Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lake Tahoe is high

Actually, Lake Tahoe, which is on the California / Nevada border, is a lake at altitude.  But the "high" here refers to its water level, which is very high, due to a lot of precipitation and a lot of runoff.

Lake Tahoe only two feet from full capacity

Short article, but all the rain and snow are filling it up.   Now you know too.


Christina El Moussa and her husband were on a show called "Flip or Flop", where they demonstrated how to buy houses in distress, invest some time and money in them, and then sell them at a healthy profit.

Christina and her husband recently had a nasty incident resulting in a separation and likely divorce, which means Christina will, in a relatively short period of time, be eligible for further dating and mating (she might be in a current relationship, by the way, but that's not the point).

The point is, Christina is a very, very hot mother-of-two, as demonstrated in this Daily Mail article:

Twinning! Flip Or Flop's Christina El Moussa shows off incredible figure as she poses in a bikini with her mini me daughter during photo shoot

There's also a video.  Haven't even had a chance to watch that yet.  I will.

Tell it

Paul Waldman expresses the indignation that those of us who wish for fair play and clean politics have been feeling for a long time:

Democrats are going to filibuster Gorsuch; it's the right thing to do

(By the way, I don't think it's the right thing to do, not because I think Gorsuch should be seated, but because I think the Democrats should be showing the Republicans the value of statesmanship.)

But here's what Paul says in the piece, which I totally agree with. I added the underline, which is what I thought was a terrific, true statement.
"Gorsuch was presented to Trump as a possible nominee by the Heritage Foundation; he was on its list not because he’s keen of mind and pure of heart, but because he’s a staunch conservative who, above all, could be counted on to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The lie that he and all his supporters tell is that every case has one true and objective outcome that you can reach if only you put aside crass ideology and allow yourself to be guided by the light of the Constitution’s wisdom. No one who knows anything about the law could believe that, no matter how often it gets repeated.
So why filibuster if the end result will be the same? The reason is that these are truly extraordinary circumstances. The Republicans’ refusal to allow Merrick Garland to get even a hearing to fill this seat was nothing short of a crime against democracy, a twisting of democratic norms beyond all recognition. Garland should be in this seat, and Democrats should go as far as they possibly can to avoid giving even a shred of validation to the way Republicans stole it."
But I don't agree with that last statement, as liberal as I am.  Mitch McConnell is scum and proved it with this tactic;  Democrats aren't like him.  They should show it, take the vote, and let it be party-line disapproval.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, March 19-25: White River, Michigan

I decided to look up a good old-fashioned Great Lakes lighthouse this week, and it didn't take long to find the cute White River Light Station, near Ludington, Michigan.

The West Michigan Lighthouses Web site has a page about this one:

White River Light Station

And this is from Lighthouse Friends:
White River, MI

Here's a historical excerpt:

"When completed, the lighthouse consisted of a tower set in the northwest corner of a gabled-roof, one-and-half-story dwelling. Limestone was used for the foundation and yellow brick for the superstructure. Though square at its base, the tower’s corners are beveled mid-way up to create an octagonal form. Work on the lighthouse wrapped up on December 28, 1875, and the following April, Mr. Crump, the district lampist, arrived to install a fourth-order Fresnel lens in the lantern room. Keeper Robinson activated the new light, whose characteristic was a fixed white light, varied every minute by a red flash, on May 13, 1876. The period of the flash was reduced to forty seconds on December 12, 1892, through the fitting of another flash panel to the lens, and then in 1902, the light’s characteristic was changed to alternate red and white flashes, with twenty seconds between each flash."
And here's some pictures, including the original lens in the museum:

And I have to note this amazing shot from Joe Gee Photography, of the lighthouse with an aurora on the horizon.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Two Caitlins

Two lovely women named Caitlin, who both happen to be 26 years old.  And it's quite easy to find nude pictures of them both, if you like that kind of thing, which I must admit I do on occasion.

Caitlin O'Connor is an actress, TV host, swimwear model, red carpet presenter, and in general one of those pretty women that makes a living in Hollywood doing Hollywood-type things.

Here she shows us what the well-dressed actress/model/TV host wears to bed.

Caitlin Stasey is an Australian actress, apparently noted for the Australian TV show Neighbours, and was also on Reign here in the States.

Here she shows us what it looks like to be both pantsless and gorgeous on the floor.

