Thursday, November 8, 2018

I want to try durian - but not fly with it

I wrote a few posts ago about how I'd like to try the strange Indonesian fruit durian. It's the fruit with the big spiky outer hull, big enough to kill someone if it dropped on them, and containing an interior edible "custard" that smells horrible but which aficionados claim is one of the world's great flavors.

Well, I knew from previous reading that no one likes someone with durian traveling on a bus with them.  From the article below, we find out that this general rule applies to airplanes as well.

Overwhelmed passengers abandoned an Indonesian flight crammed with 2 tons of a notoriously smelly tropical fruit
"According to a reporter Boyke Ledy Watra with Indonesia's national news agency, Antara, several passengers were so overwhelmed that they were "almost coming to blows with flight crew members."
EWWW.  (And yum!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It really is there

I like Google Maps (as you might guess from my end-to-end, eventually, Google StreetView journey on America's Highway 41.

So this interesting article in the Daily Mail (of course) caught my eye.

Water we REALLY looking at? Stunning Google Earth image appears to show a plane submerged under the sea seven miles off the coast of Scotland

After reading the article, I went to Google Maps, and found the location, and zoomed in.  Then I grabbed the satellite image and put it right below.  Just zoom in on the right side of the image and you'll see it too (it's the white spot).

It has a perfectly reasonable explanation, of course.  But it's still a little bit weird.  Also, weirdly enough, it's brighter in this linked image below than it is on the Google Maps site.

On Highway 41, through Cordele, Georgia

On Highway 41, going through the town of Cordele, Georgia. 

Google Maps says this is "Carter's Hamburgers", but the sign says "Carter's Fried Chicken".

Cordele, Georgia: Highway 41 and W. 12th Avenue

Another view of downtown Cordele

Off the highway eight miles: Georgia Veterans State Park, Lake Blackshear. It's the first stop on the SAM Shortline train (see below).

SAM Shortline Excursion Train, - goes through some noteworthy places, like Plains, Georgia.

Crisp County Courthouse (also in Cordele)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Dawn mission is over

After orbiting Vesta and then Ceres, the first time one human-built spacecraft has orbited two different astronomical bodies, the Dawn spacecraft has gone quiet because the exhaustion of its maneuvering fuel meant that it couldn't point its antenna at Earth.

Amazing mission, and we learned a lot, but the highlight was figuring out that the bright white deposits on Ceres are made of salt.

So, good night and good flight, Dawn.

Mid-term 2018 election results, first thoughts

Well, it came out about as expected -- which is good for Democrats.  Unfortuately, the Rethuglicans added a couple of seats in the Senate, partly due to the overwhelming numerical advantage that they had regarding vulnerable Democrats in majority Republican states.  But the Democrats have carried the House, so I can post this:

Governorships - good news and bad news.  The baddest news is that DeSantis won in Florida, which along with Rick Scott's Senate win, makes me feel very bad for the people of Florida.  Good news -- a Democratic win in Kansas, ending the run of nutty Republicans starting with Sam "Banana Republic" Brownback.  Wisconsin is still close as I write this, but Evers is leading over Walker, who I would definitely like to see out of office. 

I can still write more on this, and will.  But as for now, the Democratic win in the House means a lot of the crazy, boot-licking partisans that headed up House committees are out of the chairman's seat. And that means there should be some real oversight now, something the country badly needs.

One final comment, and note that I said it here first.  Even though the Republicans added seats in the Senate, they were expected to at least retain their majority, and maybe add to it, which they did.  But Donald Trump clearly hurt the party, and that has invoked the House flip.  Coming up soon will be more revelations from Robert Mueller's investigation, and many pundits (and I as well) think there are going to be some serious charges and statements from him that are going to make Donald look pretty bad.  So, I think, if in post-election analysis it can be determined that Donald is a net liability for the party, malfeasant Mitch McConnell will give Nancy Pelosi a call and ask how soon the impeachment proceedings can get started. 

The game is afoot.

Nearly insane

Roughly every 3-4 days, the Daily Mail has an article about Elizabeth Hurley wearing a bikini (or sometimes less).

Obviously one of the reasons that the tabloid's Web page has devoted readers, such as me, is that some of their articles are precisely about this basic subject.  The names may change, but it's basically beaches, bikinis, bodies, and boobs.

Which is not a problem.

Elizabeth Hurley has a great figure and is phenomenally fit at age 53.  If she wants to keep demonstrating her fit figure, she can go right ahead and provide pics to the Daily Mail.   The one below is from one of the most recent articles ("Elizabeth Hurley, 53, sets pulses racing as she performs sexy striptease to showcase her incredible curves in paisley print bikini on Maldives break").


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, November 4-10, 2018: Ákra Doukáto, Lefkas, Greece

First, before we get to the description and spectacular pictures of this lighthouse, a bit about the name.  This lighthouse is on Lefkas (also known as Leucas) island, and there's another lighthouse on the island named Lefkáda. But I saw some pictures of the lighthouse I'm featuring here labeled Lefkáda. But this is on the lighthouse on Cape Doukáto, which can also be spelled Dukato. Confused yet?

I will also note that this is surprisingly only the fifth lighthouse from Greece I've featured, and three of them were all on Crete.

So, let's get to it.  Basic specs from the Lighthouse Directory:   "1890. Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 10 s. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 1-story keeper's house. Entire lighthouse painted white. ... The light station stands atop a spectacular cliff at the southern tip of Lefkáda, commanding a view of the islands of Ithiki and Kefalloniá. According to legend the poet Sappho leaped to her death from this cliff around 570 BCE."

