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Saturday, September 22, 2012

NASCAR Chase Jeff Gordon vows to rally

NASCAR Chase Jeff Gordon vows to rally: When a car crashed in his front yard Wednesday, Jeff Gordon tweeted a photo of the vehicle stuck in his hedges.

He was immediately flooded with responses, many asking if the throttle had stuck on the blue sports car that was now doubling as a lawn ornament.

Gordon was able to laugh about it Thursday, four days after a stuck throttle caused him to crash in the opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup race at Chicago. He'd been running in the top five most of the race, wound up 35th, and goes to Round 2 at New Hampshire last in the 12-driver Chase field.

He's confident a Hendrick Motorsports team that was soaring after Gordon raced his way into the Chase at Richmond on Sept. 8 will rebound from the hard fall at Chicago.

"I wouldn't say we're going over the next nine weeks going, 'Oh man, we're the team to beat,' " Gordon said. "But we're not going to stop. We're not going to give up. We proved once this year on how we made it into the Chase. Nothing would be sweeter than to prove we can win a championship, even with this."

Gordon said a bracket mounted to the spring return had been designed specifically for him to be used with NASCAR's new electronic fuel injection system, and the problem with his throttle stemmed from that.

"It's something that I'm surprised didn't happen sooner to us, just the way our bracket was mounted, it just broke," Gordon said. "It didn't stick wide open."

Gordon talked about the accident during an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he unveiled the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle paint scheme he'll use in the Oct. 13 race. His 2-year-old son, Leo, was on hand to help uncover the car and meet the turtles.

Those are the kind of moments the four-time series champion is treasuring these days, and he said he's had no greater joy then celebrating his July win at Pocono Raceway with his wife and two children. He said his kids love racing, the cars and the paint schemes, but are typically unaware of the magnitude of crashes like Sundays.

"For what happened in Chicago, (Ella) was there and she knew it didn't go well," Gordon said. "She knows when it goes well because she gets to go to victory lane. But she knows some days it's a good day and some days it's a really disappointing day."

The bad day at Chicago led Gordon to shave the vintage mustache he'd promised to grow back if he made the Chase. CMS president Marcus Smith got Gordon to promise he will break dance — he was pretty good as a younger man — in victory lane if he wins at Charlotte.

"I've already proven I'm a man of my word," Gordon said. "There's always going to be motivation on things. Whether it's something that Rick Hendrick oversells on and has to live up to, something that he's going to give to a win, or me committing to something, that's fine. We've got a car that can win, there's no doubt in my mind."

Showing just how strong the No. 24 team really is will be the task for Gordon over the next nine weeks. He lingered on the Chase bubble for most of the season, got his only win in July and needed that big run at Richmond to beat Kyle Busch by three points for the final berth in the Chase field.

He said he certainly felt the pressure as team owner Hendrick had made it a goal to get all four drivers into the Chase, and Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne were already in the field. Racing his way in was a morale booster for Gordon, who won his last championship in 2001, and for his race team.

"Making it in, and the way we made it in, was really big. It gave us that boost that we desperately needed," he said. "I've always said I don't want to be in this sport driving around. If I am going to be in it, I want to be competitive, be healthy and I want to enjoy myself. Those three things have to all come together in order for me to want to stay out there.

"By making the Chase the way we did, battling like that, was good for me personally because it made people believe that I still have that drive." The results were the same, but Jeff Gordon couldn’t have gone through a bigger swing of emotions from his last lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway to his last lap in the next NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway.

He ran the gamut from smoldering disappointment to unbridled euphoria.

The four-time Cup champion was glum about his chances of making the 12-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship after he came up short on his attempt to pass Denny Hamlin in the last corner of the last lap and finished as runner-up in Atlanta.

“Jeff was sort of beating himself up at the end in Atlanta because he felt he should’ve moved Denny,’’ said car owner Rick Hendrick. “He had such a run, he could have gone under him and moved him up, but he tried to do it the hard way around the top, and he was upset with himself about that.’’

Although he was unable to better his result in Richmond, where he finished second to Clint Bowyer, Gordon’s disposition was greatly improved after he overcame a lengthy rain delay, an ill-handling car, and the longest of odds to climb one spot to 12th in the driver standings in the final race of the regular season.

“Went from being the most disappointed I’ve ever been to finish second to the most excited I’ve ever been to finish second,’’ Gordon said after he clinched the second of the Chase’s two wild-card berths over Kyle Busch by 3 points, 777-774.

That scant margin could be traced to the crucial number of points Gordon was awarded for his lone victory of the season in a rain-shortened affair Aug. 5 at Pocono, Pa.

