Friday, September 30, 2011

Top 10 Getting Out the Air Guitar

1.While My Guitar Gently Weeps Various Amazing Artists, that you will recognize (check out George Harrison's son Dhani) and I never promote the language in the youtube comments but sometimes I understand just what they are saying.

2. Down By the River Neil Young

3. Freebird Lynyard Skynyrd 

4. Purple Haze Jimi Hendrix

5. Rocky Mountain Way Joe Walsh

6. Crossroads  Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood

7. I'm A Man Spencer Davis Group

8. Dear Mr. Fantasy Traffic

9. Sleep Walk Jeff Beck

10.Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry Roll Over Beethoven

and then I get on with the housework. Such fun to be so cool and fantastic for a brief shining moment.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top 10 October Events

1. September 28th - November 2 Where to get your flu shot prices vary and some locations are offering "free" shots to a select group. Check the links.

2. October 1 Aston Township 10th Annual Community Day
    October 8 Senator Pilleggi's Kid's Fun Fair, Sun Valley HS, Aston, PA 11am-2pm.

3. October 1 Haverford Township Day

4. October 1 Bark in the Park Ridley Creek State Park 5K Run and 1 Mile Dog Walk benefit PVF Last Chance Fund.

October 1, 100th Anniversary of the Wanamaker Organ at Macy's Center City 8:30pm

6. October 2nd Power Run for ALSF (Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation) Rose Tree Park,

7. October 10th Run for Heroes 5KRun/Walk Springfield Municipal Township Complex.

8. October 15th 9am - 3pm Recycle Event Upper Chichester Township Municipal Bldg, 8500 Furey Rd Upper Chichester, PA (computers, fax machines, printer,scanner and portable t.v. 27in or less will be accepted).

9. October 22, Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K Challenge, proceeds to benefit Nether Providence Township First Responders and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Philadelphia division.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
10. October 22 Bobtoberfest 4 mile run along Boathouse Row in Philadelphia proceeds benefit ALS.
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


41 Thornton Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top 10 Decisions To Make When Doing A Kitchen Makeover

1. Keeping the same layout or bring in the bulldozer and knock out a wall.

2. Reface or replace cabinets I am told if your cabinets interior is in good shape refacing can be the way to go. (FYI I am looking into donating my old cabinets and appliances to Home for Habitat).

3. Cabinet color and style. I have a white wash variation now. How many shades of wood are there?

4. Special cabinet features, lazy susan, soft close, deep drawers, tall to the ceiling. A soffit is no longer vogue if you do not have anything valuable in them, like pipes. The electrical can sit above the small hidden area between the cabinet and ceiling, so I am told.

5. The sink and the faucet, double sink, garbage disposal, faucet off to the side, sprayer attached to the faucet. I am just looking for one that "safe" water comes out of when turned to the on position.

6. New appliances (how to choose the best for your dollar) search consumer reports, read comments online, ask satisfied friends. Do you like a double stove? Regular, convection, induction. what is it all about? Is gas better then electric?

7. Replace the floor with tile, laminate, wood, bamboo, or stone. Do I need heated floors?

8. Counter tops ceramic, porcelain, granite, corian, zodiac, cambria, marble, zinc, copper, stainless steel (anti-bacterial),wood, concrete, quartz, laminate. I had no idea.

9. The back splash has to match the color and it matters choosing the material. Is the pattern too busy?

10. Lighting, recessed lighting, under the cabinet lighting, pendants, globes. Mood lighting is important. You certainly don't want an angry cook. Things could go very wrong.

When all is said and done and everyone has a chance to voice their opinion, and everyone has one, make yourself happy.

Hire a Top Chef!

I certainly do not want to be the one dirtying the new kitchen.

It is a lot of pressure.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top 10 Roaming Around Ancient Rome

When you sign up for a tour, your destinations are pretty much set up.  Rome was not built in a day nor can you see it all in 48 hours.  These are the places I only got to see as I passed by in a bus. It drove me crazy. I almost got whiplash taking in all these sites. Some day I have to return to Rome and walk among these amazingly preserved historic sites.

