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Inspirational Stories About Space, the Ocean, 'Mountain Top' Experiences, Heaven ...
February 11, 2006
2006 XX Olympics Opening Ceremony: NBC's Six Minutes of Passion, Four Hours of Fire

On Friday, February 10th, 2006, the 2006 XX Winter Olympics began in Torino, Italy. Torino (Turin in English) is approximately 90 miles east of Milan. Fifteen sports -- the biathlon, bobsled, curling, ice hockey, figure skating, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, luge, speed skating, short track, Alpine skiing, Freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skeleton and snowboarding -- will be showcased by athletes from around the world from February 11th to the 26th. On February 10th, a primary star of the show was the group of creators who brought Italy to the United States. The Opening Ceremony was broadcast in America by NBC Universal. The team who produced the four hour production, especially, the first six minute introduction to Italy, deserves an Emmy along with major accolades.

I wish anyone in the world with a television could have watched and heard NBC television introduce America to Torino, Italy.

Brian Brown and Mark Levy deserve much of the credit for setting the stage and the tone for NBC's Olympic coverage. The pair devoted the majority of their time as producers to their six-minute "opening". And you could tell. Absolutely amazing. I had tears streaming down my face from start to finish. Braugher, the critically-acclaimed, Emmy award-winning actor who plays Det. Francis Xavier "Frank" Pembleton on "Homicide: Life on the Street" and in the upcoming show "Thief" served as their narrator.

Fabulous choice!

We kept asking, "Who is that?"

If you asked the same question, now you know.

NBC's Olympic Team Creative Director Mark Levy and Brian Brown, the poetic genius, did a magnificent job showcasing Torino to all those watching in America.

Torino, a beautiful Italian city is often lost in the shadows of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. Torino has a vibrant history, thriving culture and rich scenery.

Brown and Levy magnificently showcased Torino in Friday night's six minute introduction.

Scott Duncan, the cinematographer for "The Apprentice" and "Survivor," (and the brother of NBA star Tim Duncan) shot much of the breathtaking scenery. Stunning!

And the music. Wow. Superb.


If our kids weren't in school, we'd be booking the next flight to Italy. Thank God we get to head there in June.

To follow is how Andre majestically lured us into the images of Torino. You could almost taste the snow.

Hopefully, if you didn't see the Opening Ceremony live, you've at least TiVoed it.

For the fifty million viewers who did tune in, your participation was greater than last week's American Idol (40 million), CSI (34.5 million), The Grammys (44.3 million) and Dancing with The Stars (29.9 million).

The top twenty-five cities to tune in included Salt Lake City, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Ft. Myers, Sacramento, West Palm Beach, Las Vegas, Providence, Indianapolis, Hartford, Norfolk, Columbus, Baltimore, Portland (Oregon), San Diego, Atlanta, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Buffalo, New York and Kansas City.

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Posted by jck at 9:09 PM
January 8, 2006
"Brilliant" Chinese Pianist Master Lang Lang: Demand for CDs Greater Than Supply

If only my kids, both aspiring pianists, knew how privileged they were today. On Sunday, January 8th, 2006, the world famous Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang completed his fourth day of performances with the San Francisco Symphony. Lang Lang's name means "brilliant." And that he is! Sitting in our four loge seats above, we could not only see Lang Lang in action we could feel his soul exuding from ten finger tips that are attached an electric body. His eggplant purple velvet jacket only added to the personal charisma that is drawing sell-out audiences around the world.

After his performance of Beethoven's formidable Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, our ten year-old said, "He was really good at dynamics." When I asked her what she meant by this, she said, "It was amazing how he played so tenderly one minute and with such effervescence the next."

