Friday, September 21, 2018

Into Georgia on Highway 41

Yes, we have finally left Florida.  Our first view is of Long Pond, in Lake Park. There are still a lot of lakes around here.  This happens to be the Valdosta Yacht Club.  That is not a joke.

Next we'll take a look at Dasher Park, in Dasher, Georgia.

Valdosta - Business 41 through it, or Highway 41 around it?

Well, put it this way. If I was doing a road trip, cycling or driving (or roller skating or hiking, but hiking would be REAL slow), I'd rather go into Valdosta, the first medium-size city we've seen since Tampa, rather than go around it where there's much less to see and visit. So, Business 41 it is. It rejoins Highway 41 north of Valdosta.

Hip Hop Fish and Chicken

Downtown Valdosta - has some charm

Business 41 is Ashley Street through Valdosta, by the way.

Valdosta - Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce

Michael's Deli

Now leaving Valdosta.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hayabusa-2 dropping probes onto Ryugu

Friday, September 21, the Hayabusa-2 satellite orbiting mini-asteroid Ryugu will drop two min-rovers onto the asteroidal surface.  The rovers are going to hop around the asteroid, using a motor-powered internal weight to drive them.

Should be fun. And they've got cameras, too.  And there are more landers, and more interesting maneuvers, coming up, if everything keeps working right.

Hayabusa-2: Japan's rovers ready for touchdown on asteroid

Here's a picture of Ryugu I had not seen before.  It's quite bouldery, which might make asteroid hopping a bit more interesting.

A new hot rock

According to this article, the Whitney Flame Topaz is the finest red topaz on planet Earth.

Next time I'm in Washington (maybe when the dinosaur hall reopens), I'll have to check it out.

There appears to be only one or two pictures of it so far, so rather than repost them, just read the article.

The Whitney Flame Topaz Smolders in Vibrant Red

It's on display now in the same room as the Hope Diamond and the Dom Pedro Aquamarine, which is pretty fine company.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A new Washington political thriller

It's like a novel (because no one would believe this is non-fiction):

Here's what it says on the back cover:

The Washington power struggle continues -- and the Supreme Court is at the center of a battle between the forces of good and Republicans.  Every player has a stake in the Supreme Court nomination...

The President -- Vicious, vindictive, venal, and vain, his remaining faithful followers expect him to deliver a Supreme Court majority with his picks. And he just wants to be liked, loved, and adored, and to keep his base happy and gullible, his choice must be the key to a monocultural Christian society, even if they'll overlook his own record of sins and scandals to get them there.

The Senate Majority Leader -- Malevolent, Machiavellian, manipulative, magisterial, he has twisted the Constitution and the rules of the Senate into a Möbius band that has only one side -- his. His brash political gambling and gamesmanship has taken him to this point, an achievement he treasures above all others, his legacy.  And he'll do whatever it takes to make sure it happens.

The Speaker of the House -- Once thought a nimble politician, now he's a spineless wimp. Ignore him because he doesn't matter at all. He's getting out of Dodge with his tail stuck into his butt crack.

The Senator on the Committee -- Once he spoke for justice as he prosecuted a President. Now he speaks for unfairness, partisanship, misogyny, and malfeasance. And every single day, he looks more gay, but he can't admit his hidden passions.

The Nominee -- A child of privilege and a student at a prestigious private school, the nominee achieved the top of his law school class and an esteemed judgeship despite a fondness for beer and baseball tickets. No one disputes his legal mind and his conservative Republican bona fides, but now his past may return to haunt him, and deny him the position he covets and thinks he deserves.

The Accuser -- As a young woman, she and the Nominee had violent sexual encounter she tried for decades to forget. Rebuilding her life in California and academia, she was haunted by the memory, and told her story in the privacy of a physician's office.  But circumstances forced her story, and herself, into the news, and now she must determine what she can remember, and decide if she can face the man she never wanted to see again -- in front of Congress and the American public.

The Witness -- A famous alcoholic and a high school drinking buddy of the Nominee, the Accuser said he witnessed the encounter and managed to stop the Nominee before it went too far.  Now the Witness says he can't remember and doesn't want to, yet he can verify the Nominee's pretty boy, party boy life in high school, and everyone knows he can. The Witness is the wild card that can keep the Nominee from ascending to ... THE FIFTH SEAT.

Realizing the danger that the Witness poses, the Senate Majority Leader makes an untraceable phone call to a contact known only as "Davy Crockett".   "Davy," the SML says in his slow, infuriating rural Southern accent, "can you still hit a dime-sized knot in a pine board from 100 yards with Ol' Betsy?  If you can, I might have a job for you..." 

Read THE FIFTH SEAT -- because the last chapters have yet to be written, and reality is even stranger than fiction.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Full blast

Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post's esteemed columnist, has no love for President Trump, his administration, Trumpists in general, and the chumps in Congress.  So in this column, she tells it like it is regarding what Congress and Trump are doing to make the Supreme Court another agent of their collective will.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation went seriously off track weeks ago

Here's her blast:
"Surely there is blame on both sides regarding the politicization of the federal courts, but the damage to the Supreme Court itself is largely the work of the Republican Party, specifically of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Republicans brag about their power play in denying Judge Merrick Garland a vote, and then doing away with the 60-vote cloture requirement. They are downright delighted with McConnell for having pulled this off (almost)."
Exactly right.  So if Kavanaugh's nomination goes right off the rails, it serves them right.

Lighthouse of the Week, September 16-22, 2018: Vulcano, Italy

This week's lighthouse is on the island of Vulcano, near Sicily, from which all other volcanoes get their general name.  Vulcano is still considered active, though it last erupted in the late 1800s, 1888 to be more precise.  Not many people live there, so while it may have geological tourism interest, it doesn't have a lot of basic tourism interest.  And if they interest is in active volcanoes, Stromboli (the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean") or Etna are where the volcanophiles should go.

However, Vulcano does have a lighthouse.  And I used Google Maps to the utmost to find it.  So here is both a panorama from Google Maps, and a map (3D image).  It took a moment for me to see the lighthouse until the 3D "popped" for me.

Panorama first:

And then the map:

Where is the Vulcano lighthouse?

So let's get some details from the Lighthouse Directory:
"1887 (station established 1853). Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 31 m (102 ft) octagonal stone tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story masonry keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white; lantern dome is gray metallic."
It seems strange that the lighthouse was built a year before Vulcano's last recorded eruption.  By the way, the lighthouse is also known as the Faro di Gelso, as there is a small community named Gelso just up the slope from it.

And now to the pictures.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Both the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears have new coaches

One of the surprises of the Washington Capitals surprise season, winning the Stanley Cup, was that a couple of weeks after they won, Coach Barry Trotz resigned, and ended up getting hired to coach the New York Islanders.  Assistant coach Todd Reirden was promoted to head coach.

Well, I knew that.  But I also knew that the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate team that has been a big, big reason for the Capitals success, didn't have a great season last year, and they fired their coach.  So obviously they had to hire a new one.  I hadn't remembered to find out who he was until a few days ago.

His name is Spencer Carbery.

Spencer Carbery Named Head Coach of the Hershey Bears
"The native of Victoria, British Columbia has ties to the Chocolate and White [Hershey's colors, of course], serving as the head coach and director of hockey operations for Hershey's ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, from 2011-2016. In his five seasons at the helm, Carbery compiled a 207-115-38 record with the Stingrays, making him the all-time winningest coach in South Carolina history. "
Sounds good.

Well, I wish him luck.  B-E-A-R-S Bears!  Bears!  Bears!