Friday, June 28, 2019

History of the Beauty Pagent.

Woman, Young, Beautiful Woman, Face When I visited Hawaii this past June, I sat out by Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, watching one of the parades with car after car of  beauty pageant winner. There was Miss Hawaii, Mrs Hawaii, Miss Teen, Miss Preteen, Miss this, Miss that, so many, my head couldn't keep track of things.

When I was young, there were only a couple of beauty pageants but over the years, more and more have been added until you can go from birth to middle aged competing in pageants.

The thing is, most of us associate the beginning of beauty pageants with the Miss America contest, so we assume that was the first one but in reality, the first beauty pageant happened in 1854.  Mr P.T. Barnum set up a beauty pageant after running contests on everything from dogs, to flowers, to babies but he had to cancel it after a huge societal protest.  Rather than give up completely, he told women to send in their daguerreotypes (early photos) for judging but it didn't succeed so pageants disappeared until 1921.

Atlantic City, NJ organized the first modern Beauty Contest in 1921 where it appeared as the "Atlantic City Inter-City Beauty Contest and designed as a way to increase and keep tourism in the area past Labor Day.  Young ladies came from around the east coast area to compete.  The winner was chosen by judges and by the audience clapping, each worth 50% of the final score.  The winner earned a trophy and those who lost could participate in a bathing suit competition the very next day if considered worthy enough.  This competition attracted around 200 entries from other competitions and the winner would get the "Golden Mermaid" Award.  Margaret Gorman who held the title of Miss Washington D.C.

Margaret Gorman entered the contest again in 1922 but because Washington D.C had already selected another woman to represent them, Atlantic City allowed her to enter as "Miss America".  The winner was expected to participate in a variety of events from giving speeches to making appearances.  Unfortunately, the 1937 winner considered the schedule too full and as soon as she won, climbed on a boat and driven away by her boyfriend.  She refused to talk about this with the press.

During World War II, there was a move to shut down beauty pageants as frivolous but those who ran these contests changed the focus to helping out the war by touring the United States and raising money for war bonds.

Thought the years, the Miss America contest came under fire for many reasons including the fact they did not include African Americans.  Although some African Americans made an appearance in the 1923 competition, it was only as participants in a dance number as slaves.  In protest, the African American population began holding their own competition in 1968 on the same day as the Miss America Contest. 1968 also signaled the year that American Feminists spoke out against the nature of a contest that scored women on their beauty.

In 1970, an African American won the Iowa state competition but didn't win at the national competition.  It took till 1984 for an African American to win the national level but just before the end of her reign, pictures appeared in Penthouse which forced her to resign from her position.

Over the years, other contests in the United States and other places have started such as Miss World, Miss USA and Miss Universe in the early 1950's, Miss International, and Little Miss America in the 1960's. Miss USA was created when the winner of the 1951 Miss America contest refused to pose in her swimsuit because she felt she was an opera singer, not a model.  So Catalina Swimwear pulled their sponsorship from the Miss America contest before starting Miss USA to promote its swimsuits.

By the time the Miss America contest began in Atlantic City, baby contests and contests for young children were already being held.  These contests were designed to recognize the "better" babies but disappeared briefly in the 1950's with the outbreak of polio.  Once the vaccine spread among the population, baby contests came back including the Little Miss America contest which opened the way for all the modern children's contests we see today.

It is quite an event because millions of people tune into these televised contests to watch and enjoy the competition until a winner is announced.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Red Sun

Sunrise, Sun, Clouds, Sky, Nature, MoodIt's that time of year again when the area gets dry, the air smokey and the sun turns red.  This evening, coming home from playing in a concrete, the sun turned a bright red.

Immediately, that saying "Red Sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors warning."

During the summer months, we usually have one or more forest fires, some in uninhabited areas while others are fairly close to civilization. Its normal for the sky to be filled with particles due to the fires.  As I came down the hill near the distillery, I could see the haze reaching from the ground to the sky.  Someone said there is a fire near the Old Murphy Dome road, not too far from my house.

