Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A great quote from George Will

I don't always agree with George Will (especially the views he has expressed on climate change).  But his column entitled "The 'Oh, never mind' president" had a great quote, directed at the misguided citizens of the U.S.A. that voted for Donald Trump.

Here's the quote:
"Donald Trump’s “Oh, never mind” presidency was produced by voters stung by the contempt they detected directed toward them by the upper crust. Their insurrection has been rewarded by Trump’s swift shedding of campaign commitments, a repudiation so comprehensive and cavalier that he disdains disguising his disdain for his gulled supporters."
In case his supporters need a definition of "gull" (the verb), here it is:

"to take advantage of (one who is foolish or unwary) : deceive"

In other words, Trump supporters, you've been had. Big time.

Casual wear

This is the second time this year I've featured gorgeous model Julia Lescova.  In this case, she shows her fashion sense in this stylish, eye-catching outfit.  It takes a bit of confidence to wear something like this.

Especially if you've omitted your lacy underthings

I don't have a problem with that at all.

In case you were wondering

Chalk one up for science.  A mystery has apparently been solved.

The mystery was the source of Blood Falls in Antarctica.  Blood Falls is a somewhat bizarre flow of water at the outlet of a glacier that is colored, indeed, blood red.  The red comes from iron-loving brine extremophile bacteria.

Blood Falls

But where does the salty water that supports the extremophile bacteria come from?  That's what's been solved.

Century old mystery of Antarctica's Blood Falls SOLVED

"The American researchers tracked the brine with radio-echo sounding, a radar method that uses two antenna—one to transmit electrical pulses and one to receive the signals.

While analyze the scans, the team had seen something that until now was deemed impossible – liquid water was able to keep its form inside of the extremely cold glacier that flowed through a 300-foot long path."

So, by proving that the brine is flowing under the glacier, they basically confirmed that the source is a subglacial brine reservoir further upstream from Blood Falls.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Meet Steve, the new aurora

It's not every day that you meet a new auroral phenomenon.  But there is one -- with the unlikely moniker of  'Steve'.

An Aurora Called 'Steve'? Strange Sky Phenomenon Investigated

It's even been observed by satellite.

"Within a few weeks of searching, Donovan identified signs in the ground-based data that could match a Steve-like feature, and asked the Facebook group whether anyone had spotted it — sure enough, there were photos of Steve from that very location. And better yet, one of the Swarm satellites had flown through the feature.

"As the satellite flew straight through Steve, data from the electric field instrument showed very clear changes," Donovan said in the statement. "The temperature 300 kilometers [200 miles] above Earth's surface jumped by 3,000 degrees Celsius [5,500 degrees Fahrenheit], and the data revealed a 25-km-wide [16 miles] ribbon of gas flowing westwards at about 6 km/s [3.5 miles per second] compared to a speed of about 10 m/s [33 feet/s] either side of the ribbon." "

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, April 23-29, 2017: Roanoke River Light, North Carolina, USA

This week's LotW is a historic one that is no longer operational, but has been restored. It was restored due to it's historical value. It is North Carolina's last remaining rectangular frame building on a screwpile base.

Lots and lots of history at Lighthouse Friends:

It was established in 1867, burned in 1885, was relighted in August 1885 and then destroyed by ice in January 1886. (Umm, climate has changed a bit since then.) It looks like it was rebuilt in 1887, and worked as a lighthouse until 1941.

It was purchased to be a home, as were two other lighthouses. While attempting to move the lighthouses, two of them sank, but the Roanoke River lighthouse survived the move to Edenton.

It gets more interesting - a replica of the lighthouse was built in Plymouth (because the family that owned the original asked too much for it at the time), and is apparently there still, along with a maritime museum. But the original was purchased, "refloated", and renovated on the Edenton waterfront, and reopened (with an empty interior) in August 2014. It doesn't have an authentic Fresnel lens back yet, but hopefully they can eventually get to that.

The Roanoke River Lighthouse at Visit Edenton

It has it's own Web site, too:

So does the replica in Plymouth:

Edenton and Plymouth are only about a 1/2 hour drive apart; one could visit both the original and the replica on a day trip.

For the sake of historical accuracy, I only have images below of the renovated original in Edenton.

An award winner by Jeff Knox:

And here's one from Max Stansell:

New chemosynthetic bacteria found

I'm referring to this Daily Mail article, but there are more available. Scientists recently described the discovery of the Venus Hair bacteria, which was found on the ocean floor near the site of an underwater eruption adjacent to El Hierro island, one of the Canary Islands.

