Sunday, June 27, 2010

Auto review: Aston Martin Rapide - Los Angeles Times

Aston Martin makes time stand still with the dazzling Rapide, its first sedan in more than 20 years.

By David Undercoffler Los Angeles Times June 09, 2010

Myung J. Chun, Los Angeles Times

Albert Einstein once described his theory of relativity by saying: "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour."

Now comes automotive proof. There is arguably no car on the road today more an illustration of time being relative than the 2011 Aston Martin Rapide. Get anywhere near Aston Martin's first four-door offering in more than 20 years, and time — and your heart rate — speeds up.

Forget pretty, this car is achingly gorgeous. In designing the Rapide, the company wisely extrapolated on its DB9 coupe so the sedan carries the Aston Martin aesthetic to the nth degree. Its long, low, wide stance belies the fact that it's a sedan. The rear doors blend into the car's hindquarters, making the Rapide not so much a four-door coupe but a coupe with extra doors and style.

There isn't an angle at which the car doesn't look like the chariot of a deity.

The Rapide looks like Aston Martin's DB9 because that's largely what it's based on. The cars share numerous components including a 6.0-liter V-12 engine, good for 470 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque; a rear-mounted "Touchtronic 2" six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters; and various body panels and suspension components.

Aston Martin's philosophy in releasing the Rapide is similar to that of other companies trying to straddle the four-door coupe/sedan line, including Mercedes-Benz and its CLS63 AMG, Maserati's Quattroporte and, most notably, Porsche's Panamera. That is: Build a car that looks and handles like a sports car, yet has the added practicality of a larger trunk and rear seats that you don't have to be a Cirque du Soleil alumnus to access.

As Porsche demonstrated with its Panamera, it's difficult to translate design language from a coupe to a sedan. Aston Martin has made it look easy.

It has also made driving the Rapide easy.

Throw the Rapide, with its near 50-50 weight balance for neutral handling and massively stiff chassis, around some curves and it's easy to forget it has four doors. The car's dynamics are balanced throughout all maneuvers and the more-than-400-pound weight gain over the DB9 is but a footnote to the Rapide's performance. Around town, the V-12 engine and Touchtronic transmission are remarkably composed, and only hint at the car's true capabilities.

Auto review: Aston Martin Rapide - Los Angeles Times

Denied for being too qualified

by JT O'Donnell and Dale Dauten The Arizona Republic June 27, 2010

Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently went through a series of interviews and thought I had the job till I got a voicemail stating they decided to go with someone they'd "worked with previously." They also said that perhaps I was a little overqualified.

I'm a recent college grad. How could I be overqualified?

Dale: I'm so frustrated by managers relying on such a lame excuse that here's a new formula: Anyone who rejects an employee for being overqualified is underqualified to be a manager. Great bosses hire the best people they can find, and are good enough managers to know that they can keep them engaged and involved and, as the economy improves, help them move up.

J.T.: A bit of an overstatement, perhaps, but just so you know, one of the reasons companies start worrying about "overqualified" candidates is because of bad experiences. They've chosen candidates with too-good qualifications, only to have those people leave them shortly thereafter. The result becomes a fixation on hiring someone who'll be satisfied with what he or she has got.

Dale: What can you do? You can search for a great boss who wants ambitious people, but the great ones are hard to find, and rarely use the traditional job market.

Meanwhile, here's what you do: In interviews, don't just sell yourself on how terrific you are. By doing that, you can come across as cocky and overly ambitious. Instead, sell your skills as a team player.

And also emphasize that you're eager to learn. What I'm about to say is corny but useful: Instead of coming across as a know-it-all, come across as a learn-it-all.

J.T.: And during the interview, mention that you hope to find a company and manager to work with long term. If all goes well, you'll find a great boss, and you'll work together for many years, moving up together.

