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It's Justin Beiber's Birthday!

Monday, Mar 1 2021 by

Happy Birthday, Justin! The superstar singer is celebrating his 27th birthday today, March 1. As we celebrate with him, let’s take a look back on the flashy birthday boy and how far he’s come.

Boyhood Home, Stratford, Canada

Justin was born in Ontario, Canada on March 1, 1994. His mom and dad never married, and he was raised largely by his mom. From an early age, he had a talent for singing and entertaining, and she helped promote him on YouTube and other sites.

Justin Bieber's House (StreetView)
Justin Bieber's House

Scooter Braun’s Home, Brentwood, California

Agent Scooter Braun came across Justin Bieber’s performances online and went all the way to Canada to find him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Scooter took the 13 year old boy to Atlanta, where he was quickly signed by Usher. By 16, Justin was the youngest male to have a hit #1 album.

Scooter Braun is one of the most successful and wealthiest, producers in the business, with a net worth of more than $400 million.

They moved to Brentwood in 2014. They spent $13.1 million on the 7,000 square foot home and then promptly gutted it for a massive remodel. Reportedly, Scooter bought the house next door to his home in 2020, from John Travolta for $18 million. The new estate has 2.25 acres, more privacy, more space, and more amenities. When you’re worth nearly half a billion dollars, two mansions doesn’t seem out of the question.

Scooter Braun's House (Google Maps)
Scooter Braun's House

Former Home in Calabasas, California

When Bieber was just getting started, one of the first things he did was buy a Los Angeles mansion for $6.5 million in 2012. He bought a seven bedroom, eight bathroom home that included a wine cellar, gourmet kitchen, elevator, and six car garage.

The time that Bieber spent there was eventful, to say the least. He had lots of loud, raucous parties that drew the ire of the neighbors. Bieber went so far as to throw eggs at a neighbor’s house at one point.

It’s no surprise that he didn’t last long at the house. What is surprising is that it took him three years before selling it to Khloe Kardashian for $7.2 million.

From that time until he settled down with Hailey, he rented homes in LA and around the world, which was probably a good idea for the maturing musician.

Khloe Kardashian's house (Google Maps)
Khloe Kardashian's house

Arrested for Drag Racing in 2014

Justin’s success has come with a cost; growing up in the spotlight has led him to make the same stupid mistakes others do, but on a much grander scale. In January 2014, he was arrested in Miami Beach, Florida for drag racing and for being under the influence.

It was just one of several incidents the celebrity had over the course of a few years, but he got himself together and has stayed out of the back of police cars these last few years.

Justin Bieber Arrested for Drag Racing (23 Jan 2014) (Birds Eye)
Justin Bieber Arrested for Drag Racing (23 Jan 2014)

Montage Palmetto Bluff, Hilton Head, South Carolina

After dating in 2015, and again in 2018, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin were married in late 2018, but didn’t have an official ceremony until 2019. And oh did they celebrate! The couple re-tied the knot in front of 154 guests at the Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, just outside Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The resort was a picture-perfect place for the photo-friendly couple to celebrate their wedding with friends and loved ones. The resort is on a gorgeous wetland, has amazing landscaped and natural features, and a Jack Nicklaus golf course.

Montage Palmetto Bluff (Google Maps)
Montage Palmetto Bluff

First Beverly Hills Home

Shortly after getting together, Justin and Hailey bought an $8.5 million “transitional” mansion in Beverly Hills, on the same street as Jeff Bezo’s MASSIVE mansion compound.

The 6,100 square foot home with gorgeous pool and outdoor entertaining area was just not enough for the celebrity couple, because 18 months after purchasing it, it’s back on the market. It underwent a massive overhaul in 2018 before Bieber bought it, so whoever buys it now will have every luxury a Hollywood elite needs to get by.

Justin Bieber's House (former) (Google Maps)
Justin Bieber's House (former)

Mansion in Waterloo, Canada

In August 2018, Justin spent $5 million on a 101-acre estate in Canada, near his hometown. The massive property has a large main house with five en-suite bedrooms, a movie theater, pool table room, massive kitchen, and wine cellar spread around 9,000 square feet. It even has heated (and cooled!) floors!

There’s also an equestrian center, a racing track, massive landscaped yard, and even an older, much smaller, farmhouse on the property. It sits on Puslinch Lake, not too far from Toronto.

Justin Bieber's House (Google Maps)
Justin Bieber's House

New Mansion in Beverly Hills, California

As if a massive mansion in Canada wasn’t enough, Justin and Hailey bought a $25.8 million home in the tony Beverly Park neighborhood in September 2020. On a 2.5 acre lot, the recently-renovated home has seven bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a massive black and white entry way, dining room, infinity pool, tennis court,  outdoor pizza oven, and more.

Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin's House (Google Maps)
Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin's House

Justin is sure to celebrate his birthday in style, and it’s fun to look back on his life, and see what he’s accomplished. For sure, for Justin, the best is yet to come. Happy birthday!

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Happy Birthday, Rihanna!

Saturday, Feb 20 2021 by

Rihanna is a global singing sensation, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. She was discovered as a teenager in Barbados and she rocketed to stardom before she was even 20 years old.

On February 20, she’ll turn 33, and she can honestly say she’s accomplished more in her short years than many do who live to old age.

Let’s take a look back on her journey as we celebrate her birthday.