The reddish color is from the particles suspended in the air that scatters sunlight.  Red suns are seen more often at sunrise and sunset when there is a high pressure system in the area.  In addition, most weather systems travel from west to east in the mid latitudes so this occurs.  Thus when you see a red sun at night, it indicates that fair weather is coming your way.  If the sun is red in the morning, it indicates a less desirable weather system is approaching.

There are multiple fires in the area, so the amount of smoke is higher than normal.  The number of fires has reached a point that you can see and smell the smoke from inside you house.  The whole world has taken on a smokey haze so nothing looks quite real.

One of the things we live with up here is that if the fire is not in an inhabited area, they do not usually bother trying to fight it unless it is heading for a community or town. Think about this, the state of Alaska is bigger than Texas, and California combined.  It is about 2.5 times the size of Texas and some of the state is totally inaccessible except by helicopter.  That is the terrain they ignore if no one is in danger from the fire.

I suspect the amount of particulates will continue to increase due to fires near Murphy Dome, out past Two Rivers, and near Salcha.  I expect one of these days when I'm passing through the airport to see it as smokey inside as outside.  It is rather fun to hear the announcement at the airport stating it is a no smoking facility and yet it is filled with smoke due to the fires.  The smoke come in via the air pumps.

By the way, the red sun is absolutely beautiful.  I saw it around 8:30 this evening, about 4 to 5 hours before sunset.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"The Times They Are A-Changing"

Phone, Phone Booth, Public, Listeners  The other night I watched one of those superman movies from the 1950's where Clark Kent runs into a telephone box and comes out in his superman costume.  My dad watched those old movies so I'd see them growing up. As a kid,  I always wondered how he could change in something so small.  Unfortunately, public pay phones are disappearing quite rapidly due to the growth of cell phones.  So if Superman lived in today's world, where would he change?

The invention of the cell phones have changed communications.  Back when the papers were signed ending the War of 1812, it took several weeks for the news to reach America which may be why the Battle of New Orleans happened.  They hadn't gotten the word yet.  Over time, methods of communication improved to the point where news flashes quickly around the world.

Once mail systems began, people could pay to send letters to people across the nation but then telegraph wires were strung across the nations, followed by teletype, and eventually the internet that allows you to send written communications instantly around the world.

I remember hearing the story of a relative getting up around 3 AM to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Munich.  I believe this was the first time they'd done this and the world saw the massacre happen live.  Up to this point, they'd record it, send it home via air to be broadcast and if you lived somewhere outside of the continental US such as in Hawaii, you might have to wait for a week for things to arrive.  Now, they stream everything via the internet or on demand TV.

Now we can watch movies, television shows, and get music so we do it via streaming or we purchase it in digital format.  Yes, its still easy to get DVD's but sometimes you can watch the episodes on any of several sites before they are released in a physical format.  Some services used to mail out the physical DVD for you to watch and then you'd mail it back, anxiously awaiting the next DVD's.  Today, this same service offers all the shows and movies in streaming format.  In addition, several services make their own original series.

In a sense, streaming means you no longer need to order cable or satellite for shows because you can pay for these for immediate delivery without any commercials and without waiting for the proper time and channel.

Even printed material is slowly going the same way.  You no longer need to subscribe to newspapers or magazine when one can read a current issue on the website or obtain a digital copy.  This means a person  can buy several years of digital copies without taking up any additional space. In fact, some magazine offer their back issues in digital form so you can get complete sets without resorting to visiting a library or loosing space in your house.

The same could be said of books.  Many books are being published in both hard and digital copies while others are only appearing in digital form. I admit, I buy most of my books now in digital form because I have very little space left for books in my house and this way I increase my collection with less investment and without taking up any physical space other than that for my digital device.

Over the years, we have moved from a physical world to a very digital information world, available to all who have a mobile device and access to free wifi.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Stores - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow!

