9.) Study for flying machine. C.1487-1490 (the so-called “helicopter”) Ms B f. 83v

10.) St. John the Baptist. c.1573-1516. Oil on Wood. Louvre, Paris, France.











Leonardo Da Vinci

By Carlo Pedretti

Published by TAJ Books

Cobham, Surrey

United Kingdom


Great Ages of Man

Time-Life Books

Copyright 1965

Art: Context and Criticism

By John Kissick

Penn State University

Published by Wm.C. Brown Communications, Inc.

Copyright 1993.

This Article Copyright 2005 by John Keaton. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Capture the Secrets of Venice's Art on School Trips

The beauty and uniqueness of Venice has been captured on canvas by some of the world's most renowned artists. From the Renaissance artists to JMW Turner and on to the present day, the city has attracted interest from many. Students on school trips to the city will have a wealth of art to discover.

The Renaissance

The Venetian School dates from 1450 until 1600, and during this time Venice was a powerful republic with a stable economy and strong trading economy. It survived outbreaks of the Black Death and the fall of its main trading partner Constantinople. This all meant that it had the wealth to support an art movement, and the Venetian School was born.

For students walking around Venice during school trips, art abounds, and it just falls to you to see it. It was all about appearances, and the beautiful palaces throughout the city result from the importance of the first impression being as impressive as possible.

Anyone who has visited Venice will have noticed the quality of the light, and the artists of Venice started to look at the relationship between light and colour. The pioneers of the Venetian School came from the Murano glassworker families of Bellini and Vivarini; however, the first big name in Venetian painting was Giorgione, whose important works include The Tempest and Sleeping Venus, which was completed by Titian after the premature death of Giorgione. Titian was inspired by Giorgione and, along with Tintoretto and many artists from other parts of the world, travelled to Venice to continue his legacy. These artists included Albrecht Durer and El Greco.

Titian and Tintoretto are two of the artists whose work is exhibited at the Doges Palace on St Marks Square, at site that should be on the itinerary of any school trips to Venice. The Doges Palace is a collection of small museums housed around a courtyard. Once the home to the Doge and the site of Venice's main prison, the building is an art work in itself with its frescoes, friezes and gilded ceilings. The Doges' apartments contain the work of some of Venice's most esteemed Renaissance artists.

18th Century Art

The 18th century was the beginning of the popularity of landscape painting. Constable, Gainsborough and Turner grasped the opportunity to produce great works of art in this genre, and although Constable and Thomas Gainsborough largely kept their subject matter close to home, JMW Turner looked further afield for grand landscapes to interpret.

Turner and Canaletto most famously captured the 18th century landscape of Venice and their works are largely the reason why, when visiting Venice for the first time on school trips, it may look somehow familiar to students. Canaletto, translated as 'little canal', was born in Venice and his wonderful paintings of the canals and buildings of the city were often sold to Englishmen on their Grand Tour. He later travelled to England and amongst his British landscapes is his depiction of Westminster Bridge. Turner's journey to Venice started in Covent Garden in London, but as a young man he travelled extensively in Europe including many visits to Venice. His ability to capture the unique light of the city is legendary.

It is easy to see, when you witness the views of Venice first-hand, why many artists have been inspired to paint them. The results of their labour will ensure Venice remains alive in your memory long after you leave her to return home.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reevaluating the Black Power Movement - From Mayor Richard G Hatcher to President Barack Obama

Though misunderstood and misrepresented by the media and its opponents, the 1960s Black Power movement touched every aspect of American culture, and like the "New Negro" Movement of the 1920s, African Americans came of age, becoming self-determining and racially conscious. Black people- sharecroppers, unionists, welfare and tenants rights organizers, students, intellectuals, poets, musicians and singers and politicians-grounded in the ideology of Black Power, began to organize around controlling their own lives and institutions. The movement pointedly questioned the capacity of America's democracy to extend justice, citizenship and equality of opportunity to African Americans, castigating America for its failure to live up to the principles of democracy.

Unfortunately, the confrontational style and practice the Black Power Movement has obscured its pivotal role in transforming American democracy. Yet, its cultural and political mode of thought and practice- its assertive posture, strong rhetoric and uncompromising critique-permanently altered the political landscape of America as well as the identity of African Americans. At a time when blacks were still referring to themselves as "Negroes", ashamed of being black, of their hair, and their African heritage, the movement for power by black people in 1966 roared on the national stage transforming the consciousness of African Americans. Thus, coined and popularized by Kwame Toure, Black Power captured the spirit and imagination of black people, setting a new national agenda with international ramifications.

To be sure, the Black Power movement imagined the possibilities for black empowerment and American democracy. Its unflinching call for the promotion of black history and black studies; its Pan African impulse; its far-reaching criticism of racism at home and imperialism abroad, expanded the dialogue and parameters of the black freedom struggle. Resultantly, black people began to turn inward, using their cultural strengths to push back against racism and to affirm their own humanity and to embrace an African centric worldview. So far-reaching and so expansive was the tentacles of the Black Power movement that no venue or sector was untouched by its vision and critique. The Black Power salute in the 1968 Olympic by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, for example, was the most overly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games. The salute was part of a protest to call attention to the injustices black Americans were facing.

Another sector heavily impacted by ideology and direction of Black Power Movement, was the music industry. The music in the late 1960s began to reflect the influence of the movement- James Brown, Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud, the anthem for the Black Power Movement, Nina Simone, To Be Young Gifted and Black, The Temptations, Message From A Black Man. Besides this, the "Natural", a hair style which evolved into a cultural and political statement for black men and women, and the dashiki, which became the dominant form of dress for African Americans, were representative of the African centric perspective of blacks.

Politically, at both the local and national level, black people started to organize around the three ends of Black Power-self-respect, self-determination, and self-defense. In 1967 the first Black Power Conference was held in Newark. A Black Power Manifesto came out of this conference, condemning "neo-colonialist control" of black populations worldwide and calling for the circulation of a "philosophy of blackness" that would unite and direct the oppressed in common cause. In 1972 Black Power advocates, organized and called for a State of the Union meeting, first National Black Political Convention. Delegates included elected officials and revolutionaries, integrationists and black nationalists, Baptists and Muslims (the widows of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X- Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz- both attended). Participants were buoyed by the spirit of possibility, and themes of unity and self-determination.

In a real sense, Black Power ushered in a new black politics. In Dark Days Bright Nights, Peniel Joseph, argues persuasively that the politics of Black Power included a "cultural ethos that redefined black identity by promoting defiantly popular images of racial pride and self-determination." Peniel adds that Black Power "waged a war of attrition to in order to implement Black Studies programs...established independent schools, educations centers, cultural centers, and think tanks...the new black politics featured alliances between elected officials and black nationalist militants, and a cultural movement that used art to expand black consciousness and helped forged an international legacy that viewed African liberation as the crown jewel of a global revolution." Peniel concludes that all of this in turn "planted seeds that partially inspired post-Black Power era anti-apartheid activisms," and that; "If the civil rights worked from the outside-in by paving the way for legal and legislative reforms, Black Power worked in reverse, imbuing the race consciousness and pride within the African American communities upon which much of contemporary black identity is based."

In brief, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which has had its signal events incorporated into the fabric of America's political and cultural institutions and historical memory through the media and academic historians, the Black Power Movement has been defined by its excesses and demonized by the media and marginalized in history of the 1960s. Yet, failure to recognize the achievements of the Black Power Movement and rescue its legacy serves only to diminish the history of the social justice movement, including civil rights, and the contemporary racial justice movement. To be sure, this Movement made significant accomplishments in transforming African American politic and culture, and in reforming American institutions: laying the groundwork for the Jesse Jackson's candidacy for the Democratic 1984 and 1988 presidential nominations, the election of Ron Brown as the first African American chair of the Democratic National Committee, and the election of Barack Obama, the first African American elected President of the United States of America.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who Do Admire Enough to Want Their Autograph?

I'll go first, because I asked the question. Besides several distant presidents and the likes of Michelangelo, Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin, I am thinking of the more recent past. I doubt if I could ever afford a Shakespeare signature, which is said to be the most rare of any kind. And Jesus never signed anything, to the best of our knowledge. No, I would have to settle for someone else. I'm an artist and gravitate toward certain painters. Over the years, of collecting fine art, I've managed to obtain signed works of everyone from Picasso and Marc Chagall to Leroy Neiman and Peter Max, my most recent. But, let's be more objective. Who is admirable and why would one want their signature or autograph?

We have the right to envy other famous people for what they have accomplished and who they were. We desire a part of them and a signature is something quite personal. If it happens to be on a photo, album, t-shirt, or other specific document, then all the better. It brings us closer to them in a way that allows a cosmic connection, while providing a degree of satisfaction. Which brings me back to the main question.

Some former presidents come to mind. I loved Kennedy until that fateful day in Dallas. Many TV stars were my heroes, like Rod Serling for his writing and anyone on Star Trek, but they were just actors. I loved the Beatles and Billy Joel, for their amazing writing and music. I think highly of any inventor and other creative individuals. In the business world, there is Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Warren Buffet, to name a few movers and shakers that have altered the corporate landscape.

