August 31, 2014

1211-1214 UNITED STATES (New York) - US Open Tennis Championships

For those who aren't familiar with tennis, US Open is one of the world's most important tennis championships, chronologically the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year, the other three being the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. It is held annually in late August and early September over a two-week period. The main tournament consists of five event championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, with additional tournaments for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at New York City, within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The tournament was first held, as national championship, in August 1881 on the grass courts at the Newport Casino (Newport, Rhode Island). In 1915 it was relocated to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills (New York). The open era began in 1968, when 96 men and 63 women entered the event, and prize money totaled $100,000 (in 2014 reached $36,203,760). It is owned and organized by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and net proceeds from ticket sales are used to promote the development of tennis in the United States. It is the only Grand Slam tournament that has been played every year since its inception.


USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where takes place US Open, has 22 courts inside its 46.5 acres and 11 in the adjoining park, and was opened in August, 1978. The complex's three stadia are among the largest tennis stadia in the world. The main court is located at the 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, opened in 1997 and named after the African American player who won the men's final of the inaugural US Open in 1968. The next largest court is the Louis Armstrong Stadium, opened in 1978, extensively renovated from the original Singer Bowl. It was the main stadium from 1978 to 1996, and its peak capacity neared 18,000 seats, but was reduced to 10,200 after the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The third largest court is the 6,000-seat Grandstand Stadium, attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2011, Court 17 (nicknamed "The Pit") was opened as a fourth show court, with large television screens and electronic line calling which allows player challenges. It initially held 2,500 with temporary stands, but will allow over 3,000 fans after its completion in 2012. Sidecourts 4, 7, and 11 each have a seating capacity of over 1,000. In 2005, all US Open (and US Open Series) tennis courts were given blue inner courts to make it easier to see the ball on television; the outer courts remained green.

August 28, 2014

1210 MONGOLIA - Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake

Known also as White Lake and located in the Khangai Mountains in central Mongolia, in Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park, Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake is an astonishingly beautiful lake with crystal clear fresh water. Torrents of lava issuing from the Khorgo volcano, situated near the eastern end of the lake, blocked the north and south Terkh rivers, so forming the dammed lake of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur at an altitude of 2.060m above sea level. The lake is 16km wide, 4 to 10m deep and 20km in length, a total of 61 sq.meters. The Suman River springs from lake, which supports pike and other fish, and also rare birds,

August 27, 2014

1209 SPAIN (Andalusia) - A bullfight in Plaza de Toros in Ronda

Bullfighting (Spanish: corrida de toros), also known as tauromachia or tauromachy, is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France and some Hispanic American countries (Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru), in which one or more bulls are fought in a bullring. Some followers of the spectacle prefer to view it as a 'fine art' and not a sport, as there are no elements of competition in the proceedings. The bullfight, as it is practiced today, involves professional toreros (of which the most senior is called a matador) who execute various formal moves which can be interpreted and innovated according to the bullfighter's style or school. Such maneuvers are performed at close range, after the bull has first been weakened and tired by lances and short spears with barbs which are thrust into and then hang from the bull. The close proximity places the bullfighter at some risk of being gored or trampled by the weakened bull. After the bull has been hooked multiple times behind the shoulder, the bullfight usually concludes with the killing of the bull by a single sword thrust, which is called the estocada.

August 25, 2014

1208 BELGIUM (West Flanders) - Lacemakers in Bruges

The origin of lace is difficult to locate in both time and place. Some authors assume that the manufacturing of lace started ever since the Ancient Rome, but firm evidence there are only since the 15th century, when Charles V decreed that lace making was to be taught in the schools and convents of the Belgian provinces. Actually the lace was designed to replace embroidery in a manner that could easily transform the dresses, the lace could be unsewn from one material to be replaced on another. In the late 16th century there was a rapid development in the field of lace, used in both fashion and home décor. Flanders maintained an active exchange with Italy, so that it wasn't unnatural that, at the time, laces were known and made in Flanders. Its linen was superior to other countries of Europe, so the Flemish exported great quantity, and finer then any other part of Europe. Spinning flax threads and weaving fine textiles is closely associated with the early commercial history of this region, and when the progress of manufactures was endangered by the religious persecutions of the 16th century, is said that  the linen trade have saved the country from ruin.

1207 PITCAIRN ISLANDS - The map of the Pitcairn Island

The Pitcairn Islands, officially named the Pitcairn Group of Islands, are a group of four volcanic islands (Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno) that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. Only Pitcairn, the second largest island measuring about 3.6km from east to west, is inhabited, by the 56 descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them. All the residents are Seventh-day Adventist, due to a successful mission in the 1890s, and live in one settlement, Adamstown. Henderson Island, covering about 86% of the territory's total land area and supporting a rich variety of animals in its nearly inaccessible interior, is also capable of supporting a small human population despite its scarce fresh water, but access is difficult, owing to its outer shores being steep limestone cliffs covered by sharp coral. In 1988 this island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

August 24, 2014

1206 JAPAN (Kyūshū) - Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival

Hakata Gion Yamakasa is a Japanese festival celebrated from 1 to 15 July in Hakata, Fukuoka. Its rites centre is on Kushida Jinja, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Amaterasu and Susanoo, founded in 757. It has a seven hundred and fifty year history, attracts up to a million spectators, and in 1979 was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. The sound of the Kaki Yamakasa has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. It is famous for a 5km race through the streets of Hakata, in which compete teams of men bearing on their shoulders yamakasa, which are large 1-ton floats elaborately decorated.

1205 NEW CALEDONIA (Maré Island) - A traditional hut

Maré Island is the second-largest of the Loyalty Islands, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The population of Maré is about 6900, of mainly Melanesian heritage (less than 2% of the population is of European ancestry), more specifically Kanak. The traditional hut is architecturally representative of the Kanak culture, its features representing the organization and lifestyle of the tribes. Fitting perfectly into the landscape, enhanced by neatly trimmed grass and coconut palms, the island hut has lasted through the centuries. It is found everywhere: there are no inhabited places without a hut.

1204 SWEDEN - The world's largest struck coin

In 1646 a ship, loaded with iron bars, was wrecked in the archipelago of Gryt in Östergötland. In the cabin there was a chest containing nearly two thousand Swedish copper coins. Furthermore, five newly issued plate money coins were kept in the cabin. The denomination of each one of them was 10 daler sm, four of them were struck in 1644 and one in 1645, during the reign of Queen Christina of Sweden. The lack of silver in Sweden at the beginning of the 17th c. was the main reason why copper coins were brought into production, the first ones being issued in 1624 in low denominations. As many as 26 539 plate money coins with the denomination of ten daler sm were minted during 1644. In 1645 only 235 pieces were struck until the production ceased. The centre stamp shows X DALER Sölff:Mnt (10 daler silver coin) and the mintmaster’s mark, Markus Kock. The corner stamps show a royal crown and the initials C R S (Christina Regina Sveciae = Christina, the Queen of Sweden) 1644.

1203 CANADA (Ontario) - Toronto's Old City Hall reflected in Cadillac Fairview Tower

Toronto's Old City Hall, one of the largest buildings in Toronto and the largest civic building in North America upon completion in 1899, housed the city council until 1966. Designed by prominent Toronto architect Edward James Lennox in a variation of Romanesque Revival architecture known as Richardsonian Romanesque, the building took more than a decade to build and cost more than $2.5 million. It can be described as a massive square quad with a courtyard in the middle. Situated at the front elevation, its clock tower was placed off centre to provide a terminating vista for Bay Street. The entire building has ornamentation derived from ancient Roman art. There are structural decorations used by the different colors of stone.Part of the Toronto Eaton Centre, a shopping mall and office complex in downtown Toronto, named after the now-defunct Eaton's department store chain, Cadillac Fairview Tower is a skyscraper designed by Bregman + Hamann Architects, and Zeidler Partnership Architects and completed in 1982. It has 36 floors and 142m hight.

August 23, 2014

1202 CHRISTMAS ISLAND - Flying Fish Cove

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia (since 1957) in the Indian Ocean, which has an area of 135 square kilometres, and a population of 2,072 (70% Australian Chinese, 20% European, and 10% Malay), who live in a number of "settlement areas" on the northern tip of the island. The main settlement is Flying Fish Cove (also known as Kampong), the first British settlement on the island, established in 1888. About a third of the territory's total population lives in Flying Fish Cove. There is a small harbour which serves tourists with yachts.