1. Temple of Hercules Victor Dating from the later 2nd century BC, and perhaps erected by L. Mummius Achaicus, conqueror of the Achaeans and destroyer of Corinth,[2] the temple is 14.8 m in diameter and consists of a circular cella within a concentric ring of twenty Corinthian columns 10.66 m tall, resting on a tuff foundation. These elements supported an architrave and roof, which have disappeared. The original wall of the cella, built of travertine and marble blocks, and nineteen of the originally twenty columns remain but the current tile roof was added earlier.  The temple is the earliest surviving marble building in Rome.

2. National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II is a monument built to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood for its sake.

3. The Spanish Steps are a  monumental stairway of 138 steps built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. American singer/songwriter Bob Dylan refers to the "Spanish Stairs" in his classic "When I Paint My Masterpiece" (1971). Unfortunately, I apparently do not have a picture of the Spanish step, someone was kind enough to correct me. The lower steps to the right lead to the Piazza del Campdoglio. The higher steps to the left lead to Santa Maria in Aracoeli. I would love to add a picture of the Spanish steps if anyone would like to contribute one.  This photograph was taken through the window of a bus as we drove by what I thought to be the Spanish steps.  We never stopped to climb the steps, one of my deepest regrets in Rome.I understand there is an amazing old fountain at the base as well.

 4. In Roman architecture, an insula (Latin for "island," plural insulae) was a kind of apartment building that housed most of the urban citizen population of ancient Rome, including ordinary people of lower- or middle-class status (the plebs) and all but the wealthiest from the upper-middle class (the equites). The traditional elite and the very wealthy lived in domus, large single-family residences, but the two kinds of housing were intermingled in the city and not segregated into separate neighborhoods.

5. Arch of Constaintine  is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the latest of the existing triumphal arches in Rome

6. Remains of the Imperial Palace on Palatini Hill overlooking the Circus Maximus. Rome has its origins on the Palatine. Recent excavations show that people have lived there since approximately 1000 BC. It is the origin of the word "palace".

7. This may appear to just be another walk in the park but it is indeed Circus Maximus. The Circus was Rome's largest venue for Ludi, public games connected to Roman religious festivals. Chariot races would have been viewed here. Perhaps it woud have been consider the NASCAR of its day.  A perfect forum for Ben Hur vs Tony Stewart.

8. The Castle Sant' Angelo was originally a round tomb built on the Tiber River to hold the remains of the Emperor Hadrian. The Hadrian's Mausoleum was begun by Hadrian in 130 AD and finished in 139, a year after his death. During the middle ages, Hadrian's tomb was converted into a castle to defend Rome. It was linked to the Vatican by an underground passage. Many Popes lived in this castle.

9. Bridge of Angels at night, Ponte Sant'Angelo, once the Aelian Bridge or Pons Aelius, meaning the Bridge of Hadrian, is a Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian.  Here is a list of angels who appear on the bridge.

10. Theater Marcellus built in the closing years of the Roman Republic. At the theatre, locals and visitors alike were able to watch performances of drama and song.  It was named after Marcus Marcellus, Emperor Augustus's nephew, who died five years before its completion. Space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before it could be begun; the theatre was so far advanced by 17 BC that part of the celebration of the ludi saeculares took place within the theatre; it was completed in 13 BC and formally inaugurated in 12 BC by Augustus.

 Rome Traffic, is as modern as you can get and a good reason not to drive yourself, take the tours.

Our driver was Enzo out of Naples.  God Bless 'em.  I don't know how he did it.  You should have seen him park the bus, he was applauded often. He had the patience of Job.