We have our share of prolific writers like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Dean Koontz. Yet there are so many to worthy to choose from, where do you begin? Neil Armstrong who was the first to walk on the moon or perhaps Prince Charles, the future King of England? On a personal level, my wife treasures a book signed by Eleanor Roosevelt. I have a personal letter from Salvador's Dali's secretary while he was staying in New York and a signed photo. I also have a photo of Robert Redford taken at an event I attended. But I have someone else in mind on the top of my "most admired" list. He was someone that changed America and arguably, the world. His vision, creativity, and passion was to affect children and families for decades to come. It began with a mouse featured in a movie named Steamboat Willy in 1928 and the rest is history.

Walt Disney made animated movies and redesigned the American theme park. Today there is barely a man, woman, or child on this planet that hasn't seen part of his legacy. Whether it's an image of Mickey Mouse, one of the many Disney-Lands, toys, pictures, or TV shows, his stamp is everywhere. I sought out something special of his that could not be faked or duplicated. Today, I own a check he signed in 1963 out of his Anaheim bank account while he was building Disney World. It was authenticated by Phil Sears, a noted collector and verifier of Disney memorabilia. It makes me smile every time I look at it, just to remember the joy that Walt brought, and still brings, to millions.

I may buy a few other autographs of other influential people, but none will be as special. So, was it worth the expensive and effort? I'll say yes for myself without any regrets. Walt passed away in December of 1966 at the relatively young age of 65. That check is and was part of his legacy because it helped fund his many projects. But enough about my collection.

Who would you love to connect with via a signature or autograph? Who is a hero or heroine to you? What part of their legacy or successes would you like to share by way of a signature? Even if they passed away, you could probably still obtain one like I did. The Internet is a great resource with dozens of legitimate businesses that specialize in that subject. By the way, if you like my articles and have followed my career, I'd be more than happy to send you my signature, although I wouldn't count on it going up in value any time soon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 10 Tips For a Great Holiday in Spain

UK and worldwide advertising by the Spanish National Tourist Office emphasises the multi-faceted nature of the country. Different regions all offer unique landscapes, lifestyles, cuisine and opportunities for exploration.

Spain is a country of sleepy villages where the siesta is still observed and wonderful meals are served not before 3pm for lunch and 9pm for dinner. This is traditional Spain - and you don't have to travel far from popular resort areas to find it.

But of course, Spain is also the hustle and bustle of the big, modern cities - with international standard hotels, major art centres and museums. Sporting legacies from the Olympic Games of 1992 as well as the fanatically-followed football teams all add to the mix of non-stop attractions for city breaks or multi-centre visits. Of course, Spain also has some of the most dramatic landscapes and seascapes in Europe.

So: here are a set of Top 10 Tips which reflect the best of Spain:

Beaches: From the cosy coves of the Costa Brava to the vast acres of golden sand on the island of Fuerteventura, there is a beach to suit you whether you like a busy resort or a strip of sand near a fishing village.

Nightlife: The Spanish like it long and late and you're more than welcome to join in. Check out a traditional flamenco show or the hottest sounds on the disco island of Ibiza.

Food: Tapas bars have brought Spanish cuisine to many countries, and you will soon discover it is as varied and delicious as anywhere in Europe. Don't forget rice-based paella, Spain's national dish.

Wine: There are wine growing regions all over the country, the best-known being La Rioja in the north. Visit Jerez to see the home of sherry and check out the little known vintages of the Canaries.

Art: Spain has produced world-renowned painters ranging from classical Velazquez to surrealist Picasso. Madrid has some of the finest art museums in the world.

Cities: All the buzz and excitement of Spain comes together in the capital, Madrid; and Barcelona, the Olympics city by the sea. Also look at up-and-coming Seville, Valencia and Palma.

Nature: Spain is home to many national parks, such as the Picos de Europa in the north and Donana in the south. Tenerife has Spain's highest peak, Mount Teide.

History: Did you know the Moorish Arabs ruled Spain for seven centuries, and that their legacy includes the fabulous Alhambra Palace in Granada? You'll find palaces and castles everywhere.

Shopping: Big city stores such as El Corte Ingles rub shoulders with colourful traditional markets. The Canaries are a duty-free zone.

Touring: Hire a car or take your own, and discover the "Real Spain" along the back roads. Touring routes include the White Towns of Andalucia.

There you have it - 10 great reasons for a holiday in Spain - and 10 great reasons to go back for more.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Georgia O'Keeffe - The Legend of Modern Abstract Art

Georgia O'Keeffe or Georgia Totto O'Keeffe was an American painter, who revolutionized the concept of modern abstract art. Born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia O'Keeffe grew up in Virginia. She graduated from the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1904, and studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (1905) and the Art Students League of New York (1907). She later moved to Texas and headed the Art Department at the West Texas State Normal College in 1916. The charm of the barren landscape caught O'Keeffe's fascination, tilting the balance of her artistic skills towards capturing the beauty of the valleys and plains that surrounded her.

Georgia's paintings drew up a close-up view of desert flowers, backdrops, cow skulls, and Calla Lilies. Her work won her a passionate audience. Her artistic brilliance was first noticed in her charcoal drawings of bud and flowers in 1916. Ace photographer and art gallery director of 291, Alfred Stieglitz, whom Georgia later married, exhibited 10 of her drawings in the same year. She had the knack of capturing and representing natural beauty in her own distinct ways. April 1917, O'Keeffe held her first solo show at the art gallery, 291.

1920s witnessed some of the best artworks of O'Keeffe. Her first large scale flower painting, "Petunia, No.2 (1924)," was first exhibited in 1925. She canvassed the buildings of New York in "City Night and New York--Night (1926)" and "Radiator Bldg--Night, New York (1927)." In one of her painting, 'The Black Iris (1926),' she magnified a flower beautifully, giving it a startling and an unusual look. Later in her career, O'Keeffe introduced different patterns of the sky, which she observed during her travels by air. Her mural, 'Sky above Clouds (1962-63),' is one of her largest illustrations.

Georgia O'Keeffe finally settled down in Abiquiu, New Mexico, after her husband's death in 1949. She continued to fascinate the world with her emotive and simple paintings of exotic southwestern landscapes. By the time her illustrious career ended with her death in 1986, Georgia had carved a niche for herself and had left behind a legacy, which became a major source of inspiration for the other artists.

O'Keeffe always maintained that anything around her that came to her notice and intrigued her, she simply brought to the canvas. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowments of the Arts Washington, DC in 1985, which was presented to her by President Ronald Regan. She was also awarded the Medal of Freedom, which is the nation's highest civilian honor. The National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded her a Gold Medal for Painting. She also held the distinct honor of being the first woman to exhibit her art at the Museum of Modern Art.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Travel Guide to Cardiff

A city of positive outlook, Cardiff is a town designed by the richest man in the 19th century, the 3rd marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart. He left a legacy of great architecture that can be seen in the Cardiff Castle and the Civic Center. While preserving this legacy undamaged, this town is gradually adjusting itself and going with the 21st century.

The Cardiff Castle had been once a spot of ancient ruins which the Bute family developed into landscaped grounds and kitsch. This family was also responsible in making Cardiff the world's greatest coal port. In line with this, in addition they got the Pierhead Building created. It is a red-colored brick French Gothic Renaissance building that was built to stir maritime traffic. You can even see the Llandaff Cathedral, another one of the popular architectural sites in Cardiff. It is a beautiful church built on the area of a monastery set up by St. Tielo. The symbol and center of the regeneration of Cardiff Bay is the Wales Millennium Centre. It is considered an architectural work of art of various colors of piled Welsh slate and a bronzed steel shell.

The Coal Exchange was the center of the Welsh coal trade. In 1908, the 1st check for one million pounds was written by a coal merchant. Today, arts and performances tend to be housed and hosted in this building. Cafe and stores are located in the harbor of Cardiff at the Mermain Quay. Throughout the Cardiff Festival, a carnival happens here and samba bands and dance troupes are readily available. This is a great place for shopping and taking a leisurely stroll. Remember to check out the Goleulong 2000 Lightship. This is found near the Norwegian Church on the harbor. It houses the Christian center exactly where you'll be able to find a bookstore, cafe as well as displays. You may also see the small cabins and climb the lighthouse to acquire a view of Cardiff.

Above the shopping street in the city center is the Gothic lantern tower of the Church of St. John the Baptist. It is a 15th century parish that exhibits stonework on the exterior which is so sensitive you'd believe it was filigree. Elegant arches enhance the inside of the church and this is a terrific spot to acquire some peaceful time from the hustle and bustle of the street.

Environment: Like Wales, Cardiff's climate is generally unstable. It can be wet and windy, cloudy and gray, or downright sunny. The rainy season begin in October and goes through right up until winter so the best time to go to Cardiff is in the summer or spring. The days are long and warm in summer but there can be a lot of travelers sightseeing as well. If you want to avoid the crowds, go in spring.

