Friday, June 23, 2017

A scathing treatment of McConnell

Amanda Marcotte in Salon blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- and he deserves it, of course.

The face of Republican evil: it's not Donald Trump

Let's review a few of the good things she had to say about the bad bitch:
"McConnell’s contempt for the processes, much less the defining principles, of democracy couldn’t be more apparent. But he doesn’t really care. No doubt the election of Trump helped confirm the rising sense among Republicans that they can wipe their collective butts with the Constitution, flip the bird at their constituents and not really worry about losing many seats. Republican voters might not like it, but they like liberals, black people and feminists even less, so they will show up and dutifully vote against the Democrats every time. Losing health care access isn’t great, but for conservative voters, admitting that liberals might have a point is a hell from which there is no escape."
"McConnell was so unwilling to accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s two substantial presidential election victories that the Republican leader refused to acknowledge Obama’s right to nominate a Supreme Court justice after Antonin Scalia’s death. Not only did that work out perfectly for McConnell — he got Neil Gorsuch onto the high court, instead of rightful nominee Merrick Garland — but it proved once and for all that bedrock conservative voters don’t care about niceties like the rule of law or government by the people."
There isn't anything I don't agree with in those excerpts.

Driving by ... the Gaffney Peachoid

Heard about this -- so I looked it up. Outside of Gaffney, South Carolina, there's a water tower painted like a giant peach (a major local crop).  They apparently call it the Peachoid.   It's right off Interstate 85, which is where the StreetView car was when it captured this view.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Super scenic Zakynthos

Found out the name of this place (after seeing lots of pictures of it) -- the Greek Island of Zakynthos. It has lots of great features -- superb beaches, happening (occasionally somewhat wild) night life, and some great coastal scenery.  The Blue Caves of Zakynthos are likely the most photographed coastal scenic location on the island.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

But when? No way to know

This recent statement on the danger of asteroid strikes on our home planet has been in several articles.  Here's the Daily Mail version:

A surprise asteroid strike that could wipe out humanity is 'just a matter of time', warns leading astrophysicist

First, I'll note that "a matter of time" could mean tomorrow or two centuries from now.

From the article:
'It is important to know that scientists and engineers have made great strides in detecting Near-Earth Asteroids and understanding the threat posed by them', said Dr Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Centre.

'Over 1,800 potentially hazardous objects have been discovered so far, but there are many more waiting to be found. 'Astronomers find Near-Earth Asteroids every day and most are harmless.'

'But it is still possible the next Tunguska would take us by surprise, and although we are much better at finding larger asteroids, that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them', he said.

So, while we are fighting silly religious wars on Earth, we should be devoting global resources into being ready to divert or destroy a civilization-threatening asteroid.

Right?  Another good argument for a one-world government.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A sonnet - Austin's Power

You never know where and when you'll meet someone extraordinary, even if it's only for a few minutes.

Austin's Power

I wish that I could dream of her at will,
to conjure her again within my mind,
for she possesses what I need to fill
my longing thirst  — regality combined
with naked certainty and opulence;
a queen disrobed; a lissome fervency
of curvature requiring no defense,
for brilliant beauty is her currency —
I touched magnificence when I caressed
the assets she provided, slender waist
and ample breasts each with a perfect crest
of loveliness; mobility so placed
that my enthroned enthrallment was complete —
and in my life such bliss will ne'er repeat.

Ever hear of Escondido Falls? I hadn't

Via Instagram, I just found out about the existence of Escondido Falls in California. It's accessible via a 4-mile hike in Malibu, through Escondido Canyon Park. It starts out looking like a desert stream with a rocky waterfalls, but ends up at the top, where the highest (130-foot} falls of the three-tiered feature look like a desert oasis. Quite unique, it is.  (You can even see it in Google Maps.)

Escondido Falls Hike in Malibu: A Beautiful Three Tiered Waterfall  (from California Through My Lens)

Here's the 130-foot top waterfall:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Juno continues to astonish

Not much more to say here except "Wow", as a true expression of astonishment.

Stunning new Juno image reveals colourful clouds and the gigantic 'string of pearls' storms on Jupiter

An example is below.  Juno, if you don't remember, is the NASA satellite orbiting Jupiter.

Lighthouse of the Week, June 18-24, 2017: Split Rock, Minnesota

I was surprised to find out that despite my regularly-occurring praise of the spectacular Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, that I have only had three pictures of it in my Lighthouse of the Week feature.  I'm going to remedy that with four more.