Fashion, Clothing, Shop, Clothes, Dress The other day, I received an e-mail from Payless shoes telling me they were closing down and going out of business. This surprised me as I never thought they'd have money issues.  The same could be said for Sam's or Sears, both of whom are no longer in my town.

Sears has. been around since the late 1800's with their mail order catalogues and stores but to be no more is hard to grasp.  I realize that online shopping has cut into the customer base and profit of regular stone and mortar stores.

Some chains are closing some of their stores such as Victoria's Secrets, or Macy while others are completely closing every store they have.  It depends on how much money they are loosing.  Macys is planning on closing at least 11 stores this year after closing over 70 in the past two years.  They plan to rely only on the top moneymakers and their online presence.

One chain, Henri Bendel, is closing all of its stores due to the decreasing demand for high end luxury fashion accessories.  They got their beginning in 1895 in New York city.   The parent company is planning on focusing on other chains such as Bed and Bath.  Victoria's Secrets, also owned by the same parent company, is closing 53 of its stores this year due to a lack of sales.

These are not the only name brand chains closing or greatly reducing their physical presence.  As mentioned before Payless shoes is closing all its 2000 plus stores and shutting down its website.  The company that owns both Gap and Old Navy will close down at least 230 stores in 2019 while splitting off Old Navy as it is profitable.

Another one, Charlotte Russe - maker of teen age apparel, plans to close all 419 of its stores in 2019 after it filed bankruptcy back in February.  The chain, Gymboree, is also closing all 800 stores after filing bankruptcy.  Not all chains closing down are clothing or lingerie.  Tesla, which builds affordable electric cars, plans to close out most of its showrooms and switch its sales to online only during 2019.  The few showrooms they leave open will act as information centers.

The discount store chain, Dollar Tree which acquired Family Dollar Stores in 2015, is going to close 390 Family Dollar Stores while trying to update over 1000 more because many are looking extremely rundown.  Closing these stores, frees up money for renovations.

Furthermore, Office Max and Office Depot will be closing an additional 50 stores, the same number as K-mart is planning to close this year.  Other chains such as Fred's, Chico's, Shopko, Performance Bicycle, and others are closing store after store for a recored breaking total of 7,100 stores nation wide.

There are several reasons why this is happening.

1.  Originally stores were a place that merchants could assemble a wide variety of products for people to check out and buy but with the growth of the internet and e-commerce, people can do the same thing without leaving home.  Thus there is less demand for physical locations.

2.  The needs of the consumer have changed over the past few years so the brick and mortar stores are no longer meeting their needs.  The needs vary according to the age of the consumer and its getting harder to carry products to meet the demands of the different age groups.

3. On-line stores often carry better selections than local stores for better prices, and are much more convenient.  Since I live in the Bush, I do order via on-line retailers who do not charge shipping and offer more things than I can find in a small store resembling a convenience store.

Many times, companies close down retail stores in the first quarter of the new year because the Christmas shopping season is over and the stores have a better idea of which ones are not performing as well as needed.  

So many retail stores have begun to have people order and pay for items online to be picked up at their local store so all they have to do is stop by and everything is ready for them.  They do not have to "waste" time going in, shopping, and standing in line.  It is all ready for them.  This is the compromise for the future because you don't have to wait several days for your items to arrive.  You still shop from the comfort of your home while picking your items up on the way home from work.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a good day.

Monday, June 24, 2019

What Are Michelin Stars

Whenever I travel, I watch cooking competitions such as Chopped and Cake Wars.  I love watching them struggle to get something out in a short time.  I enjoy their creativity.

Sometimes you hear one of the judges owns a restaurant with one or two Michelin stars.  I know its some sort of excellence rating but I have no idea what it means or how it came about.  I suspect that unless you are a serious foodie, you don't know much more than me.

A Michelin star recognizes the excellence of the restaurant.  One star means its good, two stars is better, and three stars indicates a place requiring reservations months in advance. Not all Michelin star eateries are fancy restaurants.  There is one street food vender in Bangkok, Thailand who has been awarded one.  Furthermore, there is no guarantee that if you receive any starts you will keep them for the rest of your career.  Famous chefs have lost their stars when the quality slipped.