Denied for being too qualified

7/1-9/26: 'Cezanne and American Modernism' at Phoenix Art Museum

by Richard Nilsen The Arizona Republic Jun. 27, 2010 12:57 AM

Modern art. Wow. Who saw that coming?

Well, Paul Cezanne, for one. The French painter, who died in 1906, is the artist most often credited by 20th-century artists as the fountainhead of Modernism.

Who'd have thought that a schlub with little appreciable art talent - at least as it was understood at the time - and who didn't really have a talent for anything else, would lead the way to the 20th century.

"He is the father of all of us," Picasso said.

The direct line from Cezanne to Modernism in America is drawn in a new show at the Phoenix Art Museum, "Cezanne and American Modernism," which includes 16 works by Cezanne and 85 works by 33 American artists, all before 1930.

"He was the source, and there's a river that follows him," says Jerry Smith, the museum's associate curator of American Art. "Somebody pulled the cork out of the dam, and it has rolled on; it just hasn't stopped."

Law and a new order

Modernism is the name we have given to the primary direction of art through most of the 20th century.

To understand the influence of Cezanne, you have to know something of the artist himself.

He was born in Aix-en-Provence in southern France in 1839. His father was a well-to-do banker who disapproved of his son's interest in art and forced him to study law instead. Law didn't take; paint did.

Cezanne was a rough, stubborn man, with intense dark eyes and a Mediterranean face, later dipped in a thick Ulysses S. Grant beard.

His boyhood friend was the novelist Emile Zola, and when they were young, the two planned to change the course of art and literature.

Zola remembered, "We were drunk with the hope of overthrowing everything in the future so as to reveal a new art of which we would be the prophets."

Cezanne went through many periods of experimentation, moving to Paris, studying with the Impressionist godfather Camille Pissarro, failing miserably to attract a buying public and eventually skulking back to Aix - a little like failing to make a dent in Manhattan and moving back to Omaha.

"The world does not understand me," he said. "And I do not understand the world. That is why I have withdrawn from it."

Sense of substance

This lack of understanding is the failure of the past to see the future: Painting was then understood to be a visual depiction of the world; a canvas was a metaphorical window through which we were meant to "see."

But for the revolutionary painter, the canvas was an object in itself, not a window to something else. This was the breakthrough that led to Modernism.

The great 20th-century critic Clement Greenberg described the problem that preoccupied Cezanne as "translating volume and distance to a flat surface without denying its flatness."

Cezanne was showing not this is what an apple looks like, but rather, this is how an apple looks in a painting.

His critics thought he was an awkward painter who couldn't draw well. But he simply wasn't interested in whether the apples created the illusion of reality. He wanted you to pay attention to the paint, not the fruit.

If you were to compose music to describe those apples, you could not literally transcribe them, but would find some aural analogy - in the language and vocabulary of music. Cezanne finds that analogy in the language and vocabulary of paint.

The result is what Woody Allen, in the film "Manhattan," put into his list of things that make life worth living: "Those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne."

There were other things that made his paintings memorable: His sense of formal structure was classical, he used brushstrokes to create the sense of weight and substance in his apples and pears, he knew how to balance color across a canvas and how to use contrasting colors to make each seem more intense. He may not have understood the world, but he understood green better than anyone who'd ever lived.

No painter had a wider range of greens and blues, each as distinct as a word in a dictionary.

He also freed the painting from its snapshot sense of time.

The Impressionists who came before him were seeking to capture fleeting moments, their instant impressions of the way things looked in a certain light or season.

Where Monet painted the moment, Cezanne sought the monumental, the eternal: what this apple or landscape would look like if time didn't exist.

"I want to make of Impressionism something solid and lasting, like the art in the museums," he said.

To do that, he sought the primal shapes of things, and not their idiosyncratic particularities. He generalized, the way he believed the Old Masters did.

"Treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere and the cone," he said.

A new point of view

Look for the simplified shapes. There you will find the solid structure of things.

