WELCOME TO MY SITE AND HAVE A GOOD DAY

Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada- the Gambling Capital of US and the City that never sleeps! So, what has this city have to do with this site. The answer is none. I just love the photo, I took during our vacation to this city a couple of years ago. In this site, you will find articles from my autobiography, global warming, senior citizens issues, tourism, politics in PI, music appreciation and articles about our current experiences as retirees enjoying the "snow bird" lifestyle between US and the Philippines. Your comments will be highly appreciated. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicago, Illinois-The Windy City


My family ( wife and 3 children at that time) resided in the Chicago area for four years from 1960 to 1964. We stayed at the University Of Illinois Medical Center Staff Apartments. During that time I was a part-time Instructor in Chemistry and at the same time pursuing my doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Illinois. My family favorite places at that time were the Lincoln Zoo and Lake Michigan. We also love the Chicago Art Institute and the downtown area department stores(Marshall Fields and Sears). On several occasions, we have been invited for Thanksgiving weekends in Danville & Springfield, Illinois and surrounding towns. On a couple of Christmas days we have been lucky to be invited at the home of the late Pat and Patty Crowley in Wheaton, Illinois as well as in the homes of the Dean and Faculty members of the College of Pharmacy. The Crowleys were very active leaders of the Christian Family Movement(CFM) at that time. Our fours years in Chicago is synonymous to our involvement with CFM. The Christian Family Movement (also known as CFM) is a national movement of parish (neighborhood) small groups of families that meet in one another’s homes to reinforce Christian values and actively encourage other fellow Christian parents through active involvement with others. CFM groups contain five to seven families and the adults meet two nights each month in each others houses.

At meetings the members of CFM use many different programs provided by CFM USA Offices. Parents talk about what they have seen in their family or neighborhood and discuss these opinions on what they have seen through the life and teachings of Jesus. After these discussions they make plans on how they can act out the changes they talked about that will positively affect families in their community. The method used by CFM members is called the Observe/Judge/Act technique. Members say this method helps in such areas as “foster-parenting, prison ministry, refugee sponsorship, religious education and couple counseling.” Joseph Cardijn, the founder of the Young Christian Workers Movement in Belgium, was the first person to bring about the observe/judge/act technique (also known as the Jocist Method).
Simple Gifts-Pat and Patty Crowley
The Christian Family Movement had its first national seminar in June 1949 where it was represented by 59 delegates from 11 different cities. Pat and Patty Crowley were first elected to be the Executive Secretary Couple where they lead the movement for the next 20 years. CFM had become a nation-wide movement. This was shown through their first publication (ACT), its official recognition by the church, and the way that CFM groups from other cities were able to communicate with each other. The first CFM program was called For Happier Families and was dispersed to over 2,500 groups within the span of a year.

Here's a video tour of Chicago also known as the Windy City. I truly believe that in Winter time, the city is the coldest place in the earth because of the wind. After graduation, I vowed that I will never live in the Chicago area even if you gave me a million dollars because of the harsh winters and humid summers. Spring and Fall are the only time we love Chicago during the early 1960's. Enjoy this videos.

Chicago (Chicago-en-US-pronunciation.ogg /ʃɨˈkɑːɡoʊ/ (help·info) or /ʃɨˈkɔːɡoʊ/) is the largest city in both Illinois and the Midwest, and the third most populous city in the United States, with over 2.8 million residents. Its metropolitan area, commonly named "Chicagoland," is the 26th most populous in the world, home to an estimated 9.7 million people spread across the U.S. states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Chicago is primarily located within Cook County, with the exception of a small northwestern portion of the city at O'Hare International Airport that is located within DuPage County.

Chicago was founded in 1833, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The Potawatomi were forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago. The city became a major transportation and telecommunications hub in North America. Today, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, with O'Hare International Airport being the second busiest airport in the world. In 2008, the city hosted 45.6 million domestic and overseas visitors.

The city is a center for business and finance and is listed as one of the world's top ten Global Financial Centers. The World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University rated Chicago as an "alpha world city" due to Chicago's important role in the global economic system. In a 2010 survey collaboration between Foreign Policy and A.T Kearney ranking the world's top global cities, Chicago ranked 6th behind Paris and Hong Kong and above Los Angeles and Singapore. The ranking assesses five dimensions: value of capital markets, diversity of human capital, international information resources, international cultural resources, and political influence.

Chicago is a stronghold of the Democratic Party and has been home to many influential politicians, including the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Globally recognized, Chicago has numerous nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best known include: "Chi-town," "Windy City," "Second City," and the "City of Big Shoulders." Chicago has also been called "the most American of big cities."

Note: This is No.4 ( Part 1) of a series of articles of places that Macrine and I have resided or visited in the US since 1960 to the present ( New York City #1, Washington DC #2 and Sacramento #3)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Washington, D.C. , Mayland and Virginia Suburbs


We have resided in the suburbs of Washington D.C.( Colesville,Maryland) for 12 years (1990-2002). Going to the National Mall from our residence via the Metro takes only about 30 minutes. The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service, and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit. The term "National Mall" commonly includes areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center. The National Mall receives approximately 24 million visitors each year.

The National Mall-Gets about 24 million visitors a Year

Washington, D.C. (pronounced /ˈwɒʃɪŋtən ˌdiːˈsiː/, WOSH-ing-tən DEE-SEE), formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington, which is located on the country's Pacific coast.

The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 599,657; because of commuters from the surrounding suburbs, its population rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which the District is a part, has a population of 5.4 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are located in the District, as are many of the nation's monuments and museums. Washington, D.C. hosts 174 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The headquarters of other institutions such as trade unions, lobbying groups, and professional associations are also located in the District. The highlight of our stay in the Washington DC area is my employment by the Food and Drug Administration as Chemistry Team Leader for the Center Of New Drugs in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Monuments of Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is governed by a mayor and a 13-member city council. However, the United States Congress has supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. Residents of the District therefore have less self-governance than residents of the states. The District has a non-voting, at-large Congressional delegate, but no senators. D.C. residents could not vote in presidential elections until the ratification of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1961.
Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin
My favorite time of the year in the DC area is spring time. The city is famous for it annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C. commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.

This article is No.2 (Part 1) series of articles of the cities that we have resided and visited in the US since 1960 to the present. The New York City write up was No.1.

The Filipino Today- Be Proud You are a Filipino

The August 23 Hostage Drama of Hongkong Tourist Bus in Manila-Put the International Image of the Philippines to Zero

I received the following article from a friend in the Philippines today. As I read this article, my heart starts to hurt and I shed a tear or two. I am joining this author for forgiveness from the families of the Hongkong tourists who were killed by a crazy ex police man. The article is THE FILIPINO TODAY and written by Alex Lacson.

