Monday, December 19, 2011

Arkansas, From Hope To The White House


No matter your political persuasion or party affiliation, anyone should be able to appreciate a visit to The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. The story and journey of a little boy from a small town in Arkansas, Hope, who's father dies before he is born but nonetheless he becomes The President Of The United States is impressive.



Clinton With YasserFor me, William J. Clinton's rise to become one of the most important men in the world is reflective of one of the great things I love about this country, my second birthplace.

It is a land of opportunity for anyone to succeed if one has the courage and fortitude to take advantage of what is offered.





Raised by his mother and nurtured by his grandparents, William J. Clinton overcame many obstacles and challenges to become not only one of the youngest governor's ever to win (and lose an election) but he also served two terms as President Of The United States.



President Clinton Swearing InSome even believe that if it were constitutionally possible, Clinton may have even served three or four terms.








2011-12-01 13.18.59Did you know that the first Presidential vehicle used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt was one seized from the famous gangster, Al Capone?


Or that today Presidential limousines are proudly built in Warren, Michigan.







2011-12-01 13.38.41Oval Office




2011-11-25 15.02.30Also, did you know that after World War II President Truman redesigned The Presidential Seal?

Originally, the eagle faced the talon holding the arrows of war, now it faces the olive branch. President Truman believed that the president, although prepared for war, should always look towards peace.






While this is President Clinton's library, it is not all about him. Here, I have learned more about the First Lady, life at the White House and the Office of The Presidency itself.



2011-12-01 13.47.32There is also currently even an impressive Lego exhibition. This exhibition has displays that I would have never thought possible from little pieces of colorful plastic.







Done with my afternoon tour of the library, I walk back into downtown Little Rock just in time for Happy Hour. Sliders with a side order of Pickles & Peppers along with a pint or two or three of a cold micro brew hits the spot at Big Whiskey's.




2011-12-02 17.37.16Big Whiskey’s Pickles And Peppers




McDonaldsAlthough this is no McDonalds, I have a feeling someone from Hope, Arkansas just might like hanging out here.

I hope he brings his saxophone.








New York City, A Most Wonderful Time Of The Year


I will be the first to admit that I am biased towards New York as being one of the best cities on the planet. No matter what time of the year I visit, I find being in Manhattan to always be an exciting and enjoyable experience. From museums to street vendors, restaurants to shops, subways to crazy taxi drivers, New York City is always vibrant and full of life.


2011-12-16 19.56.29Visiting during the holiday season adds just a few more reasons why I love this city. Spending time at one of New York's if not the world's most popular and recognized holiday spot, Rockefeller Center, is enough to put anyone in the joy of the season.








2011-12-16 20.03.30 




2011-12-16 20.30.08Seeing the huge Rockefeller Christmas tree while watching ice skaters cut across a freshly saved ice rink below is almost magical as holiday music and sounds fill the air.







A loud clock winds down in front of me, ten, nine, eight ….. and then the side of a multi story building comes alive with a crowd pleasing audio visual holiday display. Multiple windows open and close then the walls become covered in sparkling snow flakes before the inner workings of the clock reappears.

Another countdown begins.




2011-12-16 18.27.56This evening, I am fortunate to share in another New York City holiday tradition. I am going to see The Rockettes in their Christmas Special at Radio City Music Hall. Regular ticket prices range from US$55 to US$150 for the show.

A little bargaining and good fortune at the box office and I manage an orchestra level seat for US$70 for the 9:30pm show.







2011-12-16 21.40.38From a tap dancing rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.










2011-12-16 21.58.49A brilliant Toy Solider performance.





2011-12-16 22.51.48Hundreds if not thousands of Santa's appearing on stage. To the best Nativity scene I have ever seen with live animals including camels on the stage.

This show lives up to it's spectacular billing and more than exceeds my expectations. Money well spent for an evening and holiday entertainment.





Besides shows all around town with a touch of the holiday spirit, the streets are also filled with characters like Spiderman, Elmo and even Santa willing to share the joy of the season for a small price. However, to make sure we do not all get to carried away being in a festive mood, silently working the crowd and making his presence known is the man who eats onions for breakfast.

Da, da, da, GRINCH!

Nonetheless, even he cannot resist the happiness and joy of the holiday season in New York City especially if you give him a buck or two.





Friday, December 2, 2011

Florida, Feeling Presidential



2011-11-25 15.02.30Entering Hanger One at The National Museum On Naval Aviation, I see my chance to have a bit of a Presidential Experience.

Sitting in front of me is one of the many “Marine One” helicopters used to transport Presidents of the United States. Now retired, this one was actually used to transport two of our most famous or infamous presidents depending on your perspective.






One of President Nixon’s more memorable photographs was taken while he was exiting this particular helicopter. For President Ford, one of his least graceful moments, a famous stumble also took place while exiting this Marine One.




2011-11-25 15.00.44I am not a crook, maybe?





2011-11-25 15.03.11Duplicating both events, I think I am more presidential striking Nixon's pose than Ford's stumble.

Based on recent events and polling data, today I am proud to write you and announce my candidacy for President Of The United Bubbas Of America.

Yes, we just might!






Florida, National Museum Of Naval Aviation




2011-11-25 12.23.09Leaving the Pensacola Airport, I make a quick stop for lunch with one of my favorite girlfriends, Wendy.

Less than twenty minutes later I arrive at U.S Navy Base at Pensacola Florida, home of the world famous Blue Angels and The National Museum Of Naval Aviation.








2011-11-25 14.44.23Blue Angels



Parking and admission to the museum is free so it has already been worth the drive. To my surprise, 2011 is the 100th year anniversary of Naval Aviation which began in May of 1911. A free guided tour begins with a nice history lesson on the birth of the Naval Aviation and it's first airplane, a flying boat. For sure, in 1911 the operation of any flying machines was a dangerous mission and a few pilots were lost in the process.

Do you know where the first Navy bombing in foreign waters occurred? It was in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Apparently, while performing aerial reconnaissance over the area an irritated naval aviator dropped bars of soap on the Mexicans who were firing shots at his flying boat. Guess he was trying to get them to clean up their act.



2011-11-25 12.50.14This and many other interesting stories are told during our tour by a volunteer who has been involved with the Navy practically all his adult life. Did you know the Navy was responsible for seat belts in airplanes?

Today, all airplanes in the United States begin there registration number with the letter “N”. This process began as a part of Naval history attributed to the “Navy Curtis” (NC) which was a flying boat designed to patrol and fly across the Atlantic.







2011-11-25 13.45.38Ford Tri-Motor




Even Henry Ford, the famous automaker has a part in Naval history. Mr. Ford's contribution, the fully aluminum framed, Ford Tri-Motor. Used as a transportation aircraft it took two days combined with an overnight train ride to get from the East Coast to Los Angeles. Now the same trip is done in about six hours.




2011-11-25 14.23.30From a two pilot safety hazard aircraft at it's birth, the Navy's flying boats soon became monstrous machines that could sustain flight for up to twenty four hours.

Others like the PB2Y-R5 flew military officials around to places like Tokyo Harbor for the signing of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II.







2011-11-25 14.52.00PB2Y-R5



Today, flying boats and even the once thought to be sophisticated F-14 of the movie Top Gun fame are a thing of the past. With the advance of warfare systems and technology, the present Navy airplanes are machines that could not even be imagined one hundred years ago.



2011-11-25 15.35.08Launching from an aircraft carrier on the high seas practically anywhere in the world, one airplane can carry and deliver over 15,000 pounds of bombs into enemy territory.

A far cry from a few bars of soap.







2011-11-25 16.39.51Whether you are a military or aviation and airplane junky or not, if you are in the area, I think a visit to the National Museum Of Naval Aviation is a worthwhile trip.

Who knows you might even meet or become a Blue Angel because of it.