Monday, February 29, 2016

Great video of day and night Momotombo eruption

Photovolcanica provided some great coverage of Nicaragua's reactivated Momotombo volcano erupting at night and in daytime.

Count those stars, Blake

As in counting those lucky stars. I haven't commented on the Gwen Stefani - Blake Shelton romance thus far, so now I'll say that if you can come out of a D-I-V-O-R-C-E smelling like a rose and then dating the freak-of-nature Gwen, you're a very lucky man.

And then when she goes to an Oscars after-party wearing a dress that looks like it's make out of rose petals and air, which shows exactly what you've got, well, all I can say is, KEEP HER HAPPY.

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton at Vanity Fair party

That smile means "This is going pretty well so far"

Sliding, sliding, sliding...

Crystal Palace has been playing flat-out terrible in the EPL. If they don't figure something out quick, they might be fighting to stay out of relegation instead of trying to crack the Top 10 again. And in March they've got Leicester City and Man U. back-to-back. Yikes.

Crystal Palace slips into relegation fight

Arsenal couldn't get closer to the top with a loss to Man U. The suddenly surprising Spurs (from Tottenham) are closing the gap, though, with six straight wins -- and they've become adept at comebacks, too.

This could get interesting. Hope it doesn't get dangerously interesting for Crystal Palace.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where have you been?

I found this click-bait feature on MSN, and they got me to click through.

I have been to a few of these places, though. In one case, I've been to the place but haven't seen what the picture shows, because it doesn't happen all the time. But in another case, I have been where something happens occasionally, as shown in the picture, and I did see it.

18 of America's most surreal travel destinations

So, of these 18, I've been to: 7.

Guess which ones! (Does anybody read my blog? You can respond on Twitter.)

The Repub-bullies and the SCOTUS

I know I'm going to write more about this. I've got a lot swirling in my head about it. But here's a place to start.

Democrats try to overcome the Republican's Supreme Court farce 

A quote from this op-ed:

"Polls indicate the GOP position — which goes well beyond the more defensible position of voting down Obama’s eventual nominee — both stirs up the Democratic base and offends independent voters. The incoming Democratic Senate leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that “this is going to be the dominant issue for the remainder of the year, overshadowing anything that may happen on the Senate floor.”

So while I know they aren't doing the job they're supposed to do, anything that turns independents against Republicans can't be all bad.

A speculative sonnet for February

if I could get the girl

So if she saw me diff'rently, would swooned
emotions follow? Still as the same man,
but with an altered reputation tuned
to her perception? Could I make a plan
to capture her attentions, then expand
our shared dimensions, and create the fer-
vent tensions which are cause to make demand
that must be satisfied? That is the per-
fect outcome (if it were reality) as then
we would entwine our love and lust, our bind
and trust embodied in the act where when
is now and nothing more on Earth could find
the realm we'd there inhabit. This I ask,
while answering it is unrequited task.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Katherine Heigl has still got it

Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley supposedly have a "special project" in the works.

Here's the picture that she teased on Instagram:

Secret project

One of the links she provides is to the Instagram of forlove and lemons, which upon investigation is about fashion, including lingerie, and swimwear, and lots of flimsy see-through type garments.

OK by me.

A great firefall year

If you haven't seen any pictures of it, the "firefall" occurence of alpenglow on Horsetail Falls in Yosemite was perfect this year.  The photographers had, to coin a phrase, a field day.

Daily Mail has some of the best ones:

Firefall phenomenon shines bright in Yosemite

Here's one shot;  there's lots of them.  All are definitely nature eye candy.

Lighthouse of the Week, February 21-27, 2016: Nugget Point, New Zealand

I've looked for lighthouses from New Zealand before, and given that it's an island with a lot of coast, it has quite a few.  So when I went back to look again, I found this gem, Nugget Point.  It's a very spectacular setting.  Not a lot of views from the sea, however.

A bit about it from the Lighthouse Directory:

"1870. Active; focal plane 76 m (250 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off, 2 s on, 6 s off. 9.5 m (31 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, attached to 1-story equipment building."

Here's a map of where it's situated on the southern South Island:

And pictures of it, of course:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

At least there's a marker

Because I happen to live somewhat near there, I suddenly wondered one day last week if there is a historical marker and any surviving structures at the location where John Wilkes Booth, the assasin of President Lincoln, was shot and killed.

It turns out there is a marker.  But not much else.  And that's an interesting story, provided here in a well-written piece by Ben Swenson.

Where John Wilkes Booth died;  the Garrett Farm

I had forgotten my history;  because Booth was treated by Dr. Samuel Mudd in Maryland, I thought that he was killed at a location in Maryland.  But the Garrett Farm is in Virginia.

Here's a direct link to the picture of the marker (if you're curious):

Historical marker, Garrett Farm

If you want to see where it is, I made a map for you.  If you want to know where Port Royal is, use Google Maps.  Ironically enough, the marker is adjacent to Fort A.P. Hill.

January's Arctic sea ice

Pushed high by the El Niño warmth emanating from the Pacific, Arctic temperatures have been tens of degrees Celsius higher than normal.  As one could reasonably expect, this is affecting the sea ice up there.

