Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ho-hum, just spectacular scenic photography

Every now and then the Daily Mail has an article about amazing photography, in between its coverage of gruesome murders, royal families, celebrities in swimwear, red carpet fashions, and soccer.   (They know I'm just joking.)

Well, in this case, the photography featured in the article was truly amazing.  It comes from a Web site --   It has photographs of the outdoors in Canada (predominantly western Canada), New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, and the Italian Dolomites.

Nice places to visit, if you've got the time and the energy and the money.

Not having any of those, I'll just have to look at the pictures.  Below is one of them, of a place I would like to see in Canada, Mount Assiniboine.  But I'd like to go to New Zealand and Iceland before I went there, if I had the chance to choose.

Happy travels!

Checking in on the Aussie Open

Apparently we've had a couple of nail-biters already.

Grigor Dimitrov, who hasn't won a Slam yet but who did when the ATP Champions trophy at the end of 2017, went five sets against American Mackenzie McDonald, who has no pedigree at all. But he thrashed Dimitrov 0-6 in the fourth set and pushed him to 8-6 in the fifth.

Lovely Caroline Wozniacki had to win two match points to finally prevail against Jana Fett (Boba's sister*) after being down 5-1 in the third set. Way to close of a call there.

Wunderkind Jelena Ostapenko had to go three sets.

Many matches are in progress as I write this. I'll report back soon.

* not really

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Big and clear

Just saw this news about a really big diamond found in Lesotho.  Fifth-largest ever, according to the news article.  And this stone is really clear, looks like ice.  They might be able to make a fabulous gemstone out of it.

World's fifth largest diamond, worth as much as £30 MILLION, is discovered in the southern African country Lesotho

It was found in the Letseng mine by mining company Gem Diamonds.  It is 910 carats.

Another article, with more info on big diamonds:  One of the biggest diamonds in history found in Southern Africa

Lighthouse of the Week, January 14-20, 2018: Beachy Head, England

There are picturesque lighthouses around the world, but there are also outstanding ones that show up not just in a few pictures, but in lots of pictures, on postcards, in calendars, in fine art books, in collections of pictures of lighthouses...

Beachy Head Lighthouse is one of those. Situated directly below some of England's white cliffs on the English Channel (in fact the highest white cliff in all England), built such that it is normally surrounded by water except during the lowest of tides, Beachy Head offers the lighthouse photographer a huge variety of options.  The cliffs are impressive, the ocean is wide, and the lighthouse is classically red-and-white striped.

Here's the basics, from the Lighthouse Directory:

"1902. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); two white flashes, separated by 4 s, every 20 s. 43 m (141 ft) tapered round granite tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square concrete pier. Lighthouse painted white with a broad red horizontal band; lantern is also red. Fog horn (blast every 30 s)."

"Rarely is such a large lighthouse so dwarfed by its surroundings. In January 2010 Trinity House proposed to deactivate this light, but following opposition from local boaters it agreed in May to continue the light at reduced power (the new range is listed as 15 km (9 mi))."

So why was it built there? For that, we turn to Wikipedia, the entry for Beachy Head.
"The headland was a danger to shipping. In 1831, construction began on the Belle Tout lighthouse on the next headland west from Beachy Head. Because mist and low clouds could hide the light of Belle Tout, Beachy Head Lighthouse was built in the sea below Beachy Head."
There's a separate Beachy Head Lighthouse entry on Wikipedia, too.

If you're wondering where it is, it's just slightly east of due south of London.  The nearest town is Eastbourne, and Brighton is just up the coast to the west.   Calais, in France, is just a bit north of due west on the French coast.

And now for a few pictures.  As noted before, these are only a few of many.

Great view of Beachy Head

by Steve Ashman 

Is this the World's Greatest Shower?

Let's face it - showers are everywhere.  In fact, if you're reading this, you probably have one or more in your house!  Almost every hotel or motel room has one, too.  And there are many different kinds of showers -- some have transparent walls, some are outside with jets of water coming out of stone walls, some have fantastic views of nature from the privacy of your own room, some are between the bedroom and the bathroom, some are beige and dull and made of one piece of molded fiberglass and there are thousands of variations. There are showers like rain or mist, showers that massage, water-conserving showers, and showers so forceful they'll pin you against the back wall of the bathroom if you aren't careful.