As you might suspect, this well-known lighthouse has several Web sites in which it is the main subject.   Before we get to the pictures, here are three Web sites:

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse and State Park - North Shore Visitor

Split Rock Lighthouse - Lighthouse Friends

Two details:  the tower is 54 feet high and the cliff is 130 feet high.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Romancing the Stone, for real

The movie "Romancing the Stone" (Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito) involved a ridiculously large green gemstone.

Looked like this:

Well, real-life super-stones do exist, and they are a LOT bigger than that.

Miner who discovered massive $300MILLION emerald weighing 800 lbs in Brazil goes into hiding because he fears thieves will kill his family to get it

There's even a video.  People are going to pay a lot of green to get this big green rock.

And now a picture of Demi Rose Mawby

Immensely fabulous.

She's busy establishing her brand, while having a good time doing it, and what a brand it is.

And now a quote from Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin writes "Right Turn" in the Washington Post.  She's a conservative voice at the paper, though not quite as angry as Krauthammer.

What stops Republicans from behaving rationally

I adored this quote:
"First, unlike Senate and House Republicans during Watergate, there are few genuine leaders of principle whose sense of propriety is offended by Trump. The moral and intellectual quality of the current crew of Republicans pales in comparison to the type of Republicans who finally told Richard Nixon the jig was up."
The thing is ... we Democrats have known that for as long as Bitch McConnell (not a typo) was trying to keep Obama from being elected to a second term by being Obstructionist #1, and for as long as Apalling Ryan has been proposing ridiculous budgets.  But more and more of them keep making Jennifer's point, every day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, June 11-17, Walker Bay, Leech Lake, Minnesota

It would be easy for me to look for lighthouses in Minnesota and find them on the shores of Lake Superior.   I could, in fact, just post more pictures of the marvelous Split Rock lighthouse (and after seeing more of them, I was tempted).  And I might be lazy next week and just post a selection of Split Rocks.

But I wondered if there were lighthouses in Minnesota that were NOT on Lake Superior.  I didn't know if I could find any.

But I did.

This is not a working lighthouse.  From what I can gather (you can read it too), it was a private project that was donated to be a public site.   It's lit up at night, but I don't know if it actually has a light.

Walker Bay Lighthouse

Now, if you're wondering where Leech Lake is, it's roughly in the center of north Minnesota.  If you draw a line directly from Fargo, North Dakota to Duluth, Leech Lake is just above the centerpoint of that line.  It's about 50 miles east of Lake Itasca, source of the Mississippi River.

Now, Leech Lake does not have a big fleet of commercial ships, nor does it have much of a cruise ship business.  What it does have is lots of fishermen on fishing boats.

The fleet

Good enough reason for a lighthouse.

Here's three pictures of the Walker Bay lighthouse.

The Arctic Circle - cartoons with an environmental edge

I just found out about "The Arctic Circle" cartoon by Alex Hallatt, so it's going to take a while to go back through the days and months of previous toons.   So I'll just feature a couple here.

Tons of fun.  (Not every strip is about climate change, BTW.)

A sonnet --- "Sara Unbound"

In case you don't know Sara Underwood (aka Sara Jean Underwood), she's a former Playboy Playmate and Playmate of the Year, has appeared on a variety of TV shows and Internet media, and now is specializing in using Instagram for promotional appearances and spots, as well as producing some absolutely astonishing glamour+nature photography (with dedicated and daring photog Steve Bitanga).

You can follow her adventures (and some of their expeditions and site hikes truly qualify as such) on her Instagram accounts, saraunderwood and sarainthewoods.   If you want to see Bitanga's photography, try out stevebitanga.   They also have Twitter accounts, Snapchat accounts, private Snapchat accounts, Supe accounts... hard to keep track.

So, getting back to Sara, her outdoor photography efforts with Bitanga have included some stunning scenery combined with Sara wearing a) not much, b) very little, and c) nothing.  (And occasionally some cold weather shots where she's dressed to survive).   While following her around photographically, I've also been introduced to a few remarkable scenic locations that I had not previously known existed, especially some Pacific Northwest waterfalls and secluded hot springs where soaking naked is de rigeur.  Nice.  Wish I could try out some of that in person.

Having said all that, I composed a poetic and photographic tribute to Sara.   If you can't read it (given what I can post here), the sonnet text is below my composition.

And Sara, if you see this -- I hope you like it.  Because I certainly like what you've been doing.

Sara Unbound

She stands before the mountain peaks, enhanc-
ing nature's splendor with her own -- or in
a rushing forest stream, her featured stance
beside a waterfall's cascade, her skin
adorned with scintillating drops of mist.
It's hard to say which is more beautiful;
the scenery, or her outstanding list
of attributes, the curves and spaces full
of personality -- we therefore see
these places with her life inserted, dream-
scapes of reality, a woman free
to make the wondrous wonderful, a theme
of sensuality and naturalness
which we receive amazed, and blessed with bliss.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Where the 'roids are

Not steroids, silly.  Asteroids.  Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), specifically.