Gordon was the last of Hendrick Motorsports’s four cars to qualify for the Chase.

“Oh my gosh, I’ll be honest, I genuinely felt for Kyle after that race,’’ Gordon said. “My wife and I talked about . . . how that very easily could’ve been us.’’

Gordon, who started the Richmond race 12 points behind Busch, was running a lap down in 26th when rain stopped the race after 154 of 400 laps. Once the race resumed, Gordon worked his way back, regaining his lost lap when precipitation slowed the race on Lap 282.

With 22 laps remaining, crew chief Alan Gustafson ordered his driver to “go as hard as you can.’’

Gordon began picking off drivers, passing Brad Keselowski for fifth on Lap 379, Matt Kenseth for fourth four laps later, and Hamlin for third five laps after that. He climbed to second when he passed Mark Martin after another five laps.

“How we went through so many emotions this year and in that race, and to come out on top, there’s just jubiliation and excitement and overwhelming emotions of joy,’’ said Gordon, who finished 1.1 seconds behind Bowyer. “But we very easily could’ve been devastated. ‘’

Run of bad luck
At 41, happily married with two kids, Gordon is the second-oldest driver in the Chase field behind Tony Stewart (by two months and 15 days, to be precise). But Gordon had to overcome one of the most difficult seasons he’s ever had at Hendrick Motorsports to qualify for the Chase after starting out 35th in the points when an engine failure left him 40th in the season-opening Daytona 500.

It was the first of four DNF’s for Gordon this season.

“I was saying to Jeff, ‘Look, you have had some awesome years, but you have had the worst of luck this season than at any time you have driven for me,’ ” Hendrick said. “White flag, he’s leading the race at Martinsville [and finishes ninth after leading 329 laps]. I can think back to leading at Kansas and breaking a motor.

“I can think of all the things — the wrecks, the [ruptured] water hose after running third at Daytona and burning up a motor . . .

“I mean I can think back to all of that stuff and say, ‘Man, this has been the worst year in the world, but you’ve had speed, and whatever happens, happens and we’ll just go on.’

“But I could tell after Atlanta, it was really eating at him.’’

Sensing his window of opportunity drawing to a close, Gordon pushed even harder to make the Chase. It explains why he agreed with Darrell Waltrip, who described Gordon’s battle to make the Chase as “the defining moment’’ of his career.

“This really is a defining moment for me at this stage of my career,’’ said Gordon, who is NASCAR’s active career leader with 86 victories and more than $127 million in career earnings.

“Not making this Chase could have had devastating results. For Kyle, it’s not. This kid is talented, great team, and they’re going to be battling for more championships in years to come. But, for me, I don’t know how many more opportunities there are.’’

Mysterious shuttle flight around California

Flying as low as 1,500 feet around some of California's most distinctive landmarks, the space shuttle Endeavour completed its final voyage Friday to cheers and many photos.

After taking off from Edwards Air Force Base on Friday morning, Endeavour headed north, buzzing the state Capitol in Sacramento, circling the Bay Area and soaring over a Golden Gate Bridge packed with onlookers.
After a nearly five-hour loop that took Endeavour over some of the state’s most treasured landmarks, it turned for its final approach, coasting down the runway on the south side of the Los Angeles International Airport, where elected officials and VIPs gathered for an arrival ceremony.

As the jumbo jet taxied to the hangar, an American flag popped out of the jet’s hatch. Endeavour will stay at the airport for several weeks as crew prepare it for its 12-mile trek through city streets to the California Science Center, its new permanent home, where it will go on display Oct. 30.

NASA retired the shuttle fleet last year to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. Before Endeavour was grounded for good, Californians were treated to an aerial farewell.

Endeavour took off from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave desert Friday after an emotional cross-country ferry flight that made a special flyover of Tucson, Ariz., to honor its last commander, Mark Kelly, and his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
As the sound of the plane's engines drowned out the traffic on the bridge and tourists ran to get the best vantage point, screams of “Whooo!” could be heard as the shuttle flew over the suspension bridge.

Southern California -- this just in

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Shuttle Endeavour makes dramatic final flight around California
September 21, 2012 |  6:18 pm
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Flying as low as 1,500 feet around some of California's most distinctive landmarks, the space shuttle Endeavour completed its final voyage Friday to cheers and many photos.

After taking off from Edwards Air Force Base on Friday morning, Endeavour headed north, buzzing the state Capitol in Sacramento, circling the Bay Area and soaring over a Golden Gate Bridge packed with onlookers.

As the sound of the plane's engines drowned out the traffic on the bridge and tourists ran to get the best vantage point, screams of “Whooo!” could be heard as the shuttle flew over the suspension bridge.

PHOTOS: Endeavour's Southland flyover | PANORAMA: Endeavour arrives at LAX

“It was unbelievable. Did you hear all the clapping? I can't even believe we're here!” said Polly Lestikow, of Centennial, Colo., who just happened to be bicycling across the bridge Friday morning, unaware of NASA's planned show Friday.

Then it turned south, crossing the Monterey Peninsula on its journey to Los Angeles, where Endeavour took one last victory lap around the Southland, the cradle of the nation’s 40-year shuttle program.

“This gives you goose bumps, man,” said Terry Hughes, 72, a retired Boeing engineer who spent his career working on wind tunnel tests for the shuttle. “The same goose bumps I had when I saw it land for the first time.”

For an hour Friday, Endeavour was seemingly everywhere at once: Flying by the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Getty Center, Queen Mary and Disneyland. Parading down the coast from Santa Barbara to Huntington Beach. Cruising past NASA facilities and factories where it was designed, built and assembled.

In downtown Los Angeles, City Council members suspended their meeting so they could watch the shuttle soar over City Hall. The 27th floor observation deck was packed.

“It looked almost angelic to me,” said Lydia Charkhian, 54, of Glendale. “It was like watching a dove in flight.”

“Amazing, amazing, amazing,” said Derek Johns, 41, as he snapped photos of the shuttle as it passed the Santa Monica Pier.

It was a surreal, emotional experience – the veteran of 25 space missions circling slowly in the sky like a 175,000-pound ballerina escorted by two fighter jets.

“I got chills,” said Dave Atkinson, an El Segundo councilman as the shuttle flew overhead. “This is America at its finest.”

It was quite the show. And to get the best seats, you had to show up early.

Along the bluffs in El Segundo, dozens of people arrived as dawn broke. They were greeted by those who had camped out.

One solutions-oriented woman who arrived too late to find a spot on the crowded hilltop left -- only to return with a 9-foot ladder.

Patrick Hill, 53, of Sunland, came to honor his father-in-law, who died in March and worked on the shuttle at its assembly plant in Palmdale.

“He would be proud to see this,” Hill said. “I’m overwhelmed. He loved this stuff.”

At Griffith Observatory, hundreds of people jockeyed for the best photo spots before the sun rose. The parking lot was filled to overflowing more than three hours before Endeavour’s arrival.

Greg Low pulled his daughters, Crystal and Kiana, from school to see the historic flyover.

“It's an educational field trip,” Low said. “They can learn about this in a classroom, but it's nice to see it fly.”

For others, though, Endeavour’s arrival in Los Angeles was a bittersweet moment, a final salute to a shuttle program they believe ended prematurely.

At the Proud Bird restaurant at LAX, Ron Wade had driven some 1,400 miles from Wichita, Kan., to witness the homecoming. He’d worked on the shuttle as a high school senior, part of a vocational training program at Rockwell International.

“It's a sad homecoming,” said Wade, who traveled to Florida for Endeavour’s final launch into space in 2011. “She should be in space. She was built for 100 [missions]. She was retired way too soon…All of the shuttles, I feel like they are my children.”

At Disneyland, scores of people gathered outside the entrance to the park, cameras and phones poised.

“We're not even going to the park. We just came here for this,” said Gail Vincent of Mission Viejo, who waited with her husband, Dan. “Dan's cousin worked for NASA and told him this was a must-see event.”

Shuttle sightings from points across the Southland lit up Twitter.

“Just flew over my head!!!” tweeted actor Tom Hanks, who played Apollo 13 Cmdr. Jim Lovell in a movie. “Don't see this every day. Never will again. The Spaceman in me just went berserk.”

A school playground at the California Science Center exploded in screams as Endeavour came into view. Hundreds of children ran, pointing and squealing, trying to chase the shuttle as it flew by.

“That was awesome,” said fifth-grader Yaslynn Thomas, who stared into the sky long after it was gone. “I never thought a space shuttle would ever come to a school. I always thought it would go to a special space landing place.”

Her school is located on the campus of the museum, which will be the shuttle’s permanent home after it’s transported to the Samuel Oschin display pavilion next month through the streets of Inglewood and L.A. -- the final curtain call on Endeavour’s farewell tour. A two-day parade from LAX to the California Science Center is scheduled to begin Oct. 12. The move prompted officials to cut down hundreds of trees and remove light standards to accommodate the large space craft. New trees will be planted later.