The Michelin star originated in France by the Michelin brothers who published a guide rating restaurants in addition to owning a tire company.  They began publishing the guide in 1889 as a way of encouraging the driving population of 300 to take longer trips and thus resulting in drivers purchasing more tires.    The guide included where touring drivers could find the best restaurants and hotels.

The Michelin Guide took a hiatus between 1914 and 1918 due to World War I but quickly resumed publication again and they began charging for it.  In addition, the publishers quit accepting advertisements

In 1920, the focus of the guide changed a bit due to the popularity of the guide.   The Michelin guide began sending three undercover inspectors to visit and rate the restaurants using a three star scale still in use today.  At the time, a one star indicated the restaurant was good, a two star meant the place had great food and was worth the detour, while a three star let people know the food at this establishment was so good, it was worth a special trip but they focused more on the dining experience and food in France around 1926.

By 1933, 23 places in France had three star ratings and the guide began awarding stars to restaurants in other European countries but its publication was suspended through World War II just after the 1939 edition which contained maps with routes going around invading armies.  The first few editions after World War II only had two stars due to the food shortages resulting from the war.

 It resumed fully in 1951 with the three star system returning but the requirements changed so fewer restaurants received three stars.  In 2005, the company published the first American Michelin guide focusing on the New York area but in the following years, the are expanded till it is now rates restaurants in 23 countries.

Due to the size of the United States, the Michelin guide only rates restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco.  When a restaurant receives stars, it adds to their marketing appeal but some restaurants have given back their stars for a variety of reasons.  The small one person street vendor in Bangkok wants to give the star back because more people are coming to check out her establishment, do so because of its star.

So now you know about the Michelin star.  I don't care about the star, I just want to make sure it has food I can eat and tastes good.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Lunch Any One?

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese.  Let’s pick up lunch here.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Last Zagreb Photos

The old part of Zagreb is well endowed with churches, most catholic that have been around since the 10th century.  According to one guide, the only Synagogue that existed in town had been destroyed during World War II.

Although you can see the spires of churches only one mosque and a couple of orthodox churches exist alongside the churches.

The spires you see in the photo to the left belong to the “Cathedral” which has been around since 1000 AD.  Currently, there are renovations taking place on the right spire which is encased in a covering that looks as if it is finished.  A fact about this unique church is that one spire is 2 meters taller than the other.

 Inside the church are all sorts of statues, and there things associated with churches that have been around for a very long time.  The cathedral was huge.  According to a plaque outside of the church, this building was neglected when the country was a part of Yugoslavia.

Now that Croatia is independent, it is spending
money to repair the spires and make the church better.  This place is open every day for tourists and those who want a quiet place to pray.

Just outside the cathedral, hanging on the wall is a clock. Normally, people do not move clocks and put them in a place of honor but this clock records the time of a major earthquake from 1880.

The earthquake was of sufficient power to destroy half of the town at the time it happened.  It was originally on a building but was moved to this courtyard next to the cathedral.  

According to the guide, the person hired to rebuild the half of Zagreb affected by the earthquake, ended up redoing the other half too so he could complete his vision of the town.

There is also information on the rebuilding of the spires, one you can see to the right side of the photo.  According to the display, the spires had become warn down and not as sharp as they’d once been, so the government decided to rebuild the spires.

To the right, you see St Marks Square with St Marks church in the middle.  The buildings on
either side are government buildings, one houses
the parliament. This church endured some damage when it was bombed back in the 1990 war.  As you can see, the church has been rebuilt since then,

The church is only open for certain events and is no longer used for regular worship.  The area in front is used for parking and there is a street going through where I was standing to take the photo so you have to be careful.
   The next three pictures are of Croatian
inventors who created things that changed the work such as the zeppelin, or the pen, or ac
electricity and electric motors.

