There are some beasts in the Anza Borrego desert.
No, this is not photoshopped. This is a real photograph of me this afternoon.
Books, Movies, Art, Paintings and General Musings
Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline and the second-largest in Europe, recently announced that it is retiring all eight of its Airbus A380 planes. Emirates operates 115 such planes, the largest fleet in the world, and it predicts the “end of the era.”
While the large planes are comfortable, they are not efficient, are too costly to maintain and to fly. Smaller widebodies, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787, both with only two efficient engines, are much more economical, and being smaller, more versatile. This trend started long before the start of the pandemic, but with air travel now just being a shadow of what it once was, the fate of the world’s largest planes is sealed.
The Boeing 747 had a life of over 50 years and 1,558 were built since 1968. According to travel data firm Cirium there are about 500 747s still in service, of which only 30 are flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo and the remainder are in storage.
Airbus only built a total of 242 A380s, about half of which went to Emirates. Airbus has already retired the plane.
I have never flown on an A380, and now I probably never will.
I have flown only three times on a Boeing 747. One was my first ever flight when I was just 18 years old. The second time was in England in 1989, on a short-hopper from London to Manchester. Yes, a commuter trip of less than an hour on a 747. It was full of commuting businessmen. And the final trip was in 2012 on British Airways from London to Chicago, and I reported about it here.
To put this into perspective, I am a very frequent air traveler, and I have flown constantly since my youth at a rate of 100,000 miles a year or more. With American Airlines alone I have logged more than 2.5 million miles, and that’s just one airline. If in all these thousands of flights I have only THREE flights on superjumbos, and if I am a good example, it’s not surprising that the era of the large planes is over.
Back on July 18, 1963, as the AFS [see below] students who had spent their high school year in the United States, were preparing to go back to their countries, they got to visit the White House. JFK talked to them.
It would be another 11 years before I had the privilege to be chosen as an AFS student. I arrived in the United States two weeks after Nixon’s resignation on August 20, 1974. Our group did not get to visit the White House when we went home in July of 1975.
All my life I have been proud to have been an AFS student and to carry the mission forward of spreading peace in the world, one person at a time.
It’s gotten a little more difficult in recent years.
[AFS stands for American Field Service, today the largest and most famed high school student exchange program in the world]
Landing in Los Angeles this afternoon, I had a great view of the new SoFi Stadium under construction in Inglewood.
This is the future home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams. It will open in the summer of 2020.
Already, it is scheduled to host the Super Bowl LVI in 2022, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics.
I am wondering what is happening to the real estate values of the housing developments to the right of it?
You can check with Wikipedia page for more information.
I have done my share of flying. I have also had some scary landings, but nothing like this one:
Pilot lands plane sideways in heavy crosswinds at Bristol Airport 👏✈️ pic.twitter.com/ReZK5yMyZ5
— The Sun (@TheSun) January 2, 2020
The Missouri State Capitol building has been under renovation for more than a year. The dome has been wrapped up for construction that long.
Yesterday, during a visit to one of the state office buildings, I was lucky to be there during exactly the time when the statue was installed again after being gone since November 2018.
This is the historic bronze statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, perched 238 feet above the entry of the building. It took a 550-ton crane to raise the 10′ 4″ statue, weighing 1,407 pounds, on this bitter-cold day in Missouri.
I was there for a historic moment.
If you want to know why the title of this painting is Kaua’i, here is the story.
We spent Christmas 2018 on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. One of the things we noticed immediately was how many feral chickens and roosters there were everywhere on that island. Where do they all come from and why aren’t there any on the other islands? Here is a post with a picture of chickens in it.
The hurricanes Iwa in 1982, and then Iniki in 1992, destroyed many domestic chicken coops. This released the chickens into the jungles. The domesticated birds then mated with the wild red junglefowl that was brought to the islands by the Polynesians hundreds of years ago.
The current feral chickens have no natural predator, so they are procreating at a prodigious rate.
There is no way that you can travel to Kaua’i and not notice the ubiquitous chickens and roosters. There is no way you can spend a night on Kaua’i and not be woken up at 4:30am by a rooster outside your window. They are everywhere.
Kaua’i is roosters, and roosters are Kaua’i.
The traditional meal in Japan for Christmas is KFC – Kentucky Fried Chicken. And not just fried chicken, but the brand, KFC? How did that happen?
The above says me-rii-ku-ri-su-ma-su written in katakana, the Japanese alphabet used to spell foreign words.
me-rii-ku-ri-su-ma-su, when you say it out loud, means Merry Christmas.
Japan is a nation where only about 1% of the population is Christian. So Christmas, historically, was fairly meaningless. In the post-war years in Japan, everything western became fashionable, and the country imitated the west wherever it could.
The first Kentucky Fried Chicken store opened in Japan in 1970. Shortly after it opened, the manager, Takeshi Okawara, overheard a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas. KFC didn’t have turkey, but it had chicken. What’s the difference, right? So Okawara thought fried chicken would work just fine and began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate Christmas.
Within a few years, the Japanese corporate office for KFC started advertising クリスマス に わ ケンタキイ (Kentucky for Christmas) and a tradition was born. Japanese now think that everyone in the west eats KFC for Christmas. It is huge in Japan. One third of the annual sales of any KFC store is done during the Christmas season. 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to a KFC meal during the Christmas season. To get a Christmas dinner at KFC, you have to reserve it weeks in advance.