Esquire goes hard on the Trump 'budget'

There has been tons of commentary on the Trump budget snafu (and I use that term with its acronymic meaning) this week.   Some of it has been funny, some serious, pretty much all of it from the middle to the left uniformly appalled.  (Right wing?  Well, they're still loving the soma that they're getting from the Doofus in Chief).

The strongest commentary that I found to read was from Esquire.  I expect that there has been stronger, with more profanity, but this one appealed to my own particular appalled self.

And the saddest fact is ... it makes sense.

This Is the Ending Conservatives Always Wanted
You can draw a straight line from Reaganomics to Trump's budget

Two excerpts, but the whole thing is excellent and spot-on.

"This proposed budget isn't extreme. Reagan's proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich."

"Who the hell eliminates research funding for the climate crisis in an age of mega- storms, and wildfires, and steadily vanishing coastlines? Who pulls the country out of the Paris Agreement? Who takes the United States of Goddamn America out of the fight against the biggest existential crisis the planet has faced since the asteroid landed near the Yucatan? Gee, why don't we take a wild guess and say it's the political party—and the political movement that is its only life force—that for decades has taken billions from the extraction industries, placed a climate denier at the head of the EPA—where he isn't going to have much to do, anyway—and appointed an oilman to be Secretary of State. Which reminds me… "
Fortunately, this budget will not persist in its present form.  Congress will make changes. Unfortunately, as the article notes, this is the destination that the Republican Party has been trying to reach since the 1980s.  And since that's where they want to go, I'm afraid that they're going to get way too close.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New slogans for a new age

Two messages from Woodsy Owl:

A sonnet in March

if you could sight what I write

Now let me feel again the racing heart-
beat when my lover shall provide the views
that I desire; the first she does impart
as she reveals herself, in shades and hues
of naked skin and cherished places that
I long to touch -- the second as she takes
me in her fingers and her mouth, her att-
itude intent upon the bliss she makes
until I sight the treasure 'tween her thighs
that clarifies my dreams, and greets my base
profession with the hopes and themes and sighs
that mark connection -- then she sees my face,
my eyes infixed upon her -- as am I --
and we both feel our heartbeats pulsing nigh.

Don't forget about NCAA swimming

The NCAA women's swimming championships do not time things right (the men don't do much better).  While most of the sporting world is focused on umpteen basketball games, the women hit the pool.   And there are some things going on in the pool that are worth noting.

Tonight is the second night of finals, but the first night was only one event, the 800 free relay, won handily by Stanford (with Katie Ledecky anchoring).  Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Ella Eastin preceded her.

Night 2 (tonight as I write) was pretty hot.  As you might expect, Katie Ledecky lowered the American record in the 500 Freestyle (which of course she held) from her 4:25.15 earlier this year to 4:24.06.  She nearly skipped a second, only .07 off of a 4:23.  Sheesh.

Kathleen Baker of Cal won the 200 individual medley, just .04 seconds shy of setting a new American record in that.

Simone Manuel won the 50 freestyle in 21.17, a new NCAA and pool record.  So what's the American record?   21.12 by Abby Weitzeil.

Cal looked like it had won the 400 medley relay, with Kathleen Baker leading off in 49.80 for a new American record in the 100 backstroke, but it turned out that their anchor leg swimmer (Weitzeil) went early, disqualifying them.

Day 3 should be just as fast.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trump takes on CAFE

President Trump is taking on the CAFE standards for increased fuel efficiency (i.e., mileage per gallon) for automobiles, and trucks, and SUVs, and all the other kind of vehicles built in the U.S.A.  Vox has a good article on what he's trying to do and what might (or might not) succeed.

Trump’s plan to roll back Obama’s fuel economy rules for cars, explained

There isn't a lot to excerpt from this article;  basically, the main goal is to reduce the current requirements for fuel efficiency for the years 2022 - 2025.

But I did find out a few interesting things:
"Today, the average fuel economy of new vehicles is around 25.1 miles per gallon on the road, up from 20.8 mpg in 2007."

"The standards [in 2025] would add about $875 to the average sticker price of new models, but consumers would save roughly three times that much in lower fuel costs over the lifetime of their vehicles."

"The hard part comes if the EPA and Department of Transportation later decide to rewrite the fuel economy standards for 2022-’25 to be less strict. They can’t just abolish the standards altogether, because of the underlying laws involved. Instead, they might try to relax the schedule for efficiency improvements, or make compliance easier by giving automakers more credit for non-engine improvements. Yet any changes would require the EPA to write a new regulation, which has to go through the formal rulemaking process and could be challenged in court.

