What an AWESOME compilation!!! Be sure to check out Eirik's post on how he made it!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Workers carefully lowered the final girder into place Wednesday for the John James Audubon Bridge over the Mississippi River, linking Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes with a ribbon of steel and concrete rather than just a ferry crossing.
Opposing spans of the bridge gradually have extended from the east and west banks for most of this year and finally neared each other within the past week.
“We set one girder last night, so we know it fits,” Project Manager Frank Daams joked as workers prepared to lay the girder on the downstream side of the span Wednesday morning.
Bridge workers paused for photographs in front of the 45,000-pound steel beam before a crane moved it into place with guidance from a construction crew on the deck. The girder was decorated with a large banner noting the milestone.
The main span — 1,583 feet in length — is the longest cable-stayed span in the Western Hemisphere.
“It’s an engineering marvel,” said Richard Savoie, chief of the state Department of Transportation and Development’s engineering section.
Savoie said the key features of the bridge are the two 500-foot-tall towers built a short distance from each bank and their foundations, which extend deep into the river bottom. The massive cables that hold the bridge deck and girders in place are anchored to the towers.
The cable-stay design allows the bridge to cross a busy waterway without causing any hindrance to the barge traffic passing beneath, Savoie said.
“It doesn’t hinder commerce at all,” he said.
Motor vehicles now cross the river between New Roads and St. Francisville on a ferry that will cease operations when the bridge opens.
Louisiana voters approved the bridge and 15 other projects in 1989 in a package called the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development, known as TIMED, and funded by a 4-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax.
Audubon Bridge Constructors, a joint venture of Flatiron Corp., Granite Construction and Parsons Transportation Group, won the competition to both design and build the bridge.
Work began in May 2006, and Louisiana TIMED Managers, consultants for DOTD, now estimate the project will be finished in late 2011, spokesman Bill Grass said.
Grass said the most recent cost estimate for the bridge is $409 million.
Although the spans are now connected about 130 feet above the middle of the river, the bridge still is not accessible to vehicular traffic because additional work is needed to complete the deck.
Now that the spans are connected, “a lot of adjustments” will be needed to the alignment, Daams said, and the remaining opening between the two sections may not be completely bridged until next week.
“The east span has been pulled back a bit. We’ll let it come back tomorrow,” Daams said.
While crews worked to tie the spans together, other workers were busy preparing the additional cables that will be attached to the new girders.
The total length of the bridge and its approaches will be 2.44 miles, consisting of four lanes with 8-foot outside shoulders and 2-foot inside shoulders, according to an LTM news release.vThe project also includes 12 miles of new roadways that will connect U.S. 61 in West Feliciana Parish to La. 1 in New Roads. The route required construction of seven smaller bridges on the east bank.
The new 9-mile La. 10 connector in Pointe Coupee offers better access to three existing roads, La. 1, La. 10’s business route and La. 981, an LTM news release says.
The Pointe Coupee section may open for local traffic in January or February, Grass said.
“I think this is fabulous. This is a big moment for West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes, and really the whole Zachary Taylor Parkway,” said Scot Byrd, economic development director for the Greater Pointe Coupee Chamber of Commerce.
The bridge is the centerpiece of the proposed parkway, for which supporters envision having La. 1 and La. 10 widened to four lanes between Alexandria and Interstate 59 in Mississippi.
The Audubon bridge is the eighth Mississippi River crossing wholly within Louisiana, the LTM news release says, while bridges also cross between Louisiana and Mississippi at Natchez and Vicksburg.
The Louisiana Legislature named the bridge after John James Audubon, who painted 32 of his “Birds of America” series while residing at Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville in 1821.
A movement is under way to rename the span in honor of Lt. Gen. John A. Lejeune, of Pointe Coupee Parish, and Gen. Robert H. Barrow, of West Feliciana, the 13th and 27th commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps, respectively.
What an impressive display of engineering this is! I can't wait to drive across it once it's completed!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Christmas has had a long and varied history. It was been celebrated for centuries by different people, at different times, in different places, and in many different ways. Here you will find links to information about the different ways that the holiday we know as Christmas has been celebrated, or not celebrated, over the years.
Regardless of the very interesting origins and history behind it, Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. While we're enjoying all of our gifts and traditions, let us not forget the real reason for the season!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday night or early Tuesday morning, depending on your location, many around the world were able to witness a phenomenal and rare total lunar clips, watching as the Earth passed directly between the sun and the full moon, shrouding it in shadow and transforming the white image into a stunning deep red glow. The event was especially significant as it coincided with the winter solstice, something that hasn't occurred in 372 years, and won't come around again until 2094.
Well, I'm not sure how the cloud cover affected our local area, cuz I crashed before midnight! =( Oh well, the pics sure do look cool!
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – As a gentle breeze binds the scent of oil and tropical air, Paul Rom rises from his wheelchair and grabs hold of the rail. The sky and water nearly match in brilliant blue and just feet a way an American flag whips atop the mast of ship still watching over the harbor. With a little help Paul gazes just to his left, the front gun turret rusted, but visible above the water and the smells from 'the tears of the Arizona' drift up from below. For Paul, a native of the Bronx, this is his first and likely last trip back to Pearl Harbor since his service so many years ago and he has come at a time many in this dying club will say their final goodbye's.
They all have stories. From swimming through oil infested waters ablaze from explosions, to serving on other parts of the island...watching in horror as the Japanese surprise attack 69 years ago killed more than 2,400 of their friends and colleagues, including children and other civilians. For so many the years have gone by so fast and you can literally see the memories on their faces as they go into a near trance while looking over the site. All around the island and around this harbor bombs fell and gunfire ripped through everything in site. Two hours and two waves of Japanese planes later, 188 U.S. aircraft and 21 ships were either destroyed, or severely damaged and we had been brutally thrust into the war in the Pacific.
We have come here for the 69th commemoration at Pearl Harbor for two reasons...the obvious is the memorial that will be attended by about 100 survivors and their last official visit here, but also to witness the dedication of a brand new facility to remember their fight and America's resolve. You see four years ago when we came for the 65th anniversary, our crew noticed the visitors center had seen better days and that's putting it lightly. Big chunks of concrete had fallen from numerous areas and parts of the center were literally sinking back into Pearl Harbor. A fund had been established and every effort was being made to raise 50-million dollars to replace a museum and site that had seen much better days. We pitched the story idea and planned a return.
Just a few months later, we would be back at Pearl Harbor and tell the story and the efforts being made to rebuild before the last survivors were gone and many of you donated money to see that the project would be finished in time. Thankfully the money came in and the center was replaced, so we get another humbling opportunity to meet the survivors and their families as they come to see the new place and remember those lost. First and foremost this is all about seeing the men and women of the great generation and secondly to see the site that will ensure their efforts and fight will not be forgotten. As Park Ranger Candace Francis says "If we don't remember what happens, we do lose our past."
I will say this...if you haven't been here to see this amazing site before, the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument/Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is more than a must-see. If you have been here, you will not recognize the place on a return trip. The facility is downright beautiful and open and gives the visitor the feel of a modern, yet nostalgic trip through time. The new Museum is interactive and spectacular, boasting artifacts from the attack like a ripped open Japanese torpedo, or a door from inside the USS Arizona. There are theaters, pictures, interviews with survivors, a research education center and openness that allows all who come here to peacefully reflect. The site couldn't be more impressive for a group of men and women that witnessed one of the most horrifying, yet historic events in American history.
Never forget what our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers went through for this country! Learn their history, or it will fade away...
Monday, December 06, 2010
What was rumored for a week and considered almost a foregone conclusion once Texas A&M snared the opposite spot finally came to fruition Sunday.
LSU and the Aggies are ready to renew an old gridiron grudge match that has sat dormant for 15 seasons.
The 11th-ranked Tigers (10-2) and No. 18 Texas A&M (9-3) will tangle in the 75th Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 7. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. that Friday and is the only bowl game on that date.
Played at the home of the Jerry Jones-owned Dallas Cowboys, the bowl game is the renewal of a series that dates back to 1899 but hasn’t been played since the 1995 season opener.
LSU and the Aggies have played 49 times, but the series stopped after 1995 for a variety of reasons — and depending on who you ask about it.
There have been rumblings for years that LSU officials not only backed out of the series after losing a fifth straight game to the Aggies, but also have not paid a beefy withdrawal fee contractually required to end the series.
Regardless of what bad blood might remain, the Tigers and A&M don’t have to worry about contracts or money owed 32 days from now. The only thing on the menu will be football in a stadium considered one of the largest and most opulent in the world.
Cowboys Stadium is also the site of Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 6 and is where LSU will open the 2011 season when it tangles with Oregon on Sept. 3.
“This will be a wonderful setting to showcase our talents in prime time with two really good teams,” said LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who will likely play his final game for the Tigers. He is projected as a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, especially with our fans coming into ‘Jerry World.’ I am looking forward to it, and I can’t wait until we get down there after New Year’s. I want our fans to come out too. It will be a blast for them.”
Tailback Stevan Ridley added: “Playing in the Cotton Bowl in Cowboys Stadium is going to be an awesome experience. Any time you play a team outside your conference, especially a team the caliber of Texas A&M, it gets you fired up. They come from a competitive conference in the Big 12, and I’m sure they will pack the place with their fans nearby. I hope our fans can grab up some tickets too. It’s going to be a special experience playing in a stadium that size.”
LSU is in the Cotton Bowl for the fifth time overall and the first time since losing to Texas 35-20 on Jan. 1, 2003. This is the Aggies’ 11th appearance, their first since a 38-7 drubbing at the hands of Tennessee on New Year’s Day in 2004.
The fact both tradition-rich programs were available made the matchup irresistible to the bowl organizers.
“This was one of those years where everything really fell into place,” Cotton Bowl Chairman Tommy Bain said.
“I can’t wait to see the atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium in prime time on Jan. 7.”
The anticipation began building among LSU fans for a potential Cotton Bowl bid after the regular season ended with a 31-23 loss at Arkansas, halting the Tigers’ hopes for a BCS bowl berth. Then when A&M officials announced last week they had accepted a Cotton bid, the anticipation turned into a frenzy.
Brian Broussard, LSU’s assistant athletic director of ticket operations, said last week that Tigers’ fans had requested about 15,000 tickets for the Cotton Bowl — 2,500 more than each school is allotted.
“We sold every ticket we had to this game, and they went quick,” Broussard said. “There is obviously a lot of excitement about going to play in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.”
Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker added: “We formally announced Texas A&M last week, and the phone lines started to light up like a Christmas tree. With the announcement of LSU and the game now being a sellout, I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate 75 years.”
The excitement certainly isn’t limited to the fans who figure to flock to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
LSU coach Les Miles takes a second team to the Cotton Bowl. His 2003 Oklahoma State club squared off with an Eli Manning-led Ole Miss team in 2003 with the Rebels claiming a 31-28 triumph.
Miles is taking LSU to a sixth bowl game in a row, part of a school-record 11-year bowl streak. The Tigers are 4-1 in bowls under Miles after a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl last year.
“The Cotton Bowl is one of the all-time great college bowl games, and to be able to participate in what is the 75th anniversary of this legendary game will be special for our team,” Miles said. “The hospitality is second to none, and the atmosphere is no different than if you were playing in the national championship game.
“I’m excited, and I know that our players are excited about this opportunity. Texas A&M has an outstanding program, and we are looking forward to renewing our longstanding rivalry with them.”
This will be the 50th meeting between the two programs in football. LSU leads the series 26-20-3 and won the only other bowl meeting: 19-14 in the 1944 Orange Bowl.
The Tigers have won 10 or more games for the 10th time in school history and are seeking a fourth year with 11 wins or more under Miles.
Texas A&M is coached by Mike Sherman, who spent six years as the coach of the Green Bay Packers (2000-05) before returning to College Station, where he was an assistant three times under Aggies’ coaching legend R.C. Slocum.
A&M’s 9-3 record is the best of three seasons under Sherman, and the Aggies are seeking to end a five-game bowl losing streak that dates back to a 28-9 triumph against TCU in the 2001 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston. They have lost their past three bowl meetings with SEC foes, with Independence Bowl losses to Mississippi State (2000) and Georgia (2009) sandwiched around the loss to Tennessee on their last visit to the Cotton Bowl.
The Aggies shared the Big 12 Conference South Division championship with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this season despite a rough midseason stretch. The Aggies’ three losses came consecutively Sept. 30-Oct. 16 to Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri — three teams that take 10-2 records into their bowl games. Texas A&M bounced back to notch wins in November against both Oklahoma (33-19) and Nebraska (9-6), the two teams that played for the Big 12 crown Saturday.
Texas A&M finished the regular season with a sixth consecutive victory by outlasting bitter rival Texas 24-17 on Thanksgiving night, a win that helped punch a ticket to the Cotton Bowl.
“The matchup with LSU presents a great challenge against a very talented and well-coached opponent,” said Sherman, who was an assistant when the Aggies played in three straight Cotton Bowls from 1992-94. “Our players are very aware of the Tigers’ success and look forward to this game.
“Playing in the same stadium which will host the Super Bowl soon after our game allows our players to experience a unique national spotlight in one of the best venues in all of sports.”
It's going to be a very exciting game… I can't wait!!! Be sure to check out LSU vs. Texas A&M: At a glance and the LSU Bowl History for all the numbers.
I think the best part about LSU playing the Aggies again is that we can bring back all of the old Aggies jokes!!! Such as…
- Did you hear about the Aggie terrorist who tried to blow up the LSU team bus? He burned his lip on the tailpipe.
- What is the difference between the Aggies and Rice Crispies? Rice Crispies know what to do in a bowl.
- How many Aggies does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, but he gets 3 hours credit.
- Did you hear about the skeleton they found in a closet in one of the dorms at A&M? It was the 1963 hide-and-go-seek champion!
- Why don't Aggies eat barbecue beans? Because they keep falling through the holes in the grill.
- How many Aggies does it take to eat an armadillo? Two. One to do the eating, and one to watch for cars.