Of course I am not walking around with all this knowledge in my head, all information about the above locations were found at wikipedia.  I did however search out and identify each location by following the Tiber River as well as using key landmarks that I knew we had traveled to. I put then in Google Earth and followed the roads we took and there they were. It is amazing to me how you can see and click into just about anywhere in the world but still nothing beats actually being able to go there an see for yourself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Top 10 October Walk/Run Fundraisers

1. October 1 Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes Philadelphia, PA.

2. October 1 Rest in Peace 5k Run , 5PM Mt. Laurel Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA.

3. October 1 Philadelphia Urban Dare, 12pm meet at O'Shea's Pub, proceeds benefit the fight against breast cancer. Other city challenges can also be found at the website.

4.October 1 Walk for the Wounded, Register at 10AM, Walk 11:30AM Ocean City, New Jersey.

5.October 1 Light the Night, Berwyn, PA for Leukemia and Lymphoma several locations in Pennsylvania beginning October 1st.  click on the link for more information.

6. October 2 Crop Hunger Walk Ambler, Pennsylvania and Crop Hunger Walk Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

7. October 9th Buddy Walk West Chester, Pennsylvania, Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group, West Goshen Park, Starts at 1PM.

8. October 16 Walk for Aids Philly, Eakins Oval, in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

9. October 22 Light The Night Philadelphia, at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

10. October 23 JDRF Fun Run along Martin Luther King Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Please double check all information by clicking on the links. My information is only as good as those links and I too can make a faux pas.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Top 10 Respect to R.E.M

REM is disbanding after 30 years.  Lucky for me, I got to see them at the Mann Music Center a few years back, that Michael Stipe is really something. Here are a few of their songs I know and have felt through the years.

1. Everybody Hurts

2. The One I Love

3. The End of the World As We Know It

4. Losing My Religion (this song will always have special meaning to me)

5. Orange Crush

6. Drive

7. Find the River

8. Man on the Moon with Bruce Springsteen

9. Turn You Inside Out

10.So. Central Rain

I pay my respect and thank them for the great music and lyrics.

Special Mention: One U2 and R.E.M, Nightswimming, Camera, Fireplace, Don't Go Back to Rockville,Me In Honey,Radio Song,Try Not to Breathe,Orange Crush, Ignoreland, Shiny Happy People
and the list goes on, I am obviously a fan.
Credit to Michael Grant who turned me on to R.E.M. and to my son David, who made me my first R.E.M mix.  We attended the concert together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top 10 Characters at Super Sunday In Media, PA

Super Sunday in Media an Annual Event, this year it was September 18, 2011, a beautiful dy for a stroll. Characters found along the streets.

1. The Stink Bug promoting extinction.

2. Jalapeno and Chili with the Animal Coalition of Delaware County. 

3. When dogs mingle, people communicate.

4.  Temperatures are plummeting but the ducks are still swimming.

5. Lust! On a Sunday? I was intrigued.

6. The balloon that always seems to get away.

7. The blow up doll, I told him he could have if he wanted.  He declined because she didn't look like much of  cook.

8. The scary guys hanging on the corner, a little shaggy but they look happy.

9. The dolls just contemplating what they will be serving for Sunday supper, the day after watching the Phillies clinch the National League Championship.

10. Last but certainly not least, she was my favorite, "the lollipop lady" who was gracious enough to let me take her picture.  She represented the Riddle Memorial Hospital "Birthing Place", where they bring good things to life. Her flavors came in pink and blue.

It was a beautiful day to just get out and stroll along State Street in Media and enjoy all the characters. I am more a fan of the food festival but I did pick up a few bargains, 2 books for 2 bucks and a jigsaw 1000 piece puzzle for another dollar. I did enjoy the ice cream person but when I went back to take the picture they were no longer there.

Super Sunday in Media-Two thumbs ups from me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top 10 Things To Remember About the Alamo

The Six Flags of Texas signify the the six nations that have had sovereignty over some or all of the current territory of the U.S. state of Texas.

It seems there have been many questionable tales that have been told about the "Battle of the Alamo" but one fact remains tried and true.  The "defenders" heroically fought against tremendous odds and never backed down from their cause.

