Monday, January 31, 2011

Murals and Trompe L'Oeil

Murals and Trompe L'Oeil add a touch of grandeur and glamour to your home or office, speaking greatly about your rich and extravagant taste.

Wall Murals are beautiful home enhancements and solid art investments. They aren't just decorative items, but pieces of tradition, authenticity, and true class that date back thousands of years.

Murals and Trompe L'Oeil represent an enormous range of motifs, topics and color harmonies in which you'll simply lose yourself seeing the diverse combinations of the rich classic, antique and contemporary colors.

The diverse range of Mural and Trompe L'Oeil pieces that you'll encounter while searching for them are mostly Classic Murals, they portray the history of Europe and also the mystery and legends of far off lands of the Orient.

You can find classic Murals not only in Europe, but in almost any region of the world.

Wall Murals have been around since ancient times; we are able to trace this art-form back to Egypt, as early as the third millennium BC, where they were mainly painted in tombs to commemorate the deceased.

During the bronze age, primarily in Greece, Trompe L' Oeil was a highly appreciated art form.

Later on, Romans decorated public bath houses and places of entertainment with Murals depicting diverse themes.

During the Renaissance - a highly revolutionary time period in the development of wall paintings - artists rebelled against the rules imposed by the Byzantine era; this led to a renewed form of wall painting in which painted figures possessed a greater humanity than had ever been seen before. Who wouldn't have heard of Giotto (1266-1337), Masaccio (1401-1428), or Michelangelo (1475-1564)?

Archeological digs in the city of Pompeii during the year 1748 had a profound influence on the local painters, which gave rise to the neoclassical style. Fresco painting gained popularity in the neoclassical age of the later 1700's.

By the late 1700's into the early 1800's scenic wallpapers decorated with landscapes became popular in France. Many wallpapers illustrated historical scenes, while others were adorned by patterns made up of flowers and fruits, which were also popular in Britain as well as France.

In Mexico wall paintings carried political messages to the public during the late 1800's through to the mid 1900's. Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's most renowned wall painters, combined the art of the natives with that of the post colonial era, and painted monumental scale Murals.

Currently Murals and Trompe L' Oeil paintings are gaining popularity again, with much of their style being inspired by old masters. Wall Murals are also popular for children's rooms; typically stylized with bright colors and cheerful themes.

Classic Murals and Trompe L'Oeil have a very special artistic integrity, as they are exclusively hand painted. They are painted and sold all over the world, with clients more than willing to pay whatever they have in order to redefine their home and decorate with style.

If you are looking to add sophistication and glamour to your home or office and are ready to spend a certain amount on an exquisite piece of art, then you shouldn't wait a single minute.

You have the option to contact one of the several reliable, knowledgeable, and genuine Mural artists in your area. The artist should have profound knowledge about the various aspects of classic and contemporary wall-paintings and should be able to guide you in selecting the best option according to your budget and tastes.

You've got a bit of work to do as well. You should visit museums and educate yourself about Murals and Trompe L'Oeil, an in depth knowledge regarding design and quality painting is invaluable for anyone who is considering a wall Mural.

Below, are some tips to help you when choosing a mural artist.

Check for References
Look at some examples
Understand their Specialties
Discuss Specifics of Your Mural
Get an Estimate on the Price.
Understand How They Charge

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Zealand Flax Plants For Your Garden

The New Zealand Flax grows sword shaped leaves from the base of the plant. The plant can reach a size of up to 3 meters in height, with the majority seen at 1 to 2 meters. They tend to reach around 1 meter in diameter. Colors can range from shades of green and yellow to pink, red and bronze.

The best location for this plant is full sun to partial shade. Bloom periods are around the middle of summer. While the plant is young, it will need some protection from harsh winds. When the plant has become established, it can tolerate most conditions. However, most potted versions of this plant will not cope well with frost.

You can also produce more plants from the parent by dividing the plants in spring. Be aware that the greatest threat to this plant is the common mealy bug. This is a difficult pest to remove from the long leaves, so it often becomes necessary to remove and destroy the entire plant.

Some examples of the variation of the flax include the "Bronze Baby" which has a bronze foliage and grows to 1 meter wide and a bit less than 1 meter in height. This would be a great plant for containers. The "Sundowner" has green leaves with rosy-pink edges to the leaves. This will grow to about 1 meter in diameter and almost 2 meters in height. The "Jester" has bronze leaves with green striping and grows to about 1 meter in diameter and height.

I have personally had great success with the variations called "Thumberlina" and "Rainbow Queen". These have grown very well over the last two years. They were planted as a small 6 inch plant and are now well over 1 meter in height and diameter. I have only provided watering for the first few months and it has grown well ever since. A true low maintenance and great looking plant!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ornamental Fountain

The word 'Fountain' is derived from the Latin word 'fontis' which means spring. Fountains add life to your home and joy to your life. Fountains may be wall fountains or free standing. These are available in variety of designs and materials.

The most common fountains are made of copper, bronze, concrete, stone, resin and fiberglass. Let us discuss about each fountain and pick your fountain. Bronze fountains are high end fountains, somewhat costly but they are long lasting and durable enough to be moved from house to house. Copper Fountains have elegant look made of copper with glass and slate. These fountains are bit too expensive. Concrete fountains are inexpensive and long lasting fountains, but it's not portable. Resin and fiber glass fountains are easy to handle than concrete fountain.

The fountains are placed both indoor and outdoor; it gives beauty and seizes attention of all. Many fountains are normally seen in small, artificial decorative ponds, basins and formal garden pools. Wall fountain are trendy with homeowners across all cost-effective segments. These fountains are easily available, easy to install and require less maintenance. Among the wall fountains, steel wall fountains are lightweight and do not stress the walls too much. Wall fountains made of copper are exceptionally stunning and hardy.

Fountains will create calm atmosphere and also soothes the mind of listener. The pleasant flow of water will enhance the serenity and peacefulness of your outdoor areas. Choose the right ornamental fountains for your landscape depending on some features. Consider the size of the fountain you crave, since it has to fit well in the available space. Other than size, materials used, color and price also taken into account.

Keeping most general features in mind we have to choose our fountains. The chosen Fountain should be durable, long lasting, easy to clean and install and it should be decorative.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pandoras World Adventures - Day 4

Hi Everyone, Pandora here. Well I had a fantastic time here in Adelaide, on the way to the airport we went to have a quick stroll down Adelaide's Rundle Mall, while quite short is seemed to be quite busy. After passing the 2 chocolate stores are the entrance to the mall, Haighs Fine Chocolates, and Darrell Lea's fine selection of sweets (candy). We then came across an 'odd' sight, Pigs in the mall, looking closer they were sculptures made of Bronze, Phew. There was 4 of them one was even looking in a rubbish bin. PU ... but it was all part of the display. Afterwards we came to a shelter which Peter tells me is used by Buskers or staged events in need of power. Pete tells me it cost $750000, I think he is pulling my leg. We stopped for a quick of another bronze sculpture of a girl sliding down a slide, I sneaked on. Lol. She looked like she was having lots of fun, :) Wow have you seen the size of theses balls? They are HUGE, I mean really BIG. Pete says that when they were first put into the Mall, they were called 'King Kong's Balls' rofl, love it. I got up close and personal with (yet) another fountain, hehe. Cooled my feet a bit. The up an elevator ... that is on the outside of the building. Its glassed so people can see out. Peter too the opportunity to video the whole Mall one end to the other. Ahh, like all great adventures this part is coming to an end, Pete took me to the airport and saw me off ... with a few people I had met while in and about Adelaide. I will miss ...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dancing Bear Fountain

A Steampunk style fountain with a "dancing bear". Sorry about the quality. It was shot in a hurry before I dismantled it. It was made for friends last Christmas. Copper, brass, and stainless for the most part. Driven by the waterwheel in the bottom (made of 8 tablespoons in a slotted bronze hub). Everything runs in stainless steel ball bearings. The valve does work, controlling the water flow and speed of the bear. A lot of fun to make...and I'm still amazed it actually worked! The base is wood with the pot siting on a large cast iron pipe flange.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

8932 St Ives Hollywood HIlls Home

8932 Saint Ives Dr., West Hollywood, CA 90069 Welcome to Luxury, Refinement, and Green Technology at its best. Renovated to perfection by renowned designer Peter Vracko, this remarkable State-of-the-art Modern sets the stage for the ultimate LA lifestyle. An entertainers dream home! Set the mood with ease using the state of the art ITOUCH interface. Control lights, music, temperature, pool, spa and more. Upon entering the home one is immediately taken back by a magnificent 14ft solid bronze fountain and keyless touch pad entry. Enter to architecturally correct Center Lines and high ceilings which are very pleasing to the eye and give the home a Zen-like feeling. Choose from 6 preset mood settings to set the atmosphere. Travertine floors and countertops throughout, Dornbracht plumbing Fixtures, sexy indirect lighting, and huge dual Master suites. Endless high-tech Green features, sensational unobstructed views, High ceilings, and dramatic open layout. Two 2 car garages and plenty of parking. To view more of Peter's work please visit

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Tourist Guide to West Virginia


West Virginia, endlessly covered with forests and known as the "Mountain State," offers breathtaking scenery, natural resource-related sights, and year-round, outdoor activities.