So there you have the description and the legend. Now, is it a spectacular cliff?

Yes, yes it is.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Proceeding north through central Georgia on Highway 41

More sights to view on Highway 41 as the trek heads toward Warner Robins.

Crossing the West Fork of Deep Creek, with a little bit of forest.  It's a very brief respite from the Georgia farm fields.

Highway 41, by the Turner County Nursery,

Arabi, Georgia, Post Office and Country Store.

Crossing Cedar Creek.

The next trek sector will be Cordele, Georgia, which has a very interesting and historic feature for tourists.

Lighthouse of the Week, October 28 - November 3, 2018: Laem Phra Chao, Thailand

This week's lighthouse is one of the fanciest I've seen - partly because it's also a monument. It was built for the 50th anniversary of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  The lighthouse is Laem Phra Chao, and I even have a nice map that shows where it is.

Here are the basic stats from the Lighthouse Directory.
"1996. Active; focal plane 94 m (308 ft); white flash every 9 s. 15 m (49 ft) octagonal white concrete tower with an ornately decorated gold top, rising from a 1-story building.  ...  Located at the southernmost point of Phuket Island"
And it's open to the public - you can climb up to the fancy gold top.

Two more pictures below.  I couldn't find a lot (one site has several), despite Phuket being a vacation/resort destination and the easy public access.

This one is real big if you click on it

Two good fortune cookie quotes to play the game with

You know the game. Add "in bed" to the end of the fortune from the fortune cookie.

I recently got these two:

Your happiest days are ahead of you ...

A challenge will bring forth your finest abilities ...

Dang, sounds like fun to me! (So first I've got to get a date.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Highway 41 passes through Ashburn, Georgia

This short leg of the Highway 41 end-to-end #StreetView journey passes through the town of Ashburn, Georgia.

Ashburn, Georgia, with a bell.  Pan left to see it.

Ashburn, Georgia: crossing College Street

Side trip to the World's Largest Peanut Monument (it's only a mile from Highway 41, so you can't miss this chance). If you zoom in toward the object right above the square yellow sign, you'll see that this is indeed the World's Largest Peanut Monument.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Highway 41 journey, now leaving Tifton

Moving north on Highway 41, out of Tifton, toward Ashburn, which is 20 miles away.

Highway 41 crosses I-75 again, just outside of Tifton.

The ponds here are the University of Georgia Aquaculture Unit.

Churches in Chula, Georgia.

At Inaha Road.

Sycamore, Georgia, City Hall and Police Department; it's not a big town.

Our next views will be in Ashburn.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Now is the time for PLUGS-In

PLUGS-In: Parking Lot Urban Grid Solar Infrastructure

What if I told you that I’ve conceived a plan that would be good for our economy, would help address our country’s energy needs, would reduce our carbon emissions that can potentially cause dangerous climate change, and it even makes shoppers and commuters happy?

What if I added that this plan has virtually no downside? Would you believe me?

Well, you should. I’ve thought over this plan for quite awhile  (though clearly I'm not the only one). And while there are logistical considerations, it accomplishes a lot, with minimal sacrifice, and major upsides for both individuals and businesses. And the economy. And the global climate.

I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but there are solar panel “farms” going up in many parts of the country. The deployments that I’ve seen are relatively small-scale. To really have an impact on our energy generation, we need a LOT more. But where can they go?

The answer is (if you haven’t already guessed from the title): parking lots.

This country has a very big area devoted to parking lots. I found one reference (given at the end) that the amount of land devoted to parking lots nationwide is about equal to the surface area of the island of Puerto Rico. That same estimate indicates that they are about 800 million parking spaces.

Now, this doesn’t apply to parking garages, especially underground, and it would only work on the top exposed floor of an above-ground parking garage. But that’s not really important. There is a huge acreage devoted to surface parking lots in the country, and one good thing about them is that there tends to be more of them where more people are – cities and suburbs. Which is another reason this plan can work.

I don’t mean to sustain the suspense, so here’s the basics, and then I’ll get into all the reasons that this is a good idea. Simply put, the plan is this: put up solar panel canopies over the hundreds of square miles of parking lots in the United States to generate electricity. And that’s what the name says: Parking Lot Urban Grid Solar Infrastructure, or PLUGS-In.

Here’s a basic example. In many suburbs (and some parts of cities), there are small shopping centers with a grocery store as the anchor store. So you might have a grocery store, a dry cleaner, a Chinese food restaurant, a UPS store, a liquor store, a Dunkin Donuts (or the equivalent), a beauty salon, and a couple of others. And the buildings of the shopping center are arranged around a large central parking lot. Now, grocery stores are energy hogs. They have a lot of lighting and a lot of refrigeration, and that refrigeration is on 24 hours a day. There’s usually refrigerated and freezer storage in the back. Some stores bake cakes and steam shrimp, too. And they have all the electronics associated with checking out as well, along with basic heating and cooling.

So, for such a shopping center, a solar panel canopy would be built over the parking lot. The first businesses that would get the electricity generated by the solar panels would be those in the shopping center. Even if it’s primarily daylight generation, that’s a long period of time (especially in summer), and it’s also when they use the most electricity. Any excess generation would go back in the grid. Getting electricity from their own parking lot solar canopy would save them money.

