Sunday, June 29, 2014

August Wilson - The Most Compulsive and Strident Voice From the Black American Theatre

August Frederick Kittel Wilson, a prolific American writer whose plays, like Eugene O'Neill's, Arthur Miller's and Tennessee Williams' are produced throughout the U.S. regularly soon became the most important voice in the American theater after Lorraine Hansberry, a position that he maintained until his death in 2005 with a string of acclaimed plays starting from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom first exciting the theater world in 1984.

August Wilson mostly relies on the "4 B's": the Blues; fellow playwright, Amiri Bakara; Argentinian author, Jorge Luis Borges, and painter, Romare Bearden to tell what in his estimation he needs to tell in writing his plays. Apart from this, he has no particular method of writing his plays.   

The blues have always had the greatest influence on Wilson, as he himself confessed in an interview with Sandra G. Shannon: "I have always consciously been chasing the musicians, It's like our culture is in the music. And the writers are way behind the musicians... So I'm trying to close the gap."  1

Wilson was also greatly influenced by playwright Amiri Baraka, who was part of the Black Art movement of the 1960's. Through Baraka's writing, Wilson "learned sociology and political commitment" and  to include the emotions of anger and violence in his works. But far from supporting Baraka's advocacy of a violent revolution, Wilson believed that African Americans need to develop a "collective self-reliance grounded in black history and culture" a preoccupation which seems more akin to that of his other mentor, Jorge Luis Borges.  

Wilson  was influenced not only by good writing but also by art as he claimed, that when he saw the painter Bearden's work that was the first time that he saw black life presented in all its richness. He was so moved that he there and then resolved  that he wanted to do just that-as he wanted his plays to be the equal of Bearden's canvases.  Wilson thus started creating authentic sounding characters that have brought a new understanding of the black experience to audiences in a series of plays, each one addressing African Americans in each decade of the twentieth century.  

Although Wilson's plays have not been written in chronological order, the consistent and key theme in each of them is the sense of disconnection suffered by blacks that have been uprooted from their original homeland, first from Africa and then their moving northwards away from the Jim Crowism of the slave holding south for the northern industrializing cities of Chicago and New York.

Wilson lamented that by their failure to develop their own tradition, which should be a more African response to the world, [African Americans] lost their sense of identity.  Wilson has felt therefore that black people must strive to know their roots in order to understand themselves and then regain their lost identity. His plays have therefore been geared to demonstrate the black struggle to either gain this understanding and thence their identity-or escape from it.  
Each of his ten plays set in a different decade of the 20th century enables Wilson to explore, often in very subtle ways, the myriad and mutating forms of the legacy of slavery.  Each one of this cycle called "The Pittsburgh Cycle" or  his "Century Cycle,"  set in a different decade, depicting the comedy and tragedy of the African-American experience then,  is unprecedented in American theater for its concept, size, and cohesion. Nine of them are set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, an African-American neighborhood that takes on a mythic literary significance like Thomas Hardy's Wessex, William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, or Irish playwright Brian Friel's Ballybeg.  

Although the plays are not strictly parts of a serial story, some characters appear (at various ages) in more than one of them. Children of characters in earlier plays may even appear in later ones. The character Aunt Ester, a "washer of souls" who is reported to be 285 years old in Gem of the Ocean, which takes place in her home at 1839 Wylie Avenue, and 322 in Two Trains Running and who dies in 1985, during the events of 'King Hedley I1 is the most frequently mentioned in the cycle. In another, Radio Golf , much of the action revolves around plans to demolish and redevelop Aunt Ester's house, some years after her death.  

The plays often include an apparently mentally-impaired oracular character a different individual in each play - for example, Hedley [Sr.] in Seven Guitars, or Hambone in Two Trains Running. Most of the ideas for the plays have come from varied sources such as images, snippets of conversation, or lyrics from blues songs captured by Wilson's ever-vigilant writer's eye and ear. As a result of the influences from his immersion into the blues music culture, virtually all of his characters end up singing the blues to show their feelings at key dramatic moments in his plays.  

The play Fences evolved from his seeing an image of a man holding a baby, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone from the depiction of a struggling mill hand in a collage by acclaimed black painter Romare Bearden, whom Wilson has cited as having a particularly strong influence on his work.  

Born Frederick August Kittel in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 27, 1945, Wilson, the fourth of six children, grew up in a black slum in a two-room apartment with no provision for hot water or a telephone above a grocery store at Bedford Avenue in an economically-depressed neighborhood inhabited predominantly by black Americans, as well as Jewish and Italian immigrants.  

His father a white German immigrant baker, also named Frederick August Kittel, seldom spent time with his family. as Wilson reveals that his father very rarely came around. So he grew up in his mother's household in a cultural environment which was black. His mother, Daisy Wilson, an African American cleaning woman from North Carolina, whose own mother had walked north from North Carolina to Pennsylvania in search of a better life, had to raise her six children relying on welfare checks and wages from house cleaning jobs thus managing to keep them clothed, guided, schooled and fed. According to him, she had a very hard time feeding Wilson and the rest of her children. But in spite of all that. Wilson admitted that he had a wonderful childhood. ...For as a family, they did things together: saying the rosary every night at seven o'clock., sitting down and having dinner at a certain time. ...and being that they didn't have a TV, listening to the radio.

August Wilson's induction into the racism and race-consciousness that was to be a constant theme in his works  started in the late 1950s, when his mother married a black man, David Bedford, causing them to move from the Hill to a then predominantly white working class neighborhood, Hazelwood, where they encountered racial hostility with bricks being thrown through the windows at them. Though there was now racial unity if not harmony in the home, the relationship between Wilson and his stepfather was rocky even when he was a teenager. An ex-convict whose race prevented him from earning a football scholarship to college, David Bedford would become a source for Wilson's protagonist Troy Maxson a former baseball player blocked from the major leagues by segregation in his play Fences, which won my interest in August Wilson a few years ago.  

August Wilson's literary career owes much to his mother who taught him to read very early, a process which to Wilson was transforming:him enabling him to unlock information and to be better able to understand the forces that are oppressing you. Learning to read at the age of four, Wilson consumed books voraciously,  at first reading the Nancy Drew mysteries his mother managed to buy for the family. When he was 5 years old, he secured his first library card from the Hill District branch of the library on Wylie Avenue. He made such good use of it that he soon wore it  out and cried when he lost it. At the age of 12 he was already a regular. client in the library. Wilson was not an exceptional student. He was so distracting that he soon developed a reputation for yelling answers out of turn in class.

His mother sent him to St. Richard's parochial school in the Hill, and then to Central Catholic High School in Oakland. As the only black student there, he was constantly taunted and harassed. Threats and abuse drove him away in 1959,  just before the end of his freshman year but the next school at which he enrolled, Connelly Vocational High School proved unchallenging.    

So he switched to Gladstone High School, which was just across the street. Though he was supposed to move to the 10th grade but because he hadn't graduated from the 9th at Central, he had to take 9th grade subjects. As the work was well behind what he had already done, he was bored and remained complacent until he decided he wanted to get into the after-school college club run by one of the teachers.

It was that teacher who, doubting that a black child could do that well on his own, writing such a well-written 20-page term paper on Napoleon as Wilson submitted accused him of plagiarism. This mostly white parochial high school also gave him a harsh dose of racism often finding notes on his desk which read "Nigger go home." Sick of this he dropped out in the 10th grade in 1960 at the age of 15 and for a while not telling his mother.

"I dropped out of school, but I didn't drop out of life,"  as he recalled leaving the house each morning and going to the main branch of the Carnegie Library in Oakland "where they had all the books in the world. ... I felt suddenly liberated from the constraints of a pre-arranged curriculum that labored through one book in eight months."

At home, Wilson's family had to endure racial taunts at the mostly white Hazelwood area of Pittsburgh. At age 15, Wilson began to educate himself, beginning in the "Negro" section of the public library, reading works by Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, and other black writers,  Wilson made such extensive use of the Carnegie Library to educate himself that they later awarded him a degree, the only such one they have  bestowed anyone.  

Like Richard Wright ,Wilson was caught up in the power of words. His fascination with language made him an avid listener, soaking up the conversations he overheard in coffee shops and on street corners, and using the titbits of conversations to construct stories in his head.