Bob Sussman, a lawyer who was senior policy counsel at the EPA under Obama, explains that Trump officials would have to make a detailed case that the Obama-era standards are too costly to meet — say, because they depend on selling large numbers of electric vehicles that consumers are unwilling to buy. “It’s not an easy case to make,” Sussman says. “It’s very fact-intensive and highly technical.” "


"If the ZEV [Zero Emission Vehicles] rules get repealed, that would be a big blow to the electric vehicle market, says John Graham, the former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under George W. Bush who worked extensively on fuel-economy issues. “Tesla’s business model would be hurt without the California ZEV regulation because Tesla generates significant revenue from the sale of ZEV credits to other vehicle manufacturers,” Graham tells me. “Several manufacturers have stated publicly that they would not be offering plug-in electric vehicles were it not for the California requirements.” "
Sooo ... it will be a difficult fight to rescind the CAFE requirements.  But I'm sure the Trump Administration will try their best to undo all that's good about them.

Mimas, best moon ever

Cassini's Grand Finale Tour continues, with a new view of Mimas, the best moon ever, because it has a huge crater and looks like the Death Star.

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Mimas Shines in New Photo

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, March 12-18, 2016: Pakri Tuletorn, Estonia

After finding a lighthouse in Poland last week, I wondered if Estonia has lighthouses. About half of the country's border is coastline, and it also has islands. My expectations that it would have lighthouses were confirmed. Google Map searching indicates a baker's dozen, including one inland lighthouse, Mehikoorma. I'm assuming "tuletorn" means lighthouse in Estonian (quick check ... indeed it does).

(According to the esteemed Lighthouse Directory, Estonia actually has 70 lighthouses. That's impressive.)

I decided to feature the Pakri Tuletorn, at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland, because it's bright red and eye-catching. It's actually only red on one side, which makes it look a bit unfinished. I guess they ran out of paint or it needs repainting (which is what the Lighthouse Directory says about it).

The tower is 52 meters high, and this lighthouse was built in 1889. Previous lighthouses on the site have been damaged by the ravages of the ocean.

Estonia's own Web page on the lighthouse: 



Just the lighthouse --

Fabulous panorama -- see the older lighthouse on the cliff edge

Another angle:

Dutch engineering strikes again

Being in the energy business, I'm always interested in projects that will provide energy (and I have some ideas of my own, other than nuclear power).  So when I saw this project, I was surprised, impressed, and fascinated.  I'm not sure if it'll work, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, right?

So, the Dutch, the same remarkable people that brought us dikes and reclaimed land below sea level using polders, and also a people and a country that has a lot of windmills, have dreamed up a project that will provide a lot of energy -- via a lot more windmills.

The project is an entire artificial island surrounded by windmills that will act as a power hub sending electricity to many countries surrounding the North Sea.  According to the quoted article, it could supply enough energy for 80 million people.

Given what the Dutch have already done, and given their societal commitments, I can see this project happening.  And it will have a side benefit of reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning.

Welcome to Dogger Island: How 'crazy' artificial power island in the North Sea could supply renewable energy to 80 million people in Europe by 2050

Pan the Moon

If you're into astronomy, then you've probably already seen the newest pictures from Cassini of Saturn's moon Pan.  That's the little moon that orbits inside the Encke Gap of Saturn's rings.  I've seen the pictures, and they're remarkable.  Pan is an interesting object.

I think the actual scientific term for it is weird.

Anyway, there have been numerous articles about it, because of Pan's high level of weirdness.  So here's one, and one of the new pictures.

In new Cassini portraits, Saturn's moon Pan looks like pasta

Thursday, March 9, 2017

My explanation of why we know it's CO2 causing Earth's current warming trend

I owe someone something.

Specifically, I owe an individual with the Twitter handle of "Mike Mangan" an explanation of why "we" (by which I mean the mainstream scientific community) knows that CO2 produced by human activities is the main cause of climate change -- which means, primarily, increasing global temperature.

Quick note: this assumes that it is accepted that the CO2 increase starting in the 1850s or so is anthropogenic. That's very easy to support in several ways, if necessary. But I don't think that's necessary here.