And not a good (i.e., cold) way.

NCDC Global Summary - January 2016

"The average Arctic sea ice extent for January was 410,000 square miles (7.14 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest January extent since records began in 1979 and 35,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2011..."

Of course, the next winters could be colder than this one (I sure hope they will be), and the ice area might be larger in those colder winters. But This Does Not Bode Well for the future up there in the not-so-frozen North.

A body length in the 50 freestyle?

The 50 yard freestyle at the NCAA championships should be fun to watch.

Primarily to see if Florida's super studly Caeleb Dressel will go faster than he did at the SEC championships.

It's  hard to fathom how.  But watching this race -- he wins by a body length in a 50-yard sprint -- takes one's breath away.  Seriously, I doubt he took a breath.  Sprinters can do that.

Impressive performance on the track

Though I'm sure that the indoor mile is not run as often as the indoor 1500 meters, it's still contested.  So it was interesting that the indoor mile record for women has stood for 26 years.  I could think possibly about doping maybe having something to do with that, but I'll think good thoughts.

But I'm happy to report that the 26-year-old women's indoor mile record was broken by phenomenal Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba.  And not by a little -- by over four seconds.

You can watch it here:

Genzebe Dibaba smashes indoor mile world record  (on YouTube)

Though there were other runners on the track, nobody was running with her.  The rabbit did her job, dropped off, and then Dibaba took off at a mind-bending pace.  Amazing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Shoulda grabbed him

Some people who take care of sea turtle hatchings spotted an albino sea turtle (normally green, because these are green sea turtles) as it headed toward the ocean after hatching.  The articles notes how unlikely it is for any green sea turtles to survive to adulthood (1 in 1000 or so), and how it's even harder for albinos to survive.

Which means the prospects for the cute little critter making it to full-size are very small.  Would it have been a serious problem to grab him and let him survive in captivity?  And maybe breed more other rare albino green sea turtles?

Too late now.  He could have been a god.  Now he's probably inside a cod.

Rare Albino Turtle Hatchling Treks Across Aussie Beach

Two Italian lighthouses for February 14-20, 2016 Lighthouse of the Week

Since I was on a posting break, I missed last week's Lighthouse of the Week appointment.  To catch up, here are two lighthouses from Italy.

First is the San Venerio lighthouse, nicely situated on its own island.

If you want to see where that is and read a little more history, I suggest Wikipedia this time.

Three pictures:

The second is the Punta Carena lighthouse on the famous island of Capri, also a cliffside setting.  The island of Capri lies just outside Naples Bay.

Info on the Punta Carena lighthouse, from Cyberlights

And three pictures of this one:

Hope you don't mind the hiatus - I think these two lighthouses make up for it.

My new bumper sticker

First a moment of silence for the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

[ moment of silence ]

It seemed to be typical Republican political fashion that they couldn't wait a few days after Justice Scalia's unexpected death to declare that they wouldn't consider any Supreme Court nomination from President Obama.

(Though at least one pundit thinks being this quick on the obstruction trigger was a poor idea.)

This unfortunate turn of events inspired me to create a design for a bumper sticker:

What do you think?

I've got some ideas for when he makes the nomination (which he's going to), but I'll wait for that to happen.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

China still increasing nuclear power

I've got to admire the Chinese (and maybe late in life learn the language).  Because right now China is where the action is in terms of building nuclear power plants.

Now, I think enough plants will stay in operation here in the U.S. long enough for me to make it retirement, so I probably won't end up in China. Still, it might be fun to work on a floating nuclear power plant.   Now, if we could just get the Chinese to stop burning so much coal...

Total nuclear power capacity in China to double by 2020
"While the world took a step back from nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima tragedy in 2011, mostly coal-powered China remained committed to developing the technology. The total capacity of the country's nuclear power units is set to double by the end of the decade to 58 gigawatts (GW), local media reported Wednesday."
China planning to build floating nuclear power plant
"Beijing included the development of two marine nuclear power plants, to be built by China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) respectively, in its 13th five-year plan for 2016-2020, the two companies announced earlier this month."
I'll believe it when I see it.  But 2020 is not that far away - so if they do build it, I've got a reasonably good chance of seeing it built.

Juno is five months from Jupiter

With all the satellites and robots currently out in space orbiting around planets and asteroids, flying by others, and even crawling on the surface of one, it's possible to forget that Jupiter is about to get a fully-working visitor this year.  (Galileo, while quite successful, was hamstrung by its partially-opened main antenna.)

According to Space Daily, Juno just completed a trajectory adjustment burn, and is five months and a day away from going into orbit around the Solar System's biggest planet.

And then we will have more chances for amazement.

NASA's Juno spacecraft burns for Jupiter

It seems weird that a satellite will get into the Jupiter system and not get pictures of the moons, but that's what's going to happen.  The JunoCam is mainly going to take pictures of the atmosphere of Jupiter, in spectacular color, including the polar regions.  I guess we'll have to wait longer for more close-ups of Io.

No holes in this comet

Recent measurements by the Rosetta mission instruments determined that the comet it has been studying intensively, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, doesn't have big holes or caves in its interior. Rather, the whole thing is like a big hard-frozen dusty snowball.

