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Yao Ming is perhaps the NBA’s greatest marketing tool in the world. Every time he plays, hundreds of millions of Chinese tune in to watch the Houston Rockets. The Rockets figured out that marketing power initially when, after dawning a new logo and uniform just a few years prior to his addition to the franchise, they quickly revamped their look again by enhancing their uniform to feature prominently the color red that is close to that used in the Chinese flag. The lettering also took on a look similar to what one might find at the Asian section of an amusement park. Yao has done pretty well in the NBA but has had troubles with injuries. In the second round of the playoffs, he reinjured a foot that had been surgically repaird for fractures. Now it seems that the foot is not healing and, like Bill Walton, Yao’s foot problems may limit the remainder of his career. Houston has a problem.
The year was 1859 and, on this date in history, Emile Blondin took to the rope up to 270 feet above Niagara and for 1100 feet walked across from one side to the other. His real name was Jean-Francois Gravelet and he was born in France. He saw his first tightrope act in France at the age of 5. He supposedly came right home and set up a rope with some chairs and began practicing. His father was a gymnast and helped him. After just 6 months, he was performing. Somehow he became an orphan and so he ran and joined the circus at age 9. One source I have found says that 5,000 people watched him do this first stunt on a two inch wide rope and another claims 100,000 on a 3 inch rope. So, who knows? A lot of locals didn’t want him to do the stunt because they thought it would turn the lovely falls into the backdrop for a circus type atmosphere. Much to their chagrin, the first walk was to successful, Blondin did it many more times with variations.
He did it blindfolded, with a man on his back, in a gorilla suit while pushing a wheelbarrow and he even wowed the crowds by taking photos of them while on the rope, which I am trying to fathom giving the size of photographic equipment in the 19th century…I’m not sure if I’m buyin’ that. It is also said that he cooked an omelet over the falls. Other sources confirm this and one even says that he crossed Niagara on stilts! I’m tryin to figure those two out too. In all, he crossed Niagara 16 times and performed other walks all around the world. His final performance was at age 68. He died at 73 a very wealthy man. Source suggest that he made $500 a performance but he had to have made more than that at the end of his career as his earnings for his final two years was about $400,000. In 2007, dollars, that would be $9.12 million.
So, why in the world would anyone want to do such a silly thing? I mean…what does it prove? What does it say about you? Well, apparently someone thought it was worth while because the practice goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. If you have some time, check out this website…The Blondin Memorial Trust.
Beginnings of Independence:
We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4. Everyone knows it was in 1776. But, on this date in 1775 the seeds for separation were sown when the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of War. Its rather interesting because the Congress directed Thomas Jefferson to omit any criticism of King George. Instead, Jefferson referred to the colonists as “his Majesty’s most faithful subjects in these Colonies” and laid blame for their actions at the feet of parliament. My guess is that this goes back to the tradition of protest.
See, for centuries, the peasants in Europe were not able to communicate directly with the King. The King’s men did his bidding and often did things that upset the citizenry. So, they would protest with the idea that “if only the king knew…he’d stop this!” so they protested in an effort to gain the King’s attention to their plight expecting that the King would deal with the evil doers and right the wrongs. So, I suspect this was Congress putting the King on notice that their grievances were not against him directly, hoping that by declaring they had not personal beef with him, that the King would address their grievances and all would be well in Colonial America.
Weather Bottom Line: This is how averages comes about. Last week, we had highs in the 90’s. We started the week with a high in the mid to upper 80’s on Monday but it was relatively dry. A second push of drier air came through late Monday, as expected, and now some folks may struggle to the 80’s today. We move back to the upper 80’s toward the end of the week but until then we’ll have cool nights as humidity levels remain in check. We may start to see a few pop up afternoon storms by late in the week. A front will probably hold off though until after the Fourth of July.