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Shen Yun & Bill Nye, The Science Guy

January 26th, 2015

        Spent the weekend visiting my sister in Pasadena. On Saturday we saw the Shen Yun Performing Arts dance group and on Sunday attended a Bill Nye-The Science Guy lecture at Cal Tech.

        The Shen Yun Performing Arts group is appearing in five Southern California venues during January and February. They extensively publicize their engagements which draw large crowds to their performances. The publicity always includes a photo of an individual who appears to be flying and that image led me to assume a Shen Yun program qualified as a spectacular event. I didn’t learn of my mistaken assumption until we were seated in the theater. The performance we saw occurred in Hollywood’s Dolby Theater. It’s probably better known by its former name, Kodak Theater when it was then the site of the annual Academy Awards. ceremonies. The Dolby Theater is quite nice and our Orchestra seats afforded us excellent views of the stage.

        Shen Yun Performing Arts is a New York City nonprofit organization dedicated to reviving authentic Chinese culture through presentation of ancient traditions on stage. The performances consist of dances and music from 5,000 years of past history and are reportedly part of the culture suppressed by today’s China’s communist government. All dialog, including vocals, was in Chinese though each act is preceded by a spoken introduction that’s presented in both English and Chinese. The troupe includes an Orchestra comprised of both Chinese and Western instruments. The music consists of all-original compositions. Though described in the program as “Classical Chinese dance”, my untrained eye left me concluding one description of the performance could be that it is a form of Chinese Ballet.

        The performance’s patrons included many who appeared to be of Chinese ancestry and I suspect the event was quite meaningful for them. As for me, my disappointment at learning I was attending a Classic Chinese Dance program, instead of performance geared towards something spectacular, was difficult to overcome. I did find the program interesting and different from other events I’ve attended. Shen Yun reportedly creates new programs each year, but it’s not something I’d be interested in seeing again.

Shen Yunhttp://www.shenyun.com/la


        On Sunday we attended the Skeptics Society presentation of “Bill Nye, The Science Guy In Conversation with Michael Shermer”. The event was in Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium and it was completely sold out with a large crowd outside of those who arrived after all tickets had been sold. I’ve seen Bill Nye on television including, of course, last year’s “Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham”, also known as the “Creationism Vs. Evolution Debate”.

        Nye’s resume includes an unusual variety of experiences. His Wikipedia entry says he is an “American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, writer, scientist, and former mechanical engineer, best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–98) and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.” The Caltech appearance was a great opportunity to see the guy close up and  in a rather informal setting. The conversation lasted a couple of hours and was an event I’d readily repeat.

BillNyeSGhttp://www.caltech.edu/content/skeptics-event-bill-nye-science-guy-conversation-michael-shermer

 

Bond Shands
January 26, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com


Postscript note: The following comment was posted by a viewer to my Facebook version of this report.

Michael Strickland The Shen Yun show is part of the Falun Gong religious cult, which the Chinese authorities do torture and suppress. The group doesn’t advertise the show that way, but you were basically seeing a religious propaganda show, and it has NOTHING to do with “Classical Chinese” anything. Surprised you didn’t realize that. Here’s a link to a friend’s writeup 7 years ago:

http://www.sfciviccenter.blogspot.com/2007/01/falun-gong-spectacular-at-opera-house.html


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Mayor’s Healthy Planet Healthy You Race & Wellness Festival

January 17th, 2015

     Today was the fourth annual Mayor’s Healthy Race & Festival in and starting from the Palm Springs Wellness Park. It’s a fund-raising activity that benefits the City’s commitment to health and reducing childhood obesity.

     I spent the first half of my day as a volunteer starting at 5:30 am this morning. My various tasks included stacking books on tables, assisting with setup of the golden arch under which the race started and finished, inspecting awards plaques, staffing the VIP booth and then the Volunteer Registration booth. The park was filled with individuals of all ages, including three sets of race participants (10 miler, 5k and 1k for children), entertainment, lots of free edibles, and many vendor booths. I found the entire experience an enjoyable activity.

     In the photos one is with Mayor Steve Pougnet (who ran the 10 mile course) and the other with Michele Mician, Sustainability Manager for the City of Palm Springs (and coordinator for the race and festival). In addition to directing the festival activities Michele also took time to run the 5k course. The runners paid entry fees but the Wellness Park festival activities were all free. That included the two photos displayed here.

Bond & Mayor Steve Pougnet - Mayor's Wellness Restival Bond & Michelle Mician - Mayor's Wellness Restival

     Here are links to pages with more information about the event.

http://deserthealthnews.com/…/mayor-steve-pougnet-to-lead-…/

http://www.healthyplanethealthyyoups.com

http://www.palmspringslife.com/…/4th-Annual-Ma…/event/24621/

     Should probably confess that my return home shortly before noon was immediately followed by an hour’s snooze.

Bond Shands
January 17, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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New Car Now Replacing Older Vehicle

January 4th, 2015

     The new BMW I ordered October 29th was finally delivered to my residence last Friday. It’s a neat automobile and I’m already in love with all the new technology and related gadgets. It definitely qualifies as a great new toy. I was attracted to the fairly new BMW model M235i 2-door coupe, after reading rave reports in Consumers Magazine. Their choice became mine and I arranged for a special factory order to get the options I preferred to see included. I had my Honda Prelude for 20 years and sold it with 80,000 miles on it. I’ve had a Toyota Solara for almost 14 years. Since I keep my cars a very long time this one may be the last one I will have need to purchase.