"After the August 23 hostage drama, there is just too much negativity about and against the Filipino. “It is difficult to be a Filipino these days”, says a friend who works in Hongkong. “Nakakahiya tayo”, “Only in the Philippines ” were some of the comments lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles received in her Facebook. There is this email supposedly written by a Dutch married to a Filipina, with 2 kids, making a litany of the supposed stupidity or idiocy of Filipinos in general. There was also this statement by Fermi Wong, founder of Unison HongKong, where she said – “Filipino maids have a very low status in our city”. Then there is this article from a certain Daniel Wagner of Huffington Post, wherein he said he sees nothing good in our country’s future.

Clearly, the hostage crisis has spawned another crisis – a crisis of faith in the Filipino, one that exists in the minds of a significant number of Filipinos and some quarters in the world. It is important for us Filipinos to take stock of ourselves as a people – of who we truly are as a people. It is important that we remind ourselves who the Filipino really is, before our young children believe all this negativity that they hear and read about the Filipino.

We have to protect and defend the Filipino in each one of us.The August 23 hostage fiasco is now part of us as Filipinos, it being part now of our country’s and world’s history. But that is not all that there is to the Filipino. Yes, we accept it as a failure on our part, a disappointment to HongKong , China and to the whole world.

But there is so much more about the Filipino.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Hitler and his Nazi had killed more than 6 million Jews in Europe . But in 1939, when the Jews and their families were fleeing Europe at a time when several countries refused to open their doors to them, our Philippines did the highly risky and the unlikely –thru President Manuel L Quezon, we opened our country’s doors and our nation’s heart to the fleeing and persecuted Jews. Eventually, some 1,200 Jews and their families made it to Manila . Last 21 June 2010, or 70 years later, the first ever monument honoring Quezon and the Filipino nation for this “open door policy” was inaugurated on Israeli soil, at the 65-hectare Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

The Filipino heart is one of history’s biggest, one of the world’s rare jewels, and one of humanity’s greatest treasures. In 2007,Baldomero M. Olivera, a Filipino, was chosen and awarded as the Scientist for the Year 2007 by Harvard University Foundation, for his work in neurotoxins which is produced by venomous cone snails commonly found in the tropical waters of Philippines . Olivera is a distinguished professor of biology at University of Utah , USA . The Scientist for the Year 2007 award was given to him in recognition to his outstanding contribution to science, particularly to molecular biology and groundbreaking work with conotoxins. The research conducted by Olivera’s group became the basis for the production of commercial drug called Prialt (generic name – Ziconotide), which is considered more effective than morphine and does not result in addiction.

The Filipino mind is one of the world’s best, one of humanity’s great assets. The Filipino is capable of greatness, of making great sacrifices for the greater good of the least of our people. Josette Biyois an example of this. Biyo has masteral and doctoral degress from one of the top universities in the Philippines – the De La Salle University (Taft, Manila ) – where she used to teach rich college students and was paid well for it. But Dr Biyo left all that and all the glamour of Manila , and chose to teach in a far-away public school in a rural area in the province, receiving the salary of less than US$ 300 a month. When asked why she did that, she replied “but who will teach our children?” In recognition of the rarity of her kind, the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States honoured Dr Biyo a very rare honor – by naming a small and new-discovered planet in our galaxy as “Biyo”.

The Filipino is one of humanity’s best examples on the greatness of human spirit!
Efren Penaflorida was born to a father who worked as a tricycle driver and a mother who worked as laundrywoman. Through sheer determination and the help of other people, Penaflorida finished college. In 1997, Penaflorida and his friends formed a group that made pushcarts (kariton) and loaded them with books, pens, crayons, blackboard, clothes, jugs of water, and a Philippine flag. Then he and his group would go to the public cemetery, market and garbage dump sites in Cavite City – to teach street children with reading, math, basic literacy skills and values, to save them from illegal drugs and prevent them from joining gangs. Penaflorida and his group have been doing this for more than a decade. Last year, Penaflorida was chosen and awarded as CNN Hero for 2009. Efren Penaflorida is one of the great human beings alive today. And he is a Filipino!

Nestor Suplico is yet another example of the Filipino’s nobility of spirit. Suplico was a taxi driver In New York. On 17 July 2004, Suplico drove 43 miles from New York City to Connecticut , USA to return the US$80,000 worth of jewelry (rare black pearls) to his passenger who forgot it at the back seat of his taxi. When his passenger offered to give him a reward, Suplico even refused the reward. He just asked to be reimbursed for his taxi fuel for his travel to Connecticut . At the time, Suplico was just earning $80 a day as a taxi driver. What do you call that? That’s honesty in its purest sense. That is decency most sublime. And it occurred in New York , the Big Apple City , where all kinds of snakes and sinners abound, and a place where – according to American novelist Sydney Sheldon – angels no longer descend. No wonder all New York newspapers called him “ New York ’s Most Honest Taxi Driver”. The New York City Government also held a ceremony to officially acknowledge his noble deed. The Philippine Senate passed a Resolution for giving honors to the Filipino people and our country.

In Singapore , Filipina Marites Perez-Galam, 33, a mother of four, found a wallet in a public toilet near the restaurant where she works as the head waitress found a wallet containing 16,000 Singaporean dollars (US $11,000). Maritess immediately handed the wallet to the restaurant manager of Imperial Herbal restaurant where she worked located in Vivo City Mall. The manager in turn reported the lost money to the mall’s management. It took the Indonesian woman less than two hours to claim her lost wallet intended for her son’s ear surgery that she and her husband saved for the medical treatment. Maritess refused the reward offered by the grateful owner and said it was the right thing to do.

The Filipina, in features and physical beauty, is one of the world’s most beautiful creatures!Look at this list – Gemma Cruz became the first Filipina to win Miss International in 1964; Gloria Diaz won as Miss Universe in 1969; Aurora Pijuan won Miss International in 1970; Margie Moran won Miss Universe in 1973; Evangeline Pascual was 1st runner up in Miss World 1974; Melanie Marquez was Miss International in 1979; Ruffa Gutierrez was 2nd runner up in Miss World 1993; Charlene Gonzalez was Miss Universe finalist in 1994; Mirriam Quiambao was Miss Universe 1st runner up in 1999;and last week, Venus Raj was 4th runner up in Miss Universe pageant.

I can cite more great Filipinos like Ramon Magsaysay, Ninoy Aquino, Leah Salonga, Manny Pacquaio, Paeng Nepomuceno, Tony Meloto, Joey Velasco, Juan Luna and Jose Rizal. For truly, there are many more great Filipinos who define who we are as a people and as a nation – each one of them is part of each one of us, for they are Filipinos like us, for they are part of our history as a people.

What we see and hear of the Filipino today is not all that there is about the Filipino. I believe that the Filipino is higher and greater than all these that we see and hear about the Filipino. God has a beautiful story for us as a people. And the story that we see today is but a fleeting portion of that beautiful story that is yet to fully unfold before the eyes of our world.

So let’s rise as one people. Let’s pick up the pieces. Let’s ask for understanding and forgiveness for our failure. Let us also ask for space and time to correct our mistakes, so we can improve our system. To all of you my fellow Filipinos, let’s keep on building the Filipino great and respectable in the eyes of our world – one story, two stories, three stories at a time – by your story, by my story, by your child’s story, by your story of excellence at work, by another Filipino’s honesty in dealing with others, by another Pinoy’s example of extreme sacrifice, by the faith in God we Filipinos are known for.

