Friday, July 27, 2007

Little Known Louisiana Facts

Louisiana State Capitol - Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building in the nation at 450 feet

Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans, LA
The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest enclosed stadium in the world

Lake Ponchartrain Causeway - New Orleans, LA
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest over-water bridge in the world at 23.87 miles

Louisiana's Wetlands - 6.5 Million Acres
Louisiana's 6.5 million acres of wetlands are the greatest wetland area in America

Just in case Hurricane Katrina causing the levees to break in New Orleans is the only thing you know about Louisiana, here are a few more interesting facts about the Bayou State:

  • Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building in the nation at 450 feet.
  • The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest enclosed stadium in the world.
  • The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest over-water bridge in the world at 23.87 miles.
  • Louisiana's 6.5 million acres of wetlands are the greatest wetland area in America.
  • The oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase Territory is Natchitoches, Louisiana founded in 1714.
  • The first bottler of Coca-Cola, Joseph Biedenharn, lived in Monroe, Louisiana.
  • Delta Airlines got its start in Monroe, Louisiana. (But before it was named Delta, it was Chicago & Southern.)
  • Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the largest predominantly black university in America.
  • Baton Rouge was the site of the only American Revolution battle outside the original 13 colonies.
  • The formal transfer of the Louisiana Purchase was made at the Cabildo building in New Orleans on December 20, 1803.
  • The staircase at Chrétien Point, in Sunset, Louisiana was copied for Tara in "Gone with the Wind."
  • Louisiana is the No. 1 producer of crawfish, alligators and shallots in America.
  • Louisiana produces 24 percent of the nation's salt, the most in America.
  • Much of the world's food, coffee and oil pass through the Port of New Orleans.
  • Tabasco, a Louisiana product, holds the second oldest food trademark in the U. S. Patent Office.
  • Steen's Syrup Mill is the world's largest syrup plant producing sugar cane syrup.
  • America's oldest rice mill is in New Iberia, Louisiana at KONRIKO Co.
  • The International Joke Telling Contest is held annually in Opelousas, Louisiana.
  • LSU "The Ole War Skule" in Baton Rouge has the distinction of contributing the most officers to WW II after the U. S. military academies.
  • The Louisiana Hayride radio show helped Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash achieve stardom. It was broadcast from KWKH Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana from 1948 to 1960.
  • The term Uncle Sam was coined on the wharfs of New Orleans before Louisiana was a U. S. territory as goods labeled U. S. were from "Uncle Sam."
  • The game of craps was invented in New Orleans in 1813 as betting was common activity on the wharves.
  • When states had their own currency, the Louisiana Dix (French for ten) was a favored currency for trade. English speakers called them Dixies and coined the term Dixieland.
  • New Orleans is the home of the oldest pharmacy in America at 514 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. These early medical mixtures became known as cocktails (guess they were good for what ails ya?) coining yet another term.
  • New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz the only true American art form. Jazz gave birth to the Blues and Rock and Roll music.

Viva La Louisane!!!

For more cool facts, check out Interesting Facts About Louisiana.

Interesting facts! I grew up here in Louisiana, so I already knew most of these...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book 7)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book 6)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book 5)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book 4)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (book 3)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (book 2)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (book 1)

The anticipation is electric, you could call it downright insane, and with the seventh and last Harry Potter book finally coming out on Saturday, a lot of fans seem convinced that their lightning-scarred hero is doomed to die. But perhaps the bespectacled boy wizard still has some magic up his sleeve.

As Potter fans know, author J.K. Rowling promises the deaths of at least two major characters in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" — and has hinted at the demise of Harry himself.

Ten years ago Rowling reportedly wrote the last chapter and put it in a vault in her house, and she says she sobbed with grief while completing the final book — leading many fans to fear for the death of their rumple-haired teen hero.

But don't count out the power of Harry's hocus pocus quite yet.

"I actually don't think she'll kill off Harry," said William Luhr, professor of English and film at Saint Peter's College in New Jersey. "Harry is the readers' grand knight throughout the story, able to face so many perils all along, showing courage while still so young — and to erase him at the very end just doesn't work."

Rowling herself seems to have warned readers to be ready for Harry's death, saying that his story "comes to quite a clear end, sadly" in the seventh book. The star of the Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe, has also said that he doesn't think his character will survive the final novel, adding that it's just his guess and he has no inside information.

But Luhr said such an ending doesn't match up with the arc of Rowling's tale.

"In every installment, the reader sees Harry evolve. He develops. At times he's nasty and angry at his friends. He learns dark aspects of the adult world, adolescent lessons that adults can be ugly. To end a story like that — of a character's evolution — with his sudden death just won't be enough."

Luhr added he thinks Rowling has the guts to kill a beloved character, but he thinks it will be Hermione, Harry's strong-willed, powerful female friend.

Other literary experts think killing off the child conjurer wouldn't fit with the Potter novels' true genre: children's books.

"I would be extremely disappointed if she did kill Harry — it's a children's book. Even though it's gotten popular with adults, it's too hard for children to see their beloved hero just killed off like that," said Dina Brasseur, a senior children's librarian in New York City.

"Voldemort [the evil wizard] had better die, and it's terrible, but either Ron [Harry's friend] or Hermione, or maybe Hagrid [his half-giant teacher]," she added.

But to some fans, Harry's death seems to bring the hit series full circle — as long as he brings Voldemort down with him.

"I think it would make sense for Harry to die, because it's the ending of the series," said 9-year-old Gianna Rosenbach from Glen Rock, N.J. "It could be a little depressing, but Harry should be killed, probably with the evil guy, because evil guys usually are."

Other young readers argue that killing Harry wouldn't make any narrative sense.

"I think my prediction is that it could be Ron. I think it would be one of Harry's fears if Voldemort took away his best friend," said 11-year-old reader Elizabeth Gregory of Ridgewood, N.J. "I don't think Harry will be killed, because the book will have lost his presence. Everything will just be lost off course, with no real ending."

It's the burning question, one that will have fans lining up around the block to buy the book at the stroke of midnight on Friday. Will Rowling leave so many young readers with only a dead Harry?

The majority of fans say if she scripts it just right, it's an ending they'll accept.

But even if Rowling killed off her protagonist in her final book, would that definitely be readers' last glimpse of Harry?

With Harry Potter still proving to be a cash cow and a mass-marketing sensation, the answer could, for better or worse, still be no.

Perhaps, even for boy wizards, it's really all about the bottom line.

"They killed off Superman, too, but did anyone truly believe that he would ever stay dead?" said Christopher Sharrett, a professor of communications and film studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. "Ian Fleming died over 40 years ago, but the James Bond films continue — he's clearly outlived his creator."

The Harry Potter franchise has clearly taken on a life of its own — with the fifth installment of the movie series "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which opened on July 11, hauling in $44.8 million in its first day, the best single-day gross ever for a movie on a Wednesday (the movie has made over $330 million worldwide since its debut last week).

"If any media conglomerate wants to bring him back, a cash machine like Harry Potter is going nowhere — some version of this character and this world will survive," Sharrett said. "Even if Rowling killed off every major character she'd ever created, if they make money, corporate culture will keep them around."

Even if it might be for the worse, artistically, Harry Potter's magic marketability may just be the key to his immortality.

Added Sharrett: "These things tend to go on and on — many authors want to retain control over their work when it gets this big — but they really find that they can't."

Check out the article at Fox News.

I can't wait until I get my hands on my copy! I hope I don't have to wait too long for it to arrive. From midnight on Friday I'm blacking out all media until I finish the book... I don't want any spoilers!

I really don't care if she kills Harry off, just as long as it's a good conclusion to the series. Judging by the previous six books, I will not be let down!

Be sure to check out the official J. K. Rowling website for some cool features and info!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book 7) - full cover

UPDATE: 7-23-07

I finished the book last night and it was so much more than I expected it to be! J. K. Rowling is an excellent author and I look forward to reading her future works! Not to mention, she really has a knack for creating a riveting death scene!

Awesome conclusion to an awesome series!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New 7 Wonders of the World

The Great Wall of China

Jordanian site of Petra

Rio de Janeiro's Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Peru's Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu

Mexico's Mayan City of Chichen Itza

The Roman Colosseum

India's Taj Mahal

LISBON, Portugal — Monuments in three Latin American countries were named among the new seven wonders of the world Saturday, July 7, 2007.

Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, and Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid were chosen alongside the Great Wall of China, Jordan's Petra, the Colosseum in Rome and India's Taj Mahal.

The sites were selected according to a tally of around 100 million votes cast by people around the world over the Internet and by cell phone text messages, the nonprofit organization that conducted the poll said.

Among the places left out were the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; the Statues of Easter Island, Chile; Cambodia's Angkor; Turkey's Hagia Sophia; and Russia's Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral.

Those major attractions were on the shortlist of 21 before the announcement of the results at a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Great Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, kept their status in addition to the new seven.

The new architectural marvels were presented during a show which included appearances by American actress Hilary Swank, Indian actress Bipasha Basu, and British actor Ben Kingsley, as well as performances by Jennifer Lopez and Jose Carreras.

The campaign to pick the seven new wonders was begun in 1999 by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber. His Switzerland-based foundation, called New7Wonders, received almost 200 nominations from around the world. The list of candidates was narrowed down to 21 by early last year. Voting took place over the past six years, but gathered pace only in recent months.

The organizers conceded there was no foolproof way to prevent people from voting more than once for their favorite. They claimed votes came in from every country in the world.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, keeps updating its own list of World Heritage Sites, which now totals 851 places.

However, Paris-based UNESCO distanced itself from the seven wonders ballot, saying it reflected only the opinion of those who voted.

Weber aims to encourage cultural diversity by supporting, preserving and restoring monuments, and inspire people to value their heritage.

His foundation said it would use 50 percent of net revenue from the project to fund restoration efforts worldwide. One of them is a mission to rebuild the giant Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan, blown up in 2000 by the Taliban regime.

Weber said he was starting a new campaign Sunday to choose the new seven natural wonders of the world.

"If you want to save something, you first have to truly appreciate it," he told the crowd.

The original list of seven architectural marvels was collated by a variety of observers of the ancient Mediterranean and the Middle East.

However, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos lighthouse off Alexandria in Egypt have all vanished.

Check out the article at Fox News.

All beautiful and interesting places, to be sure... but my vote is for the New 21 Wonders of the World!

Be sure to check out the New 7 Wonders website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vacation in Charleston

The Arthur Ravenal Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina

Waterfront Park in Charleston, South Carolina

Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina

Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina

The first C-17 Globemaster III squadron - based out of Charleston, South Carolina

Mansions on The Battery in Charleston, South Carolina

Cobblestone Streets in Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Beach Pier - Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Beach - Charleston, South Carolina

Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston, South Carolina

Dawn at Folly Beach - Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a notable tourist destination, with streets lined with grand live oaks draped with Spanish moss. Along the waterfront in an area known as Rainbow Row are many beautiful and historic pastel-colored homes. The city is also an important port, boasting the second largest container seaport on the East Coast and the fourth largest container seaport in North America. It is also the second most productive port in the World behind Hong Kong. Charleston is becoming a prime location for technology jobs and corporations. In the city's downtown area, the medical district is experiencing rapid growth of biotechnology and medical research coupled with substantial expansions of hospital facilities at the Medical University of South Carolina and Roper Hospital. It is also home to the very prestigious all-girls school named Ashley Hall, which was founded in 1909 and the Porter-Gaud School, founded in 1867.

Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, the storm damaged three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage.

In 1993, the world's first squadron of the significant C-17 Globemaster III aircraft was established at Charleston Air Force base.

In 2004, SPAWAR (US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command) became the largest employer in the Charleston metropolitan area. Until 2004, the Medical University of South Carolina was the largest employer.

Charleston is the home of a Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP). It is part of an initiative by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mail order prescriptions to veterans using computerization at strategic locations throughout the United States.

Check out the article at Wikipedia.

We just returned from an AWESOME vacation in Charleston, South Carolina! This beautiful city boasts many attractions... there's something for everyone! I personally love the history surrounding the city... the first shots of the Civil War were fired here. You can tour the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown or enjoy the peaceful waterfront at Battery Park. If you're in the mood for something a little more eerie, be sure to check out one of Charleston's many haunted tours. The fishing is GREAT and of course the beaches are perfect!

Now, where's my check from the Charleston CVB?