     Two vehicles in the garage? I don’t think so. Since I drive less than 5,000 miles annually, I definitely don’t need more than one. It’s time to put the beloved 2001 Toyota Solara on the market. It’s in perfect running condition, body in great shape, fully loaded top-of-the-line model with less than 36,000 miles on it. My BMW of Riverside sales manager advised me to advertise it on Craig’s List for $10,000 or b/o – and that’s what I’ve done. If Toyota still made the Solara would probably have purchased their new model instead of the BMW, for I really love my Solara. But the new technology now available in the finer automobiles lured me into parting company with my Solara and getting that new toy. As for Craig’s List, never had reason to use it before so will be interested to learn if advertising there produces responses.

     My Craig’s List (or Craigslist) advertisement includes a photo of the Toyota Solara along with pertinent details. It’s may be viewed using the following link.  http://palmsprings.craigslist.org/cto/4830979115.html.

     Click here to view a copy of a special For Sale flyer that includes a complete description of the vehicle.

Bond Shands
January 4, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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Tournament of Roses 2015 Parade

January 1st, 2015
     After years of watching the New Year’s Day Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade on television I finally found myself sitting in a grandstand seat along the parade route on New Year’s day 2015. This year the Rose Parade, long considered “America’s New Year Celebration“, celebrated its 126th year and it was an experience my friend Andrea and I enjoyed so much we are considering a repeat in 2016.

     The day started very early. Andrea boarded our Linn Line motor coach at 4:30 a.m. in Palm Desert and I joined her when the coach stopped at the A.C.T. Tours office in Palm Springs at 5:00 a.m. We made excellent time and arrived at our destination before 7:00 a.m. for a hot pancake breakfast at the First United Methodist Church. Afterwards we walked the half-block to our second-row stadium seating mid-way in the five mile parade route along Colorado Boulevard. The first contingents of the parade reached us around 8:30 a.m. and the passing spectacle continued until well after 10:30 a.m.

     Sitting on the parade route was like being present during an outdoor party. The panoply of spectators (both curbside and in the stands), personal acts (bicyclists, acrobatics, religious salvation hawkers, et.al.) on the route preceding the first parade units was topped completely by a squad of motorcycle police officers. There were eight of them riding flower adorned bikes with lights flashing, sirens sounding and banners flying. They zoomed up and down the parade route in various formations which they performed with great skill. Their performance definitely merited the applause they received from the crowd when whey they departed in advance of the first parade units.

     The first parade unit to reach us was that of the 2015 Grand Marshall, Mr. Louis Zamperini, who passed away at age 97 a few months after having been selected for the position. He was represented by a riderless horse followed by his daughter and family riding in a decorated 1936 Packard Standard Eight luxury convertible.

     This year’s parade theme “Inspiring Stories” is about “ordinary people who do extraordinary things as a result of their effort”. The theme was chosen in 2010 after publication of “Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s book about Olympic athelete and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, was published”.

     The actual parade consisted of 39 decorated floats, 6 Tournament Entries, 18 Equestrian Units, 21 Marching Bands, and a Closing Show presented by Wells Fargo. All floats were decorated with flowers and other plant materials. No paint or other artificial coverings are permitted. A flyover of the B-2 Spirit multi-role stealth bomber flew over the route as the parade got underway.

     There were so many outstanding parade units, including beautifully designed floats, that several pages would be required in order to fairly produce a complete presentation. That part of the morning was surely captured by the television crews where it became visible to worldwide audiences. To those along the parade route many causes of merriment were actions probably not seen by television viewers. One of the funniest examples were the three individuals, dressed in white, who followed each equestrian unit. One pushed a trash bin on wheels, another had a shovel and the third had a dust pan. Their job was to clear horse manure from the route. Their antics were quite comical and often ended with a bow to the crowd following completion of their collection task. Applause always followed their antics.

     The near-freezing weather temperature this year produced one of the coldest Rose Parade events and those along the route were bundled in warm clothing. That was seldom the case for parade participants and many were dressed in a manner better suited for a warm day (as was the case the preceding year). However, there was no visible evidence the cold temperatures adversely affected the participants or the beautiful flowers and plant materials covering the floats and other units. As for me, in the grandstand wearing several layers of clothing, I still managed to feel the cold metal seat I was sitting on while my fingers and toes never qualified for a warm rating. Next time I’ll bring a seat cushion!
     

Rose Parade 2015 Grandstand ViewBond & Andrea – View from Grandstand
    
     After parade’s end our motor coach proceeded to a food court near Santa Anita Park in nearby Arcadia. An hour’s stop permitted us to purchase lunch and take advantage of comfort facilities. We then reboarded our coach and made an uneventful return to Palm Springs around 2:00 p.m. Justine, our director, was an experienced guide who clearly had been to many past parades. Her coach time talks provided us with meaningful background information about the City of Pasadena and its Rose Parade.

      A.C.T. Escorted Day Tours advertised the $149 Rose Parade offering as follows:

“A.C.T. has procured excellent grandstand seats midway in the parade route, enabling you to leave the desert an hour later than normal. Each seat is numbered and reserved ­hassle free! Tour includes deluxe motor coach transportation, and a hot pancake breakfast when you arrive in Pasadena.”

      The event lived up to the published description and is one Andrea and I would both recommend. We also agreed in our favorable rating of Justine who served as our tour guide escort.

 

Bond Shands
January 1, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

Note: Quotations are from the official Rose Parade program.

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