Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspiring videos on youtube--these will brighten your life

The three videos below were in my very first blog entry....but I wanted to listen to them again.




Thursday, August 20, 2009

My ongoing Quest for the perfect Carbonara--THE PERFECT MEAL

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: How to make a real CARBONARA

As I mentioned in a previous blog (, I love Carbonara Sauce. I've spent years searching for the perfect recipe. My favorite carbonara meal was at a restaurant in Rome. The reason I loved it so much was because it was prepared the way I prefer--NO cream. It was just eggs, pancetta, cheese, pepper. I found this video of an Italian chef making "real" carbonara and I think this may be the recipe I've been seeking for years. REAL, perfect, carbonara. Unfortunately you can't embed the video but have I put a hyperlink so that you can visit youtube and watch:

Click here to visit youtube to watch the video

Here's the recipe from the video, but you should really watch the video to see his technique. Particularly the frequent use water to "amalgamate" - ITALIAN CARBONARA, the real one!!!

Ingredients for 4 persons
360 gr. (12.69 oz.) Spaghetti
60 gr. (2.11 oz.) Guanciale (Pork cheek) if you don't find it use bacon
80 gr. (2.82 oz.) Parmesan cheese
80 gr. (2.82 oz.) Pecorino cheese
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Buon Appetito!!

The recipe is from the youtube site

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Those Dubai dudes are really amazing--check out this BEAUTIFUL and TALL planned building

Not only do they have now the tallest building in the world (see my previous blogs about Burj Dubai here) and one of the most ambitiously growing skylines, but they're planning this amazing architectural landmark.

This building will truly advance architecture into a new realm. The planned 80-story building will have independent units on each floor that will constantly rotate. Each floor will rotate at varying speeds creating a constantly changing "dynamic" structure. Isn't this the coolest most beautiful concept.

What is even more revolutionary about this building is the way it will be constructed. Each unit will be constructed at a pre-fab factory which will reduce the amount of people needed to build this massive structure. Each unit will then be hoisted up to its proper floor, starting at the top and working down. So essentially it be a core tube in the center with detached individual units.

You'll be able to drive your car into the elevator, ride up to your home, park your car at your front door (let's say you have the penthouse on the 80th floor).

The Dynamic Tower will be the first 100% self-powered Green building with the ability to generate electricity for itself through the use of horizontal wind turbines and solar panels.

The architecture firm, Dynamic Architecture, talks about what living will be like in this constantly changing "sculpture":

"Luxury penthouse villas, at over 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet), are completely custom-made to fulfill individual buyer's personal needs and wants and include all selected finishes from floor to ceiling, including bathrooms, kitchens, lighting and even furniture. The luxury Italian marble bathrooms are pre-assembled at the Leonardo da Vinci factory in Italy, part of the Dynamic Group, and include a sauna, Turkish bath, and are further enhanced by the pleasures of color and sound therapy.

Equipped with the latest in Smart Home technologies for seamless living, all Dynamic Villa residents have voice- and touch-activated control of their Villa's rotation speed and direction, plus control of entry, security, surveillance, climate, lighting, multi-media home entertainment, and even the temperature of their indoor swimming pool.

Villa residents are also able to drive immediately into a special elevator that safely transports their car to their floor to park directly at the entrance to their Villas, providing the luxury of convenience coupled with the necessity of security.

Presenting every resident with the brilliance of constantly changing views, effortless living powered by sophisticated electronic devices, and the extravagance of high-quality design details each Dynamic Tower throughout the world will be unique, becoming an iconic structure wherever it's built. Collectively, the Dynamic Towers will represent an era of a new architecture that will change the look of our cities and herald a new era of Dynamic Living. "

Another similar building, although not as tall :(, is planned for Moscow.

You can see more at


Sunday, August 16, 2009

GREAT photo

TIME Picture of the Week August 4, 2009

Ready for Lift Off
The space shuttle Discovery prepares to launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

COOL photos--strange curious architecture

I love architecture. When I was a kid I wanted to become an architect. That was before I flunked my way through algebra, etc.