When the WISE mission ran out of cryogenic coolant, NASA retooled the spacecraft and retasked the mission to look for new asteroids, specifically NEOs.  Hence, NEOWISE was born.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has just released a video of what NEOWISE has found.

Three years of NEOWISE asteroid data

Since it started looking for them, NEOWISE has found 114 new NEOs.

Does that keep you up at night?  It doesn't really keep me up at night, but I still wonder if there's one that will find its way to Earth.

There sure are a lot of them.

Ali Rose sonnet

There are many different beautiful women in the world, so to find one that is outstanding (at least to one's own personal preferences) is always enjoyable.

One of the women I've found personally pleasing is Playboy model Ali Rose,,, and a frequent representative of the Playboy brand. She recently released some new awesome photographic collections, which are quite appealing to those of us who appreciate glamour photography of a gorgeous naked woman. And she is that.

(An image search with the names "Ali Rose" and "Playboy" will yield bounteous results.)

I appreciate her appeal so much that I wrote a sonnet about her. She's married -- and I certainly hope that extraordinarily fortunate husband of hers shows his appreciation for what he's got, because it's pretty special. (Pretty and special, actually.)

If you want to see more - search!

the beauty of the rose

I've never heard a word spoke from her lips
(and I know that she has a husband, too) --
she shows her self in photographic chips
in which she is not shy; we can't construe
that we might ever touch the treasures she
possesses, nor shall we have chance to share
her sensual affection; but we see
the apex of phenomenal, the bare
reality of wondrousness, displayed
to instigate response, covetousness
spurred by the female power to persuade,
and pure desire; the rise of manfulness
we cannot hope to quell, for in her spell
we can envision stories we can't tell.

Halep through to the French final

After yesterday's heroic comeback, it didn't seem fair that Simona Halep had to come back the next day and play the 2nd-seeded Karolina Plíšková -- who could have been somewhat motivated by the fact that winning the semifinal match would have not only put her in the French Open fnal, it would have made her the number one women's singles player in the world.

But after a tough 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win, including a break that let Plíšková get back on serve 4-3 in the third set after she had been ahead 4-1, Halep can now have her sights on the number one ranking and her first Grand Slam title.  If she wins, she gets both.

Her unlikely opponent is young and unseeded Jelena Ostapenko.  Now, I hearken back a few years to Wimbledon, when a young and unseeded and somewhat exciting Kiwi (New Zealand) named Chris Lewis made it to the final -- against world number one at the time, John McEnroe.  The result wasn't pretty for Lewis, as he went down in three straight 6-2 sets.  (Lewis was good enough to have a decent 12-year career with three tournament wins.  But he was no McEnroe.)

There's always a chance that lightning can strike and an unseeded novice can beat a seasoned pro.  But Halep has been tested by fire in this tournament, and after the hairsbreadth win over Svitolina, and the tough three-set semi, it's hard to see how she would come into the final flat and unmotivated, and somehow be daunted by the precocious Ostapenko.  Plus, she has been in one Grand Slam final before, and that experience should help calm any nerves she might have.  I'm not going to predict the score, but I am going to take a chance and predict a Halep win for the title in straight sets.

I guess I should pay attention to the men, but's hard to see how Nadal will lose, even though Thiem is an up-and-comer.  On the other side, Murray vs. Wawrinka, I just have a feeling the revivified Wawrinka will find a way.  Then I think Nadal senses history and will win his 10th French Open.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

End of the Republican experiment in Kansas

It's over.

After several years of Sam Brownback's attempt to prove the Republican adages that tax cuts encourage economic growth, and that you can run a stripped-down government without enough revenue, and keep meeting your basic obligations (like education) -- the Kansas legislature, led by Republicans, has soundly repudiated the ideological effort.

It's about time.  It's still somewhat astonishing that Brownback even got reelected, given how poorly the experiment was going.  But it got worse, leading to the tax-increasing legislation and veto override.  Brownback can no longer be taken seriously (unfortunately, for awhile, he was).