Mission San Antonio de Valero

1. Part of the Alamo still stands. Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound.  It is the site of the Battle of the Alamo that took place in 1836. It is now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas. Inside you can view, the room where the women and children stayed for safety, a period "Bowie knife", a buckskin vest worn by Davey Crockett and a ring worn by William Travis. This year 2011, marks the 175th Anniversary of the Alamo.

The convent inside the fortress.

2. San Antonio de Bexar was part of Mexico, as was Texas at the time of the Texas Revolution, during the siege of the Alamo. The revolution seems to have come about over a dispute between the newly formed Mexican government and the Texas settlers, many who were American immigrants.

Long Barracks

3. Davy Crockett, a congressman from Tennessee took part in the Texas Revolution and died at the Battle of the Alamo along with Jim Bowie, William Travis and James Butler Bonham.

A fountain inside the grounds acknowledges four of the well known defenders. One name on each side Bowie, Crocket, Travis and James Butler Bonham.

4. In 1836, Col. William B. Travis, James Bowie, Davy Crockett, and almost 200 other Texan volunteers occupied the Alamo. After unsuccessfully defending the Alamo for 13 days against an army of thousands of Mexican soldiers led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Texans lost the battle on March 6, 1836.

5. The phrase, "Remember the Alamo!" soon became the battle cry that was used by Sam Houston when he defeated Gen. Santa Anna a few weeks after the Alamo at San Jacinto (on April 21, 1836), winning independence for Texas. Texas then became an independent republic (led by Sam Houston), and on December 29, 1845, Texas became a US state.

6. Pompeo Luigi Coppini (May 19, 1870 – September 26, 1957) was an Italian sculptor who emigrated to the United States. He designed the Alamo Plaza work "Spirit of Sacrifice" aka "The Cenotaph", as well as numerous statues honoring Texas heroes.

7. Musician Phil Collins has the largest private Alamo memorabilia collection in the world.

8. Bowie also is the namesake of rock star David Bowie, who was born David Robert Hayward-Jones. Jones changed his name in the 1960s because he feared his name was too similar to Davy Jones, a member of the already famous The Monkees. He chose the surname Bowie because he admired James Bowie and the Bowie knife. According to and verified at a chunk of the Alamo is included in the rock collection that forms part of Chicago's Tribune Tower, along with a piece of the Great Wall of China, the Coliseum and the World Trade Center. The rock collection is yet another fascinating story in itself. I would love to visit some day. I collect rocks myself.
Acequia part of the original irrigation ditch built to supply water to the farms and mission.
9. The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 began after Mexican General Santa Ana raised the flag of "no quarter" from the tower of the San Fernando church.

In the back of the cathedral today there is a sarcophagus or marble coffin on which is inscribed a notice that the remains of the defenders of the Alamo are buried there. Colonel Juan Seguin, who took control of San Antonio after Texas won independence. He was said to have buried the remains under the sanctuary railing of the old church. During renovation work in 1936, a box of charred bones, nails, and shreds of uniforms was unearthed at that spot. Historians have argued since then about the validity of the claim, but the marble coffin still remains and is visited by thousands of people since that time paying homage to the fighters. William Travis, James Bowie and Davey Crocket are all notable defenders of the Alamo whose remains are believed to be in there.

10. The Torch of Friendship was commissioned by the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos. They worked with the Mexican Consulate and the City of San Antonio to make the sculpture a symbol of cooperation and shared culture between the countries of Mexico and the United States and the city of San Antonio. The Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos chose the traffic island that was previously empty at the intersection of Losoya, Alamo, and Commerce streets. Quiroz inquired about the site's history and found that according to many it was where the prisoners captured during the Battle of the Alamo were executed.[5] The site was then chosen, but was not settled without some debate.

Additional Alamo photos in the slideshow.

San Fernando Cathedral beautiful inside and out.