"If one word ties Modernism together, it is simplification," says Jim Ballinger, Phoenix Art Museum director. "It is bringing the work of art down to the essence of itself, down to its core essence and putting that on canvas in an expressive way. For Cezanne, that meant in geometric or mathematical ways, like Cubism in gestation."

And finally, he ended the tyranny of the single point of view. We take it for granted, with our reliance on the photograph, that we see from a single point, like a lens when the shutter is snapped, but Cezanne recognized that we see from two angles at once - from two different eyes, with different vantage points - and that we see in continuity as we move around a subject. He decided to try to put that multiple viewpoint into his canvases.

"He painted what it looks like from above, and from the side at the same time," Smith says. "You can see the jug from the side, but the top of the jug from overhead. That's something the Cubists could take from Cezanne."

And take they did. More than any of his contemporaries, Cezanne opened up into the future. It's what the painter himself would have expected. He never quite felt he had finished the job he set for himself.

A few great painters sum up an era, capping it with their work; Cezanne is instead a beginning, setting up problems for later artists to work out.

"With Cezanne's death came his apotheosis," wrote author Willard Huntington Wright in 1915. "Thousands rushed in and cleverly imitated his surfaces, his color gamuts, his distortions of line. His . . . ruddy apples and twisted fruit-dishes have lately become the etiquette of sophistication. . . . Cezanne's significance lies in his gifts to the painters of the future, to those serious and solitary (individuals) whose insatiability makes them . . . explorers in new fields."

'Cezanne and American Modernism'

When: July 1-Sept. 26. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays; and 6-10 p.m. First Fridays. Special hours: Noon-5 p.m. next Sunday, July 4, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 5.

Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave.

Admission: $10, $8 for seniors and students, $4 for ages 6-17, free for children 5 and younger.

Details: 602-257-1222,

View 'Cezanne' art

7/1-9/26: 'Cezanne and American Modernism' at Phoenix Art Museum

July skywatch: Hercules floats high, 5 planets align

by John Stanley The Arizona Republic Jun. 25, 2010 06:36 PM

Summer nights may be short, but they're packed with astronomical treats.

One of the best is Hercules, a constellation recognized throughout the ancient Mediterranean world.

Hercules is known for his 12 labors, which ranged from slaying the multiheaded Hydra to obtaining the belt of Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, to descending into the underworld to capture Cerberus, the watchdog of Hades.

Associated legends claim that Hercules sailed with the Argonauts, celebrated the first Olympic Games and freed Prometheus from his chains.

Despite Hercules' stature in the ancient world, his constellation isn't terribly prominent. It is, however, easy to find in July.

Face east about an hour after sunset. The bright white star in the northeast is Vega; the bright, slightly orange star nearly overhead is Arcturus.

If you're not sure, first find the Big Dipper to the north, then follow the curve of its handle over to Arcturus. (Remember: You arc to Arcturus.)

Vega and Arcturus are the two brightest stars in the northern hemisphere of the sky. Hercules is midway between them.

If you're observing from a light-polluted site, you may not see much of anything without binoculars.

The main part of Hercules is composed of six stars arranged in what is often described as a butterfly shape, although it looks more like a slightly lopsided bowtie.

One of the finest globular clusters visible to Earth-bound observers floats within Hercules. If you're observing from a truly dark location, you might catch a glimpse of M13 with your naked eye. Most observers, though, will need binoculars to pick out what appears to be a small, ghostly patch of light. And it takes a telescope to show the cluster in all its glory - a roughly spherical association of hundreds of thousands of stars.

M13 is nearly 150 light-years in diameter and about 25,000 light-years away.

Moon and planets

In mid-July, four of the five naked-eye planets will be lined up like a string of celestial pearls in the west after sunset.

Venus will be by far the most obvious, shining brilliantly in the west-northwest. Look for faint Mercury well below and to the right of Venus; Mars, distinctly orange, will be above and to the left of Venus; Saturn, brighter than Mars but not nearly so bright as Venus, will be well above and to Mars' left.

The crescent moon drifts through the region from July 13-16 and serves as a guide to the planets.

Mercury will be to the right of the low crescent moon about 30 to 45 minutes after sunset July 13. Venus will be above and to the right of the higher and slightly fatter crescent on the 14th, Mars will be above and to the right of the moon on the 15th, and Saturn will be above and well to the right of the moon on the 16th.

Space anniversary

Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. and Soviet Union, fierce competitors in the space race of the 1960s, flew their first joint mission: the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Thomas Stafford, veteran of Apollo 10 and two Gemini flights, commanded the U.S. team, which lifted into orbit July 15, 1975. His crew consisted of rookie astronauts Vance Brand and Donald "Deke" Slayton, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, who had been grounded since 1961 because of a heart murmur; this was his only spaceflight.

The Soviet crew consisted of Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space, and Valeri Kubasov, who was making his second spaceflight.

More on this topic
Dorrance Planetarium

What: A half-dozen shows ranging from astronomy in ancient Egypt to black holes to tips for spotting objects in Arizona's night sky.

When: Starting times range from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Where: Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix.

Admission: $7-$8 in addition to science center admission of $10-$12.

Details: 602-716-2000,

July skywatch: Hercules floats high, 5 planets align

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mackay: Don't just add to your business success, multiply it with the compound effect - bizjournals:

by Harvey Mackay June 11, 2010

Perhaps you’re familiar with the amazing mathematics problem that asks you to figure out whether you’d have more money at the end of one month if you received $3 million on the first day or got a penny on day one and the amount doubled each day thereafter. Most folks would guess that the $3 million would be a better deal.

But choose the penny, and on the 31st day, you’d actually have $10,737,418.24! That’s the power of compounding.

Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, has just written a remarkable book, “The Compound Effect,” that shows readers how to draw on that example in all areas of life. His premise is that everything you do in life exists because you started by making a choice about something. The ripple effects of those choices lead to your ultimate success or failure.

What’s most impressive about Darren’s formula is that he is living proof that it works. At age 18, he was earning a six-figure salary. The business he built was worth $50 million by the time he was 27. He hasn’t celebrated his fortieth birthday yet — imagine what lies ahead. He has studied success and human achievement all his adult life, and his magazine is fertile ground for research. The man not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.

He cautions that a few key disciplines are necessary for major breakthroughs, and not to expect overnight success. Instituting changes is hard work. Consistency in making changes and choices is the ultimate key to success, yet it’s “one of the biggest pitfalls for people who are struggling to succeed,” he says.
Doing it anyway

He credits our grandparents with having the qualities that create lasting success: grit, hard work and fortitude. We should adopt their strong work ethic, which “instilled discipline, chiseled their character and stoked the spirit to brave new frontiers.”

And, he reminds us, “You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you. ... Luck, circumstances, or the right situation wasn’t what mattered. If it was to be, it was up to me. .... I was still 100 percent in control of me.”

Darren is a taskmaster, but at the same time, your biggest fan. He offers a lot of common sense wisdom that can translate to just about anyone’s situation. He also doesn’t accept excuses.

In fact, he says, “There is one thing that 99 percent of ‘failures’ and ‘successful’ folks have in common — they all hate doing the same things. The difference is that successful people do them anyway. Change is hard. That’s why people don’t change their bad habits, and why so many people end up unhappy and unhealthy.

“What excites me about this reality, however, is that if change were easy, and everyone were doing it, it would be much more difficult for you and me to stand out and become an extraordinary success. Ordinary is easy. Extra-ordinary is what separates people.”

“The Compound Effect” is a fascinating how-to book that’s adaptable to many situations. As I think about the very successful people I know, they have put these principles into practice every day. I don’t know anyone who started at the top and worked their way up.

But I do know people who have become very successful and then got a little lazy. They lost some of the discipline that propelled them to the top, and then they were surprised that things weren’t going as well as they once were. Darren addresses that issue as well, reminding us that what got us to where we are is what will keep us there.

Finally, he encourages us to share our success: “Whatever I want in life, I’ve found that the best way to get it is to focus my energy on giving to others. If I want to boost my confidence, I look for ways to help someone else feel more confident. If I want to feel more hopeful, positive and inspired, I infuse that in someone else’s day. If I want more success for myself, the fastest way to get it is to go about helping someone else obtain it.

The ripple effect of helping others and giving generously of your time and energy is that you become the biggest beneficiary of your personal philanthropy.”

Mackay’s Moral: (borrowed from Darren Hardy): “You make your choices, and then your choices make you.”

Mackay: Don't just add to your business success, multiply it with the compound effect - bizjournals:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mackay: If you opt to compete, you've already won

by Harvey Mackay - Jun. 7, 2010 12:00 AM

Codfish are a delectable treat in the Northeast. But when attempts were made to ship them fresh to distant markets, the cod did not taste the same as they did closer to home. To deal with this, shippers decided to freeze the cod and then ship them. But the fish still didn't taste right.

Then the fish merchants tried shipping the codfish in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, but the codfish still lost their flavor and, in addition, their flesh became soft and mushy.

Finally, some creative soul solved the problem in a most innovative way, according to Charles R. Swindoll in his book "Come Before Winter and Share My Hope": The codfish were placed in a tank along with their natural enemy, the catfish. From the time the codfish left the East Coast until they arrived at their westernmost destination, those catfish had chased the cod all over the tank. And, as you may have guessed, the cod arrived at the market tasting as if they had just been pulled from the ocean. If anything, the flavor was better than ever.

What competitive environments and daily challenges can do for codfish work for humans as well. Competition and challenges make us better.

But a problem I see is that people are afraid of competition. Perhaps it's because they fear losing, but I suspect a better reason is that they know they are not as prepared as the competition. They are not willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice. They think things will be easier for them than for others, possibly because others have made things look easy.

Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley was a basketball star at Princeton University and later with the New York Knicks. When he was at Princeton, Bradley's father used to tell him, "Son, when you're not out practicing, someone else is. And when you meet that person, he's going to beat you."

I love to watch basketball, and there is no better time than the Final Four or the NBA playoffs. Basketball is taken to another level during that time of year. You really see competitiveness emerge.

The Incas of ancient Peru played a primitive form of basketball, the object of which was to shoot a solid rubber ball through a stone ring placed high on a wall. The winner was traditionally awarded the clothes of all spectators present. The loser was put to death.

It's the same in business, except the part about the clothes and being put to death. When it's crunch time, you want the people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and jump in. You want gamers. You want people who are confident.

As much as I love to come out on top, I'm too realistic to believe the "winning is everything" philosophy. Because after so many years in business, I know that you can't win them all. But there is no excuse for not giving it your best shot. And you can be the winner more often than not.

Athletes and actors have long hired coaches to help prepare for a competition or role. But today there are coaches available to help people in any field improve their "game."

If you think that leaders don't need coaches - that if you're already at the top, a coach couldn't offer you anything new - think again. Why does someone such as Serena Williams have a coach, whom she could handily defeat on the coach's best day?

For the same reason all high-performing individuals have one, says coach Daniel Pendley: "One, we cannot see our own mistakes; and two, if we are not getting better, we are getting worse."

Your competitive urge is sometimes the only advantage you have. Someone else will always have more money, more resources, more connections or more experience. You will compete with larger companies, smarter people and less-ethical organizations. Use these experiences as opportunities to improve your game.

Mackay's Moral: You can swim with the sharks without being eaten alive.

Mackay: If you opt to compete, you've already won

Sunday, June 6, 2010

AFP: Sotheby's to auction Lehman Brothers art collection

AFP June 5, 20101

NEW YORK — Sotheby's is to auction an impressive collection of modern art amassed by Lehman Brothers, the US finance firm that collapsed in September 2008, precipitating the financial crisis.

