Monday, August 31, 2015

Undangerous Predictions 2015: Two-thirds evaluation

It's time to make a quick evaluation of where I stand with my 2015 Undangerous Predictions.  Let's get to it!   Scoring:   X-Y-Z;  X is right, Y is wrong, Z is undecided.


Sports:

1.     The Washington Nationals will make the MLB playoffs again.

** Pitching hasn't been what it should have been, and they have been beset with injuries.  Right now, this one is not looking good.  0-0-1

2.    The Washington Capitals will be in the NHL playoffs for the 2014-2015 season.

** Yup, they did, and pushed the New York Rangers to an overtime 7th game.  The sad fact is that they were ahead in game 5, up 3-1, with 1:41 left to play.  Being the Capitals, this was the beginning of the end of that playoff series.  But I got the prediction right. 1-0-1

3.    Caroline Wozniacki will be in the semi-final round of at least one Grand Slam tennis tournament this year.

** Only has one more chance, starting this week.   She just hasn't seemed to peak at the right times.  Iffy. 1-0-2

4.    Crystal Palace FC will avoid relegation in the Barclays Premier League this season.

** Sure did, and ended up 10th!  Don't look now, but as of right now this season (well, OK, maybe you can look) they are SECOND. Really.  I doubt it will last, but they can enjoy while they've got it.  2-0-2


Politics:

5.    One of these Democrats:  Hilary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, or Joe Biden;  and one of these dangerous Republicans:  Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, or Scott Walker;  will declare their candidacy for President in 2015.  I don’t consider Chris Christie or Jeb Bush dangerous.

** The least dangerous off all my undangerous predictions.  Already done.  3-0-2

6.    Either the  state of Kansas or the state of Maryland will be reported to be making “unconventional”, “unprecedented”, “draconian”, “extraordinary”  or “dramatic” steps to reduce its budget shortfall.  One of those five words will be found in an article about either state’s budget.

** Not sure on this one.  The Kansas experiment has been bad, and I know the educational sector is unhappy.  Have to research this. 3-0-3

Here's some preliminary work.  Too bad "decimated" doesn't qualify.

--- Education is Newest Target of Kansas Budget Cuts

Whoa, Brownback used the word "dramatic" himself!  But it was about increases in state education spending, not cuts.

--- Kansas school funding cuts mean summer comes uncomfortably early

Winner!  --- Kansas Schools Committed to Funding Walking School Bus Program

"The grant funded project has ended. However, to date, 11 of the 17 schools have either committed funding, or located funding, to continue the WSB. This many schools agreeing to fund the program is noteworthy on its own, but it is especially meaningful considering Kansas education is experiencing unprecedented budget cuts."
Revised score:  4-0-2

7.    The efforts of Congress to reduce Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority will be unsuccessful.

** This one merits further evaluation, but the Clean Air Rule, much as they don't like it, is in effect.  But some states are gearing up to resist it.  4-0-3

Science/Environment:

8.    Both the Mars Opportunity Rover and the Mars Curiosity Rover will still be working at the end of 2015.

As of September 1st, still going.  4-0-4  (but I'm hopeful this goes to "right", though Oppy has been having some memory problems.

9.    The New Horizons mission will find at least one more moon of Pluto during its flyby.

Not all the data on the flyby has been sent back, but I don't think it did.  However, it did get better pictures of the little moons.   Charon, of course, was covered well.  Sadly, have to call this as a  miss, even though New Horizon's didn't.  4-1-4.

10.    The Dawn mission will discover something “surprising”, “unexpected” or “unexplained” about Ceres.  One of those words will be used in an article about the discovery.

Yeah, I got this one right.   5-1-4,  read here:  

Unexpectedly, I get an Undangerous Prediction right!



Celebrity/Gossip:

11.    One celebrity couple that had a baby together, born after November 2014 and extending into 2015, will break up before the end of 2015.  This does not include Jeremy Renner, since that already happened.  (Plus, the mother of his child wasn’t really a celebrity. ) This is for at least a major-minor celeb pairing, not a major or minor celeb paired with an “ordinary” person.

Gotta do research on this one, too.  Have to check, because I think maybe the surprise breakup of Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green might qualify.   Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick may qualify as well.  5-1-5.

12.    A well-known actress/starlet will do her first bare-breasted nude scene in a movie.  It will be noted as a surprise (or words to that effect) in reporting.

Kristen Wiig in Welcome to Me.  Complete surprise -- and not only was she bare-breasted, she was full frontal. DING.  6-1-5. This Web site says it was a surprise.  

Others:  Charisma Carpenter looked fabulous and nude in the abysmal Bound;  

So,  I hit the 50% mark, and I still might get a couple more of these right.  But that's how it should be for Undangerous Predictions.  Tomorrow, I'll evaluate the Edgy Predictions for 2015.