I promised him (Mangan) I'd do this awhile ago. It's been hard to motivate myself, because I had to convince myself it was useful. But I've reached a point where I think it might be. And I'm also going to write a second article (eventually) about the misconceptions and misstatements and distortions of science stated by Alex Epstein to promote his worldview that burning fossil fuels is a moral imperative or some such. But it's important to show that increasing atmospheric CO2 is the likeliest (by far) cause of the observed warming and related geo/eco/bio effects before taking on Epstein's flawed premise.

Now, before I continue, let me state that I'm not a member of the mainstream scientific community. As a nuclear power industry consultant, I'm on the periphery of actual science. But part of what I do is to justify and advocate nuclear power as part of the solution to climate change and the energy requirements of the human population, so I've striven mightily to understand the science and to contend with denialists, because they are getting in the way of real solutions to an increasingly difficult problem. Part of what must happen is that the criticality of dealing with climate change internationally and comprehensively has to be realized by a sufficient number of countries and their corresponding populations for it to become a major effort. There is momentum now. We can solve it -- in fact, it may be a trivial problem to solve, technologically. BUT It's not a trivial problem to deploy the solutions with enough global breadth to make them work.

Another part of what I do requires understanding ecology, so that impact statements can be authored authoritatively. So I've been in the water making measurements, I've taken measurements of air and emissions and radiation (from the Sun), and I've had to collect data. Maybe I am a scientist of a sort, but scientists don't like it when consultants call themselves scientists.

OK, enough about me. Let's lay out the facts of the case.

Number 1: CO2 absorbs longwave infrared radiation.

What happens is this (and believe me, this is an extremely simplistic summary of much more complicated processes). Incoming solar radiation is UV, IR, and visible. UV we don't have to worry about, except to avoid sunburn (but I'll be referring back to stratospheric ozone later). Visible -- can have an effect, especially in the oceans. Ice reflects visible light, dark water absorbs some of it, and that can enable heating as sea ice decreases.

But the important radiation here is IR - infrared. Incoming solar radiation is shortwave IR. It hits the land, gets absorbed, warms it up, and gets re-radiated (mostly upward) as longwave IR. This is what CO2 can absorb, and re-radiate, and absorb again. CO2 is therefore a major player in Earth's radiative balance. Let me illustrate.  (There are many similar diagrams on the Internet.)

Now, I don't intend to go into how the greenhouse effect actually works in the atmosphere. It's quite complex. One of the errors of skeptics is the idea that the CO2 in the atmosphere is somehow getting saturated and can't absorb more IR. The reason that is wrong is explained quite nicely here: Is the CO2 effect saturated?

Let me also note that the planet Venus, with a thick atmosphere composed almost entirely of CO2 (with just some acids floating around to make it interesting) is hellaciously hot, because CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere.

Let's move on to the next point.

Number 2: If CO2 is absorbing longwave radiation, there must be a directly observable effect.

Yes, there must be -- and there is. It's called the cooling of the middle stratosphere.

Here's how this works, basically (and it too, in reality, is more complex, but fundamentally the result is the same). The stratosphere is so tenuous that it is heated and cooled radiatively; that is, the molecules absorb IR radiation rising upward from the surface, which makes them warmer, and radiate IR to space, which makes them cooler. Collectively, that determines the temperature of the stratosphere. Now, ozone depletion also has effects on the temperature of the stratosphere, to whit, less ozone means a cooler stratosphere, as there are less ozone molecules to interact with the IR from the surface.

If you're wondering, the troposphere warms and cools convectively, which is to say that the temperature is determined by the movement of air masses of different temperatures and densities.

So... if more and more longwave IR is being trapped and held in the lower atmosphere by GHGs, especially CO2, that means less of it is going to make it to the stratosphere. Less IR reaching the stratosphere means the stratosphere is going to cool. And that's what is happening. If the temperature of the entire stratosphere is examined, it has been cooling for a few decades due to this effect, but as ozone depletion lessened, the temperature of the entire stratosphere leveled out.

But not the middle stratosphere. That's because the effects of ozone depletion on the temperature of the stratosphere occur in the lower stratosphere, and the effects of increasing CO2 in the troposphere mainly occur in the middle stratosphere. And that has continued to cool, no matter what is happening with the temperature of the troposphere. So more heat is being trapped in the troposphere, near the surface of the Earth.

Here's a plot of the middle stratosphere temperature data, from Remote Sensing Systems:

Number 3: Extra heat being trapped in the troposphere has to go somewhere.