Childhood home

Rihanna was raised in Bridgetown, Barbados. Her childhood was tough, and her parents divorced by the time she was a young teenager. The small concrete structure has now become a destination for superfans of the artist. The home has been repainted, and the street named in her honor, but no one lives in the residence anymore.

Rihanna's Childhood Home (Google Maps)
Rihanna's Childhood Home

Home of Evan and Jackie Rogers

When she was a teenager, she was discovered by American producer Evan Rogers. He helped her move to the United States and get her first record deal with Def Jam Records. While she was still getting established, she lived with Rogers and his wife in Connecticut. The couple had a strong, and positive, influence on the young singer as she got started in her career.

Rihanna's Home (former) (Birds Eye)
Rihanna's Home (former)

“Starter” Home in Los Angeles

When she was just starting out, Rihanna bought a home in Beverly Hills, as one does. She spent nearly $7 million to buy the place, and added substantial improvements to the 8,500 square foot home.

However, it has major problems and she sold it two years later for $5 million, and sued people involved in selling the home. It was reworked and John Legend and Chrissy Teigan bought the home for $14 million. They sold it in 2020.

John Legend & Chrissy Teigen's House (Google Maps)
John Legend & Chrissy Teigen's House

Barbados Condo

Rihanna stays in touch with her roots, and visits Barbados several times a year. She bought a condo in one of the fanciest resorts on the island in 2013, after staying there for a vacation.

One of eight beachfront villas, her unit has 10,000 square feet of living space, with five en suite bedrooms, a grand marble staircase entry way, and amazing concierge service at all times. It has a gorgeous, full-service pool, even though the estate is right on the beach. It set the singer and entrepreneur back $22 million, but it looks like it’s worth every penny.

Rihanna's House (Google Maps)
Rihanna's House

New York City Penthouse

Every famous singer needs a New York City penthouse, right? Rihanna rented this one for about $40,000 per month from 2013 to 2017. It has four bedrooms, two stories, and a penthouse in downtown NYC. It has 7,000 square feet of living space, plus an extra 2,500 square feet wraparound terrace that provided some excellent views of all over downtown.

The residence was for sale off and on for a few years, most recently at $15.95 million. The price has dropped, and it looks like it might have finally sold this time.

Rihanna's penthouse (Google Maps)
Rihanna's penthouse

Hollywood Hills Home

Riri bought this home for $6.9 million in 2017, but it’s unclear whether or not she still owns it, as she moved to London in 2018. However, this gorgeous 7,000 square foot mansion right at the base of a hill, seems like a great fit for Rihanna, with the classic Mediterranean style blended with very modern accents such as floor to ceiling windows and metal finishings. It has a massive master suite and three additional en suite bedrooms, an infinity pool, and a spa.

Hopefully she kept this one in her real estate portfolio, because it’s a great place to relax alone or with friends.

Rihanna's House (Google Maps)
Rihanna's House

Rental Home in London

Over the years, Rihanna has lived in so many properties, it’s hard to know for sure where she resides at any given time. From 2018 to 2020, she lived under the radar in a massive, exclusive mansion in London to be closer to her billionaire boyfriend. But when they broke up, she moved back to the US.

The home is currently on the market for around $40 million, and has a massive kitchen, home gym, sauna, massive master suite, elevator, and security system. It also has a gorgeous landscaped yard with plenty of private parking, and privacy, for the discriminating millionaire in the market for a London getaway.

Rihanna's House (Rental) (Google Maps)
Rihanna's House (Rental)

Rihanna has been all over the world, and continues to make her mark. On her birthday, let’s say happy birthday and we hope the next year is the best one yet!

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Celebrity Weddings and Break Ups in 2020

Sunday, Feb 14 2021 by

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the annual holiday celebrating love, let’s look back on the celebrity romances that blossomed, and those that failed, in 2020.

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin started the New Year off with a bang, marrying her longtime partner Randy Bick. The couple were married in their home just after midnight January 1, 2020, by Lily Tomlin, in a ceremony that was apparently full of laughter and love. The couple had been together on and off since 2012.

In December 2020, they sold their longtime Bel-Air home for $14 million, after paying $10.4 million for it a few years ago. The Mediterranean mansion is in a hilly gated community, has eight bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, and more than 13,000 square feet of living space. And a pool, of course.

Kathy Griffin's House (Former) (Google Maps)
Kathy Griffin's House (Former)

The couple bought a smaller, beach-side home in Malibu for $8.8 million just after selling her Bel-Air home. The 8,200 square foot home has an open floor plan, high end appliances in a chef’s kitchen, and of course, an infinity pool.

Kathy Griffin's House (Google Maps)
Kathy Griffin's House

Tim Tebow

Famed quarterback, sports broadcaster, minor league baseball player, and Christian, Tim Tebow married his love Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in her native South Africa in January. The former football star and 2017 Miss Universe started dating in 2018 and got engaged in 2019.

They will live in a home Tim bought in Florida in 2019 for $3 million. It’s his second home in the gated Jacksonville community. This 8,000 square foot home sits on nearly 1.5 acres, has five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, a five car garage, a home theater, and a saltwater pool. In the last week of December, the couple sold their “starter” home in the same neighborhood for just under $2 million.

Tim Tebow's House (Google Maps)
Tim Tebow's House

Scarlett Johansson

One of Hollywood’s leading actors, Scarlett’s personal life has been as active as her professional. In October 2020, she married comedian and writer Colin Jost after dating for three years.

As the couple have lots of ties to NYC, it’s likely they spend a lot of time at the $56 million home Scarlett bought in Palisades, New York in 2018. The 4,000 square foot home sits on nearly an acre of land, with a pool and gorgeous landscaping.