Transportation: You may rent a car, motorcycle or bicycle to reach notable places in Cardiff. You can also take the official black taxi to get around Cardiff. They can be hailed in the street, ordered by phone or you can go to the taxi stops located outside the train station, Duke Street, or at the corner of Greyfriars Road and Park Place. There are buses that also cover different destinations in and around Cardiff.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RIP MJ - Long Live the King

When first hearing the news, initially the first thing that when into my mind was that "Nah, it can't be true. it's a lie." Then when, other news sources (CNN, Yahoo, etc.) began to confirm the story, it was shocking and total disbelief for me. It was bad enough to hear about the death of Farah Fawcett a few hours earlier and now the news that Michael Jackson is gone. I was too young to remember when Elvis Presley passed away in 1977 and I was in second grade when John Lennon was assassinated in1980, and in my lifetime the deaths of Sammy Davis Jr. in 1990, Tupac Shakur in 1996, Notorious BIG in 1997, Aaliyah in 2001, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2002 and James Brown in 2006 were huge, Jackson's passing was was the biggest on them all.

My earliest memory of Michael Jackson was when he was with his brothers in 1979 with the song "Shake Your Body Down To The Ground." As a six-year-old, I couldn't remember any of the the words in each verse, but I do remember singing ( at least try to sing) the chorus of the song around my house after hearing in on the radio. Another memory took place on Christmas 1982, when my mother bought us for the family gift the Thriller album. It was a total surprise for us being that the album was just released a few weeks earlier that month. Who knew that it was going to be the biggest selling album of all time (According to SoundScan: 100 million and still counting.)

The last memory was five months later in May 1983. My brother and I had to go to bed because we had school the next day, but my mother asked us if we wanted to stay up and see Motown 25 ( NBC was showing the television special that night.) Of course we said yes and we watched the show. You could not believe what you saw on in that special, seeing Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Temptations, The Four Tops performing on stage, as well as The Jackson 5 reunion and Michael's classic performance of "Billie Jean."

His performance was something that my classmates and I talked about at school the next day. This was the days before TiVo, Internet, Youtube, MySpace, Facebook and any other social networking sites where someone would post the video clips online immediately. Unless you had the money for a VCR ( and not too many of us did back then) you had to see it live because if you missed it, then you missed a great performance.


1984 was the year that everyone wanted to be like Mike( this is before another future global icon with the initials MJ who would make a name for himself around the NBA later on that year with the Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan.) It seemed in that year alone, anything record Jackson sang on, whether it was his songs, any collaboration (See: "State of Shock" with Mick Jagger and "Say Say Say" with Paul McCartney) or just provided background vocals (See: Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me; with his brother Jermaine on "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming" and his sister Rebbie on "Centipede." that song was going to be a hit. If you were a Michael Jackson fan in 1984, the height of "Michaelmania" ,you wanted to do to not only dance like the man but also dress like him as well. My funds at the time didn't allow me to buy the "Beat It" jacket; the "Thriller" jacket; a chance to go to the Victory Tour, or get myself a jheri curl ( it crossed my mind, but I never did get one-but my friends did though--man, seeing those care free curl activator bottles and the plastic caps that went along with it brings back memories though.) But my funds did allow me to buy the 45s of some of the singles that were released off the "Thriller" album.

A Trailblazer

"Billie Jean" was the first music video shown on MTV that was done by a black artist. It is hard to believe now when you see the channel, but MTV did not show any videos from black artists (even though Rick James, Evelyn Champagne King, Gap Band, Ray Parker Jr. ,Earth Wind and Fire had already made music videos, the network wouldn't show them because there were not rock videos. )Walter Yetnikoff, President of CBS Records, issued an ultimatum to MTV, either they will show "Billie Jean" or they will never receive any more videos from any artist on the CBS Records music roster and the network will be exposed for their policies. MTV gave in and began to show Billie Jean on a regular basis. Jackson was able to change the concept of a music video. It went from a promotional tool to something of a mini-movie. The challenge was thrown to every artist out there in the music business: if you just want to sing in your video, that's fine, but if you want your video to stand out, you had to either act and/or dance in order to get some attention from the public. Jackson's appeal crossed racial, gender, age, and social economic boundaries. The blueprint for his success was the label he started out his recording career with: Motown, where Berry Gordy's plan was to have R& B music acts that would crossover to the pop charts.

A flawed Genius

The man was a great singer/ songwriter, a fluid dancer (he was a student of James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly , the Nicholas Brothers, plus he added elements of Hip-Hop, Broadway, Jazz and Tap to his dance repertoire) :a humanitarian (he donated time and money to charitable causes along with visiting sick children in hospitals, clinics and shelters here in the United States and all around the world); smart businessman ( buying the Beatles catalog was an excellent and sound investment.) and a excellent on stage performer ( as a music act, you better bring in every night and give the audience their money's worth- a lesson that Jackson always followed in each and every concert.)

Unfortunately, the last 15 years has been fodder for the tabloids. Whether it was about his plastic surgery
( Did he go took far- yes!) his questionable behavior in public ( Should hie used better judgment when he was in the public eye-Yes!)his spending habits ( Did he spend beyond his means in the later years- Yes!) his entourage ( did he surround himself with people that really did not look for his best interest, especially those hangers-on that were only around just to bleed money from him- Yes!) his "disappointing" album sales after Thriller ( According to SoundScan: 1987's Bad album sold 8 million copies in the U.S and 30 million worldwide with 6 top 10 hits including 5 songs that hit No.1) 1991's Dangerous album sold 7 million in the U.S and 32 million worldwide with 6 top 10 hits. and 2001's Invincible sold 2 million in the U.S. but 10 million worldwide with 2 top ten hits- pretty good for an album that had little promotion by Sony Music; wasn't part of a world tour and virtually ignored by mainstream pop radio.) and his two well publicized court cases involving young children (the ironic thing is prior to the 1993 case, Michael was on a media tour with the super bowl performance that January, doing print and tv interviews and showing up on award shows- then the stuff hit the fan that summer and that was it. The 2005 case was very evident that it really took its physical and emotional toll on him.)

The Legacy lives on

Despite the media pretty much tried and convicted him for having a bizarre personality while documenting his trials and tribulations on a regular basis; Despite the media also saying that he is a has-been in today's music landscape; despite being a polarizing figure in the court of public opinion; and despite being the punchline for jokes for late night comics, Jackson has always maintain a loyal following not only here in the United States but also around the world. His impact in the music industry throughout the years has created a new generation of musical acts and dancers who were definitely influenced by Jackson whether it by his singing style with the voice inflections or dancing style, where the moves are precision-like and tight.

Jackson was on his way to perform a series of concerts in London later on this month and sadly, we will never know how it would have turned out.

Final Words

Was the man a saint? No. Jackson had a horrible childhood and as a adult, he developed an addiction to plastic surgery, and as what we have learned recently in the news, to prescription drugs. But the man was not the monster or freak that the media made him out to be. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about Jackson, but memo to United States Congressman Peter King: "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Lastly, while there are worthy contenders out there to be the next King or Queen of Pop of today's music landscape, there will never be one like Michael Jackson- end of discussion.

Rest In Peace- Michael Joseph Jackson- The Greatest Of All Time

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Experience the Royal Saga During Rajasthan Tour

Rajasthan is one of the known tourist destinations of India. It is visited by large number of tourists throughout the year for memorable holidays. Jaipur, Udaipur and Mount Abu are the world renowned tourist destinations of Rajasthan.

The blended charm of desert landscapes, royal forts, beautiful palaces, vibrant culture, colourful fairs and festivals make Rajasthan a favoured destination among tourists. The nature's scattered beauty and preserved cultural heritage of the bygone era enthrall tourists during their Rajasthan Tour. It is the place where tourists can feel the charm of royal era of raja-maharajas. This state has several tourist destinations which are famous across the globe. Mount Abu, Jaipur and Udaipur are among the famous destinations of Rajasthan.

Mount Abu

This is the only hill station of Rajasthan renowned for its pleasant climate, heritage buildings and wonderful religious sites. It is a beautiful destination located at the tip of the Aravali Mountains. Because of its salubrious climate, serene and scenic ambiance this place is quoted as the green oasis in the desert land. This is a hill retreat where tourist comes in a large number to spend holidays.

This place is also a sacred pilgrimage of the Jains and Hindus. The Dilwara Jain Temples are the foremost tourist attractions of this place. These Jain temples are known across the globe for exquisite carvings on pillars, ceilings, walls and floors. Some of the other famous tourist attractions of this place are Shri Raghunathji Temple, Nakki Lake, Museum and Art Gallery, Honeymoon Point and Sunset Point.


Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the Pink City of India it attracts tourists from far and wide. It is renowned across the globe for its rich cultural heritage and historical monuments which mesmerise tourists during their Jaipur Tour. Hawa Mahal is the most famous attraction of this place renowned for its Mughal, Persian and Indian styles of construction and decorations. It is an architectural legacy chiselled out of white marble and red sandstone. The other popular attractions of this place are City palace, Amber fort, Jantar Mantar and Nahargarh fort.


It is counted among the romantic cities of the world which calls on large number of visitors from across the globe. This beautiful place is famous for its royal palaces, gardens, lakes and temples. Large number of tourists comes here throughout the year for spending memorable and pleasurable holidays. The blend of man made grandeur and natural wonder showcases the elegant beauty of this place. The famous tourist attractions of this place are Lake Palace, City palace, Saheliyon-ki-Bari and Solar observatory.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sailing through History - Cruising in Turkey by Gulet

Rain was smacking against the window. It was icy cold. Sitting in the dark depths of a British University's library in 1994, I was gazing out dreaming of somewhere warm and exotic. Turkey was the place that lit up my imagination.