Skeptics like to point out that the warming at the Earth's surface hasn't been uniform, there have been cooling periods and flat periods (maybe), none of which I will give a name to, ever since the effects of increasing CO2 began to kick in. So, they ask, how can that happen if there is evermore heat being trapped.

The simple answer to that is: most of the heat is going into the ocean. It's been measured, documented, and quantified. Yet still, the ocean's uptake of the heat can vary, depending on a few factors, and just a slight variation can have a big effect on the atmospheric temperature. That might be part of the explanation for what happened in the early years of the 21st century (if in fact it happened).  But more heat kept going into the oceans -- until it came back out decisively, in a massive El Nino event that drove atmospheric temperatures to all time highs, and also lower tropospheric temperatures measured by satellites.

Thus, in modern times, we have these basic, measurable indications of the greenhouse effect of increasing atmospheric CO2. The heat is being trapped in the troposphere, so less is reaching the stratosphere. Most of the heat trapped in the troposphere ends up going into the oceans, which are measurably warming. ALL of the other effects of global warming (I'm especially fond of phenology, like spring thaw/autumn freeze trends for lake ice, migration timing, flower blooms, etc.) are connected to these demonstrable observations.

But what about the past? Two additional examples will be made here; the warming of the Earth at the end of the last glacial period, and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

Point 4:  Add a lot of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the Earth gets a lot warmer.

The first is the PETM. What happened then is that a massive amount of carbon went into the atmosphere. I haven't checked to see what the most popular theorized mechanism for that is, but there's no doubt that it happened. And the carbon entering the atmosphere, likely as methane, oxidized rapidly to CO2. And Earth's temperature shot up (on geological timescales).  It was a perfect natural experiment to demonstrate that if you add CO2 to the atmosphere, a lot of it, Earth's temperature is going to go up, up, up.  See what it looks like:

Back in my early days of blogging, I wrote a whole article on this, with lots and lots of references. Just checked (February 2017) -- most of them still work, enough for this to still be useful.

5.  CO2 leads, not lags.

That brings us to my final point -- the warming at the end of the last glacial period, which ushered in the Holocene (though the Younger Dryas forestalled that at the end of the warming). Now, if you have been paying some attention to this issue, particularly as a skeptic of anthropogenic climate change, one of the arguments about CO2 and the Ice Ages was that the temperature changes appeared to occur ahead of the forcing factor; i.e., temperature appeared to go down before CO2 decreased in an interglacial-glacial ' transition, and temperature appeared to go up before CO2 increased in a glacial-interglacial transition. Very briefly, this meme was called "CO2 lags, not leads".

First of all, the triggering factor of a transition is a superposition of all three of the Milankovitch cycles: eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession. The superpositions cause the biggest swings in insolation. To trigger a glacial-interglacial transition, there has to be sufficient Northern Hemisphere insolation to induce major melting of the ice sheet, which causes a loss of albedo, allowing more solar insolation to begin the warming process.  (Positive feedbacks.)

Diagram here:

Once the warming has begun, the combination of warmer temperatures and ice melting triggers ocean circulation changes. This leads to what is called "ventilation" of the deep ocean. "Ventilation" simply means increased upwelling of deep waters, which have higher amounts of dissolved inorganic carbon. Bringing these waters to the surface releases CO2, which ' causes more temperature increase, furthering ice melt, albedo decrease, and increased ocean circulation. Classic positive feedback.

The "CO2 lags, not leads" conundrum was based on examination of the Vostok ice core, which has CO2 concentrations trapped in bubbles, and which uses stable oxygen isotope ratios as a paleothermometer. And in the Vostok core, the temperature rise precedes the CO2 increase. That was perplexing, until it is simply realized that the Vostok ice core is in Antarctica, and Antarctica doesn't act like the rest of the world. It is, in fact, very isolated, primarily due to the atmospheric circulation induced by the frigid continental ice. (It was also perplexing because the only major factor that changes enough to induce the temperature change of a glacial-interglacial transition is CO2, but it didn't make intuitive sense then, that CO2 would lag behind the temperature increase, since nothing else was nearly as potent a forcing factor.)