According to the DM:
"The vast lawns of bacteria, which was named Thiolava veneris, were several kilometres in diameter.

The researchers studied the new bacteria and found that it can thrive in the sulfur-rich environment left by a volcanic eruption.

Here's a somewhat more scholarly, though short, discussion. There's a link to the abstract of the paper in it. To read the actual paper, you'll have to pay good money, unfortunately.

Venus's hair thrives after volcanic eruption

Hard to believe what Crystal Palace has just done

I tabbed them for relegation a couple of months ago, but Crystal Palace has dramatically turned around its Premier League season with notable wins over Chelsea, Arsenal, and most recently this past Sunday, Liverpool. If they can defeat a motivated Tottenham Hotspurs side this Wednesday, it would be an incredible (which is higher than amazing) turnaround, and likely insure that they won't be relegated. Relegation is unlikely at this point; I'm pretty sure two more wins would make it impossible.

Christian Benteke, a former Liverpool player, provided both goals in the upset.

Ultimately, I think the difference has been better defense, as they haven't given up late goals when they've acquired a lead, which they with upsetting frequency earlier in the season. And not giving up late goals to the three top-of-the-table teams they defeated is a definite noteworthy accomplishment.

Christian Benteke struck twice to claim a 2-1 win for Crystal Palace over Liverpool at Anfield

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We aren't doing anything about space junk

And the problem is getting worse. A lot worse.

Even though some ideas for missions have been floated, and the Japanese tried one that didn't work (, there still isn't anything being done. And the problem is getting worse, according to this article, actually doubling over the past 25 years.

It's unfortunately going to take the loss of a couple of major expensive pieces of operational space hardware to motivate the countries of the world to do something, though at this stage, it isn't clear what that something would be. This is where science and engineering become very important.

Congrats, Serena! (as the door opens for others)

Well, imagine that.

Serena Williams is pregnant, and will continue to be pregnant through the next two Grand Slams (just in time for Maria Sharapova's return).  And I doubt she'd want to play the 2017 U.S. Open, too.  Even though Serena was reaching the point where she couldn't be favored to win every Grand Slam tournament she was in, she demonstrated last year that she was still formidable and victorious. Now that she'll be on maternity leave, clearly the door is open for some other women to win Slams.

Serena is currently ranked #2, so I think anyone in the top 15 would have a shot (especially with sister Venus Williams sitting at 12). 

Wozniacki and Halep -- now's your chance. Seize the racket - and seize the day.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams confirms her pregnancy

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More crabs is probably good

Saw this report from the Baltimore Sun that the mild winter apparently means a better crab season, so that this is a good year for crabs.

Does it ever amaze you at the abundance of the oceans and estuaries? We fish like crazy, and there are millions of people to feed and a lot of seafood restaurants and seafood counters at the grocery store, and there always seem to be fillets of several different species. Add to that the fish sticks, canned tuna, "fake" crab (pollock), etc. It astonishes me at how much the oceans hold. 550 million crabs in one body of water, even though the Chesapeake Bay is pretty big, seems pretty amazing too, like they're crawling all over each other on the bottom.

Well, anyway, maybe that means I can have a couple of crab cakes this summer.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A sonnet in April: something makes it special

something makes it special

It seems it could be quite repetitive,
because the formal act is just the same
each time and place. And there we always give
unreasonable weight and vivid fame
to simple physiology, a link
that makes our procreation possible --
and if it was just eggs and sperm, I think,
like corals in the seas, the wonderful
and noted reputation of this plain
connection would not be so commonplace.
And so the aspects that we must explain
are pleasures that we find within that space,
the visual and sensual, the kinds
that bind our striving bodies in our minds.

This happened to me

There's an article here (link below) that purports to explain how people can see a large/bright meteor and hear its passage at virtually the same time. And that should be impossible, because the meteor is a few miles up in the atmosphere, and as we all know, light travels faster than sound.

If you haven't had this happen to you, you might say, "Pish-tosh, that can't happen. Simple physics. Laws of nature and all that."

Well, I have to give credit to the article, because it happened to me. And though I never thought at the time about how what I saw and heard should have been simple-physically impossible, I realized when reading the article that of course, it really should have been impossible.

What happened was, there were reports a few years ago that the August Perseid shower, always a reliable performer, might spawn a meteor storm. This is something that I've never seen, but in fact, I did see the tail-end (Year 3) of the heightened Leonids. Not quite a true storm, though. So I went out to watch the Perseids, and there was no storm. There were, however, Perseids, and one of them was actually large enough that it had both a visible trail of ionized gas, and as it destroyed itself in atmospheric immolation, it exploded. Now, a sand grain exploding isn't a really big explosion, but it did crackle and pop and send off a few glowing fragments at its fiery demise.