Three great things embody this country. Just four hours flight away from international London, it has a culture which is profoundly different, distinctly unfamilar. A land on the very cusp of Europe and Asia, with two heads simultaneously facing both east and west, it embodies the magic and mysticism of the orient. Once nomads from Central Asia, the Turks were for centuries the middlemen of the world, famed merchants uniting three continents - Europe, Africa, and Asia, as far east as China. Today, its people are famed for their warmth and hospitality, a gift of their nomadic ancestry and Islam's code of respect for strangers in a strange land.

The second great thing about Turkey is its age. The place is steeped in history. It's the site of some of the very earliest cities, like Çatal Hoyuk, stretching back 10,000 years. Ever after it was a veritable crossroads of civilisations. When archaeologists dig in Turkey they are confronted by layers upon layers of peoples and cultures, from Hittite fortifications to Byzantine churches. Before I'd even set foot there, Turkey conjured up images of all the things that I longed to see, great sun-burnt plains on which ancient battles were fought, theatres where Greek philosophers declaimed, and the marble clad ruins of Rome's imperial ambitions.

It's widely said that Turkey has more and better preserved Greek and Roman archaeological sites than Greece and Italy combined. The landscape is simply riddled with ruins, many of which are virtually untouched. You can literally stroll through an olive grove and stumble upon a Greek temple still standing proud, and have the place all to yourself. Many people say part of Turkey's charm is that it is like Greece was thirty years ago.

The third fantastic thing about Turkey is the landscape. About three and a half times the size of Britain, it has almost the same population, leaving vast areas wide, empty, and pretty much as nature intended. Add to that soaring mountain ranges, brillant white sunlight, and a vast coastline stretching along three seas, the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean, and you have a truly marvellous holiday destination.

I first went to Turkey eleven years ago, on a 2,000 mile walking adventure, to retrace Alexander the Great's footsteps from Troy to the battlefield of Issus, where the epic warrior defeated the Persians for a second time. A five month journey took me down the western Aegean coast past some of the giant cities of classical history, like Ephesus, Priene, and Miletus; deep into the interior through tiny farming villages where I was feted as an honoured guest; and south through the peaks and valleys of the Taurus mountains, where donkeys are still a favoured mode of transport.

A decade later and my love affair with Turkey still beats strong. While it was walking that brought me to Turkey, today I prefer a very different way of travelling: sailing. With some 5,178 miles of coastline, Turkey is a paradise for cruising. Its south and west coasts offer perhaps the most spectacular sailing in the Mediterranean, full of craggy coves and sleepy fishing villages, bustling harbours and deserted bays shaped like giant theatres with breathtaking vistas. Littered with antiquities, protected by law, large sections of it have remained undeveloped, still lapped by the clear waters on which the giants of ancient history sailed: Achilles, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar...

In places, mountains of limestone drop sheer into the sea, elsewhere pine forested peninsulas stretch out like sinuous fingers hiding a cornucopia of golden beaches, deep gulfs, and tiny offshore islands. With such a stunning everchanging backdrop, I can't think of a better way to see Turkey, to explore its culture, discover such rich ruins, and drink in the landscape, than to set sail on a gulet. Spared the need to constantly pack, unpack, and change hotels, instead one travels in luxurious style. Perhaps the key thing for me is that it's travel the way the ancients usually did. It makes thinking about the past altogether easier. Out on the waves, time can literally dissolve in the water, two millennia can disappear from the mind.

A mad keen sailor, Peter Ustinov once wrote: "The sea not only sharpens a sense of beauty and of alarm, but also a sense of history. You are confronted with precisely the sight which met Caesar's eyes, and Hannibal's, without having to strain the imagination by subtracting television aerials from the skyline and filling in the gaps in the Collosseum...off the magical coast of Turkey you rediscover what the world was like when it was empty...and when pleasures were as simple as getting up in the morning...and every day is a journey of discovery."

Gulets are really the vessel of choice for exploring the Turkish coast. Handbuilt from wood, usually pine from local forests, they're often as much as 80 feet long and sleep between six and 16 guests in attractive double or twin cabins. They tend to have three or four capable and helpful crew members, captain, cook, and one or two mates, who do all the work allowing passengers to relax. Most gulets have a spacious main saloon, a large rear deck where meals are served, and sun loungers on the roof at the front. The majority operate for the most part under motor, but some are also designed for proper sailing. When the sails go up, and the engine turns silent, you have the same soundtrack as Odysseus on Homer's "wine dark sea", the slapping of water on the side of the ship, and the wind rushing through the canopy.

Aboard a gulet, one travels in the footsteps of ancient Greek pilgrims en route to an oracular temple like Didyma, or in the wake of Byzantine merchants carrying a cargo of glass, like the Serce Limani shipwreck now in Bodrum museum, or like Roman tourists on their way to see the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.

I remember the first time I visited the ancient city of Knidos, a sensational site for maritime trade perched at the very tip of the Datca peninsula, between Bodrum and Marmaris. We sailed and moored up in the city's old commercial harbour, just as merchants from Athens, Rhodes, and cities right across the Mediterranean would have done over 2,000 years ago. My fellow travellers and I gawped in wonder, as we eased into the ancient port, and its monuments took shape: the small theatre, the rows of houses, the miles of fortifications climbing up a steep ridge. We anchored where countless vessels had previously - large cargo ships, local fishing boats, perhaps even some fighting triremes. Even today the ancient mooring stones where they tied up are still visible, projecting out from the harbour walls.

One of the defining characteristics of a gulet trip is the back to nature appreciation of the simple things: the clean fresh air, the canopy of stars at night, the time to lounge about and read. Swimming in the crystal waters of the celebrated turquoise coast is of course one of the frequent highlights, and there are usually windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkelling gear available for the slightly more adventurous.

Alongside the archaeology and the relaxed atmosphere, one of the greatest delights is the food. Turkish food is justly famed, often ranked as one of the three pre-eminent cuisines in the world alongside French and Chinese. The focus is all about simple but incredibly fresh local ingredients, often grown organically or raised free range. You only have to taste a tomato in Turkey to see the difference. It's surprising how even on the smallest gulets, out of the tiniest of galleys, the boat's cook can produce such a variety of fresh local delicacies.

A Turkish breakfast typically consists of bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and honey. Lunch and dinner are usually one or two main courses, accompanied by salads and mezes, Turkey's speciality starters, including cacik (a garlic and cucumber yoghurt), biber dolma (stuffed peppers), and sigara borek (white cheese and herbs in a cigarette shaped filo pastry wrap). Fruit is a mainstay item, and ranges through the seasons from cherries and strawberries, to melon and figs.

But with so many miles of coast where do you choose to sail? Three areas are particular favourites of mine. First is the ancient region of Lycia, a giant bulge into the Mediterranean on Turkey's underbelly. Situated between Fethiye and Antalya, it's an area oozing with myths and brimming with archaeology. Here, behind the soaring Taurus mountains, an extraordinary culture and a fiercely independent people developed. Their funerary architecture, unlike anything else in the world, still litters their once prosperous ports.

This was the fabled land of the Chimaera, a dreaded monster from Greek mythology, described as early as Homer: "She was of divine race, not of men, in the fore part a lion, at the rear a serpent, and in the middle a goat, breathing forth in terrible manner the force of blazing fire."

The legend probably owes its origins to an extraordinary site high up in the hills. Sacred since time immemorial, it was the main sanctuary of the port city of Olympus. Here flames leap out of the ground, a phenomenon arising from a subterranean pocket of natural gas which spontaneously ignites on contact with the outside air.

Not only is a gulet cruise the best way to explore such an essentially maritime civilisation, sometimes it's the only way. Even now, there are tiny coastal villages which are accessible only by sea. One favourite is the sleepy hamlet of Kale, on the southern tip of Lycia. Above a few piers where small fishing boats jostle, rises a ramshackle series of houses made from ancient stones. Dominating the entire scene is a mighty Ottoman fortress built 550 years ago to overpower the Christian knights of Rhodes and secure the all important sea lanes between Constantinople and Jerusalem. The castle, however, was a latecomer. 1,800 years before, a small town called Simena was perched here. Its small Greek style theatre sits slap in the middle of the Ottoman castle, and all through the village are tombs hewn into the rock, and sarcophagi standing ten feet tall.

A second great area for sailing is west of Lycia, the ancient region of Caria, between Bodrum and Fethiye. This was the ancient realm of Mausolus, a powerful dynast 2,400 years ago. A strategically vital region, densely pack in antiquity with rich cities, it was jealously guarded and sought after. Alexander the Great liberated it from Persia, Rhodes sought to annexe it into her own empire, and the legacy of Crusader castles still speaks of the epic battle that raged along this coast between rival religions, Christianity and Islam. Today, there remains a wonderful blend of architectural and historic marvels. The exquisite temple tombs of Caunos, carved into a cliff face by masons dangling from ropes; the monumental city of Knidos, famed for Praxiteles' infamous statue of Aphrodite, the first female nude in history; and Halicarnassus itself, site of the fabled mausoleum and the mighty fortress of St. Peter.