This area has beautifully drawn pictures on dense walls. This area is on the route we took during our food tour of the area.

The area has a funicular which is a cable car and is known as the shortest ride in the world as it takes people up the hill in a short time.
 In this picture you see the inventor of the fountain pen memorialized in this drawing.  This area is like a park with a small unkept garden but what made it unique in my opinion are the “locks of love”.  Here in the United States, it refers to hair that is cut and donated to groups who turn the hair into wigs for people suffering from cancer.  In Croatia, it refers to actual locks attached to certain fences. Once attached, the key is thrown over the side into someone’s backyard.

In the area is also a museum of relationships. This museum looks at relationships between lovers, between parents and children, between any two people who have a relationship.

One of the most important drawings is of Nicola Tesla who did so much for the world with his work in electricity.  I gather there is a friendly argument over whether he is Serb or Croatian because his birthplace has been in both countries depending on who has control of the area.

So of course Nicola Tesla is featured as one of the important men.  I saw a school named after him.  Now for all the modern electricity flowing throughout Zagreb, there are about 150 gas lamps sprinkled throughout the down time.  There are people who go out every night and day to light and extinguish all the gas lights.  We just missed seeing them lit.

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Zagreb, Croatia

I just spent the past 6 gays visiting Zagreb, Croatia.  Most of my friends had difficulty understanding why I wanted to visit a place so out of the way.  Their words not mine.

I told them, I’d heard how nice it was and decided to check it out.  I rented an apartment for  my time here because it gave me options but I never did any actual cooking because I discovered the bakeries.

I did use the refrigerator. More on that later.  The apartment was in the older part of the city where many of the apartments are hidden behind stone walls.

The picture to the right shows the small area inside the walls where my apartment is located. I rented a studio under the eves of the building on the left.  The apartment was quite small but very comfortable.

Due to the way the area was built so long ago, my lodging was off the street so the street noises were blocked off and it was quiet.

Most of the streets in the downtown area are narrow for vehicles due to parking, trollies, bicycles, and pedestrians.

A couple blocks over there is a strip of green running from the old town to the trolly station by the train station.  Each block of the parks had several statues, a historical building, trees, benches, and some fountains.

I enjoy walking in the parks, especially later in the evening when everyone is out enjoying the cooler weather.  I don’t think I have ever visited anywhere with so many statues.  Most of the statues are of the men who influenced the country but there are a few odd ones like The Dragon and the George.

The photo to the left is in honor of a woman who spent her whole life working at the public market selling produce.  When she died, the city decided to make a statue of her or at least that is the story according to the young man who lead our food tour.

The thing about Croatia is the number of small grocery stores. Even the larger supermarkets are still quite small in the old part of town. I loved stopping through the bakeries because of the wide variety of baked goods, some I’ Never seen in the United States.  And the breads have  character.  None of this mushy white bread we see sold in stores but breads with texture and flavor.

The other thing I noticed were there are tons of  “bars” but not the type you are used to.  Most are coffee bars also known as coffee houses but there are the occasional odd one such as the bagel and lobster bar or a wine and cheese bar,the coffee and champagne bar.   Many of these eating establishments have outdoor seating.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at Zagreb.  I plan to share a bit mor about this city which has a history of over a millinium.  Let me know what you think because I would love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Stop at the National Park was the last part of the trip but the longest. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to get there from Zagreb but the drive is beautiful once you get past the area of the war museum.  The  Plitvice Lakes National Park is made up of the upper and lower regions.  The upper part is composed of a large lake whose water flows into a drop making the first waterfall in a series of 5 to 7 lakes and waterfalls.  The lower part has only 4 waterfalls but only one is as impressive as the  upper ones but the water in the lower lakes tend to be blue or green.

Map of the National Park
Each  waterfall in the whole system has decomposed plant matter that have created natural porous barriers that allow water to flow through and over into falling water.  The water in the lakes is so clear you can see everything in the water.