And I heard the pop the same time I saw the little explosion.

So yes, it happens. I can vouch for it. And now maybe, I know how.

Article:  Why can we see and hear meteors at the same time?

Sediment, water, and rock

Take those three ingredients, mix with the Icelandic scenery, and the result is the pictures at this Weather Channel link.

Colorful rivers of Iceland, by Sergey Aleshchenko

An example:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, April 16-22: Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia

You may not ever have heard of Dagestan.  And I must admit, if I ever did, I forgot -- even though Dagestan has been involved in the violence and war in Chechnya, which is on its western border.  To find it, and learn about it, here's Wikipedia for you:  Dagestan.

What you also may not know, especially if you never heard of Dagestan, is that the port city and largest city of Dagestan, on the Caspian Sea, is Makhachkala.   I agree, it sounds more like a place in Hawaii or India.  But it's not.  To add to the potential confusion, the Makhachkala Lighthouse is a red-and-white striped tower that looks like it would be more at home on the coast of Maine.

Here's a bit about it, from the Lighthouse Directory:

"1866 (station established 1852). Active; focal plane 84.5 m (277 ft); light characteristic unknown. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) octagonal tower with lantern and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands."

So it has been there awhile.  I couldn't find a picture of it taken from offshore, so we'll just have to be content with these.

Excerpts from Krugman

Distractions.  Donald Trump is good at them.  So while he's playing chicken with North Korea and dropping bombs on ISIS, he's also going threatening to pull healthcare quickly and with considerable pain -- and try to blame Democrats for doing it.


Can Trump Take Health Care Hostage?  by Paul Krugman

"The nastiness should be obvious, but let’s spell it out. Mr. Trump is trying to bully Democrats by threatening to hurt millions of innocent bystanders — ordinary American families who have gained coverage thanks to health reform. True, Democrats care about these families — but Republicans at least pretend to care about them, too.

Why does Mr. Trump even imagine that this threat might work? Implicitly, he’s saying that hurting innocent people doesn’t bother him as much as it bothers his opponents.

Then there’s the political reality that by sabotaging Obamacare, the Trump administration would be handing Democrats a huge electoral gift. Bear in mind that the places that are already poorly served by private insurers, and would therefore be most hurt, are relatively poor, rural areas — places that overwhelmingly voted Trump last year.

Put it this way: There’s a reason an open letter to Mr. Trump urging that the cost-sharing subsidies be maintained was signed by a wide array of lobbying organizations, including very conservative groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. What they understand is that sabotaging Obamacare would be a disaster for their interests."
So he's also playing chicken with Democrats.  And I think the Democrats are playing the long game, with 2018 in their sights.  But there will be collateral damage in this game.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This is an interesting career path

I'm not sure how many people can establish a career as a sexologist, but it appears to be interesting work if you can get it.  It's a way to make a living, at least.

She advises clients on their sex lives, and actually watches and evaluates as they demonstrate their ability (or lack thereof) to reach their ultimate sexual peak (the Big O).

Sexologist who WATCHES people climax for a living says she does it to 'facilitate their build up of erotic energy'... and the job pays $2 a minute

I don't have any videos to accompany this posting.  Sorry.  There is a Web site, though:   It's in Australia, if you want to make an appointment.

The ridiculous EPA budget cut

While the Trump budget horror is unlikely to be as bad as written for the EPA (as this article alludes to), the present Administration is still dead-set on trying to kill a lot of programs that protect our environment.  That has already been demonstrated, and is sure to be demonstrated numerous times in the future, to our great misfortune.

So I'm just going to pull some of the horrific stuff out of this New York Times article:

What's at stake in Trump's E.P.A. Cuts

  • "The agency is taking an equal-opportunity approach to regional cleanup programs, proposing to virtually eliminate all of them: Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, South Florida, the Great Lakes."

  • "The Superfund program can actually save taxpayers money, because it lets the E.P.A. identify polluters and compel them to pay for the cleanup. But the proposed budget reduces its enforcement and remedial components by 45 percent, bringing it to $221 million from $404 million."

  • The Trump administration has declared its intent to roll back business-killing regulations. But the second-biggest item eliminated from the proposed budget, after the Great Lakes Restoration project, exists precisely because federal regulations do not cover all pollutants. The $165 million Nonpoint Source Grant program helps states deal with pollutants from sources that are not directly regulated under the Clean Water Act — like the phosphorus that flows into Lake Erie from fertilizer, which feeds algae and weeds that starve the water of oxygen, harming fish and other wildlife. Among other remedies, the nonpoint source grants have been used to help states create “buffer strips” — areas of thick vegetation that help filter the contaminated runoff.

The proposed budget would eliminate the grants.


As we can see, the proposed budget is chock-full of spectacular terrible horror stories for the environment of the U.S.A.  

We're all happy now, aren't we?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

True adventure

A couple of weeks ago I posted about some skiers on the slopes of Mount Etna chasing a steaming lava bomb down the slopes.

The skiers in this article did better than that, as they skied past an active lava flow from Etna.

Lava-ly piste! Some VERY cool-headed daredevils ski past an erupting Mount Etna just yards from molten rocks

Much as I'd like to see an active lava flow close-up, I don't think this is the way I'd do it.  For one thing, I don't ski.

If you really want to get away

Courtesy of Petra Nemcova's Instagram, I learned about this amazing resort in Bali.

Not that I plan to go there, of course.  But it's a very nice place.

Como Shambhala Estate

If I did have an amazing chance to go there, I would like to stay here.

According to the locals, this is a unique place to visit nearby -- Tanah Lot Temple

The site of a great battle

With "The White Princess" about to get rolling, I got intrigued with some English history.  And I wondered what was at the site of the famous Battle of Agincourt, won by Henry V, against daunting odds.  Henry chose the battlefield, deployed his archers effectively, and got some help from the weather to make the field muddy and difficult to maneuver on.  The Kenneth Branagh movie Henry V, adapting the play, showed this pretty well.

But what's actually at Agincourt?  Apparently there's a monument with an effigy of Christ crucified somewhere near there (to memorialize the French dead).

And this monument is nearby in Maisoncelle.

But according to the historians, and the maps, here's the actual site of the battle.  Supposedly the grove of trees was one of the areas where Henry V deployed his archers.

Monday, April 10, 2017

You can't be serious, CPFC

Nine or ten days after defeating Premier League leader Chelsea (with the aid of an uncalled handball) Crystal Palace handed Arsenal a 3-0 loss.   Seems that if CP played all the top teams in the Premier League, they would have a much better record.  Weird.

Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal: More misery for Arsene Wenger as his woeful Gunners run late and are beaten by strikes from Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic

They are six points above the relegation zone now.  They might be able to hang on.

Lighthouse of the Week, April 9-15, 2017: Kallur Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

This week's lighthouse was chosen with the inspiration of Bing, which had the lighthouse as one of its daily featured images.   Though small, it is impressively situated.

It is in the Faroe Islands, far-flung islands that are north of Scotland and west of Norway.

Here's a site with some fabulous pictures. As you can see, not a lot of people live here.

Kallur Lighthouse and Fascinating Landscape of Kalsoy, the Faroe Islands

The Lighthouse Directory has the entire Faroe Islands:  Lighthouses of the Faroe Islands 

The stats aren't that impressive:  "Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white, red or green light depending on direction, 2 s on, 2 s off. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with one red horizontal band."   A lighthouse has been there in 1893, which is fairly impressive.

It's the location that is truly impressive.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

OK, I'm sorry. Let me explain.

A couple of days ago I posted a tweet in response to something tweeted by pretty actress Jewel Staite.  Staite is most noted for playing the highly sexual (and sexy) spaceship engineer Kaylee Frye on the TV show Firefly and the wrap-it-up nicely movie Serenity, which I've watched at least 10 times.

Here's the tweet by Ms. Staite:

"While wearing a white turtleneck and complaining about my hydrangea dying too fast, I realized it had happened: I had become a suburban mom."

Now, I replied to Ms. Staite with a quote from Serenity, which is quite funny and made even more funny by Captain Mal's (Nathan Fillion) reaction, which is that he shouldn't know that.   Kaylee was basically saying that she'd like to have sex because she's tired of using a vibrator (for a year), but the both innocent and straightforward and forlorn way she says it, perfectly in line with the character's love of life and love of men and love of sex (which is an important plot element late in the movie, leading to yet another funny and sexy moment) makes it charmingly inappropriate.

Now, I used the quote in response to Ms. Staite's tweet above.  Some people think I was just waiting to do that. No, actually I was going to ask if she had a minivan, but others beat me to it.  Some people think I don't respect Ms. Staite as a woman.  Some people think that using the quote the way I did it was offensive.