By his late teens, Wilson had dedicated himself to the task of becoming a writer. For by this time, he knew what he wanted to be, a writer, even though this created tension with his mother, who wanted him to become a lawyer. But when he continued to work at odd jobs, she got so fed up with what she considered his lack of direction that she forced him out of the home.  He then got enlisted in the U.S. Army for a three-year stint in 1962, but somehow got himself discharged a year later, and went back to working odd jobs such as porter, short-order cook, gardener, and dishwasher  

August Kittel changing his name to August Wilson thus honoring his mother after his father's death in 1965 marked the symbolic starting point of his serious writing career. For that same year he bought a used typewriter, paying for it with twenty dollars that his sister, Freda, gave him for writing her a term paper on Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. It was also the year that he discovered and first heard the blues, when he heard a tune sung by Bessie Smith entitled "Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jellyroll Like Mine."  He was mesmerized by the emotions that Smith's sassy delivery exuded. The source of his artistic vision could thus be traced to this time. The blues had a big impact on Wilson, for through the blues, as well as his experiences listening to the tales of the older folks, he learned that  "both the history and culture of African Americans had their roots in an oral, rather than a written tradition. By stages it would lead to the understanding that this oral tradition consists of an extended riposte to a set of values and codes imposed on blacks by white America".  These two things stimulated his literary and theatrical prowess.    

His literary development moved up one stage further when at the age of 20 Wilson moved into a boarding house, rented a room and began writing lines of poetry on paper bags while sitting in a local restaurant, gathering inspiration from tales swapped by elderly men at a nearby cigar store. Here he got the other important part of his education. For "Pittsburgh" as he once described it  "is a very hard city, especially if you're black," so each day which he said was rough. had to be continually negotiated. to the deprivation was that he grew up without a father.So when he was 20, he went down onto Centre Avenue to learn from the community how to be a man.

That community provided many fathers for him in-- the old men chatting in Pat's Place or on street corners; the inhabitants of the diners where Wilson sat and listened; like-minded friends with artistic inclinations. His true father was both the small community that nurtured him and the larger Pittsburgh that, by opposing, stimulated and defined his artistry.

Furthermore, Wilson expanded his literary landscape by immersing himself in the works of Dylan Thomas and John Berryman as well as in Amiri Baraka's poems and plays which he loved because of their lively rhythms and street-smart language.  

Wilson's literary education continued at Pittsburgh's Halfway Art Gallery, where he found an audience for his poetry, and became acquainted with some of "Pittsburgh's black literati." Together they formed the Center Avenue Poets Theatre Workshop. In the late '60s, as a part of this talented group of poets, educators and artists of the future, young men, whose regular haunts were at the Halfway Art Gallery and the Hill Arts Society, Wilson remembered that  he always had a napkin and a pencil ready by him.  Although some of his poems were published in some small magazines over the next few years, he failed to achieve recognition as a poet.   

Earlier on we identified mostly literary and artistic influences on the works of August Wilson. Apart from these there were ideological as well as political influences on his life and works much of which came from Malcolm X. Malcolm X  bore such a strong influence on Wilson that he gave him the sense of direction he needed to resist the easy temptations of the streets. For it was Malcolm X who offered the young fatherless Wilson a vision of black manhood.  It is as a mark of his devotion to him, that Wilson even possessed an album of his speeches which one expects he must have been listening to over and over again thus forming part of his linguistic landscape along with those familiar voices and discussions in the pubs and restaurants he frequented.

According to Wilson himself: "When we saw or heard Malcolm we saw or heard ourselves. Whatever the self was: Malcolm the Bad Nigger. Malcolm the Boisterous. Malcolm the Defiant. Malcolm the Brave. He was all these and more" It is then not surprising that this theme pervades Wilson's male protagonists, as each seeks to "survive as a black man in America" .

The writings of Malcolm X  in this way had great influence  on the orientation of Wilson and on his writings. Wilson through him took up the banner of cultural nationalism which meant black people working toward self-definition, self-determination, as Wilson put it. "It meant that we had a culture that was valid and that we weren't willing to trade it to participate in the American Dream."  He became involved in the debates of the '60s and continued up to his death to consider himself "a black nationalist and a cultural nationalist."  following various black identity movements and fighting for social justice.  

From poetry which he did not have such a successful publishing record in, August Wilson moved on to the area where he was to gain his fame, theater. August Wilson first became aware of the theater through Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly, around 1958, 1959. "My mother was in New York and brought back the program, her first and only Broadway show." But his first brushes with theater had been off-putting. In 1965, he saw a 30-minute excerpt of The Rhinoceros at Fifth Avenue High School. "That was the first theater I recall, and I wasn't impressed." He met some of the actors in John Hancock's 1966 Pittsburgh Playhouse company, but he stayed for only 20 minutes of Bertolt Brecht's A Man's a Man.  But in 1968, when Mr. Penny wrote a play and the Tulane Drama Review had a special issue on black theater "... was the first time I'd seen black plays in print -- there hadn't been any plays on the Negro shelf at the library. So we did them all."

In 1969 Wilson and his friend Rob Penny, a playwright and teacher, founded the black activist theater company Black Horizons on the Hill District of Pittsburgh  focusing on politicizing the community and raising black consciousness. Through this theater formed to promote "black self-awareness," Wilson produced and directed plays that "challenged both the aesthetic and the ideological premises of the reigning Caucasian theater". Black Horizons also gave him the chance to present his own early plays, mostly in public schools and community centers.  

His first play, Recycling, drawing on the unhappy 1972 termination of his 1969 marriage to Brenda Burton.was performed for audiences in small theaters and public housing community centers,  Soon thereafter, his friend Claude Purdy moved to St. Paul to work with its black theater group, Penumbra, inviting Wilson to join him.

In 1976 Dr. Vernell Lillie, who had founded the Kuntu Repertory Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh two years earlier, directed Wilson's one-act play The Homecoming.  When Wilson saw that same year Athol Fugard's Sizwe Banzi is Dead, a comic-tragic account of life under apartheid at the Pittsburgh Public Theater was the first time he saw a whole, professional play.

Wilson, Penny, and poet Maisha Baton also started the Kuntu Writers Workshop to bring African-American writers together and to assist them in publication and production.   

To find the voice that would make him famous as a playwright, Wilson thought that he needed to gain distance from his roots which opportunity came in 1978 when he visited his friend Claude Purdy in St. Paul, Minnesota in response to his earlier invitation to join him. Purdy urged Wilson to write a play and Wilson felt more ready than ever before for as he told the New York Times.. "Having moved from Pittsburgh to St. Paul, I felt I could hear voices for the first time accurately.." . In ten days of writing while sitting in a fish-and-chips restaurant, Wilson finished a draft of Jitney, a play about jitney drivers set in a gypsy-cab station in Pittsburg which he submitted to the Minneapolis Playwrights Center and which won him a $200-a-month fellowship.  Jitney was revised more than two decades later as part of his 10-play cycle on 20th century Pittsburgh. 

At Saint Paul, Minnesota Claude Purdy helped him secure a job writing educational scripts for the Science Museum of Minnesota where he was also writing short plays for its Children's Theater.  Wilson's satirical play, "Black Bart and the Sacred Hills,"  a musical satire based on the story of the life of an outlaw of the Old West was adapted from his poems at Mr. Purdy's suggestion and became an item in a  workshop production four years later..  

Though the drama written during this period does not show much genius, "Yet behind the self-consciousness of these early works is a notable ease with words and a poetic melding of the colloquial and the profound"   

In 1981 Wilson moved to Seattle where he would develop a relationship with Seattle Repertory Theatre which would ultimately be the only theater in the country to produce all of his works including his ten-play cycle and his one-man show How I Learned What I Learned.    

Wilson once explained that St. Paul and Seattle -- cool, northern, Scandinavian cities -- appealed to him precisely because of their unlikeness to Pittsburgh, allowing him to look back more intently at the true material of August Wilson Country, source of his rich stream of stories, characters, images and conflicts.

August Wilson died on October 2, 2005 at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle after in a rare and dramatic moment, initiating a month long wait for his departure after he announced on August 26, 2005, through his hometown newspaper, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer in June 2005 and had been given three to five months to live. The previous December, August Wilson's thoughts had turned to mortality at his approaching 60th birthday when he said, "There's more [life] behind me than ahead. I think of dying every day. ... At a certain age, you should be prepared to go at any time."When in May 2005, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and the next month his doctors determined it was inoperable, he showed that he was indeed prepared, telling the Post-Gazette,  "I've lived a blessed life. I'm ready."

Wilson has won many prizes and awards including two Pulitzer Prizes, best drama, for Fences in 1987 and for The Piano Lesson in 1990; seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 1984, for Fences, 1987, and for Joe Turner's Come and Gone, 1988; Tony Award, best drama, for Fences, 1986-87; American Theater Critics Award, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998 and Harold Washington Literary Award, 2001. 