Riverwalk alive and happening in San Antonio, Texas

Interesting sites for further reading

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Upcoming September 2011 Events

The Greek Affair September 21 ,22 ,23 ,24 and 25at St. Luke's Greek Orthodox Church, Malin Rd, Broomall.

Liberty Medal Presentation, September 22, 7pm. this years recipient will be former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Jim Gardner of 6ABC will broadcast the event live as well as a live stream at

Home and Hot Tub Show September 23, 24, 25 Pennsylvania Convention Center,Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Popped Music Festival, September 23rd and 24th at FDR Park, Philadelphia, PA.

Chester Riverfront Ramble September 24 All Day from Marcus Hook to Tinicum, along the river. I will add a link when it becomes available.

Campus Philly College Day at the Museums, September 24th, Free Admission to College Students to select museums.

Bike Fresh Bike Local Victory Beer is sponsoring a bike event, September 25th, Downingtown. PA  proceeds benefit (PASA Pennsylvania) Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

Four Season Parkway Run and Walk September 25th benefits cancer research for Children's Hospital.

Vendemmia Foundation Home Made Wine Competition, September 25, Girard Estates Park, Philadelphia, PA.

Philadelphia Orchestra Free Neighborhood Concert, October 4th, Urban Outfitters, Headquarters at The Navy Yard.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 10 Former Philadelphia Phillies in the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Take a guess first before you read the list.

1. Grover Cleveland Alexander, pitcher was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938.

2. Edward James Delahanty, left field was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

3. David James "Beauty" Bancroft, short stop was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

4. Samuel Luther Thompson, right field was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

5. Robin Evan Roberts, pitcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

6. Charles Herbert "Chuck" Klein center field was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.

7. Steven Norman "Lefty" Carlton pitcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

8. Don Richard "Richie" Ashburn, center field was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

9. Michael Jack Schmidt, third base was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in  1995.

10. James Paul David "Jim" Bunning, pitcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in  1996.

A special congratulations to entire Philadelphia Phillies 2011 Team, National League Champions for the fifth consecutive year! Go Phils!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Top 10 Famous Students that were Home Schooled

1. Thomas Edison inventor

2. Christopher Columbus explorer

3. Mark Twain writer

4. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composer

5. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln Presidents of the United States

6. Ben Franklin, William Penn statesmen Winston Churchill

7. George Patton, Douglas MacArthur United States Generals

8. Albert Einstein scientist

9. Leonardo DaVinci artist

10. Joseph Pulitzer newspaper publisher

Source and complete list can be found at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 10 Fear of Flying

Included photos and video from flying in the friendly skies.  I share these because fewer and fewer people have the desire to fly anymore.  Look what you are missing, there are advantages. I make no claims as a cinematographer but if you have never shared the sky with lightning, the short video clip is somewhat interesting.  I am not sure why it came out blue and why the crack across the sky didn't come out.  I was filming for the entire 45 minutes but have spared the audience and edited the sequences closer together. The landing you can just fast forward if it's not your thing.

1. My very first flying experience was amazing.  I was stoked and I was prepared. I was playing Steve Miller, "Big Ole Jet Airliner don't carry me too far away" on a cassette player/walkman when you were still able to have electronic devices turned on during take off in the good ole days.  I was flying to Disney World in Florida in the late seventies/early eighties and I loved it. That was many, many years ago.

Golden Gate and Bay Bridge in San Francisco during takeoff from the air.

2. Approximately 6 flights later and a span of 3 years, I was on a return trip from Florida.  I remember distinctly it was an L1011 airplane.  I do forget the airline because they are no longer in business but I think their name began with an "A, E I O or U". I always flew with them. I did a little homework on this and it just so happens the airline was Eastern Airlines and the L1011 (some of them are still in service).  Wikipedia (who else) lists airplanes and airlines and they also list notable incidents.  Mine was not listed.