Kansas’ Disastrous Experiment in Trickle-Down Economics Is Finally Over
The Republican Legislature voted to override the governor’s veto and raise taxes.
"The centerpiece of his [Brownback's] plan was a huge reduction in the state’s income tax. Brownback erased the top income tax bracket and lowered rates across the board, with the most benefits handed to the wealthy. And he zeroed out taxes on “pass-through” income, allowing owners of LLCs and other businesses to evade taxes. Analysts warned that such a big reduction in tax revenue would leave a crater in the state’s budget, but Brownback waved away such concerns, promising that the cuts would more than pay for themselves by juicing the economy and creating jobs. When moderate Republicans in the Legislature didn’t fully agree with their governor, he teamed up with the Koch brothers’ advocacy organization to back primary campaigns against them and replace them with true believers.

But Brownback’s promised economic miracle never came to pass. Tax revenue has consistently come in below expectations."

And I will shed nary a tear for the end of the dream. So long, Sam. You were wrong. You lost. It would take a man to admit that, and so therefore I doubt you will.

And whenever Republicans talk about lowering taxes to spur economic growth, and that such a course of action will "pay for itself", don't believe them.  It doesn't work.  What improves the economy is strong communities and a diversified (skill-wise) work force.


Yes, seriously.

She may lose in the next round, against 2nd-seeded Plíšková. She may win, too, and get to the final, where she would be favored to win.  That's secondary right now. If anybody ever doubted the strength of Simona Halep's competitive spirit, they are no longer allowed to do so.

Because in an instant-epic French Open quarterfinal, Halep started 0-5 to Elina Svitolina before starting to find her game, but still lost the first set 6-3.  Then she went down 1-5 in the second set, but truly figured something out, and revived her hopes by getting to 6-5 and had three break points against Svitolina to even the match.

And lost them all, and another, then the game, sending the second set to a tiebreak.  And in that tiebreak, she was down 2-4, subsequently faced a match point, saved that, and won the tiebreak and the set on a happy net cord.

The mentally-ravaged Svitolina was toast at that point, and Halep dispatched her 6-0 in the third set, sending her, finally, into the semi-final.

But look at what she had to face.  A 1-5 game deficit in the second set.  Battling back, then losing three break points that would have given her the second set.  That's daunting.  Then getting behind in the tiebreak, and even having to face a match point.

All that adversity, and yet she won.

She deserves to win it all now.  She might not.  It's too bad they don't give medals for Quarterfinal Heroism, because if they did, she earned one.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, June 4-10, 2017: Kolka Lighthouse, Latvia

Apparently this lighthouse (and its location) is a featured tourist location in Latvia.  It has it's own little island, definitely a lighthouse distinction.

"The Kolka lighthouse is on an artificial island which was created between 1872 and 1875. The original lighthouse was made of wood, and its light was first lit in June 1875. As the island settled into the sea, the current tower was built. It began operations on July 1, 1884. Today the lighthouse is six kilometres from Kolkasrags at the end of its sandy shallows (back when it was built, it was just five kilometres away). The island still has the building for the lighthouse supervisor, as well as several outhouses. The metal lighthouse [21 meters in height] which is there now was built in St Petersburg. It has been an automated lighthouse since 1979."

For more information, I'm providing three different links about it.

The Kolka Lighthouse (the Map tab shows where it is)

Cape Kolka

Lonely Planet:  Kolka and Cape Kolka

Here are the pictures, including the Kolka Lighthouse candle holder and the Kolka Lighthouse stamp.

An unusual sonnet for May

to touch beyond the commonplace

There was a time when she was mine, though just
in thoughts, and those indeed were commonplace;
in idle hours of droning days I'd trust
my intuition to align her grace
with my ungainliness and there produce
a forced amalgamation of her best
and celebrated attributes with loose-
ly packed desires until I faced arrest
of heartbeats and activities of mind —
constrained to only her, immune to where
I was and even who — within the bind
connecting all myself to her the rare
dimension would be gained beyond mere sense,
where I could then perceive the vault immense.

(written in May, finally had a chance to post it)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ocean pH drops on the West Coast

Pumping CO2 into the atmosphere doesn't just raise global temperatures.  It also lowers the pH of ocean waters, a process called "ocean acidification".  And this process is having notable and observable effects.

Acidified ocean water widespread along North American West Coast

An excerpt from the article:  the direct quote is from Francis Chan, oceanographer at Oregon State U., and the first author on the paper on which the article is based.

“The West Coast is very vulnerable. Ten years ago, we were focusing on the tropics with their coral reefs as the place most likely affected by ocean acidification. But the California Current System is getting hit with acidification earlier and more drastically than other locations around the world.”

A team of researchers developed a network of sensors to measure ocean acidification over a three-year period along more than 600 miles of the West Coast. The team observed near-shore pH levels that fell well below the global mean pH of 8.1 for the surface ocean, and reached as low as 7.4 at the most acidified sites, which is among the lowest recorded values ever observed in surface waters.