August Wilson had received many honorary degrees, including more than two dozen honorary doctorates  with one from the University of Pittsburgh where he served as a member of the University's Board of Trustees from 1992 until 1995. He also had Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Humanities Medal, the 2003 Heinz Award in whereHumanities and Arts and the only high school diploma issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Wilson received the Freedom of Speech Award at the 10th Annual U.S. Comedy Arts Festival held in Aspen, Colorado, and sponsored by HBO.

On October 16, 2005, the Virginia Theatre in New York's Broadway theatre district was renamed the August Wilson Theatre, the first Broadway theatre to be named after an African-American. In addition, a street has been renamed August Wilson Way.

The historic home of the playwright at Bedford Avenue,where his mother raised him and her other children was dedicated as an official state historic landmark on May 30, 2007.

He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in suburban Pittsburgh on October 8, 2005. His survivors, his third wife, costume designer Constanza Romero, and his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen were amongst friends, relatives, writers, producers as well as City officials at the graveside.


1. Shannon, Sandra G. The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson. Washington, D.C.: Howard University, 1995.

Further Reading


  • Black Literature Criticism, Gale, 1992.
  • Contemporary Dramatists, 6th ed. St. James Press, 1999.
  • August Wilson: A Casebook (Casebooks on Modern Dramatists, Volume 15), edited by Marilyn Elkins, Garland Publishing (November 1, 1999),
  • Elkins, Marilyn. ed. August Wilson: A Casebook. NY: Garland, 2000.
  • Gates, Henry Louis, and Alan Nadel. eds. May All Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson. U of Iowa, 1993.
  • Shafer, Yvonne. August Wilson: A Research and Production Sourcebook. Westport CN: Greenwood, 1998
  • Shannon, Sandra G. The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson. Washington, DC: Howard UP, 1996.
  • Shannon, Sandra G., MacMillan, Palgrave,.August Wilson and Black Aesthetics, (2004)
  • Wang, Qun. An In-Depth Study of the Major Plays of African American Playwright August Wilson: Vernacularizing the Blues on Stage. Lewinston, NY: Mellen, 1999.
  • Wolf, Peter. August Wilson. NY: Twayne Publishers, 1999.

  • African American Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, 1994, pp. 539-59; Spring 2001, p. 93.
  • Esquire, April 1989, pp. 116-27.
  • New York Times Magazine, March 15, 1987, pp. 36-40, 49, 70; September 10, 1989, pp. 18-19, 58-60.
  • Theater, Fall-Winter 1984, pp. 50-55.

Resources on August Wilson:  
Comprehensive August Wilson Website.

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 8: August Wilson." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Five Types of Blueberry Plants and Their Characteristics


There are five types of blueberry plants commonly grown. This article list and discusses these and their characteristics. Some examples of popular varieties for each type is also listed.

1. : Northern Highbush Vaccinium corymbosum -- These are high chill varieties for zones 3-7 with 800 to 1,000 chill hours needed. The Northern Highbush Blueberry is a species of blueberry native to eastern northern United States. They are high chill varieties and are the most extensively planted blueberries in the world. If these northern high-bush varieties do not get the required number of chill hours they will not produce. These bushes are rated zone 3 through zone 7 which includes most of the Central, Western, mid-West, and Eastern United States as well as some parts of Canada. These varieties display bush shapes from short and compact to tall and open. The berries range in size from ¼" to over 1" in diameter, and in color from dark blue to light blue. Northern Highbush blueberries require a minimum of 800 chilling hours for proper fruit set. All cultivars are self-pollinating but will produce better crops if more than one variety is planted.

Some examples include:

  • Bluecrop is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Bluegold is also sometimes listed as a half high variety because of it short height and parentage. It is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Blueray is recommended for growing in zones 3 to 7.
  • Duke is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Elliott is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Hardyblue is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 8.
  • Jersey is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Legacy is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 8.
  • Patriot is also sometimes listed as a half high variety because of it short height and parentage. It is recommended for growing in zones 3 to 7.
  • Rubel is a wild Highbush type cultivar. It is recommended for growing in zones4 to 7.

2.: Southern Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid) -- Southern Highbush are specifically hybridized to produce superior fruit, soil adaptability, heat tolerance and low winter chilling. The Southern Highbush blueberry is a cross between Northern Highbush blueberries and native Southern species, giving it a greater range of adaptation than either of its parents. The Southern Highbush tolerates a wider range of soil conditions and temperature variations. The fruits are smaller than Rabbiteye blueberries but no less tasty.These are low chill varieties for use in zones 5 to 10 with 150 to 800 chill hours required. Most Southern Highbush are self-pollinating, but the berries will be larger if two varieties are planted together. These varieties have low winter chilling requirements. "Chilling" is a measure of accumulated hours of temperatures below 45°F but above 32 degrees F in the dormant season.

Some examples include:

  • Jubilee is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.
  • Misty is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 10.
  • Oneal is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.
  • Sharpblue is recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Sunshine Blue is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 10.
  • Golf coast is recommended for growing in zones 6 to10.
  • Ozarkblue is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.

3. : Half-High Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum x V. angustifolium)
Half-High Blueberries is a term used for a grouping of blueberry bushes with similar characteristics They are the result, as the name might signify, of crosses between Northern Highbush and Lowbush blueberries selections from the wild.. They will grow only 2 to 4 feet tall. These are generally high chill varieties for Zones 3 to 7 and need 1,000 to 1,200 of chill hours. In recent years, Agriculture Research Stations have released many new "half-high" blueberry plants. All these varieties have the "wild" flavor of their parents. The Half-Highs were bred for exceptional cold hardiness but are truly outstanding ornamental landscape plants wherever they are grown. All theses varieties have amazing fall colors. In general, these bushes will partially be able to pollinate themselves, though they will always do better with another variety with which they can to cross-pollinate.

Some examples include:

  • Northcountry-- Its parentage is (G65X Ashworth) X R2P4 Univ. of Minnesota. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Northsky--.Its parentage is (G65 X Ashworth) X R2P4 Univ. of Minnesota. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Northland - Its source is Michigan Univ. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Polaris - Its parentage is Bluetta X (G65 X Ashworth). It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Bluegold -- Its parentage is Blue Haven X (Ashworth X Bluecrop). It grows successfully in zones 4 to 7.
  • Friendship - Its source is a Seedling of native plant found growing near Friendship, WI. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Patriot - Its parentage is US3 X Earliblue Univ. of Maine. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.

4. : Wild Lowbush Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium sp.) these are high chill varieties for zones 3 to 7 and need 1,000 to 1,200 chill hours. Wild Lowbush Blueberries are a native fruit crop to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the state of Maine. Wild Blueberries have grown naturally for thousands of years. They are short in stature and unlike their Highbush cousins, are primarily spread by rhizomes or underground runners, which give rise to new roots and stems. A mature planting can form a dense ground cover. Profuse white blooms yield small-sized light blue fruit with the distinctive "wild" blueberry taste. Annual pruning is not necessary but they respond well if two-thirds of the growth is sheared back every second or third year in late winter. They are great candidates for landscape borders.

Some examples include:

  • Top Hat is Lowbush, dwarf type cultivar. Top Hat is strictly used for ornamental landscape and container purposes. It is recommended for growing in zones 3-7.
  • RUBY CARPET is a Lowbush selection developed by the state of Maine. It is recommended for growing in zones 3-7. The height of plants will be 4 to 6 inches at maturity and spread outward to create the red carpet.

5. Rabbiteye blueberries, Vaccinium ashei These are low chill varieties for Zones 7 to 9.
Rabbiteye blueberries have grown in popularity all across the South. Part of the reason for the popularity of rabbiteye blueberries may be that few major pests of rabbiteye blueberries have been identified. Rabbiteye varieties are resident to the southeastern United States.Rabbiteye plants are more vigorous, easier to be cared for and live longer, than the majority of southern variety. They can handle drought superior to Highbush blueberries. They can grow adequately in soils with a lower amount of organic material in them. Rabbiteye blueberries are usually firmer than southern varieties with thicker skin. The seeds tend to be somewhat more distinct than Highbush. Their after harvest shelf life is exceptional and usually superior to Highbush. The demand for blueberries has increased as more is known about the health benefits of blueberries. Southerners have often not discovered the outstanding quality of rabbiteye blueberries.