Okawara went on to become the CEO of KFC Japan in 1984 and ran the company through 2002.
So, as this example proves, if you want to get rich and famous, start a tradition based on a religion.
I wonder what the two customers who mentioned they missed turkey for Christmas in that store in 1970 would think if they knew what they started by that innocuous remark? What if they had been Jewish instead and asked for Gefilte Fish?
This week, after leaving Minneapolis, I looked out the window from 35,000 feet. There where white squares, each of them one mile wide, dotted with dark spots. Each spot is a farm, or possibly a former farm. People live incredibly far away from each other. It’s a very different type of neighborhood compared to the Southern California suburban housing developments. The farms stretch out as far as the eye can see, in all directions and the land is almost completely flat.
Today, on my way to Orlando, Florida, with a stopover at Dallas/Forth-Worth, I had an excellent view of the entire DFW airport in clear weather – which is very rare. Usually, flying into DFW, you come in from the distance and never see the whole airport in one view.
This got me thinking about the common saying that the DFW airport is larger than the island of Manhattan. This is, in fact, true: Manhattan is 22.82 square miles. DFW is 27 square miles.
DFW is also the 10th largest airport in the world, and the 4th largest in the United States, by passenger count.
Here is a list:
Yesterday I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is an impressive building on the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee. Its collection contains nearly 25,000 works of art, which makes it one of the largest museums in the United States.
The walk up to it is impressive:
Once inside, the main lobby is reminiscent of the Oculus at the World Trade Center in New York:
Through the windows in the background, Lake Michigan expands to the horizon.
One of the main hallways to the old museum building is large and dramatic.
Here is one of my favorites: Woman in White, 1959, by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.
And finally, the “best of show” for me was Picasso’s Le Coq de la Liberation, 1944.
Here is an interesting post from a blogger friend who reviews airlines, hotels and other travel services. Further on down in the article he describes a hotel room that includes a fully functioning Boeing 737 flight simulator. Just what I have always wanted to do on a stopover at Narita in Tokyo!
Switching gears from recent posts about Qatar Qsuites and the Al Safwa First Lounge, the next posts finish my report on a very memorable trip to Japan this Spring for sakura season. This post covers a one-night stay at the Royal Park Hotel at Haneda Airport. The next ones cover ANA’s Haneda first class lounge […]
via Advantages and Disadvantages Of Airport Hotels – The Royal Park Hotel Haneda International Airport Terminal 2, Tokyo, Japan — Salsaworldtraveler’sblog
On August 22, 1974, I was a bright-eyed 18-year-old AFS foreign exchange student, when I arrived in Lakewood, New York. The Saxton family took me in for a year and made me one of theirs within the first few hours of my arrival. When we pulled up to the house at 22 E. Summit, they had hoisted two flags, the German one next to the American one. I took this picture within a few hours of arriving there on that hot August evening, the first day of a drastically changed life.
I gave the camera to my host sister Val who then took this picture of me by the flag. Check out my crazy cut-off shorts! The kids never let me hear the end of it, and those shorts went into the trash quickly never to be worn again.
Here is a view from the side of the house, looking toward the street. The house that was to be my home for the next year was so drastically different from the house in Germany that I had just left. The entire architecture in America is very different from that in Germany.
Many months later I went outside and took another picture of the place in winter, with the icicles pointing down from the roof.
Here I am in the hallway toward the end of the year, a proud high school graduate. By then, 22 E. Summit had become as much my home as any place in my life. I still remember the countless hours lying on my back on the thick, plush carpet, next to the stereo, listening the Elton John records using the headphones: “Ticking, Ticking, don’t ever ride on the devil’s knee, Momma said.”
Five years later, in the summer of 1979, I brought my German parents to the U.S. and we drove across the country from Arizona to New York. While we were there, my stepfather and I painted the house. Here we are, he on the left, myself on the right, working away in the hot summer morning.
The Saxtons sold the house within a couple of years after that and moved on with their lives, and so did I.
Now let’s turn the clock forward 40 years to last Sunday, Father’s Day 2019. My sister Val and I drove by the old place. It is now long abandoned and tagged by the authorities. There is a red warning sign on the wall. The place is infested with mold, bed bugs and anything else you can imagine after being left to the elements for years. I assume it will eventually be torn down. There are no other options left.
The yard is overgrown and the house is literally crumbling.
Here I am in front of the steps where I stood in my cutoff with fringes 45 years ago as a boy.
Looking in I see that the place is completely gutted. I can see the spot where I stood when I had my graduation picture taken. I see where the couch used to be where I watched Gilligan’s Island after school every afternoon, where I learned listening to rapidly spoken English in the first couple of months. The old house is full of memories.
No visit to the old house would be complete without a parting selfie. Here we are, Val and I, after a lifetime of memories and a friendship that started in these very rooms so long ago.
Good bye, 22 E. Summit.
Last Friday, during a trip to Austin, Texas, I had some extra time before flying out, so I visited the Blanton Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Texas.
After parking, I noticed I had a great view of the State Capitol Building, albeit from the back side, with some of the downtown Austin buildings visible behind it.
Here is the map of where I was standing when I took that picture, with the arrow showing my position and point of view:
The photograph above is heavily cropped. There was ugly construction everywhere. I could not find a better vantage point to take a picture. And since it was mid-eighties and very humid, I didn’t want to walk too far out of my way. This is what it really looked like: