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March 2009  Issue 75

Return to Home Page    2008 Index

INTRODUCTION

Thank goodness February is over!!  It was one very busy and hectic month, as seen by the number of “Events” we had in Akumal.  Scroll down to “Events” on last page.

With Daylight Saving Time (US only) coming in March this year, it looks like March could be just as busy and hectic, albeit without the defined social “Events”.

There's quite a bit of "WHAT'S NEW AROUND TOWN?" THIS MONTH.

And check out the Photo Gallery for the February Events

Super Bowl Party on February 1.

Groundhog Day on February 2.

Academy Awards Gala on February 22.

CEA Festival Gala Event on February 26. Lots of photos here.

 

FLASH - MEXICO CITY SETS RECORD!!!

Mexico City sets kissing record on Valentine's Day

Mexico City puckered up to set a new record Saturday as nearly 40,000 people locked lips in the city center for the world's largest group kiss.  Carlos Martinez of Guinness World Records verified the record of 39,897 people who entered the gated kissing area of the city's Zocalo main square on Valentine's Day, besting Weston-super-Mare, an English town that set the previous kissing record in 2007.

"We did it! Long live Mexico," said Mexican singer-actress Susana Zavaleta, who serenaded the crowd before the kiss with the classic Mexican ballad, "Besame Mucho," or "Kiss Me a Lot" -- also the name of the event.

The Valentine's Day kiss was meant to show love at a time when a crackdown against drug traffickers has led to widespread violence across the country.  At least 6,000 people died in drug-related conflicts in 2008.

The giant Zocalo, which can hold 100,000 people, was half-filled as mostly young couples embraced and held one another in a lip lock for 10 seconds.  The kiss was delayed for several hours as organizers waited for people to gather.

As the crowd grew, city workers in cupid wings offered hugs, teenage boys carried signs volunteering their kissing services and couples practiced openly in a country that surprises many with its pervasive public displays of affection.

"We love demonstrating our love in front of everyone and in front of our family," said Lucia Gutierrez, 38, who spent the afternoon rehearsing with Vicente Romero, 34, her boyfriend of 10 months.  "There's nothing bad about showing your love."

Benito Zavala, 53, who works in a store nearby, said he didn't have time to go home to get his wife.  So he planned to help set the record with his 2-year-old Chihuahua, Onix, who was licking his lips.

The event also included workshops on violence-free relationships and AIDS prevention.

As soon as the kissing stopped, participants started chanting "Cente!" the nickname for Mexico's most popular ranchera singer, Vicente Fernandez, who followed the smooch-fest with a free concert.
 

IMPORTANT MARCH FACTS

Pisces:  February 19 - March 20
          Aries March 21-April 19

 March Birthstone:  Aquamarine
This lovely blue-green crystal is a semi-precious stone and looks terrific wrapped up in silver wire, set in a ring or pendant, or loose in a special display. This March birthstone is big enough to make a display by itself.  Aquamarine is mined primarily in Brazil, Nigeria and Zambia.

March Flower:  Jonquil
A daffodil is also known as a jonquil or narcissus.  It is a symbol of rebirth - a sign of spring.  It is the flower for March, because that is when the spring equinox begins.

 

 

MARCH BIRTHDAYS

There’s two BIG ones this month, and the photo is very representative of the fire danger. 

Birthdays and Anniversaries    ¡Feliz cumpleanos!
1          Jorge Vera
1          Alma Boada
3          Demetrio
5          Bart Smith
7          Greg & Karen Goudy Anniversary
8          Steve Clouther
8          Rick Tompkins
8          McKinlee Anne DePaola
8          Tony Gonzalez
9          Kevin Fredette            
12        Paige Clements
12        CeCi Chiosso
13        Lydia Pontius
13        Karen Goudy
15        Bob Doebert
19        Sharon Fredette 
22        Sherwood Anders
23        Kelly Flynn
23        Lynn Chase
24        Rhett Schobert
25        Rocio Cue Romero
26        Tom & Judy Baxter Anniversary
27        Christian Li Schober Thai
28        Marisol Danu

 There must be more than this.  Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens. 

Missed February Birthdays / Anniversary

Looks like we got them all.

 

AKUMAL COUNCIL GENERAL MEETING

On Friday, February 13th, the Akumal Council held its first General Assembly Meeting of 2009 at the Lol Ha Restaurant, and the meeting was well attended, organized, and run.  The Akumalian no longer reports on the proceedings of these meetings, because the Akumal Council is posting the minutes on its web site www.akumalcouncil.com.  

However, here are a few photos from the Event. 

First, is the BOD, with Laura giving her reports.