This leads to Shakun et al. 2012. What was done in this paper was to use a large set of temperature proxies to represent the global temperature (not just the Antarctic temperature). From

"A key issue here is that while the ice cores record global atmospheric CO2 concentration (since it is well-mixed by the winds), they only reflect local temperatures in Antarctica. Just as no place today can be reliably expected to reflect the global average temperature, it is questionable if Antarctica does this over the ice ages. One basic reason for this is simple: heat moves around with winds and ocean currents. So, one place might get warmer at the expense of another place getting relatively colder, and looking at either location individually would give a skewed view of the larger temperature patterns. Therefore, the only way to reliably track changes in the total amount of heat at the surface of the planet is to average temperature data from as many locations as possible. This approach should help to cancel out these heat redistributions, removing a complicating variable, and make it easier to interpret what drove global temperature in the past."

So when you do that, as the researchers did, what's the result?

"The pattern of global temperature rise over the end of the last Ice Age as reconstructed from 80 proxy records around the world is strongly correlated with the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations recorded in ice core air bubbles. Furthermore, global warming generally appears to have lagged a few centuries behind the rise in CO2. These two points are consistent with the idea that CO2 was a major driver of global warming at the end of the ice age."

Exactly! This paper was important because it resolved the conundrum with real data. Occam's Razor was satisfied, and the simplest explanation fit both the underlying geophysical foundation (physics) and the data.

So that's why "we" know that the increasing CO2 caused by human activities is causing the observed warming of Earth's climate.  No matter what the head of the EPA says (I had to add that).

 Any questions?  Especially from you, Mr. Pruitt?

Hope you like this, Mike.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Caffeine might get banned

OK, if you read that and panicked, it's OK.

Caffeine might get banned in sports.

It's definitely a performance-enhancing drug of the stimulant variety, and it's also in a lot of foodstuffs and drinking liquids.

So a 100% can't-have-any-in-your-system ban is unlikely.  Therefore they might tighten up the numbers on how much is legal.

Caffeine could be headed to World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited substance list

Caffeine has been a prohibited substance before, but it was removed in 2003 to prevent athletes "who . . . drink cola or coffee from testing positive to banned substances," Agence France-Presse reported at the time.

"Hence the thresholds or reporting values established for some prohibited substances naturally present in foodstuff," Durand said.

Without more research, WADA can't predict what its threshold might be. Nor does the agency want to predict whether it's likely caffeine will wind up back on the prohibited list at this point, but it appears, whatever happens, it's likely Diaw and others won't have to give up their pregame rituals.

Oh no! The Azure Window is gone

One of the reasons coastal geology in some parts of the world is so strikingly beautiful is erosion.  And sometimes erosion claims a prize.  In this case, the prize was a stone arch in Malta.  It joins arches and Apostles in Australia, the Great Arch of Kerguelen, and the Natural Bridge of Aruba.  And I'm sure there have been more and there will be more.  That's what erosion does.  But remember - it will also make more of them, too.  Just not as fast.

Malta's 164 foot arched cliff washes away in heavy storms

Doesn't look like this anymore, unfortunately

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This makes NO sense

Donald Trump's Presidency so far has been a circus, a travesty, and a nonsensical parody of what an actual Presidential administration should look like.  There are so many subjects of note and concern to write about that it is difficult to know where to start.

So I'm starting with this:  The Trump administration is planning to stop funds for the Energy Star program.  All that Energy Star does is tell consumers what appliance choices are the most energy efficient.  Utilities love it, because it keeps the load on the grid down.  Consumers love it because it saves money.  Politicians should love it because money people save on energy costs is money that can be spent on other things, boosting the economy.

So zeroing out Energy Star makes absolutely no sense.

Here's an article that talks about it:   Energy Star Wars

And here's a quote from the article:
"Since Energy Star’s founding in 1992, the program has been highly successful. It has saved people about $430 billion on their energy bills, the program reports, while operating with a reported budget of only about $50 million per year. It has also kept 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. And it has about 85 percent brand recognition."
So to say that canceling the program is stupid is to properly characterize such a move.  It's stupid, it's short-sighted, it makes no sense at all, it's bad for Americans and bad for the American economy.  Well, that's Trump in a nutshell.

Palace plays a useful game

As I noted earlier, last weekend Crystal Palace was briefly out of the relegation zone, but when Leicester City won (last year's champions are also fighting to stay up top), Palace dropped back into the bottom 3.   As I also noted, if everything went as expected, i.e., no upsets, everybody would stay in the same place.