As the shuttle flew low over LAX before landing, Kathy Sanders-Phillips was teary-eyed.

“Oh my god,” she said. “Oh my god.”

Sanders-Phillips watched from the United Airlines hangar with her husband, Ken Phillips, the aerospace curator at the California Science Center, who first thought of bringing an orbiter to the museum in 1991.

Phillips said he felt a personal connection to Endeavour. His college friend Ron McNair was one of the astronauts killed when Challenger exploded. Endeavour was built to replace Challenger.

“I have to hope Ron is looking down on this,” Sanders-Phillips said, her voice breaking.

A glow that seemed to hover over Los Angeles all day was over in about an hour.

“I didn't think I'd get choked up,” said Kristie LaTray, who spent hours waiting for Endeavour with her boyfriend and his three children at Griffith Observatory.

“But I did get choked up,” she said. “It makes you proud to be an American.”

Garrett Reisman came to LAX to watch the shuttle with both the past and present on his mind. He first flew on Endeavour in 2008, when he went to space for the first time. He left NASA 18 months ago and now works at SpaceX and lives in Manhattan Beach.

He says having a shuttle at the Science Center will inspire future generations, but he's especially excited about the opportunity to take his 18-month-old son to see Endeavour.

“I can take my son to see my spaceship,” he said. “That will be very cool. ... He'll grow up with Endeavour in his backyard.”

Sultan of Brunei's Daughter's Wedding May Cost $20 Million, is Going on for a Week

Possibly the most lavish wedding the world has ever seen happened Friday, in Brunei, where the Sultan's daughter Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, 32, married a 29-year-old civil servant. The ongoing week-long celebration is estimated to involve 2,000 guests and will end this Sunday night when the newlyweds are presented at court.

 The ceremony itself, according to the UK paper The Daily Mail, took place in the Istana Nurul Iman Palace, a 1,700 room palace that's home to the Sultan and his family. The princess's older brother, heir to the throne of Brunei, married in 2004 at a speculated cost of $5 million, reports say, but wedding planner Maya Kalman, founder of Swank Productions in New York City confirmed Yahoo! Shine's suspicion that this wedding might cost much more than that. "The rule of thumb for our average luxury wedding is $1,000 per guest," Kalman says. "I would guesstimate that a no-holds-barred event like this could easily be $15 to $20 million." Those figures include only wedding itself. Additional celebrations throughout the week could be an additional $15 to $20 million, Kalman speculates.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

i Phone 5 really touching the hearts

Apple's iPhone 5 will cost the same as the iPhone4S: $199 for a 16-gigabyte version.

Earlier today, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5. The highly anticipated addition to its smartphone line delivers much of what industry observers had expected. You can find full details of speeds and feeds for the iPhone 5 here.
Apple has also improved the device's battery life and updated both of its cameras, giving its front camera 720p HD video. The company also announced a smaller dock connector for the device and a new cable charger named Lightning that is 80% smaller than its predecessor.

Siri got a makeover as well, and can now tell users the scores of sports games and post status updates to Facebook.
The device will be available in black and white. It will be available for $199, $299 and $399 for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. Pre-orders begin Friday and the iPhone 5 will launch Sept. 21.

The company said iOS 6 will arrive as an update for many of its iOS devices Sept. 19.

The invitation-only Apple event, which began at 10 a.m. Pacific time, is still ongoing. Cook is expected to announce upgrades to other products, including the iPod, soon, so check back for updates.

The launch of a new iPhone will mean huge sales for the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant.

Since the original iPhone debuted in 2007, Apple has sold more than 244 million units and has been credited with upending the smartphone industry.

Sales of iPhones and related products and services accounted for 46% of Apple’s revenue in the most recent quarter and 58% in the previous quarter. In its last fiscal year, the company reported revenue of $47.1 billion from sales of iPhones and related product and services, an 87% increase over the year before.

Analysts estimate the iPhone has a gross margin of about 50%, making it an extremely profitable device for the world's most valuable company. Nearly two-thirds of Apple's profits come from the iPhone.

With sales of Apple's iPhone 4S and earlier models dropping off in recent months, analysts believe there is huge pent-up demand for the iPhone 5. Many have predicted that Apple could sell up to 10 million iPhones in the first 10 days, and up to 50 million in the holiday quarter.
The iPhone 5's dock connector has also been made smaller.
The smartphone will cost $299 for a 32GB version and $399 for a 64GB version, all with a two-year contract.

The products will become available for purchase on September 21 in the U.S., and by the end of the year they'll go on sale in 100 countries around the world, Apple's VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, said.


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