 

 Second, is the attentive audience, and the question is, “What is Bob M. doing?”

a. shielding his eyes from the sunlight behind the BOD.

b. studiously reading the handout

c. hiding from the camera

d. covering up as he whispers, “Oh, my God.”

 

The third and last picture is a model of the MX307 overpass as it comes out of the pueblo.  If reality was only half as neat as the model.

 

Laura Bush reported on the Akumal United Fund and how two of the February Events garnered contributions for two specific organizations/funds.  These can be viewed on the Akumal United Fund blog site: see Super Bowl for Elementary School in the Pueblo and Valentine’s Day at Lol Ha for Pablo Bush Romero Scholarship Fund.

Excellent effort and response for both Events.
 

TEQUILA TASTING AT LOL HA, MARCH 3rd

Tequila tasting!!!   An exquisite Premium tequila called Clase Azul.  The supplier will be here to explain the types they carry.  The bottles are beautiful and make nice gifts for your guests!  Come and enjoy the finer points of premium tequila and of course the taste!

Spread the word!  See Tequilas Premium for more information on this tequila.

 Clase Azul is an ultra premium, 100% Weber Blue Agave, Reposado Tequila.  Clase Azul tequila is the perfect marriage between the finest Tequila and a beautiful handcrafted, hand-painted Talavera carafe.  

It is produced and bottled in the Jesus Maria region of Arandas, Jalisco, MX from 100% Tequilana Weber Agave.  Clase Azul is aged for a minimum of eight months in small oak barrels. We are using a blend of Bourbon, Cognac, and Sherry casks in the aging process.  This aging period and the use of these different barrels differentiates Clase Azul and gives it an award winning taste profile.  It has distinct, smooth flavors and aromas, as well as an excellent balance over the palate.

The bottle style is called "Talavera", which was introduced to Mexico by Spanish artisans of the Colonial period.  It is known as "majolica" in Spain.

 92 PTS BEVERAGE TESTING INSTITUTE, GOLD MEDAL SAN FRANCISCO SPIRITS COMPETITION. 100% Blue Agave.  Complex aromas of cream soda, spice, caramel and earthy agave.  A long sweet finish.

            A web sites price this between $86.99 and $94,95USD for 750ml bottle.

 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, MARCH 6th

Come one, come all, to the Beach Bar, where we’ll have a ball.

It’s time for another “Best Shirt Award”, which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar. 

This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary, is ready to once again be the judge and jury as she selects the “Best Shirt” for March. 

 Bill Brab won the contest for February, and those photos are at February Best Shirt.
 

HST FLY-OVER, MARCH 7th

On March 7, at exactly 6:38pm, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will be visible as it does a fly-over Akumal in a WSW -> ENE direction in recognition of SteveC’s birthday on the 8th.  The Staff does not know how this birthday present was  arranged, but it’s coming.

The HST should be visible on March 6 at 6:40pm (on the southern side of Akumal), and it might also be visible on the 8th, 9th, and 10th.

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST), MARCH 8th

In the United States Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. local time on the second Sunday in March.  On the first Sunday in November areas on Daylight Saving Time return to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m.  When Daylight Saving Time begins turn your clocks ahead one hour. When Daylight Saving Time ends turn your clocks back one hour.

The names in each time zone change along with Daylight Saving Time. Eastern Standard Time (EST) becomes Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and so forth. Arizona, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

In the United States, Under the Uniform Time Act, the Department of Transportation is in charge of time zones in the United States and ensuring that jurisdictions observing Daylight Saving Time begin and end on the same date.

During DST, clocks are turned forward an hour, effectively moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called "Summer Time" in many places in the world) is to make better use of daylight.  We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. 

The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin (portrait at right) during his sojourn as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, in an essay, "An Economical Project."   Some of Franklin's friends, inventors of a new kind of oil lamp, were so taken by the scheme that they continued corresponding with Franklin even after he returned to America.

The idea was first advocated seriously by London builder William Willett (1857-1915) in the pamphlet, "Waste of Daylight" (1907), that proposed advancing clocks 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and retarding them by the same amount on four Sundays in September.  As he was taking an early morning a ride through Petts Wood, near Croydon, Willett was struck by the fact that the blinds of nearby houses were closed, even though the sun was fully risen.  When questioned as to why he didn't simply get up an hour earlier, Willett replied with typical British humor, "What?" In his pamphlet "The Waste of Daylight" he wrote:

"Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings.  Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used."

In the European Union, Summer Time begins and ends at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time).  It begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October. In the EU, all time zones change at the same moment.  This year it’s March 29 to October 25.
 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN AKUMAL IS DIFFERENT!

