America Loses A WWII Hero; Heaven Gains An Angel

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A World War II veteran who provided the flag in the famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima has died. Alan Wood was 90.

Wood’s son, Steven, says his father died April 18 of natural causes at his Sierra Madre home.

Wood was in charge of communications on a landing ship on Iwo Jima’s shores when a Marine asked him for the biggest flag that he could find. Wood handed him a flag he had found in Pearl Harbor.

Five Marines and a Navy Corpsman later raised the flag on Mount Suribachi as Allied forces struggled to capture the Japanese-held island. The stirring moment was captured in an iconic image by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Steven Wood says his father was always humbled by his small role in the historic moment.

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Cycle Dreams

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They say that when you look at the sky, you can see the reflection of your dreams, and you dream??
Good night!

Ils disent que quand vous regardez le ciel, vous pouvez voir le reflet de vos rêves, et vous rêvez?
Bonne nuit!

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Notes On The Boston Marathon Attack

Two deadly bomb blasts, seconds apart, turned the 117th Boston Marathon – the nation’s premier event for elite and recreational runners – into a tragedy on Monday. Here is a timeline of how the day’s events unfolded beginning with the initial reports that an apparent attack was underway.

2:50 p.m.  As thousands more runners run down Boylston Street toward the finish line, two explosions erupt, about a block apart and within about 8 seconds of one another.

2:51-2:59 p.m.  Race volunteers and emergency workers on the scene rush to the aid of wounded spectators. A medical tent set up to care for fatigued runners is converted into a makeshift trauma clinic. Billowing gray smoke rises above a running gear store that overlooks the end of the marathon course.

3 p.m.  Boston police report an incident at 673 Boylston St. in Boston, but do not say what it is. Boston police, fire and other emergency crews respond. Marathon headquarters at the Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel near the finish line is locked down.

3:30 p.m.  Reports and images from the scene begin to circulate on social media, including some graphic photos.

4 p.m.  Law enforcement sources tell NBC News that small homemade bombs caused the  explosions.

4:10 p.m.  Boston officials report at least two people are dead and at least 100 other people injured, including some victims who had their legs severed; senior U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC that another undetonated bomb was found near the finish line; the FAA restricts flights around Boston’s airspace and halts all flights in and out of Boston’s Logan International Airport.

4:12 p.m. — Police report a third blast near the JFK Library in Dorchester, Mass., about five miles to the south of Copley Square, but say it caused no injuries.

4:30-5 p.m.  New York City, Washington, D.C., announce increased security. Pennsylvania Avenue next to the White House is closed to pedestrian traffic; a White House official, speaking with NBC News on condition of anonymity, says attack is being treated as “act of terrorism.”

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis says each of the two blasts had multiple casualties. He urges people to stay inside and not gather in large groups.

President Barack Obama calls Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick and offers federal resources to assist in the investigation.

The JFK Library reports that a fire in the building is out, and that it had appeared to have started in a mechanical room. Police Commissioner Davis now says that the fire does not seem to be related to the bombings.

5:42 p.m. — Flights resume at Boston’s Logan airport.

6 p.m.  Officials tell reporters that Boston PD officers are “guarding” a wounded man at a Boston hospital as a “possible suspect.”

6:10 p.m.  B. Hussien Obama addresses the nation and offers condolences to the victims in Boston. “We will find out who did this. We’ll find out why they did this,” he says in a 3-minute statement. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”

6:30 p.m.  An 8-year-old is reported to be one of the two people killed in the twin blasts. He is later identified as Martin Richards. His mother and are still recovering from serious injuries. His father ran the marathon.

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8:55 p.m.  Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis announces the death toll rises to three in the Boston Marathon explosions.

10:20 p.m. — Police confirm two explosives, each of which contained BBs or ball bearings that functioned as shrapnel; be-on-the-lookout alerts are issued for a man seen leaving the blast scene in dark clothing and a hood as well as one for a rental truck seen attempting to enter the area near the finish line.

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Yesterday, one of the first groups of marathon runners to cross the finish line were military personnel who ran the entire 26.2 miles in full fatigues, boots, and backpacks. Later, there were reports that a few of these same men were seen pulling the barricades back to assist the injured.

News media organizations were passed crime scene photos today. These are from WSB in Atlanta gathered from their web site.

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Photo of a shredded backpack that law enforcement believes was part of a bomb used at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

45358_10151643648490695_1625452841_nPhoto of what was left of a pressure cooker that law enforcement believes was packed with explosives and shrapnel before being used as a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Meanwhile, everyone from Obama and Michael Moore to the US Forest Service insist that Conservatives & Tea Party members are responsible for the attack (which I highly doubt). If it is some religious extreme right-wing group, I don’t think they would call themselves Conservative.

Others, like edgy Alex Jones claim a ‘false flag’ – meaning a red herring designed to take our attention away while the nation moves closer to being a social police state.

But while the charges, claims and counter charges continue to mount as well as the development of conspiracy theories, one fact remains: in an event that is designed for families, friends & athletes to gather for enjoying a traditional spring rite, no one was safe that day; many were needlessly injured and died.

We can point fingers all we like and while this should not have happened, it did.  Clearly we need to fix some things so it never does even though we live in that kind of world now.

Even with the advent of specialized crime prevention and detection, some things were missed and every day people like you and I had to pay the price.

Clearly the government is unable or incapable to protecting anyone but themselves. Protection is pretty much left to the individual and their family. This is 21st century reality and it’s a hard lesson to learn, but one I fear may be repeated over and over until we the people decide we have had enough of gross inefficiencies and negligence when it come to handling potential threats from individual and groups who have a real or imagined ax to grind.

So what are we left with?

Either way Obama camp will suffer from this or the Right-wing revolution suffers.  One side or another will go down.My bet is despite the spin, it will be the Obama camp fro the simple reason they are inconsistent with each telling of a situation, extremely disorganized, brutally self-centered, poorly and immaturely managed.

I guess we’ll see.  In the meantime, brace yourself as the group Anonymous will meet face to face with the members of the hate group Westboro Baptist Church at the funerals of the victims. It’s a showdown that could only have disastrous results.

And once again, we have learned nothing about life’s lessons.

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Michelangelo’s Ugliest Drawing May Not Be His

25 years ago, when conservators peeled off the thick paper backing of Michelangelo’s portrait of Cleopatra, art historians were astounded by the ugliness of the secret portrait of Cleopatra that was revealed (below). Now, one art historian thinks the reverse drawing is merely misattributed to the Renaissance master, and may have been sketched by his student instead.

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The reverse side of Michelangelo’s drawing, revealed in 1988.
CREDIT: Courtesy of the Muscarelle Museum of Art

Michelangelo’s portrait of Cleopatra holding an asp to her breast has been celebrated as an ideal Renaissance composition of an idealized woman. With pearls, braided hair and a slender neck, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt faces her death by snakebite with a detached, elegant gaze.

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Michelangelo’s portrait of Cleopatra
CREDIT: Courtesy of the Muscarelle Museum of Art

 

Curators had suspected there was another Michelangelo sketch on black-chalk drawing’s reverse side; they could vaguely make out a hidden picture when the work was held up to light. But 25 years ago, when conservators finally peeled off its thick paper backing, art historians were astounded by the ugliness of the secret portrait of Cleopatra that was revealed.

The drawing that had been concealed for centuries showed the Ptolemaic ruler in a grotesque state of anguish, with her bulging, blank eyes looking forward and her mouth gracelessly agape, baring big teeth. Perhaps even more puzzling was the poor draftsmanship of the sketch. Michelangelo knew how to how to make stylishly tormented figures, so why was this one so especially ugly? At least one art historian thinks the reverse drawing is merely misattributed to the Renaissance master, and may have been sketched by his student instead.

The lovelier Cleopatra portrait was known to have been made for a handsome young Roman nobleman Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, with whom Michelangelo struck up a friendship in 1532. Writing for ARTnews, William E. Wallace, of Washington University in Saint Louis, says Cavalieri may have tried his hand at drawing a classicized head, perhaps based on an antique sculpture, during a lesson with Michelangelo.

When the student’s drawing foundered, the teacher may have stepped in, according to Wallace’s version of events.

“To demonstrate ‘buon disegno’ (good design), Michelangelo reversed the sheet and performed a miracle of artistic alchemy:  ugliness became beauty, harrowing but unbecoming emotion became serene resignation, an indecorous head was transformed into a doomed Cleopatra,” Wallace writes.

Both sides of the artwork are set to go on display this month at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts as part of an exhibition of the Italian master’s drawings, called “Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane.” The show, which was organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., brings together 11 drawings of figures and 14 architectural designs by Michelangelo, including his unrealized plan for San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, a church in Rome.

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Classic Mark Twain

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover …
(Mark Twain)

Dentro de veinte años estarás más decepcionado por las cosas que no hiciste que por las que hiciste. Así que suelta las amarras, navega lejos de puerto seguro. Atrapa los vientos en tus velas. Explora, sueña, descubre…
(Mark Twain)

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April 11, 2013 – Powerful Solar Flare

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The most powerful solar flare of the year erupted from the sun today (April 11) sparking a temporary radio blackout on Earth, NASA officials say.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a powerful M6.5 class flare on April 11, 2013. NASA officials dubbed today’s solar flare as a “spring fling” for the sun, which has been relatively calm as it heads into its peak activity period.

Today’s M-class solar flare was about 10 times weaker than X-class flares, which are the strongest flares the sun can unleash. M-class solar flares are the weakest solar events that can still trigger space weather effects near Earth, such as communications interruptions or spectacular northern lights displays.

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Perseverance: It’s More Than Just Politics

By now, if you’ve spent any time as a human setting goals, you might already understand the meaning of sticking to it. If you’e spent enough time on the Internet, you no doubt have read tons of inspirational stories of perseverance and seen lots of motivational quotes and posters online.

Still, there are those who are relegated to a life of moderate pursuits thinking out insecurity, disbelief or overwhelming odds, that things can’t happen.  Or won’t.

Take politics, for example.  I’ve seen a number of tweets that think the horrible and decaying situation in the US can’t be turned around. With a so-called president that skirts the Constitution, his cronies who work day and night on ways to bankrupt the nation, bad policies, terrible biases and mounting debt, it not even a thought that these people might go to prison for the damage they’ve done let alone things like treason & dereliction of their oath of office.

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The list goes on.

While I’m no member of any political party, I hold true to the ideals of Conservatism. I also believe people should be held accountable for their actions – including people in government, since not even they or the government itself is above the law.

Additionally, I do believe good always, in one form, one way or another, wins out over evil.

Call me utopic, naive – whatever, but those are my beliefs, thoughts, my feelings on the matter.

Which brings be to the title of this piece: Perseverance.

It used to be a $10 word long ago, but it has meaning to those of us who are athletes, students, artists – anyone who sets a goal and is motivated to attain it at any cost.  Setting goals with that thought is a struggle, sometimes at our own peril.  But the payoff is multifaceted and can be beneficial not only to the goal-seeker but those around them and even far away.

The most excellent example that comes to mind is Olympic artistic gymnast Gabby Douglas.

At 4 feet, 11 inches, Gabby racked up gold, silver & bronze medals in various high profile events prior to the Olympic trials and before those trials she felt as if she wasn’t up to task and wanted to change coaches.  When she couldn’t, she got down on herself thinking there was no way possible she could compete on the biggest athletic stage of all: the Olympic Games.

In addition, she was far from her home in Virginia in the middle of Iowa, away from her family and her financially struggling mom.

Gabby was tired, feeling defeated and homesick.

Then other coaches talked to her as well as her host family and her mom was on the phone with her for what I believe were many late night talks.

Gabby made up her mind to pursue, stay on track with renewed vigor and motivation.  Much was riding on her success: the weight of her family, her career in gymnastics.  That’s a lot for a 16 going on 17 year old.

She makes it on the US Team and as a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, she wins gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions. Douglas becomes the first woman of color and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.

APTOPIX London Olympics Artistic Gymnastics Women

For me personally, I have had my share of putting everything on the table.  While I’ve cycled competitively for years, it was only last April that I decided to leave my job as a well-paid, full time art director & designer to pursue cycling every moment I can with the goal to actively compete as much as possible and the eventual goal being my entrance to the road cycling events at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

This is my new life. And while I have won plenty of events, had great sponsors & patrons who believe in me, the road is hard and it’s a struggle sometimes. I find comfort in the fact that people support and encourage what I’m doing, plus the fact I’ve saved well for this journey and I still design & photograph to pay my way. It is truly a sacrifice in many ways.

But it means nothing if it were easy.  Nothing really having and savoring truly is easy and just falls in your lap.  An appreciation is built for the things that matter, a motivation is forged with the tasks ahead. You know what you have to do and giving up is not a consideration or option.

Please an added bonus – I get to do what I love – cycling and lots of design work, and I meet some of the best people along the way.

The great frontiersman Daniel Boone once said, “Make sure you’re right, then go ahead and do it.”

And so, we will.

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