A third glorious area for cruising, is ancient Ionia, to the north of Bodrum. Along this stretch of coast developed a civilisation of quite exceptional brilliance. In the centuries before Alexander the Great, the dynamic cities of Ionia helped lay the foundations of Greek literature, science, and philosophy, nevermind architecture.

Under Rome, these cities became ever more rich, prosperous, and beautiful - full of the finest temples, theatres and markets that money could buy. The highlights are plentiful: from the pretty little harbour of Myndos, where Cassius fled after murdering Julius Caesar; to the marvellously preserved Hellenistic city of Priene, where the houses, streets, and public buildings are laid out across a hillside in a perfect grid; and of course, Ephesus, capital of Roman Asia. This was one of the very first cities in the world to have street lighting. The site is magnificent, a cornucopia of colonnaded streets, agoras, baths, private villas, a theatre for 28,000, and an extraordinary library.

If you fancy exploring some of the world's finest ancient wonders, spring or autumn is the best time to go. April and early May sees Turkey decked out with a stunning display of wild flowers. From the end of May through the start of June the sea becomes swimmable before the summer heat scorches, while September through October is perfect for leisurely bathing.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Dangers of the New Media Landscape

Much of the media is going through tough financial times. The danger here, particularly when it comes to hard news and investigative reporting, is if real news continues to lose ground to sensationalism and entertainment. Taking the lead of sensationalistic blogs and reality TV, the mainstream media seems to be responding with a "give the audience what they want" approach. That might be well and good as a way to generate revenue, but news and true journalism has never been about giving people what they want. Its primary objective was and is to educate, and inform. Once we start replacing investigative journalism with celebrity scandals and reality TV train wrecks, we are in a very real sense giving away the keys to an informed public and a strong democracy.

The knee jerk reaction is understandable, because these are tough times for the media. According to The State of the News Media, in 2009, newspapers, including online, saw ad revenue fall 26% during the year, which brings the total loss over the last three years to 41%. Local television ad revenue fell 24% in the same time frame. Radio dropped 18%. And ad pages dropped 19%, network TV 7% (and news alone probably more). Online ad revenue over all fell about 5%, and revenue to news sites most likely also fared much worse. Only cable news among the commercial news sectors did not suffer declining revenue last year.

Panicking media outlets are changing the rules of the game. Of course it's important to entertain. It's essential. But offering entertainment 24/7 will result in a numbed and uninformed public. Americans don't want to be uninformed, but they don't know what they don't know. Unless there is true quality journalism that is bringing stories of corruption and malfeasance to light, they will never know these stories exist.

We are replacing news with controversy and entertainment. Learning that a sports star had a number of affairs is not news its sensationalism. More outlets is not the answer if it only results in more of the same. According to the Pew Research Center, their analysis of more than a million blogs and social media sites, finds that 80% of the links are to U.S. legacy media. The only old media sector with growing audience numbers is cable, a place where the lion's share of resources is spent on opinionated hosts.

There are some encouraging and exciting things happening in the online media world, from former journalists creating specialty news sites and community sites, to citizen journalists covering neighborhoods, local blogs and social media. In 2009, Twitter and other social media showed how they could disseminate information, as well as how they could mobilize people to act and react. The collective power of these sites was able to evade the censors in Iran and communicate from Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

Still, that is no substitute for the traditional work of the mainstream media. Media's challenge now is to make a profit and deliver news. But, it is not media's challenge alone. It is ours. If, due to economic constraints the media fails to uncover stories of corruption both in government and the private sector, we become the biggest losers.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Everybody Is Looking Forward To Tron Legacy

Tron Legacy is a type of movie that has become famous even before its release and almost everyone wants to go and watch such kind of movies with their friends and family members. Everyone in the city is talking about this movie and waiting for its release on 17th Dec 2010 - it will be released in Canada and US both. It will be a blockbuster since it is a science fiction movie and will surely capture the hearts of sci-fi fans.

It is a sequel to the movie, Tron - it was a famous movie, which was released in 1982 and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Tron Legacy is a movie that runs about Sam Flynn, whose father has disappeared mysteriously and no-one knows about his exact location. Then he gets some signals from the Arcade of Flynn and after some time he realizes that these signals were sent by his father. And thus starts a new adventure for Sam, as he encounters strange landscapes, weapons, and vehicles on a 'life or death' voyage.

Tron Legacy is undoubtedly going to be a thriller movie that will keep you at the edge of your seats. Since the theaters would be packed tight at that time, so you should think of getting advance booking if you would like to go and watch this movie on the first day first show. A lot of people who are sci-fi fans are eagerly waiting for the release of this movie so that they can go and watch this movie. All fans are waiting for the thrilling special effects of this movie. This movie would certainly a complete entertainment for you and you will not get upset at all.

This movie has everything that you want and it will be the right movie for you if you are waiting for some good movie these winters. In case you want to go out with your friends in December, it is far better to go watch Tron Legacy, rather than doing anything else.

There are various people who have already planned their schedule well ahead of time to spare some time during December, so that they can watch this movie. Have you created any plan for watching any movie? There are only some movies which create such a big name like this one has made. You must read the reviews of its first part, Tron, if you want to know more about it. Once you read more about it, I'm sure you wouldn't be able to wait for this film.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hartford CT Historic Homes: Day-Taylor House

The Day-Taylor House was built in 1857 in a beautiful Italian Villa style architecture at the same time that Samuel Colt, the creator of the Colt Revolver built his Armsmear estate directly across the street. Located at the center of the Colt Architectural legacy at 81 Wethersfield Avenue, it has been a residence of several prominent Hartford, Connecticut families.

The Day-Taylor House was built by Hirim Billel, the highly esteemed Hartford builder who also built Connecticut's State Capitol and the Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. It was influenced by the ideas of Andrew Jackson Downing who wrote treatises on landscape design and architecture that were widely popular at the time. It is an example of a style that Downing called "Italianate" based on Italian farmhouses that were also being depicted in popular landscape paintings of the period.

The three story red brick masonry and white trimmed building has an asymmetrical facade dominated by floor-to-ceiling arched windows at every level, balconies, cast-iron lintels and a flat-roofed cupola. The brackets lining the low-pitched roof and cupola are particularly detailed and ornate. The three-part veranda of the front facade is supported by elaborate Corinthian columns. The front facade has remained unchanged since its original construction.

The first owner and resident was Albert F. Day, a descendant of Robert Day who was one of the original colonial settlers of Hartford. The house was later occupied by his father, a Connecticut Attorney General. Later owners included Mary Borden Munsill of the Borden Milk company and Edwin Taylor. In 1928 the house was bought by the Fraternal Order of Eagles who used it as a meeting house, and headquarters. In 1974 it was bought by the Hartford Redevelopment Agency.

The Day-Taylor House is also significant located in Hartford's Colt architectural legacy which stretches along both sides of Wethersfield Avenue for two blocks. The area has become designated as the Coltsville Historical District.

The Day-Taylor House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It had a significant restoration in 1979 and the building now serves as offices. The combination of it being built by one of Hartford's most distinguished builders Hirim Billel, that it was built the same year and directly across the street from the Samuel Colt Home and the Armsmear Estate Park, and that it has been owned and occupied by so many notable Hartford residents makes it one of Hartford, Connecticut's most important historical homes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Mysterious Markawazi Stone Forest

Known as a place existing outside of the boundaries of time, the mysterious Markawasi Stone Forest rises majestically 12,800 feet above the world on the western Andean ridge; lying at its base along the Pacific coastline is the city of Lima, Peru. Punctuating the ancient landscape of this three-mile long, tabletop mountain are massive carved effigies, including curious replicas of unknown human races and long-extinct animals. Among the effigies may be found mind-boggling images of winged sphinxes, elephants, camels, and animals which are unknown to this age and continent. With its sixteen carved faces of the Races of Man, the massive Monument to Humanity stands out as the most spectacular and prominent structure, dominating the landscape.

Who were the builders of this phenomenal site?

Scholars of ancient Andean mysteries believe the sculpted Peruvian plateau predates the Pre-ceramic Period of Peru and the great dynastic periods of Egypt, yet holds a direct link to the Isis Mysteries. How is this possible? With its mysterious and stunning monuments emulating, among other things, Egyptian deities, and with its claims of spontaneous healings, plus recorded testimony of ultra-dimensional visitors, the mysterious plateau is believed to be the remnant of a proto-historical culture previous to the Great Flood. Cocooned in oblivion for eons, and sculpted into the ancient landscape by a mysterious lost humanity, the Markawasi Stone Forest has reawakened at this pivotal moment in history.