Lighthouse of the Week, Aug. 30 - Sept. 5, 2015: Lucap Lighthouse, Alaminos City, Philippines


After visiting New Zealand for three lighthouses, I thought about other places that might have them.  I cast my thoughts upon the Philippines archipelago, which has a lot of coastline.  Turns out, not unexpectedly, that it has lighthouses large and small.  I think I'll visit here more than once, too.

The one I found is a different design than the "standard", though apparently there is more than one of this design in the Philippines.  This particular one, the Lucap lighthouse, is located in Alaminos City, right adjacent to the Hundred Islands National Park.

The Lighthouse Guide doesn't have a lot to say about it;  it's pretty simple.
"Date unknown. Active; green flash every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) slender square white concrete tower, with an external concrete stairway winding around the tower. No lantern. ... Small lights of this distinctive design are common in the Philippines. Located on the waterfront at Lucap, on the west side of Lingayen Gulf about 5 km (3 mi) northeast of Alaminos."
Map (bigger if you click it):















And pictures of it:




Saturday, August 29, 2015

There are very few things...


... that could distract one's contemplation of the amazing scenery in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Nina Agdal is one of them.


The pictures I saw of Nina in the swimsuit issue showed sand dunes, so I wasn't aware she posed in Bryce Canyon.

I sure am now.

Nina Agdal's Best Moments - SI Swimsuit 2015


Spirit make the women's pro soccer playoffs


If you're following Major League Baseball, and you live round these Baltimore-Washington parts (I count Calvert County in those environs), then you may have recently noticed the somewhat epic collapse of both the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals.  Both of these teams appear poised to NOT make the playoffs this year (which impinges on my Undangerous Predictions for 2015, which I need to evaluate at the beginning of September, which is nigh).

This is not surprising. This, after all, is the Baltimore-Washington area, where major professional sports teams don't often play for championships.

However, a usually overlooked aspect of that is soccer.  DC United, though not followed nearly as much as the baseball, football, basketball, and hockey teams, has won several MLS championships.  Makes one wish that soccer was a major sport in this country, but that's at least another decade away, I'd say.    And the Washington Freedom won the women's professional soccer league, just before the league folded.  Typical.

But there is now another women's pro soccer league, the National Women's Soccer League, and the Baltimore-Washington area has a team in it, the Washington Spirit, though it plays in the 'burbs.  The first year of the NWSL, the Spirit, to put it bluntly, stunk.  But they reversed fortunes the next year and made the playoffs (didn't win, though - typical again), but hope never dies, and they needed just ONE point in their last three games to get in.  Though they were playing other playoff teams, they managed that point with the first game, garnering a draw and the point.  Now it would be nice if they could improve their playoff position, but maybe that's asking too much.

As is asking that they win the championship.  Hey, our women won the World Cup, so is it asking too much more for another Baltimore-Washington professional sports championship -- of any kind?


Here's some Washington Post coverage of the playoff run:

Washington Spirit on the bring of NWSL playoffs, but it won't be easy

Washington Spirit clinch NWSL playoff berth for second straight year








Friday, August 28, 2015

We've got to talk more about this


Just passing on a link to a paper that merits discussion, but I haven't had time to determine exactly what's going on with this.  So here's the title and opening paragraphs of the report.

Sunspot analysis questions solar-climate link


At a press conference held at the IAU General Assembly on Friday, 7 August, astronomers announced the results of an important revision to the historical record of solar activity.

The corrected version of the well-known solar-cycle graph brings homogeneity to the 400-year-long tally of sunspots, providing a trustworthy record to inform modern research on the Sun and on solar-terrestrial relations. It will provide an improved data set for ongoing studies of the solar dynamo, for predictions of space weather, and for models of climate change.

Notably the revised sunspot record shows that there has been no upward trend in solar activity since 1750 — a trend that had been suggested by previous versions of the count — which implies that there is no significant correlation between the level of solar activity and global temperature rise.

Much to ponder there.

Breathtaking, but daft


If you haven't seen this National Geographic video of the slackline world record chasm crossing, you should.  It's positively breathtaking, but I don't think I will ever really fathom the attraction to extreme sports where one misstep, or one tenth-of-a-second miscalculation, means death.

Slackline world record


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lighthouse of the Week, August 23-29, 2015: Cape Palliser, New Zealand


One more trip to the islands of the Kiwis for this week's Lighthouse of the Week.  The Cape Palliser lighthouse sits on the southermmost point of the North Island.  Got that?  It's not far on a map from Wellington, but when you see how far you have to drive...

Here's what UNC's lighthouse site has to say:

"1897. Active; focal plane 78 m (256 ft); two white flashes every 20 s. 18 m (59 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The original 2nd order Fresnel lens continues in use. ... Prefabricated in Wellington, the lighthouse marks the extreme southeastern tip of the North Island and the eastern entrance to Cook Strait and Wellington. "


Worth the trip if you like photographing lighthouses, though. But to get to the top of the bluff with the lighthouse, you have to climb up 258 steps.