Here are some really cool may not even think they are real. But they are REAL buildings

The Basket Building (Ohio, United States)
The Longaberger Basket Company building in Newark, Ohio might just be a strangest office building in the world. The 180,000-square-foot building, a replica of the company’s famous market basket, cost $30 million and took two years to complete. Many experts tried to persuade Dave Longaberger to alter his plans, but he wanted an exact replica of the real thing

Kansas City Public Library (Missouri, United States)
(this is my favorite!! books!!)

This project, located in the heart of Kansas City, represents one of the pioneer projects behind the revitalization of downtown.

The people of Kansas City were asked to help pick highly influential books that represent Kansas City. Those titles were included as ‘bookbindings’ in the innovative design of the parking garage exterior, to inspire people to utilize the downtown Central Library.

The Mushroom House aka Tree House (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)

Modern Igloo (Alaska)


To see more interesting and unusual structures, visit:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I just LOVE elephants--more cool photos

TIME Pictures of the Week: Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009
Boris Roessler/DPA/Landov

Just Your Average Day in the Park
A sunbather and an elephant enjoy the sunshine in Frankfurt, Germany.,29409,1913801_1916774,00.html

(Remember you can click on photos to enlarge)

TIME Pictures of the Week: Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009
Caters News/Zuma Press

All Aboard
A doting mother swan takes her brood of six under her wing at Bicton Park
Botanical Gardens, in Devon, England.,29409,1915076_1919057,00.html


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the goddess BARBARA COOK--the best cover of Janis Ian's heartbreaking & beautiful STARS

This is a very hard song to top. Janis Ian's song is a masterpiece. But somehow I think Barbara Cook bests Ian. Maybe it's Cook's own story that informs the song and imbues it with such power. Whatever the case this is another example of a brilliant cover song that just slightly bests the original. This singer is like Meryl Streep......she just never does anything less than perfect.


Monday, August 10, 2009

INCUNABULA--beautiful word


[in-kyoo-nab-yuh-luh, ing-]

–plural noun, singular -lum

1. extant copies of books produced in the earliest stages (before 1501) of printing from movable type.

Isn't that a great word! I was in Colorado Springs last week attending the Colorado Antiquarian Bookseller Seminar which is for booksellers, librarians, collectors. It was a most amazing experience. We were literally immersed for a week learning everything about books. If you're interested in the seminar visit their website at: CABS

Here's some examples of incunabula (see also my previous blog Poet & artist WILLIAM BLAKE-Colorado Springs-Thomas Jefferson and the Library of Congress-cool temperatures)\

click on images to enlarge

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cool photo--BURJ DUBAI--world's tallest building

Here's a cool photo of the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world. See my previous posting on this at:

I love tall buildings....the taller the better:)

This photo really gives you a sense of the height of this beautiful building

Click on the photo to enlarge to really see how dizzyingly high this gorgeous structure is.

This is my kind of tall! Is it not exquisite? Is there hope for our species?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poet & artist WILLIAM BLAKE-Colorado Springs-Thomas Jefferson and the Library of Congress-cool temperatures

I've been in Colorado Springs all week attending the Colorado Antiquarian Bookseller Seminar. I arrived last Sunday and have absolutely relished the cooler weather. The temperature for me has been so perfect with slight cool breezes. We've even had two rainstorms. Eat your heart out Palm Desert (home)! I dread going back home to the inferno.

This conference has been absolutely the most amazing experience. It is a complete immersion into the world of books, not just bookselling. We have studied the history of printing. We even learned to fold and cut books, just as they were done in Guttenberg's time. We've covered bibliographic terms and collation formulas. (What the hell is a collation formula you say? Here's an example of one: 2°: π 1 a-b² A-2L² 2M1; 74 leaves. This is NOT a calculus formula but it is a formula which tells how a book was assembled when it was printed using a hand-press).

Sunday evening's Keynote Speech was perhaps one of the most electrifying and amazing moments in my life (I do mean this). The speaker was Mark Dimunation who is Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of Library of Congress. It was such a revelation and a beautiful one at that. What I learned that night was that Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the Library of Congress' existence. He was a voracious book collector, in addition to all of his other genius qualities. Thomas Jefferson and his book passion burned quite bright, literally: in a strange series of fires that cursed his book collections. “The nucleus of the Library of Congress was forged in fire,” Mr. Dimunation said in his retelling of the Jefferson library story, a story that begins with a 1770 fire that burned Jefferson’s family home in Shadwell, Va., and consumed most of his first library consisting of some 200 volumes, including his law books and 40 books he had inherited from his father.

In the years after this fire, Jefferson went on a passionate global book buying quest. By 1789, when he returned home after living in Paris for several years, he had already doubled the size of the original collection which had been destroyed.

Fire again played a significant role in Jefferson's collection when in 1814 a fire destroyed the entire collection of the Library of Congress, an institution Jefferson was responsible for originating. The fire which burned at the US Capitol was set by the British.

Jefferson offered to sell his entire collection of books, which now comprised 6,487 volumes, to reestablish the nation's Library. Following a rancorous bi-partisan debate, Congress approved the purchase. (alas, some things will not ever change).

The interesting thing about the collection is that it wasn't a typical gentleman's book collection of the period. According to Mr. Dimunation, “He was not buying first editions, the best editions, or the best copies,” Dimunation said. “He wanted working texts, ordinary books for the 18th century. He was not building a gentleman’s library for show. He was building a scholar’s library to meet his needs as a philosopher, statesman, diplomat, scientist, planter, architect, musician and scholar.”

He read and collected, in their original languages, Greek and Latin classics, books of contemporary 18th-century European philosophers and thinkers who influenced his thoughts on the rights of man. Jefferson also bought and used books on politics, law and history, books on art, architecture and music, books and pamphlets on all branches of science. (from Library of Congress website, see reference at the bottom of this posting).

“He truly is the American enlightenment,” Dimunation said. “He embodied the philosophy of the entire 18th century. He believed concerted rational thought focused on a problem would produce a reasonable solution. He studied the classics in order to construct his understanding of democracy and the republic in very much the same way he would approach a problem with his crops or a scientific question.”

In a bizarre twist of fate fire once again became a part of Jefferson's history, when a fire at the US Capitol in 1851 burned almost two-thirds of the original Jefferson collection that was purchased by the government.

Mr. Dimunation and his staff have been on a quest to replace all of the original collection volumes that were burned. They have narrowed the missing volumes to just under 200. Which is quite remarkable.

When he finished his keynote speech, our speaker received a fervent round of applause. I wanted to scream "Encore! Bravo! Encore!" it was just such a remarkable story about books and the Library Congress and Thomas Jefferson. That fine institution will be my first stop when next I am in DC.

Okay, so what does this have to do with William Blake, the poet and the artist, you say?

Mark Dimunation, the keynote speaker, had attended our seminar here in Colorado Springs at the request of one of his staff, Dan DeSimone, who also is one of the faculty members for Colorado Antiquarian Bookseller Seminar. Mr. DeSimone is Curator of the Library of Congress' Rosenwald Collection. He also has been one of my favorite of the faculty members, perhaps because he has given some optional lectures at lunchtime which have been quite fascinating and fun and illuminating for me. The two that he's done so far featured topics from the Rosenwald Collection. Which brings me to William Blake. The Rosenwald Collection includes a number of books published by Blake. I cannot wait to read more about this amazing human. First of all Blake was considered a lunatic in his time and wasn't really appreciated by his peers. There is a Caravaggio-esque quality to his story that has me hooked (see my previous post on my Caravaggio fascination

Blake introduced what is known as "relief" printing or what is also sometimes known as "illumination" or "illuminated books." Which yet again is reminiscent of Carravagio: "illumination." Light. Here is one of the most exquisite pieces of art that I've ever beheld:

This is Blake's Ancient of Days. The "Ancient of Days is described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel, which is in the Rosenwald Collection. I haven't had much time to learn much more, although I spent a couple of hours reading last night about Blake.

And that's how William Blake, cool temperatures, Colorado Springs, Thomas Jefferson and the Library of Congress all were in common this week.

The quotes from Mr. Dimunation above as well as the photo of the Library of Congress are from the following link at the Library of Congress website. It is an interesting story so read more about it at:

About The Rosenwald Collection: "The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection stands out among the distinguished resources of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Taking the illustrated book as its central theme and containing books from the last six centuries and manuscripts from the three preceding, the collection's greatest strengths are in the fifteenth century woodcut books, early sixteenth-century illustrated books, William Blake, and twentieth-century livres des peintres. Within this grand design the late Mr. Rosenwald sought books produced by the earliest printers and outstanding presses of later periods, and books on the following subjects: science, calligraphy, botany, and chess. The catalog describing the collection published in 1978 contains 2,653 entries, many for books represented by more than one copy."
( )

To see more of Blake's amazing artwork visit:

Have a wonderful cool day. I will!

Monday, August 3, 2009

THIS YEARS LOVE by David Grey--I LOVE this song

This is just a great beautiful song.

I'm in Colorado Springs this week for an Antiquarian Bookseller Seminar that I've wanted to attend for years. It is so pleasant here:)


Saturday, August 1, 2009

BUTCHART GARDENS--in British Columbia--one of my favorite places and one of the most beautiful places on earth

As I mentioned a few days ago in an earlier blog (see THE HIGHEST TIDE at ) I've had Saltspring on my mind recently. Saltspring is one of the southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia, just off Vancouver Island where in years past we've spent vacations.

While the entire region of British Columbia is some of the most spectacularly gorgeous scenery in the world, there is one place that is just so special: Butchart Gardens. Butchart Gardens is located on Vancouver Island. The fun part about going to the Gulf Islands is taking the ferries (:)) to visit the various islands. It is spectacular to sit outside on the ferry and watch the beautiful territory and observe the wildlife and sea life. We've seen killer whales and other whales amongst many.

So you take a ferry (BC Ferries) from the island you're staying on. I think the ferry rides are just about the best. The size of the ferries varies. The ferry from Vancouver (from Tsawwassen) is usually gigantic and holds hundreds of cars and trucks. There are small ferries that you take interisland, but they all carry vehicles. One of my favorite memories of the Gulf Islands was our first trip. We were traveling from Vancouver to Saltspring and going through a very beautiful place between two islands. I think it is called Deception Pass. Anyway they had a bagpipe player aboard who played the bagpipes while we passed through the pass. I started sobbing: it was just the most perfect moment in the world! I get goosebumps right now remembering.

I have to add that I LOVE riding fairies (oops, how Freudian of me....I meant ferries), I LOVE riding trains and subways. I would love to commute to work on a ferry the way BC'an's where you have time to read a newspaper, work a crossword puzzle, start a new novel, do some cross-stitching, or just sit and listen to your ipod. Subways and trains, and ferries, are just so fucking civilized, in my opinion. In Southern California none of these things exist. Southern California is very uncivilized this way (as opposed to Boston, Washington DC).

The thing about this whole region is that you never stop marveling at the sights. The beauty is pervasive and constant but you never stop being enthralled and awed by it. The summer in the Northwest is particularly spectacular because of the flowers and the flora and fauna. But the most spectacular, the piece de resistance, of gardens in the world is Butchart Gardens. The gardens are located on the 55-acre Butchart Family estate. Behold the majesty:

"Benvenuto, Italian for 'welcome', is the name the Butcharts used for their original estate, now a National Historic Site of Canada, and still privately owned by family descendants. The Butchart Gardens offers 22ha (55 acres) of wonderful floral display located in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island. The family's commitment to horticulture and hospitality continues to this day."

Here is the history from the Butchart Gardens website:
"In 1888, near his birthplace, Owen Sound, Ontario, the former dry goods merchant, Robert Pim Butchart, began manufacturing Portland cement. By the turn of the century he had become a highly successful pioneer in this burgeoning North American industry. Attracted to the West Coast of Canada by rich limestone deposits vital for cement production, he built a factory at Tod Inlet, on Vancouver Island. There, in 1904, he and his family established their home.

As Mr. Butchart exhausted the limestone in the quarry near their house, his enterprising wife, Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart's supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.

By 1908, reflecting their world travels, the Butcharts had created a Japanese Garden on the sea-side of their home. Later an Italian Garden was created on the site of their former tennis court, and a fine Rose Garden replaced a large kitchen vegetable patch in 1929.

Mr. Butchart took much pride in his wife's remarkable work. A great hobbyist, he collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn, and a curmudgeon of a parrot in the main house. He enjoyed training pigeons at the site of the present Begonia Bower, and had many elaborate bird houses stationed throughout Jennie's beautiful gardens.

The renown of Mrs. Butchart's gardening quickly spread. By the 1920s more than fifty thousand people came each year to see her creation. In a gesture toward all their visitors, the hospitable Butcharts christened their estate "Benvenuto", the Italian word for "Welcome". To extend the welcome, flowering cherry trees along Benvenuto Avenue leading to The Gardens were purchased from Yokohama Nursery in Japan and installed from West Saanich Road to The Butchart Gardens' entrance.

Their house grew into a comfortable, luxurious showplace, with a bowling alley, indoor salt-water swimming pool, panelled billiard room and a wonder of its age, a self-playing Aeolian pipe organ (still played on Firework Saturdays ). Today the residence contains the Dining Room Restaurant, offices, and rooms still used for family entertaining. From January 15 to March 15, a special re-creation of the family house is showcased.

The family tradition of acquiring objects when travelling has continued. The Fountain of the Three Sturgeons and the bronze casting of the wild boar are both from Florence, Italy. Both were purchased by Ian and Ann-Lee Ross in 1973. The fountain is a casting made from a much smaller fountain created by Professor Sirio Tofanari in 1958. Other works by him include the little donkey and the foal that stand close by the statue of the wild boar on the Piazza in front of the Butchart Residence. The boar is a rare bronze copy of a casting of the marble statue displayed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. This bronze known affectionally as "Tacca," in honour of Pietro Tacca, the artist who created the statue in 1620. His snout is finely burnished by thousands of visitors who give it an affectionate rub for good luck. Tacca is dedicated to all the children and dogs who visit The Gardens.

Each year over 1,000,000 bedding plants in some 700 varieties are used throughout the Gardens to ensure uninterrupted bloom from March through October. Close to a million people visit each year, enjoying not only the floral beauty, but the entertainment and lighting displays presented each summer and Christmas.

The only surviving portion of Mr. Butchart's Tod Inlet cement factory is the tall chimney of a long vanished kiln. The chimney can be seen from The Sunken Garden Lookout. The plant stopped manufacturing cement in 1916, but continued to make tiles and flower pots as late as 1950. The single chimney now overlooks the quarry Mrs. Butchart so miraculously reclaimed.

The Butchart Gardens remains a family business and has grown to become a premier West Coast display garden, while maintaining the gracious traditions of the past. Today the Gardens has established an international reputation for its year round display of flowering plants."

Here's a short video clip to watch

Even though it's 116 (in Palm Desert where I live, not in BC) again today I can reminisce about days past on vacation in British Columbia and Butchart Gardens, riding the ferries, where life is cool and beautiful!