Every Filipino, wherever he or she maybe in the world today, is part of the solution. Each one of us is part of the answer. Every one of us is part of the hope we seek for our country. The Filipino will not become a world-class citizen unless we are able to build a world-class homeland in our Philippines .

We are a beautiful people. Let no one in the world take that beauty away from you. Let no one in the world take away that beauty away from any of your children! We just have to learn – very soon – to build a beautiful country for ourselves, with an honest and competent government in our midst.

Mga kababayan, after reading this, I ask you to do two things. First, defend and protect the Filipino whenever you can, especially among your children. Fight all this negativity about the Filipino that is circulating in many parts of the world. Let us not allow this single incident define who the Filipino is, and who we are as a people. And second, demand for good leadership and good government from our leaders. Question both their actions and inaction; expose the follies of their policies and decisions. The only way we can perfect our system is by engaging it. The only way we can solve our problem, is by facing it, head on. We are all builders of the beauty and greatness of the Filipino. We are the architects of our nation’s success.

To all the people of HK and China, especially the relatives of the victims, my family and I deeply mourn with the loss of your loved ones. Every life is precious. My family and I humbly ask for your understanding and forgiveness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sacramento, California and the State Capitol

My two Sisters ( Myrla and Agnes) and Brother-in-law ( Dennis) and ME in front of the Capitol. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009. Agnes and Dennis are from Maryland and Myrla is from Toronto, Canada



The California State Capitol sits in Sacramento, California, at the west end of Capitol Park. The grounds are framed by L Street to the north, N Street to the south, 10th Street to the west, and 15th Street to the east. The Capitol houses the California State Legislature and the Office of the Governor of California. The building was constructed in the Neoclassical architectural style between 1861 and 1874 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1973.

Exterior

The building is based on the distant Capitol in Washington D.C. The west facade ends in projecting bays, and a portico projects from the center of the building. At the base of the portico, seven granite archways brace and support the porch above. Eight fluted Corinthian columns line the portico. A cornice supports the pediment above that depicts Minerva surrounded by Education, Justice, and Mining.

Above the flat roof with balustrade rise two drums supporting a dome. The first drum consists of a colonnade of Corinthian columns; the second, Corinthian pilasters. Large arched windows line the drum walls. The dome rises 220 feet, matching the dome of the U.S. Capitol. This dome supports a lantern with a smaller dome capped with a bright gold ball.

Interior

The California Senate Chamber seats its forty members in a large chamber room enveloped in red, which is a nod to the British House of Lords, also the upper house of a bicameral legislature. The Chamber is entered through a second floor corridor. The red carpeting has a Victorian-era design. From the coffered ceiling hangs an electric reproduction of the original gas chandelier. A hand-carved dais caps off a recessed bay framed by Corinthian columns.

The Latin phrase "Senatoris est civitatis libertatem tueri" ["It is the duty of a Senator to protect the liberty of the people"] lines the cornice. A portrait of George Washington by Jane Stuart, the daughter of Gilbert Stuart, looks down from the wall above. The State Seal hangs above.

Gilded Corinthian columns support the gallery above, and dark red curtains that can be drawn for privacy are tied back along the columns. High arched windows run along the bottom below rectangular pane windows. Behind the rostrum, there are two chairs with red velvet cushions, reserved for the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly, but are never used.

The California Assembly Chamber is located at the opposite end of the Senate. Like the Senate, its green tones are based on British House of Commons, the lower house. The dais rests along a wall shaped like an "E", with the central projection housing the rostrum. Along the cornice appears a quotation from Abraham Lincoln in Latin: legislatorum est justas leges condere ("It is the duty of legislators to pass just laws").

2001 attack

On January 16, 2001, Michael Bowers, a semi-trailer truck driver with a criminal history, drove over a curb, up a short walk-way, and rammed his truck into the southern portico. The truck's fuel tank ignited, killing him and causing $15 million in damage to the Capitol.



If you are in the Sacramento area, a free tour of the capitol and it grounds is a good use of your time. Adjacent to the capitol is the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, A National Shrine, It is also a must see if you are Catholic.
Inside the Cathedral

Note: This is No.3 ( Part 1) of a series of articles of places that my family have resided or visited since 1960 to the present( #1 New York City, #2 Washington, DC).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Filoli Mansion and Gardens in Woodside, California

The Sunken Garden

If you live in Northern California and you love gardens, the Filoli Mansion and Gardens will be worth a visit. I love specially the rose gardens and the antique furnitures inside the mansion. It is about 25 miles south of San Francisco. Here's a video for your enjoyment.


Filoli is a country house set in 16 acres (6.5 ha) of formal gardens surrounded by 654 acres (265 ha) estate, located in Woodside, California, about 25 miles (40 km) south of San Francisco, at the southern end of Crystal Springs Lake, on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 for William Bowers Bourn II and his wife, Agnes Moody Bourn. The principal designer, San Francisco architect Willis Polk, used a free Georgian style that incorporated the tiled roofs characteristic of California.] Polk had previously designed Bourn's houses in Grass Valley and on Webster Street in San Francisco. Bruce Porter was commissioned to collaborate with the Bourns in planning the gardens, which were laid out 1917-1922.


Filoli served as one of the Bourns' residences from 1917 to 1936. Mr. Bourn was president of the Spring Valley Water Company, which owned Crystal Springs Lake and the surrounding area. The name of the estate is an acronym formed by combining the first two letters from the key words of William Bourn's credo: "Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life."

Following the deaths of William and Agnes Bourn in 1936, the estate was sold to Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth, owners of the Matson Navigation Company, in 1937. The Roth family built Filoli's botanic gardens. In 1975, Mrs. Roth donated the estate in its entirety to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The 16 acres (6.5 ha) of gardens are structured as a series of garden spaces that open one from another, providing long axial views, in which profuse naturalized plantings of hardy and annual plants contrast with lawns, paving, formal reflecting pools, framed in walls and clipped hedging (illustration, right) and punctuated by many narrowly columnar Irish yews, originally grown on the estate from cuttings. Filoli is an outstanding example of the Anglo-American gardening style that was pioneered at the end of the nineteenth century by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll in British gardens and exemplified in the U.S. by designs of Charles A. Platt and Beatrix Farrand.

Today, Filoli is open for public tours. Attractions include self-guided tours, guided tours, and nature hikes. The formal gardens include several areas, including the Wedding Place, especially designed for Berenice Roth's wedding. Lurline and Berenice both had their wedding receptions at Filoli, but Berenice's wedding is the only one that has ever taken place at Filoli. The largest gardens are working gardens for the production of cut flowers for the mansion and for the growing of some vegetables.

Filoli has served as the set for many Hollywood movies. Most famously, it is the mansion seen from the air in the opening credits of the television series Dynasty. The mansion's plush interiors were also featured in the first episodes of the series but were subsequently replicated on sound stages at the Fox Studios, Century City. However the entire mansion served as the setting for the 2006 CBS Television special Dynasty Reunion.

Among the many striking mature trees on the grounds are a row of immense Italian Stone Pines and scattered specimen native Coast Live Oaks over 250 years in age, the latter of which are the backdrop for Warren Beatty's outdoor scenes in Heaven Can Wait. The Filoli estate recently went through extensive rehabilitation and a new visitor center and café were built. San Francisco architecture firm, Architectural Resources Group designed the new visitor and education center as well as oversaw seismic strengthening of the historic main house. The new facility includes a 255 seat assembly room, main lobby orientation room, a café, offices and a catering kitchen.

Filoli was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production, Guide to Historic Homes of America, as well as in a November 1996 segment of A&E's America's Castles: Garden Estates, the latter being shown continuously at the visitor center.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Modesto and the Central Valley of California

The Modesto Arch
We resided in Modesto from 1969 to 1974. I was employed by Shell Development Company as an Analytical Research Chemist in Research Department of their Agricultural Division. We resided at the northern suburb of Modesto- a typical middle-income housing development in the early 1970's. Compared to Kansas City, Missouri, Modesto is a very small town at that time, although there was a private Country and Tennis Club, Sportmen Club of Stanislaus County known as SOS, that we enjoyed very much. We played tennis, eat at the country club restaurant and play party bridge at night. The kids enjoyed swimming during the day and we made a few good friends at the club. The highlights of our stay was when we met The Gallos during a tennis tournament. The Gallos were already millioners at that time since they owned the Gallo Winery, but were friendly to most of the members of the Club. The other highlight was that we became US citizens in Modesto. Our citizenship party was featured in the society column of the Modesto Bee, the local newspaper.
Central Valley Farm Land
The Modesto Metropolitan Area is a part of the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley (also known as The Valley) is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of the U.S., State of California. It is home to many of California's most productive agricultural efforts. The valley stretches approximately 450 miles (720 km) from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast. Its northern half is referred to as the Sacramento Valley, and its southern half as the San Joaquin Valley. The Sacramento valley receives about 20 inches of rain annually, but the San Joaquin is very dry, often semi-arid desert in many places. The two halves meet at the huge Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, a large expanse of interconnected canals, stream beds, sloughs, marshes and peat islands. The Central Valley encompasses around 42,000 square miles (110,000 km2), making it roughly the same size as the state of Tennessee. The Central Valley is the bread basket of the State producing fresh fruits, meat products, vegetables( fresh and canned) and rice and grains and other agricultural products. It is the most fertile agricultural region of the Pacific.

Here's a video of Modesto,California( google map) for your viewing pleasure.

Boundaries and population
Counties commonly associated with the valley:

* North Sacramento Valley (Shasta, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa)
* Sacramento Metro (Sacramento, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Placer)
* North San Joaquin (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced)
* South San Joaquin (Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern)

About 6.5 million people live in the Central Valley today, and it is the fastest growing region in California. There are 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the Central Valley. Below, they are listed by (MSA) population. The largest city is Fresno, followed by the state capital Sacramento, but the Sacramento area is the most populous region.

* Sacramento Metropolitan Area (2,136,604)
* Fresno Metropolitan Area (1,002,284)
* Bakersfield Metropolitan Area (827,173)
* Stockton Metropolitan Area (664,116)
* Modesto Metropolitan (505,505)
* Visalia Metropolitan Area (410,874)
* Merced Metropolitan Area (241,706)
* Chico Metropolitan Area (214,185)
* Redding Metropolitan Area (179,904)
* Yuba City Metropolitan Area (165,081)

Modesto is the county seat of Stanislaus County, California. With a population of approximately 211,156 as of April 2009, Modesto ranks as the 17th largest city in the state of California. Modesto is located in Northern California, 92 miles east of San Francisco, 68 miles south of the state capital of Sacramento and 66 miles west of Yosemite National Park. Modesto, a 29-time Tree City USA honoree, is surrounded by rich farmland, lending to a ranking for the county as 6th among all California counties in farm production. Led by milk, almonds, chickens, cattle, and walnuts, the county grossed nearly $2.5 billion in agricultural production in 2007.
The Gallo Art Center
Locally, Modesto is home to the critically acclaimed Gallo Center for the Arts, Prospect Theater Project, the Modesto Nuts (a Colorado Rockies MLB affiliate) and the Amgen Tour of California, which in 2009 saw cycling legend Lance Armstrong cross the finish line. The Xclamation Festival, X-Fest, has become the city’s largest entertainment and cultural gathering, recently celebrating its 10th year. The event in 2009 had an estimated 16,000 attendees enjoy music and food on the streets of downtown Modesto. Modesto also encompasses various cultural and social diverse schools, especially Modesto High School. MHS, being the oldest school of Modesto, embodies a rigorous academic and physical curriculum for students such as the International Baccalaureate program, AVID, and more.

In February 2010, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which interviewed more than 353,000 participants and asked individuals to assess their jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities, ranked Modesto 161 out of the 162 cities surveyed. In December 2009, Forbes ranked Modesto 48th out of 100 among "Best Bang-for-the-Buck Cities;" according to Forbes. In this ranking, Modesto ranked 8th in housing affordability and travel time but also ranked 86th in job forecast growth and 99th in foreclosures. In variety of other past rankings, Modesto has scored in the top ten worst places to live due to its high cost of living, high unemployment, long commutes and high crime rate.

Note: This is No.6 (Part 1) of a series of articles on places that we have resided or visited in US since 1960 to the present.

postzoom views

Charice Singing God Bless America-Beyond Words



Last night opening season episode of Glee has fortified my admiration for Charice. I love to hear this girl sing not because she is a Filipina and I am a Filipino-American, but because once you heard her sing, you know she has talent. This week Charice was in Newsweek. Here's the article, in case you missed it.

"As any would-be American Idol knows, taking on a song by Whitney Houston or Celine Dion can be the kiss of death. The songs are so demanding that contestants often find themselves in the judges’ firing line for attempting one. So when 15-time Grammy Award–winning producer David Foster says the 18-year-old Filipino singer Charice reminds him of a young Dion, the industry takes note. Foster knows what he’s talking about: he produced the French Canadian Dion’s debut English album, Unison. “Charice reminds me of when I saw Celine 20 years ago,” he says. “In my opinion, she will put the whole of Asia on the map as a huge global superstar.”

She’s already making quite a splash in America. Her U.S. debut album, titled simply Charice, was the first by an Asian singer to make it to the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart in May. This week she will appear in the season premiere of the popular TV series Glee, where she will play the role of Sunshine, an exchange student from the Philippines who becomes Rachel Berry’s (Lea Michele) biggest rival.

Like any respectable teenager, Charmaine Clarice Pempengco, better known as Charice, got her start on YouTube. Four years ago, a fan posted a video of a preteen Charice singing Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” on a local Philippines talent show. It took a while, but the video eventually won wide international attention. Today the petite singer with a surprisingly big, rich voice has already achieved one of her dreams: singing onstage with her idol Dion.