Most of the path we followed during the hike was actually a boardwalk made out of imperfect boards so the boards did not always meet. The gaps allowed visitors to see the flowing water below their feet.

Another cool feature was all the plant life both in and out of the water.  Everywhere you looked, plants, plants, and more plants.  I took so many pictures, my battery got extremely low.

Our tour guide said we chose a good time to visit. If we waited till July or August, the number of visitors is so high that the paths are filled with continuous lines of people and it takes forever to complete the walk.  At this time, they often change the way they do things so people do not see as much as I got to see.
Water and plants are everywhere,

Crystal clear waters hide nothing. 

I hope you enjoyed all the photos. Let me  know what you think, I would love to hear. Have a great evening.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Rastoke, Croatia

On the day I went by the war museum, I was on a trip to Rastoke and the Plitvice Lakes. I will cover the lakes tomorrow.

Above is a map of Rastoke, an area where two rivers converge in a small hamlet filled with limited rentals. The area is absolutely breathtaking with all its falls and running water.

At one point, this hamlet was owned by a feudal lord.  In general people only pass through. If they stay in the area, they will rent a room in another part of the region because they are interested in outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting, etc.

The water there is clear and clean.  The village has a population of about 100 people.  This is a quick stop on the way to other tourist places in the area.

This village used to house 22 mills but now its down to 2 mills that have recently been renovated, 

The city has a tourist bureau designed to bring in more tourism.  Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 17, 2019

What is The War Museum?

This past Saturday, I took an all day tour to Rastok and Plitvice National Park.  On the way there we passed through an area that had been devastated by war back in the 1990’s.

From the late 1920’s Croatia was a part of Czechoslovakia, a country made up of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro.  When Czechoslovakia split apart in the early 1990’s, war broke out between Croatia and Serbia.  We went through the area where many battles between the two countries occurred.

This lead to the population dropping significantly.  The population in some areas has returned to what it was before and some have never returned to prewar levels.  As a way of remembering, the government established a War Museum.  Many houses in the area still have bullet holes in them from these battles.

The museum was built next to one of the bombed out buildings.

These tanks are made of converted tractors. The museum has several parked next to each other. 

This is one of the planes used in the war

This is the museum building with the displays and information connected to the war. This was done to remember it so it will not happen again. We did not stop but our guide told us all bout it.

I hope you enjoyed today’s pictures. Tomorrow, i’ll Be sharing photos of Rastoke,a beautiful little hamlet with so many waterfalls you are amazed. Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.  Have a great day.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Gin joints and The Maltese Falcon

Saw this GIn Joint on way out of town on a tour and thought of that famous scene between Rick and Ilsa.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Finally arrived

 I spent 8 hours in the plane as it flew over the poles from Fairbanks to Frankfort. We did not. Have to leave the building so I spent about 4 hours in the waiting room till I caught the next flight

This is my first view of Croatia from the airport as I walked from the plane to customs 

This is my studio apartment. It is extremely small but quite nice.  I am going on a sightseeing trip tomorrow.
 I will have more pictures on Monday. Let me know what you think.

Off on another trip.

I sit here, by gate 6 in the Fairbanks International airport awaiting my flight for Frankfort.  I have a four hour layover before I catch my connecting flight to Zagreb, Croatia.  I have never been there and decided to check it out.

Although I checked in about 2.5 hours prior to the departure time, there are few people in the area. I can see some of you shaking your head upon seeing the 2.5 hour time but the airline does not open their counter until 3 hours prior to departure.

The airport only has 6 gates total.  2 are used by Alaska air, one by BP to take workers to Prudhoe Bay and the other 4 are Used by Delta and the other airlines.

I saw this beautiful piece of artwork hanging on the wall that I had to share. It looks like a picture of some textured clouds.  I will share more next week.  Saturday I am going on a tour of a national park.  Let me know what you thin, I would love to hear.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fairbanks Community Band

Jazz, Band, Middle School, Jazz Band  I arrived home from Honolulu in time for me to grab a quick nap before heading off to play in the community band's concert in the park.  I'll be heading off within 24 hours but during the summer when I'm in town, I play as often as I can with them.