Pest of rabbiteye blueberries

A gall midge, is a newly discovered pest of rabbiteye blueberries in the southeastern US. Midge larvae feed inside and destroy flower buds the result is low yields. Rabbiteye blueberry cultivars differ very much in their resistance to blueberry gall midge infestation. Powderblue and Brightwell are highly resistant to flower bud damage; Climax, and Tifblue are moderately susceptible; and Premier is highly susceptible. Most southern Highbush blueberry cultivars are highly resistant to flower bud damage.

Some examples include:

  • Premier- It is an early mid-season ripening rabbiteye producing high yields of firm delicious fruits. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Climax- It is a mid-season ripening blueberry with great flavor! The fruits are firm and an excellent choice for fresh and process markets. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Powderblue- It is one of the most attractive rabbiteye blueberries that is late maturing. The fruits are medium size and easily removed from the plant. The flavor is sweet. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Brightwell- It is a late ripening berry with excellent quality. Flavor is good the fruit size and berry appearance is attractive for fresh markets. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Tifblue- It is a late ripening variety. Tifblue has been the most widely planted blueberry in the southeast, because it is productive and has firm fruit. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.


There are a number of different types of blueberries that are suitable for different purposes and growing zones. The one thing they all have in common is their high antioxidant capacity and health benefits. You should grow your own pesticide free blueberries. They can be purchased from a reputable on-line source. Purchase those that are best suited for your growing zone.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Net-Centric Air Traffic Management System Explained

Net-centric, in its most common definition, refers to "participation as a part of a continuously evolving, complex community of people, devices, information and services interconnected by a communications network to optimise resource management and provide superior information on events and conditions needed to empower decision makers." It will be clear from the definition that "net-centric" does not refer to a network as such. It is a term that covers all elements constituting the environment referred to as "net-centric".

Exchanges between members of the community are based not on cumbersome individual interfaces and point to point connections but a flexible network paradigm that is never a hindrance to the evolution of the net-centric community. Net-centricity promotes a "many-to-many" exchange of data, enabling a multiplicity of users and applications to make use of the same data which in itself extends way beyond the traditional, predefined and package oriented data set while still being standardised sufficiently to ensure global interoperability. The aim of a net-centric system is to make all data visible, available and usable, when needed and where needed, to accelerate and improve the decision making process.

In a net-centric environment, unanticipated but authorised users can find and use data more quickly. The net-centric environment is populated with all data on a "post and share before processing" basis enabling authorised users and applications to access data without wait time for processing, exploitation and dissemination. This approach also enables vendors to develop value added services, tailored to specific needs but still based on the shared data.

In the context of Air Traffic Management (ATM), the data to be provided is that concerning the state (past, present and future) of the ATM Network. Participants in this complex community created by the net-centric concept can make use of a vastly enlarged scope of acceptable data sources and data types (aircraft platforms, airspace user systems, etc.) while their own data also reaches the community on a level never previously achieved.

How are decisions different in a net-centric environment?

Information sharing and the end-user applications it enables is the most beneficial enabler of collaborative decision making. The more complete the information that is being shared and the more thorough its accessibility to the community involved, the higher the benefit potential. In a traditional environment, decisions are often arbitrary and the effects of the decisions are not completely transparent to the partners involved. Information sharing on a limited scale (as is the case in the mainly local information sharing hitherto implemented) results in a substantial improvement in the quality of decisions but this is mainly local and improvements in the overall ATM Network are consequential rather than direct.

If the ATM Network is built using the net-centric approach, decisions are empowered on the basis of information available in the totality of the net-centric environment and interaction among members of the community, irrespective of their role or location, can be based on need rather than feasibility.

Since awareness of the state (past, present or future) of the ATM Network is not limited by lack of involvement of any part as such, finding out the likely or actual consequences of decisions is facilitated, providing an important feed-back loop that further improves the quality of decisions on all levels.

Looking at things from the collaborative decision making (CDM) perspective, it is important to realise that net-centricity is not something created for the sole purpose of making CDM better. Net-centricity is a feature of the complete ATM system design, providing different benefits to different aspects of air traffic management operations. It is when collaboration in decision making exploits also the facilities made possible by the overall net-centric ATM Network, that the superior quality of decisions becomes truly visible.

The concept of services

In traditional system design, information technology (IT) was often driving developments and the functionality being provided in some cases became a limitation on the business it was meant to support. Service orientation is the necessary step to separate the business processes from the IT processes and to enable business considerations to drive the underlying IT requirements. Aligning IT to the business rather than the other way round improves business agility and efficiency.

"Service" in this context is defined as "the delivery of a capability in line with published characteristics, including policies." This refers to the ATM services required and not the underlying (technical) supporting services and physical assets that need to be deployed. In other words, service refers to the business services and not the information technology services.

Well designed business services must exhibit a number of characteristics that describe the service being offered sufficiently well for the service consumer(s) to clearly understand the service and hence to want to make use them.

On the business level, contracts and service level agreements that put the service in the proper context are very important as they cover not only the function(s) that will be performed but also the non-functional terms and conditions to which the consumer and provider have agreed.

There are several business processes that can be identified in the context of air traffic management. Some are related to the aircraft themselves (e.g. turn-round), others concern the passengers and their baggage. These and all other business processes require specific services to progress and complete in accordance with the business objectives of the process owner. Cleaning and refuelling of the aircraft, passenger check-in, security checking, etc. are just a few examples of the business services that need to be provided in order to achieve the objective, in this case a timely and safe departure.

When viewed on an enterprise level, a given service once defined is often reusable across the enterprise where identical or similar processes are found, resulting in a major potential for cost saving.

The services so defined will then set the requirements for the underlying IT support.

The effects of net-centric integration

The term "integration" is often associated with "centralisation" and the elimination/rationalisation of facilities. While from an economic perspective integration may indeed mean all of the above, net-centric integration is about empowering better decision making through the creation of the complex, networked community of people, devices, information and services that generate benefits to all members of the community without necessarily changing the mapping (nature, number and location) of the community members.

At the same time, net-centric integration enables superior business agility and flexibility so that community members may evolve and change (drop out or new ones come in) in response to the changing needs of the users of the system concerned.

In the net-centric context it is not integration as such that changes the enterprise landscape. Such changes, if any, are the result of the economic imperatives that need to be met and which can now be met based on the improved business agility.

The end-user aspects of net-centric operations

One of the less understood aspects of traditional decision making is that it is not really possible to realise when decisions are based on less then full and/or correct information. The garbage in/garbage out principle applies also to the decision making process. At the same time, the effects of less than good decisions may not be immediately visible. In many cases, poor decisions will affect the efficiency of the overall operation without the negative effects even being traceable to individual decisions. So, while everyone may be doing their very best, the result may still be far short of the quality that would be otherwise achievable.

When the scope and quality of data upon which decisions are based is expanded and improved, the quality of decisions improves almost automatically. The decision makers will notice the expanded possibilities and ultimately the success of the enterprise will also improve in a visible way.

When net-centric operations are introduced, the potential for improvement and the options for achieving the improvement multiply considerably. In the more restricted environment, end-users will have been asking for more information and tools to make using data easier. More often than not, their wish went unfulfilled due to lack of data and/or poor quality and the consequent poor performance of the tools that may have been created. The shared environment under net-centric operations brings all the data anyone may ever wish to have. The services are defined on the basis of the business needs and will also support the tools end-users need to properly interact with net-centric environment, integrating into a coherent whole their individual decision making processes.

In a way a well implemented net-centric system is transparent to the end-users. In particular, they do not need to concern themselves with the location of data they require or the quality thereof. Information management, that is part of the net-centric environment, takes care of finding the information needed and also its quality assurance.

End-user applications are the most visible part of net-centric operations and they can be built to satisfy end-user needs in respect of any process that needs to be handled.