I'm surprised anybody finds anything on the Internet offensive anymore.  And I was surprised by the attention.  I can battle with idiot climate skeptics for 100s of tweets and get no secondary support at all, but I use a quote from a movie I love in response to something humorous said by an actress in the movie I love, and I get tweeted tomatoes lobbed at me from the balcony.  OK, maybe it wasn't the funniest thing.  It was not meant with bad intent.

In fact, what I was trying to do was to react to the expressed bored-with-life attitude expressed by Jewel that is implicit in being a stereotypical "suburban mom".  City life, being young, being hot, being sexually active and liking it -- all that is about a phase of life that has passed.  Jewel's tweet is about becoming staid, plain, a stereotyped less hot, more mature, more concerned with the details of home life than sex life, woman.  A mother, housekeeper, caregiver, etc.  And some of the stereotypical aspects of that life is that rather than having sex daily, you're lucky to have it monthly.  And also, that being a "suburban mom" and wearing a white turtleneck instead of a black lace teddy or a low-cut halter top with Daisy Duke shorts is representative of that new role in life.  And a stereotypical behavior of bored suburban moms is that occasionally they have a little personal escape with a glass of wine, a couple chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey, and something that runs on batteries.  Especially if the stereotypical suburban hubby is working late, commuting longer, and is too tired to do anything but watch Firefly reruns when he gets home at night. So my lewd suggestion was that maybe she should take some advice from her beloved Kaylee character and maybe she should rev the engines, feel hot, feel sexy, get with the hubby -- and not feel like a bored suburban housewife so much.  All meant in humor, and not meant to offend.

I know, if you have to explain it, it's not funny.  Sorry, it wasn't funny.  It was juvenile, wink-wink, Beavis and Butthead humor.  And I would like to deeply apologize to Ms. Staite if she was offended.  And I'm sorry if I repeated a line that makes me laugh every time I hear her deliver it.

And everybody managed to miss my followup tweet too, apparently.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Not everybody agrees

From the New York Times:

Plan to Cut Funding for Biomedical Research Hits Opposition in Congress
  • Some Democrats and some Republicans think the cuts to NIH are misguided;
  • some are proud that NIH funding has substantially increased;
  • could have "catastrophic results" for patients and researchers;
  • one of the big issues is "indirect costs" in grants (which has been true for decades). 
"Arthur Bienenstock, an emeritus professor at Stanford and an expert on science policy, said the proposal made him worry about the future of research.

“The net impact would be a significant decline in biomedical research, and its centralization in a small number of universities,” he said. “Research would shift away from public universities and less well-endowed private universities, toward well-endowed private universities like Harvard and Stanford.”

The bad boy page in the history book

McConnell bets the Senate on Gorsuch

On McConnell:

“Merrick Garland is how he’ll be remembered, violating 230 years of Senate tradition to create this unholy mess we’re facing,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Republicans blame Democrats for using the filibuster routinely during the presidency of George W. Bush and launching the first major rules change since 2013, but there is no doubt McConnell has weaponized the Senate rules in a manner that is certain to alter the chamber for years to come."

And on the election:

Now, several Republican senators say they likely would have lost the Senate and the White House without a Supreme Court vacancy on the line to bring reluctant conservatives around for Trump and GOP incumbents. Asked whether the GOP would be in power without McConnell’s move, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) responded: “No. I think it was critically important to voters.”

“It’s distinctly possible that that was a game changer, yes,” said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who ran the GOP's campaign arm in 2016. “It’s one thing to say there are future nominations that may be at stake. It’s quite another to say there’s a vacancy there and you can vote on Nov. 8 to decide.”

Trump won the election by tipping three Rust Belt states his way by margins small enough that Republicans believe the Supreme Court vacancy was a determining factor. Republicans “would have felt betrayed" had McConnell allowed Obama to fill the high-court seat, said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who narrowly won reelection."

So let's put it this way -- not only did Mitchey McC's foul move disrupt the Constitutional function of government, it also may have been an important factor in getting Donald Trump elected President. So if Trump brings the country down around our ears, wrecks the Republican Party and ushers in a massive mid-term election reversal (and the signs are pointing that way), we can blame him for that, too!

I certainly will.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Break Week, Day 7

To finish up my tribute to Spring Break, here are some women wearing bikinis -- which happens very often in sunny and beachy Spring Break locations.