Doesn't seem fair

French Open, Roland Garros 2017, Women's Singles Draw

The women's French Open quarterfinals are an interesting contrast now. On one side of the draw, Simona Halep (3rd seed) will next be playing Elina Svitolina (5th seed). If Halep wins that, her likeliest opponent in the semi-finals is 2nd-seeded Karolina Pliskova (facing 28th-seed Caroline Garcia in the quarters).

To get to this point, Halep dominated clay-court specialist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-1. So she looks ready and the hurt ankle seems to be holding up so far. But it doesn't seem fair she has to play the 5th and probably the 2nd seed to get to the final.

Because on the other side of the draw, Caroline Wozniacki (11th seed) must be thanking the heavens that she's playing unseeded (that's sometimes dangerous) Jelena Ostapenko. If the Woz gets by her, she'll play either the 13th seed, Kristina Mladevnovic, or 30th-seed Timea Bacsinszky, who just dispatched Venus Williams, as she did last year too.

Seedings sometimes work out funny, but that seems quite imbalanced. If Halep gets to the final, she'll deserve to win it, and I'll be pulling for her. But I will be torn if her opponent is Wozniacki.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Lakes and climate change

Good article on a slightly-overlooked but very important aspect of climate change.  It's a long article, discussing several different phenomena, from Science News.

Lakes worldwide feel the heat from climate change

Here are three noteworthy excerpts.

1. "Globally, observations show that many lakes are heating up — but not all in the same way or with the same ecological consequences. In eastern Africa, Lake Tanganyika is warming relatively slowly, but its fish populations are plummeting, leaving people with less to eat. In the U.S. Upper Midwest, quicker-warming lakes are experiencing shifts in the relative abundance of fish species that support a billion-dollar-plus recreational industry. And at high global latitudes, cold lakes normally covered by ice in the winter are seeing less ice year after year — a change that could affect all parts of the food web, from algae to freshwater seals."
2. "Lake Superior is warming so quickly because it is stratifying earlier and earlier each year. It used to separate into its summer layers during mid- to late July, on average. But rising air temperatures mean that it is now stratifying about a month earlier — giving the shallow surface layers much more time to get toasty each summer. “If you hit that starting point in June, now you’ve got all summer to warm up that top layer,” Lenters says."
3. "Ecological changes put into motion during a particularly cold or hot time can send ripples during the following seasons, researchers are finding. “What happens in previous seasons sometimes matters more than the current season,” Lenters says. This is especially true for lakes at high latitudes that are covered in ice each winter but may see less ice as temperatures rise. Ice acts as an insulator, protecting the waters from big changes in the air temperature above. When the ice finally melts in spring, the water is exposed to warming from the atmosphere and from sunlight. “It’s a way the temperature can really rapidly increase in those lakes,” Hampton says."

A meteo-tsunami in the Netherlands

Never heard of this before (not unusual, because it's rare) -- a "meteo-tsunami" hit the beach in the Netherlands a few days ago.

The Daily Mail  called it a tidal wave, but the only real tidal wave is a tidal bore, and that's not what this was.  It was an unusual wave driven by a strong weather front.  The pressure change led to the formation of a wave (great example of physics, by the way).

Dramatic moment seven foot tidal wave sweeps away beach chairs, boats and parasols as mini tsunami strikes the Netherlands

Here's the video, if you're in a hurry.

And here's a PDF document about them, if you aren't in a hurry, from NOAA.

Meteotsunami  (I guess the hyphen is optional)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Princess Charlene in a Monaco Grand Prix video

I've got to admit, even with two twin toddlers, Princess Charlene of Monaco is still looking REAL good.

Princess Charlene stuns in scarlet at the Monaco Grand Prix

Here's a site with the video in HD (People)

The Musée océanographique de Monaco, where Jacques Cousteau used to hang out, is seen prominently at the beginning of the video.  It's hard to miss a structure that is this striking:

As you'll see in the video, Princess Charlene's athletic structure is quite striking, too.

Lighthouse of the Week, May 28 - June 3, 2017: Rathlin West, Ireland

When I searched with the phrase "upside-down lighthouse", I didn't know what would be found, if anything would be found at all.

What was found was the Rathlin West lighthouse in Ireland.  I have to admit, the upside-down subscription is apt.   I could also term it the "headless lighthouse".

Here's more about it:

Great Lighthouses of Ireland:  Rathlin West, Antrim  (includes locator map)

It's considered one ot Ireland's 11 Great Lighthouses.