In the ATM context, vastly improved controller decision making tools, safety nets and trajectory calculation are only a few examples of the possible benefits.
The institutional implications of net-centric operations

International air navigation is by definition a highly regulated environment and regulations provide some of the most important pillars of both safety and interoperability. The net-centric and service oriented future ATM environment possesses a number of aspects which by themselves provide powerful drivers for proper regulation. It is important to note that the institutional issues associated with net-centric operations are wider than just CDM and hence early efforts to address the CDM related aspects will benefit the whole of the ATM enterprise. The items of particular relevance are summarised below:

o Wide scope of information contributors - The information needs of the future ATM Network, including the scope of that information, will result in a multitude of new information sources/contributors and/or new types of information being obtained from various information sources.

o Air and ground integration - In the traditional ATM set-up, the coupling between ground and airborne systems are normally very loose or non-existent. Once the net-centric ATM Network is realised and aircraft become nodes on the network, a completely new regulatory-target regime is created in the form of the integrated air/ground ATM elements.

o Information sharing - The value of using shared information is one of the main reasons why System Wide Information Management (SWIM) for the future net-centric ATM environment is being defined. There are however legitimate requirements for protecting some information in one or more of several ways, including de-identification of the source, limiting access, etc.

o Integration of diverse airspace use activities - Airspace is used for various purposes and civil aviation is just one of those. Specific military usage (not all of which involves aircraft operations) as well as various civilian projects and missions employ information that is even more sensitive than the normal business or security sensitive information categories. Their proper protection is essential if the military and other operators generating such sensitive information are to be integrated into the overall ATM process. This aspect poses a specific challenge since not only is the information possibly in a military/State security domain but the regulatory domains may also be nested in different organisations that need to be brought together for and under the SWIM umbrella.

o Disappearance of the difference between voice and data - In the mid- to longer time frames, the expected traffic levels will make the move to almost exclusive use of digital link communications inevitable. This does not mean the disappearance of voice communications on the end-user level. However, a reliable communications system that can serve the voice and data needs of the future ATM environment is by definition digital and hence even voice messages will be transferred via digital means. Hence a convergence of the regulatory regimes for voice and data communications will be inevitable.

o Global interoperability - Aeronautical information has always been global in nature but the strongly limited access and product oriented philosophy has contained the issues of global interoperability. The net-centric approach of the new ATM environment will create large islands of shared information which must however be able to interoperate between each other as well as with legacy environments, constituting a new, global need for proper regulatory regimes.

o Common information pipes for passenger and operational communications - In the traditional analogue environment, aviation has enjoyed dedicated communications means and this tradition was carried over to a certain extent also into the new digital communications technologies. The dedicated "pipe" in air/ground communications is certainly a reality today but the same cannot be said of the ground-ground communications links. The early point to point connections have been replaced in most applications by leased lines which, for substantial segments, are in fact shared with other, often not aviation, users. The drivers behind this change are obviously cost effectiveness considerations. Although early attempts to provide in-flight passenger connectivity have not proved the commercial success many had forecast, it is already visible that in the not too distant future, personal communications needs will evolve to the point where people will demand uninterrupted connectivity even on relatively short flights. Since such demands will always fetch a premium price, it stands to reason that combining the operational and passenger connectivity needs onto a single air/ground pipe could be commercially attractive. While the technology to do this safely will certainly be available, the regulatory aspects will have to be explored in time to ensure that the actual solutions used meet all the safety and other requirements.

o The value of information - Information is a valuable commodity and in the competitive environment of aviation this commodity is of course sought after by many partners, including others than only aircraft operators or airports. The essential safety contribution of information in air traffic management creates an especially complicated web of relationships, some commercial some not, some State obligations some voluntary, and so on that need to be properly regulated with a view to ensuring cost recovery while not discouraging information use.

o Cost effectiveness - Although not always thought of as a driver for regulation, a proper regulatory environment will favour cost-effective, user oriented solutions.

o Training and personnel licensing - The information sharing environment of SWIM will require experts who are conversant not only with the requirements of air traffic management and aircraft operations but also the information technology aspects of the new approach to managing information. This has implications in the construction and approval of training syllabuses, examination fulfilment criteria as well as the qualification requirements. The need for refresher/recurrent training also grows and needs to be part of the overall regulatory regime.

o Standardisation - System wide sharing of information in a net-centric environment requires that the data be the subject of proper standardisation on all levels. This is the key to achieving global interoperability in the technical as well as the service/operational sense. The development and use of the necessary standards can only be realised under a proper regulatory regime.
All the above aspects imply the creation of a regulatory regime that is aligned with the specific needs of a net-centric operation and which is able to regulate for safety and proper performance, including economic performance, appropriate for the new digital environment. Trying to apply traditional methods of regulation without taking the new realities into account is counter productive and must be avoided. This is an important message for both the regulators and the regulated.

The aspects of regulation to be considered include:

o Safety
o Security
o Information interoperability
o Service level interoperability
o Physical interoperability
o Economics
In terms of who should be regulated, thought should be given to at least:

o The State as data provider
o Licensed providers of services, including network services
o Licensed data sources
o Licensed providers of end-user applications
o User credentials and trusted users

It is important to answer also the question: who should be the regulator? This must be agreed in terms of:

o International rules and global oversight
o Licensing rules and global oversight
The types of regulatory activities that need to be put in place concern mainly compliance verification and certification; quality maintenance; and enforcement and penalties.

As mentioned already, the above institutional aspects concern more than just CDM, however, for CDM and in particular information sharing to work in the net-centric environment, they need to be addressed as a prerequisite of implementation.
The technical implications of net-centric operations

On the conceptual level, net-centric operations mean the sharing of superior quality information as part of a community and acting on that information to improve decisions for the benefit of the individual as well as for the network (the networked community). Obviously, this type of operation must be enabled by a proper technical infrastructure.

This technical infrastructure is often thought of as a network with the required band-width and reliability; it is true that the replacement of the one-to-one connections that characterise legacy systems with the many-to-many relationships of the net-centric environment does require a powerful network that fully meets all the quality requirements, but there is much more to net-centricity than this.

The management of the shared data pool, including currency, access rights, quality control, etc. brings in a layer of technical requirements that sit higher than the network as such.

If we then define 'information' as 'data put in context' it is easy to see that creating the information from the shared data constitutes yet another layer of required technical solutions. These are often referred to as intelligent end-user applications. Tools which end-users can call upon to perform tasks they need for successfully completing their missions. End-users may be pilots, air traffic controllers, flight dispatchers, handling agents or any other person or system with a need for the shared information. In all cases, the end-user applications collect and collate the data needed to create the information required. This then may be a synthetic display of the airport on an EFB, a trajectory on a what-if tool display or a list of arrivals for the taxi company and so on.

End-user applications are scalable to fit, both in functionality and cost, the specific needs of the end-user for whom they are created. This scalability enables the end-user applications to run on different networked devices from simple PDAs through airlines systems to on-board equipment.

It shall be noted that one of the most important characteristics of a net-centric environment that technical solutions must support is that the requirements against equipment are driven by the services/functionality they must provide and NOT by their actual location in the network. As an example, the integrity of the data used to build a trajectory and the quality of the application used to manipulate/interact with the trajectory will depend on the use that will be made of the trajectory and not per se on whether the application is running on the ground or in an aircraft.

This adaptability of the technical solutions to the actual needs (rather than location in the network) leads to important cost saving opportunities.

Net-centricity - the essence of the future

The net-centric approach to system design is not a silver bullet. It is just the environment that enables properly managed information to be exploited to the full and provide the enterprise with the agility it needs to constantly adapt to the changing world for the benefit of the customers and the enterprise itself.

It is the end-user applications built to work in the net-centric environment that come closest to being the silver bullets...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Horse Whispers: Fact or Fiction, Myth or Legend?

The term, "horse whisperer" originated in the early nineteenth century and first referred to an Irish horseman named Daniel Sullivan. Eventually making a name for himself in England for his ability to rehabilitate intractably vicious horses, spectators noticed he would square up and face the troubled horse seeming to whisper the horse into a calm submission. The public began to call him a horse whisperer.

The early horse whisperers were sought out by great numbers of people needing advice and help with their equine counterparts. That need is still in high demand today. Here in the United States the practice of horse whispering developed in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain areas. The better known horseman of that time were two brothers known as Tom and Bill Dorrance. These two practitioners of horse whispering would prove to have a profound influence upon today's horse world and the practice that has become better known as Natural Horsemanship.

One such individual profoundly influenced by the Dorrance brothers is Ray Hunt. Ray has been a pivotal character in the landscape of Natural Horsemanship. His unwavering pursuit to grasp the concepts, philosophies and spirit of the Dorrance brother's approach to the horse did not go unanswered. Hunt has perhaps been the most instrumental horseman in propelling natural horsemanship into the consciousness of horse enthusiasts around the world. Ray Hunt died in March of 2009 at the age of 79. The world lost a great horseman. The horse lost a good friend.

Like the Dorrance brothers, Ray Hunt left this world a legacy as well, his gift of sharing what he knew about the horse and showing them, "the way". One of Ray's beneficiaries is one of Florida's best kept secrets in the horse world, Ronnie J Ford. He is a horseman well defined by his experience and knowledge and most assuredly touched by the time he spent with Ray. In the spirit of Ray Hunt's legacy, Ronnie Ford is first and foremost an advocate for the horse and will be quick to tell you, "I'm just trying to improve the lives of horses, one owner at a time".