Scarlett Johansson's House (Google Maps)
Scarlett Johansson's House

The couple each own multiple homes, so they will have ample choices of where to set up their life as newlyweds.

John Cena

Wrestler and actor John Cena married Shay Shariatzadeh in October, 2020 in a private ceremony in Tampa, Florida. The couple have been dating for nearly two years, and were engaged in early 2020.

Shay is a product manager in the video security field, based in Vancouver. But the couple is likely living in John Cena’s mansion in Land O’Lakes, Florida, just outside Tampa.

The $5 million home in a gated community has indoor and outdoor pools, gorgeous landscaping, and 11,000 square feet of living space. It also includes room for his fleet of sports cars, which includes a Ford GT valued at more than $1 million! Cena has lived here for about 15 years, doing a ton of renovations and upgrades over the years to make it even more epic and to fit his unique needs better.

John Cena's House (Google Maps)
John Cena's House

Not everyone had a banner 2020, and a lot of celebrity relationships didn’t make it to the end of the year.

Vanessa Hudgens

The petite actress and her longtime boyfriend Austin Butler didn’t make it very long in 2020. The couple split after nine years in January 2020. The 33 year old actress has maintained an upbeat attitude this year, in spite of the breakup, and is still living in her Los Feliz, Californian mansion.

She bought the real estate in December 2018 for $5 million, and Vanessa isn’t’ shy about posting pictures of her home on her popular Instagram page. The 3,100 square foot home has high-end chef’s kitchen, gorgeous dining room, three bedrooms and four bathrooms, and a lovely outdoor pool.

Vanessa Hudgens' House (Google Maps)
Vanessa Hudgens' House

Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis

Olivia Wilde has led an interesting life in her 36 years, including being married to an Italian prince. But for the last nine years, she’s been in a relationship with fellow actor Jason Sudeikis. The couple have two children together, and had been engaged for several years.

But, in November 2020, it was clear that the two had broken up earlier in the year. And as of January 2021, Olivia has been seen dating Harry Styles, with them spending time together in public.

The couple have lived in several places around Los Angeles, but in 2019, the pair bought a home in the Silver Lake area. They paid $3.5 million for a 1920s Spanish style home with 2,500 square feet, four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. It has a small pool in the backyard, along with gorgeous views of the nearby mountains and reservoir.

It’s not clear yet whether the couple will sell the property or if one of them will continue to live here.

Olivia Wilde (Former) & Jason Sudeikis' House (Google Maps)
Olivia Wilde (Former) & Jason Sudeikis' House

Offset and Cardi B

Cardi B and Offset are a powerhouse rap/hip hop couple. The couple secretly wed in 2017, and had a baby girl in 2018. The couple have had a rocky relationship, breaking up several times over the course of the last few years.

In September 2020, they announced they were separated, but later in the year, they have once again reconciled.

In spite of their frequent ups and downs, the duo own several homes, including a gorgeous mansion in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. It was listed for around $5.8 million. The three story home has five bedrooms, underground gun range, 1,800 bottle wine cellar, massive children’s playroom, and library. And a pool, Italian landscaping, and fountains.

Cardi B & Offset's House (Google Maps)
Cardi B & Offset's House

Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan met Megan Wollover in 2011, and they married in 2015.  However, after five years of marriage and one child together, both parties filed for divorce in the summer of 2020. In spite of their best efforts, the divorce has become acrimonious, and the couple have a long way to go before making the divorce final.

Morgan, who is worth well over $50 million, suffered a major car accident caused by a Walmart truck driver in 2014. He was awarded a significant cash settlement, and with that money, he bought a $14 million brick mansion in the tony Alpine, New Jersey. The home has a gorgeous, two-story entry way, hand-laid herringbone wood floor, seven bedrooms and ten bathrooms, bowling alley, elevator, and five car garage.

It’s unknown whether Tracy or Megan will stay in the home or sell it as part of the divorce.

Tracy Morgan's House (Google Maps)
Tracy Morgan's House

Whether you’re lucky in love on this holiday or longing for love, it’s nice to know there are celebrities in the same boat as you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

(Comments)

February Deep Dive into History: Japanese Internment Camps

Tuesday, Feb 9 2021 by

February’s deep dive into history focuses on one of the darker periods in the recent history of the United States: When the US government forced more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent into internment camps during World War II.

The Executive Order permitting the action was signed on February 19, 1942. By fall 1942, camps had been opened across the United States, and were filled with unwilling residents, who stayed there until after the end of World War II.

Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Japan’s military bombed Pearl Harbor, the Navy base in Hawaii. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, it was clear the US would go to war against the Asian country.

Pearl Harbor (Google Maps)
Pearl Harbor

In reaction to the attack, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This order gave the War Department the authority to forcibly relocate Americans with ties to Axis countries. This included people from Germany and Italy, but most relocated persons were of Japanese descent.

Both legal residents and American citizens were rounded up and housed in internment camps for the duration of the war, and in some cases, even after the war ended.  Because more Japanese Americans were relocated than people of other backgrounds, it has shows just how racist the measure was, as it had no basis in fact and was not applied consistently across the country.

Manzanar

Manzanar was one of the ten internment camps. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the area is known for its hot summers and cold winters. This made life difficult for the roughly 11,000 involuntary residents.

The barracks were not designed to keep out the heat and cold, and didn’t even always have walls between family areas. Bathrooms and showers had no privacy, not even separating men and women.

Manzanar Internment Camp (Google Maps)
Manzanar Internment Camp

While media reports stated that the residents were well-fed and cared for, the truth was that residents were held there against their will, and treated as criminals. The camp was surrounded by wire fencing, with guard towers all around. While the towers were taken down after the war, they have been reconstructed as part of the restoration taken on by the National Park Service.

Visitors can walk around the site, and get a real feel for what it would have been like here during World War II.

Guard tower at the Manzanar National Historic site (StreetView)
Guard tower at the Manzanar National Historic site

Topaz

The Topaz Relocation Center in central Utah, housed nearly 11,000 Japanese Americans, mostly from the San Francisco area. Like at Manzanar, the barracks were not sufficient to keep the residents protected from the elements, especially the harsh cold of the high desert winters.

The area is now a National Historical Site, and has a permanent museum and exhibits that tell the stories of the people who lived there from 1942-1945.

Topaz War Relocation Center (Google Maps)
Topaz War Relocation Center

Tule Lake

The Tule Lake internment camp in northern California originally held residents from northern California and Washington and Oregon. However, it was soon turned into a maximum security camp to house so-called “disloyal” Japanese residents and American citizens who failed a mandatory loyalty questionnaire.

The camp housed more than 18,000 inmates at one point, and was under marshal law for more than a year due to unrest and complaints about unsanitary conditions.

The site has been turned into a National Landmark, which is important for American history as we work to reconcile the poor decisions made by the government during a time of national crisis.

Tule Lake War Relocation Center (Google Maps)
Tule Lake War Relocation Center

Rohwer

Not every camp was in the western United States. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was located in Arkansas, in what was swampy marsh land that hadn’t even been completely cleared and prepared for residents when the first groups arrived from California.

This camp held around 9,000 inmates, and was the last to close in November 1945. Unlike most other camps, the site was not largely abandoned, but many of the resources built for the relocated inmates were taken over and used by local residents for years. Only the cemetery is clearly marked as a remnant of the war. It has been designated a National Historical Landmark.

Rohwer War Relocation Center (Google Maps)
Rohwer War Relocation Center

Supreme Court

Residents did not all go willingly to the internment camps. Many petitions and complaints were made, and one even made its way to the US Supreme Court. The case Korematsu v. United States was heard in 1944.

Fred Korematsu had worked hard to avoid being sent to a camp, but was found and arrested. His case worked its way to the Supreme Court, who decided the internment, while suspect constitutionally, was permitted in times of national crisis.

President Gerald Ford repealed the Executive Order and issued a formal apology in 1976. President Ronald Reagan issued an order that compensated survivors. Later in life, Korematsu was recognized as a civil rights icon, had his conviction overturned, however, the Supreme Court ruling still stands.

US Supreme Court (StreetView)
US Supreme Court

Looking back over these events and locations, it is important to remember what happened in World War II. As Frank Korematsu said, we will only heal when “we learn that, even in times of crisis, we must guard against prejudice and keep uppermost our commitment to law and justice”

(Comments)

Super Bowl LV

Thursday, Feb 4 2021 by

The 55th showdown of the best teams in professional football is this Sunday, February 7. For a record-setting tenth time, Tom Brady will make an appearance as starting quarterback, this time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other side of the field will be defending Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs led by rising star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Let’s take a look at some of the players and some of the places tied into Sunday’s showdown.

Tom Brady’s New Home in Clearwater, Florida

At the end of last season, Tom Brady decided to leave New England after 20 amazing years. Brady seemed like he wanted to prove he could carry a team on his own, and after only one year, he’s proven he certainly can.

When you’re as wealthy and as famous as Tom and his wife Gisele Bundchen, not just any old house will do. The couple have been living in Florida for months, but only closed on a home in October 2020.

The oceanfront home has 8,400 square feet, and includes five bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, plus 3.5 more bathrooms, a sleek kitchen, epic home gym, movie theater, chandeliers that drip from the ceiling, and a personal boat launch.

Compared to other properties he’s owned, the $7.5 million price tag is pocket change. It’s not as big as their Massachusetts home, but hopefully it’s big enough to meet their needs, and more.

Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House (Google Maps)
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House

Tom Brady’s Rental Home in Tampa, Florida

While the Brady family was looking for a home to buy, they rented a gorgeous 22,000 square foot mansion from fellow athlete superstar Derek Jeter. Brady was paying more than $40,000 per month to live in the waterfront property, but Jeter has since put it on the market for an astounding $29 million.

The house has eight bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, a pool and spa, movie theater, game room, and more. It must have been a great place to rent, and whoever buys it will have every amenity they could imagine right at their fingertips.

Derek Jeter's House (Google Maps)
Derek Jeter's House

Tom Brady’s Mansion in Brookline, Massachusetts

Tom and Gisele lived in a massive, 12,000 square foot mansion outside Boston until they moved to Florida. The house was originally listed for about $39 million, but was sold for around $33 million, according to those who have information on the sale.

The house has five bedrooms, a wine room, gym and yoga studio, and a separate guest house.

Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House (Google Maps)
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House

Antonio Brown’s Home in Hollywood, Florida

Suiting up alongside Tom Brady will be Antonio Brown, a wide receiver who’s played around the league and is playing for Tampa Bay on a one year contract. He missed the conference final, but he’s expected to play in the Super Bowl.

In 2016, Brown bought a $6.6 million home in Hollywood, Florida, near his hometown of Miami. The 12-bedroom home has one feature you won’t find in most homes: a built-in synagogue, which Brown likes because it brings a good spirit to the home.

The house also has Italian marble floors, imported light fixtures, a top-of-the-line outdoor kitchen, door handles made from precious metals, and a home theater.

Antonio Brown's House (Google Maps)
Antonio Brown's House

Patrick Mahomes’ Home in Kansas City, Missouri

Leading the Kansas City Chiefs will be Patrick Mahomes, a breakout star who deserves every word of praise given in his short career. The 25-year old signed with the Chiefs in 2017, and became the starting quarterback in 21018, and the very next year they were Super Bowl Champions.

Mahomes re-signed with the Chiefs with a 10-year contract guaranteeing $477 million, with additional performance bonuses! In spite of his millions, he and his fiance bought a relatively modest home in a nice Kansas City neighborhood for $1.9 million. The 3,800 square foot home has three bedrooms, a chef’s kitchen, and gorgeous open, mid-century floorplan. It’s got enough space to hold his 180 shoes–barely!

Patrick Mahome's House (Birds Eye)
Patrick Mahome's House

Tyreek Hill’s Home in Lee’s Summit, Missouri

A critical part of the Chiefs’ success is wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has been playing for the team since 2016. He’s so fast his teammates call him “Cheetah” and in 2019 he signed a contract extension for three years and $54 million!

While some of his life off the field has been challenging, he also works as an assistant coach for a local high school team in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He has a four bedroom, four bathroom home complete with pool in the Kansas City suburb, and is adding onto the house as his family grows.

Tyreek Hill's house (Birds Eye)
Tyreek Hill's house

Raymond James Stadium

On February 9, 2021, the Super Bowl will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. This is the third Super Bowl that will be held at the stadium. It’s the first time that a team playing in the Super Bowl will be playing in their home stadium as the home team.

The stadium can hold up to 75,000 people, but because of Covid-19, the audience will be limited to 22,000. It was built in 1998, costing $169 million.

This year, the entertainment will be awesome. Recently-acclaimed poet Amanda Gorman will read an original poem, H.E.R. will sing “America the Beautiful” and Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan will do a duo for the “Star-Spangled Banner”.

Raymond James Stadium (Google Maps)
Raymond James Stadium

The Weeknd’s Home in Hidden Hills, California

The versatile Canadian singer The Weeknd will perform the halftime show. He is so pumped to make sure the show is memorable that he’s invested $7 million of his own money in the project.

When he’s not rocking out at the Super Bowl, The Weeknd has an amazing pad in Hidden Hills, north of Los Angeles. He earned $92 million in 2017, and spent $18.2 million of that on a massive pad.

The 13,500 square foot home has an eye-popping orange basketball court, vivid diamond patterned driveway, large main house, standalone guest house, and a barn with eight stalls. It also has some gorgeous outdoor landscaping and covered entertaining areas fit for the biggest star.

The Weeknd's House (Google Maps)
The Weeknd's House

No matter which team wins the game, it’s clear that the entire country will come out on top for being able to enjoy the game and forget the challenges of the last year, at least for a few hours.

(Comments)

January's Deep Dive: Thomas Edison and the Light Bulb

Wednesday, Jan 27 2021 by

On January 27, 1880, American inventor Thomas Edison filed a patent for an “electric lamp” that we now recognize as a light bulb.

It is hard to overstate the importance of this invention, as it brought light into the dark, allowing people to work after sunset, and most importantly, making the night safer by illuminating the world both outdoors and indoors, and by reducing the risk of fires from candles and other flames.

His invention has been one of the most important technological advances in the modern age. On this historic day, let’s take a look at the man behind the invention.

Birthplace, Milan, Ohio

Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He spent his first seven years here before his family moved to Michigan. His boyhood home was turned into a museum by his family members, and remains a well-kept legacy to the famed inventor.

The house has been restored to reflect the 19th-century time in which Edison lived in the home.

Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum (Google Maps)
Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum

Thomas Edison Depot Museum in Port Huron, Michigan

Edison spent his adolescence in Port Huron, Michigan. While he only attended a formal school for a few months, he was intensely curious. He worked and spent much of his time at the local train depot. He sold newspapers and candy until, after saving a boy from an oncoming train, he was trained and employed as a telegraph operator.

He also tinkered on the trains and learned as much as he could about how things worked whenever he could.

The depot is now a museum that focused on Edison’s early years and inventive curiosity. It has many interactive displays and even a room dedicated to experimentation for younger visitors.

Edison Depot Museum (Google Maps)
Edison Depot Museum

Statue in Port Huron, Michigan

Residents of Port Huron love their most famous resident. Outside the museum, they have erected a statue to the famed inventor depicting him as a young boy selling newspapers to people traveling through the depot.

Thomas Edison statue (StreetView)
Thomas Edison statue

The Edison Institute and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan

Henry Ford, the automobile manufacturer, created a massive living museum complex near where he lived and worked in Dearborn, Michigan. He moved entire historical buildings and recreated important historical settings from American history. One of his biggest exhibits is the Edison Institute, which includes Edison’s laboratory moved from Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was here that Edison created what became the incandescent light bulb.

This museum, known as The Henry Ford, or Greenfield Village, is an amazing trove of the educational, historical, and fascinating. Interestingly, the museum includes a jar which is alleged to contain Edison’s last breath.

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Google Maps)
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

Smith’s Creek Depot, at Greenfield Village

Greenfield Village includes many places from Edison’s life, including the Smith’s Creek Depot, where Edison spent much of his time as a young man earning a living selling newspapers, candy, and other items to travelers.

Ford had the depot moved to Greenfield Village to both represent 19th century travel and to contribute to the life story of Thomas Edison.

Smiths Creek Depot (StreetView)
Smiths Creek Depot

Home in West Orange, New Jersey

While Edison’s first major laboratory was in Menlo Park, Edison eventually moved to West Orange, where he lived with his second wife. The house he purchased for his new wife was known as Glenmont, and was where the couple lived for the rest of their lives.

Thomas Edison's House (former) (Birds Eye)
Thomas Edison's House (former)

National Historical Site, West Orange, New Jersey

Edison’s West Orange laboratory and home is now a National Historic Site and Museum. It is a fascinating place to visit, where you can learn about the personal life of one of the world’s best inventors, and experience much of the invention process as he would have. Visitors can learn in very hands-on ways about the science of sound, light, and other things that fascinated Edison.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park (Google Maps)
Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Winter Home in Fort Meyers, Florida

With his second wife, Mina, Edison bought a large property in Fort Meyers, Florida. The couple built a winter retreat they called “Seminole Lodge” which was built in Italianate and Queen Anne styles. The structure was pre-cut in New England and shipped down to Florida at great expense.  The couple spent many winters here, and Edison continued to invent and make discoveries.

Thomas Edison's House (Birds Eye)
Thomas Edison's House

Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Thomas Edison was a great inventor. Beyond the light bulb, he and a colleague invented a motion picture camera. His studio actually was involved in producing more than a thousand films. These short films were more educational or informative, not motion picture movies like we are familiar with today. Nonetheless, Hollywood owes its very existence to Edison and his colleagues. He was even given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Thomas Edison's Hollywood star (StreetView)
Thomas Edison's Hollywood star

Any day you turn on the lights is a great day to think of Thomas Edison and his wonderful inventions. But today, take a moment to reflect on how much the simple light bulb makes your life better, thanks to Thomas Edison.

 

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Inauguration Day 2021: One for the History Books

Wednesday, Jan 20 2021 by

It feels like it was a lifetime ago that voters went to the polls on November 3 to vote for president, but today, Joe Biden is going to be sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and recent security threats, the pomp associated with the inauguration has been scaled back significantly. This year, there will be a small inauguration outside the Capitol, broadcast across the country, but there will be no luncheon, no parade, and no in-person balls or parties. Instead, much of it will be virtual, and aired on multiple television channels across the country and around the world.

As you watch the proceedings on television, here are some background details you might find interesting.

Past Inaugurations

Typically, the sitting president and vice president meet with the incoming president and vice president at the White House the morning of the inauguration, and travel to the Capitol Building together.

The swearing in on the steps of the Capitol is often watched by half a million people who gather along the Capitol and the Mall, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

Later in the day, the new president reviews the troops, participates in a parade along the route to the White House, and officially enters the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to serve as president for the next four years.

Inaugural balls, parties, and other events go on all around Washington, DC, and parties are held across the United States as well.

2021 Inaugural Events

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

The evening before the swearing in, there will be a memorial to the people who have died from Covid-19. This event will be held at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, a fitting place to ponder those who have died, and what the country has suffered due to the virus.

Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument (Google Maps)
Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument

U.S. Capitol

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution states that each presidential term shall begin at noon on January 20. The oath can be administered anywhere, but  the ceremony is traditionally held at the U.S. Capitol. The inauguration involves all three branches of government. President Biden will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, with many members of Congress present to witness the peaceful transfer of power.

Traditionally, after the inauguration, the presidential parties, and members of the House and Senate, gather for a luncheon inside the Capitol. Due to social distancing issues, this will be skipped, with plans to celebrate in person during the Independence Day events on July 4.

US Capitol Building (Google Maps)
US Capitol Building

West Front of the Capitol

Since Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, presidents have held their inauguration on the West Front of the Capitol. This side has a beautiful view of the city and extends down to the Mall. Hundreds of thousands of people gather and witness the event, either in person or by watching large monitors set up for the occasion.

Joe Biden will continue with the tradition of being sworn into office on the West Front of the Capitol at noon, January 20, 2021. Although it will not be open to the general public, it will be broadcast on national television.

United States Capitol (StreetView)
United States Capitol

East Front of the Capitol

Up until Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, presidents chose to be sworn in on the East Front of the Capitol. This side is attractive and faces the Supreme Court, but doesn’t allow for the large public gathering.

This year, President Biden and Vice President Harris will review the troops, which includes a procession with members from every branch of military. This display will take place on the East Front shortly after the swearing in.

US Capitol (StreetView)
US Capitol

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

They will then travel to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. They, along with Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, along with their spouses, will lay a wreath at the Tomb.

Tomb of the Unknowns (Google Maps)
Tomb of the Unknowns

The White House

While the president and his wife would typically participate in a fun parade with participants from across the country, that has been called off due to social distancing restrictions. There will be a virtual parade that highlights places and people from across the United States. At the end, President Biden and his wife Jill will officially enter the White House, making it their official residence for the next four years.

The White House (StreetView)
The White House

Naval Observatory

Vice President Kamala Harris will take up residence in the official vice president’s house located about three miles away from the White House. The vice president long did not have an official residence, unlike the president at the White House.

However, in 1974, a large existing residence at the Naval Observatory was established as the official residence for the vice president. Over the years, substantial renovations and upgrades have been made, including making it handicap-accessible, adding a pool, putting green, and exercise room.

Number One Observatory Circle (Vice President's House) (Birds Eye)
Number One Observatory Circle (Vice President's House)

Mar-A-Lago

After the oath of office is administered by the Chief Justice, Donald Trump will become a private citizen again. Unlike nearly every other outgoing president, President Trump has declined the invitation to attend the inauguration. Whenever he leaves the White House, it has been expected that he will travel to Mar-A-Lago, his Florida residence.

The beachside resort has a private residence where the president and his family can stay. The 62,000 square foot mansion sits on 20 acres of prime real estate, which is worth more than $160 million.

Donald Trump's house (Mar-A-Lago) (Birds Eye)
Donald Trump's house (Mar-A-Lago)

Unlike the president, Vice President Pence will attend the inauguration. After, it’s not clear where Mike Pence will go; he was a congressman from Indiana before becoming that state’s governor. His most recent residence before living at the Naval Observatory was the governor’s mansion.

While things will not be as they usually are, the most important thing will be that the United States goes through yet another peaceful transition of power, maintaining her 240 year history of being a peaceful democracy that will continue for another 240 years, so help us God.

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Happy Birthday Dolly!

Tuesday, Jan 19 2021 by

American icon and singing sensation Dolly Parton turns 75 on January 19, and we should all take a moment to honor and celebrate this living legend on her birthday.

Dolly Parton was born into poverty in Tennessee, became a singing sensation, and has used her fame for good, including distributing more than a million books to kids in need and contributing $1 million towards Covid-19 vaccine research. She is indeed a national treasure.

Let’s take a look at Dolly’s life and legacy.

Dolly Parton’s Farm

Dolly Parton grew up in a small cabin on a mountain outside a small town in Tennessee, the fourth of 12 kids. She later bought the farm and has preserved it. She also bought other property in the area. This property has a farm and is near some of the areas she spent time in as a child.

Dolly Parton's Farm (Google Maps)
Dolly Parton's Farm

Sevierville, Tennessee

Dolly went to school in Sevierville, and was involved in the community, singing in the church choir and graduating from the local high school. The day after she graduated from high school, she moved to Nashville to pursue her career. However, she has maintained ties to the community, including making a large contribution towards a county hospital.

The community erected a stature to her in 1987. She calls the monument one of the most meaningful honors of her lifetime, because it was erected by people who knew her. Dolly’s fans still visit her hometown, and love to check out the life-size statue of the singer and her guitar.

Dolly Parton Statue (StreetView)
Dolly Parton Statue

Grand Ole Opry

By her early teens, Dolly was singing all across east Tennessee, including at the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. At age 13, she met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to pursue her dreams of becoming a famous musician.

In 1969, Dolly was inducted inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, meaning she is required to perform at the venue regularly. She takes her membership seriously, and in 2019, she celebrated her 50th year as a member with a sold out double show.

Grand Ole Opry (Birds Eye)
Grand Ole Opry

Estate in Brentwood, Tennessee

Dolly Parton is married to Carl Dean, but unlike his wife, Carl prefers to stay out of the spotlight. The two have a lovely estate outside Nashville, the country music capital.

The main house is just over 3,000 square feet, but there are other buildings on the grounds, a pool, tennis court, and even a chapel. The couple remains very private about their residence, but Dolly has filmed some goodwill videos this year from her home. Rumor has it, Dolly has a vault with all the dresses she’s performed in stored under her estate somewhere!

Dolly Parton's House (Google Maps)
Dolly Parton's House

Dollywood

Dolly Parton loves the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee so much that she has developed Dollywood, an amusement and theme park in Pigeon Forge, a city close to where she grew up. Dolly invested in an existing park and has worked to expand the park. It has rides, concerts and entertainment, and crafts and activities that highlight the regional culture.

Dolly has also created a replica of the cabin where she grew up, which is one of the top attractions at the park, which has more than 3 million visitors a year.

Dollywood Theme Park (Google Maps)
Dollywood Theme Park

Dolly Parton has been a cultural icon and national figure for decades, but her charitable work in recent years has brought her newfound fame and well-earned praise. She established reading programs that send books to children in underserved locales across the United States, funds construction of medical facilities, and donates to worthy causes such as fire relief and vaccine research.

On behalf of everyone who has and will benefit from her music, philanthropy, and good example, let’s wish Dolly a very Happy Birthday!

 

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Inside the Louvre

Wednesday, Jan 13 2021 by

Since most people aren’t traveling these days, let’s take a virtual tour of one of the most famous and impressive museums in the world: the Louvre in Paris, France.

The Mona Lisa is hands down the most famous painting in the world. While more than nine million tourists visit the Louvre, most to see the beguiling smile of Mona Lisa, there are nearly 40,000 other treasures on display within the walls of the museum.

Louvre, The (Le Louvre) (Birds Eye)
Louvre, The (Le Louvre)

The museum itself is a work of art. It was an old French fortress and palace until Louis XIV moved to Versailles in the 1600s.

In the 1980s, as part of a renovation and revamping of the museum, renowned artist I.M. Pei was commissioned to oversee the project.

'La Pyramide Inversée' by I.M. Pei (StreetView)
'La Pyramide Inversée' by I.M. Pei

He added a double pyramid at the new entrance in the center of the palace square, one jutting into the sky and the other inverted below pointing into the museum.

Louvre Museum at night (StreetView)
Louvre Museum at night

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini by Leonardo da Vinci around 1507. How it developed the reputation and fame is somewhat of a mystery, as while the painting technique and talent are obvious, it is mostly famous for being famous at this point. If you want more than a second or two to enjoy the work of art, plan to arrive at the museum first thing when it opens and head straight for the work of art.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (StreetView)
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo is an ancient statue that was found on the island of Milos and housed in the permanent collection at the Louvre. It dates to roughly 130 BC and represents Venus, or Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Its name Venus de Milo indicates it is the Venus of Milos.

 

Venus de Milo
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is an ancient text of laws codified and written down so that all were aware of the law and the consequences for violating the law. It is one of the oldest examples of written language in the world as well as a codified rule of law governing a community, dating back to 1754 BC.

Code of Hammurabi
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Virgin of the Rocks

Among the many masterpieces by da Vinci is the Virgin of the Rocks. This painting is a classic example of Renaissance artwork, depicting a religious scene and using light to indicate innocence and divinity.

Virgin of the Rocks
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Visitors can spend years enjoying the works on display and not see them all and never get bored. With constantly rotating and renovating pieces, things are always changing and there is always something new and impressive to see at this museum.

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Remembering the King: Happy Birthday, Elvis

Friday, Jan 8 2021 by

The King was born January 8, 1935, and in his short life, he changed the face of music, and the world. Elvis Presley brought rock and roll, with its African American influence, to the broader public, and the world has rewarded him with the reputation as the King.

In honor of his legacy, let’s take a look at Elvis’s life.

Birthplace, Tupelo, MS

Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in a two-bedroom home with his parents. They moved after a few years because they struggled to make payments on the home. The small shotgun home has since been turned into a museum about the singer’s early life and rise to fame.

Elvis Presley's Birthplace (Birds Eye)
Elvis Presley's Birthplace

Sun Records, Memphis, TN

When Elvis was 13, his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. It was there that the budding musician met Sam Phillips, who ran Sun Music. Elvis went to the studio as a teen in the hopes that he might be discovered, and the rest is history.

In addition to Elvis, Sam Phillips worked with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, and Johnny Cash. Phillips loved the style of music coming from the region, especially the African American influence, and worked to make it mainstream. He succeeded wildly, and changed the sound of music forever.

Sun Studio (StreetView)
Sun Studio

First Home in Memphis, TN

After his initial success, Elvis bought a home for his parents in his adopted hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. However, he was so successful and so famous that the home did not offer enough privacy for the new celebrity. Fans, reporters, and the like hounded him and his neighbors.

Elvis felt pressured to move his family to a bigger, more secluded home. His parents eventually settled on Graceland, and the rest is history.

Elvis Presley's First Memphis Home (Birds Eye)
Elvis Presley's First Memphis Home

Temporary Home in Killeen, TX

By his early 20s, Elvis was the most famous and popular musician in the United States. But still, he was drafted to fight in the Korean War, and he reported for a two-year tour of duty. He was stationed for a time at Fort Hood in Texas. During this time, he lived in a ranch-style home in Killeen, Texas.

Elvis Presley's house (former) (StreetView)
Elvis Presley's house (former)

Graceland, Memphis, TN

Quickly rising to international fame, a regular home was not sufficient for Elvis and his parents, so they picked out Graceland, located just outside Memphis. They lived there until Gladys, Elvis’ mother, died in 1958.

Eventually, Elvis lived there on his own, and then with his wife, Priscilla. Even after their divorce, he continued to live there. In fact, it was there that he passed away, after suffering a heart attack.

The estate has since been turned into a museum and National Historic Site. It is the second most visited home in the United States, behind only the White House.

Graceland (StreetView)
Graceland

Home in Beverly Hills, CA

While Graceland is Elvis’ most famous residence, it was not his only home. He also had a home in Beverly Hills, CA. This seven bedroom Tudor-style home was bought by Elvis in 1970, and Priscilla continued to live there after their divorce until she sold it in 1975. It sold in late 2020 for about $29 million.

Elvis Presley's House (former) (Birds Eye)
Elvis Presley's House (former)

Lisa Marie Presley’s Home, United Kingdom

After years in the spotlight, Elvis’s only child, Lisa Marie, moved far away from the media, all the way to England. The former singer, actress, and AIDS activist felt she was “living in a fish bowl” in Los Angeles, so she traded it all in for a 50-acre sheep farm in Rotherfield. She stayed here for about eight years before moving back to California.

The 15th century estate has 11 bedrooms, nine bedrooms, and an indoor swimming pool, spa, gym, and more. The home is a unique blend of 15th century design and modern amenities, but its unique design contributed to the estate staying on the market for several years before she found a buyer.

Lisa Marie Presley's House (Bing Maps)
Lisa Marie Presley's House

Priscilla Presley’s Home, Los Angeles

Priscilla Presley stayed in California after she and Elvis divorced. She starred in several films, the hit television show “Dallas”, and has devoted much of her time to charity.

She has lived for 45 years in the same Beverly Hills home with n more than an acre of land. The “private enclave” has lush gardens, seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a tennis court, and of course, a luxurious pool.

The home was put on the market in September 2020 for almost $16 million. It sold in early December for $13 million.

Priscilla Presley's House (Google Maps)
Priscilla Presley's House

Although he only lived to age 42, the King has left a legacy that is so strong that he is still one of the most famous celebrities in the world. Gone but not forgotten, his reign continues.

 

 

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