3. We were half way into our flight, so it was an hour or so into the air.  My seat was directly in front of the galley.  For those who may be a little younger and do not know what that is, airplanes used to have kitchens on them and they always fed you pretty good.  The galley was in the center of the plane, so my back was facing the wall but I was on the aisle seat and in good earshot of all communication between the stewardess (flight attendant) and the captain by phone.

Grand Tetons from the air.

4.One engine is down?, I heard her say.  The dialog caught my attention.  When she said, three engines, I went into that pocket on the seat in front of me.  L1011's have 4 engines.  Hm mm, I am still cool but I noticed my palms began to sweat. I was in on the whole drama.  The captain did not make any announcements to the passengers until we were about 15 minutes away from Philadelphia but I knew what was happening as it was all going down, no pun intended.

Lake Mead from the air.

5.  The stewardess reinforced the emergency evacuation plans, we were told to get out the instructions in the seat and review one more time and were given specific instructions on how to prepare and get into crash position.  You have all probably heard it before, lean forward, bend over and kiss your seat goodbye. The captain was amazingly calm as he instructed us exactly when to position ourselves.  As we were coming in for our landing you could see all the fire trucks and emergency vehicles and their lights racing along the side of the plane.  We landed safely but I did suffer a psychological heart attack.

Nashville at Night

6. For years, I have had a fear of flying from that one incident but I try not to let my head dictate what my heart wants to do.  We made plans to go to Ireland on our honeymoon and you can't catch a train so I went to a psychologist to cure my fear of flying. Again, a dated story, it cost $50 for this stranger and I mean stranger then me, to explain the breathing exercises I could do while I was in a panic in the air. They are similar to those exercises the ladies are taught when they go into labor. Totally useless for most of the event, your focus is elsewhere.

Memphis Highway from the Sky

7. I fly a few times a year now, if I am lucky. It has been many years in between. I congratulate myself with each and every successful flight I make.  I have a friend who is a pilot and also a friend who is a flight attendant.  They are very responsible people, who take their job and responsibility very seriously.

Arriving at DFW, Dallas is a big city.

8. My issued seemed to be, I had no control over what that plane was going to do and I think that experience affected many facets of my life where I felt I needed to be totally in control.  It really is a relief on those days when you realize you don't have control, you have to place your trust in someone else. It's tough to trust some one else, every one is leery of the other guy. Maybe I am naive, but I have to believe there is more good then evil in this world.

Sunrise over the city of Dallas during takeoff at DFW.

9. My last air trip began last Tuesday night.  We flew standby and the last flight out opened up.  The airport was quiet, we walked right up to security.  There were 12 people standing around and nine of them were security.  I was wearing a dress, no jewelry, no watch, no metal went through the metal detector then the x-ray machine,  and I beeped.  I was really surprised because I have become an expert traveler and obey all the rules. The husband always gets stopped because he forgets to do something. I started to go back through the arch way and the tsa agent was friendly enough and he said, no please walk into this area. "Me"?  I  said.  "I don't think I have any metal on"?  He tells me, no it's a random pick you are the XX person.  I'll keep the XX secret for the sake of security. I go into this glass encased area and they ask me to hold out my palms and they swab my hands, scan them and say thank you, have a nice day. I found out later they were looking for traces of explosives on my hands  I would never touch explosives and I am surely no terrorist. I'm pretty close to a little old lady.  My paranoia snuck in because, I had an earache earlier in the day and I found old ear drops that had Cipro in it and I wondered if I had any on my hands.  Turns out I was clear. I flew 3 times round trip over the past week and my legs were searched not groped and I was wearing a dress?? and my hands were swabbed twice and my breasts and abdomen were, as I was pre-warned, touched lightly. I was also asked if I wanted to go to a private area to be searched. Really? Nope I want this to be seen for my own safety and peace of mind.  I am not one to question authority, but do the innocent have no rights anymore.  True the search was not invasive in my opinion because I had nothing to hide but still just the thought that you can be subjected to that kind of treatment anytime is saddening. I surely do not have a better solution but what are we doing to ourselves? It just doesn't seem to make sense to me, who are we really protecting and who are we allowing to break us down.