Ronnie recalls an incident which took place in Wauchula, Florida where Ray was holding a clinic. "Ray was mounted, watching all of us in the arena. There were probably twenty-five to thirty horses and riders. Now, you have to understand, I teach all my horses that what ever may be going on "out there" ain't none of their business. My horses are taught to pay attention to me and they won't get into trouble. So,I was riding my stud horse, Jo around the arena. Everything was going along just fine until this guy on a red gelding came by me and Jo. Well, this gelding just decided to reach out and tag Jo. Well, Jo didn't have too much of a response and we just continued on. Jo never missed a step and he never paid any mind to the riders and horses we were passing or the ones passing us. We were riding around the arena and Ray just happened to be watching about the time that red gelding approached us. All of the sudden, Jo decided to take issue with that gelding! It happened so fast and because Jo didn't have much of a response when the gelding tagged him back there, I figured that was the end of it. Evidently, Jo kept an eye on that gelding and an opportunity to teach him he wasn't going to get away with that, so Jo got after him. I collected Jo and simmered him down but Ray came riding up about that time and asked me for Jo's reins. I gave over the reins to Ray and Ray went to gettin' after him pretty good and he was crawlin' my a** along with it! Ray rode my butt the rest of the day. He never let up. Well, at the end of the day when we were sittin' around discussing things, Ray started in on me again, right in front of everybody! Ray wasn't gonna let it go and that was pretty certain. Well, the next mornin' I loaded up Jo and a mare that was in full season. When we got to the arena, I unloaded Jo, saddled him up and unloaded the mare. I put the mare on a lead rope, mounted Jo and trotted over to Ray. He looked up at me and I asked him, "Ray, did you see what happened before Jo went after that gelding?" Ray said, "No, guess I didn't". So, I explained how that gelding went after Jo and what he saw was a very delayed response on Jo's part. I said, "This mare here? She's in full season and this stud horse knows she ain't none of his business. I probably deserved everything you gave me yesterday, but this stud horse didn't"! As Ronnie retells this encounter his blue eyes are lit with a smile that told of his fondness for Ray Hunt and the old man's passion and wisdom.

"Ray Hunt is the best horseman this world has ever seen. I leaned a lot from that old man. He even taught me something one day he never knew he did. Ray had a sayin' he liked to use a lot: 'You go through the mind to get the feet to move." Ray was inside a horse trailer with the horse trying to get him to unload. The horse was so scared and had so much fear of that trailer, Ray was having a very difficult time getting him in there. As I watched Ray with this horse, a revelation tapped into my senses and I realized a profound truth: Sometimes a horses mind is so cluttered with fear that you just can't go through the mind. That day Ray taught me a valuable piece of information that he never knew he did. I learned that sometimes you have to bypass the chaos and get straight to the point to get the success you want."

Ronnie is referred to by many as a horse whisperer. He is noted for his ability to work magic with horses. When faced with praise by spectators he falls humble and says there's nothing special about what he does, praising instead, the horse for it's magnificence, it's intelligence, grace and spirit. He says, "You just have to understand that a horse does what makes sense to him. If a horse exhibits bad behavior, it's because some human taught him how to do it. If he can learn that, then I can teach him to do something different and replace the wrong behavior or response with a desired one."

There are those who say, "Ronnie is spooky, the things he can do with horses, I have seen the man stand in the round pen and literally cause a horse to suddenly stop with only his eyes!" If asked, "Do you really whisper to horses?", Ronnie would tell you he rarely talks to the horses at all. The only thing you're likely to hear him say to the horse is something along the lines of, "Good for you"! But he will tell you that he understands that it is his obligation to the horse to know what he wants the horse to do and how to ask it. The horse has it's own language, once you understand something about that, then you'll be on your way to a better line of communication."

So, in conclusion yes, there are horse whisperers in existence today. In spite of the horse whisperer's longevity in our history and the supposed secrets revealed, one thing remains clear: what ever it is they are saying, it is exclusively for the benefit of the horse and if we are to capture any understanding at all for ourselves, we will have to listen closely to something above a whisper.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Travelling in the Arabian Peninsula

It may seem in the days of mass tourism and cheap worldwide flights that no stone has
been left unturned in our pursuit of the unexplored. However, Arabia still offers much
in the way of mystery and exoticism.

If you are brave enough to venture into this unknown, a feast of surprises await the
senses. The scenery is the first to strike. The picture-postcard desert is home to an
astonishing array of mountain landscapes, deep and rich forests, bursting and
colourful coral reefs, endless date plantations and lush green wadis, plus of course
miles and miles of undiscovered, untouched and truly breathtaking beaches.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this fascinating region is its ascension from a 3rd
world barren landscape to a series of prosperous, emerging nations in a little under 30
years. The Peninsula is far from a large plateau of sand and sun. The cultural legacy of
the great civilisations can be seen and felt everywhere in the ancient cities, temples
and fortifications such as the Beit Sheikh Isa bin Ali on Bahrain's Muharraq Island, or
the Madain Saleh embedded in a rock face deep in the heart of the Saudi Arabian

So what activities might one engage in? Truly world-class golf resorts such as the
Montgomery in Dubai, thrilling 'dune-bashing' (4x4s driven expertly over dunes at
high-speed), wildlife safaris such as watching green turtles invade a beach at dawn to
lay their eggs, snorkelling and scuba diving some of the planets most breathtaking and
undisturbed coral reefs, or perhaps mountain trekking or desert safaris, meeting the
indigenous Bedouin people for a cup of steaming arabic coffee with dates along the

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rajasthan Desert Tour Packages - Best Way to Feel the Glory

Rajasthan, the desert state of India is renowned across the globe for its desert landscapes, forts, palaces, culture, cuisines, fairs and festivals. It is the pulsating destination of India tourism where tourists come in large number to enjoy the charm of natural glory and heritage culture. Rajasthan desert tour package is the best way to surf through leftover legacies of the royal kingdoms. This customized tour is of 17 nights and 18 days in which all the popular tourist destinations of this state are covered. The destinations which can be explored on this tour are Delhi, Mandawa, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bhuj, Zainabad and Ahemdabad.

The tour begins from Delhi. This is one of the most vibrant cities of India where tourists can witness the perfect blend of modern and traditional culture. It is a wonderful city which enthrals tourists with its historic sites, beautiful monuments and vibrant cultural heritage. The popular tourist attractions of this place include Red Fort, India Gate, Qutub Minar, Humayun Tomb andJama Masjid.

Jodhpuris one of the popular tourist destinations of Rajasthan. It is known across the globe as the Sun City. This beautiful place is renowned across the globe for its scenic desert landscapes and number of monumental buildings which are the living testimonials of yesteryears. The well known tourist attractions of this place are Umaid Bhawan palace, Mandore, Mehrangarh fort, Mahamandir temple and Jaswant thada.

This is an exhilarating destination of Rajasthan tourism popularly known as the Golden city. The enthralling charm of this place lies in its exotic sand dunes, camel safaris, magnificent forts, temples and captivating havelis. Large number of tourists comes here throughout the year to enjoy their vacations amidst scenic natural vistas of desert. The popular tourist attractions of this are Patwon ji ki haveli, Nathmalji ki haveli, Jaisalmer fort, Sam sand dunes and Desert national park.

This is another popular tourist destination of Rajasthan renowned across the globe for its desert landscapes, beautiful palaces, rich cultural heritage and temple festooned with intricate sculptures. Scores of tourists come here throughout the year to enjoy the fun and thrill of camel safari which is the best way to enjoy the beauty of barren desert landscapes. The popular tourist attractions of this place are Junagarh Fort, Karni Mata Temple or Deshnok temple, Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum, Laxmi Niwas Palace, Lalgarh Palace and Jain Haveli.

This is another popular tourist destination covered in this tour package. It is the capital of Gujarat state situated on the bank of river Sabarmati. The captivating charm of this city lies in the interwoven charm of history, art and culture and imposing architectural monuments. This place is also known as the Manchester of India because it is the largest denim producer in the world.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Great Pyramids of Egypt - A Legacy of Diligence and Imagination at Work

"From atop these pyramids forty centuries look down upon you" - Napoleon Bonaparte 1798

The great Pyramids of Giza defy age. Though there are over 100 pyramids throughout Egypt, these behemoths with a monstrous height of nearly 500 ft. and covering over 13 acres of land stand out proudly piercing the landscape, a core source for the rest of human history.