The rest of her bio is just as marketable: her mother left her father when she was a toddler because he was violent. She entered young Charice in amateur singing competitions and town fiestas so she would earn some money for the family. By the time she sang on Little Big Star, a local singing show for 6- to 13-year-olds, she had already participated in more than 100 singing contests. It wasn’t easy; the youngster was eliminated in the first round of Little Big Star, then selected as a wild-card pick to come back on the show. She made it all the way to the final before losing in the text-message vote. She is reported to have been so depressed that she thought of giving up her singing career.

Lucky for her, she had a persistent fan posting on YouTube. Although she didn’t become an overnight sensation like Susan Boyle, her video steadily gathered hits. Charice got perhaps her biggest break when Ellen DeGeneres invited her to perform on her U.S. television show right before Christmas 2007. “You can smell the star on her,” DeGeneres joked. Her performance caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who also invited her on the show.
Charice in Glee
Now the young singer has to negotiate the shift from belting out covers of romantic ballads to becoming a pop princess who sings her own songs. Singing Lady Gaga’s hit “Telephone” opposite Michele in Glee will no doubt reinforce perceptions she can make it as a pop star. Ryan Murphy, the creator of the award-winning TV show, has said he was so touched by her audition that he felt compelled to get her a “really good” role. “When that girl opens her mouth, angels fly out,” he said.

But she has already learned that fame can be fickle. After she was reported to have used Botox to “prepare” for her Glee role, some fans criticized her. To avoid the fate of countless young stars who made it and then let it all slip away, she will have to keep her head firmly on her shoulders. But with Foster having officially taken on the role of godfather, and Oprah in her life as her quasi fairy godmother, it looks like this Cinderella could continue her happy fairy tale.

Here's her rendition of God Bless America during the Last celebration Of Martin Luther King Birthday Anniversary. Her rendition is beyond words. Do you agree?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New York City-Most Populous City in US


I have been to New York City a number of times. My first visit was in 1960. I remember visiting the Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, and China Town. Since then, I have been to the city, to see a Broadway Play, attend a conference( American Chemical Society), visit relatives, a little shopping and sight seeing ( Statue of Liberty). My impression of New City is that it is a nice place to visit, but even if you gave me a million dollars, I will never live there! Here's a short video of the sights of the City via Frank Sinatra.

New York is the most populous city in the United States, and the center of the New York metropolitan area, which is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. A leading global city, New York exerts a powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment. As host of the United Nations Headquarters, it is also an important center for international affairs. The city is often referred to as New York City or the City of New York to distinguish it from the state of New York, of which it is a part.

Located on a large natural harbor on the Atlantic coast of the Northeastern United States, the city consists of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The city's 2009 estimated population approached 8.4 million, and with a land area of 305 square miles (790 km2). New York City is the most densely populated major city in the United States. The New York metropolitan area's population is also the nation's largest, estimated at 19.1 million people over 6,720 square miles (17,400 km2). Furthermore, the Combined Statistical Area containing the greater New York metropolitan area contained 22.2 million people as of 2009 Census estimates, also the largest in the United States.

New York was founded as a commercial trading post by the Dutch in 1624. The settlement was called New Amsterdam until 1664 when the colony came under English control. New York served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790. It has been the country's largest city since 1790. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York City, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world.

Many districts and landmarks in the city have become well known to outsiders. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Times Square, iconified as "The Crossroads of the World", is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway theater district, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world's entertainment industry. Anchored by Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, New York City vies with London as the financial capital of the world is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. The original Manhattan Chinatown attracts throngs of tourists to its bustling sidewalks and retail establishments. World-class schools and universities such as Columbia University and New York University also reside in New York City.

Additional Personal Note: Before September 11, 2001, Our daughter gave us a tour of her office in the World Trade Center. I was really impressed with the Twin Towers, so the bombing of the Twin Tower on 9/11/01, I consider a personal loss.
Twin Tower Of WTC (March, 2001)

This posting is part 1 of a series I am planning to write on cities that we have resided and visited in US. Future series(Part 2), will be cities that we have visited outside the US through our International Interval Exchange Vacation Program such as London, Rome, Marbella, Spain, Morrocco, Cancun, Mexico, San Juan, Puerto Rico and all the Hawaiian Islands.

Monday, September 20, 2010

San Francisco, California, Golden Gate Park and Other Tourists Sites



My wife and I have been to the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco a number of times, when we were residing in the North Bay, that we often times forget and just take for granted the beauty of this park. However, after we moved to the East Coast, and seeing a lot of parks and comparing, I have decided that this park is the most unique and a must for tourists to visit if they love gardens and open spaces.

Watch more travel videos at tripfilms.com

Golden Gate Park, located in San Francisco, California, is a large urban park consisting of 1,017 acres (4.12 km2; 1.589 sq mi) of public grounds. Configured as a rectangle, it is similar in shape but 20% larger than Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared. It is over three miles (5 km) long east to west, and about half a mile north to south. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate is the third most visited city park in the United States.
History
The domed Conservatory of Flowers is one of the world's largest. It is built of traditional wood sash and glass pane construction. It has been extensively renovated several times since its construction.

In the 1860's, San Franciscans began to feel the need for a spacious public park similar to Central Park that was taking shape in New York. Golden Gate Park was carved out of unpromising sand and shore dunes that were known as the "outside lands" in an unincorporated area west of then-San Francisco's borders. Although the park was conceived under the guise of recreation, the underlying justification was to attract housing development and provide for the westward expansion of The City. The tireless field engineer William Hammond Hall prepared a survey and topographic map of the park site in 1870 and became commissioner in 1871. He was later named California's first State Engineer and developed an integrated flood control system for the Sacramento Valley when he was not working on Golden Gate Park.
The actual plan and planting were developed by Hall and his assistant, John McLaren, who had apprenticed in Scotland, the homeland of many of the nineteenth century's best professional gardeners. The initial plan called for grade separations of transverse roadways through the park, as Frederick Law Olmsted had provided for Central Park, but budget constraints and the positioning of the Arboretum and the Concourse ended the plan. In 1876, the plan was almost exchanged for a racetrack favored by "the Big Four" millionaires, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Charles Crocker. Hall resigned and the remaining park commissioners followed him. The original plan, however, was back on track by 1886, when streetcars delivered over 47,000 people to Golden Gate Park on one weekend afternoon (the city's population at the time was about 250,000). Hall selected McLaren as his successor in 1887.

North Windmill in Golden Gate Park.
Built in 1903, it was used to pump water throughout the park. The blades seen here were used to carry canvas sails. The first stage stabilized the ocean dunes that covered three-quarters of the park area with tree plantings. By 1875, about 60,000 trees, mostly Blue Gum Eucalyptus, Monterey pine and Monterey cypress, were planted. By 1879, that figure more than doubled to 155,000 trees over 1,000 acres (4 km²). Later McLaren scoured the world through his correspondents for trees. When McLaren refused to retire at age 60, as was customary, the San Francisco city government was bombarded with letters: when he reached 70, a charter amendment was passed to exempt him from forced retirement. He lived in McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park until he died at age 96, in 1943.

In 1903, a pair of Dutch-style windmills were built at the extreme western end of the park. These pumped water throughout the park. The north windmill has been restored to its original appearance and is adjacent to a flower garden, a gift of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. These are planted with tulip bulbs for winter display and other flowers in appropriate seasons. Murphy's Windmill in the south of the park is currently being restored.


Most of the water used for landscape watering and for various water features is now provided by groundwater from the City's Westside Basin Aquifer. However, the use of highly processed and recycled effluent from the city's sewage treatment plant, located at the beach some miles away to the south near the San Francisco Zoo is planned for the near future. In the 1950s the use of this effluent during cold weather caused some consternation, with the introduction of artificial detergents but before the advent of modern biodegradable products. These "hard" detergents would cause long-lasting billowing piles of foam to form on the creeks connecting the artificial lakes and could even be blown onto the roads, forming a traffic hazard.

Golden Gate Park is adjacent to Haight-Ashbury, and it was the site of the Human Be-In of 1967, preceding the Summer of Love. The tradition of large, free public gatherings in the park continues to the present, especially at Speedway Meadow. One of the largest events held annually at the park starting in 2001 has been the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (formerly the "Strictly Bluegrass Festival"), a free festival held in October. Speedway Meadow also plays host to a number of large-scale events such as the 911 Power to the Peaceful Festival held by musician and filmmaker Michael Franti with Guerrilla Management.

Kezar Stadium
Kezar Stadium was built between 1922 and 1925 in the southeast corner of the park. It hosted various athletic competitions and became the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers of the AAFC and NFL from 1946 to 1970, also hosting the Oakland Raiders of the AFL for one season in 1960. The old 59,000-seat stadium was demolished in 1989 and replaced with a modern 9,044-seat stadium, but includes a replica of the original concrete arch at the entryway. It has been used in recent years for soccer, lacrosse, and track and field and is the host of the annual city high school football championship.

Conservatory of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is one of the world's largest conservatories built of traditional wood and glass panes. It was prefabricated for local entrepreneur James Lick for his Santa Clara, California, estate but was still in its crates when he died in 1876. A group of San Franciscans bought it and offered it to the city, and it was erected in Golden Gate Park and opened to the public in 1879. In 1883, a boiler exploded and the main dome caught fire. A restoration was undertaken by Southern Pacific magnate Charles Crocker. It survived the earthquake of 1906 only to suffer another fire in 1918. In 1933 it was declared unsound and closed to the public, only to be reopened in 1946. In 1995, after a severe storm with 100 mph (160 km/h) winds damaged the structure, shattering 40% of the glass, the conservatory had to be closed again. It was cautiously dissected for repairs and finally reopened in September 2003.

AIDS Memorial Grove
The AIDS Memorial Grove has been in progress since 1988. In 1996, it was designated a national memorial by an act of Congress, becoming an affiliated area of the National Park System. The Grove's executive director, Thom Weyand, has said that "part of the beauty of the grove is that as a memorial which receives no federal money, it is blessedly removed from the fight over the controversy of AIDS."

Spreckels Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park

The Music Concourse is a sunken, oval-shaped open-air plaza originally excavated for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. Its focal point is the Spreckels Temple of Music, also called the "Bandshell" where numerous music performance have been staged. It includes a number of statues of various historic figures, four fountains, and a regular grid array of heavily pollarded trees. Since 2003, the Music Concourse underwent a series improvements to include an underground 800-car parking garage, and pedestrianization of the plaza itself. It is surrounded by various cultural attractions, including:

M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
Named for M. H. de Young, the San Francisco newspaper magnate, the De Young Museum is a fine arts museum that was opened January 1921. Its original building had been part of The California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, of which Mr. de Young was the director. The de Young was completely rebuilt and the new building opened in 2005.

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the largest natural history museums in the world[citation needed], and also houses the Steinhart Aquarium and the Morrison Planetarium. The Academy of Sciences carries exhibits of reptiles and amphibians, astronomy, prehistoric life, various gems and minerals, earthquakes, and aquatic life. A completely new building for the Museum opened in September 2008 designed by Renzo Piano.
Japanese Tea Garden
Japanese Tea Garden
The five acre (20,000 m²) Japanese tea garden at Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. The garden was designed by Makoto Hagiwara for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, including still-standing features such as the Drum Bridge and the tea house. Subsequent additions included a pagoda and Zen garden. It is the site of the introduction of the fortune cookie to America.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum was laid out in the 1890s, but funding was insufficient until Helene Strybing willed funds in 1926. Planting was begun in 1937 with WPA funds supplemented by local donations. This 55 acre (222,500 m²) arboretum contains more than 7,500 plant species. The arboretum also houses the Helen Crocker Russell Library, northern California's largest horticultural library.

Stow Lake
Stow Lake, the largest of the manmade lakes in Golden Gate Park, offers boat rentals
Stow Lake surrounds the prominent Strawberry Hill, now an island with an electrically pumped waterfall. Rowboats, pedal boats, and electrically powered boats can be rented at the boathouse. Much of the western portion of San Francisco can be seen from the top of this hill, which at its top contains one of the reservoirs that supply a network of high-pressure water mains that exclusively supply specialized fire hydrants throughout the city.

Spreckels Lake
Spreckels Lake is located on the northern side of the park near 36th Avenue. As the home waters of the San Francisco Model Yacht Club, one can usually find model yachts sailing on Spreckels Lake. Many of these are of the 'free-sail' type used before the advent of the modern radio controlled model. The yachts are set up by their owners, and most include either an auxiliary wind vane or main sheet linkage to control the rudder in response to varying wind conditions. The yachts are then released, and pole handlers will walk down each side of the lake with a padded pole to prevent the yachts from colliding with the lake edge. The lake has been specifically designed for this type of operation, as it has a vertical edging (allowing the yachts to closely approach the shore) and a paved walkway around the entire edge. At one location near a grassy area, "duckling ramps" allow young wildlife to leave the pond safely.

Golden Gate Park Stadium

Golden Gate Park Stadium, also known as the "Polo Field", in the western section of the park was opened in 1906, originally envisioned as a 60,000 seat amphitheater with a mile-long circumference. The plan did not come to fruition, but the stadium did eventually incorporate bicycle and harness-racing tracks as well as a polo field. In 1967, stadium was the site of the Human Be-In which launched the Summer of Love and where Timothy Leary urged fellow hippies to "tune in, turn on, and drop out". Today, the stadium is marked by its raised perimeter and a small grandstand.

Bison Paddock
Bison have been kept in Golden Gate Park since 1891, when a small herd was purchased by the park commission. At the time, the animal's population in North America had dwindled to an all-time low and San Francisco made a successful effort to breed them in captivity. In 1899, the paddock in the western section of the park was created. The animals today are cared for by staff from the San Francisco Zoo.

Windmills
In 1902, the parks commission authorized construction of two windmills to pump subterranean water to supply the park. The first one, on the north side of the park facing the Pacific Ocean, was completed in 1903 and became known first as the North Windmill and later as the Dutch Windmill; it is now paired with the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden. The second, Murphy's Windmill, on the south side of the park, began operation in 1908. They operated for several decades, but fell into disrepair after the park switched to electric water pumps. The Dutch Windmill was restored in 1981, but, as of 2009, Murphy's Windmill's restoration is still in progress.

Beach Chalet
The two-story Beach Chalet faces the Great Highway and Ocean Beach at the far western end of the park. It was opened in 1925 in Spanish colonial revival style as a city-run restaurant and included changing rooms for beach visitors. Elaborate murals were added to the first floor as a 1936 Works Progress Administration project. After several years of closure and following a renovation completed in 1996, the building now houses the Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant on the second floor. Its sister restaurant, the Park Chalet, is an open-air dining room facing the park.
Here's a short video of a tour to Alcatraz Island and other tourists sites of the City besides Golden Gate Park.

Longwood Gardens- Kennett Square, PA, USA


My wife and I have been to Longwood Gardens three times since 1960, but never get tired of this Garden Paradise. Each season of the year features different flowers and plants, that is why one will never get tired of this place. If you have not heard of this Garden, here's a video and write up from Wikipedia. It is a must place to visit if you are a Garden enthusiast. There is a minimal entrance fee. The nearest biggest city is Philadelphia.


Longwood Gardens consists of 1,050 acres (4.2 km²) of gardens, woodlands, and meadows in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, United States in the Brandywine Creek Valley. It is one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States.

Early history

What is now Longwood Gardens was originally purchased from William Penn in 1700 by a fellow Quaker named George Peirce (1646–1734). Although it started as a working farm, in 1798 Joshua and Samuel Peirce planted the first specimens of an arboretum. By 1850 they had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation.

Industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. He made it his private estate, and from 1906 until the 1930s, du Pont added extensively to the property. A world traveler from an early age, du Pont was often inspired to add features to the garden after attending world's fairs, the most notable additions being the massive conservatory, complete with a massive pipe organ, and the extensive system of fountains. Mr. Du Pont opened his estate to the public many days of the year during his occupancy.

After the completion of the fountains, du Pont began planning for the sustained life of Longwood Gardens after his death. He founded the Longwood Foundation in 1937, and in 1946 the foundation was chartered with running Longwood Gardens for the general education and enjoyment of the public.

The Longwood Organ

Currently under renovations until 2010, the resident Longwood Organ is a 10,010 pipe instrument designed by Longwood organist-in-residence Firmin Swinnen, a Belgian musician who moved to the US in the 1920s and became a prominent theater organist in New York City. The organ's pipes filled fourteen railway freight cars, and they needed a 72 horsepower (54 kW) blower motor to supply the wind pressure; the instrument was one of the largest pipe organs installed in a private residence. Pierre du Pont ordered a massive Aeolian organ in 1929 to replace the previous organ of 3,650 pipes, which he donated to the University of Delaware where it stayed until 1964. The four-manual organ plays into the Longwood ballroom and can be heard throughout the conservatory when adjoining window panels are opened. Its pipes may be viewed from the rear through glass panels in Longwood's organ museum.

Longwood today

Today Longwood Gardens consists of 20 outdoor gardens and 20 indoor gardens within 4.5 acres (18,200 m²) of heated greenhouses, known as conservatories. It contains 11,000 different types of plants and trees, as well as fountains. The Gardens also has extensive educational programs including a tuition-free two-year school of professional horticulture, a graduate program, and extensive internships. It hosts 800 horticultural and performing arts events each year, from flower shows, gardening demonstrations, courses, and children's programs to concerts, organ and carillon recitals, musical theatre, fountain shows, and fireworks displays. It also hosts an extensive Christmas light display during the holiday season.

Longwood's conservatory is one of the world's greatest greenhouse structures. The conservatory alone is home to 5,500 types of plants. An exploration of the 20 indoor gardens spanning a half mile takes about an hour and a half. Gardens of the conservatory, each with its own exquisite displays of plants, include The Orangery, Silver Garden, Acacia Passage, Orchid House, Cascade Garden, Palm House, Mediterranean Garden, Tropical Terrace and the Outdoor Water Garden display. Since its original construction date in 1919, it has undergone expansions and renovations. In January 2003, the East Conservatory was closed for a renovation project. On October 29, 2005, the main hall of the East Conservatory was once again opened to the public.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is Education in the Philippines Inferior to US or Canada?

UP Diliman (Quezon Hall)

Today, I was reading a discussion in the internet magazine on the quality of education in the Philippines versus that to US or Canada. One of the commentators said that a bachelor's degree in the Philippines today is almost useless . This comment attracted so much discussion that this prompted me to update my knowledge of the educational system in the Philippines. I started on reading what Wikipedia has published on the subject.Here's a short summary:

"During the period of colonization by the United States, Education in the Philippines changed radically, modeled on the system of Education in the United States of the time. After the Second World War, changes in the US system were no longer automatically reflected in the Philippines, which has since moved in various directions of its own.

Filipino children may enter public school at about age four, starting from Nursery up to Kindergarten. At about seven years of age, children enter elementary school (6 to 7 years). This may be followed by secondary school (4 years). Students may then sit for College Entrance Examinations (CEE), after which they may enter tertiary institutions (3 to 5 years). Other types of schools do exist, such as Private schools, Preparatory schools, International schools, Laboratory High Schools and Science High Schools. Several ethnic groups, including Chinese, British, Americans, and Japanese operate their own schools.

Elementary schooling is compulsory, but 24% of Filipinos of the relevant age group do not attend, usually due to absence of any school in their area, education being offered in foreign languages only, or financial distress. In July 2009 DepEd acted to overcome the foreign language problem by ordering all elementary schools to move towards mother-tongue based learning initially. The order allows two alternative three-year bridging plans. Depending on the bridging plan adopted, the Filipino and English languages are to be phased in as the language of instruction for other subjects beginning in the third and fourth grades.

Secondary schooling is compulsory, and is of four years duration only.

The school year in the Philippines starts in June of one year and ends in March of the next, with a two-month summer break for April and May, one week of semestral break (the last week of October), and a week or two of Christmas break.

In 2005, the Philippines spent only about US$138 per pupil compared to US$1,582 in Singapore, US$3,728 in Japan, and US$852 in Thailand.[2]

One of the most serious problems in the Philippines in the 1980s and early 1990s concerned the large number of students who completed college but then could not find a job commensurate with their educational skills. If properly utilized, these trained personnel could facilitate economic development, but when left idle or forced to take jobs beneath their qualifications, this group could be a major source of discontent.
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A recent article by Chito Salazar published at the Daily Inquirer dated 8/28/10
discussed the importance of the 12-year basic education such as we have here in US
I am posting an excerpt of the article as follows:
12-year basic education: a quality imperative

"THE MOVE to expand our basic education to 12 years from the present 10 is not about quantity versus quality. It is about quality, period; or, more accurately, it is about the low quality of our education system. Philippine education is plagued by two major ills—the high attrition rate of our students and their low achievement rates. Simply put, too many of students leave school early, around a third before graduating elementary school, the largest chunk dropping out before Grade 4.

However, those who stay in school are only just a bit better off, receiving a substandard education with more than 90 percent failing our own National Achievement Tests. The majority of students are reading below their age and grade levels; and our high school graduates proceed to college with barely a Grade 6 reading competency.

What accounts for this low quality? Years of neglect; much, much lower than needed budget allocations; teaching quality; incentives and performance measures; the lack of classrooms, textbooks and desks; and, a short basic education cycle. The problems are complex and the causes are interconnected.

While teacher quality is central to the solution, our teachers, no matter how good, cannot teach well in a crowded classroom, without the proper books, or even a proper room. Similarly, our teachers, no matter how good, cannot teach well, with an overcrowded curriculum, when they are being required to teach more than their counterparts anywhere in the world, in a significantly shorter period of time. Nor can our students learn properly, when we are asking them to learn too much, too soon. What students in other countries are expected to learn in 12 years, we are asking our students to learn in 10. Consequently, more often than not, our students are being forced to learn concepts more complex than their developmental profile permits. It is then no wonder that our students cannot read properly nor pass our own diagnostic exams.

This brings us to the problem of government resources. It is true that there are limited funds and we must prioritize. However, the difficulty is the opponents of the move to a 12-year system are making this a choice among education goods—better teaching quality versus the expansion or more classrooms versus more years. However, should this not be about quality education versus losing more revenues to smuggling or uncollected taxes; or about education quality versus special education funds being spent on basketball courts, boy scout jamborees or sports fests; or should this not be about education quality versus expensive meals abroad, pork barrel or the intelligence funds of GOCC executives? The families of our children graduating with minimal learning are paying a very expensive price for an underfunded education system.

The proponents of the 12-year basic education cycle insist that the additional two years be added to the elementary and/or high school levels; not to tertiary education, nor purely as a pre-university requirement. The addition must be to basic education because that’s precisely what it is and where it needs to be. A 12-year basic education is the minimum, fundamental education everyone must receive to have a decent opportunity for a good life. As such, as the Constitution declares, it must be a right, and it must be free.

Finally, ironically, despite all the opposition, the best basic education schools in the country (e.g., Ateneo and La Salle) already follow an 11-year system at least. These are the premier schools that parents would want to send their children to if they could afford the tuition. Children who attend schools like these usually have had three years of pre-school before they even step into the first grade. Yet, for whatever good reason, some would rather deprive the majority of Filipinos of these additional years—please note, a total of 14 to 15 years of basic education—that a fortunate minority already receives. So which program is truly anti-poor?"

Personal Note: The quality of education one receives in the Philippines depend on the school where the degree was obtained. The success of the individual is not based on the number of degrees he or she has completed, but on his fortitude and ambition and outlook in life. Getting a good job also depends on your social networking skills and connections as well as the skills that you have learned from college, both in undergraduate and graduate schools. There are more than a couple of excellent schools in the Philippines, but also several diploma mills whose main purpose is to make money, not to educate its students.

May I proudly say that the University of the Philippines in Diliman( UP) is one example of an excellent school during my college years (mid 1950's). However, I am not sure of the quality of education one can get from UP today. Comments will be appreciated.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Georgia O'Keefe's Erotic and Sensual Flowers



Have your heard of Georgia O'Keefe? If not, here's her short bio from Wikipedia.

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist. Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe was a major figure in American art from the 1920s. She received widespread recognition for her technical contributions, as well as for challenging the boundaries of modern American artistic style. She is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes in which she synthesized abstraction and representation. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms that are replete with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors. She often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract images. New York Times critic Jed Perl in 2004 described her paintings as both "bold and hermetic, immediately appealing and unnervingly impassive."

O'Keeffe played a central role in bringing an American art style to Europe at a time when the majority of influence flowed in the opposite direction. This feat enhanced her art-historical importance given that she was one of few women to have gained entry to this level of professional influence. She found artistic inspiration in the rural Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, where she settled late in life.








As an avid gardener, I have a few of these erotic and sensual flowers in my garden at Chateau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eight Ways to Make $30 Per Day through Google Adsense

Photo from adsenseblogforbeginners.com

The following is a reprint from article written recently by Kevin Sinclair for ezinearticles.com I hope it works for you, since it does not work for me!

When you know what to do - Adsense is quite easy to master. When I want to make about $30 to $35 daily on each site, I follow these Google Adsense tips:

Tip 1: Place Ads Above the Fold

When a page loads, what you see is called the fold. It is important to make sure that Adsense ads are visible without a person having to scroll down. The majority of people surfing the Net won't waste their time with this and often do not scan below the fold.

Tip 2: Do Not Exceed Four Ads For Each Page

This tip does not refer to ad blocks, as I am speaking only about ads. Google has a knack for situating the best advertisements at the top of a page so the fewer ads you display, the more you will receive for each click.

Tip 3: Select Medium Rectangles

When showcasing three ads, I suggest using a rectangle that measures 250 x 250. You may also split test a larger rectangle, but I have found that the best results come with a rectangle of medium size.

Tip 4: Don't Ignore the Power of Blending

You've probably already heard this before, but people are becoming increasingly blind to ads. If something looks like an advertisement, it has a good chance of becoming ignored. This means that your ads need to blend in with your website. I suggest using the same background color and the same size font. Also, blend in borders into the background. And:

Tip 5: Make Links Blue

It doesn't matter what your text or background color is - Adsense links are blue. People view the color blue as a sign that a link is present. The whole point of this entire process is to get people to click on your links - especially when they are attached to Adsense.

Tip 6: Channel Set-Up

When possessing more than one ad unit for each page, make sure to set up a channel for each unit, but also remember not to exceed more than four ads per page. If there is only one ad unit on a page, create a channel for each. Channels are a good way to monitor which ads are making a profit and which ones do not.

Tip 7: Monitor CTR Progress

CTR (Click Through Ratio) is rather important to consider, as it showcases the amount of clicks that are divided by the number of page views. This number is then multiplied by 100. If one of your pages possesses a lower CTR than the rest, you may want to consider altering the content on the page. When following the before-mentioned suggestions, you should have established at least a 5 to 10% CTR. If this is not the case, you may want to reorganize your site.

Tip 8: Constantly Check Adsense Ads for Content Relevancy

At times, some irrelevant Adsense ads will make an appearance on your pages. If so, it is highly recommended to investigate the issue. Some people have found that they had to switch meta tags, while others learned that a single word in the content was influencing efficiency and effectiveness.

When I want to make at least $30 per site on a daily basis, these are the tips that I follow. While I can't promise you that this will generate as much money as I make - I do know that it would be foolish to overlook these easy Adsense tips, as you stand to miss out on making a lot of money.

Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of Be Successful News, a site that provides information and articles on how to succeed in your own home or small business.

Personal Note: I have followed the 8 tips above, But I am lucky if I earned 1 cent a day. Perhaps it is the contents of my blogs that do not attract page views. Correct? Any one dare to comment?
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