So, first of all, it’s good for the shopping center because the shopping center tenants get the electricity. Second, it’s good for the shopping center because customers like the canopies! If it’s raining, they don’t get wet, especially when loading groceries into the car. Same goes for snow. If it’s sunny and hot, the car stays much cooler because it’s in the shade. That also saves energy because the AC doesn’t have to run as high to cool the car off when the driver and passengers get back in.

I’m not the first person to think this: read .

Here’s a less optimistic article:

Now, here’s what it says about why they aren’t catching on (note this was 2015):
“It would solve several environmental problems at once with relatively little inconvenience and a high payback. So why aren’t solar carports in every mall in America? The cost.

“It’s the most expensive type of system to build,” Chase Weir of TruSolarwhich rates solar projects based on financial riskiness, told The Washington Post. “A lot more engineering, a whole lot more steel, more labor, and therefore, it’s a relatively small percentage [of solar power].”

OK, but think about that for a minute – more labor? A plus, as it means more jobs, particularly less-skilled labor (no computer programming is necessary here). Not just construction, even drilling holes in parking lots for the framework, but electricians and maintenance, even just keeping them clean. More steel? A plus, as it means more production of steel, and isn’t that something America’s industrial heartland needs? (Not just steel, but all the other necessary components, too.)

As with anything that’s more expensive, what the government would need to do is offer incentives to offset the initial construction costs. Once the system starts working, the businesses could pay the investment cost back to the government for the savings. Also note that the cost of solar panels has come down.

Now, the Trump administration has blocked some solar power incentives, and import of foreign-made solar panels. That may be partially OK, because there are some indicators that the foreign-made panels (especially from China) aren’t as well made, and may release more toxic metals. This is a downside in any situation, but there hasn’t been much concern expressed about how clean the solar panel installations are in the U.S. Apparently a broken panel can release some potentially harmful substances.

Which brings me briefly to waste disposal. Old solar panels, and the byproducts of the manufacturing process, have to go somewhere. Let me suggest: Yucca Mountain, where radioactive waste from nuclear power plants was slated to go. This stuff doesn’t have the long-term concerns that radioactive waste does – it just has to go somewhere stable. If this was deemed a national imperative, we collectively could come up with solutions to the waste disposal problem (and maybe recycling/reuse is possible). Obviously, the waste from solar panels is only one part of a much bigger overall waste disposal problem.

Next question: what about when the Sun doesn’t shine? Well, this is not a total solution, as obviously one problem is night. Base power generation is still needed (batteries would help for storage too, but they have their own environmental problems, and even the best rechargeable batteries can’t be recharged endlessly). But this would substantially reduce our demands, particularly in summers when demand is highest and utility companies have to bring their secondary less-efficient plants online, which they don’t like to do, as it’s more expensive. Why do you think they want to put peak demand meters on your home system? One, keep the grid up, and two, save themselves money! Plus, some of the coldest winter days are the clear sunny days after a storm front comes through – and the canopies can definitely generate power under those conditions.

The backup is traditional generation, and also my other piece of the pie, small nuclear reactors, just like are used on nuclear submarines and battleships. Neighborhood nukes, for home and the local shopping center. Quite safe – when was the last time you heard about a nuclear accident on a U.S. naval vessel? Plus, if the absolute worst happened, the affected area would be much smaller than for a large plant. It shouldn’t happen, but it’s an aspect of scale.

But that’s not the point of this article – PLUGS-In is the point. If the government would recognize the need for much more clean energy generation, and the dangers of climate change (the dire recent IPCC report would influence most normally functioning intellects), then they would initiate a program like PLUGS-In. It would make jobs, right here in these United States, while addressing a critical global problem with MINIMAL pain. More jobs – clean electricity – benefits to business – benefits to the individual customer of those businesses – benefits to the global climate – those are all the pros for this plan. Even the most diehard climate change denier would be forced to admit the economic benefits of a plan like this, while still denying the environmental need for it.

But that’s still not all. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a substantial movement toward electric vehicles, particularly cars, in this country. They still run on batteries, and the batteries have to be charged. That electricity for charging has to come from somewhere. If it comes from clean generation from solar panels, less of it will have to come from traditional fossil fuel burning. I’m not worried about the fossil fuel industry – trains, planes, and trucks are going to have to use internal combustion engines for quite awhile. You won’t catch me on a battery-powered airplane. So, if you have an electric car, you head to the shopping center, top off the charge while you're shopping, and you barely accounted for a single molecule of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.  Cool, huh? (Well, that's the idea.)

One more thing – pollution and emissions. Simply, the less fossil fuel burned, the less emissions into the atmosphere. That covers the basics, like CO2 and SO2, and the less basic, like mercury and cadmium. It’s too bad that the EPA lightened up restrictions on emissions of substances like that, but if we burn less fossil fuels, then that’s another way of reducing the load on the environment.

Now, I realize that the best places for this type of system are warm and sunny locales, so it would be less pressing to install them in the ofttimes cloudy Pacific Northwest or the cold-in-the-winter Midwest (though it would still work there), but for the Southwest, Southeast, definitely Florida, and much of sunny California, this plan would take advantage of both natural resources – sunlight, and unnatural resources – parking lots, and would be a great step forward addressing the climate change issue.

Regarding where the solar panel canopies could go in addition to the neighborhood shopping center, there are sports stadiums, shopping malls, industrial parks, hospitals, airports, schools, colleges, park-and-ride lots, and office building parking lots.

When the Allies fought World War II, many citizens had to make sacrifices.  Fuel, rubber, metal, food, many other items were rationed.  Lights were turned off at night.  Numerous people went to work in industries that supported the war effort, even women.  Everyone pitched in. It was a collective effort. because the consequences of failure were too great.  We are in that situation again now with climate change -- but the great thing about PLUGS-In is that there really isn't much sacrifice -- and finally, the initial investment necessary could be paid for with a modest carbon tax, because businesses will underwrite some of the cost. All most of us would have to do is to patronize the businesses that have invested in a parking lot solar panel canopy?  How hard is THAT?

Additional references are below. Below that are a few pictures of different solar panel canopy installations. The first one is FedEx Field in Landover, MD. The specs on this say that it generates all the power the stadium needs on off-days, and 20% of the power the stadium needs on game days. Imagine how much power would be generated if all the parking lots were covered with solar power canopies!

“Since the cost of energy during peak hours is far greater than what’s charged during off peak hours, it’s an ideal set of circumstances that allows the panels to produce energy exactly when it’s needed most. “

“If one had the choice between shopping at two local grocery stores and one offered energy-producing covered parking and the other offered only hot, black, asphalt, which one would the customer likely choose? The answer is obvious.”

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot (2012 Version):

Underneath a canopy

At a shopping center

They don't have to be big

In downtown Los Angeles

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Amazing ancient shipwreck found in the Black Sea

This is quite amazing, truly;  a shipwreck in the Black Sea that is stunningly well-preserved.

The reason that it is so well preserved (for those of you who aren't aware of it) is that below the surface of the Black Sea is anoxic, meaning that there isn't any oxygen.  That severely limits the activity of bacteria that would normally eat up the woody parts of a ship.

World's oldest intact shipwreck discovered in Black Sea

Short video about it:

This makes my knowledge feel less than complete

While viewing some footage of the flooding in central Texas, I discovered two items of knowledge that I am almost sheepish to admit I never knew before.

Item 1:  There is a river in Texas named the Colorado River.  Obviously, this is not the Colorado River that starts in Colorado and flows all the way to Mexico, passing through some remarkable erosional features along the way, which you likely have heard of.

Item 2:  The Colorado River of Texas is the longest river entirely in the state of Texas.  And it spans almost the entire state of Texas -- it's 862 mi (1,387 km) long.  For those who may be wondering, the Brazos River is longer but it starts in New Mexico.

Here's a map of the watershed of the Colorado River of Texas.

A sonnet, entitled "the simplest glory"

the simplest glory

It is transformative, mere seconds to
complete, a moment shared and recognized
as overwhelmingly supreme, a true
and undisguised expression that is prized
by both the honorer and honoree.
For this is an attainment much desired --
and though 'tis commonplace, we all agree
it is unique and singular, required
for procreation yet repeated for
both affirmation and connection where
a straight reaction has the strength of more
than merely strict identity. Its bare
essentials are mundane and proud, and through
such base simplicity does love renew.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, October 21-27, 2018: Île Bicquette, Quebec, Canada

I was surprised to determine that I had only featured two lighthouses in the Canadian province of Quebec thus far -- and one of them isn't working anymore and the other one is for show only (as there's a modern steel tower that really does the job in that location).    If you want to see what I wrote about them, just search "Quebec lighthouse" in the little search box on my blog page -- as if anyone really cares.  Well, maybe someone will.

So I've returned to Quebec to feature a third lighthouse -- and this one, thought automated, is still an actual working lighthouse.  It's the Île Bicquette lighthouse, located just about where the St. Lawrence River becomes the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  At least, the river is getting considerably wider at this point.  The lighthouse is on the little island Île Bicquette, which is next to a bigger island, Île du Bic.  The nearest city or village of note is Rimouski, about 25 km away.

The Lighthouse Friends have a great page on this one:  Île Bicquette Lighthouse

From this page we get these vital statistics:
"It stands seventy-four feet tall with a focal plane of 112 feet and began operation in 1844.  
The light, which remains operational, was electrified in 1970 and then automated in 1987. Mariners see either a white flash every six seconds and/or a red flash every two seconds depending on the direction of approach. There is currently a weather station at the site.

Île Bicquette is now managed by Environment Canada (Îles de l’Estuaire National Wildlife Area) and is part of the Bic Conservation Park, whose purpose is protecting the flora and fauna of the St. Lawrence Estuary."
Here's another page on it, with three pictures (one of which is the third one below):

Quebec / Île Bicquette Lighthouse - also has a zoomable (in and out) map.

I told Roger Pielke Jr. this many times, and he blocked me

Roger Pielke Jr. is a strange kind of climate change skeptic / denier.  He's not really a climate scientist (his father is closer to that) -- he's more of a climate economist.  Wikipedia has a really interesting introduction about him:
Roger A. Pielke Jr. is an American political scientist and professor and the director of the Sports Governance Center within the Department of Athletics at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Which kind of makes you wonder why he has climate scientist-like opinions, anyway (must be his father's influence, and actually, I think it probably is).

Anyway, one of the things Roger Pielke Jr. said in print, more than once, was that despite climate change, or in a way of saying climate change isn't that bad, that flood damage wasn't increasing.  I determined that he was taking about floods where the river rises slowly and inundates large cities or areas.  He wasn't talking about flash floods, which I figured must be increasing because of the known statistically significant increase in extreme one-day rainfall events, both in the United States and globally.   (Here's something he wrote about it, in 2011. Note that he talks about "maximum river flows" - the traditional definition of a flood.)  A few years later, he even said that flood damage is decreasing, as a portion of GDP.  Again, the kind of flood being considered was not flash flooding, which I figured was increasing, and which wasn't included in this economic evaluation.

Now, one might argue that one big river-rise flood does a lot more damage than a few flash floods.  Maybe that's correct.  Or maybe not, because the river has to rise where there is something to damage.  But how many flash floods adds up to one river rise flood?  Good question. Obviously more flash floods will cause more damage from flash flooding.  And we might look at how bad the flash flooding in Japan was earlier this year to determine if there's a significant economic impact.

Roger Pielke Jr. and I discussed this issue a few times on Twitter.  After a few times of going at it, he blocked me.

Well, it turns out ... I was right !

Rising temperatures and human activity are increasing storm runoff and flash floods
"Columbia Engineering researchers have demonstrated for the first time that runoff extremes have been dramatically increasing in response to climate and human-induced changes. Their findings, published today in Nature Communications, show a large increase in both precipitation and runoff extremes driven by both human activity and climate change."
So Roger Pielke Jr., put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

(Somebody tell him about this, OK?)

Another Jennifer Rubin quote

Well, the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin just provided another memorable quote.  She's a factory of put-downs (and I hope she's right on this one).

Here's the article:
A Stacey Abrams win in Georgia may rewrite the political rule book for Democrats

Here's the quote:
"Finally, the Republican Party reputation with millions of college-educated voters, women voters and suburbanites is weakening. To put it more bluntly, plenty of voters are fleeing the GOP in disgust."

I just hope enough of them have fled to make the difference on November 6.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Now THAT'S a comeback

Living in the environs of Washington D.C., I have followed (and expressed my consternation about) the mixed record of the region's professional sports teams.  The Washington Capitals gave the region a break with a breathtaking run to the Stanley Cup championship of the National Hockey League last year, overcoming the travails of many other teams.  The WNBA Mystics also overcame long years of frustration by making it to the championship round, too.

Because Major League Soccer is not one of the Big Four of pro sports, the D.C. United championship years were less heralded, even though I did notice.  Since then, they've been up and down, only with occasional trips to the playoffs.

This year did not look good, even though they were getting a new soccer-focused field.  They were in last place with a 3-9-5 record.  Then they started playing at the new field, and they got a new star from England (Wayne Rooney), who turned out to have a lot of star quality left in him.  So today, they completed an improbable and heartening comeback with the 3-1 win over New York City FC, and are in the playoffs with a `14-11-8 record, which adds up to 50 points. 

To get from 3-9-5 to 14-11-8 requires 11 wins, 3 draws, and only 2 losses. It may be a team sport, but one player can make a difference, and Rooney did.  And that is what I call a comeback.

The season isn't over - it'd be nice to have a home game in the playoffs.  But this is worth enjoying.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Jennifer Rubin weighs in on climate change denial

I frequently read op-eds written by the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin.  She's not afraid to express what she's thinking.  She is represented as a right-wing conservative voice, but fortunately (unlike some of the other Washington Post conservative writers, like Mark Thiessen, Hugh Hewitt, or Ed Rogers), she doesn't toe the party line and she is critical of the damage that President Trump, the Republican Congress (typified by the disreputable Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader), and the extreme conservative right-wing cultists are doing to the country.

So when JR took on climate change denial at the highest levels (i.e., President Trump and Senator Marco Rubio), I read it with interest.  She used quotes directly from interviews with both to show how they dissemble, distract, and dissuade (and ultimately, disgust and dismay us).   After doing that, she summed up, and that's when her powerful opinionated voice really showed:
"The utter contempt for facts and reliance on mumbo-jumbo rhetoric in lieu of arguments is not simply a sign of intellectual rot. As the signs of climate change abound and real people see real devastation in their lives, Republicans’ climate-change denial becomes a matter of public safety and economic pain for more voters with each passing year. Their irrationality now poses a threat to voters’ lives and property."
She finishes with this (but 2020 may be too late, vote NOW to flip the House and start the process of getting US, the USA, back on track):
"Unfortunately, their irresponsibility — egged on by tribalistic right-wing pundits and activists who revel in ignorance — is no joke. Democrats would be wise to highlight the issue in 2020, rightly identifying it as a matter of life and death."

She's right -- it's not a joke, it's not a hoax, it's real, it's happening, and it's getting worse.  Stay tuned for my revolutionary idea on a step in the right direction.

Did someone say ...

Did someone say ...

Kate Beckinsale ...

and flash ...

and derriere?

I couldn't pass this one up, of course.

Kate Beckinsale flashes her derriere as she attempts to squeeze into a black jumpsuit

I am repeatedly grateful for the Daily Mail's in-depth investigative journalism.

So soon? The Nikon Photomicrography ("Small World") competition winners for 2018

I don't really go looking for it, but there are usually articles every year when the Nikon Small World (photomicrography) competition winners are announced.  And I didn't miss it again this year.

Here's the winner's page:  2018 Photomicrography Competition - Top 20

Though it was only an Honorable Mention pick, this image of Penicillium vulpinum by Tracy Debenport impressed me as both beautiful and really weird-looking.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Is it really the world's rarest mineral ?

Whether or not it's the world's rarest mineral, reidite, a mineral that is formed during powerful asteroid/meteor impact events, has only been found in six places on Earth.

Western Australia is the sixth.

Ultra-rare mineral that only forms when meteorites slam into Earth discovered for only the sixth time

Would you like to know more about reidite?  So would I.

Reidite Mineral Data

From this I discover, with no prior knowledge, that one of the places it has been found is the Chesapeake Bay impact structure, located not far from where I live.

Here's a picture of reidite.  It's the white streaks in the enlargement.  The background is a human hair - reidite gets formed under the high pressure of an impact from zircons already present in the rock.

Demi Rose nearly gets banned

If you've been paying attention recently, you may have noticed that Instagram legend Demi Rose Mawby (now being known more simply and poetically as Demi Rose) has been moving her curvaceousness toward the big time.  One thing that she's done in that direction is to start a clothing line with the company "I Saw It First".

Well, one of the advertisements for her clothing line was used in a bus stop advertisement.  And when you combine "busty" with "bus stop", and a garment that gives the impression of semi-transparency, the parents of impressionable young children who may get the wrong impression may take offense.

That's what happened.  But a knowledgeable court decided that the image was not very sexual, so it stayed at the bus stop, likely with the approval of some impressionable pre-teen boys.

Here's the article (amazingly enough, it's NOT from the Daily Mail):

Busty Instagram Star Demi Rose Braless Ibiza Ad Nearly Banned From Bus Stops Because Schoolkids Might See Her

And if you think that I would post this article without illustration, you are just wrong. (As it would be if did that.)

So here's the ad.  I approve.

Lighthouse of the Week, October 14-20, 2018: Castillo de San Telmo, Almeria, Spain

Spain has a lot of lighthouses, both old and new.  This one is a mix of both, a lighthouse built inside of a small coastal castle, the Castillo de San Telmo.   The location of this lighthouse is on the southern coast of Spain, in the province of Almeria. 

Click to see where it is

Here's what the Lighthouse Directory gives for vital stats:
"1976. Active; focal plane 77 m (253 ft) two white flashes every 12 s. 7 m (23 ft) square cylindrical tower with lantern built atop a watchtower of the Castillo de San Telmo. ... Lighthouse painted white with a black vertical stripe. The castle was built in the late 18th century."
So it's not an old castle.  I wonder who built it.

Below are a Web page ( with four more really good pictures of the lighthouse, three pictures I selected, and a video.  I work hard for my blog.

Faro de Castillo de San Telmo

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Highway 41, still near Tifton, Georgia

Continuing the Highway 41 StreetView journey, a couple more stops near Tifton, Georgia.

Tifton - crossing the tracks. Highway 41 is also called Love Avenue here.

Tifton - Tift County Public Library. The building next door, that looks like a church, is the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage.

Love Avenue and 12th Street. Have to turn left here, onto 12th Street West to stay on Highway 41.

Espresso 41 - stop here for coffee! The University of Georgia - Tifton is just west of here, on the other side of I-75.

OK, now leaving Tifton. Next destination of note is Warner Robins, a little less than 100 miles north of here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Halep is end-of-year #1 again, but injured

Despite a disappointing Wimbledon and U.S. Open, this is the year that Simona Halep got her first major title in tennis.  I hope she gets a couple more.

Last year, despite not getting that first major, she finished the season ranked as the #1 tennis player in the world.  Then she battled Wozniacki in a dramatic Australian Open final, and lifted the trophy at the French.

She'll end this year ranked #1 again, but a back injury is limiting her, and she may not be able to play in the end-of-year Women's Tennis Association Finals in Singapore.

Still, she's been ranked #1 for 50 weeks, which has only been exceeded by nine women -- and this is the Serena Williams era, after all.  That's pretty impressive.

Hope she gets over the injury soon, and keeps on doing what she does so well.

Simona Halep delighted to surpass idols as world No 1 but unsure if she’ll be able to play WTA Finals

Long trip in a small boat

This one falls into the "Would You Believe..." category.

Delighted brothers, six and nine, learn their £40 Playmobile pirate ship 'The Adventure' has sailed 3,700 miles across the Atlantic from Africa to Barbados - landing them a New York book deal in the process

While the ship, carrying a tracker, wasn't recovered, the tracker showed that the ship was within 30 miles of Barbados, after making a journey of 3,700 miles.  That's pretty impressive for a toy boat that looks about 3 feet long.

But if the winds and currents are carrying a boat in the right direction, it can go a long, long way.

Well, I guess we know now

Washington Post recent headline  (for this article) :

And an even more recent article:

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry are expecting, says Kensington Palace

So I guess it's abundantly clear that even with all the public appearances since their nuptials, they had some time alone. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Moving north to Tifton on Highway 41

Tonight we will see a couple more stops on Highway 41.


Sparks to Lenox - 8 miles

Lenox to Tifton - 13 miles

Lenox, Georgia Coastal Plains Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)

Tifton - by the Henry Tift Meyers Municipal Airport

Main Street Tifton, by the Tift Theatre. It's still a pretty classic looking, throwback Main Street (and good to see).

More stops in Tifton in the next Highway 41 post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Once in my life, I'd like to try ...


Once in my life, I'd like to try durian.  Some people hate it, but for some reason, it seems like a lot more people love it.

Considering that you can only get it in Indonesia, I'm unlikely to ever have the chance to try it.  But I want to.

The reason for my recent durian crave is this article:

Durian deserves our love

An excerpt:
"Yes, durians might have a pungent, unfamiliar odor. But once you get past that, like all Malaysian children were cajoled into doing, you’ll be greeted by a taste so sultry it might just kick-start your journey to becoming a durian convert. With an avocado-like richness and a pleasantly bittersweet, almost alcoholic flavor, there’s nothing quite like it in the fruit universe. For this reason alone, in Malaysia, where I live, the durian isn’t just considered a native fruit; it is a fruit that has spawned a whole culture and lifestyle, a fact that is so often missed in the Western narrative."

So, dig in (if you have the chance):

Durian, closed and open

A sonnet: "a night I could never forget"

a night I could never forget

Distinct among my memories is this;
a single night, a moment, and a chance
to make a sweet request, to have a kiss
with my endeavor for lifelong romance;
and yet this would not be what happened there,
for though the kiss was monumental, the place
was only then, one time, no more to dare
than I could wish for, though in search of grace
and loveliness I would have wanted all
we could attain, if she had granted my
desires; so I've imagined thrall
of nudity and passions, wishing I
could test my skills and thrills with her, while she
is ever unaware what dwells in me.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, October 7-13, 2018: Capo dell'Arma, Italy

As far as I can tell, the Capo dell'Arma lighthouse is the westernmost lighthouse in Italy. It's not a real big lighthouse (15 meter tower, painted white, with a black turret) and the nearest coastal town/village is San Remo.

I got that information from World of Lighthouses (I'll give the Lighthouse Directory a rest this week).

Capo dell'Arma Lighthouse 

If you go to that link before you look at my collection of pictures below, you'll recognize one of the pictures.  It hasn't been photographed a lot.

A side trip, then back to the main road (Highway 41)

The next two panoramas on our StreetView journey on Highway 41.

Reed Bingham State Park: there aren't a lot of state parks in southern Georgia, so I thought a side trip would be a nice thing to do. 76 is Fourth Street, and becomes Highway 37 outside of Adel. It goes straight to the state park.

This panorama was taken on an island in the artificial lake in the state park.

Back on Highway 41 - Sparks, Georgia, just north of Adel. Intersection of Highway 41 and Colquitt Street.

Not only illegitimate, they're also innumerate

From the Washington Post article "Rock bottom -- Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink" :
"Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second ranking Republican, attributed the divisions in Washington to wounds inflicted by Trump’s election in 2016, which he said “half the population can’t seem to get over.” "
However, Senator Cornyn, your numbers aren't accurate.  Because most national polls indicate that support for President Trump is in the 30% - 40% range, that means that 60-70% of the population can't seem to get over the illegitimate election (aided and abetted by the Russians) of the current President.

And we aren't going to get over it for a very long time, either.

That's a promise.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Another lovely Brit

I haven't said much about Shelby Tribble, a former Miss Great Britain who's recently been on the British TV reality show (as far as I can determine) The Only Way is Essex, or TOWIE for short.

Over the past few months, she's been dating Pete Wicks, a tattooed businessman and part-time model, on the show and I guess for real, too.  But they've apparently broken up due to his infidelity.

Some guys just don't get it when they've got it.

So, anyways, back to Shelby.  She has a beautiful face (though perhaps slightly bland in expression), great eyes, and she's a clothes horse.  Looks great in high fashion, casual fashion, and on the beach or by the pool in swimwear.

Let's go poolside.

Shelby Tribble PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: TOWIE star shows off her incredible figure in a minuscule white bikini... after split from love rat Pete Wicks

Oh, did I mention she looks pretty great in lingerie, too?  Let me demonstrate that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hayabusa-2 drops more tech on Ryugu

The Hayabusa-2 mission to asteroid Ryugu is going well so far.  It already released two little hopper rovers onto the cute little 'roid, and it just dropped a lander with a 16-hour battery lifetime onto the surface, too.

Japanese rover lands on ancient asteroid for 16 hour-mission

It's apparently a "rover" because it can move to three different locations during its brief scientific expedition.

After this, Hayabusa-2 will release one more rover, and then go down for the sample collection.  Once that's done, it sends the sample return capsule back to Earth.

Hopefully everything keeps working as well as it has so far.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to stand on the surface of  comet (and don't think that the movie Armageddon was anywhere close), the European Space Agency released an image from the Rosetta mission of the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is in the article at the link below.

This is what it would be like to stand on the surface of a comet, according to the European Space Agency\

Now, I wonder, if you were standing right there, would you be able to jump into orbit?  It's not exactly a large heavy space object, as it's apparently more like a fluffy rockpile, probably not having a lot of mass.  The escape velocity is around 1 meter per second (2.2 miles per hour).  So how fast can you jump? 

WOLF Hall - of course - gives up some history

Very interesting article in the Daily Mail about archaeological investigations into the original Wolf Hall, which has a strong connection to Tudor king Henry VIII, he of the six wives.

Wolf Hall was the familial home of Jane Seymour (the third wife of the king,  not the modern day lovely actress).  But the big house didn't last long -- and there's currently a more modern, smaller home on the property.
The REAL Wolf Hall is unearthed: Palatial home of Seymour family where Henry VIII fell for third wife Jane is discovered 300 years after it was destroyed
They have now found lots of tiles and some of the original foundation walls.  I'm sure they're going to keep digging.

There was a recent TV series called "Wolf Hall" about the important events that happened there.  Now I'm curious about seeing it.