Plus, there are all kinds of designs -- modern, rustic, classical, gaudy, efficient, simple, you name it.  If you Google Image search on "bathroom showers" or "hotel showers" or "fancy showers", you'll see an almost endless variety.  We make take them for granted, but showers are a ubiquitous part of our First World lives.

(I had to point that out -- sadly, in the Third World, water resources are scarce, and people need water for cooking and drinking, and even clean water is hard to find.  Using water to shower is a luxury they can't afford. So showers are not part of the lives of millions of people on Earth, and we all, collectively, need to work harder to fix the water resource problems of humanity.  As I write this, Cape Town, South Africa, is facing a water crisis that could come to a head in 90 days or less.)

Returning to the subject -- what I am going to do here is to nominate the World's Greatest Shower.

I'll tell you how this started.  I follow a lovely young lady, Alyssa Arce, on Instagram.  Alyssa is a Playboy Playmate, a Wilhelmina model, a ring girl, and has a slender but curvy body.  A very fine looking woman. In many of her pictures, she is artfully nude.  (And damn those Instagram restrictions about showing nipples.)

In one of her Instagram pictures, and in an accompanying video, Alyssa was in a round, very large, open shower.  (Truly nude, but not Instagram-censorable.) I wondered where that was, and it took me a little while to investigate the location in the picture.  I didn't immediately find it, because the label had "Villa Tre Ville", and turned out to be easier to find when I discovered that it is more commonly known as "Villa TreVille".  (That link goes to the property's Web site.)

It's in the stunning Italian side-of-a-cliff postcard city of Positano, on the Amalfi Coast.  It used to be the home of iconic Italian movie director Franco Zeffirelli.  Now the property has been divided into several highly luxurious villas.  This is a place that the really, really rich come for a vacation.

It turns out that when Zeffirelli was still there, one of the frequent guests was renowned composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.

The greatest shower in the world is located inside the Bernstein suite, in the Villa Rosa.  The other suite is named after Nijinsky, the famous Russian ballet dancer.  The shower used to be (as Alyssa noted in the caption to her picture) a bread-baking oven.

One of the things shower offers is the opportunity for showering as a spectator sport.  That is, while your paramour is bathing, you can easily watch, and vice versa.  In fact, there could be a bunch of guests in there all communally showering.

But I digress.  Below are pictures of the Bernstein suite, first the rooms, and then the shower.  And I finish with the picture of Alyssa that so intrigued me.  (I kept it small, so if you want larger, just click it.)  If you want to see the video, find it on her Instagram.

Now, I am open to rivals to the title of World's Greatest Shower.  I'm sure there are other great ones.  But until they are formally presented as rivals, this one's my winner.

View with entrance to the bath

And here's Alyssa Arce in the shower.  Avert your eyes if the unclothed body of a lovely young woman offends you.  Otherwise, go forth and conquer.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pointed quotes, part 2

From Jennifer Rubin, in:

Two senators do backflips to protect a racist president
"First, many GOP lawmakers now consider lying in defense of the president to be routine, part of their normal duties as card-carrying Republicans. They don’t care that it makes them look foolish to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. They, like Trump, now operate in the populist bubble that depends on protecting Trump and reaffirming their bond with the base on behalf of white grievance. For Perdue and Cotton, defending the preference for immigrants from richer countries — i.e. whiter countries — requires they not concede that this, at bottom, is about race."
Like I said in the last post about pointed quotes, it's the Republicans' fault.

In this case, it's obvious.

Pointed quotes, part 1

From Amber Phillips, in:

President Trump made Congress’s life impossible this week (again)

"The government needs to be funded by next week or it could shut down. Tens of thousands of young immigrants in the country illegally could lose their protections. A children's health-insurance program that millions rely on is going bankrupt. The CIA says it desperately needs Congress to reauthorize a foreign surveillance tool to fight terrorism. And disaster ravaged communities need billions of federal dollars to get back on their feet."

And let's say it all together now:  it's all the Republicans' fault.  Repeat as much as necessary.