It was a one hour concert in the park filled with lots of rock and roll music from the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Dick Clark's favorites, America the Beautiful, Jurassic Park, and Grease.  All of it was upbeat and lots of fun.

The great thing about community bands is that you do not have to be great at playing your instrument.  In addition, it gives adults a chance to continue playing in a low pressure, fun atmosphere.  I am a French Horn player and one of eight who regularly participate in the band.

The local community band sponsors four concerts a year, plays for adult education high school diploma graduations, participates in parades, plays in the July 4th celebrations, concerts in the park, and many other public performances.

Fairbanks has a nice community band that has been contributing to the musical culture since about the time Fairbanks was founded around 1900.  There are records of various types of civic bands such as the 10 piece Cowboy Band in 1910 that existed from 1900 to around 1961 when the last reincarnation of the Community band died out due to the two men running it left it without any leadership.  The bands died out for a few years during World War II and the Korean War but in both cases, they started up again due to the interest.

Unfortunately, no one was interested in resurrecting the community band until 1994 when two high school music teachers decided the city needed one so they approached one of the music professors at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to lead the group.  The band has performed consistently since that time in its current reincarnation.  They have also gone through many directors since then. Some of the directors are currently employed music teachers, while others are retired music teachers.  I believe our current director is a retired military musician.

This band is well known in town.  In addition to the regular band, many of the members also participate in a smaller jazz band who perform in town.  The band always plays in the Golden Days parade in which the town celebrates the discovery of gold and the founding of the town.  The band rides in a float and plays nice light music on the long ride through town.

The next concert in the park is in two weeks and I'll enjoy playing in that.  It is so much fun to play music and enjoy keeping my skills up on sight reading and playing.  If you want to keep playing check your local area for a community band.  Sometime in the future. I'll address the history of community bands in general.

Let me know what you think and have a great day.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Night Sky Over Hawaii + Planetarium = Awesome.

Milky Way, Starry Sky, Night Sky, StarWhen I visited the Bishop Museum the other day, I took time to go to three different planetarium shows.  All three were awesome.  The first one took us on a journey through the solar system to explore various moons beginning with our own moon.

The view we got was up close and personnel.  We saw so many different landmarks including the remainder of the moon landing.  We learned about the difference in temperatures between the bright and the dark sides.  We actually flew over the surface so I experienced a bit of motion sickness I never feel in real life.

From the Earth, we ventured out to Jupiter with its 65 different moons, several of which orbit Jupiter nicely while others orbit in weird paths, some even move backwards.  The program took time to look at the ones closest to the planet, even going so far as to diver under the "sea" so we could experience it.  Then it was off to Saturn and its rings.  The theory is that a moon got too close to Saturn and broke up into minute pieces which formed into the rings we see today.  Some of its moons orbit between the rings.

The final stop was at Mars where we saw its two moons.  I loved who we swooped through the Solar System to see these planets and their moons while getting some very up close and personal examinations.  It was breathtaking and beautiful.

The second program educated us as to what we were most likely to see.  This is considered one of the best times to see the Southern Cross.  I walked out to the beach that evening but couldn't quite see the stars due to the light pollution.  The presenter showed us the planets were might see if conditions were right and all the possible stars including Polaris or the North Star, along with the big and small dippers and other constellations. The time went way too fast.

The final and longest program examined the method of navigation used by the ancient Hawaiians and the Hawaii star compass.  The early sailors used the Seven Sisters as their main point. The Seven Sisters is diagonally located from Orions belt through the eye of the bull and down to the Seven Sisters.  They are one of the important constellations for traveling to and from Hawaii.  This program interspersed interactive instruction with a video clip of what the Hawaiians had to do to relearn celestial navigation.