Ali Rose, Playboy model, Playmate in Playboy South Africa

Martha Hunt, Victoria's Secret model

Natasha Oakley (left) and Devin Brugman (right),
swimwear designers

Elyse Knowles, Australian swimwear model

Lighthouse of the Week, April 2-8, 2017: Cape Arago, Oregon

The Cape Arago lighthouse is this week's Lighthouse of the Week.  Catch it while you can, it may not be there much longer.

The island it is located on is being eroded, and much of that island has already disappeared.  I got that from this Web site:

Cape Arago Lighthouse Site Faces Dim Future

Also learned from that site that access is pretty difficult, because they removed a decaying footbridge that was the only way to get onto the island.

Here's more about it from Lighthouse Friends (this site also has a locator map):

Cape Arago, Oregon

The first lighthouse on the site was built in 1864, which is somewhat amazing considering the country was involved in the Civil War at the time.  A second lighthouse was built there in 1908.  A third lighthouse was built in 1934 -- and that's the only building remaining on the island.

That one has been deactivated by the Coast Guard, and is currently the property of the Confederated Tribes.  At least for as long as it lasts.

To the pictures!

This one is a pretty good wallpaper

Shows the footbridge that has since been removed

This final amazing picture shows why the island the Cape Arago Lighthouse is on is eroding. Taken by Kristal Talbot and available from Fine Art America, it shows the waves from a heavy sea hitting the rocks below the Cape Arago light.  Click for full impact (literally).

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Spring Break Week, Day 6

One thing that frequently happens on spring break vacations is that young women rid themselves of inhibitions (often with the assistance of large amounts of alcohol), make bad decisions, and get naked inappropriately.  Many young men on spring break vacations appreciate this immensely.

So for today's spring break tribute, I have three pictures of women getting naked.  Appropriately or inappropriately?  You decide.

First, Joanna Krupa, who likes to get naked frequently (at least if you follow her on Instagram), and I'm convinced her husband is appreciative. So are her numerous followers.  And with a world-class body like hers, nakedness seems quite appropriate.  I did some color and brightness adjustments on this picture to bring out its best features. Definitely looks like she's on spring break.

Next, Halle Berry, who still looks great at age 51, and in this picture, seems to be intent on demonstrating it.

And finally, this anonymous picture shows a woman in a white dress shirt (something I like a lot) looking intent on getting inappropriate with somebody.  Or maybe standing by the window half-dressed like that is inappropriate.  Either way, it's a sexy picture. (I also brightened this a bit.)

Another asteroidal near-miss

While some of us were sleeping on the night of March 30 (globally, some of us are always sleeping), an eight-meter asteroid snuck by Earth, within the orbit of the moon.

Eight meters isn't civilization-threatening, but it would still cause a boom when it exploded in the atmosphere, if it was an incoming object.

I don't know if this keeps you up at night;  it doesn't keep me up at night, but still, I occasionally think about what would happen if we got hit with a somewhat bigger one.

Asteroid the size of a BUS came closer to the Earth than the moon last night

Getting in close

It isn't hard to walk up to a lava flow in Hawaii, if you can stand the heat.  Trained geologists do it all the time.

And you can take boat trips to see the lava entering the ocean.  The professional tourist boat captains keep a safe distance from the lava entry.

Adventure kayakers, not so much.  But hey, it looks like fun.

I couldn't embed the video, so click the link.

Video shows kayakers venturing into boiling waters near lava 'firehose'

Here's a still image from the adventurous paddle, when they were at a safe distance.

What can you do in 15 minutes?

I'm sure that there's a lot of things that can be done in 15 minutes.  Buying auto insurance, for example.  Grilling a burger (not necessarily eating it too, but I'm sure it's possible).  Reading about 200 tweets on Twitter, as long as you don't read a lot of linked articles.

Having sex, if you don't count foreplay or keep the preliminaries short.

And another thing that people may be able to do, for about 15 minutes, is be in space, above most of Earth's atmosphere.  There are several companies now that plan to make this possible -- here's an article about Blue Origin, a company led by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, that's going to have a space capsule with big windows.

'The largest windows in space': Inside Blue Origin's New Shepard flight capsule that will take tourists to into orbit next year

You could get married up there... and, well, you know...

The thing is... there aren't any neighbors up there to LOOK in the windows.

So if some pioneering couple wants to be the first-ever members of the Highest-Ever club, they could pay for an exclusive two-seat ride.  And ignore the view.

High price to pay for history?   Depends on how much you want to be historical.  And hey, you could look out the windows while engaged in the history-making act. People do it in their private beach rooms all the time.