On the edge of Cairo, the Pyramids of Giza loom above the grey blur of the city's skyline which merges seamlessly behind them. The 3 Pyramids of Giza were built as tombs to hold the physical bodies of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, best known by their Greek names respectively as Cheops, Chephres and Mycerinius. The greatest of these is the pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), who moved his court and residence here from Memphis when he became king of Egypt. Arguably, this is one of the best man-made structures in the world. Named by Herodotus as one of the 7 Wonders of the World as early as the 5th Century BC, it is the first and only survivor!

The Pyramids were shaped to imitate the Benben, a similarly shaped stone found in the earliest temples, which symbolized the primeval mound from which life emerged. According to Egyptian mythology, the sun god, Re, rose from the primeval mound to create life, thus the pyramids' shape was directly associated with Re. By ancient Egyptian cosmology, Re reigned in the East, so that the rising of the sun, hence life, was linked to the eastern bank of the Nile. Here the towns and temples of ancient Egypt were built. The west bank, the domain of the darkly-aspected god Set, was associated with the setting sun, or death. It is here, on the very edge of Set's domain that the Great Pyramids sit.

The construction of pyramids started with a surge of building which began during Egypt's 3rd dynasty between 2650-2575BC. Royal pyramid building ceased entirely during the reign of the New Kingdom after 1295BC. Pyramid construction evolved during this period and was the result of centuries of experimentation, development and cultural adaptation as it became standardized. The pyramid complexes included a main pyramid with a surrounding courtyard, a much smaller cult pyramid housing the king's soul, a mortuary temple set next to the main pyramid, and an enclosed wall and walkway leading to a valley temple, and in some cases, smaller subsidiary temples or tombs for family members.

Pyramid construction adhered to strict orientation of cardinal points and its alignment had to conform to true primary coordinates by stellar measurements. In terms of size, technical construction accomplishments, cardinality and the organization required for their construction, the Great pyramids represent a phenomenal effort.

Beyond the pyramids, the mystical apparition of the Father of Terror, the Sphinx, continues to guard over the royal burial chambers of the pharaohs, keeping its secrets to itself.

Today, the Great Pyramids serve as a backdrop for continuous bustle and activity, including, among others, artistic displays, musical performances and races. The most exhilarating activity, however, is a climb up the pyramid steps. Of the many, many steps, each as high as a table (2-5 ft.), a climb up is a muscle-straining, excruciating, exhausting and very worthwhile experience!

The pyramids, a symbol of long-lasting durability, were already as ancient to such visitors as Alexander the Great as ancient Greece is to us today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Abuse of Denver Historic Landmark Certification

As a landscape architect, Saco Rienk DeBoer's (SR DeBoer) work can be experienced in a number of city parks and many private gardens throughout the city and the West. As a city planner, he co-authored Denver's first zoning code, devised many of its roadways, and led in the development of mountain parks. The residents of the City of Denver are fortunate enough to have the ability to visit many parks (including the Botanic Gardens) where they can experience SR DeBoer's work. Those parks include, but are not limited to, the Denver Botanical Gardens, Red Rocks Amphitheater, City Park, Washington Park and Sunken Gardens.

Therefore, the family feels that this should be enough for the residents of Denver, and that the family's private property should not be up for grabs through the attempted abuse of historical landmark designation simply because SR DeBoer owned it at one time. For this fact alone, the family wonders why the City of Denver would want to assist "neighbors" in essentially a "taking" of the last remaining inheritance SR DeBoer left his family? Are the many parks SR DeBoer helped design to beautify the city not enough?

It has been 33 years since his passing. During that time the "neighbors" of the property have never discussed their supposed feelings with SR DeBoer 's family. In fact, SR DeBoer 's own daughter was overwhelmed by the property's heavy amount of upkeep and over the years sold pieces off to the people now trying to "take" the rest of the property from the family. It was not until his daughter's (Elizabeth Wright) passing in July of 2005 and the advancement towards selling the property by her remaining children, that the "neighbors" ever sought to designate this property historic. Therefore, the fact that they are acting as supposed "heroes" for his legacy over his own family is clearly an obvious attempt to use his memory and minimize his own family's history on the property (86 years) for obviously selfish gains.

The LaFons and the neighbors who signed the petition for the historical designation do not have the first-hand experience with SR DeBoer as the DeBoer family does. The SR DeBoer family personally experienced what happened on the property and know his ultimate wishes for the property. SR DeBoer passed away in 1974 and none of the members of the neighborhood ever personally knew him.

Currently, the Historical Society of Denver and neighbors of the property on East Iliff Avenue in Denver are trying to designate an historical district, which includes several surrounding properties. Leigh and Mark LaFon entered the application for historical designation without the consent or knowledge of the SR DeBoer family and obtained signatures of members of the neighborhood.

Leigh Lafon specifically wrote a letter to the Landmark Commission asking for the process to be "fast-tracked" and that her request needs be kept a secret from the family of SR DeBoer. The City of Denver employees granted her request based on her alleged concern over imminent demolition of buildings on the property. There have never been demolition permits on any of the 3 buildings on SR DeBoer's property and the family of SR DeBoer was never notified of the initial hearings with the Landmark Commission. The employees of the Landmark Preservation Commission could have easily found out that there were no demolition permits obtained, but chose not to. There is no doubt that the false accusation of demolition fueled the contrived sense of alarm the Lafons were raising within the neighborhood.

The first (out of 4 total attempts due to corrections made based on SR DeBoer's family's rebuttals) application was a 45-page document that contained numerous misrepresentations and historical errors. Leigh and Mark LaFon have had numerous opportunities to appear before the historical commission and other city organizations to argue their points while the SR DeBoer family have had virtually no opportunity to do so.

Ana Novas, who lives in the farmhouse adjacent to the SR DeBoer property and SR DeBoer's actual home during his lifetime, was initially interested in selling her property along with the SR DeBoer family and even provided a developer's name. However, she then signed the petition with the neighbors later on. The neighbors of the SR DeBoer property, including the LaFons, refer to this property as "their forest","forested enclave" and "their sanctuary" and have long enjoyed the efforts of SR DeBoer's family to maintain this heavily-treed property. Due to financial issues and the passing of Elizabeth Wright (SR DeBoer's daughter) her children were forced to put the property up for sale. Without direct knowledge and fearing development, the neighbors chose not to address the issue with the family, but to underhandedly seek historical designation so the family could do nothing with the property.

Supposedly, the main issue lies with the possible demolition of what is termed "the office" of SR DeBoer and other dwellings on the 1+ acre site. No demolition permits have ever been obtained for SR DeBoer's former office or any other building on the family's property. In the application (s), Leigh and Mark LaFon (in addition to The Cultural Landscape Foundation) claim that the property located at 515 East Iliff Avenue was once his house and is of a rare architectural design. In fact, "the office" was never his home. They also claim that the property is a display for different architectural designs throughout the years and insinuate that it should, essentially, be frozen in time.

The application for the historical district contains Leigh and Mark LaFon's house (which they claim a heavy connection to artist John E Thompson and SR DeBoer), the entire property of the Elizabeth Wright Trust (which ends up being 60% (or more) of the proposed historical district), the farmhouse where Ana Novas currently resides, and the home of Elizabeth Wright located at 575 East Iliff Avenue that was built in the 1950s. Also, there is a small dwelling on the property referred to as the "cottage" that the LaFon's claim to have a strong connection to John E Thompson, a local painter in Denver, CO.

While John E Thompson did rent the cottage for 2 years using what is now the LaFon home as a studio, the heavy connection to SR DeBoer they are claiming simply did not exist beyond just being friends. John E. Thompson never lived in the present day home of the LaFons. The LaFon's have termed the entire SR DeBoer property as being a past and present artists colony. This fact has never been substantiated and though the family has done extensive research in defense of this designation they have never found any evidence of an artist colony, nor is there a present day colony.

The grandchildren of SR DeBoer have testified on several occasions in Landmark hearings that they grew up on the property (all are in their 60's or nearly 60) and that there was never an artist's colony or formal gathering of artists, nor did SR DeBoer "host" artists for the means of furthering the artistic community, as the Lafons claim. Yet, the City of Denver continues to aid the Lafons with their plight to rob SR DeBoer's family of their property rights.

The application(s) submitted by Leigh and Mark LaFon grossly overstate the historical importance of these properties. Examining each:

· Leigh and Mark LaFon's House; 2260 South Pinon Court (formerly 519 East Iliff Avenue)
Leigh and Mark LaFon's house has received major renovations and additions over the years since the home was originally built. Leigh and Mark LaFon have added over 1500sq ft and a detached garage on this property. Their addition(s) are not "sensitive" additions as they claim. In fact, the differences between the original building and the addition(s) have been documented and the Landmark Commission did not recommend their home as historic.