Well, Palace pulled the upset on West Brom, which is coached by the coach that saved Palace their first year in the Premier, Tony Pulis.  That gets them out of the relegation group.  So maybe by defeating his current team, Palace can claw and scratch from this position to stay where the money is.

It'll be tough, but that's what makes it interesting, right?

West Brom 0-2 Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend secure back-to-back victories for the Eagles as they move out of relegation zone

Game action (Palace is in yellow) --

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What Presque Isle really means

After posting about two Lighthouses of the Week in Presque Isle, Pennsylvania and Presque Isle, Michigan, I wondered about the derivation of Presque Isle.   Was it someplace in France that was being commemorated by the Voyageurs on the Great Lakes?  Was it Samuel Champlain's favorite vacation spot?   Did Pere Marquette remember a church on an idyllic island off the coast of France?'

Uh, no. It's much simpler than that.  Presque Isle comes from the French language, presqu'île, meaning peninsula.  So us unsophersticated Americans turned peninsulas into islands

Now it all makes sense!  Because Presque Isle, PA is a great example of a peninsula, and Presque Isle, MI, is a really unusually-shaped peninsula.   Not sure about Presque Isle, Maine, because even though it's by a river, it's not on any geographic formation remotely resembling a peninsula.  But according to Wikipedia, it is: "... the courses of the Aroostook River and Presque Isle Stream form a peninsula."  Well, in my opinion that's a stretch, but we'll have to let them have their name.

Add that to your trivia bank.

Lighthouse of the Week, March 5-13, 2017: Port Północny, Poland

It is getting more difficult to find new countries in the world that have coasts and lighthouses on them, as I've been doing this Lighthouse of the Week feature for quite awhile now.  So when I tried out a simple search test for lighthouses, I found this one, in Poland, reminding me that Poland does indeed have a small coastal area on the Baltic Sea.  This particular lighthouse is near Gdańsk. Don't need a map for this one, just look for Gdańsk on any map of Poland. It's not hard to find.

This is an interesting lighthouse because it has a building on the top. When I first saw it I thought it might be a restaurant, which would be an unusual thing to have, but the views might be pretty good. It turns out that the building is the harbor control facility for Gdańsk and Gdynia, sort of like an airport control tower. The tower is 61 meters high with a three-story control room. Also on top in addition to the light is a radar antenna. I got most of that info from The Lighthouse Directory.

The lighthouse is also the newest lighthouse in all of Poland, according to Wikipedia.

So here are two pictures, near and far, as well as an image of the lighthouse on a stamp from Poland..

Friday, March 3, 2017

Chasing a lava bomb down the slopes of Mount Etna

As noted in an earlier post, Mount Etna has been erupting since late January.  And one of the things it does when it erupts is eject some big lava bombs.   And during ski season, skiers get a chance to chase a rolling, just-erupted lava bomb down the snow-covered slopes.

Lighthouse of the Week, February 26 - March 5, 2017: Presque Isle, Michigan

As mentioned in last week's Lighthouse of the Week post, there is also a Presque Isle, Michigan that also has a lighthouse. So this week I have pictures of that lighthouse, which can be compared to the Presque Isle, Pennsylvania lighthouse from last week.

But there are actually two of them, the Old and the New. Being comprehensively-oriented, I have a couple of pictures of each.

Here's where they are:

In Michigan:

In Presque Isle County - peninsula on the coast at top right, the two green dots show the locations of the lighthouses.

Here's the dedicated Web site about both of them:

The Old was built in 1840 and the New in 1870. The New lighthouse is the (according to the site) the tallest publically-accessible lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

The Old:

The New:

Model of the New Presque Isle MI Lighthouse

Let's take a look at Karlie at the Oscars

Still haven't performed my complete run-through of the Oscar frocks. Svelte Karlie Kloss was in two different outfits, both of which indicating it was likely that whatever she was wearing under them was either insubstantial or not present. I vote "not present".

Street view of Mount Shasta

Continuing in a series of landmarks that can be seen from the road, here's a Google Street View drive-by of Mount Shasta in California. I think Shasta is even more prominent when snow-covered, which was not the case when the Street View car was on the road.

Click "+" twice to get a good view of the peak.

Mount Etna is putting on a great show

Mount Etna apparently came back to a state of moderate sustained activity in late January (I missed the memo). A couple of days ago that activity ramped up at night, providing a wonderful show of lava fountaining. Here's the video.  It's better full-screen.

Here's another one, with an a'a flow, too: