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Deep Dive Into History: Conquering Constantinople

Tuesday, May 30 2023 by

Many of us have heard the saying “Istanbul was Constantinople” but not all of us know what it means, or the incredible historical significance of the history behind the saying.

On the 570th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople, let’s take a tour of the ancient city, and learn about the history, at the same time.

Walls of Constantinople

The city, once called Byzantium, was already ancient by the time it was declared the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD. Emperor Constantine moved the capital east from Rome, in part to avoid the threat of invasion that continually came from the Germanic tribes. Among other actions to increase the stature of the city, it was renamed Constantinople after the Emperor.

Within a few years, massive walls were built around the city to protect it. And under Emperor Theodosius, the walls were expanded and thickened, and raised to 45 feet high! A second line of walls were constructed, making it impossible for opposing forces to conquer the city.

It wasn’t until the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror came in 1453 with the newly-invented gunpowder and cannon that the walls were breached and the city conquered forever.

Walls of Constantinople (Google Maps)
Walls of Constantinople

Bosphorus Strait

Istanbul is strategically located at the meeting point of Europe and Asia, the two continents divided by the Bosphorus Strait. City leaders protected the city with a chain strung across the Golden Horn, the major inlet bordering the city. For hundreds of years, the chain kept invaders from accessing the Strait and accessing the heart of the city.

Even Mehmed was unable to breach the chain, but he did have an innovative, and labor intensive, way to wage naval warfare on the seaside city. His soldiers actually paved a mile-long path and carry their light ships around the Asian side of the strait, so they could launch a surprise naval attack. This was one of many efforts Mehmed employed to wear down the city’s forces over seven weeks and eventually emerge victorius.

Bosporus Strait (Google Maps)
Bosporus Strait

Fatih Mosque

Mehmed dreamed of conquering the city from an early age. The military strategist recognized the value of the city’s location between Europe and Asia, right in the middle of territories already conquered by the Ottomans.

When he succeeded at capturing the city, he was only 21! Shortly after taking over the city, he made it the capital of the Ottoman Empire. These days, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, and in Europe, and one of the largest cities in the world!

Mehmed loved his new capital, and was even buried there in the Fatih Mosque, which he had built in the 1470s. Fatih Mosque means Conqueror’s Mosque. It included several libraries dedicated to theology, medicine, law, and science.

The structure suffered significant damage in a 1766 earthquake, and has undergone several renovations in recent years. It is open to both worshipers and visitors alike.

Fatih Mosque (Google Maps)
Fatih Mosque

Hagia Sophia

The move to Constantinople also marked a shift from polytheism that marked the earlier Roman era to the monotheism of Christianity. Right away, the emperors began construction on churches. The current Hagia Sophia was built in 532, and was the largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years!

Within days of the city’s conquer, Mehmed began turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a jewel of the city and his Islamic faith. The giant domed structure, with its four minarets, is one of the most recognized, and beautiful, holy sites in the world. These days, the building is a working mosque, but visitors are welcome.

Hagia Sophia (Google Maps)
Hagia Sophia


Like many sites in the city, the Hippodrome predated the city’s status as empire capital. A hippodrome was a horse track, and it played an important place in civil society. The hippodrome could entertain 100,000 spectators at its height of popularity.

The Hippodrome was beautifully-adorned, including large horse statues that were taken to Venice, Italy, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 by the Crusaders.

The place is now a beautiful city plaza called Sultan Ahmet Square, a gathering place filled with historical artifacts thousands of years old. The Turkish government has maintained and restored the site, including showing the path of the original horse track.

Hippodrome of Constantinople (Bing Maps)
Hippodrome of Constantinople

Valens Roman Aqueduct

One of the many reminders that the modern city of Istanbul has a long Roman tradition is the aqueduct that brought water to the city from springs nearly 100 miles away for more than 1200 years. The massive stone structures, with the easily-recognizable arched design, still stand, nearly 2000 years after they were initially constructed.

The ancient city water system passes over Ataturk Boulevard in downtown Istanbul, with cars actually driving under the arches. It’s a truly breathtaking juxtaposition of ancient and modern in one of the world’s most historical cities.

Valens Roman Aqueduct (Google Maps)
Valens Roman Aqueduct

If you ever have the chance, be sure to visit Istanbul, which only got its new name in 1930. It’s undoubtedly one of the most amazing, unique, and memorable places in the world. It’s position at the meeting point between Europe and Asia, where east meets west, where Christianity meets Islam, old meets new; it will certainly change you.


Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Wednesday, May 24 2023 by

Today is music legend Bob Dylan’s 82nd birthday, and his music is no less powerful and moving as it was sixty years ago when he came onto the scene. His music has influenced the world through the passionate 1960s, the chaotic 1970s, and even through today, when his songs are as powerful and moving as ever.

Let’s take a look at the life of Bob Dylan, and appreciate the artistry created by possibly the best musical writer of all time.

Birthplace, Duluth, MN

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, MN. He and his parents lived in a small duplex in the city, and were active in their Jewish community.

From a very early age, he was drawn to music. He listened to blues, folk and country music in his childhood, and then moved on to rock and roll, jazz, and American music. All of these influences can be heard in his unique music.

Bob Dylan's childhood home (Birds Eye)
Bob Dylan's childhood home

Childhood Home, Hibbing, MN

When he was six, his father contracted polio, so the family moved to Hibbing to be closer to family. His father ran a hardware store, and Dylan grew in his musical talent. He formed bands and worked with up and coming artists, performing at high school and local venues, and getting in trouble for his new sound of music.

He and his family lived in Hibbing until Dylan moved away to college. He only lasted a year at school before dropping out to move to New York City to meet his idol Woodie Guthrie and start his own career in music.

Bob Dylan's childhood home (Birds Eye)
Bob Dylan's childhood home

Chelsea Hotel, New York City, NY

Dylan started at the bottom like all musicians do, but quickly gained a small following and respect in the industry. Once he started earning a little money, he stayed at Chelsea Hotel, which has a storied reputation for being a gathering place for talented, and sometimes troubled, artists. Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, and Janice Joplin are just a few of the talented individuals who influenced, and were influenced by, the hotel.

He stayed here off and on for a few years, and wrote his most famous song Blowin’ in the Wind here. A few years ago, the hotel did a remodel and sold the doors to rooms where famous individuals resided. Dylan’s door sold for a whopping $100,000!

Hotel Chelsea (StreetView)
Hotel Chelsea

Fat Black Pussycat, New York City, NY

Another haunt where Dylan liked to pen his lyrical poetry, the Fat Black Pussycat coffee bar, was a major stop in the 1960s beatnik scene. The original venue has been turned into another restaurant, but you can still visit another version of the Fat Black Pussycat in the city. It has been relocated and reestablished, and has a great layout for people who just want to chill and enjoy a show.

The Fat Black Pussycat (StreetView)
The Fat Black Pussycat

Shangri-La Studio, Malibu, CA

By the 1970s, Dylan was one of the most famous musicians in the US, and he toured the music group The Band. The group created a music studio in Malibu in a home named “Shangri-La” and decided to keep the name. The place, designed with input from Dylan, was a recording studio, clubhouse, and hangout for musicians, to encourage talent development.

Dylan recorded there often, as did Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Joe Cocker, and more. Dylan actually lived outside in a tent for several months! It’s still in use today, by artists such as Kanye West, Eminem, and Ed Sheeran.

Shangri-La Studios (Google Maps)
Shangri-La Studios

Bob Dylan’s Home, Malibu, CA

Dylan clearly loved the Malibu area, because in 1979, he bought a home there for around $105,000, and he’s been there ever since. He’s actually bought neighboring properties over the years, developing a massive compound, and added to the original home.

While details are not public, it’s understood the main house is about 6,000 square feet, with six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. It has eco-friendly amenities including solar panels.

Unique, especially in chic Malibu, there’s a shack out in the back property that Dylan goes to when he needs to get away from it all.

Bob Dylan's House (Google Maps)
Bob Dylan's House

Dylan, who has a net worth of over $200 million, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, been awarded ten Grammys, an Academy Award, and even the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Perhaps most amazing for a musician, he was even awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

With all these accomplishments, hopefully Dylan will have a wonderful, relaxing, and rewarding birthday. After all he’s done, he deserves it. Happy birthday, Bob Dylan!


The Coronation of King Charles III

Sunday, May 7 2023 by

King Charles III acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. His coronation takes place today. He and his wife Camilla will officially be anointed and crowned as the King and Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms. In honor of the momentous occasion, let’s look at some of the places that will be featured in the weekend’s ceremonial and celebratory events.

Buckingham Palace

The official London residence of the monarch, Buckingham Palace is where the day’s events will begin, and it’s where the royal family will gather to greet the crowds. After the King and Queen return from the coronation, they will gather on the West Terrace. There will be six minutes of fly-overs from military aircraft, as well as cheers from the armed forces, and lots of jubilation from the crowd.

The Palace is the administrative center of the monarchy, and has been since the time of Queen Victoria. During World War II, the Palace was hit by German bombs several times, once even when the king and queen were in residence! It was on the West Terrace that the royal family greeted rejoicing crowds when the war was officially declared over in 1945.

Buckingham Palace (Birds Eye)
Buckingham Palace

Coronation at Westminster Abbey

The Coronation, where Charles will be crowned and anointed, will take place at Westminster Abbey. The church has been the site of 39 coronations, dating back to William the Conqueror. The most recent coronation was for Elizabeth II, way back in 1953.

The gorgeous Gothic cathedral was originally constructed in 1065, and has been added on to and enhanced, and repaired several times. It was struck by German bombs in World War II, bombed by suffragettes in 1914, and burned several times in its history, but the structure still stands, a testament to the strength and longevity of the British people and their monarchy.

Westminster Abbey (Birds Eye)
Westminster Abbey

Victoria Memorial

On Saturday morning, King Charles and Queen Camilla will leave Buckingham Palace and travel by the Gold State Coach the 1.3 miles to Westminster Abbey. Along the way, they will greet crowds waiting to pay tribute to the royals and witness the monumental event. The procession will involve 4,000 personnel, mostly made up of ceremonial military officials.

The Victoria Memorial, honoring Queen Victoria, sits in front of Buckingham Palace, and is on the route the King and Queen will take to and from Westminster Abbey. The Memorial is often a centerpiece of London’s activity. It is the finishing line for the London Marathon, was a backdrop of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, and part of the London Olympics celebrations.

Victoria Memorial (Birds Eye)
Victoria Memorial

Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle

On Sunday, the celebrations will continue, with a Coronation Big Lunch encouraged across the country. This is a British tradition where people gather in their community for a picnic style lunch or gathering to celebrate the coronation, and the country.

Later in the evening on Sunday, there will be a Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle, with 10,000 tickets being given to the general public. Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli, and Tiwa Savage will headline the show.

Windsor Castle has played an important part of royal life since it was constructed by William the Conqueror. It was expanded by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and then remodeled again in the 1700s. The royal family often stayed here during World War II to avoid the bombings, and Elizabeth II spent most of her time here in her later years.

Windsor Castle (Birds Eye)
Windsor Castle

Crown Jewels at the Tower of London

The coronation is built on tradition and ceremony, and an important part of that is the crown and associated jewels worn by the king and queen. King Charles will wear the St. Edward’s Crown, which is modeled on a crown possibly dating back to Edward the Confessor.

The current crown was built in 1661 and weighs a heavy five pounds! But he will wear at least one other crown during the event. When he leaves the coronation he will wear the Imperial State Crown. Charles will also hold the Sovereign’s Sceptre, and Cross and Orb, which are important symbols representing the sovereign’s authority, and the Christian world.

The jewels, when not being used for the coronation, are kept safely at the Tower of London, where they are often on public display. The Tower was also founded during the reign of William the Conqueror, and originally used as a defensive castle for the king. Later, it has been used as a prison for high-profile prisoners including Anne Boleyn, and as a secure storage for the royal treasure.

Tower of London (Birds Eye)
Tower of London

Whether you’re a big fan of the royal family, or watching the weekend’s events for their historical value, knowing a little about the places and important items will make it all the more fun, and meaningful. And as long as he reigns in generosity and kindness, we can all say, “Long live the king!”


Happy Birthday, Wonder Woman!

Sunday, Apr 30 2023 by

Gal Gadot, known around the world for her starring role as Wonder Woman, turns 38 today. Let’s take a look at this real-world superhero, and wish her a happy birthday!

Gal Gadot’s LA Home

Gal Gadot first came to fame in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but cemented her stardom as Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe. With a net worth of over $30 million, she’s bought some amazing real estate, including this mansion in the LA hills, which set her back around $6.8 million in 2016.

The 4,000 square foot home has plenty of both privacy and beauty. In fact, the stunning outdoor pool rests on the edge of a cliff. At least one bathroom and bedroom have floor to ceiling windows to allow them to enjoy amazing unobstructed views.

She, her husband, and three kids spend some of their time here, but also live a quiet life back in her home country of Israel.

Gal Gadot's House (Google Maps)
Gal Gadot's House

Malibu Penthouse

Like any self-respecting celebrity, Gal purchased beach-side property in exclusive Malibu. The penthouse condo is a perfect getaway spot for the family of five. She spent $5 million on the 2,000 square foot home, which was built in 1984. She bought it from a fellow beauty queen, Thai philanthropist and former Miss Universe, Bui Simon.

Like her other LA-area home, the condo is known for its privacy, as part of a gated community, and is considered to be in one of the most desirable and in-demand areas of Malibu. These features certainly make the $5 million price tag more understandable!

Gal Gadot's House (Google Maps)
Gal Gadot's House

Filming Location for Wonder Woman, Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy

The opening scenes of Wonder Woman take place in a mythical paradise of Amazon women, left to protect the world from the god of war, Ares. The scenes on the island of Theymscira, where the women live and train for battle was filmed at and around the Villa Cimbrone on the beautiful Amalfi coast in Italy.

The role was perfect for Gal,with her Mediterranean beauty and years of military and combat fighting training made her a real-life Amazon warrior.

Villa Cimbrone (Google Maps)
Villa Cimbrone

Lynda Carter’s Maryland Residence

While Gal is this generation’s Wonder Woman, she’s not the first to star in the role. Another beauty queen, 1972’s Miss World, Lynda was cast as the star on the television show Wonder Woman, which ran for three years. After the show wrapped, it went into syndication for years, keeping Lynda and her on-screen persona in the cultural eye for decades.

She and her second husband, Robert Altman, bought a home outside Washington, D.C. shortly before the birth of their son. The 20,000 square foot home has a gorgeous landscaped yard, including a huge pool, hot tub, tennis court, and even a waterfall!

Lynda Carter's House (Google Maps)
Lynda Carter's House

Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman, with an amazing acting career, beautiful family, and growing real estate ventures. On this date, when she takes a moment to celebrate her birthday, and life, we all hope she celebrates with her loved ones and looks forward to her best year yet! Happy Birthday, Gal!


Deep Dive into History: Chernobyl Explosion

Wednesday, Apr 26 2023 by

On April 26, 1986, the worst thing imaginable happened when a reactor at the Chernobyl power plant failed. Due to human error and a desire to cover up the accident, the meltdown quickly spiraled out of control, causing the worst nuclear disaster ever.

Remarkably, only 31 people died directly from the accident, but hundreds of thousands of lives were impacted from direct and indirect exposure, forced relocation, and fear of radiation exposure.

On the anniversary of the tragedy, let’s look back on what happened, and what things look like today.

Chernobyl Power Plant, Pripyat, Ukraine

During the Soviet era, nuclear power was a preferred source of energy for the Soviet Union, and the Chernoybl Power Plant was built to provide power for the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the surrounding area.

By 1986, there were four reactors at the plant, with plans to build more in coming years. Interestingly, after Reactor Four suffered the catastrophic meltdown, the other reactors were not immediately decommissioned. In fact, it wasn’t until 2000 that the site was completely taken offline.

Chernobyl Power Plant (Google Maps)
Chernobyl Power Plant

City of Chernobyl, Ukraine

At the time, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and Chernobyl was a small city of 14,000. Many residents worked at or supported the power station just down the road. The city was founded nearly a thousand years ago, and has a rich and varied history. In particular, it was a major center of Judaism in the region, until the community was wiped out during World War II.

Despite being exposed to significant levels of nuclear contamination, the city was not evacuated until six days after the accident. Technically, the city has been abandoned since that time, but about 500 people still live there, with tacit permission from the government. In fact, some of the apartment buildings have been refitted to house the staff who are still working to this day to decommission and decontaminate the area.

During the initial invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a battle was fought in the area, on ground still emits dangerous levels of radiation, putting the soldiers at risk.

City of Chernobyl (Google Maps)
City of Chernobyl

City of Pripyat, Ukraine

Like Chernobyl, the city of Pripyat was abandoned right after the meltdown. The city was home to many employees at the power plant, as well as their families. These people were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but over the years, it is unclear how many people died as a result of their exposure.

Also, like Chernobyl, around 500 people still live in the area, in spite of official policies prohibiting anyone remaining in the area. They prefer for personal reasons not to abandon their homes and lifestyles, in spite of the danger, and sometimes lack of privacy as tourists and visitors walk through the areas.

Abandoned city (Google Maps)
Abandoned city

Abandoned Ferris Wheel, Pripyat

One of the most haunting symbols of the disaster is an abandoned Ferris wheel, which was days away from opening at the local amusement park before the meltdown. Now, nearly 40 years later, it remains untouched but slowly decaying, having never carried the children and happy families of Pripyat.

This is one of so many tragically abandoned sites, from hospitals to schools to homes to hotels. The city, along with dozens and dozens of villages, were forced to evacuate in the days after the meltdown.

Pripyat Ferris Wheel - Near Chernobyl (StreetView)
Pripyat Ferris Wheel - Near Chernobyl

Monument to the Chernobyl Liquidators, Chernobyl

Surprisingly, the only people who died immediately after the explosion were workers inside the reactor, and the firefighters who responded to the disaster. These men reported to the reactors, which was on fire, without appropriate clothes to protect them from radiation. Those with the greatest exposure, from where they fought the fires, or for how long, died within days. Others died within three months.

On the tenth anniversary, a memorial to these heroes was unveiled, depicting the firefighters running toward the blaze. The inscription says “To those who saved the world” demonstrating the importance and appreciation of the sacrifices they made.

Chernobyl - Firefighters monument (StreetView)
Chernobyl - Firefighters monument

Third Angel Statue or Trumpeting Angel Monument, Chernobyl

One of the most moving memorials to the tragedy is the Wormwood Memorial, which includes the metal statue of the Third Angel. In the book of Revelation, a verse says in the last days, a star named Wormwood falls from the sky and makes the water bitter, which many felt represented the radioactive waste falling from the sky. Because “Chernobyl” means wormwood or mugwort in Ukrainian, many felt that the prophesy had been fulfilled in the disaster.

The memorial also includes signs of the names of the nearly 200 villages that have been abandoned. All told, more than 120,000 people were evacuated.

Trumpeting Angel of Chernobyl (StreetView)
Trumpeting Angel of Chernobyl

There are so many monuments, intentional and natural, that remind us of the tragedy of that man-made disaster, and the lives that were impacted that day. The entire region stands as a stark reminder of the power we wield, and the great responsibility we have to use that power carefully. We should never forget.


LA Landmarks

Sunday, Apr 23 2023 by

Los Angeles is hands down one of the best places in the world to visit, with the beautiful sunshine, celebrities, famous sites and amazing houses.

If you’re planning a vacation to southern California, or just California dreaming, here is a list of amazing sites to see in and around Los Angeles.

Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign has been a cultural icon for decades, and is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. The sign was erected in 1923 in Griffith Park to promote a local housing development, originally reading “Hollywoodland”. It has since been shortened to “Hollywood” to represent the entire region. Tourists can take buses or hike to the sign, or view it from many places around the city.

Hollywood Sign (Birds Eye)
Hollywood Sign


The happiest place on earth is in Anaheim, just outside Los Angeles, especially if you’re a kid or love rides, Disney characters and family fun. Disneyland opened in 1955, and has since become the most popular theme park in the world and one of the must-visit sites in LA.

Disneyland (Google Maps)

The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle can be visited by princes and princesses at Disneyland, and will look familiar to anyone who has seen a Disney movie, as it is also used as the logo for Disney films and other items.

Original Disneyland Sleeping Beauty's Castle (Birds Eye)
Original Disneyland Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

The Chinese Theater has been an icon for Hollywood and the movies since it opened in 1927. After a movie star accidentally left her footprint in wet cement, it became a tradition for stars to imprint their hands or feet.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is close by, along Hollywood Boulevard, and is a fun place for tourists to visit and get close to celebrities they love and admire.

Grauman's Chinese Theater (Birds Eye)
Grauman's Chinese Theater

Venice Beach

For those who aren’t necessarily film buffs, Venice Beach is a vibrant, eclectic place for tourists and locals alike.  Millions of people visit the beach annually, to play handball, streetball, surf, work out at Muscle Beach, shop among the varied retail stalls, or just people watch.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre (StreetView)
Grauman's Chinese Theatre

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive is a three block exclusive shopping district in the Beverly Hills district of Los Angeles. The  area has some of the most luxurious and exclusive name brands in the world, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Armani, to name a few. Even if you don’t have money to spend in the stores, the district is a fabulous destination for window shopping and observing the upper crust in their native environment.

Rodeo Drive Shopping District (Birds Eye)
Rodeo Drive Shopping District

Santa Monica Pier

After a long day of site seeing and people watching in Los Angeles, head over to the Santa Monica Pier. There is an amusement park, a Ferris wheel, an arcade, as well as a beach along the pier where you can blow off steam, relax and have a good time.

Santa Monica Pier (Birds Eye)
Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles is the land of dreams and fantasy for locals, Hollywood hopefuls and tourists alike. There are countless activities, sites and destinations, for every individual. No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it in Los Angeles.




Where to See the NBA Playoffs

Wednesday, Apr 19 2023 by

Hot on the heels of the NCAA March Madness, the NBA playoffs kicked off this week. For the next six weeks, we’ll have tons of high-stakes games with the biggest stars in the sport competing for a chance to win the Larry O’Brien championship trophy, and bragging rights for the next year.

Let’s take a look at some of the venues where teams will play in this year’s NBA playoffs. Arena, Los Angeles, California

Two of the leagues biggest teams happen to share one awesome arena, but not for much longer. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have shared space at the Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center) since it opened in 1999.

The arena is unique in that it is the only stadium shared by two NBA teams, but it also houses the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, and still finds time to host hundreds of other events, including the Grammys, each year.

In 2024, the Clippers are scheduled to move to their own arena, the Intuit Dome, which will be next to the SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood.

This spring, the Lakers, which made it into the playoffs via the play-in tournament, and the fifth-seed Clippers, will play the Grizzlies and Suns in the first round, keeping the grounds crews and all the arena employees very busy as they turn over the facility between the two series. Arena (Birds Eye) Arena

TD Arena, Boston, Massachusetts

TD Arena in Boston is one of the region’s gathering points for sports and entertainment, hosting both the NBA’s Boston Celtics, and the city’ NHL team, the Bruins. Like other stadiums, it hosts college events, other sporting events, and concerts and entertainment all year long.

This spring, the number-two seed Celtics will have home-court advantage, giving them an added boost as they play the Atlanta Hawks.

TD Garden (Birds Eye)
TD Garden

Kayesa Center, Miami, Florida

This spring, Kayesa Center in Miami will be hosting the Miami Heat in the 2023 playoffs. The recent naming history has been crazy, changing from the American Airlines Arena to FTX Arena in 2021. But when the crypto company went bankrupt in dramatic fashion last winter, the arena needed a new sponsor. Fortunately, the local software company Kayesa stepped up, and committed to a 17-year agreement for the building.

The eighth-seed Heat have their work cut out for them against the recent champions and current number one-seed Milwaukee Bucks. But the playoffs are crazy, and anything can happen in the first to four series!

Kaseya Center (Google Maps)
Kaseya Center

Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York

The New York Knicks play at Madison Square Garden in the heart of Manhattan, along with the New York Rangers of the NHL. The venue is possibly the most famous sports and entertainment arena in the US.

MSG was first founded in the 1800s, long before basketball or the Knicks even existed. The current venue was built in 1968, and is still known as one of the most expensive venues built. Unlike some other venues, it’s not just a sports facility, but has as many concerts and entertainment events as athletic ones. In fact, the unique concave roof is incredibly helpful for acoustics, making it an excellent place for musicians to perform.

Madison Square Garden (Google Maps)
Madison Square Garden

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

The Brooklyn Nets moved back to New York from across the river in New Jersey in 2012, and to the Barclays Center. Interestingly, the Barclays bank, which paid at least $200 million for naming rights, doesn’t even have any banks in New York, or even the US!

Like Madison Square Garden, the venue also hosts an NHL team, the New York Islanders. It is also home to the WNBA team the New York Liberty. The Nets are playing the three-seed 76ers, and lost the first game, but hopefully they can pull out a win at the next game!

Barclays Center (Google Maps)
Barclays Center

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Massachusetts

There are at least a few players in the playoffs who will end up in the NBA hall of fame, which is located in Springfield, Massachusetts. Named after the sport’s inventor, James Naismith, the hall of fame is located in a $47 million venue.

It houses displays about the creation and history of basketball, as well as the best and most influential players in the sport. Players including Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Lauren Jackson, and Manu Ginóbili have been inducted into the hall of fame. It’s a pretty sure bet that LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be likely contenders after they retire.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (StreetView)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

There’s going to be a lot of action going on for the next few weeks, on TNT, NBA TV, and ESPN. So be sure to tune in to watch your favorite team, and cheer them on to victory in the championship.


Funny Women, Fabulous Homes

Tuesday, Apr 18 2023 by

In recent years, comedians have risen to the top in Hollywood, becoming the most successful and most popular actors and actresses in the business. Along with that success comes wealth and the ability to have nice things, including amazing dream homes in cool places.

These funny women have made it big in Hollywood, and have sweet homes to show for it.

Tina Fey

A leading comedic actress for over 20 years, Tina Fey got her big break on Saturday Night Live, and moved on to starring and writing for her own television show 30 Rock. She has produced and starred in movies, executive produced other television shows, and topped the New York Times best seller list for her book Bossypants.

Fey and her family live in New York City, in an apartment in the Upper West Side. They purchased the apartment in 2009 for about $3.4 million, and in 2016, purchased the unit directly above their apartment for $9.6 million. The floor plans are nearly identical, with a large master bedroom suite, three additional bedrooms each with private bathrooms, and other luxurious amenities that someone as successful as Fey can enjoy on her downtime.

Tina Fey's apartment (Google Maps)
Tina Fey's apartment

Amy Poehler

Like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler started her road to comedy success as a cast member of Chicago’s Second City improv group. She eventually moved to Saturday Night Live in 2001, and quickly became a full cast member and celebrity. She starred with Fey on the Weekend Update segment, making headlines and breaking gender barriers. Poehler left SNL to head her own show, Parks and Recreation, which ran for several years. She has also been in dozens of films, worked on shows for Hulu, and written a memoir.

Poehler and her husband Will Arnett split in 2014, and she bought a new home in Beverly Hills, California for $3.6 million. She performed extensive renovations on the home before moving in, but has reportedly settled into her new home.

Amy Poehler's House (Birds Eye)
Amy Poehler's House

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres has made people laugh on television and in the movies for over 25 years. She hosts a television talk show that incorporates comedy and slapstick along with the normal celebrity and human interest pieces. She’s famous among the next generation as the voice of Dory, the charming fish with a memory problem. She has hosted the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys and works behind the scenes in various capacities in Hollywood. She is also famous for being among the first women in Hollywood to come out as a lesbian.

She and her wife Portia de Rossi own multiple homes in Southern California, and are constantly selling and buying new properties. They owned one home in Hollywood Hills for several years, but sold it in 2007. But in 2014, they repurchased it from the owner for about $9 million.

Ellen Degeneres & Portia de Rossi's House (Birds Eye)
Ellen Degeneres & Portia de Rossi's House

That’s not the only home they own in sunny California. They bought this home in gorgeous Montecito, outside Los Angeles, in 2013 for a reported $26 million.

Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi's House (Google Maps)
Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi's House

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling got her start as a writer and actor on The Office, one of the most successful comedy shows of recent history. She has moved onto producing and starring in her own show The Mindy Project. She has written two best selling memoirs, and is branching out into film and other areas of work in Hollywood.

Mindy owns at least two homes in the Los Angeles area, one she bought around 2013 for $1.7 million.

Mindy Kaling's House (Google Maps)
Mindy Kaling's House

She has owned another home in Los Angeles since around 2007, when she was first getting settled in Hollywood. She bought this from coworkers on The Office.

Mindy Kaling's House (Birds Eye)
Mindy Kaling's House

Betty White

Betty White was the undisputed OG female comedian. Her career spanned more than75 years, and she received Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards, as well as a Grammy and many other awards and honors.

White was most famous for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls, as well as Hot in Cleveland and recurring roles on many current shows and talk shows. She was known for her comedic timing and ability to play to her audience, as well as entertain a crowd under any circumstance.

White was so beloved and engaging that NBC aired a special 90th birthday commemoration for her.

White lived in Hollywood for decades, but had always remained private about her personal life.

Betty White's House (Demolished) (Birds Eye)
Betty White's House (Demolished)

She had a second home in Carmel, California, where was able to relax and get away from things.

Betty White's House (Deceased) (Google Maps)
Betty White's House (Deceased)

These funny women have made it big by making us laugh for years, and it’s all but certain they’re smiling big in their awesome dream homes, whether they’re in Los Angeles, New York, or somewhere in between.


Famous Gardens Around the World

Friday, Apr 7 2023 by

Spring is in the air, and people are looking forward to spending more time outside. One of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful world as it comes alive after a cold winter is to spend time in the garden.

Lots of cities and communities have gardens and outdoor spaces for people to enjoy. Let’s look at some of the most famous, and most gorgeous community green spaces around the world.

United States Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C.

In the nation’s capitol, the Botanic Garden is actually part of the Capitol complex and is managed by Congress and the Architect of the Capitol. Established in 1820, the main building has been in place at the foot of the Capitol complex since 1933.

The main conservatory has several rooms that each feature a habitat, ranging from rare and endangered plants, orchids, desert plants, and even a jungle room. Nearby are outdoor gardens that visitors can walk through and enjoy while spending time enjoying the nation’s capital. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the garden is that it’s free! All of these amazing, beautiful, and educational features are considered a national treasure, and available to everyone.

United States Botanic Garden (Google Maps)
United States Botanic Garden

Kew Gardens, London, UK

The Kew Gardens in London developed as gardens and landscaped areas for royal residences. Especially supported by the Princess of Wales in the 1750s, the expansive gardens are now considered to be the largest and most diverse collection of plants and fungi in the world, with more than 8.5 million specimen.

Kew Gardens (Google Maps)
Kew Gardens

In addition to the amazing collection of biodiversity, the Gardens have amazing and historically significant structures in which the plants are displayed. The Palm House, built from wrought iron and blown glass, is one of the most beautiful and important Victorian-era structures. There are also beautifully-landscaped areas, complete with walking paths and viewing areas, and even a few tours.

Palm House at Kew Gardens (Birds Eye)
Palm House at Kew Gardens

Gardens at Versailles, France

Just saying the name evokes feelings of opulence and grandeur, even more than 300 years after its heyday. Versailles was once a mere hunting lodge, but under French King Louis XIV, it became the center of the royal world. The massive gardens were as impressive and elaborate as the palace itself, and are considered as important as the buildings.

Palace of Versailles (Birds Eye)
Palace of Versailles

The Sun King spared no expense, and the gardens stretched out from the palace “as far as the eye could see”. Ponds, trees, and other plants were laid out in a formal style that later became known as the “French” garden. Further from the main residence, smaller structures for retreats and entertaining were constructed. These days, the palace and gardens are open to the public, and in 2024, the venue will be the site for the equestrian events for the 2024 Olympics.

Palace of Versailles (Birds Eye)
Palace of Versailles

Gardens of Claude Monet, Giverny, France

Just north of Versailles is one of the most beautiful and inspirational private gardens. Claude Monet, perhaps France’s most famous and beloved artist, was known for his impressionist paintings of nature, especially countryside and water scenes. After his death, the house and gardens fell into disrepair, but were restored in the 1970s, and opened to the public. The ponds on the site inspired the paintings of water lilies for which he’s best known today.

House and gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny (Google Maps)
House and gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny

Some of Monet’s Water Lilies series are on display in Paris’ famous L’Orangerie Museum, which has space designed specifically to display the massive works of art, some of which are longer than 40 feet!

Musée de l'Orangerie (Google Maps)
Musée de l'Orangerie

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Wealthy Canadian cement manufacturer Robert Butchart and his wife Jennie, followed a popular trend and created a Japanese garden on their property. Inspired by its beauty, Jennie then turned other areas of their home into rose, Italian, and other styles of gardens. They quickly became a popular destination, and continued to develop and expand.

On the 100th anniversary of the gardens, they were declared a national historic site. Entry fees are minimal, and the gardens see more than one million visitors a year!

The gardens also have bird houses, a large collection of statues, a carousel in the children’s pavilion, which is a perfect place to host birthday parties. The Gardens are also home to local entertainment including jazz and classical concert series in the summer, and an ice rink in the winter.

Butchart Gardens (Google Maps)
Butchart Gardens

Keukenhof, Lisse, Netherlands

Considered the “Garden of Europe” the Keukenhof in the Netherlands started out as a castle’s kitchen garden, (“Keukenhof” means :kitchen garden”) and has turned into one of the world’s largest flower gardens. The gardens were first opened to the public after World War II, and now receive around 1.5 million visitors a year.

Every fall, the staff of gardeners plant around seven million tulip bulbs. The tulip has special importance in the Netherlands, and it’s the national flower. The venue also has English gardens, walking paths, Japanese gardens, and pavilions with garden exhibits.

Keukenhof also hosts a Christmas fair, medieval festival, and other events throughout the year. It truly is a national treasure, and jewel of Europe.

Keukenhof (Google Maps)

Is there a better way to appreciate spring than to go outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer? Hopefully you can pop over to a local park or garden and enjoy the great outdoors. Happy Spring!


It's National Doctor's Day

Thursday, Mar 30 2023 by

Today is National Doctor Day in the United States.

There are nearly a million doctors in the US, which is pretty impressive! It takes years of extra schooling, hard work, long hours, dedication and commitment to earn the right to call yourself an MD.

In honor of these hard-working professionals, let’s take a look at some of the most famous doctors today.

Anthony Fauci

Love him or loathe him, Dr. Anthony Fauci had a long career in public service before Covid-19 made him internationally famous in 2020. He spent decades at the National Institutes of Health, where he spent years research a little-known illness that ended up becoming known as AIDS. He also researched SARS, swine flu, and Ebola. He finally retired in 2022, after being brought to the media forefront during the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.

Dr. Fauci lives in the same Washington, DC residence that he has called home since around 1977, and walks with his wife in the neighborhood almost every night. The gorgeous house adorned with red brick, is surrounded by beautiful trees, and the back yard is dominated by an oval swimming pool, great for outdoor exercise for the 82 year old and his wife.

Anthony Fauci's House (Google Maps)
Anthony Fauci's House

Sigmund Freud

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, doctor of pop culture is the Austrian doctor Sigmund Freud. He was a neurologist who founded the study of psychoanalysis, with all the images of lying around on the couch talking about repressed memories. In reality, he was a serious doctor who wished to help patients heal from trauma, who came up with some interesting and sometimes salacious reasons for peoples’ behavior.

He and his wife and children resided in an apartment in downtown Vienna, Austria, until they fled Nazi persecution of Jews in 1938. The residence has now been turned into a museum about the doctor and the field of study he founded. Freud died in London in 1939, but his legacy, and reputation as a ground-breaking thinker live on.

Sigmund Freud Museum (Birds Eye)
Sigmund Freud Museum

Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong is famous, but not because of his medical skills. The Korean-American grew up in North Carolina, and was an exceptional student. He earned his medical degree, but was always interested in stand-up comedy. He even won major improv contests and was encouraged to pursue a career in comedy.

Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to practice medicine, and pursue comedy on the side. He had a small role in Knocked Up and his breakout was in The Hangover series. He’s since appeared in movies, had a two-season television show, and lots of comedy specials.

He and his family live in a gorgeous, $4 million Calabasas mansion, which he bought in the fall of 2016. The Tudor-style home has four bedrooms, a home theater, a 3,000 bottle wine cellar, and of course, a lovely outdoor pool. Being a celebrity has really paid off, as Ken is worth about $14 million!

Ken Jeong's House (Google Maps)
Ken Jeong's House

Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta became a doctor at a young age, after participating in an accelerated education program. After a short career as a brain surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, he began providing occasional expert reporting to Atlanta-based CNN. Eventually, he switched to reporting full-time, and has a reputation as an honest, educated journalist.

His medical-based news career has really worked out, with a net worth of $12 million. He and his family live in a gorgeous 7,300 square foot mansion in Atlanta. The house sits on about 3.5 acres, giving him all the privacy needed after being on television. The home is a well-earned retreat for the busy medical correspondent and his family.

Sanjay Gupta's House (Birds Eye)
Sanjay Gupta's House

Dr. Oz

Mehmet Oz was born in Ohio to Turkish immigrant parents, and raised with dual citizenship. Like his father, he became a heart surgeon. He was incredibly successful in this career, developing new techniques and devices to advance the field.

In 2009, Dr. Oz appeared on Oprah’s hit daytime television show, and became an instant celebrity medical expert. He soon started hosting his own television show, not always without controversy over health topics.

In 2022, he ran for Senate in Pennsylvania, and came close to winning. His main residence, however, has been in New Jersey for decades. This gorgeous home was built in 2000, and has amazing details like 12-foot ceilings, large windows, six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and a pool house large enough for a family to live in!

While he didn’t win election in Pennsylvania, he can’t be too sad, as he’s still got his gorgeous New Jersey home, a net worth of more than $100 million, and a lovely family to enjoy!

Dr. Oz's House (Mehmet Oz) (Birds Eye)
Dr. Oz's House (Mehmet Oz)

These are a few famous doctors, but most doctors aren’t on television or in the history books. They’re down the street, in the office or hospital, helping patients feel better one by one. So, if you see a doctor today, take a second and thank them for all they do! Thanks, Doc!