They had to bring a man up all the way from the South Pacific to teach several Hawaiians on the long journey from Hawaii down to Tahiti back the the late 20th century.  From what they said, it is more than just reading the night sky.  It is knowing and understanding the ocean, its currents, the weather, and how to continue the journey when you can't see the sky.

The other interesting thing is that if a star rises in the north east, it will set in the north west which is different to what we think it should be.  Our first instinct is to say if it rises in the north east, it will set in the south west but when stars travel across the sky, they go straight across, not diagonally.  By the end of the presentation, we understood the Hawaiian star calendar and how it applied to the sky.  We also saw how the Hawaiians revived a skill that had disappeared into oblivion.

Yes, I'm a geek and I loved all three of the presentations.  I love learning new things and this allowed me a chance to learn more about astronomy from a cultural perspective.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Diamond Head

Diamond head .
 Diamond Head or Leahi as it known in Hawaii, is easily seen from Waikiki.  It is actually the remnants of a tuff crater measuring 760 feet.

It is an iconic landmark, seen from much of the Honolulu side.  The Hawaiian name, Leahi, means tuna but the name Diamond Head came from 19th century British sailors who thought they found diamonds on it. The "diamonds" turned out to be a shiny calcite formations.  

Waikiki as seen from the top.
In 1904, the federal government purchased it to establish Fort Ruger complete with bunkers, pill boxes, artillery, etc.  None of the guns were fired during World War II and all were removed after the war. 

The state designated it a state monument in 1962 and six years later it became a National Landmark.  The trail is 4/5th of a mile, rising 560 feet to the summit.  There is a minimal charge to hike to the top.

Local legend says this crater was once the home of Pele and her sister Hiiaka as they searched for a permanent home.  Pele is the goddess of fire.  There are stories that she sometimes appears on roads at night.  People say they have offered her a ride and she disappears later.
Parking lot for Diamond Head

Apparently, people lit fires around the rim of Leahi in order to guide canoes safely in.  Eventually, they built a temple dedicated to the god of wind to protect the fires from the trades winds.

On a more practical note, once Hawaii became a regular stop on ocean going trips, the government established a lookout in 1878.  The first employee for this lookout came from Sweden and married a local girl who died when their daughter was born.  He raised his daughter at the light house and held the job till 1907.

Diamond Head Light House.
Unfortunately a ship hit the rocks in October of 1893 due to Diamond head being obscured.  Everyone got off safely but it took six days to salvage the ship.

This was the opening needed by the Minister of the Interior to push for the construction of a light house on the point.

It was constructed 250 yards west of the lookout.  The new light house stood tall and proud constructed with a 40 foot iron skeleton.  Although it took a while to finish, they managed to finish it by the turn of the century.

looking up at the top.
There is a story that the lookout worker tried to beat up the light house employee.  The lookout person was fired but rehired 5 months later because he was so good at identifying ships at a distance, the lookout needed his skill.

In 1916, a new 55 foot tall light house had to be constructed on a solid base because the previous one had developed significant cracks.  It wasn't until 1921, the government finally got around to building a residence for the lighthouse keeper on the property.  Prior to this, they had to live elsewhere.

Three years later, in 1924, the government automated the lighthouse so it no longer had to be manned by a live person because the light had been converted from gas to electricity.  Various people lived in the residence until World War II when the Coast Guard took it over and used it as a radio station.

Top of Diamond head.
When World War II ended, the residence was remodeled and housed Commanders of the Coast Guard.

Although the lighthouse has been automated for years, it is used once a year to determine the places of competitors in the Transpac Yacht race beginning in California.

The trail up can take a while if you are not in the best shape because it include stairs and rocky ground but the view from the top is absolutely beautiful.

At the bottom in the area by the visitors center, you'll find a concession stand where you can get pineapples, pineapple smoothies, pineapple juice, and sliced pineapples to quench your thirst after a long, hot, walk.

Dole pineapple with juice and other good things.

I hope you enjoyed this short visit to Diamond Head.  I included the light house because you can see it from the top and it played an important part in Hawaii's history.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.