Once rich in coal and timber, it was shaped by the mines and logging railroads which extracted them, but when decades of removal began to deplete these commodities, their rolling, green-carpeted mountains yielded secondary byproducts-namely, hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, climbing, and hunting to tourists and sports enthusiasts alike. Its New River Gorge, which offers many similar activities, is equally beautiful with its rugged banks and azure surfaces, while the principle city of Charleston, revitalized during the 1970s and 1980s, now features museums, art, shopping malls, restaurants, and world-class performance venues.


Located on the Kanawha River, and sporting an easily negotiable street grid system, it is subdivided into the Capitol Complex and the downtown area with the East End Historic District linking the two.

From the former, which is the heart of state government, juts the ubiquitously visible, gold-domed Capitol Building itself. Constructed of buff Indiana limestone and 4,640 tons of steel, which themselves required the temporary laying of a spur rail line to transport them, the building had been laid in three stages during an eight-year period: 1924 to 1925 for the west wing, 1926 to 1927 for the east wing, and 1930 to 1932 for the connecting rotunda. It was officially dedicated by Governor William G. Conley on June 20, 1932, on the occasion of West Virginia's 69th birthday as a state.

Its gold dome, which extends five feet higher than that of the Capitol in Washington, is gilded in 23 ½-karat gold leaf, applied between 1988 and 1991 as tiny squares to cover the otherwise copper and lead surface.

Two-thirds of its interior, which encompasses 535,000 square feet subdivided into 333 rooms, is comprised of Italian travertine, imperial derby, and Tennessee marble, and the chandelier in the rotunda, its center piece, is made of 10,180 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal illuminated by 96 light bulbs. Weighing 4,000 pounds, it hangs from a 54-foot brass and bronze chain.

Across from the State Capitol, but still within the complex, is the West Virginia Cultural Center. Opened in 1976 and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, it was created to showcase the state's artistic, cultural, and historical heritage, and houses the West Virginia State Museum, the archives and history library, a gift shop, and a venue for cultural events, performances, and related programs.

The former, a collection of items which represents the state's land, people, and culture, is subdivided into 24 significant scenes covering five periods: Prehistory (3 million years BC to 1650 AD), Frontier (1754-1860), the Civil War and the 35th State (1861 to 1899), Industrialization (1900 to 1945), and Change and Tradition (1954 to the 21st century). The 24 representations themselves trace the state's evolution and include such periods as "Coal Forest," "River Plains," "Wilderness," "The Fort," "Harper's Ferry," "Building the Rails," "Coal Mine," "Main Street, West Virginia," and "New River Gorge."

Thirteen monuments, memorials, and statues honoring West Virginians for their contributions to the state and the nation grace the Capitol Complex's landscaped grounds.

Culture can also be experienced at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, a modern, 240,000-square-foot, three-level complex which opened on July 12, 2003 and represents one of the most ambitious economic, cultural, and educational projects in West Virginia's history. Offering sciences, visual arts, and performing arts under a single roof, the center houses the dual-level Avampato Discovery Museum, an interactive, youth-oriented experience with sections such as Health Royale, KidSpace, Earth City, and Gizmo Factory. A 9,000-square-foot Art Gallery, located on the second floor, features both temporary and permanent exhibits, the latter emphasizing 19th and 20th century art by names such as Andy Warhol, Stuart Davis, Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Vida Frey, and Albert Paley. The ElectricSky Theater, a 61-foot domed planetarium, offers daily astronomy shows and wide screen presentations. Live performances are staged in two locations: the 1,883-seat Maier Foundation Performance Hall, which is home to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, but otherwise offers a variety of performance types, from comedy to popular singers, bands, repertory, and Broadway plays, and the 200-seat Walker Theater, which features plays and dances with cabaret-style seating for the Woody Hawley singer-songwriter program. The Douglas V. Reynolds Intermezzo Café and three classrooms are located on the lower level.

Shopping can be done at two major venues. The Charleston Town Center Mall, located adjacent to the Town Center Marriott and Embassy Suites Hotel, and near the Civic Center, is a one million square foot, tri-level complex with more than 130 stores, three anchor department stores, six full-service restaurants, and a food court with ten additional fast food venues, and is accessed through three convenient parking garages. Sporting a three-story atrium and fountain, the upscale, Kanawha Valley complex was the largest urban shopping center east of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1983.

The Capitol Market, located on Capitol and Sixth Streets in the restored and converted, 1800s Kanawha and Michigan Railroad depot, is subdivided into both in- and outdoor markets, the latter of which can only be used by bona fide farmers and receives daily, fresh, seasonal deliveries, usually consisting of flowers, shrubs, and trees in the spring; fruits and vegetables in the summer; pumpkins, gourds, and cornstalks in the fall; and Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands in the winter. The indoor market sells seafood, cheeses, and wines, and offers several small food stands and a full-service Italian restaurant.

An evening can be spent at the TriState Racetrack and Gaming Center. Located a 15-minute drive from Charleston in Cross Lanes, the venue offers 90,000 square feet of gaming entertainment, inclusive of more than 1,300 slot machines, live racing, a poker room, blackjack, roulette, and craps, and four restaurants: the French Quarter Restaurant and Bar, the First Turn Restaurant, the Café Orleans, and Crescent City.


The Potomac Highlands, located in the eastern portion of the state on the Allegheny Plateau, is a tapestry of diverse geographic regions and covers eight counties. Alternatively designated "Mountain Highlands," it had been formed some 250 million years ago when the North American and African continental collision had produced a single, uplifted mass. Subjected to millennia of wind- and water-caused erosion, it resulted in successive valleys and parallel ridges, and today the area encompasses two national forests: Canaan Valley, the highest east of the Mississippi River, and Spruce Knob, at 4,861 feet, West Virginia's highest point. Its green-covered mountains yielded abundant timber, the logging railroads necessary to harness it, two premier ski resorts, and a myriad of outdoor sports and activities.

The Potomac Highlands can be subdivided into the Tygart Valley, Seneca Rocks, Canaan Valley, and Big Mountain Country.

A. Tygart Valley

The town of Elkins, located in the Tygart Valley, is the transportation, shopping, and social center of the east central Appalachian Mountains and serves as a base for Potomac Highland excursions.

Established in 1890 by Senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen. B. Elkins, his son-in-law and business partner, it originated as a shipping hub for their coal, timber, and railroad empire, the latter the result of their self-financed construction of the West Virginia Central Railroad, whose track stretched between Cumberland, Maryland, and Elkins, and served as the threshold to some of the world's richest timber and mineral resources.

The town, serving the needs of the coal miners, loggers, and railroad workers, sprouted central maintenance shops and steadily expanded, peaking in 1920, before commencing a resource depletion-caused decline, until the last train, carrying coal and timber products to the rest of the country, departed the depot in 1959.

The tracks lay barren and unused for almost half a century until 2007, when the newly-established Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad again resurrected them-and the town-transporting the first tourists for scenic-ride purposes and resparking a slow growth cycle with a subsequently built restaurant and live theater in its historic Elkins Railyard and additional hotels nearby. Consistently ranked as one of the country's best small art towns, it is once again the service hub of the Mountain Highlands, reverting to its original purpose of providing hotel, restaurant, shop, and entertainment services, but now to a new group-tourists.

The railroad remains its focus. The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad offers three departures from the Elkins depot. The first of these, the "New Tygart Flyer," is a four-hour, 46-mile round-trip run which plunges through the Cheat Mountain Tunnel, passes the towns of Bowdon and Bemis, parallels the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River, and stops at the horseshoe-shaped High Falls of Cheat, during which time it serves an en route, buffet luncheon. Upgraded table service is available in 1922-ear deluxe Pullman Palace cars for a slightly higher price.

The "Cheat Mountain Salamander" is a nine-hour, 128-mile round-trip to Spruce, and includes a buffet lunch and dinner, while the "Mountain Express Dinner Train" mimics the New Tygart Flyer's route, but features a four-course meal in a formally set dining car.

The Railyard Restaurant, sandwiched between the Elkins depot and the American Mountain Theater, provides all on board meals. Emulating the depot itself with its exterior brick construction, the $2.5 million, 220-seat restaurant, leased to the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, serves family-style cuisine on its main level and upscale dinners in its second-floor Vista Dome Dining Room, its menus inspired by railroad car fare from the 1920s to the 1940s. It toted the opening slogan of, "Take the track to the place with exceptional taste."

The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad's Rails and Trails Gift Shop is located on its main level.

Continuing the historic, red brick exterior, the adjacent American Mountain Theater, founded in 2003 by Elkins native and RCA recording artist, Susie Heckel, traces its origins to a variety show performed for tourists at a different location. But increasing demand merited the November, 2006, ground-braking for a $1.7 million, 12,784-square-foot, 525-seat structure with aid from her sister, Beverly Sexton, and her husband, Kenny, who owned the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down Theater in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Opening the following July, the theater offered family-oriented, Branson-style entertainment performed by a nine-member cast, with Kenny Sexton serving as its president and producer and Beverly writing the score. Two-hour evening shows include comedy, impressions, and country, gospel, bluegrass, and pop music.

Davis and Elkins College, located only a few blocks from the Historic Railyard, shares the same founders as the town of Elkins itself-namely, Senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins. Established in 1901 when they donated land and funding to create a college associated with the Presbyterian Church, it was originally located south of town. Its Board of Trustees first met the following year and classes were first held on September 21, 1904.