Inside Rosetta's comet

"The most reasonable explanation then is that the comet's porosity must be an intrinsic property of dust particles mixed with the ice that make up the interior. In fact, earlier spacecraft measurements had shown that comet dust is typically not a compacted solid, but rather a 'fluffy' aggregate, giving the dust particles high porosity and low density, and Rosetta's COSIMA and GIADA instruments have shown that the same kinds of dust grains are also found at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko."

It seems to me that this also explains how easy it is for the Sun's radiation to blast off ice and dust from a comet's fluffiness, creating the gas-dust tails that stretch for millions of miles behind it, and also creating the beauty of a comet in the night sky.  Wish we had a few more big ones to look for, but a new big and bright one could head sunward at any time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Late January congratulations to the Bublé-Lopilato family

Forgot to note when it happened that luscious Luisana Lopilato, married to luckier-than-any-guy-should-be singer Michael Bublé, added another child to the family in late January. So, even though Luisana is unlikely to ever go back to lingerie modeling as she embraces motherhood-of-two, I can note that I doubt I'll ever forget her representation of Ultimo, and I'm sure that Michael appreciated her both in and out of her silkies prior to their hopefully repeated tries for conception. (He once noted in an interview that his wife was very strict about getting their copulatory groove on when it was time to make a baby. I would not be reluctant to comply under such circumstances.)

PICTURED: The baby is here! Singer Michael Bublé's wife Luisana Lopilato has given birth to their second son Elías

Here's a few reasons that babies happen in the Bublé family.

One  (high-res)



Cheryl officially gets her groove on

Good to see Cheryl, soon to be the former Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (which I expected, along with a lot of other folks) having a good time on a boat in Barbados after one of her Girls Aloud bandmates (Kimberley Walsh) got hitched. She looks pretty darned good, and more importantly, she looks happy.

PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Newly-single Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gets her mojo back as she lavishes in male attention at Kimberley Walsh's post-wedding boat party

There was a mention a short while back that she wasn't sure what her name should be post-marriage. I think she should just change it to Cheryl Official (her Twitter handle). There aren't any other Cheryl's at her heat level, globally. Do a Google image search simply on "Cheryl" and you'll see what I mean.

In fact, I just did that, and I found this phenomenal picture from her 2016 calendar.  Didn't even know she was doing a calendar.  Looking at this, I know she shouldn't be single for long, even though it might do her psyche good to be single for awhile.  Hopefully the next time she falls, it'll be for somebody responsible.

Wondrous !

The El Niño-spurred TLT rise continues

As is my wont, I've updated the comparison figure that I've been showing every month since my "Just in time for (you guessed it) Christmas" post in October. Even then I was struck with the remarkable parallel progression of the 2015-2016 event and the 1997-1998 event, which drove the Temperature of the Lower Troposphere (TLT) to all-time heights. (This data from, Remote Sensing Systems).

As noted last month, the predicted and expected TLT rise began in December. And it continued this January, even as the SST in the Niño 3.4 zone declined just a little, as the event starts to wane. The biggest difference between 2015-2016 and 1997-1998 was that the anomaly went up almost two degrees C in January of 1998, but in January 2016 it only went up about a degree (though it's starting higher, so it's still higher than January 1998's TLT anomaly).

Click on it for bigger view.

I expect it to keep rising. It's now in a basic tie with May 1998 to the second decimal place, slightly lower if you look at the third, and only two TLT anomalies have ever been higher. I think it's a lock to go higher than the second-highest value, which occurred in February 1998.  Not sure if it will set a new record or not, but it will come very close if it doesn't. February is going to be really interesting!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jon Snow knows something

Lots of people told Jon Snow on Game of Thrones that he knew nothing.  And we don't know if he's going to come back from the dead somehow this next season (but in some shape or form, I think he will).

But one thing Jon Snow (or his real-life actor self, Kit Harington) appears to know is a good thing when he sees one, which is why he's recently been spotted getting amorous with his ex-co-star Rose Leslie, who played the lamentably departed Ygritte (who probably told Jon Snow that he knew nothing more than anyone).

Sealed with a kiss! Game Of Thrones stars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie confirm romance rumours as they lock lips in LA 

And below is one of the reasons he may have decided this offscreen romance with an onscreen love interest may have been in their best interests:

(It got even better after he got the furs off.)

Lighthouse of the Week, January 31 - February 6, 2016: Kõpu, Estonia

I wondered to myself, "Does Estonia have lighthouses?"   And the answer is, yes, it does.  I quickly found the unique-looking Kõpu lighthouse. Here's more about it:

Spotting History: Kõpu lighthouse

Interesting tidbits:

- It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531.

- Due to its enduring popularity and memorable shape, it is often used as a symbol of Hiiumaa [an island in the Baltic Sea]. A major tourist attraction, the tower has been open for tourists since 1999.

Pictures (there are a lot on the Web):

Ceres: this is seriously great

NASA put out a new "flyover" of asteroid/minor planet Ceres, and it's just, well, GREAT.

Almost like being there. I heartily recommend going full-screen with this one.