Thursday, September 29, 2011

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle, Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. Osaka Castle consists of two raised platforms of landfill supported by interlocked granite walls each surrounded by a moat. The castle is eight stories tall and construction was begun in 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Pearl of the Orient

The Oriental Pearl Tower next to the Huangpu river in Pudong, Shanghai. River boats covered with brightly colored lights go up and down the river and night making for great viewing with a nice hot cup of coffee. This was taken from the lobby of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt in the Jin Mao Tower. Until 2007 it was the tallest building in China and the fifth tallest in the world. The Shanghai Grand Hyatt occupies floors 53 (lobby) to 87 (penthouse). Hats off to Jian for IDing the tower and Dave Ross for IDing where this photo was taken from!

Bodhisattva Rising from the Ashes of Destruction

Wat Maha That Ayutthaya (Wat is the Thai word for Temple), Bangkok, Thailand. This was at one of the many temples on the Bangkok river tour where you are taken in a small boat to a whole series of amazing, ancient temples, a river market and, yes, a little thai zoo with snake charmers... It's quite an adventure but dress for hot weather.

This bodhisattva was surrounded by rows of beheaded, worn bodhisattvas that had been descrated by an invading Burmese Army. The heads are mostly gone, perhaps removed to another locale; however, this head was apparently lost underground and arose, somewhat miraculously upright and visibly entwined in the roots of that bodhi-ficus tree.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Les Arenes de Nimes

Les Arenes de Nimes, Nimes, France. While many have heard of the infamous Coliseum in the center of Rome, there were actually multiple arenas throughout the Roman Empire. This one is in Nimes, France and is one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters still in existence. When new, the Nimes Amphitheater could hold up to 24,000 people.

They had pictures and narratives about all the different types of gladiators that fought in the Arena, each specializing in particular weapons and tactics. The narratives also noted that the combat was only rarely to the death, contrary to popular myth.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas

Pulaski County Courthouse, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas. It's a beautiful building. Perhaps not as imposing as many more modern courthouses. It's a picture I snapped when I was walking through Little Rock one evening. It was one of the older and more scenic buildings in Little Rock. As it turns out, Little Rock is a friendly, welcoming place and, outside of being nowhere near the beach, is a pretty nice place to hang out. I still remember the waiter at the restaurant saying they had a special on pate, immediately bringing to mind tiny portions surrounded by crackers. In fact, he brought out a huge plate covered by what looked like slices of meatloaf! It was both tasty and, surprisingly reasonably priced. So, if you're ever in that neck of the woods, stop by Little Rock.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

White Bengal Tiger

White bengal tiger, Pana'ewa Zoo, Hilo, Hawaii. The tiger's name is Namaste, and was donated to the Pana'ewa zoo by Dirk Arthur, a magician at the Tropicana Resort in Las Vegas. Note, his eyes are not pink as he is not an albino per se. Just white.

Will the Real Katydid Please Stand Up?

True Katydid, Pterphylla camellifolia, that wandered into the living room. I have to admit, they look a lot scarier up close!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet One of the Most Poisonous Animals in the World!

Golden Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates terribilis. The Golden Poison Dart Frog, a native of the Pacific coast of Columbia, is one of the most poisonous animals in the world. While captive-bred specimens are not toxic, the roughly one milligram of batrachotoxin found in a wild P. terribilis is sufficient to kill about 10,000 mice,over 10 humans, or up to two African bull elephants. The toxin is likely derived from alkaloids present in its natural food source, possibly a small Columbian beetle in the family Melyridae.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birdman of Coronado

Man feeding pigeons in Coronado, California. Some people just have a way with animals! This man was proudly feeding some of the boldest pigeons I've ever seen. He even tried, with less than perfect success, to get them to roost on his head. Nothing a little bird food and a lot of patience cannot solve!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fly by Night?

A plane flying by as the flight descended into Baltimore, MD in the early evening.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Aerial View of Pearl Harbor, Pearl City and Aiea, Hawaii

Aerial View of Pearl Harbor with Pearl City and Aiea Heights in the background. You can see a tiny sub in the center and what's left of the beautiful coral reefs that surrounded Pearl Harbor and the Honolulu Airport.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Metallic Green Fig Beetle, Cotinus texana

Metallic Green Fig Beetle, Cotinus texana, in the sand dunes among some Beach Primrose. I attempted to get a closer shot and ended up with a foot full of burrs. Sadly, by the time I got the burrs off of my foot, it had flown away... Perhaps, if I check the fig tree out back...

Coqui: How Can Something So Cute Be Such a Pest?

Coqui frog, Eleutherdactylus coqui, hanging out on the plate glass window eating the bugs attracted by the light. Well, lizards do it, why not frogs? This little frog is considered quite a pest on the island of Hawaii, where it has no natural predators and has spread uncontrollably. On the bright side, they do eat bugs...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spathoglottis kimballiana

Spathoglottis kimballiana from the garden at Mele Kohola on the Big Island of Hawaii after a rain. These are native to Southeast Asia but do very well in Hawaii's warm, tropical climate.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Power Outage Makes a Mess Out of San Diego's Airports

Lindberg Field at about 5:30pm after the power outage. After waiting for about an hour in the airplane on the tarmac, the one portable stairs finally came to let us out of the plane. As you would expect, none of the gate ramps were working due to the power outage. A long line of Southwest Airlines employees lined the route for us to the baggage claim area. The bags were being unloaded by hand.

Since I had nothing but a little hand carry, I figured I'd be able to phone the parking company and head immediately home. However, all the lines were busy! Luckily, the van was just coming by so I was able to hop on. Traffic was a ridiculous mess and, while most people were calm, there were a few horns honking and people driving on the wrong side of the road, some rushing to the airport to no doubt discover that all the flights were cancelled and some trying to get home.

The outbound travelers, however, were stranded in droves in the terminal, mostly waiting on security, when the flights were cancelled or delayed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

AOS Judging Results at Balboa Park

Aeridovanda Samsri Sunlight 'Merienda Lane' AM/AOS. Congratulations to Ed and Donna Wise!

Cattleya What'll It Be 'Julian's Delight' AM/AOS. Congratulations to Helen Pfister!

Cyr. McBeanianum 'Rustic Canyon' HCC/AOS. Congratulations to Howard Liebman, M.D.!!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle or Honu

Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas, Punalu'u, Hawaii. Turtle basking on the black volcanic sand at Punalu'u beach to warm up after a busy day eating seaweed off the rocks.