Height doesn't mean much here, so let's go with the trivia on the page:

  • The lighthouse was built into the cliff face between 1912 and 1917. A special pier and an inclined railway from the pier to the cliff top had to be built to facilitate the lighthouse’s construction.
  • The light was first exhibited in 1919.
  • Lightkeepers lived in the lighthouse until it was automated in 1983.
  • The lighthouse’s fog signal, dubbed the ‘Rathlin Bull’, could be heard from more than 30km away. It was removed in 1995 after 70 years’ service.

And so... the pictures.

The Headless Lighthouse on the headland

Halep through to third round

Halep watch:   Simona Halep won her second-round French Open match 6-4, 6-3, in a match that was more difficult than the score indicated, against needs-a-last-name Tatiana Maria.  Maria hit lots and lots of lobs, which apparently messed with Halep's timing.

Now, her next match is against Darla Kasatkina, her first match against a seeded player (seeded 26th;I   Halep is seeded 3rd).   We'll see how that goes on Saturday.

Just noticed Caroline Wozniacki is in the third round, too.  I can't expect her to win it, but it would not upset me if she pulled off a couple of upsets and did.

Simona may be grounded, but she doesn't necessarily have her feet on the ground

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Maryland WINS ??!

A short while ago I posted that the NCAA men's Division I lacrosse championship could be otherwise titled "Who is Maryland going to lose to this year?"'

They hadn't won since 1975, despite being in either the Final Four or the championship game numerous times.  So losing was habitual and winning not the norm.

Now, I like lacrosse, but I'm not a big fan, despite it being Maryland's unofficial state sport.  It's popularity has grown for years (it's no longer just a sport played primarily in the Mid-Atlantic states and at Ivy League schools), it requires significant athletic prowess in both stamina and skill, and it's got a lot of action.  With hockey scoring declining, and soccer never having enough scoring at the highest levels, lacrosse has enough scoring to keep everyone entertained, if you like scoring.  I pay attention to the NCAA championships, and I usually pick a favorite team, many times Maryland.  Most of the time my favorite time loses.  So it goes.

The problem with lacrosse, more than anything else, I think, is that it seems too easy.  Note that I said "seems", because it really isn't at all.  It looks like it's just running and tossing a ball around with a little stick that has a net on the end.  Even though kids play soccer and hockey and baseball, I think that lacrosse suffers from looking like a kid's game.

So, having said that, back to Maryland.  They played Ohio State, and they broke the losing habit, winning 9-6.   Amazing and finally.

Add to that, the Maryland women's team won another lacrosse title, not unexpected but the first time they won after not losing in the regular season.  So despite the DC travails in pro sports, the rare Baltimore titles (thank you Ravens, even though I don't pay attention to you at all), at least there's some winning going on in Maryland.  And the Mystics, with All-Star superstar Elena Della Donne, are 3-2 right now.


Halep through French first round

With Serena Williams pregnant and Maria Sharapova not playing, as she didn't qualify off her suspension, Simona Halep was looking like the prohibitive favorite in the French Open, as she was playing really well.  Unfortunately she stumbled in the final of the Italian Open and tore an ankle ligament, putting her fitness into question.   The first round of the French would be a test.

Well, she tested out fine today, with a 6-3, 6-3 win over J. Čepelová.  And both Kerber and Konta were ousted in Round 1,  so she's got a good path to the later rounds.

If her ankle holds up.  On her side of the draw, the biggest challenge is likely to come from Pliskova. Of course, there's always a good chance in the French of an obscure clay court specialist plowing through to the semis.

Eugenie Bouchard also won her first-round match.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The EPA isn't the target, the environment is

From an article in the Washington Post:

EPA remains top target with Trump Administration proposing 31 percent cut

Just a lovely example:
"The plan would eliminate several major regional programs, including ones aimed at restoring the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, as well as EPA’s lead risk-reduction program. The White House also proposes nearly halving categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water quality, to $597 million. It would slash funding for the Superfund cleanup program, which helps restore some of the nation’s most polluted sites, despite the fact that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lists it as one of his priorities."

With budget cuts like these, there won't be an environment worth protecting in a few years.

Which is pretty much what the Trump Administration has planned.

I don't like the sound of this

I've written many articles about the dire straits of the bluefin tuna worldwide.  But they aren't the only fish stock in trouble.

Now, before I go further, note that salmon, in general, aren't endangered.  There are too many salmon farming operations around the world for that to happen.  This particular issue is about wild salmon, specifically in California.  But the really good salmon (taste wise) are wild salmon.