10.  I no longer have a fear of flying or of airplanes, I believe, the airlines and crew do the best they can. I hate the baggage fee though. Shouldn't that be included with your tickets, have regulations and charge for excess? All my flights were smooth, including my return flight to Philadelphia.  We did circle for 45 minutes due to the lightning storm Sunday night. (see video)  I did find it strange that security was nothing on September 11th.  We only had to walk through a metal detector, not even the x-ray machine.  It is no longer a pleasant experience to fly.  You are confronted immediately as you enter the airport, it is not for pleasure anymore. My biggest fear now is what more restrictions will be impose on innocent people when those who are responsible for the terror dictate who is suspect and who is not. I understand, it is for our safety and the safety of those we travel with but must we be stripped of our dignity? I had to place my arms and hands spread out to my sides. Privacy means nothing anymore. What is the famous saying "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"?

Lightning over the Philadelphia International Airport
It is good that tragedy has created a whole new department in the government and a whole slew of new jobs in the tsa to protect us but how much innocence has been lost?  That is the scary part to me. We have to travel to stay connected.  Segregation and exclusion has never worked in history.

Coming in for a safe landing at the Philadelphia International Airport.  The view begins somewhere over Wilmington.

I flew on September 11th this year which would typically be a huge feat for someone who had a fear of flying. My fears have significantly changed. I am more afraid of people now and I am ashamed to admit, I too was profiling certain people and watching their movements at the airport and on the plane.  That just can't be a "good" thing. Ten years ago, I personally, because of my own fears would not have been able to see the sights I've seen or taken the pictures from the air and around the world that I have taken. I feel I have made great strides in overcoming my fears (some of them) and have learned to appreciate the freedom and what we are capable of doing, not focusing and dwelling on limitations. That my friends will only leave us grounded and get us nowhere. It does seem the world is headed in the wrong direction.

I went through two of the busiest airports in Europe without incident.  In my own country, I was a suspect.  That is very disheartening.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 10 Things to See and Do In Innsbruck, Austria

What does Austria have that we don't have?  Silly question, the Alps, of course.  I couldn't wait to see the Alps and share my experience.  Unfortunately, this was the only day of my 15 day trip that was less than perfect weather.  It was a cloudy, misty day with a light rain heading into Innsbruck. So instead of looking high above the city, I was able to focus and enjoy what laid within the city itself. It is an amazing place.

1. Innsbruck, bridge over the Inn River has long been a significant center and passage along the Brenner Pass through the Alps for centuries.

2. The central tourist attraction next to the Alps in the Aldstadt (old town) would be the Golden Dachl. The Golden Roof was constructed in honor of Maximilian's 2nd marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan. It was to be a balcony where he could sit and observe the tournaments and entertainment below. He was after all the Holy Roman Emperor. Not wishing to alienate the allies gained by his first marriage, to Mary of Burgundy, he had an image of himself between the two women painted on his balcony. Mary, his first wife, died tragically in a riding accident.

In the enlarged picture, you can see the different family coat of arms and other details on the building.

3. The very next thing that caught my eye was the architectural styles and colors of the other buildings.  The Helblinghaus is named for Sebastian Helbling who owned a cafe on the lower level of a house on the corner of a line of ornately decorated buildings. This house, in particular draws your attention due to the unique rococo design added to the Gothic style building.

The work was commissioned by then owner in 1730, Johann Fischer and completed by Anton Gigl. So maybe, I didn't have all those details, our tour director filled us in, but I was gawking and still marveling at the age of the buildings around me. Most of the houses lined along this street date back to the 15th and 16th century along with Max's (Maximilian I) house directly to the right.

4. Meandering through the streets of Innsbruck surely was a treat seeing all these old buildings, filled with personality.  It had a very peaceful and welcoming air about it.  Not only did I feel like I was in a friendly foreign country, I could almost feel myself transported back in time.  If only the walls could talk and I had a keener understanding of the native tongue.  German is the main language spoken in Austria.

5. I didn't go to Europe to shop, I was however drawn into this place of business in Innsbruck due to the lure of its uniqueness. I am not a talented seamstress, but I appreciate fabric and special hand made designs, so I went in. I spotted a table runner and two matching pillow cases, that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to find in the United States, plus they were Austrian, which made them special.

6. The shopkeeper was busy with another customer.  This gave me an opportunity to browse a little and to prepare to dazzle this man with the German dialog we had just been taught on the bus by our tour director. The store proprietor then turned to me and said "yodel la hee hoo".  He really didn't say that but for all I knew, he did.  I was caught like a deer in headlights.  I had no idea what he had just said. He looked me directly in the eye and said with compassion, "Can I help you find something?" I made the purchase and was able to muster up, "Danke schon" at the conclusion of the sale and I bid him a "Guten Morgen" as I was leaving, only to find out later that meant "good morning" it was late afternoon.

7. Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck, Austria was ordered to be built in 1765 by Empress Maria Theresa with a twofold purpose: To honor the marriage of her son, the Duke of Tuscany, later Emperor Leopold II, to Maria Ludovica from Spain, and to mourn the death of her husband, Francis I Stephen of Lothringen, who died during the celebrations. The marble friezes were created by Balthasar Moll in 1744. One side of the Arch symbolizes the joyful aspect of the event, the other side the sadness. Francis I and Maria Theresa had 16 "name dropping" children together Queen Marie Antoinette of France, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, Duchess Maria Amalia of Parma and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II just to name a few. Maria Theresa was passionately in love with her husband as expressed with this monumental tribute to him. 

8. St. Anna's Column (Annasaule) this column celebrates the withdrawal of Bavarian troops in 1703 it has a statue of the Virgin Mary on a crescent moon on top. The monument Annasaule in the middle of the Maria-Theresienstrasse was built to commemorate the liberation from the Bavarians on the 26th July 1703. Bavarian soldiers tried to take the city and were defeated.

9. The Leopoldsbrunnen Fountain monument is dedicated to Archduke Leopold V who was the ruler of Tirol from 1619 to 1632. He is seen on a horse at the top of the fountain which is dedicated to him. It is one of the oldest remaining statues of a man on a horse. Leopold served as general in the Thirty Years' War and the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659)

10. Hofburg, the 15th century Imperial Palace of Emperor Maximilian I was rebuilt in the baroque style by Maria Theresa but the residence became a sad place, when her husband died there. The palace is a fine example of the baroque style that can be found throughout Innsbruck. You can wander and tour the palace on your own or take a guided tour.

It was nightfall and we simply ran out of time and day light. To cap off the day, we were treated to a authentic Austrian meal of wiener schnitzel and mashed potatoes and apple strudel for dessert.  It was superb.  After dinner, we were invited into a great hall and enjoyed an evening of traditional Austrian music and dance and the beer was flowing  I hope you enjoy it.  I found it entertaining, especially how the men perked up when the women demonstrated their yodeling ability.  I think I just might try this one at home. The yodeling towards the end really gets these men a movin.

Traditional Tirolean Dancing

I did get to see the Austrian Alps on my way out of Innsbruck, absolutely breathtaking. 

I will share more pictures of the Alps when I take you to Switzerland. The skies were clear that day!

Austria is a beautiful country with some noteworthy residents.  I am sure you have heard of a few.
The hills are alive with history and music.

All the above suggestion would be for the spring and summer travel to Innsbruck , if you plan a winter trip, skiing is the word. Innsruck has twice hosted the winter Olympics. The 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, officially known as the I Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), will be an international multi-sport event for youths that will take place in Innsbruck from January 13 -22, 2012.