In Akumal (Mexico), Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. local time on the first Sunday in April (the 5th).  On the last Sunday in October, areas on Daylight Saving Time fall back to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m.  The names in each time zone change along with Daylight Saving Time.  Central Standard Time (CST) becomes Central Daylight Time (CDT), and so forth.  The state of Sonora does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Mexico uses three time zones.  Most of the country uses Central Standard Time.
 

RE-CYCLING IN AKUMAL

This type of story normally would go under the “WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN” section, but The Staff felt that this deserved a heading of its own.  And, this is quite important, coming right on the heels of the CEA's Fourth Annual Festival and Gala Event.  And, various people keep reporting that, “Akumal/CEA does not do any re-cycling.  Those bottles and cans are just picked up and hauled away as regular trash.”

HERE’S THE REST OF THE STORY

The Akumalian noticed a huge pile of bottles being collected for recycling over by the CEA dorms at Plaza Ukana and went off to get some answers from CEA.  Here’s the dialogue The Akumalian (TA) had with Paul Sanchez-Navarro (PSN).

TA: Yesterday I saw the bags and boxes of sorted glass and plastic over by the CEA dormitories, and I am wondering if you can tell me more about that.  When were these collected?
PSN: OVER THE PAST THREE MONTHS

TA: Where were they collected from?
PSN: EVERYONE IN AKUMAL WHO BRINGS THEM TO THE DROP OFF POINT BEHIND CEA AND FROM HOTEL CLUB AKUMAL CARIBE, VISTA DEL MAR, AND FROM THE GENERAL PICKUP DONE BY CEA TO YAL KU, AND AVENTURAS AKUMAL.

TA: Where were they stored until sorted?
PSN: BEHIND CEA DORMS

TA: Who sorted them?
PSN: SOME KIND CITIZENS SORT THEIR RECYCLABLES; HOTEL CLUB AKUMAL CARIBE SEPARATES; VISTA DEL MAR SEPARATES; THE REST IS DONE BY CEA MAINTENANCE STAFF
 
TA: Where are they going?
PSN: PLAYA DEL CARMEN

TA: Will they be recycled? 
PSN: YES

TA: When?
PSN: ONGOING PROCESS WITH TWO DIFFERENT COMPANIES IN PLAYA (I DO NOT HAVE THE NAMES)

TA: Is this an on-going thing?
PSN: YES

TA: How often?
PSN: AROUND ONCE A MONTH, IT DEPENDS ON VOLUME AND WHEN THE TRUCK IS AVAILABLE

TA: How can residents and guests get involved with their glass, plastic, and metal(?)? 
PSN: YES, SEPARATE ON SITE (ON EACH PROPERTY).  BRING BY VISTA DEL MAR BINS, CEA BINS, and YAL KU BIN.  HELP US BUY MORE BINS.

TA: This looks like only glass.  Are plastics (bottles and jugs) also being collected and recycled?  Metals; e.g. tin cans, soda cans, etc?
PSN: YES, PLASTIC, GLASS, METALS, PAPER ARE RECYCLED.  SOME PEOPLE BRING THEM SEPARATED ALREADY, AND IF THEY ARE ALL MIXED, WE HAVE A GUY WHO SEPARATES THEM "OUT BACK".  IT IS BEST IF THEY ARE DELIVERED SEPARATE.

TA: Is there a way, or methodology, they are separated; e.g. regular cans (soup, beans, tuna, etc) and tonic (coke, Pepsi, Orange, etc)?
PSN: THE METALS CAN BE MIXED.  WE DON'T COLLECT ALUMINUM, BECAUSE THAT SEEMS TO BE HANDLED WELL ON ITS OWN (THE BEST PRICE ON THE MARKET, SO LESS IS LEFT ON THE STREET).

TA: Just those various drop-off points?
PSN: THERE WILL BE MORE DROP OFF POINTS AS SOON AS WE CAN GET THE FUNDS FROM AKUMAL RESIDENTS TO GET THE BETTER SEPARATION BOXES

 GET INVOLVED.  RE-CYCLE!!

 

SATURN AT OPPOSITION, MARCH 8th 

On March 8, the Earth moves through the line between Saturn and the Sun.  The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth.  This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.  There is nothing special about the appearance of Saturn on that day, but the observing conditions are generally good in March.  The rings of Saturn exhibit an opening angle of 2.6° towards the Earth, diminishing to zero in September.

What does opposition mean:  The point at which a planet is exactly opposite the Sun in the sky, and as a result rises at sunset and is visible all night until it sets at sunrise.  When a planet is at opposition it is best-placed for observation.  Also at Opposition the planet comes physically closest to the Earth in its orbit so it appears as large as possible.

The nearly full Moon does not allow for dark skies on March 8, but there are excellent chances to observe the waxing crescent Moon in the evening and Saturn later during the night.
 

FULL MOON, MARCH 11th

The Full Worm Moon is on Friday, March 11, at 9:38pm AST.

In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins.  The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.  The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.  This is also the Paschal Full Moon; the first full moon of the spring season.  The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed two days later on Sunday, March 23.  This will, in fact, be the earliest Easter since 1913.

And remember all over the world tonight – from the Arctic North to the Antarctic South – this March full moon and planet Saturn shine close together from dusk until dawn.
 

PI DAY, MARCH 14th

Pi, Greek letter π, is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535.  Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th.

With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal.  Pi is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating.  The symbol for pi was first used in 1737 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

The ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is the same for all circles, and that it is slightly more than 3, was known to ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian and Greek geometers.  The earliest known approximations date from around 1900 BC; they are 25/8 (Babylonia) and 256/81 (Egypt), both within 1 percent of the true value.  The Indian text Shatapatha Brahmana gives π as 339/108 ≈ 3.139.  The Books of Kings (600 BC) appears to suggest π = 3, which is notably worse than other estimates available at the time, although the interpretation of the passage is disputed.

Archimedes (287-212 BC) was the first to estimate π rigorously.   He realized that its magnitude can be bounded from below and above by inscribing circles in regular polygons and calculating the outer and inner polygons' respective perimeters.

By using the equivalent of 96-sided polygons, he proved that 223/71 < π < 22/7.  Taking the average of these values yields 3.1419.  In the following centuries, most significant development took place in India and China.  Around 480, the Chinese mathematician Zu Chongzhi gave the approximation π = 355/113, and showed that 3.1415926 < π < 3.1415927, which would stand as the most accurate value for π over the next 900 years.
  

ALBERT EINSTEIN’S BIRTHDAY, MARCH 14th

Albert Einstein, the first child of the Jewish couple Hermann and Pauline Einstein, was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany.  Einstein learned to speak at a late age, he was considered a slow learner as a child, and he showed no particular aptitude for formal schooling.  In June 1880, his family moved to Munich where Hermann Einstein and his brother Jakob founded an electrical engineering company.  After the failure of his father's business in 1894 the Einsteins moved to Pavia, Italy.  Young Albert remained in Munich to finish school, but moved to Pavia to join his family after completing only one term.  Upon reaching Italy, he renounced his German citizenship, possibly to avoid obligatory military service, and became stateless.  At about the same time, Einstein “renounced his legal adherence to the Jewish religious community."
 

ST. PATRICK’S DAY, MARCH 17th

St. Patrick is revered by Christians for establishing the church in Ireland during the fifth century AD.  The precise dates and details of his life are unclear, but some points are generally agreed: as a teen he was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland, and six years later he escaped to Gaul (now France) where he later became a monk.  Around 432 he returned to Ireland as a missionary and succeeded in converting many of the island's tribes to Christianity.  Late in life he wrote a brief text, Confessio, detailing his life and ministry.  His feast day, March 17, is celebrated as a day of Irish pride in many parts of the world.

A popular folk tale says that St. Patrick chased all snakes from Ireland, but there is no historical basis for this story.  Another folk tale, that he used shamrocks to teach about the holy Trinity, is also generally agreed to be a myth.  In Gaelic the saint's name is Padraig.

The day is the national holiday of the Irish people.  It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  In the rest of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.

It became a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early part of the 17th century, and is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland.  The date of the feast is occasionally moved by church authorities when March 17 falls during Holy Week; this last happened in 2008 when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on March 15 in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday.

Will there be green beer at the Lol Ha Beach Bar, or will the green beer aficionados have to be satisfied with Dos XX in green bottles?
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Comings:

  • A number of snowbirds who were in Aventuras Akumal in January were not reported in the last issue, so here they are now:
    • Wally & Jan Koenst
    • Bob & Gayle Doebert
    • Joe & Kathy Volpicello
    • Lynn Chase & Rick Thompson
    • Shirley Vincent & Jan Browning
  • Jessie Diamond, Judy Baxter’s mom, was down for a visit in early February.
  • Jana Simpson, sister, and mother were back to celebrate mom’s birthday.
  • Myrna Sparks arrived mid-February.
  • Tony, Joan, Cassie and Alex Gonzalez were back in South Akumal for President’s Week.
  • Lisa Combs was back in Tankah for a short visit, without Phill.
  • Janet Bouten and her daughter were back in South Akumal for a short visit.
  • Steve & Judy Holtz are back in Aventuras Akumal for 2 months.
  • Ray & Barbara Armstrong are also back in Aventuras Akumal.
  • Bob & Diane Mather arrived back at Casa Zama for another visit.
  • Mary Lou Mulgrew was also spotted around the Beach bar.
  • Steve & Sharon Wandler are back at Seven Seas.
  • Macon & Susan Gravlee have returned to South Akumal.
  • Bob & Sherwood Anders are back.
  • Alice Blatner’s daughter, Pamela, is in town for a visit.
  • Denny & Diane Mahan return to Akumal on March 3.

 Goings:

  • Ryan Fredette went snow boarding in Maine during President’s week.
  • Mary Henderson, Myrna Sparks, and Sam & Sharon Goby went down to Fiesta Americana The Explorean Kohunlich for the weekend in late February.
  • Steve & Ingrid are heading north to celebrate Steve’s birthday with the family.
  • Hurley Hackler has plans to head off to Madrid again.

 With the exception of the visitors leaving, it looks like everyone else is staying put or sneaking out under the cover of darkness. 
 

EQUINOX, MARCH 20th

An equinox in astronomy is that moment in time (not a whole day) when the center of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth's equator, and this month it occurs on March 20 at 5:48 EST.

There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 20th day of the last month of every quarter of the calendar year.  On a day which has an equinox, the center of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth, and night and day will be of nearly the same length.  The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).

In reality, the day is longer than the night at an equinox.  Commonly, the day is defined as the period that sunlight reaches the ground in the absence of local obstacles.  From Earth, the Sun appears as a disc and not a single point of light; so, when the center of the Sun is below the horizon, the upper edge is visible.  Furthermore, the atmosphere refracts light; so, even when the upper limb of the Sun is below the horizon, its rays reach over the horizon to the ground.  In sunrise/sunset tables, the assumed semi-diameter (apparent radius) of the sun is 16 minutes of arc and the atmospheric refraction is assumed to be 34 minutes of arc.  Their combination means that when the upper limb of Sun is on the visible horizon its center is 50 minutes of arc below the geometric horizon, which is the intersection with the celestial sphere of a horizontal plane through the eye of the observer.  These effects together make the day about 14 minutes longer than the night at the equator, and longer still at sites toward the poles.  The real equality of day and night only happens at places far enough from the equator to have at least a seasonal difference in daylength of 7 minutes, and occurs a few days towards the winter side of each equinox.

 The Sun has risen on the spring equinox at Dzibilchaltun.  On this day the temple itself frames the rising Sun through its central doorway.  At other times of the year, the Sun will appear to the right or left, which is either further to the north or south, deviating the furthest from this path we see here on the solstices.
 

BOULDER ARCHITECT, GREG FRANTA

This initially started out as a “Missing Person” story, but it has gone on to become more ominous.  Many of you might not have known Greg Franta, but he and Jena were frequent visitors to Akumal.  In fact Jena, her sister, and her mother were recently here in Akumal to celebrate mother’s birthday.

We mourn the passing of Greg Franta with great sadness due to a tragic car accident on February 9th.

 Born in Graceville, Minnesota May 17, 1950 to Joseph and Loretta Franta, he is survived by his wife, Jana Simpson and her daughters, Sara Kosick (Rob), and Jenny Johnson (Koeby), and their children, Karan, Fiona, Bodhi and Bjorn; his three daughters, Loretta, Lindsay and Emily; his brother Bernie (Jan), sister Marjorie Bean, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Greg graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree at University of Colorado in 1973, and Masters in Architecture from the University of Arizona in 1976.  He founded and led ENSAR Group in providing services for over 800 energy efficient and environmentally sound projects, including community and large scale developments, offices, laboratories, educational buildings, health facilities, libraries, homes (including the White House), many considered the most energy efficient in the U.S.

Greg received his Fellowship with the AIA in 1994.  He was co-founder and past chairman of The AIA Committee on the Environment, past chair of the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, chairman of the CU Design Review Board and 1998 AIA Colorado Architect of the Year.

Under Greg’s leadership, Rocky Mountain Institute’s Built Environment Team has been recognized as an international leader in designing high-performance buildings and communities.  He was at the forefront of the green building movement, was one of the original creators of the LEED green building standards, and was involved with hundreds of projects around the world.

Greg loved the outdoors, spending time in the mountains, skiing, hiking 14ers, camping, rafting and relaxing at the beach.  He dedicated his career to making the planet a better place for all. If asked what he was doing, his reply would be, “I’m saving the planet!”

Greg lived life to the fullest.  He was loved by all who knew him and loved all he knew. Genuinely kind, his outgoing nature, smiles, jokes, incredible energy, unique presence and sense of humor, added joy to every experience and everyone he encountered...he loved to make people laugh.

This loss cannot be overstated.  He will be so dearly missed by his wife, his family and his many friends and colleagues around the world.

A Memorial Mass will be held Monday, March 16, 2009, 4:00 pm at Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2312 14th Street, Boulder. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting contributions to the Gregory Franta Memorial Fund at University of Colorado Foundation at 303 492-3901; or to the Greg Franta Leadership Fund, set up by Rocky Mountain Institute.  More information is available at: www.rmi.org
 

BIRTHDAY OF BENITO JUAREZ, MARCH 21

March 21st is a National Holiday in Mexico to commemorate the birthday of Benito Juárez, who rose from humble origins to occupy the Presidency of the Republic on several occasions during the turbulent second half of the 19th century.

Benito Pablo Juárez García (March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872) was a Zapotec Amerindian who served five terms as president of Mexico[1]: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872.  For resisting the French occupation, overthrowing the Empire, and restoring the Republic, as well as for his efforts to modernize the country, Juárez is often regarded as Mexico's greatest and most beloved leader.  Juárez was recognized by the United States as a ruler in exile during the French-controlled Second Mexican Empire, and got their support in reclaiming Mexico under the Monroe Doctrine after the United States Civil War ended.  Benito Juárez was the first Mexican leader who did not have a military background, and also the first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as President of Mexico and to lead a country in the Western Hemisphere in over 300 years.

Today Benito Juárez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, lessening the great power that the Roman Catholic Church then held over Mexican politics, and the defense of national sovereignty.  The period of his leadership is known in Mexican history as La Reforma (the reform), and constituted a liberal political and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation of church lands, bringing the army under civilian control, liquidation of peasant communal land holdings, the separation of church and state in public affairs, and also led to the almost-complete disenfranchisement of bishops, priests, nuns and lay brothers.

Juárez's famous quotation continues to be well-remembered in Mexico: Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz, meaning "Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace."  It is inscribed on the coat of arms of Oaxaca.

One of the reasons Benito Juárez is seen as representing Mexico is because his indigenous roots and seminary education seem to reflect the national mixture of races and cultures. Indeed, Juárez did much to overcome the prejudice against indigenous heritage, so prevalent in the 19th Century. He was fiercely anti-clerical, believing that the excessive power of the Catholic Church was one of the main obstacles to the development of the country. He led the nation in a struggle against neocolonialism and French intervention, earning the title of "Benemérito de las Américas", or deserving of the Americas’ praise.
 

VENUS AS MORNING AND EVENING STAR, MARCH 25th

Venus is both a morning and evening star.  The planet Venus will be visible at both dusk and dawn on the same day for several days centered on March 25.  This rare event occurs only once every eight years.

Venus is the brightest object in the sky besides our Sun and the Moon.  It is also known as the morning star, because at sunrise it appears in the east and evening star as it appears at sunset when it is in the west.  It cannot be seen in the middle of the night.

A Venusian day is 243 Earth days and is longer than its year of 225 days. Oddly, Venus rotates from east to west (retrograde - opposite to that of earth). If you were on Venus, the Sun would rise in the west and set in the east. 

Venus is often considered the Morning Star or the Evening Star, depending on which time of day it is up and dominating the darkness.  For example, through the fall and winter of 2008-2009, Venus will be the most notable object in the evening sky in the west/southwest after sunset.  It shines at a stunning -4 magnitude.  The only natural objects in the night sky that are brighter than Venus are the Sun and the Moon (Satellites can briefly flare brighter than Venus).

Because Venus is close to Earth, it does not twinkle, as a star does. Its bright white light will hold steady, while if you compare stars in the vicinity, they "twinkle" or seem to waver and even change color.
 

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli

Could Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli be the Aztec god with the longest name?

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was the twin/dual deity of the planet Venus, as Morning Star (Quetzalcóatl) and Evening Star (Xólotl).  Worshipped throughout the Mesoamerican region for centuries even before the Aztecs, he represented first and foremost the bright star that appears with its own unique brilliance very early in the morning in the Eastern sky.

Venus the Morning Star, Codex Cospi

Venus is very similar to Earth in size and mass - and so is sometimes referred to as Earth's sister planet.  It's usually the third brightest body in the sky after the sun and the moon.  

The ancient Mexicans, being expert astronomers, could predict precisely on which days and at which times the star would appear and disappear.  Not only were they were well aware of its 584 day cycle round the sun, they even knew that its exact cycle is actually 583 days, 22 hours, 6 minutes and 40 seconds - and they allowed for the difference to be made up in their calculations every 88 years!

What's more, the ancient Mexicans had calculated accurately that the orbits of the earth (c.365 days), the moon (c.260 days) and Venus (c.584 days) come together only once every 104 years (two Aztec 'bundles of years' or centuries').  Their knowledge of time and its cycles was truly stunning.
 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

AKUMAL

 The Vehicular Overpass
     
Work on the vehicular overpass at the entrance to Central Akumal continues, and there is hope that it will be complete by Akumal’s 51st anniversary.  The ramp and overpass on the pueblo side have been getting most of the attention and work, and that side will definitely be finished well before the eastern side of the highway is done. 

In the meantime, the entrance into Akumal is quite messy and can be confusing for first time visitors.

            Bring along your paint spray cans for the First Annual Akumal Graffiti contest that will be held later this year, probably in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary celebration.
 

 MX307 Blacktop and Lane Markers
The government has been black-topping the south bound side of MX307 for some time, and it seems that they have just stopped at a point about 100 meters north of the entrance to OASIS Akumal.  An extended section of the black-top went without lane markers for the longest time, and that created a very confusing and dangerous situation, especially when driving after dark.  Well, as of the week of February 16, that has been rectified.  They put down lane markers and night time reflectors all the way down to where the black-top ends (just north of OASIS Akumal), and this makes a HUGE difference when driving at night.
 

 MX307 to Tulum
       
There’s good news and bad news here.  The good news is that MX307 is now a 4-lane highway all the way down past Dreams Tulum (as of 2/22/09), and that is a major improvement.  The bad news is that it is not marked as becoming a 4-lane highway, so you can go a long way not realizing that there’s no on-coming traffic in the left lane; you can see traffic in the northbound lane, but you don’t know if that is really ‘legal’ traffic or if it is just used as a service road for places like Tankah.  This can be very confusing and dangerous at night.

 New Manager at Lol Ha
Mario has left his post as Food & Beverage Manager at Lol Ha, and he has taken a position (Restaurant GM) with Dreams Resort & Spa Puerto Aventuras, which has five international restaurants serving gourmet fare.  Adios and good luck, Mario.

            Replacing Mario as Food & Beverage Manager at Lol Ha is Andres Somellera.  Andres is originally from Mexico City, but he has lived in the US for about 17 years.

His career started at Mc Donalds’s Corporation where he received very valuable training that would serve him well.  When he left McDonald’s he was District Manager of 7 stores in Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.  He went on to work in Atlanta for a corporation that runs the Restaurant chain, Baja Fresh.  He was also district manager of 4 restaurants, and his job was to open and operate each new franchise.

From there he went on to another corporation that runs Cantina Laredo and El Chico Restaurants.  He opened up restaurants in Mt. Myers and Plantation Florida.  He was general manager and Chef of one of their restaurants for some time.  Andres’ last job in the US was as General Manager at Logan’s Roadhouse in Nashville.

Andres returned to Mexico last year and was working in Cd. Juarez for the restaurant group, OLEA, but he was hoping to move to the Riviera Maya.  This opportunity at Lol Ha came up, and he is very happy to have made the move.

Andres has 3 beautiful girls living in the US with their mother.  His e-mail address is andres@hotelakumalcaribe.com    

            Next time you are at the Beach Bar, be sure to welcome Andres to Akumal.

Mexico Mail Delivery
            Here is something quite unbelievable.  This past week, the Akumal Postmaster delivered, on his motorcycle, a PRIORITY letter to Casa Colibri in South Akumal.  Now, that by itself is not too amazing, but the rest is.

  • The letter came from Vienna, Austria, dated January 29, 2009.
  • The letter arrived in Mexico on February 11, 2009.
  • The letter was from the Magistrat der Stadt Wien (it’s for a traffic violation)
  • The date of the violation was August 19, 2008; I have not been in Vienna since Oct 2001.
  • And now the cool part, the address:
    • Steve Clouther
    • Villa Sodenga
    • Akumal MEXIKO

No idea where or how they got my name!
No idea where or how they came up with “Villa Sodenga”!
No idea how it got to Akumal with no State or Zip Code!

Amazing!!


South Akumal’s Pot Holes

      South Akumal residents decided not to wait for the traveling pot-hole popper to finish with North Akumal, so they have put cement into the hands of the workers and had it done.  Fortunately, South Akumal does not get the vehicular traffic that North Akumal does, so the feeling is that these pot-hole fillings will last for awhile.  

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

 Mx307 By-Pass
          Last month The Akumalian filed a report on this from Akumal’s version of Lewis & Clark, Bud & Alice Blatner, and on Wednesday, February 25, The Akumalian sent The Staff to follow the route blazed by Bud & Alice.  Here’s their report, albeit without all the details from Bud & Alice’s report.

After turning left into Centro Maya (City Club, Soriana, and MM Cinemas), the route is quite straight forward with no real right or left hand turns, but there are curves, usually all towards the right.  The road appears to be the outer /western perimeter of Playa Del Carmen, as there is no development – minimal at best - on the left hand side of the road.  The speed limit for the whole stretch is 40 kmh (24.8 mph), but traffic tends to go a tad faster than that; no police were seen on this excursion.  And to add to the challenge, there are no lane markers.

Along the route, there are seven traffic lights, and these are mostly for traffic to/from the right, towards/from the center of Playa Del Carmen.  So, when stopped at a light – The Staff got red on every one of them – in the right hand lane, the co-pilot needs to keep arms inside the vehicle, because there always is a line of traffic coming up on the right wanting to make the right hand turn, and most times, they are very close, thus giving the co-pilot some anxious moments.

Going north, the distance was 5.6 miles, and the traverse time was 16 minutes, at about 9am.

On the return trip, The Staff stayed on MX307 and recorded 4.5 miles in 12 minutes, at about 4:30pm.

While this was a Wednesday, and the northbound and southbound trips were at different times of the day, The Staff is unanimous that staying on MX307 is a better choice.
 

CANCUN

 MX307 Rotary and Underpass
          Another major highway project has been going on for some time now, just as you enter Cancun, and it is OPEN.  This is at the intersection where you go to the right to get onto Av. Bonampak, or you go left to head down toward Coscto and Home Depot; the crazy intersection where there was a model of the original Cancun airport control tower.  By going straight ahead you stay on MX307, going under the rotary, which becomes Av. Tulum going into the heart of Cancun.

The rotary is OPEN, but it does not have the required signage yet, other than the normal rotary sign.  So, if you want to go onto Av. Bonampak or go around the rotary to go to Costco, you need to get into the right hand road/lane beside the main highway.

When you are exiting Cancun, coming from Costco or Home Depot, it is kinda straight forward, but after coming off the rotary, you come back onto the ‘old’ side road that parallels MX307, and there still is that dangerous merge into the through traffic that came under the rotary from Av Tulum.  

Prices in Costco
       Cannot say if this is indicative of the drug war or the exchange rate, but there appears to be a significant increase in prices on most, if not all, items in Costco. 

Sam’s Club and Walmart Superama Entrance
     In January, The Akumalian reported about the new Sam’s Club and Walmart Superama just south of Cancun, and the entrance is still not marked on the highway.  So, as you are coming out of Cancun, use the Mercedes dealer as a “get ready in the right lane” marker.  Watch for, and take, the entrance to Residencial Cumbre.
 

PICTURE OF THE MONTH

A Utah woman listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for her long fingernails has lost them in a car crash.  Lee Redmond of Salt Lake City sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the accident in mid-February, the Deseret News reported.

Redmond's nails, which hadn't been cut since 1979, were broken in the crash.  According to the Guinness website, her nails measured a total of more than 28 feet long in 2008, with the longest nail on her right thumb at 2 feet, 11 inches.

Redmond has been featured on TV in episodes of Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
 

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING??

Ryanair: You may soon have to 'pay to pee'

 

Ryanair could begin charging passengers to use the toilet.  That's direct from the mouth of Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, who made the comments to BBC television.  "One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound (about $1.43) to spend a penny in future,"  O'Leary told the BBC.  The Belfast Telegraph writes O'Leary "is touting the idea of putting a coin slot on the toilet door as a means of raising ‘discretionary revenue.' "

"We are always looking at ways of making air travel cheaper," O'Leary adds, according to Britain's Sky News. A BBC anchor wondered what the airline would do if a passenger boarded a flight without cash and then needed to use the bathroom?  O'Leary didn’t seem concerned, saying: "I don't think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound."  Still, O'Leary's pay-toilet statement stands out even by the standards at Ryanair -– a carrier that's already notorious for stripping away all but the most basic of passenger services.

The comments already are stirring up controversy.  The Times of London writes Ryanair pilots are "aghast" at the idea, which they think is seriously being considered.  One pilot even wondered how many toilet tokens the pilots would get from their employer on flights they work, according to the Times.  But, would it even be legal to charge fliers to use the bathroom?  Apparently so, says the Times, which talked to an official at Britain's Civil Aviation Authority.  A spokesman tells the Times: "The situation is that there is no legal requirement for an aircraft to have a toilet onboard, so if an airline does have a toilet they can charge to use it."

 

EVENTS - Click on link to see photos.

Once again, Robin’s Best Shirt Award, was the major “Event” of the month, on the 6th.  Then:

Super Bowl Party on February 1.

Groundhog Day on February 2.

Academy Awards Gala on February 22.

CEA Festival Gala Event on February 26.

 

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