Several of California's Salmon Species to Go Extinct Within 100 Years, Study Finds

"At the current rate, 45 percent of California salmonids are likely to be extinct in the next 50 years," said the study. "This includes 11 of 21 anadromous species and 3 of 10 inland species. In 100 years, 23 of the remaining 31 species (74 percent) are likely to be extinct if present conditions continue."

"The study's authors remain hopeful that habitat restoration and other protective measures can reverse the damage already done and prevent a mass extinction, but time is limited. "We do still have time, and we are optimistic that with some effort, we can have a future that involves these fish," CalTrout executive director Curtis Knight told reporters, as reported by NPR."

Let's hope so (as I always seem to say about these stories).

Just like art

I've held off commenting on this "new" model for awhile. But now I just can't hold off any longer.

Meet Ekaterina Zueva (if you haven't already).

And also here.

She's Russian, she's insanely hot, she's apparently married (based on a comment she made responding to comments on one of her pictures), and she can be found via searching wearing little if any clothes, and wearing no clothes at all. She's very slender, but has the curves that make the boys wild. She poses in lingerie, sometimes, and posts pictures on Instagram (as "zuueva". She must be pretty young. She has pictures taken of her all over the world.

I will leave it to you interested readers to conduct searches for the lovely Zueva, if you are so inclined. The subject of this post was a very recent Instagram picture, shown below. The reason I'm posting it is to compare it to three wate color paintings authored by the late Steve Hanks. I have mentioned Hanks before, I know, and posted some of his stunning nude studies. (Surprising, only once: Sensuality and Artistry, Part 2). If you like that kind of thing, search for his works, too. Hanks was a wizard with watercolor, and he also got the most luscious models on the planet to pose for him. His death was a definite loss of an outstanding talent (and he didn't just paint nudes, he painted seascapes, babies, kids... so sad that he's gone).

So here's the picture of Ekaterina.

This particular pose was a favorite of Hanks, and shown below are six (!) examples that are quite similar to Ekaterina's picture. So, as the saying goes, one man's art is another man's ... fascination.

Definitely a lovely theme.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, May 21-27, 2017: Point Amour, Newfoundland, Canada

You know, happily, when you search "oakden wolf" and "lighthouse", the return is a lot of lighthouses -- takes a long time to reach the first babe. So, to continue the contributions in the lighthouse genre, I thought I'd go back to Newfoundland for another one, because one thing that Newfoundland has is a lot of lighthouses.

This one is romantically monikered on Point Amour ("Point Love" for us English speakers).  Here's a locator map.

Lighthouse Friends says:

  • "Point Amour literally means Love Point, but its original name was likely Pointe-aux-Morts, or “dead man’s point,” due to the numerous shipwrecks in the area. The establishment of a powerful light and foghorn on Point Amour reduced the frequency of shipwrecks, but some still occurred. On August 8, 1902, the 12,000-ton, 605-foot-long HMS Raleigh ran aground just west of the station. While visiting Newfoundland ports, the commander of the British warship decided to make a stop in Forteau Bay so the officers could try their luck in the Forteau River, which was known for its salmon and trout fishing. While approaching the bay in a heavy fog, the Raleigh had to sharply alter its course to avoid an iceberg and snagged its hull on a reef. A motorboat was launched to take a lifeline to shore, but it capsized in the surf, resulting in the drowning of ten sailors. One sailor did manage to get the lifeline to shore, and with the help of men at Point Amour, it was secured allowing the nearly 700 men aboard the Raleigh to come ashore."


It's 155 feet above the water, and the white tower with a red cap and one black stripe is 109 feet high, supposedly the tallest lighthouse on the Atlantic coastline of Canada.


Unique way to date (but not really a unique way to mate)

If The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette) ratings start to slip drastically, they could always try going this route. Superfast Dutch swimmer Inge de Bruijn, now retired, is looking for love -- naked. There's this TV show where Inge, in the flesh, meets guys also suitably unencumbered by clothing and as the show goes, is going to determine if they're suitable or not. Birthday-suitable -- well, they've already accomplished that.

Regarding de Bruijn, when she was swimming competitively, she was quite fetching, but also incredibly muscular. The guys in the buff can't be intimidated by that, even if she's softened a bit since.

The article says that she was the oldest person to win an Olympic swimming gold medal, at 31, in 2004. That can't be right -- Anthony Ervin had to be older than that in 2016. Maybe the oldest woman? I'll have to check on that.

I did check - Ervin is the only older gold medalist in swimming than de Bruijn, so she is the oldest female swimming gold winner.

Friday, May 19, 2017

NCAA D1 Lacrosse Championships, otherwise known as...

The NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championships are underway, with quarterfinals taking place tomorrow (Saturday, May 20) and Sunday, May 21.