· Farmhouse residence of Ana Novas; 501 East Iliff Avenue
Ms. Novas' house has also received major renovations and additions over the years since its original construction. The farmhouse that Ana lives in is a mere shadow of its former self, yet the LaFon's claim it's the oldest house in South Denver, even thought the majority of the original construction has been overwrought by newer construction. In addition to the Lafon's home, Ana Novas' home was also not included in a recommendation for historic status by the Landmark Commission.

· Elizabeth Wright residence; 575 East Iliff Avenue.
This residence was constructed in the 1950s by TW Wright and not by SR DeBoer like the application claims. This building was not influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, as the Lafons claim. This is at best, a total stretch and an outright fib.

· Elizabeth Wright Trust/ The Office; 515 East Iliff Avenue
The "office" was constructed around 1931 to act as SR DeBoer's office. This location never acted as a home for SR DeBoer and has not been substantiated in the application. The architect for the "office" was not SR DeBoer as also claimed. The "office" is claimed buy the Lafons to have beams that were hand painted by John E. Thompson. This claim is, as well, false and has never been substantiated. The Lafons did include a supposed interview in their latest application where SR DeBoer is claimed to have been interviewed and mentioned the beams. The family of SR DeBoer has never seen this interview and the interview was not referenced by the Lafons appropriately in their application so this claim, also, can not be substantiated.

· Elizabeth Wright Trust/ Cottage; 517 East Iliff Avenue
The "cottage" is claimed in the application to have acted as a haven for starving artists and is also included in the historic designation. Simply put, the "cottage" has never acted as a haven for starving artists. The "cottage" was used as a rental over the years and the majority of the time it was rented out to people not considered to be artists. In fact, the historical address listings, found in the Denver Public Library, confirm that the "cottage" was occupied by people who considered themselves artists for a very short amount of time. Therefore, the claim that this property was a haven for starving artists, is again, false. It was used as a home for one of the sons (not an artist) of Elizabeth Wright for 30+ years and was merely a uninsulated building until 2004. This dwelling has received substantial renovation and began life as a glorified shed. Approximately 3 years ago, the inside was gutted and half of the stucco on the outside was removed. The largest part of the remodel has been finished, but there is still a great deal left undone due to financial issues. The claim of the "cottage" being an integral part of the artists colony has never been substantiated and is not true.

While Leigh and Mark LaFon have billed themselves as saviors of historically-valuable property, they did not seem interested in historical values when it meant constructing an addition to their residence or adding a garage(that are not sensitive to the design of the original building), both of which would have been denied to them had their residence been deemed a historical landmark PRIOR to the construction. How convenient for the LaFons that now that their additions are added, that they are NOW seeking historical classification and using the supposed preservation of the SR DeBoer legacy as a convenient excuse to halt advancement or sale of the SR DeBoer property.

Additionally, the LaFons are now maliciously trying to block the family of SR DeBoer from taking actions (selling) with the property that are allowed by any property owner - primarily because the LaFons do not want to lose the privacy they feel the SR DeBoer property affords them. The Lafons have seen fit to slander members of SR DeBoer's family publicly and now have included friends of the family in order to get their way. It is obvious that when the truth is not on ones side, playing dirty is the only way one will get what one wants. The City of Denver has aided them in their efforts through enormous corruption of city employees and organizations.

The LaFons are welcome to purchase the property located at 575, 515, and 517 E. Iliff Avenue from the SR DeBoer family, as is anyone interested in the property, for fair market value. Thus, the LaFons can then ensure that the trees (of which most are so old, they are end-of-life and considered dangerous by professionals) on the SR DeBoer property remain intact. As with the so-called "historical" areas while also allowing the SR DeBoer family to relieve themselves of the ongoing financial burden imposed by maintaining this property. But by no means is the property of historical value claimed by the Lafons and the SR DeBoer family should be allowed to sell their property as planned. It simply isn't possible that people, who never met SR DeBoer, have more invested in his memory than his own family.

SR DeBoer's family feels that SR DeBoer is more than honored in various ways throughout the City of Denver, including a park named in his honor. Not long after his death in 1974, his daughter, Elizabeth Wright, donated some of his personal items to the Denver Public library for public enjoyment. For this reason, the family feels it is their right to move on with their lives and do what was instructed both in SR DeBoer's will when he left his property to his daughter (Elizabeth Wright) and then upon her passing in July 2005, equal division between her remaining children. This should be able to occur without the ongoing harassment from "neighbors" of the SR DeBoer property and the City of Denver.

As of late, the Lafons have now managed to get two more hearings, without the family of SR DeBoer's knowledge, with the Denver Planning Board. The most recent Landmark hearing attended by all parties was on November 21st, 2006 (the first was in June) with the next scheduled hearing with Blueprint Denver on January 10th. The family (nor their lawyers) did not receive notification that their property was scheduled on the Denver Planning Board's December 6th agenda.

The next hearing is scheduled for January 3rd (immediately following the New Year's holiday) and the family only found out about it on December 26th, 2006 by chance. The family of SR DeBoer has learned that the information contained in the latest application submitted by the Lafons was forwarded to the members of the Planning Board in their meeting packets without the rebuttal document or any additional information submitted by the SR DeBoer family. This is yet another blatant attempt to conveniently leave out the family's views and rebuttals to outright falsifications contained within the application(s) Leigh and Mark Lafon submitted.

These hearings, coincidentally, are happening during the holiday season and no doubt were an attempt to capitialize on the fact that the family was unaware and busy with holiday schedules. During the entire ordeal, which has been nearly all of 2006, the family has found out about the underhanded manuevers of the Lafons and the City of Denver employees they happen to know, by sheer happenstance.

The corruption that SR DeBoer complained about during his employment at the city apparently continues to this day. One would think that property owners would be the first persons contacted for issues pertaining to their own property. Apparently not, because it's the neighbors who seem to have the control over adjoining properties. Of course, those who have connections within the city, that is.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rishikesh Tour Known For Ashram, Temples and River Rafting

Rishikesh among the holiest cities of India is not only famous for its religious background but also for its scenic landscapes of the Lesser Himalayas. It is the spiritual town of Northern India situated on the bank of holy river Ganga. The century old spiritual linkage entitled this city with the title 'place of sages' which summons scores of spiritual seekers from several parts of globe. Every year many people come here in the several ashrams to meditate and gain peace of mind. Scores of tourists prefers Rishikesh Tour so that they can experience the natural wonder, cultural legacies and spiritual aura of this place. Apart from this it is also the preferred extended attractions of Golden Triangle Tour Packages after Agra, Delhi and Jaipur. During Rishikesh Travel tourists can also experience adventure-sports activities like rafting, canoeing, trekking and mountaineering which multiply the fun and excitement of this place manifolds. Some of the known Rishikesh attractions are:

Lakshman Jhula:

It is a suspended bridge between Holy River Ganga on one side to other part of the city which was built in 1939. This bridge was built on the basis of legend that states Lakshman the younger brother of Lord Rama crossed a bridge made of jute ropes at the same place on river Ganga. Apart from this religious belief Rishikesh Laxman Jhoola provides panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains with verdant landscapes in the foreground and the water of River Ganga flowing below. It is among the most famous attractions of this place which is visited by scores of tourists round the year.

River Rafting & Canoeing in Rishikesh:

This is the best part of Rishikesh Tourism where adventure freak enjoy the thrill, fun and excitement over the swift and swirling river. Large number of tourists opts for river rafting and canoeing during their Rishikesh Trip so that they can enjoy the thrill of river cuts, rocky banks and rock cracks. Along with this thrill tourist also gets an opportunity to see mountain beauty and scenic landscapes.

Bharat Mandir:

An ancient temple located on the Triveni Ghat which was established by Adiguru Shankaracharya in the 12th century. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu whose idol is being carved out from a single piece of Saligram stone. Because of its religious importance it is visited by scores of tourists for religious blessing. Old statues, coins, pots and other things have been discovered from the temple premises which reveal its historical importance and cultural significance.

The scenic locale, religious importance and adventure sports facilities make Rishikesh among the most sought after destinations of North India Tourism. Some of the other famous Rishikesh attractions are Triveni Ghat, Swarg Ashram Area, ali Kambliwale, Nilkanth Mahadeo and Kailash Niketan Temple.