Markawasi details the true account of an ancient, lost humanity of mysterious origin, whose hidden legacy carved gigantic, towering, stone monuments, pointing to a message with predictions for the future. First discovered by Daniel Ruzo in 1952, who excitedly pronounced it the most important sculptured work existing on the earth today, and soaring high above the Pacific coast on the western-most ridge of the Peruvian Andes, directly above Lima, Peru, Markawasi was virtually unknown to the English-speaking world a decade ago. Readers will undertake a journey through the pages of Markawasi, connecting the clues and evidence of a technologically and culturally-advanced civilization that held the keys to all human knowledge.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Golfing Orlando

Orlando's incredible weather and beautiful landscaping has made this city one of the hottest spots to golf. Championship courses designed by golf professionals with serene settings and challenging course play are some of the reasons golfing Orlando is so popular.

Championship Courses

Central Florida is home to many champion designed golf courses. Professional golfers have a unique insight of the game, golf challenges and what makes great links. It makes perfect sense to have these professionals design the courses everyone wants to play. These championship courses often feature lush amenities and elegant resorts turning a round of golf into a golf vacation.

The newest professionally designed courses shooting par in Orlando are at The Reunion Resort and Club of Orlando. These courses have been designed by some of the best golfers ever! Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson have each designed an 18-hole course making instant classics of this resort's 54 holes. Both Palmer's Legacy and Watson's Independence courses are currently open, while Nicklaus' Tradition course is set to open in late 2005.

Arnold Palmer's Legacy is a breath taking golfing experience with an inspired landscape of natural preserve woods, water and palm trees. You'll have to play wise and use the course's wide fairways and well placed bunkers to come out on top of this one.

The Independence is five-time British Open winner Tom Watson's first-ever designed course. Watson has used his 25 years of golf experience to create an amazingly inviting and challenging round of golf. Demanding yet satisfying, this course will command your best game.

Professionally designed courses and ultra posh amenities make staying at The Reunion Resort and Club of Orlando a luxurious choice for an Orlando golf vacation.

Champions Gate Golf Resort is the home of Greg Norman's International and National golf courses. These 36-holes are guaranteed to test you and your game. David Leadbetter, instructor to the pros, has also chosen to open his headquarters for David Leadbetter Golf Academies at Champions Gate. The 4 Diamond luxury Omni Resort at Champions Gate opened in September of 2004 providing on-site accommodations sure to please even the most discriminating traveler.

Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill offers golfers the rare opportunity to play one of the world's most highly acclaimed layouts. The course is also is the site of the Bay Hill Invitational, a popular PGA Tour® event hosted by Arnold Palmer himself.

Orlando's Grand Cypress Golf Resort consists of one 18-hole course and three 9-hole courses that can be combined to form several distinctively different 18-hole rounds. All of the Grand Cypress courses have been designed by famed golfer, Jack Nicklaus. The ability to switch up courses gives Grand Cypress extended playability with each round challenging different abilities.

The Magical World of Golfing

Walt Disney World® Resorts is a great place to golf in Orlando with six courses including PGA TOUR® courses for you to choose from. Disney's magic is not lost as these courses feature pristine greens, hazardous obstacles and breathtaking landscaping. Add GPS enabled golf carts and you have cutting edge golf at its best.

Eagle Pines is a popular Disney course with rolling fairways and hazardous surrounding wetlands. This par 72 course has received a 4 ½ out of 5 star rating from Golf Digest. This Pete Dye design runs 6,772 yards and boasts many water hazards.

Serene surroundings and incredible landscaping make Osprey Ridge a Disney favorite and one of Florida's finest. Thomas Fazio architected this curvy Disney course with a USGA rating of 74.4 and 7,101 yards of play.

Famed golf designer Joe Lee worked his magic when creating the Lake Buena Vista course. Teeing off next to boats and canals in a South Carolina inspired setting makes, this course's links worth playing through.

The most challenging course however, might be the pairing of Disney's Palm and Magnolia courses with both courses hosting rounds of the PGA TOUR® FUNAI Classic each year. The Palm is both challenging and astatically rewarding. One of the toughest courses Disney has to offer, the Palm is a great course for the intermediate to advanced player. The Magnolia is home to the final rounds of the PGA TOUR® FUNAI Classic, this course means business. Immaculately manicured links, elevated trees, and spacious greens make even the water hazards tranquil. Championship golf at it's finest.

Although many of Disney's courses are designed for accomplished players, families can also get in on the action with Disney's Oak Trail walking nine-hole course. Walk the course with your family as you all enjoy a day outside and a great golfing experience.

Traditional Courses

Highlands Reserve Golf Club offers challenging yet affordable golfing with amazing scenery and spacious Scottish inspired greens. A Floridian favorite, Highlands Reserves is traditional golfing at its finest. Stay at the Regal Palms Resort at Highlands Reserve and make a vacation out of golfing Highlands Reserve.

Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Course is a David Harman designed par 72 championship golf course with swelling fairways and interconnected waterways. Shingle Creek Golf Club is located along the historic Shingle Creek and is bordered by dense oaks and pines. Located near Orlando's airport, the Orange County Convention Center, SeaWorld® and International Drive hotels, this course's own Shingle Creek Resort is scheduled to open Fall 2006.

You don't have to look far in Orlando to find great golfing. Luxurious golf resorts make golfing Orlando a vacation in its own. Lush surroundings, challenging course play and immaculate courses are every golfers dream and Orlando's courses offer all of the above.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The FCC Moves to Update Telecom Regulations

For many years we relied on the fax machine for moving documents quickly between locations. In recent years, the fax machine has become a bit of a dinosaur. With email and scanning, we rarely send a fax these days. It served its purpose but its time has come and gone.

Apparently, the FCC believes that the legacy regulations for the telecom industry have become a bit antiquated as well. The FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, has said that outdated rules may be suspended. The FCC creates regulation to promote a healthy competitive marketplace. And, they don't feel like the old regulations from the 70's and 80's are still doing their job. So, the FCC is moving to update telecom regulations - and that will affect pricing!

To connect to the internet and provide services that require broadband, wireless operators, rural providers and competitive local exchange carriers or wireline companies have had to lease special access lines from the big incumbent carriers. The wholesale rates have been subject to governance by the Local Regulatory Commission. And, while this arrangement has made it possible to expand services rapidly, it now appears to be creating a bottle neck.

Of course, there is argument amongst the telecom companies that are most affected by this change to the competitive landscape. The companies that own the lines that are counting on lease rates remaining at their current level say that the pricing needs to continue to be regulated to preserve the necessary capital to continue to build out the infrastructure and telecom network.

On the other side of the argument, some companies feel like their "hands are tied". They can't be competitive with the rates that have been set by regulation that is over a decade old.

Wireless competitors are the primary drivers of this movement. It is much easier to increase bandwidth wirelessly than it is to put fiber in the ground or air. At some point, all data moves from the wireless network to the fiber that criss-crosses the country, but wireless is also quickly becoming a reasonable alternative for providing big bandwidth right to the door of a business. The limitations imposed by the legacy copper that is in just about every structure are becoming a non-issue.

In typical government fashion, things don't move too quickly. The FCC has determined that it doesn't have enough data to make an informed decision. So, they are in the process of collecting that data now. And, once they have the data, it must then be evaluated. When the decision is finally made, it is sure to shake things up. We'll be watching!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Visit Rajasthan to Explore the Historical Attractions of India

Rajasthan, the land of royalty and legacy is known to have thousands of historical sites in the state. Forts and palaces are the major attractions in the city. The historical monuments are still witnessing the royalty and splendid past of the land. Besides glorious history, Rajasthan is known for its colorful culture, rich tradition, tribal life, desert horizon and other striking features. Large numbers of domestic and international tourists visit Rajasthan to explore the legacy and charming attractions of the land. It is one of the most visited tourist states in India.

The formidable forts and palatial palaces invite thousands of tourists to the land of Rajasthan. There are numerous forts and palaces in the state. Some of the popular forts to name are Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Golden Fort in Jaisalmer, Junagarh Fort, Lalgarh Palace in Bikaner, etc. Besides forts and palaces, there are many other historical sites in the city. The old Dilwara Jain Temple, Jantar Mantar Ranakpur Temple, etc are also visited by the tourists.

In fact, the Indian Railway has launched a luxury tourist train, Palace on Wheels, to promote tourism in Rajasthan. The train covers the places of historical significance containing historical attractions. On Palace on Wheels Tour one can explore the attractions of New Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur and Agra. There are numerous historical sites in these cities. Besides exploring the monuments and historical building during Rajasthan Heritage Tour, one can also explore the glory of Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of Modern World with this tourist train.

Rajasthan is very famous for its vast expanse of desert. The golden landscape dotted with exotic sand dunes allure large numbers of tourists. Desert safari is very popular activity to enjoy in the desert horizon of Rajasthan. Tourists can also meet people living struggling life in the dry and arid region. People get boost for their life seeing the zeal of tribes to make life colorful and enjoyable in the abandoned land filled with deserts. Some of the people love to enter deep in the Thar Desert region to interact with the tribes. People from far and wide places visit India for Rajasthan Tribal Tour. The land of legacy and royalty is one of the most preferred tourist destinations in India. Come and explore the essence of royal Rajasthan.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Travel Around the World - Enjoy Life!

Every one has a dream deep inside that one day we can travel around the world and visit all the fantastic places. Even this would not be true; to visit the places we desire to know is of much pleasure. No matter we are white or black, rich or poor; this is what engraved in our hearts.

It is always excited to read the stories or see the pictures which other travelers post on the internet. It inspires us to see more about the world and get to know it more deeply. The world is a magic. It breeds the whole world population yet people know quite few about it. Explorers probe the world from ancient times to today but still can be surprised every time because they can always find something new and amazing.

People usually visit places of interest. They are like a routine that must be finished. We will go to our dreaming place to get married, spend our honey moons and have a great birthday party. Not only does the place itself will impress a lot, but also we will try to know more about its people and make friends with them if possible. You will find another look of the world or another life for people to live.

It will increase our life experience or broaden our horizons. We will know not all the people in the world live the same lives as us. Sometimes this may be quite opposite. We may get shocked in same cases. If we are in a modern society, we will find how fall behind do people hold the opinion in some places. You can never imagine in nowadays a wife shall be buried with her dead husband. But this may happen in some places in India.

As for the people you will meet during traveling, you will find something common as human beings yet something quite different for different beliefs or traditions. Western people mostly have a faith in God while eastern people more believe in Buddha. You will get to know how do people think in other countries where do not have the some beliefs as you do. By tracing back to the history, you will find out why sometimes people behave in a way you could not understand before.

Visitors will not only see the natural landscapes in the places he goes to, but also the people he will face during the journey. You will see the tropical scenes if you go to Indonesia. You will experience the beautiful ice and snow world if you go to the North Pole. You will meet traditional and conservative people in eastern countries. You will see the open-minded and enthusiastic people if you are in Mexico.

In short, the world is magic and the nature is a miracle. It is perfect if we can go to all the places when we are alive. But even this may be not true, we shall not be sad because anyhow, we have led a life in this magic place and maybe leave something behind. It is the gift or legacy we give to our descendants.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Above Ground Pools - A Primer

Recreational swimming pools didn't become popular until the mid 19th century. Modern Olympic Games (which began in 1896) included many competitions that signaled the popularity of swimming pools, which eventually prompted Oxford to build the first public swimming pool 1939.

Privately-owned, home pools became popular after the Second World War (partially due to the prominence of pools in Hollywood movies in that era). The growth of the suburban life in the in the 1950s solidified the pool's role as a status symbol for middle-to-upper class Americans.

However, in-ground swimming pools are expensive and require major landscape modifications-conditions that many people can't accommodate. On the other hand, above ground pools are light, affordable and are easily-assembled. Also, many of them are portable-favorable for prospective pool-owners who don't intend to stay in one location permanently.

Because of their afford-ability, above ground pools have allowed more people access to summertime recreation than ever before.

Above ground pools can be made of a simple PVC-material and sold in any department store. Often considered "kiddie" or splasher pools, they nonetheless provide a refreshing place to sit on a hot summer day. Plus, many of them are now inflatable which makes storage easy when they're not in use, especially during the off-season.

High-end models are more durable and constructed of a steel frame. The liner is made from vinyl or polyester, both of which are incredibly long-lasting. Legacy, a flagship manufacturer of above ground pools offers almost every shape and size, including ovals, circles and standard rectangles-some can reach up to 52" deep!

Above ground pools require the same amount of sanitation of a regular, in-ground pool and that's why most come with filters and pumps. Water pumps are the base of operations of any sanitary swimming environment. In pool pumps, an electric motor spins an impeller which draws water from all the drains in the pool and through a metal strainer before entering the pump. The strainer catches all the large debris. Then, water is pumped through the filter, where debris and chemicals are removed.

Even lap pools can be above ground¬-Legacy makes one that reaches up to 41 feet in length and is the perfect option for privatized exercise instead of battling for lanes at the local gym. Exercise pools are also very popular and not as pricey as lengthy lap pools. Developed over the last two decades, these recreation devices create adjustable resistance so the swimmer feels like they are actually swimming long distances when they are actually staying in one place.

Safety should always be the number one concern for all pool owners. Never leave young ones unattended around a pool area! It's also a good idea to keep the surface covered when it's not in use. Common sense is probably the best weapons against pool-related injury-according the Center for Disease Control, six people drown in pools every day and most of these cases are in public pools with certified lifeguards on duty.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Life and Legacy of John Denver

When I hear the name John Denver, I always think of Colorado. John Denver is a talented American singer, musician, and song maker. John Denver is famous all over the world. His music is known to have been inspired by his home state and the beautiful Rocky Mountain landscape. When Denver was born, he was named Henry John Deutscendorf. The singer/songwriter began his career as a folk rock singer in the early 60s.

Soon after that, Denver joined The Mitchell Trio and become their vocalist. He managed to become a real celebrity when Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded his song "Leaving On A Jet Plane". This song was their first and only Number One single ever.

John Denver stayed with the Mitchell Trio as their vocalist for four years. After the members of the group are separated, John Denver realized that he had got to the top of the Pop charts and he is one of the best selling artists. "Rocky Mountain High", "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Sunshine On My Shoulders", "Thank God I'm A Country Boy", "Back Home Again", and "Annie's Song" are just some of his most popular songs.

Denver had not only been a talented musician but also an environmental and humanitarian activist. In his lyrics, John Denver used to support people to get closer to the earth and nature. The artist freely expressed his views in his songs in a peaceful but compassionate manner. His lyrics were inspired by the beauties he had seen living in the Rocky Mountains near Aspen, Colorado.

John Denver had enjoyed watching the snow, the sunshine, the beauty of all of nature. If John Denver had never seen the beauties of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, probably he would have never written his songs.

John Denver had often worked together with Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. Denver even recorded many songs with the cast of the Muppets. He even played a role in a movie - the film was "Oh God!" with George Burns. During the twentieth century, John Denver has continued to be one of the most famous singers.

John Denver passed away suddenly and tragically while he was piloting for the first time his new plane. The aircraft was caused by low fuel.

All his life had been spent close to nature. John Denver had devoted himself to his work, spending all his time singing and songwriting. John Denver had contributed a lot to many environmental and humanitarian organizations. John Denver will last in the hearts of his fans forever although he is not yet among us. Everyone who is interested can learn more about John Denver at http://www.johndenver.com, or http://www.john-denver.org.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Europe Travel

Europe has always been the dream destination of travelers around the world. While it is considered the hub of literature and legacy, modern Europe blends its rich history and heritage with entertainment and sensuality. The continent of Europe is spanned from Norway to the north to Spain to the south; from Portugal to the west to Ural Mountains to the east. Occupying almost 7% of the entire land of the earth, this continent has more than 45 countries. Besides that Europe is famous for its large coastline, some of the finest beaches, pleasant climate and beautiful mountain ranges. Whether it is the valleys of Switzerland or the rich cultural legacy of Rome, or the romance in the streets of Paris, every European country has something unique to offer you! Here is a complete Europe travel guide for you.

Paris: Paris, the city of romance, glamour and glitz is famous for its nightlife and it offers numbers of landmarks for Europe travelers. However, the most convenient way to visit Paris, if you are a first-timer would be with Paris Museum Pass. With this pass, you can visit more than 70 museums ad monuments. If you want to experience best sunrise and sunset in Paris, consider Norte dame and Eiffel Tower respectively.

London: Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, British Museum, National gallery- these are the major attractions of London city. Britain's capital signifies an orthodox yet vibrant culture. And you will experience it the moment you will step on London's soil.

Rome: The city of seven hills can be a treat for first-time Europe travelers. From Colosseum to Trevi Fountain, from Arch of Titus to Piazza del Popolo, from Vatican Museum to Vatican City, Rome bears its rich culture in its every corner.

Prague: This magical city is famous for its bridges on Vltava River. While enjoying the beauteous sightseeing in this country, don't forget to try river cruises and walking trips. From Prague Castle to Josefov, Prague is one of the ideal European destinations for those, who love old European architectural heritage.

Switzerland: In spite of being one of the smallest nations in Europe, Switzerland has some of the highest mountains and largest waterfalls. Don't miss the beautiful landscape and vast valleys of Switzerland. Chocolate lovers- don't forget to taste different types of chocolates in Zurich.

Amsterdam: Rembrandt, canals, red lanterns and liberal attitude- these are the main attractions of Amsterdam. You can have the list of Amsterdam attractions from any travel guide, buy don't miss to walk around through the roads.

Vienna: One of the most romantic cities around the world, Vienna is famous for Anchor Clock, Danube Tower, Haas House, Hofburg, St. Stephen's cathedral, Vienna Opera House etc. In this country, lots of cultural events take place throughout the year. Don't miss them if you want to know the real city.

Among other most visited European countries, Milan, Berlin, Italy, Netherlands are the major ones. Without visiting these cities, your Europe Travel will be incomplete.

European continent is well connected with other continents and countries in the world. Every European city is inter-connected with each other via railways, waterways, airways and roadways. Among the various means of communications, rented car, metro, boats, bus and taxi are the major ones. There are many types of motels and hotels in every European city, which you can pick according to your needs and budget. But it was always advisable to book in advance, if you are visiting Europe in peak season.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lands Unventured: The New Luxury Holiday in Northern Kerala and Karnataka

Rajasthan may be the land of the kings, but Kerala is God's own country. Kerala travel evokes picturesque landscapes, white beaches and diverse culture steeped in strong traditions. The North of this beautiful region remains unexploited, with ancient temples, tropical rainforests and rolling hills that challenge the stereotype of Kerala tours. A luxury holiday in Kerala has never offered more variation and Northern Kerala is the perfect location for an unforgettable tailor-made holiday.


Described by Incredible India as 'the Land of the Spicy Hills', Wayanad in Northern Kerala can add a little 'kick' to the standard of Kerala travel. Home to some of India's oldest tribes, luxury holidays here provide the opportunity to experience the beauty and ancestry of Wayanad alongside the modern amenities a traveller expects on a luxury holiday. Tranquil Resort is among the select luxury accommodations that can truly bring you closer to nature, a new culture and immerse yourself into a local family environment.

Tranquil Resort

Tranquil is a microcosm of Wayanad itself. Before you venture into the district, explore the 400-acre estate, scenic treks and unspoilt surroundings. Stay in Tranquil's luxury Tree Villa from which, at a height of 35 feet, the views are unrestricted. The Tree Villa is spacious, child friendly and completely insect-proofed. A perfect component of any family adventure holiday the Villa is a highlight of many Kerala Tours. The dining at Tranquil has a family feel and serves continental fare, Indian favourites, Kerala cuisine and "Grandmother's" secret formulas. Along with organic vegetables and fruits, you can enjoy fresh bread, home-made jams, preserves and relishes at this wonderful property.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

For those attracted by luxury wildlife tours, Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary is an ideal opportunity to get close to nature. Kerala's second largest sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary provides a chance for fans of Kerala travel to see animals such as Indian Bison, elephants, deer and tigers in their natural habitats as part of their tailor-made holidays. Within the wildlife park you can take part in trekking or jeep safaris, an excellent addition to any adventure holiday, family friendly vacation or luxury wildlife tour.


Another Kerala tours option is Kasaragod, the northernmost region of Kerala recently acquainted with luxury holidays. Kasaragod is home to beaches, temples and heritage sites such as Bekal Fort, which spreads over forty acres. Neeleshwar Hermitage in Kasaragod is a luxury holidays property committed to preserving the environment. Offering yoga and meditation courses along with traditional Ayurvedic treatments in Priya Spa, Neeleshwar is a luxury Kerala travel retreat.


Karnataka carries a legacy of art and culture as varied as its geography. A district which includes many luxury holiday destinations, its strong sense of character giving every bespoke holiday a distinct flavour.


Kodagu, also known as Coorg, is rapidly expanding as a destination for custom holidays. The Tamara, Coorg's newest luxury resort, is testament to its popularity. Set on a sprawling 170 acres of coffee plantations, it is a new luxury holidays property that successfully blends into its surroundings. The cottages are made from reforested spruces, with wooden decks that appear to levitate thanks to steel stilts that prop them up on the slopes. The property's location combined with its raised aspect creates the perfect viewing platform. The in-house dining highlight is The Deck, a lounge bar and grill complete with glass dance floor onto the gardens below. Activities available include yoga, guided walks, trekking, plantation tours and of course, a ready supply of coffee waiting to be supped. A strong recommendation for any traveller planning a relaxing luxury holiday.

Karnataka and Kerala Travel Tips

Natural Mystic South Asia's top tips for a luxury holiday in North Kerala:

• The best time for Kerala travel is during winter, from November to March.

• Book a private driver: the landscapes of Northern Kerala means trains are a no-no. A driver will ensure your luxury holiday in Kerala goes smoothly.

• Be different! The traditional Kerala travel itineraries often fail to capture the imagination, with a tailor-made holiday you can include something special.

• Go wild - A luxury wildlife tours experience is a memorable addition to any bespoke holiday.

• Spice it up - Northern Kerala's spice trade is a huge part of its culture and something that all tailor-made tours planning Kerala travel should try and include.

• Capitalise on Northern Kerala's diverse landscapes by combining hills with beaches, spas with adventure and local culture with luxury for a memorable bespoke holiday.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Legacy to Cloud, What You Can Learn From Netflix, Intuit And Adobe

There's been a lot of talk about cloud computing. Everyone's saying it: why aren't you using the cloud yet? You know that it won't be long until you decide to make the switch. But you delay doing it for a variety of reasons. For one, migrating to the cloud is a tough business decision. It's a big game-changer that could significantly benefit your company in terms of savings, recurring revenue, scalability and agility. All of these have been proven time and again but you know that there are considerable challenges involved. Some of the biggest challenges are cost, time and all the anxiety of dealing with change. And you end up asking yourself "Is it worth moving to cloud?"

And that's why you think your company should wait until you're ready.

The truth is, you will never be ready if you keep on waiting. Many companies already took the risk and found themselves in a better position to grow. They moved their legacy software to the cloud and are now running killer businesses. Here are some of the success stories of moving to cloud. Not just building apps on cloud at the inception but moving from legacy to cloud.

Netflix: from DVDs to Video Streaming

Netflix is in the headlines this week. The global streaming video service reached 40 million paid subscribers-way ahead of HBO's 28.7 million new subscribers. The company's earnings quadrupled, its shares rose.

In the first quarter of 2013 alone, Netflix streamed 4 billion years, a figure which nearly equals the viewership of the most-watched cable network, the Disney Channel.

So how did they do it? The company's remarkable turnaround is not a secret. The giants in the cloud industry all knew about its great potential to succeed. Netflix made two very strategic business decisions to remain a market leader in video streaming.

First, it strategically transitioned from DVD to streaming. The critics, or rather cynics, thought that Netflix quickly and harshly killed its own DVD rental business when it began pushing cloud-based services. They even predicted the end of Netflix. But the company knew better, of course. While Netflix recognized early on the potential of a cloud-based streaming entertainment business, they carefully made the transition. In 2011, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings milked his outdated DVD business and used the cash to pay for his streaming business.

Second, Netflix aggressively promotes its cloud-based service. It's expanding internationally, eager to dominate the streaming entertainment business worldwide. The move isn't only aggressive but also creative. It's starting to broadcast Netflix-only original TV shows. An original drama series, House of Cards won three Emmys this year.

If there's one lesson to learn from the company's success, it's this. Pay close attention to the transition. And make the transition now. Your "core" product today will become obsolete sooner. Delay it and you'll likely miss the market transition.

TurboTax: Bringing Tax Preparation from the Box to the Web

A long time ago, Americans used to march to Target, Best Buy or Costco to buy the latest TurboTax version. Like any other legacy apps, Intuit's TurboTax comes in a box. It's also cheap and very easy to use. Obviously, people need it and will definitely buy one every year.

If the boxed product worked and fetched profit, then why did Intuit shift to the cloud? And it's not just TurboTax. Intuit does "simplify the business of life" by offering a host of cloud-based software: QuickBooks, Demandforce and Payroll Services for small businesses; Quicken Personal Finance, Mint Budgeting, Go Payment and many other products for everyone.

Now back to the question. Like Netflix, Intuit carefully planned its transition. It did psychological experiments and succeeded in encouraging people to try the cloud-based TurboTax.

First, people no longer pay up front to use the software. They just log online and pay after they file their taxes.

Second, Intuit made it easier for users to try preparing their taxes online. They can even get help from their tax professionals for free. Users can ask an unlimited number of questions by chatting or making a call.

Here is an interview with Intuit CEO, Brad Smith. When asked what makes cloud computing disruptive, Smith gave away three anchor points. Make sure to read that part carefully. He sums them up nicely in a sentence: "Cloud is changing business models, reaching broader array of customers and enabling them to participate in the process."

Adobe's Set of Tools: from Creative Suite to Creative Cloud

Adobe is known for its series of software suites used by creative professionals worldwide. It's called Creative Suite and you've probably used a few of Adobe's popular products: Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Dreamweaver, Flash Player and InDesign.

But on May 6, 2013, Adobe announced that it has fully embraced the cloud. Adobe Creative Suite 6 will be the last version and it will be replaced by Adobe Creative Cloud, a subscription-only service.

A month later, the company reported having a total of 700,000 paid Creative Cloud customers. Two months later, it surpassed one million subscriptions.

Critics may continue to hate Adobe's shift to cloud-based, subscription-only software. But from a technological perspective, Adobe's move makes a lot of sense. Here's a quote from David Wadhwani of Adobe's Digital Media Business Unit:

"Embracing the cloud has given us the ability to think differently about our role in the creative world, and gives us a much broader canvas for innovation. New technologies such as cloud, social, and mobile have changed the creative landscape dramatically, and we are fully embracing the opportunity this gives us all."

The software giant knows that going cloud isn't easy. But Adobe skates to where the puck is going to be. CEO Shantanu Narayen, in an in-depth interview with Mashable, anticipates the eventual shift to its cloud-based products: "A few years from now, people will say, 'How could I even imagine a Photoshop that was not connected to the cloud?"

And the same goes for other boxed software. Just think of it as an inevitable and necessary process of creative destruction. A lot of things need to be destroyed first if you want to build something valuable and, of course, profitable. Whether you are a Business owner or the CIO/CTO of a large Enterprise or a Software Architect who deals with legacy software reading this article, think hard, what is going to be your next move?