The collection, which will be offered for sale on September 25, is valued at more than 10 million dollars and comprises some 400 pieces by artists including Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter, Liu Ye and Julie Mehretu, Sotheby's said.

The pieces includes "We've Got Style," by Hirst, the infamous British artist, which is valued at between 800,000 and 1.2 million dollars.

Liu Ye's "The Long Way Home" and Mehretu's "Untitled" are estimated to fetch between 600,000 and 800,000 dollars.

"It truly is a visionary collection," said Kelly Wright, an advisor to Lehman. "Many of the works were acquired from cutting edge and emergent artists who have since evolved into the vanguards of the contemporary art world."

The sale must still be approved by the bankruptcy court overseeing the liquidation of Lehman Brothers.

The firm had 639 billion dollars in assets on September 15, 2008, when it filed for bankruptcy -- the largest collapse in US history.

AFP: Sotheby's to auction Lehman Brothers art collection

Networking, marketing on site

by John Yantis The Arizona Republic Jun. 3, 2010 12:00 AM

When a colleague suggested to Gia Heller that her personality was perfect for booking clients through business leads groups, she remembers wanting nothing to do with the idea.

Images that went through her mind included coffee meetings with a half-dozen women in similar businesses. The meet-and-greets didn't offer enough customers for the time and effort it would take to attend them, she thought. She'd shake a hand or two and hope to land a single client.

"I didn't want my high-powered women friends to have to take out an hour of their day (for face-to-face meetings)," Heller said. "That just didn't seem engaging to me and it didn't seem like I would be offering value."

So the commercial real-estate professional began exploring social media and researching search-engine optimization on the Internet. That resulted in Arizona Women Networking, a growing Valley group whose members are part of an all-female business directory that focuses entirely on blogs and social-media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to promote their businesses.

"It takes a handshake to the very next level," said Heller, group president and founder. "Instead of trying to get the business of these ladies, they are basically a sales force for me and vice-versa. When I shake your hand, I'm shaking all of the hands of all your contacts."

Social networks offer a variety of benefits for those looking to land clients, said Mike Denning, professor of entrepreneurial marketing at Arizona State University at the Tempe campus. He said people with similar interests, for example chefs, gardeners and businesswomen, gather together in cyberspace.

"It's an effective way for people to create awareness because it self-profligates," he said. "For an entrepreneur, it's an extraordinarily cost-effective way to do marketing communication."

Arizona Women Networking formed in July. Membership included Heller and three others. Today, it has 50 members and up to 35 requests to join per month.

There is no cost to participate. The group meets face-to-face once a month.

Membership is by invitation only. Those interested submit a request via the group's website and an interview and orientation follows. As many as 50 women left or were removed from the group because they "did not fulfill their social-media commitment," according to Heller.

"They weren't blogging, they did not have Facebook," she said. "We provide them all the tools. They were just slack in performing."

Additionally, members' sites are policed regularly to insure that they are the "expert" in the social-media market within their respective fields.

"If you need an accountant in Scottsdale, I only have one to refer you to," Heller said. "There's no cannibalization of leads."

Heller said the advantage of social networking over advertising is a Web presence group members receive. Instead of cold-calling or sending flyers, referrals give them an edge on the competition because of common acquaintances or other factors.

Ana González, owner of Images by Ana and Lorenzo Photography, found the group during an Internet search after relocating to the Valley from Florida.

"I had to start my business from scratch," she said, adding that traditional advertising in magazines costs as much as $2,000 monthly. She found similar networking groups but they charged fees or had few members, she said.

Since she became a member of AWN in February, González said she's been referred to 15 customers.

The group reaches an estimated 25,000 Arizonans. Fifteen members were added this month and another dozen interviews are scheduled, Heller said.

Networking, marketing on site

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