When you examine the history of England and what happened to Henry VIII's offspring, you realize that Wolf Hall was where some of the most significant events in English history were initiated.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A couple more sites in southern Georgia on Highway 41

Moving up the map.

Cecil Grocery in Cecil, GA

Adel, Georgia

Adel United Methodist Church

Downtown Adel, Highway 41 and Highway 76

Lighthouse of the Week, September 30 - October 6, 2018: Portomaso, Malta

Not all lighthouses are magnificent structures guarding dangerous rocky coastlines.  Although Malta in the Mediterranean Sea has magnificent coastlines, this particular lighthouse is at the entrance to a private marina.

I like to mix things up.

So the Portomaso lighthouse is basically a light on a big table.  Actually it's on top of a control room, which is on top of a big table.

It's on the Ponta ta'Spinola, on the north side of the island of Malta and the west side of St. Julian's Bay.

So here are three pictures.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Highway 41 in Georgia: north of Valdosta to Hahira

Let's keep going on Highway 41.  We're outside of Valdosta now.

Intersection of Highway 41 and Business 41

First time Highway 41 crosses I-75, and becomes I-75 for a few miles. If you were doing this trek on a bicycle, you could take Old Highway 41 from Valdosta to Hahira.

Hahira, GA - I-75 and Highway 41 split again.  No one is sure how Hahira got its name, according to his history page on the Hahira Web site.

Downtown Hahira

Friday, September 28, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, September 23-29, 2018: Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland

OK, seriously, you've got to love a lighthouse with the name of Poolbeg, which sounds more like the name of an Irish troll.   Poolbeg Lighthouse is way out on the end of a jetty in Dublin Bay.  The jetty is actually called the Great South Wall and it's 4 km long!   The red Poolbeg Lighthouse is a good visible target for the end of a long walk -- but then you'll have to walk all the way back, too.

I learned all that from this Web page:  Take a Sunday stroll along the Great South Wall Walk

So let's get more technical.
"1820 (station established 1768). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); red light, 8 s on, 4 s off, 4 s on, 4 s off. 20 m (66 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery."
The first picture below is from the linked Web page above.

Below are four more.

It's a pretty long walk

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

One of many sonnets: no one knows where I am

no one knows where I am

A nomad, moving on the Earth, travers-
ing where I want and naked if I seek
to be; a sailor on an oft-revers-
ing sea, with no one else to say or speak
an acclamation for heroic acts, or
disapprobation for those not so brave;
for I could be where e'er I surf the bore
and never let a tide make me its slave --
you cannot see what lies inside, the core
of my ambitious spirit, what I think
contrasting with the way I seem, so more
of me is hidden than is known; my synch-
rony allows me to survive my lone-
ly journey where the changing winds have blown.

A very good and very understandable reason

Imagine this; you have lived you entire professional life striving for one of the most prestigious positions that someone in your field could aspire to. Not only that, you are eminently qualified by all the evaluating criteria that could be applied. You have been practicing in this field for decades; you have an established record of excellence; and you are also the exact type of person that the people who have the power to put you into that position want.

In short, you know that you should get the position. Nothing should stand in your way.

Yet, there is a problem, or maybe several. Before you embarked on your professional career, your behavior was not exactly exemplary. There is a large amount of data (note that I did not call it evidence) indicating this. Friends and acquaintances state that you engaged in this behavior, and also say that your friends did too. There are indications in recorded forms that you participated in activities that were perhaps typical of youth and indiscretion. In particular, you had a fondness for a particular vice -- alcohol -- and apparently indulged in this vice in various social settings. You yourself have admitted to enjoying this vice and being with others who enjoyed it, and who also over-indulged in it. And the problem with this vice is that when people are under its influence, they behave differently. They can act in ways that would be distasteful, even abhorrent, to those not under the influence. They can act in ways that would bother and concern yourself when you are not under that influence.

And there are other indications, troubling, concerning, about other vices, preferences, that may have been facilitated by or compensated for by others, just to maintain your lifestyle and important career path. All of this adds up to a picture different than how you present yourself, and how others present you and speak of you.

So are we to believe that you had this vice, this attraction, and yet never engaged in the behaviors it encourages -- none of them -- and you KNOW with certainty you never did, even though alcohol can affect the higher functions of the intellect, including memory? Are we to believe everyone that attests to your tastes and behavior is not telling the truth? That the words written about your activities, by your friends and defined and explained by your friends, mean nothing? That your word, above all, is paramount?

Especially now, when obscuring the truth as much as possible -- not letting it interfere with your ascension to this esteemed position, this position for which you are qualified and to which you have aspired in your long professional career -- would make it possible for you to achieve the goal?

It defies logic. It defies a basic appreciation of the cumulative testimony of witnesses, records, and statements. For you to deny about yourself what so many others state is true, state that behaviors and events occurred, repeatedly, stretches our bounds of belief beyond what they can tolerate. And so we doubt, strongly, the breadth of your complete denials. These denials don't make sense in light of everything else we know -- except that we KNOW you have a very good, in fact an extraordinarily good, reason to make a sufficient number of the people who matter believe you just enough to insure that you are placed in the position that you believe you deserve, a position for which many of these people have their own good strong reasons to make sure you are placed there.

In short, you have a very good and very understandable reason to lie. And we know it.

So we conclude -- you are lying. And because you are lying, you should not get this position, no matter how much you deserve it, no matter how good you would be at it.