Today, the coeducational, liberal arts college, located on a 170-acre hilled, wooded campus with views of the Appalachian Mountains, is comprised of 22 new and historic buildings in two sections-the north, which stretches to the athletic fields and the front campus, which is located on a ridge overlooking Elkins. Thirty associate and baccalaureate arts, sciences, pre-professional, and professional degree programs are offered to a 700-student base.

One of its historic buildings is Graceland Inn. Designed by the Baltimore architectural firm of Baldwin and Pennington, the castle-like, Queen Anne-style mansion, originally located on a 360-acre farm, was completed in 1893. Initially called "Mingo Moor," and intermittently "Mingo Hall" after the area south of Elkins, the estate served as the summer residence of Senator Davis, who regularly transported a train of invited friends and associates during July and August so that they could escape the Washington heat and enjoy Elkins' higher-elevation, cooler temperatures.

The estate was ultimately renamed "Graceland" after Davis' youngest daughter, Grace. Following his wife's death in 1902, he continued to conduct business from offices inside it, while Grace herself resided there during the summer months with her family.

The estate was finally ceded to her own children, Ellen Bruce Lee and John A. Kennedy, its last two owners.

Acquired by the West Virginia Presbyterian Education Fund in 1941, it was used as a male residence hall by the college until 1970, whereafter it was closed. Restored during the mid-1990s, it subsequently reopened as an historic country inn and as a dynamic learning lab for hospitality students.

Overlooking the town of Elkins, on the Davis and Elkins College campus, Graceland Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features a two-story great hall richly decorated with hardwoods, such as quartered oak, bird's eye maple, cherry, and walnut, a grand staircase, a parlor, a library, and its original stained glass windows. The Mingo Room Restaurant, reflecting the mansion's initial designation and open to the public, is subdivided into four small rooms lined with red oak and fireplaces and an outdoor verandah, and eleven guest rooms, located on the second and third floors and named after prominent family members, contain antiques, canopy beds, armoires, marble bathrooms, and claw foot tubs.

Graceland Inn, the David and Elkins College, the town of Elkins itself, the historic depot and railyard, their tracks, and the Appalachian Mountain's coal and timber resources are all inextricably tied to the town's past--and its future.

B. Seneca Rocks

"Seneca Rocks" designates both a region of the Potomac Highlands and the outcroppings after which that region is named.

Resembling a razor back, or shark's fin, and located at the confluence of the Seneca Creek and the North Fork South Branch Potomac River, the 250-foot-thick, 900-foot-high Seneca Rocks, accessible by West Virginia Route 28, were formed 400 million years ago during the Silurian Period in an extensive sand shoal at the edge of the ancient Iapetus Ocean. As the seas decreased in size, the rock uplifted and folded, erosion ultimately wearing away its upper surface and leaving the arching folds and craggy profile they exhibit today.

Made of white and gray tuscarora quartzite, the formation features both a north and south peak, with a notch separating the two.

The current Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, which replaced the original visitor's center, features relief models of the area, films, interpretive programs, and a bookshop.

A path leads to the Sites Homestead, part of the center. Constructed in 1839 by William Sites as a single-room log cabin below Seneca Rocks Ridge, it is typical of then-current Appalachian homes whose German Blockbau-style featured square logs and v-notched corner joints spread apart by stone and clay chinks.

In the late-1860s, one of Sites' sons expanded the homestead, adding a second floor, and, after use as a hay barn, the Forest Service purchased it in 1969, restoring it during the 1980s. In 1993, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The greater Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, offering significant outdoor sports opportunities, contains a key portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, whose mountains and forests collect water which then flows into the Potomac River and the bay itself. Acting as a cleansing and filtering mechanism, its headwater forests purify the water before it reaches the streams. Spruce Knob is both the highest point in the Chesapeake Watershed and the entire state of West Virginia.

Aside from facilitating water, the area has provided sustenance to humans, who first lived in Native American villages within its mountains, and then created farming settlements and logging camps, extracting its resources and supporting life for some 13,000 years. Today, it is home to 15 million people.

The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area itself is part of the much larger Monongahela National Forest. Established in 1920 with an initial 7,200 acres, the present 910,155-acre forest contains the headwaters of the Monongahela, Potomac, Greenbrier, Elk, Tygart, and Gauley Rivers; five federally-designated "wildernesses"-Dolly Sods, Outer Creek, Laurel Fork North, Laurel Fork South, and Cranberry-whose very remote and primitive areas only offer lower-standard trail markings; and four lakes.

A Mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts, the national forest features 169 hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails which cover more than 800 miles, 576 miles of trout streams, 129 miles of warm-water fishing, 23 campgrounds, 17 picnic areas, and wildlife viewing of black bear, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, gray fox, rabbits, snowshoe hare, grouse, and woodcock.

C. Canaan Valley

Blanketed with bigtooth aspen, balsam fir, and spruce, Canaan Valley, stretching 14 miles, is the highest such valley east of the Mississippi River, its namesake mountain separating it from the Blackwater River and creating a deep, narrow canyon in the Allegheny Plateau.

The pristinely beautiful area encompasses two state parks-Canaan Valley Resort and Black Water Falls State Parks; two ski areas-again Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Four Seasons Resort; and the nation's 500th wildlife refuge.

Natural sports abound: hiking, horseback riding, fishing, golfing, swimming, rafting, and interpretive nature walking during the summer, and skiing, snowboarding, and tubing during the winter.

Nucleus of most of this is 6,000-acre Canaan Valley Resort State Park, which encompasses 18 miles of trails, wetlands, open meadows, northern hardwood forests, wildlife, 200 species of birds, and 600 types of wildflowers.

Canaan Valley Resort, located within the park, offers 250 modern guest rooms, 23 two-, three-, and four-bedroom mountain cabins with fireplaces and full kitchens, 34 paved, wooded campsites with full hook-ups, and six lounges and restaurants, including the Hickory Dining Room in the main lodge.

Its 4,280-foot mountain, whose longest run is 1.25 miles and whose vertical drop is 850 feet, features one quad and two triple lifts, and 11 trails for night skiing. Its winter activities, like those of the extended Canaan Valley, include skiing, snowboarding, airboarding, tubing, snowshoeing, and ice skating, while summer programs include scenic chairlift rides, guided walks, golf, tennis, and hiking.

D. Big Mountain Country

Big Mountain County, location of West Virginia's second-highest peak, serves as the birthplace of eight rivers-the Greenbier, Gauley, Cheat, Cherry, Elk, Williams, Cranberry, and Tygart-while its Seneca State Forest, which borders the former in Pocahontas County, is the state's oldest. An interesting array of sights include steam-powered logging railroads, astronomical observatories, preserved towns, a premier ski resort, and their associated assortment of outdoor sports and activities.

The Durbin and Greenbier Valley Railroad's fourth excursion train, the "Durbin Rocket," departs from the town of Durbin itself, located some 40 miles from Elkins.

Powered by a 55-ton steam engine built for the Moore-Keppel Lumber Company in nearby Randolph County, and one of only three remaining geared Climax logging locomotives, the train makes a two-hour, 11-mile round-trip run along the Greenbier River and through the Monongahela National Forest as far as Piney Island, where the rental "castaway caboose" is disconnected and pushed onto a very short spur track for a one or more night stay.

The ultra-modern, high-tech National Radio Astronomy Observatory, located a short distance away in Green Bank, offers an opportunity to learn about radio wave astronomy.

Designing, building, and operating the world's most advanced and sophisticated radio telescopes, the observatory produces images of celestial bodies, such as planets, stars, and galaxies, millions of light-years away by recording their radio omission quantities.

The Green Bank Science Center, nucleus of this experience, features a museum which introduces the science of radio astronomy, radio waves, telescope operation, and what is being learned through them about the universe; the Galaxy Gift Shop; the Starlight Café; and the departure point for the escorted bus tour of the facility, prior to which an introductory film and lecture are presented in the theater.

The tour's highlight is the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), designed when the previous 300-foot device collapsed in 1988 and Congress was forced to appropriate emergency funds to design it.

Dedicated on August 25, 2000, after a nine-year development period, it is 485 feet tall, is comprised of 2,004 panels, has a 100-by-110 meter diameter, a 2.3 acre surface area, and weighs 17 million pounds. The world's largest, fully maneuverable telescope with a computer-controlled reflecting surface, it is functionally independent of the sun, permitting 24-hour-per-day operation, and receives wavelengths which vary between 1/8th of an inch to nine feet.

Initially employed in conjunction with the Arecibo Observatory to produce images of Venus, it later detected three new pulsars (spinning neutron stars) in the Messier 62 region.

A 15-minute drive from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory is another significant sight, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.

Tracing its origins to 1899 when John G. Luke acquired more than 67,000 acres of red spruce in an area which ultimately developed into the town of Cass, it became the headquarters of the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. The town, supporting the workforce needed to convert the raw resources into finished products, sprouted shops, services, houses, a sawmill, tracks, and a railroad to haul the timber.

Instrumental to the operation had been the Shay, or similarly-designed Climax and Heisler steam locomotives, whose direct gearing delivered positive control and more even power, allowing them to ply often temporarily-laid tracks, steep grades, and hairpin turns, all the while pulling heavy, freshly-felled timber loads. The Western Maryland #6, at 162 tons, was the last, and heaviest, Shay locomotive ever built. The railroad inaugurated its first service in 1901.

During two 11-hour, six-day-per-week shifts, the town's mill was able to cut more than 125,000 board feet of lumber per shift and dry 360,000 per run with its 11 miles of steam pipes, adding up to 1.5 million board feet cut per week and 35 million per year. After 40 years of milling at Cass and Spruce, more than two billion board feet of lumber and paper had been produced.

Operating until 1943, the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company sold the enterprise to the Mower Lumber Company, which maintained it for another 17 years, at which time it was closed and purchased by the state of West Virginia, in 1961.

The railroad and the town of Cass, which remain virtually unchanged, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Aside from the historic buildings, there are several other attractions. Connected to the large Cass Company Store is the railroad-themed Last Run Restaurant. Turn-of-the-century logging can be gleaned at the Cass Historical Museum. The Shay Railroad Shop, having once housed coal bins, offers additional books and crafts for sale. The metal, Cass Showcase building above it, having stored hay to feed horse teams, features an introductory film and an HO-scale train and town layout reflecting their 1930s appearance.

Escorted walking tours of Cass, usually conducted in the afternoon after the trains have returned from their daily excursions, offer insight into what it had been like to live and work in a turn-of-the-century company town, while the Locomotive Repair Shop tour includes visits to the Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association's shop, the sawmill area, and a look at Shay and Climax locomotive maintenance and repair.

An excursion on the Cass Scenic Railroad itself, which commenced tourist rides in 1963 and is therefore the longest-running scenic rail journey in the country, is a living history experience. Pulled by one of the original Shay or Climax steam locomotives, the train accommodates passengers in equally authentic logging cars which have been converted to coaches with wooden, bench-like seats and roofs, while a single enclosed car, offering reserved seating, sports booth-like accommodation and is designated "Leatherbark Creek."

All trains depart from Cass's reconstructed depot, at a 2,456-foot elevation, climbing Leatherneck Run, negotiating 11-percent grades, maneuvering and reversing through a lower and upper switchback, and arriving at Whittaker Station, which features a snack stand, views of the eastern West Virginia mountains, and a reconstructed, 1946 logging camp. The eight-mile round-trip back to Cass requires two hours.

A four-and-a-half hour, 22-mile round-trip continues up Back Allegheny Mountain, passing Old Spruce and the Oats Creek Water Tank, and plying track laid by the Mower Lumber company, before reaching 4,842-foot Bald Knob, West Virginia's third-highest peak.

Limited runs are also offered to Spruce, an abandoned logging town on the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. This train also transits Whittaker Station.

Although not affiliated with the Cass Scenic Railroad, the Boyer Station Restaurant, located six miles from Green Bank on Route 28, offers inexpensive, home-cooked, country-style meals amidst railroad décor with wooden, rail depot-reminiscent tables and benches, train and logging memorabilia, and large-scale, track-mounted model railroads. It is part of a 20-room motel and campground complex.

Winter sports account for a significant portion of the Big Mountain Country's offerings. Ten miles from Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is Snowshoe Mountain.

Located in the bowl-shaped convergence of Cheat and Back Allegheny Mountain at the head of the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River, the area, striped of trees by logging between 1905 and 1960, had been discovered by Thomas Brigham, a North Carolina dentist, who had previously opened the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain Ski Resorts.

Reflecting European style, Snowshoe Village is located on the mountain's summit and offers 1,400 hotel and condominium rooms, restaurants, shops, services, and entertainment. The 244-acre resort, which combines the Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas, has a 3,348-foot base; a 4,848-foot summit, making it the highest such ski resort in the mid-Atlantic and southeast; 14 chairlifts; 60 runs, of which the longest is 1.5 miles; and 1,500-foot vertical drops at Cupp Run and Shay's Revenge. Average snowfall is 180 inches. Spring, summer, and fall activities include golf, boating, bicycling, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, skating, and swimming.

The extended area's Seneca State Forest, named after the Native Americans who had once roamed the land, borders the Greenbier River in Pocahontas County and contains 23 miles of forest, 11,684 acres of woodlands, a four-acre lake for boating and trout, largemouth bass, and bluegill fishing, hiking tails, pioneer cabins, and rustic campsites.


The New River-Greenbrier Valley region of West Virginia is topographically diverse and ruggedly beautiful.

Split by the Gauley River, its northern section is comprised of a rugged plateau in which is nestled the calm, azure Summersville Lake, while mountainous ridgelines, affording extensive interior coal mining, are characteristic of its central region. Horse and cattle grazing is prevalent on the flat farm expanses which intersperse the eastern edge's lush, green mountain plateau, divided by the Greenbrier River, the largest, untamed water channel in the eastern United States, which flows through it. Its southern region is a jigsaw puzzle of omni-directional ridgelines and very narrow valleys.

New and Bluestone River-formed gorges provide a wealth of rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, and white water rafting opportunities in this region of the state.

The area's most prominent, and beautiful, topographical feature is the New River Gorge National River. Flowing from below Bluestone Dam, near Hinton, to the north of the US Highway 19 bridge near Fayetteville, it dissects all the physiographic provinces of the Appalachian Mountains. A rugged, white water river, and among the oldest in North America, it flows northward through steep canyons and geological formations. Approximately 1,000 feet separate its bottom from its adjacent plateau. On July 30, 1998, it was named an American Heritage River, one of 14 waterways so designated.

Its related park encompasses 70,000 acres.

Signature of the New River Gorge National Park is its New River Gorge Bridge. Completed on October 22, 1977 at a $37 million cost, the dual-hinged, steel arch bridge is 3,030 feet long, 69.3 feet wide, and has an 876-foot clearance. Carrying the four lanes of US Route 19, it was then the world's longest, and is currently the highest vehicular bridge in the Americas and the second highest in the world after the Millau Viaduct in France. Its longest single span, between arches, is 1,700 feet.

There are three related visitor centers and vantage points. The Canyon Rim Visitor Center, located two miles north of Fayetteville on Route 19, offers exhibits, films, interpretive programs, trails, and a scenic overlook, while the Grandview Center is located in Thurmond off of Interstate 64 on Route 25. The park's headquarters are in Glen Jean.

Fayetteville is the hub for New River Gorge kayaking and white water rafting.

Coal, as synonymous with West Virginia as logging, is an industry the tourist should experience sometime during his visit. The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, located in the city of the same name, offers just such an opportunity.

A 1,400-square-foot Company Store, coal museum, fudgery, and gift shop serves as a visitor's center and threshold to the sight's two major components. A coal camp, the first of these, depicts 20th-century life in a typical coal town, represented by several relocated and restored buildings.

Plying 1,500 feet of underground passages in the 36-inch, Phillips-Sprague Seam Mine, which had been active between 1883 and 1953, track-guided "man-cars" driven by authentic miners, encompass the complex's second component and make periodic stops in the cold, damp, and dark passage to discuss and illustrate the advancement of mining techniques. The rock duster, for example, ensured that coal dust would not explode deep in the mine. Strategically positioned roof bolts avoided cave-ins. Pumps extracted water. Dangerously low oxygen levels dictated immediate evacuation.

Coal had fueled the world's steam engines for industrial plants and rail and sea transportation.

The Phillips-Sprague Mine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


West Virginia's three principle regions of Charleston, the Potomac Highlands, and the New River-Greenbier Valley offer immersive experiences into the past which shaped the present by means of its pristinely beautiful and resource-rich mines and mountains that yielded coal, timber, logging railroads, and an abundance of outdoor sports.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Antique Outdoor patinated brownish armillary apple with the - Antique Outdoor patinated bronze armillary globe with the signs of the Zodiac cast to the circular base mounted on round black marble (20th Cent) (Outdoor, Victorian, scientific/mechanical, globe/armillary, patinated) (Newel Art and Antiques, New York City)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bethesda Terrace & Fountain, Central Park, Manhattan, New York City

Bethesda Terrace overlooks The Lake in New York City's Central Park. It is on two levels, united by two grand staircases and a lesser one that passes under Terrace Drive to provide passage southward to the Elkan Naumburg bandshell and The Mall, of which this is the architectural culmination, the theatrical set-piece at the center of the park. The upper terrace flanks the 72nd Street Cross Drive and the lower terrace provides a podium for viewing the Lake. The mustard-olive colored carved stone is New Brunswick sandstone, with a harder stone for cappings, with granite steps and landings, and herringbone paving of Roman brick laid on edge. Bethesda Fountain is the central feature on the lower level of the terrace, constructed in 1859-64,[1] which is enclosed within two elliptical balustrades.[2]. The pool is centered by a fountain sculpture designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868 and unveiled in 1873.[3] Stebbins was the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City.[3] The bronze, eight-foot statue depicts a female winged angel touching down upon the top of the fountain, where water spouts and cascades into an upper basin and into the surrounding pool. It was the only statue in the park called for in the original design. Beneath her are four four-foot cherubs representing Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace.[3] Also called the Angel of the Waters, the statue refers to the Gospel of John, Chapter 5 where there is a description of an angel ...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Decor Examples

Do you want your home to express your own unique personality? This can be done by purchasing items that convey your love of nature, animals, whimsical times, the west, myths, legends and more. If you desire to create a room for one of your children to express the things they enjoy such as cowboys or ballerinas, you can find all kinds of wonderful decor items to express your own individualism.

Natural Decor - Animal Figurines, Fountains and Flowers

If you love nature and want to add some beautiful natural items to your home, this can be done with such things as indoor fountains, animal décor, or designs that accent nature like sunlit camellias, springtime peonies, or grape vines. Wall plaques are another way to express your love for nature with items such as the apple blossom print set, beachfront splendor wall art, or even a country wall mural. Flower arrangements are also a great way to accent your home and show your individuality by choosing your own favorite flower arrangements. Some of the most popular flower arrangements include the everlasting bonsai on rock, everblooming orchids, and the ivory rose topiary.

If you are an animal lover, you can create a unique jungle type feel to your home with all kinds of wonderful items such as the Lucky Elephant plant stand, white tiger accent table, tiger print throw and accent pillow, baby elephant statue, safari pots, tropical safari candle, and many other unique items.

If you enjoy a fun and whimsical atmosphere then you can always add loving frogs on a swing, the loving frogs tabletop fountain, monkeys Bahama lamp, monkey totem pole, or even the kissing monkey couple. You could always add the, "Welcome to My Jungle," sign with three adorable monkeys swinging from the sign.

If you love the southwest and the idea of cowboys and Indians then you can find a wide array of items that are sure to create the awe that comes with these unique items. There are all kinds of wonderful items you can use to create a Southwestern theme throughout your entire home or in one room alone. Some of the most popular include: A Prayer to the Great Spirit, a bronze "The End of the Trail, or a bucking bronco figurine along with photo frame in the shape of a stagecoach or various pots and vases in the southwestern theme.

If the days of knights in shining armor protecting maidens from those fire-breathing dragons are your favorite thing of all, you will be excited to learn you can find several cool items to decorate that special room in your home to bring out your Medieval personality. A few of the most popular items include sword displays, wall plaques, bookends, furniture, lamps, clocks, and photo frames.

As you can see, you can create your own individuality with a large variety of home décor items that are sure to make you feel right at home.

Friday, January 21, 2011

34 Adailia Avenue

No expense has been spared in the renovation of this South Beach style open bay home on Davis Islands. Jaw-dropping views of the bay greet you as soon as you walk in the front door of this home with its open floor plan. The formal living room leads to the dining room that has French doors with a view of a custom bronze water fountain flanked by neatly trimmed bamboo. The large gourmet kitchen has top of the line appliances, including a Miele coffee maker, Subzero Fridge, Fisher Paykel Range and Bosch Dishwasher. The expansive family room encased in floor to ceiling glass overlooks the �Delano-esque� heated-pool and bay. Located downstairs are 2 bedrooms with custom built-ins and 2 baths, one with a floating jetted tub and the other that also serves as a pool bath with a glass door in the shower that leads outdoors. The master suite upstairs has 3 walls of windows with a balcony over the pool, a custom closet and Calcutta marble spa-like bath. Everything in this house was perfected from the AC to the wiring to new windows and stucco. Even the garage has been air-conditioned to include a separate secure storage area. Upgrades include but are not limited to a water softener, entire house generator, new trench drain system, Electrolux steam washer/dryer, Outdoor Summer Kitchen w/ Subzero fridge and Wolf grill, Outdoor Misters, Mosquito-Nix and a Dock w/ Boat Lift. No detail or expense has been spared in the remodeling of this absolutely gorgeous water front pool home ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eleven Must-See Monuments in Edinburgh, Scotland

Many millions of visitors come to Edinburgh each year to see the varied sights and sounds the city has to offer. It's impossible to take in everything as you walk around this grand old city but the list below aims to assist those keen to find or identify the best monuments within the city centre.

Burns National Monument

Behind Calton Hill, on Regent Road you can find the national monument to Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns. It was built in the 19th Century. Burns lived in Edinburgh for many years and walked around this area, as was fashionable to do so at that time in the 18th Century.

Black Watch Monument

At the junction of Market Street and North Bank Street, near the top of the Mound you will find the Black Watch Memorial. The statue was erected in 1910 to remember the bravery of the men who died during combat in the South African War (Boer War) of 1899-1902. The monument is of a soldier, stands 11 foot tall, and is on a granite plinth.

Dugald Stewart Monument

Dugald Stewart was a philosopher (1753-1828) and professor of the University of Edinburgh. His monument can be found at the top of Calton Hill. The Royal Society of Edinburgh commissioned the monument, and it was completed in 1831. The monument was designed by William Henry Playfair, who modelled the design on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, Greece.

Gladstone Monument

The Gladstone monument was originally in St Andrew Square but was moved to Coates Crescent, in the West End of the city. William Gladstone (1809-98) was British Prime Minister four times, and served as Member of Parliament for Midlothian between 1880 and 1895, The statue depicts Gladstone in bronze on a red granite base. He is surrounded by eight figures representing his virtues.

Melville Monument

If you go to St Andrew Square you can not fail to miss the Melville Monument. It stands 41m high and dominates the Square and the views along George Street. Lord Melville was an aristocratic politician and the King's Chancellor during the 18th century. He is often described as the most powerful Scot of his day and this huge column backs this up.

Merchant Navy Monument

The Merchant Navy Memorial Trust's sandstone Memorial in the port of Leith was unveiled in November 2010 by HRH Princess Royal. The monument is a tribute to the 6,500 Scottish merchant navy personnel who died in the two World Wars and other conflicts. The memorial was created by Jill Watson, who was born in Edinburgh.

National Monument

Scotland's National monument stands at the top of Calton Hill and looks down on to the Old and New Towns below. It is a memorial to those Scottish soldiers who fought and died in the Napoleonic Wars. The monument is based upon the Parthenon in Athens and was designed by Charles Cockerell and William Playfair. Although construction started in 1826, the monument was never completed for financial reasons. The story goes that the city of Glasgow offered to pay for the monument to be completed but the proud fathers of Edinburgh refused the charity. For this reason, the monument is often called Edinburgh's Disgrace.

Nelson Monument

Again on Calton Hill is the Nelson Monument. It was completed in 1815 and commemorates Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. The monument was restored in 2009. The monument was funded by public subscription. The monument is 32m high and has a public viewing level at the top.

Ross Fountain

If you go into Princes Street gardens and walk to the end below Edinburgh castle you will come across the beautiful Ross Fountain. The fountain was an exhibit at London's Great exhibition in 1862 and was soon after bought by Daniel Ross, an Edinburgh based philanthropist.
The four naked nymphs around the fountain represent the arts, science, industry and poetry. The nymphs surround a naked lady standing at the top. When the fountain was revealed to the public there was much disgust at the amount of nudity on display.

During the summer the fountain becomes a popular place to stay cool, just don't let the park keepers find you in it.

Scottish-American War Memorial

Again in Princes Street Gardens you will find the Scottish-American War Memorial. The memorial was erected in 1927 and is called 'The Call'. The statue shows a kilted infantry man looking to the castle. Behind the statue is an image depicting lines of men following a pipe band heading off to war. The monument was paid for my Scottish Americans to honour those who served in the Great War.

The Scott Monument

The final monument on our list is one you can't miss, literally. In Princes Street Gardens, next to Princes Street stands the 200 foot high gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832). Scott was a highly acclaimed Scottish author.

There are 3 viewing levels on the monument that can be reached by narrow stair cases. The climb can be quite steep and a little claustrophobic. However, the view across Edinburgh from the top is worth the effort.

Upon Scott's death, a competition to design a monument to the man was launched. George Meikle Kemp a local joiner, draftsman and self-taught architect won the competition and was awarded the contract. The marble statue of Scott sitting inside the monument was designed by John Steel. Scott's dog Maida is seen sitting by his side.
The monument took nearly four years to build. However, Kemp never saw his completed monument. After working on the site one foggy night, he fell into the Union Canal and drowned.

Enjoy Edinburgh!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two men bubbler in Prague ( Praha )

This is my video of two life-sized bronze men urinating in a water fountain shaped like the Czech republic, which can be seen near the Charles bridge in Prague. This is a piece of 'art' that shows two men urinating in a fountain in the shape of the Czech republic, which is next to the Franz Kafka Museum. There is a sign with a telephone number to which you can send an SMS; the men will then urinate the letters of the SMS into the water.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Feng Shui Products - Bring Luck and Good Fate

Whenever you give a look to your surroundings, what do you find? A lot many living and non living things like trees, furniture, home, your colleagues, friends and relatives. All these, cause a great impact on your life, family, health and wealth without your information. Good and bad happening in your life is very much controlled by your environment. But it's very important that these surroundings create positive effects on you.

The art of Feng shui explains about the energy flow through these surroundings. This energy depends on the interaction of five elements named as earth, water, fire, wood and metal. If they are in perfect balance happiness will knock your doors. For balancing them Feng shui gives us a no. of tips and a large number of products like wind chimes, fountains, crystals, mirrors, bells, trees, plants and flowers.

All the Feng shui products have some specialty which makes them unique from other astrological products. These products are available in all affordable prices with the styles that are simple to more complicated ones. These items are made up of highly valuable materials like bronze, ivory, natural jade or brass. This makes them much valuable. With such priceless items you can bring luck and good fate to your life.

Every product has some particular effect on your health or business or relationships. For ex water fountains are advised to keep in the centre area of your home. You have to decide about the proper shape, size and material of fountain so that it can suit your interiors. Feng shui bamboos are most admired among Feng shui products as these add beauty to your home. You can also create you own bamboo tree by purchasing a bamboo stick from flower shop and place it in a pot. You can also add some pebbles and crystals. This bamboo is supposed to take care of your health and cures diseases if any.

Laughing Buddha's are the common and popular gifts these days on birthdays and anniversaries of your relatives. This is done with an intention to fill their life with success and prosperity. These Buddha's' are available on every gift stores and décor stores. The smile of laughing Buddha in any corner of your house keeps you smiling all the day. Buddha also brings harmony and causes your spiritual growth.

Feng shui products include a variety of crystals in different colors, shapes and sizes. These crystals are available at every gift stores and are very effective in maintaining warmth in your relationships. This gives you a sense of protection and your love life remains happy if you are in its contact.

Whatever products you are taking for your home and office should contribute to the beauty and décor of your place. It should create a feel good environment to make you feel happy, calm and satisfied. While buying these products, be cautious of their quality and purity. Sometimes people are cheated with wrong products that do not cause any effect and sometimes may cause negative flow of energy also. Check the authenticity of products before buying.

All these products can also be purchased online through approaching Feng shui online stores. You have to place the order of your desired items and they dispatch you the products within a specified time. But check for the prices by doing a research on their rates in your local market.

You can also try for some products to bring luck and good fate and make your life happy, peaceful and lively. Moreover these products are very suitable for giving an aesthetic look to your home and offices.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Frugal Travel Tips For Chicago

Chicago offers many free attractions for the frugal traveler. These free sights offset more costly splurges like deep dish pizza, the entrance to the famed Shedd Aquarium, and a trip up the Sears Tower.

Free Trolleys

From Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day weekend, between 10am and 6pm, free trolleys operate every 20-30 minutes to Chicago's most popular tourist destinations. There are stops along Museum Campus, Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile) and Navy Pier. Do a few of the loops to get a sense of the city. Drivers often give out bits of information about landmarks.

Street parking downtown is often free on Sundays.

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, and Millennium Park

Buckingham Fountain (seen in the opening credits of the tv show Married With Children) in Grant Park, close to the waterfront, was designed to emulate the great fountains in the palace of Versailles. It consists of three basins, surrounded by four bronze seahorses.

More modern art can be found in the adjoining Millennium Park. The Crown Fountain has two giant glass towers with projections of faces on them. Water squirts out of the faces' mouths, much to wading children's delight. Cloud Gate resembles a giant stainless steel jellybean, warping the reflection of onlookers.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier hosts a street carnival type of environment. There is a classic styled 148 ft Ferris Wheel, a musical carousel with painted animals, a children's museum, a museum of stained glass, and a funhouse maze. Add seasonal street performers, food vendors, and face painters, and travelers can people watch for hours.

The Old Water Tower

The Old Water Tower, situated on the famed Michigan Avenue near the John Hancock Center, is one of the most famous survivors of the Great Fire. Designed to resemble a tiny European castle, the Old Water Tower is now a visitors center.

The Art Institute Of Chicago

With great American masterpieces like Grant Wood's American Gothic, the Art Institute Of Chicago is a must see for art lovers and a freebie for the savvy traveler. From May 31st to August 31st, admission is free after 5pm on Thursday's and Friday's.

There are many other free or frugal attractions in the Windy City, window shopping on the Magnificent Mile, facades such as Dearborn Street Station and others.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seven Santa Barbara Things To Be Thankful For

There's much to be thankful for this time of year as we gather with friends and family for the holidays. We want to take the opportunity to enumerate some of the things we're most grateful for in Santa Barbara, an extraordinary and unique place that we're grateful to call home, which we hope you'll consider your home-away-from-home.

Reason to be Thankful #1: The Goldilocks climate.

I mean, seriously people, does it get any better than this? The Santa Ynez Mountains, our warm southern California sunshine and coastal breezes ensure a temperate, year-round routine of warmer winters and cooler summers that have earned us the nickname "The American Riviera." No matter where you're from, the weather is better at your vacation rental.

We know that for a growing number of travelers, going home for the holidays means celebrating with loved ones at a sunny and exotic home away from home. While snowbirds have always enjoyed heading south for the winter, more travelers than ever are choosing a vacation rental to get away and enjoy sun-filled beach vacations during the holiday season.

Reason to be Thankful #2: Exceptional value.

There are a lot of opportunities to stretch your vacation dollar in Santa Barbara. Vacation rentals offer great value and flexibility to better fit various travel lifestyles, needs and budgets. For less than the cost of a hotel room vacationers can rent a whole home while enjoying countless benefits like avoiding the unnecessary expenses of a hotel stay with laundry, internet fees, tips and room service.

Vacation rentals offer a great way to enjoy the winter sun on a budget. At the five-bedroom Vista Riviera, guests can take in views of the ocean and city and enjoy soaking in the private pool or relaxing in the sauna. They can also take advantage of all the amenities of a luxury hotel including pre-arrival grocery stocking, in-room spa treatments and other concierge services.

Reason to be Thankful #3: Welcoming smiles.

Santa Barbara is, at heart, a small city with fewer than 100,000 residents within the city limits. People know each other and bump into acquaintances and neighbors all the time with warm smiles and happy greetings.

Tourists are just as likely to be greeted like old friends. If you're staying in a vacation rental, you're probably going to be in town long enough to engage in healthy habits like walking to the same café every morning, shopping at a preferred vendor stand in the farmers market, etc. It's all part of the warm, friendly Santa Barbara culture.

Reason to be Thankful #4: Mother Nature.

There are very few destinations that offer as much in the way of stunning nature. You can laze on the deck of your beach rental watching porpoises play or the winter gray whale migration. You can work up a sweat hiking the Campbell Trail and then enjoy a soak in Gaviota Hot Spring. You can even dress in camouflage and take your binoculars to the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

There are meadows, mountains, creeks, beaches, parks, hiking trails, a 65-acre botanic garden designed by noted landscape architect Beatrix Ferrand. In short, whatever your inner Smokey the Bear desires, you will find it in Santa Barbara.

Reason to be Thankful #5: The architecture.

A 1925 earthquake pretty much leveled downtown Santa Barbara, and we have been grateful ever since. The city fathers and mothers took the opportunity to rebuild with stricter structural standards and in relative Spanish/Moorish uniformity, and the result is Santa Barbara's stunning red-roof district. As you walk through the downtown area you gain a heightened appreciation for the idea of a planned city. Most burgs are a mishmash of wildly divergent architectural qualities and styles, but Santa Barbara's downtown area almost feels like a movie set, it is so charming and idealistic.

A lot of the residences, including many of the vacation rentals, in the area also cleave to the California bungalow style (with a few Victorians thrown in) and the result is a charming walk through California history.

Reason to be Thankful #6: Festivals.

If you, like Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, are in search of a "festivus for the rest of us," you should book your Santa Barbara vacation rental immediately. Our annual festival calendar boasts something new almost every month: Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Earth Day celebration, Santa Barbara Fair & Expo, Cinco de Mayo festival, Summer Solstice Parade, wine festivals, Fourth of July, French Festival, Greek Festival, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, Santa Barbara Sandcastle Festival, California Lemon Festival, Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival, New Noise Music Conference & Festival.

Reason to be Thankful #7: Unexpected outdoor delights.

No matter how much time you spend in your vacation rental home, there are still many delights to discover. Many people who pass the corner of State and Victoria every day never notice the lovely statue of Sacajawea that is set back from the street. Sacajawea was a Shoshone woman who guided the Lewis & Clark exploration through the western part of the American continent in the earliest years of the 19th century. She was very brave and diplomatic and is credited by many historians as the primary reason for the mission's success.

Santa Barbara visitors in the early spring are often pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous profusion of flowering trees in the area. Both leaves and blossoms create a stunning, delicious-smelling canopy wherever you turn.

There are many beautiful fountains in town. There are notable examples in the dolphin fountain at Stearns Wharf, the mission fountain and the fountain at La Arcada shopping mall. How many more can you find?

You can tell a city that really loves its artists because they proudly display so much art in public places. There are lovely bronze sculptures tucked away in some unexpected corners like the La Arcada shopping mall and downtown area. As you step from your Santa Barbara vacation rental, keep your eyes open. You never know what treasures you might come across.

And last but not least, I am personally grateful for all the wonderful vacation rental guests I get to meet year after year. Once you enjoy all that our fair city has to offer, you'll be grateful that you will always have a second home away from home.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Possibly the world's best aesthetic village? - St-Paul-de-Vence, France (artistic apple france)

A TripAdvisor™ TripWow video of a travel blog to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France by TravelPod blogger Ssandsk. See this TripWow and more at Possibly the world's most artistic village? "This lovely village, St-Paul-de-Vence, is, we are reliably informed, the third most visited place in France, following on from Paris and Le Mont St Michel. We can understand why. Not only is it an old stone fortified village, with most of the town walls and gates remaining intact, but it has been developed into a centre of art, with even the stone pavings on the footpaths made in a pretty pattern! Many of the buildings have been turned into art galleries and shops for hand-made and home-made products. Several galleries had magnificent bronze sculptures, beautiful paintings, carvings and more on display - we particularly liked the huge bronzes in many different styles but all way too expensive for us. We had lunch in a lovely restaurant full of atmosphere called the La Colombe D'Or. Inside they had a beautiful fireplace and painted timber ceiling, and outside in the courtyard there was the backdrop of the old town wall and plenty of artful decoration. The food was very good and to our surprise (and no doubt the chagrin of Sam Kekovich) the French lamb was the most tender, tasty lamb we've ever had...and we're no strangers to a nice piece of lamb, that's for sure. After lunch we wandered past the boules courts in front of a big cafe-bar where loads of young people, mostly ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hebe (mythology) the goddess of adolescence !Rang ( Punjabi ).Hawaii .50th State of United States !

In Greek mythology, Hēbē (Greek: Ἥβη) is the goddess of youth (Roman equivalent: Juventas). She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles, (Roman equivalent: Hercules); her successor was the young Trojan prince Ganymede. Another title of hers, for this reason, is "Ganymeda." She also drew baths for Ares and helped Hera enter her chariot. In Euripides' play Heracleidae, Hebe granted Iolaus' wish to become young again in order to fight Eurystheus. Hebe had two children with her husband Heracles: Alexiares and Anicetus.In Roman mythology, Juventas received a coin offering from boys when they put on the adult men's toga for the first time. The name Hebe comes from Greek word meaning "youth" or "prime of life". Juventas likewise means "youth", as can be seen in such derivatives as juvenile. In art, Hebe is usually depicted wearing a sleeveless dress. There is a bronze statue of Hebe, by Robert Thomas; (1966), in Birmingham city centre, England (at 52.484438°N 1.892175°W). Antonio Canova also sculpted four different statues of Hebe: one of them is in the Museum of Forlì, in Italy. The figure of Hebe was popular in the 19th century and early 20th century for garden fountains and temperance fountains, and was widely available in cast stone. Tarentum, Pennsylvania displays two such cast stone statues of Hebe.[6] The mold for these statues was donated to ...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Krasnoyarsk 400th Anniversary Park

For a too long time we have built concrete boxes while being worried about roof above the head and solution of acute problems. The time has come to think that our children should see green grass and flowers not only out of town or in the Natural History books, but also from the flat windows.

"For some time parks in Russia have not been designed at all," Lyudmila Myakota, chief architect of Stimex-Design Co., LTD., says. "That means that our cities prefer to manage with just park zones founded already in the 50-60ss. But as time went they became decrepit, detruncated by advancing from all sides newly-erected buildings. Whereas town planners concentrated their attention only on building of blocks of flats and roads and forgot about greenery planting and beautification. Now, finally, the realization came that urban environment standards are rising - there is a tendency from occasional discrete compositions to organized viewing of common city environment. STIMEX GROUP has been working in this sphere for many years already. Now we are working out several projects connected with creation and modernization of infrastructure of urban park zones. I think the mightiest one is design of Krasnoyarsk 400th Anniversary Park, that already received confirmation of city mayor Pyotr Pimashkov. This unique multifunctional park is to become not only an image decoration, but the heart of cultural life of the city. It will be situated in Vzletka district between Aviatorov Street and Oktyabrskaya Street."

The main functional areas of the park are circle-shaped as if they are beaded on a central axis. Their names reflect their meaning: Youth Square, Unanimity Square, Generation Square. The idea of the squares triad (passing from one into another) belongs to national architect of Russia Areg Demirkhanov. Youth Square is for the young people and for energetic rest. Generation Square is quiet and mostly for walking. It verges on a religious and temple area where erection of St. Nicholas the Miracle Man Cathedral is planned. Unanimity Square is located in the centre on a higher level and will become the main connecting dominant of the park. These three squares will supplement each other without rival and will become an embodiment of continuity and unanimity of different generations. According to the creative group's concept the park is to personify unanimity not only of rest places, but also of spiritual life, political trends, various possibilities that Krasnoyarskiy Region possesses.

The western side of the central Unanimity Square will be occupied with a modern building of public leisure centre which will accommodate Krasnoyarsk City History Museum. Thus, Krasnoyarsk 400th Anniversary Park will also present educational function.

One of the brightest decorations of the squares in the park will be a 'necklace' of fountains 'beaded' on central path axis. They are dancing and singing fountains on Youth Square, totally unusual fountain on Unanimity Square framing and decorating the central stage and, last but not least, classical fountain Centuries Rivers that harmoniously fits in the architecture of Generation Square. These fountains will let Krasnoyarsk citizens and visitors enjoy the play of water streams and in the evening - unique light and laser shows.

"The idea of the park found its continuation in creative collaboration with collective of STIMEX GROUP, with Vladimir Vopilov's team," Areg Sarkissovich says. "And, undoubtedly, thanks to active support of the project by Head of Sovietskiy District Vladimir Murysin. According to the plan of this joint creative team this will be not just a city park or garden, but something larger: a sort of focus of culture where all the art genres will be displayed. The park is to become a place for real pilgrimage of art representatives where everyone can find way to apply his talent and group of like-minded people. This is the basic idea of the park. On specially designed grounds artists will exhibit their works, musicians will give concerts in the open air, and poets will read their poetry. In the future, as I see it, the paths of the park will witness real creative battles. And all these will take place in the very heart of future new administrative and business centre of Krasnoyarsk.

Our city is extremely lucky. It is surrounded by Siberian nature of unique beauty. Care about this beauty has become the base of design of new rest area for the citizens. This park should harmoniously fit in the existing urban infrastructure. And, surely, it will become the most comfortable and beautiful park in Siberia! Design that we created and upheld is a preliminary outline, a sort of clue for new ideas. It is also a ground for citizens' artistic explorations. We call Krasnoyarsk citizens - professional artists, architects, designers and just inhabitants of the city - for collaboration. It is possible that some attractive ideas of Krasnoyarsk citizens will be used in the general concept of the park. By the way, businessmen who invest money in anticipation of long-term outlook can also be interested in participation in this project."

More than a Park

"Many Russian cities that are going to celebrate anniversary create their anniversary parks," Elena Giyevskaya, Manager of Stimex-Design Co., LTD., says. "They are Kazan 1000th Anniversary Park, Omsk 300th Anniversary Park, St.-Petersburg 300th Anniversary Park. And of course there are no two parks alike. Thus, in Omsk they are planning to place a park with attractions and sports and sanitary areas along the territory of 35 hectares. Our park will bear a transformer function. It has to change its appearance quickly depending on the tasks posed, but at the same time has to preserve the general idea. Our anniversary park will be vivid, many-sided and multifunctional; there is the uniqueness of the design solution. This will be not a park, a garden or a square, but all these in one. So, at the same time it will be a place for rest and a place for public city actions. I should remark here that at the moment in Krasnoyarsk there is no well organized open-air ground for such occasions. Undoubtedly such large and multifunctional park needs corresponding management and specialists to maintain its activity and to provide for carrying out big city events, children fests and concerts, to organize the visitors' leisure time and to watch its infrastructure. And this will in its turn cause organization of new working places for citizens and taxes paid to city budget."

"Self-repayment of places for rest is a tendency in the world's park management. Based on foreign experience park is one of the most self-repaying facilities in urban environment. It can bring good income to the city exchequer," Vladimir Vopilov, General Manager of STIMEX GROUP, says. "Parks maintain, supply and develop themselves. Look at, say, the Eifel Tower: in the first part of the XXth century Paris received almost 1/3 part of the annual budget from visitors of this sight. At the presentation of the project the Head of the city Pyotr Pimashkov first of all asked if the design was cost efficient, so that the costs for park maintenance should not be burden on city budget. The management of the park will also take up the task of financial self-sufficiency. The project makes provision for creation of a system of attractions, active rest areas and citizens' leisure activities. By estimate, about twenty entertainment programmes will work in the park and they will bring stable income. Of course, the project will be impossible without some budget investments at the beginning, ant it should not be. But the concept of the park, its basic idea in the first place presupposes 100% profitability. At least because there are a number of technical novelties planned in the park with the purpose to attract people.

For instance, an unquestionable decoration of the main central area of the park - Unanimity Square - will become special dynamic illumination built-in into cubes and covered with firm polymeric glass. Modern linear bendable luminaires take little energy, are waterproof and protected from acts of vandalism. In planning the illumination system it was taken into consideration that the park would have several light modes: festive and standard (for every day). We worked out special programmes, according to them the illumination can change colour and light up by segments or work in the mode of colour musical plant. With the help of a special control panel it is possible to mix the whole light system of the park. There have never been in Russia parks equipped with such fabulously beautiful illumination system before. Imagine how spectacular it will look during performances! It will be the best open-air stage in the city. We think even Moscow stars will want to get on it. One more novelty is membrane systems. They are special modern tent constructions made of strong polymeric materials. The same material was used in building the famous now Watercube in Beijing. In the night time thanks to illumination colour of the material will change and thus create unique colour romantic atmosphere. It will be possible to organize subject exhibitions, picture galleries under these tents, to exhibit hand-made articles by artists, and to make various events and spectacular children fests. The area of the park will be fenced with a striking forged fence that will have its own blazonry connected with Krasnoyarsk 400th anniversary. The choice of the forged fence is nonrandom. It is classics, it will never lose its urgency with the time. And here Areg Demirkhanov is totally right when he calls us not to go far from what is proved by the thousand-year history of architecture."

Stark Beauty

The sculptural compositions of the park will be made by Krasnoyarsk sculptor Konstantin Zinich. His works have already become popular with Krasnoyarsk citizens and are now sights shown during excursions and point for taking photos during wedding processions. Among his works there is monument to Commander Ryazanov, sculptural composition in Pushkin Square, subject composition "Children of War" and many other interesting images. His monument to Siberian Soldiers on Volokolamskoye Highroad in Moscow was granted Golden Diploma in the Vth International Festival "Architecture of Eastern Siberia".

"The central image of Krasnoyarsk 400th Anniversary Park is sculptural monumental composition of classic style in representing a 24-meter high column. On the column there is a bronze sculpture of a girl "Young Siberia". At the bottom of the column there is a sculptural composition of several figures that symbolize virtues," Konstantin Zinich says. "According to the idea the column sculpture with a girl should tower above the whole park area and should be seen from afar. Along the perimeter of Unanimity Square we are planning to place six bronze sculptural compositions representing basic historic stages of Krasnoyarsk City development. We want not only to give aesthetic enjoyment to park visitors, but also add an educational zest for growing up generation of Krasnoyarsk citizens and guests. And the fountain Centuries Rivers in the centre of Generation Square dos not only add to the historical orientation of the whole park, but also gives some philosophic and romantic shade to atmosphere of the park."

Project of Krasnoyarsk 400th Anniversary Park absorbed lots of ideas, this is a dynamically developing product of effective cooperation of a large creative group. But, as all really great ideas, it exists in real time and each of us can now add to it a small part of his participation: somebody will put in his labour or creativity, somebody - money. And the park with this preliminary name should become a really people's and favourite place in Krasnoyarsk, so that all citizens and guests of our city could find in it something new and interesting for themselves!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Water Fountain Care

Installing a fountain in your home or office is a great idea to enhance the décor. But it is no good if you just get the water fountain and is unable to maintain it or take care of it properly. Because a fountain that does not work will not be a pleasant sight, neither will it look good if the water is smelling or if there are cob webs all around it. Fountain care is essential to keep your fountain in perfect condition.

But fountains come in different types such as indoor and outdoor fountains that are meant for the gardens. Then there are wall, floor and table top fountains. Water fountains also come in a wide array of materials such as slate, stainless steel, copper, bronze, glass, ceramic and others. So you must know about the specific fountain care steps for your particular type and material. Not everything will work for all. And so you need to be careful. The right thing to do is approach the maker when you are buying your fountain. The seller should be able to provide you with the right maintenance tips. Many sellers are already providing the details for the convenience of their customers.

Here are a few fountain care tips that can be of help...

Your Water Level: What is the right water level in a fountain? This is a critical question. The best thing to do is refill twice every week, but if you are going outside, it is best that you unplug the fountain. The important thing to remember is not to let the pump run dry because your warranty does not include a damaged pump if it is running dry.

Cleaning The Fountain: Another important aspect of fountain care. Remember, algae can grow in the water and this can clog the channels through which the water will flow. And so, the rocks, the bowl and the pump need to be cleaned from time to time. You must clean the fountain at least 4 times every year, but some do it every 2 months. Some fish can eat up algae, and so you may want to keep such fish in the water.

Maintaining Indoor Fountains: The good news is, fountain care for the indoor variety is very less demanding because they are so designed that the water can get recirculated within the built in reservoirs. The overflow systems are advanced ensuring that there is very less valve clogging. They also come with anti-microbial coating. But do ensure that the water you are pouring does not contain a high level of minerals.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Various Wallets Types and Their Features

Have your wondered about the place of wallets in our life? They have become a very essential element in our day to day life. You need a wallet or purse to carry money and other valuable personal data like a credit card, debit card, identification cards, important documents and the like. In the present market scenario you may find that there is a wide array of wallets which gives importance to various features like quality, style and convenience.

Wallets can be classified into various types depending on the persons who use them as well as depending on their utilization. It can be classified as female wallets, man's wallets, wallets that have secret compartments, wallets that can be carried conveniently in a pocket, wallets used while travelling and the like. You can simply select the most appropriate type of wallets depending on the use you have with it like you can select a stylish wallet for a party or a wallet with a number of storage options if you are a person who intend to carry a cards, documents, money and the like along with you. The main functions of a wallet is to securely store money, credit, debit or similar other plastic cards and indispensable documents.

Most of the wallets have separate compartments to store money. The money in forms of notes and coins can be stored separately. As a safety feature the compartments which help in storing money may be opened and closed using buttons, valves, small locks or fasteners.

Are you a person who carries easy money in the form of credit and debit cards? Then you would require a wallet which would enable you to store your plastic cards in different compartments. Generally wallets contain a number of compartments so that you could easily carry your debit and credit cards, identification cards, visiting cards, membership cards and the like. With such type of wallets you can be sure to keep all your plastic cards in an orderly manner.

Thinking of how to store your important documents in the wallet? Wallets manufactured with the intention to store documents offer various compartments that have a plastic covering or is made up of water resistant materials and further they may have the option to be opened or closed using buttons or fasteners. There are wallets which may provide you with an option to store documents or money in secret compartments.

Wallets come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Females have fondness towards small compact sized wallets that have stylish features. They usually comprise of secret compartments and they can be easily carried in small handbags or in the pockets of the dresses females wear. Comparatively men use wallets of larger sizes which may vary from 9.5 to 12.5 up to 18.5 to 13.5 cm. Females makes sure to get in hold of wallets that are decorated with embroidery, laser engraving, metal ornaments, stamping and the like. Professional females select wallets that have an elegant style.

The size, design, functional features and the material used in manufacturing the wallets play a role in determining the price of the wallet but the brand of the wallet plays a much larger part in determining the price of the wallet. Just choose a stylish wallet that offers you the most convenient features and is made of top quality material and be a trend setter.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup Review

FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin' Pup reviews have said that this is probably the most realistic electronic puppy on the market today. Of course 'Biscuit' isn't a real dog, but he comes very close in all the right ways. Clearly you wouldn't take him outside for a walk, but as far as the things that he does do, he does them very well. Electronic pet toys have come a very long way since they started back in the mid 1980's. Most of those pets simply barked and moved around a little but. In fact, they were probably more terrifying or odd than they were close to being anything resembling a real pet. At least that's how one FurReal Friends Biscuit review compared the two.

The future is here and more often, science fiction is becoming science fact. No longer are computers only crunching numbers or turning manual processes into automated systems and assembly lines. With technology advancing much faster than we could've ever imagined, the makers of Biscuit My Lovin' Pup have created something that borders on magical. FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin' Pup reviews have suggested you'll realize how realistic their creation is when after just a few minutes, you find yourself responding to the puppy as if he were a real live dog that had been born as part of a litter, and not in a lab.

FurReal Friends Biscuit My reviews say that part of the reason why Biscuit seems so real is because the developers have done a very good job of making him look real. He doesn't look like a stuffed animal that just sits on a couch, or at the head of a bed in a pile with other stuffed toys. Biscuits eyes seem to have that glint of life to them that the plastic or glass eyes in other animal dolls simply do not. Their blank stares are cold when compared to Biscuits warm look, and when coupled with his soft barking and puppy-like movements, it will be tough to remember that he is in fact a robotic animal.

FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin' Pup reviews suggest a great deal of time went into developing and programming the software that resides inside of this puppy's electronic brain. Like real dogs, Biscuit will raise his paws to shake hands, or nod, and even whimper when he's in the right mood. He can wag his tail, he can bark, and best of all he actually responds to you. The degree of interaction is simply incredible. A FurReal Friends Biscuit review suggested that although Biscuit won't fool anyone into thinking that he's a real animal, he will easily make you forget, and probably not even care that he's a robot. That's where the magic truly comes in. Granted, he's made of some very advanced mechanical parts that enable him to move like a real puppy, but the time spent on behavioral software is where it shows how much time and care they spent in developing him.

Anyone can build a robotic dog to walk around and bark, and many reviews note this fact about the competitors. But to build a puppy that is so real and behaves in a way that people start to actually care about it? One FurReal Friends Biscuit review said that's an accomplishment. Imagine how much your child will absolutely fall in love with this puppy. They will care for him like he was any other pet and come to love him with just as much affection. An added bonus for you is that you won't have to take him outside for walks and deal with any messes inside of the house. All you will need to think about is how much enjoyment he will bring to your children and possibly even to the entire family. One FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin' Pup review said this is an excellent puppy surprise that any child would love to receive as a gift this holiday season.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Review Of The Cold Steel AK-47 Folding Knife

Cold Steel is known for making extremely tough knives. They will hold up in the toughest situations that you can imagine.

Their AK-47 folding knife was one of my most hyped knives of 2007.

I recently got a great price on a Cold Steel AK-47 folding knife and here are my thoughts.

What I like about the knife:

1. Cold Steel makes two versions of the AK-47. Both of them have the same dimensions and AUS 8A stainless steel blades.

One version (#58LAK) has a bead blasted finish on the blade and aluminum handle. The other (#58LAKB) has a Black teflon coated blade with G-10 scales on the handle.

2. With a blade length of 3.5 inches, Cold Steel's AK-47 is large enough to give you fierce cutting power but small enough to be carried legally almost anywhere.

3. Each AK-47 comes complete with a striking pommel on the end of the handle. This can serve as a self-defense tool or glass breaker in emergency situations.

4. You can switch the pocket clip from one side to the other. This is a big plus for all of my left-handed friends out there.

5. Both Cold Steel AK-47s are equipped with the Ultra Lock mechanism. This lock style has been tested to hold well over 100 pounds of direct pressure.

6. The blades are hollow ground to a razor thin edge. This feature gives you the ability to make the most precise cuts possible.

There is also a fuller or "blood groove" on the blade which helps to lighten it.

7. The AK-47 has a quick open tab on top of the blade. The tab catches onto your pocket and let you flip the blade open at lightning speed.

What I didn't like:

1. I don't have very much to complain about these knives. I would like to see a half or fully serrated AK-47 knife available in the future though.


The Cold Steel AK-47 is well worth every penny. I carry mine almost every day and it is quickly proving itself as a true workhorse.