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Summaries of Other Recent Posts
January 2, 2006
Warren Miller Entertainment High-Def Movie Takes Skiers to Higher Ground

Skier Jeremy Bloom Photo Credit: John Schwirtlich When I get to Heaven I want to be in a Warren Miller movie. Until then, I'll have to join the thousands of other adventure buffs on the planet and live vicariously through professional skiers, snowboarders, jumpers, and fly-like-a-bird mountaineers by watching the likes of reigning World Cup mogul champion and NCAA football player turned Olympic Gold Medal favorite turning NFL hopeful Jeremy Bloom, Ski-BASE jumping innovator Shane McConkey, the sport's hot-dogging... more

November 28, 2005
The Cirrus SR22-G2 Aircraft: Flying & Fun in Northern California

On Saturday, November 26th, 2005 I laid eyes on one of the most beautiful airplanes I've ever seen: a CIRRUS SR22-G2. Timothy Charles and our ten year-old daughter, Jessica had the privilege of riding in N45OAP from San Carlos down to Monterey for lunch and back. Our friend Randy Dilena, the pilot and owner of the plane, gave me "a tour" of his plane, while Randy's daughter gave Jessica a tour of San Carlos' "SQL" Airport. (The airport is... more

November 25, 2005
Jewish Holocaust Survivor Is Reunited with Her Christian Rescuer For First Time Since 1944

Ruth Gamzer Gruener as a Child Sixty-one years ago, Ruth Gamzer Gruener was eight years old and living in Lvov, Poland (now part of Ukraine). For eight months, during the Holocaust, Joanna Szcygiel Zalucka's parents allowed Ruth to hide in their daughter's bedroom, behind Joanna's trunk or under her bed. As a result of the Szcygiels care, Ruth survived the Holocaust. In 1953, Ruth and her parents moved to Brooklyn. Ruth and Joanna did not see each other again... more

November 17, 2005
Dutch Violinist Janine Jansen Feeds The Souls of Classical Music Lovers in San Francisco

From the The Rugged Elegance Inspiration Network: Rolling Stones Rock The City of San Francisco with A Big Bang Beat" href="">Rolling Stones live and the Country Music Association awards celebration on Tuesday night (that story up next) to Wednesday night with the San Francisco Symphony and Janine Jansen performing Mendelssohn's 1844 Violin Concerto in E minor, we are in music heaven here in San Francisco this week. If you are looking for a sanctuary for your soul, look no... more

November 13, 2005
In 2002 He Was HIV Positive, Now He's Not: Andrew Stimpson Is World's First Person To Be "Cleared" of Aids Virus

It was in Scotland that a sheep named "Dolly" was cloned in 1996. Perhaps it will also be in Scotland that a vaccine for HIV will be discovered thanks to a man name "Stimpson". In August 2002, Andrew Stimpson was handed a death sentence. "HIV-positive" was the young Scottish man's sentence. However, fourteen months later he was tested again. After three additional tests to confirm it, he was told "you no longer carry the human immunodeficiency virus." Andrew Stimpson,... more

October 26, 2005
Mars, The Red Planet, Gets Astronomically Close to Earth

If coyotes howl at the Moon, then what do wild animals do when Mars gets close to Earth? On August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were the closest they had been in nearly 60,000 years. On Sunday, October 30th, 2005, the fourth planet from the Sun in our solar system will be only 43.1 million miles (69.4 million km) from Earth. In 2003, the Red Planet and the place we call home were 34.65 million miles apart. While this... more

October 20, 2005
China On My Mind: Who Will Have The World's Largest IPO in 4 Years? China Construction Bank, That's Who!

If you think things are done on a grand scale in Texas, I encourage you to visit Hong Kong. I did for the first time this past April, and found myself in absolute awe. Step into the Intercontinental Hotel on the Kowloon-side at night and the landscape in front of you will give you a taste of just how big China is. And it's only going to get bigger. Especially when companies like China Construction Bank raise $8 billion... more

October 12, 2005
Sergey Brin & Larry Page Launch Google's Philanthropic Heart, Soul & Arm

Google showed their primary colors in a new light today when the company announced the launch of serves as the philanthropic heart, soul and "arm" of the world's best, free search engine. Sergey Brin at Web 2.0 2005 Conference in S.F. Google founders, Sergey Brin & Larry E. Page, whose harvest has been bountiful, said: We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to... more

October 7, 2005
LifeGem's Memorial Diamonds "Are" A Girl's Best Friend

Some people are said to "wear their heart on their sleeve." Now, thanks to a company called LifeGem, one can wear their dearly beloved on their ring finger. LifeGem is creating stunningly beautiful diamonds with soul from the ashes of cremated remains. The LifeGem is a certified, high-quality diamond created from the carbon of one's loved one as a memorial to their unique life. Ashes-to-Ashes & Dust-to-Diamonds The company uses intensely hot ovens to turn ashes to graphite. They... more

October 4, 2005
Play-by-Play of Faith Hill Day on "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

Monday, October 3rd 2005 was "Faith Hill Day" on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was the first time the Country music maven had ever appeared on Oprah's show. Harpo Productions made the right choice in investing an entire hour in this globally renowned four-time Grammy award-winning singer, mother-of-three and wife to fellow Country superstar Tim McGraw. The Oprah Winfrey Show was taped on September 1st and included two fabulous guests, one, a maker of stars and one, a budding... more

October 1, 2005
San Francisco's Mt. Fillmore: The Icer Air Ski Jumps, Jumpers & Jonny Moseley

On Thursday, September 29th 2005, on one of the sunniest days in San Francisco, California, the snow came out. So did twenty-one ski jumpers and an audience of six thousand. Ten snowboarders and ten skiers, followed by our own local celebrity, 1998 Olympic gold moguls medalist The Rugged Elegance World Marketplace | Search : Jonny Moseley " href=" Moseley&SearchIndex=DVD&searchFormImage.x=48&searchFormImage.y=0">Jonny Moseley, did what said could not be done. They flew down Fillmore Street, literally. The one-day event, called ICER AIR... more

September 29, 2005
San Francisco Says "Let It Snow": Jonny Moseley & 20 Icer Air Male Jumpers Fly Down Mt. Fillmore

SF Skiers Set Up for ICER AIR 2005 photo copyright: Rugged Elegance, LLC Rugged Elegant Living in San Francisco at Its Best The sun rose and the snow fell in San Francisco on Thursday, September 29th 2005. It was a day like no other. On this quintessential Indian Summer day of the year, 1998 Olympic gold moguls medalist The Rugged Elegance World Marketplace | Search : Jonny Moseley " href=" Moseley&SearchIndex=DVD&searchFormImage.x=48&searchFormImage.y=0">Jonny Moseley showed up on Fillmore Street with a... more

September 26, 2005
Soulful San Francisco Couple Fly to Houston to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims

Has it crossed your mind to spontaneously book a flight to an area hit by one of the hurricanes -- with a little cash in hand and a big heart? It crossed Milton and Shirley's mind after the tsunami last year. But they never did anything. Neither did we. However, after Hurricane Katrina this one couple from San Francisco booked a flight to Houston, took $600 and four suitcases full of clothes to give away. They spent 36 hours... more

September 13, 2005
United Airlines Provides First Class Service in Economy For Humans & Pets

Last Tuesday, after traveling from the north of Sweden to Stockholm, to New Jersey, to Maine, the King Fredel clan was only looking forward to our final two flights from New Hampshire to Oakland because it meant we were on our way home to San Francisco, California. From our property in Southern Maine, it took us an hour-and-a-half to get to Manchester, New Hampshire's airport. With golf clubs, two bags a piece, a kennel and a Golden Retriever to... more

February 9, 2005
England's Ellen MacArthur Sails Around The World in 71 Days: Sets Sights on New Records

On Monday, February 7th 2005, Britain's 28 year-old Ellen MacArthur achieved what many sailors only dream of: She single-handedly sailed around the world. The 5 ft. 2" woman from Northern England's landlocked county of Derbyshire sailed into port yesterday, in record time. Around the world in 71 days! 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds -- to be exact. The British "Dame", who began sailing at theage of four, set the world record yesterday beating Frenchman Francis... more

February 1, 2005
Giorgio Armani Prive 2005 Haute Couture Collection: First Stop Paris, Then Hollywood

Paris was alive with haute couture fashion this past week. Designers showed their spring-summer 2005 women's collections. This was the first time Giorgio Armani, the Italian fashion king, presented his new Prive collection here. Traditionally, Mr. Armani has elected to show his collections where they are designed -- in Milan. On Monday, January 24th 2005, the 70 year-old designer, who is going as strong as ever, joined Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino in Paris. Mr.... more

October 16, 2004
The "Right Stuff" -- Celebrating The Life of Mercury Astronaut Gordon "Gordo" Cooper

As fellow astronauts, other friends and loved ones gathered in Houston yesterday to honor U.S. "frontiersman" Captain Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., aka 'Gordo', 'Hot Dog', tonight one American couple shared Apollo 13 with their family for the first time. Cooper, one of the "Mercury 7," died on Monday, October 4th at the age of 77. He was born in Oklahoma in 1927. In 1963, he was one flew 22 orbits in Mercury Faith 7. On that day, it was... more

September 29, 2004
Kingda Ka Roller Coaster: 50.6 Seconds Of Exhilaration

Kingda Ka: Ready for Liftoff 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... A hydraulic launch rockets you horizontally from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds, then vertically 90 degrees into a quarter turn. You crest Kingda Kas tower an exhilarating 458 feet from the ground before plunging vertically into a 270-degree (three-quarter) spiral. You then swoop down a valley and climb a 129-foot hill, leaving you feeling weightless for a few moments before making a left turn back into... more

September 27, 2004
Gary Erickson Tells His Clif Bar Story at Any Mountain in Corte Madera on October 1st

This Friday, October 1st, at Any Mountain in Corte Madera (71 Tamal Vista Blvd.), Gary Erickson, the founder and CEO of Clif Bar and Luna Bar will talk about his autobiography, Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar, Inc.. Clif Bar is one of the nation's leading makers of all-natural energy and nutrition foods. Erickson's company has won numerous awards for its treatment of employees, commitment to the environment and support... more

Who Will Be The First Virgin Bride on Virgin Galactic's First Space Flight?

Today, adventurous British entrepreneur Richard Branson formally announced that his Virgin transport, entertainment and communications company plans to launch commercial sub-orbital space flights by 2007. Virgin Galactic Airways was first introduced on May 1, 1999. The first Galactic flights are planned to take place in two-and-a-half to three years time. Branson will begin taking deposits as early as next year. The first space vehicle will be called VSS-Enterprise. Five Virgin Galactic SpaceShips are to be built. They will carry... more

August 20, 2004
Magnanimous Michael Phelps Gives Up Spot On Relay Team To Ian Crocker

Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker Michael Phelps has inspired us with his incredilble accomplishments in the pool, winning five gold medals and two bronze. Now, Phelps has inspired us outside the pool by magnanimously giving up his spot on the on the 400-meter medley relay team to Ian Crocker whom Phelps had just beaten in the 100 meter butterfly. Phelps needed to rally to beat Crocker, who held the world record and defeated him at both the world... more

July 1, 2004
Saturn, As Captured By The Cassini Spacecraft

Saturn, As Seen By The Cassini Spacecraft Saturn's peaceful beauty invites the Cassini spacecraft for a closer look in this natural color view, taken during the spacecraft's approach to the planet. By this point in the approach sequence, Saturn was large enough that two narrow angle camera images were required to capture an end-to-end view of the planet, its delicate rings and several of its icy moons. The composite is made entire from these two images. Wow! -Tim... more

June 13, 2004
President George H.W. Bush Celebrates 80th Birthday With Skydive

President George H.W. Bush with Army Golden Knight Sgt. Bryan Schnell Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 80th birthday with a 13,000-foot parachute jump over his presidential library Sunday, and said he felt the same thrill of prior jumps even though his hopes of skydiving solo were dashed. He made a tandem jump - harnessed to a member of an Army's Golden Knights parachute team - after officials decided the wind conditions and low clouds made it too... more

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