Saturday, September 24, 2005

New National Geographic Photo Book

Wow, I just got a chance to review a new book from National Geographic. You have to see Wide Angle: National Geographic Greatest Places. Check it out at or your favorite bookstore. It features great photos of China, Tahiti, Israel, India, Denmark, Romania, Botswana, Spain, Egypt, Arizona, Cuba, Nanavut, etc.

Address: National Geographic Society, 1145 17th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-4688; 202-857-7000; 800-647-5463; Fax: 202-828-6679. Web:

Friday, September 23, 2005

Vision Quest: The Movie

Vision Quest, the 1985 movie starring Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino, was set in Spokane, Washington. Madonna made her first film appearance in this movie as a singer in a bar.

Address: Spokane Visitors Bureau, 801 W. Riverside #301 Spokane, Washington 99201; 509-624-1341; Fax: 509-623-1297. Web: Films:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fairfield, Iowa: My Home Town

I thought my home town wasn't all that special other than, of course, that I live here. But today I found out that there were many special things about Fairfield, Iowa. Here are a few of them:

** The first Iowa State Fair was held in Fairfield, Iowa from October 25 to 27, 1854. Fairfield also hosted the second Iowa State Fair in 1855.

** Fairfield also established the first country club and private golf course west of the Mississippi River in 1892.

Address: Fairfield Golf & Country Club, 905 E. Harrison Avenue, P.O. Box 549, Fairfield, Iowa 52556; 641-472-4212; Fax: 641-472-6792. Email:

** Fairfield was the first town in America to establish a municipal electric utility. In 1882, Fairfield operated an electric power plant that lit 13 streetlights and six Brush arc lamps which lit up the square from a tower in Central Park (see postcard above). I once lived in an apartment in the retail building with the turret in the center of the postcard.

** Fairfield has the first Carnegie Library built in a town where Andrew Carnegie had no business connections or investments. The library was established in 1893.

** The first monorail conveyer system was built in Fairfield in 1919 for the Louden Manufacturing Company. Louden overhead conveyor systems and crane equipment have been installed in factories throughout the world.

** William Louden of Louden Machinery Works in Fairfield invented a number of barn improvements, including the first flexible sliding barn door hanger, the first litter carrier, the first practical all-steel cow stall, the first automatic drinking bowl for cows, the first practical manure spreader, and the first free barn planning service (1907).

On September 24, 1867 William Louden received his first patent for a device which helped farmers stack hay efficiently. The Louden Machinery Company continued to develop and manufacture a variety of hay tools that allowed a farmer to easily and efficiently move and store hay.

** In 2003 the National Council of Small Communities named Fairfield the top entrepreneurial small city in America by awarding the inaugural Grass Root Entrepreneurship Award.

Address: Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 204 West Broadway, Fairfield, Iowa 52556; 641-472-2111; Fax: 641-472-6510. Email: Web:

Fairfield is also home to Maharishi University of Management, the home of the Golden Domes for TM Siddhi flyers.

Friday, September 09, 2005

An Ecological Note

Every once in a while I get to write about something other than travel trivia. This is my turn to do that. Below are two recommendations I read about in National Wildlife magazine. If you do these two things, you could lessen the human contribution to global warming. Personally, I believe much of global warming is simply the workings of natural processes that turn the earth alternately hot and cold, but I also recognize that we humans can also have an impact. Why not lessen that impact if we can.

1. Replace one regular incandescent bulb with an energy-efficient compact fluorescent. I've done that with the two major bulbs I use to light my work space. Not only am I saving money by using less energy, but the light is like natural sunlight. It's great.

If every family in the U.S. replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, we would decrease heat-trapping emissions by more than 90 billion pounds a year. That's staggering. That's equivalent to taking 7.5 million cars off the road. And you save incredible amount of money and get better light. What a deal.

2. The second action is more expensive. Automobiles account for 1/3 of our country's output of carbon dioxide emissions, the largest source after power plants. Increasing U.S. mileage standards to 40 mpg would prevent as much carbon dioxide from being emitted as is released by the entire country of Mexico. It would also save more oil than we import from the Persian Gulf every year. Not only can we cut down heat-trapping emissions and lower the risk of global warming, but we could cut out our dependence on the Persian Gulf countries (which gets us embroiled in wars over there at a huge cost of people and money).

Plus, personally, we could save a lot of money. If your current car gets 30 mpg and you switched to a car that got 40 mpg, you'd save on gas. If you drive 10,000 miles per year, your cost for gas at $2.00 per gallon would be $666.00 per year at 30 mpg and only $500 per year at 40 mpg. The more you drive, the more you save.

But what really appeals to me is the fact that we could eliminate our dependence on Persian Gulf oil and the compromises we currently make with the despots that rule many of the countries in that region.

My next car will be a hybrid that gets good mileage. Such cars cost about the same, but save a ton on gas and toxic emissions. I can't wait until they make cars that run on water.

Let's make our vacation travel safer and less noxious for all. Thanks for reading.