Here's the bracket.

Now, you will note in the title I said that the championships are "otherwise known as".   Which means, "otherwise known as" ... who does Maryland lose to this time?

Here's the history.

You will note that in 1975, Maryland won the NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championship.  You will also note that ever since then, they haven't.

And further, note how many championship game runner-up finishes they have had since then (meaning that Maryland lost in the title game).  10 times.  Twice in overtime, including last year to North Carolina.

It should be pointed out that schools from Maryland (Johns Hopkins, notably, and also Loyola of Maryland, in a defeat of -- you guessed it -- Maryland) have won the NCAA lacrosse championship.  And Salisbury over on the Eastern Shore has won the Division III championship numerous times, as recently as last year.  So all is not lost in the "home state" of the game.  All that is lost is -- the chances of Maryland winning it.  Why should this year be any different?

Well, if it is, I'll be stunned.

Well, on to the next supermodel

Quite recent news:  Leonardo DiCaprio has just had an amicable split with the glorious, luminous, svelte yet curvaceous, stunningly hot Nina Agdal.  They're both "moving on".

Word on the breakup is that he's just not ready to settle down yet.  Let's put it this way -- if you can't find domestic happiness and tranquility with Gisele Bundchen, Bar Refaeli, and Nina Agdal (and Blake Lively and Erin Heatherton and Toni Garrn), it's not going to be easy, if you want to live your life with a 9+ on the 1 to 10 scale.  But perhaps he might borrow a page or two from George Clooney's playbook and move on to a top level talent with both looks and brains.

Meanwhile, though, he'll probably 'date' a few more supermodels.

Leonardo DiCaprio, 42, and Danish model Nina Agdal, 25, break up after a year of dating

Why Leonardo DiCaprio and Nina Agdal Split: 'He's Not Ready to Settle Down'

Obviously a post of this nature requires a picture of Nina, just to establish what Leo is moving on from.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

About 100 shots of Emily Ratajkowski in the same bikini

Prior to the Cannes Film Festival, starlet and figure-fabulous model Emily Ratajkowski got outside in an aqua-hued bikini.

The Daily Mail has an article with lots and lots and lots of pictures of her in said bikini.

It's worth it.

(Also has a picture of her topless, covering her essentials with her hands, wearing what must be an extraordinarily expensive necklace.)

Bikini-clad Emily Ratajkowski flaunts her incredible toned figure and ample cleavage in bondage inspired two-piece ahead Cannes Film Festival


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Truer than you'd want to think

When you read about an impending dangerous volcanic eruption near a populous city in the Daily Mail, it's OK to be dubious.  The Daily Mail, despite its voluminous output of articles (frequently and happily featuring lovely women in bikinis, lingerie or even not wearing a THING), isn't a definitive source on scientific topics.  (But it has occasionally brought scientific topics to my attention, in between the bikinis.)

Such is the case here.  Even though the Daily Mail breathlessly hyped the possibility of a volcanic eruption near Naples, it is grounded in reality.  Becausue the area around Naples is volcanically active, it's entirely possible there will be another eruption there eventually.

Well, eventually might not be as far off as the Neopolitans would like.  Because that Daily Mail article is reporting basic facts, similar to the Science Digest article linked below.

Campi Flegrei Volcano eruption possibly closer than thought

"By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it's imperative that the authorities are prepared for this," explained Dr Christopher Kilburn, Director of the UCL Hazard Centre."  
(UCL = University College London)

So, it is possible that the Naples caldera could be gearing up for an eruption in a future that is nearer in time to the present rather than it is to the farther future.  In other words, it could be getting ready to erupt soon (soon in the geological sense could still be within a century, but still...)

The last eruption in the region was 1538, which built Monte Nuovo, shown below (and a locator map below that),

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, May 14-20, 2017: Sumburgh Head, Shetland Island, UK

I was looking for Scotland but ended up on the Shetland Islands instead. Sumburgh Head is another stunningly situate lighthouse in the UK -- way way way way out on the southern extension of the southern island. About as far south in the Shetland Island as you can go.

It has it's own Web site:

And it's own Webcam (which I have not watched in daylight yet).

From the Lighthouse Directory:
1821 (Robert Stevenson). Active; focal plane 91 m (300 ft); three white flashes, separated by 2.1 s, every 30 s. 17 m (56 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern painted black. Rotating 1st order Fresnel lens (1914). 1-story keeper's houses and other buildings enclosed by a stone wall. This is the oldest Shetland lighthouse.
There's a lot more from the Lighthouse Directory here, on the Shetland page.

And now for the pictures.