Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Colors of Keegan

Since my admiration for Britain's marvelous Michelle Keegan is nearly limitless, when I happen upon Michelle dressed in yellow, pink, red, and black, I must share the bounty.

These are notable because her Lipsy London collection, while quite elegant, tend not to be overly colorful, with more white, gray, black, and patterns with those tones, rather than more of the rainbow. Oh, the colors are there, but not as much of them.

And again I ask, why couldn't she have a lingerie collection?  So we'd be treated to like 100 or so pictures of Michelle in lingerie?

I don't know how I would handle that.


FANTASTIC weather photography contest photos

As I've mentioned before, I really like photography contests. Especially nature photography contests -- the reason for that being that the nature photographers get to places that I'll never get to, take pictures of things I'm very unlikely to see in person, and also take these photographs in a way that makes them dramatic and striking.

The weather photographs in the Daily Mail article linked below are prime examples. And I'll also note that in some cases the photographers took risks that I'd be unwilling to take to get these shots.  And likely also endured some uncomfortable conditions, too.

Fog rainbows, crashing waves and churning clouds: The awe-inspiring images that have made the shortlist for the Royal Photographic Society's annual weather snap contest

Here is just one fantastic example.

The Chesapeake Bay -- new research, new concern

New research just released discusses a lower pH (toward the acidic) depth zone in the water column of the Chesapeake Bay. That's a concern because the Bay's fresh/brackish waters don't have the same buffering capacity as full salinity seawater.

Acid zone in Chesapeake Bay identified

What was discovered:
"In their research, [Wei-Jun] Cai and his colleagues discovered a "pH minimum zone" that occurs at a depth of approximately 10-15 meters (~30-50 feet) in the Chesapeake Bay. The pH in this zone is roughly 7.4, nearly 10 times higher in acidity (or a unit lower in pH) than what is found in surface waters, which have an average pH of 8.2. ... This zone is suspected to be due to a combination of factors, most importantly, from acids produced when bottom water rich in toxic hydrogen sulfide gets mixed upward. The team reported the findings in a paper in Nature Communications on August 28, 2017."

What's causing it:
"As Cai analyzed the data from these cruises and another in April 2015, he noticed that the Bay's pH seemed to reach a minimum at depths between 10-15 meters. To explain this, Cai built a biogeochemical model to simulate the way oxygen is consumed and inorganic carbon and acids are produced to match the observations measured in the Chesapeake Bay. Using direct hydrogen sulfide measurements collected in the bottom waters by Luther, Cai calculated how much acid would need to be produced to explain this minimum zone."

What's (currently) controlling it:
"The team's research shows that currently the dissolving of living shells and non-living aragonite and calcite minerals has provided a self-regulating mechanism to buffer or prevent the Chesapeake Bay's bottom waters from becoming acidic."

Interesting, as well as concerning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lighthouse of the Week, Aug. 27 - Sep. 2, 2017: Fire Island, New York

My path to this lighthouse was slightly unusual - I looked for a picture of a blue-colored lighthouse.  It does not appear that there are any.  There is, however, a lighthouse in Tierra del Fuego painted in spiral blue and yellow stripes, which will probably be the lighthouse of the week next week.  But this week, when I searched for "blue lighthouse", I found a picture of the Fire Island lighthouse on Long Island in New York, and it looked like it was painted white and navy blue.

It isn't.  It's black and white.

But still, Fire Island was interesting enough to be this week's featured lighthouse.  It has a lot of history, and was considered one of the more important lighthouses in the nation in much earlier times.

First, a couple of Web sites:

Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society

Fire Island Lighthouse (Lighthouse Friends)

Three excerpts from the latter:
"Built about 200 yards northeast of the first one, the second Fire Island Lighthouse stands 168 feet tall, more than double the height of its predecessor. The stone from the original lighthouse was used to construct the terrace on which the new lighthouse and dwelling were built. The base of the second tower spreads outward for increased stability, and inside, a 192-step, spiral staircase leads to the watchroom."
"The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board for 1894 contains the following on Fire Island Lighthouse: “This is the most important light for transatlantic steamers bound for New York. It is generally the first one they make and from which they lay their course.” Due to this importance, the board decided to purchase for use at Fire Island a giant bivalve lens with a nine-foot diameter that the French manufacturer Henry Lepaute had displayed at the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. As the lens was to be fitted with an electric arc light, a coal-fired steam power plant was constructed 200 feet west of the lighthouse in 1896."
"For years, the first-order Fresnel lens used in Fire Island Lighthouse from 1858 to 1933 had been exhibited at the Franklin Institute, a museum in Philadelphia. In 2000, the lens was taken off display and relocated to a warehouse, prompting calls to return the lens to Fire Island. On March 27, 2007, the 9,000-pound, sixteen-foot-tall lens arrived at Fire Island National Seashore in the form of 900 pieces packed inside twenty-one crates. With funding secured, construction of a building to house the lens was completed, and the lens went on display in July 2011."
Having said all that, now you'll understand the pictures better.

The lens

And if you want to know where it is, click right here.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Where we're going

Back in my post entitled "Coming Attractions", I asked if anybody knew the significance of the Google Street View scene I posted.

Well, unsurprisingly (because hardly anyone reads my blog), nobody identified it.  So I'll tell you where it is and why it's significant.  It's in the city of Miami, Florida, and it's where the famous Highway 41 starts.  It's literally the intersection of Brickell Avenue and SE 7th Street, which is also known as Highway 41 and Florida 90. I don't know when it stops being Florida 90;  I expect that we'll find out along the way.

So what I'm going to do is use Google Street View to travel Highway 41 end-to-end.  I'm going to show highlights along the way.  It's a famous highway (even mentioned in a couple of country-and-western songs).

So here we go.

Still in the city, at SW 52nd Avenue.

Intersection with Florida 826

Florida International University

On the outskirts of Miami - it's flat.

Miccosukee Resort and Gaming, across from the notorious Krome Detention Center

Next stops -- highlights of the Everglades.

If I ever go to Mykonos

Mykonos, Greece, is a vacation hot-spot, and a very pretty (and extraordinarily clean, it seems) place.

While I'd like to go to places that are mildly adventurous and scenic, as opposed to lounging in the sun, if for some reason I ended up in Mykonos, I'd like to stay at the Cavo Tagoo resort.  (There is also a Cavo Tagoo resort in Santorini, which I think would be interesting to visit, given its geological history).

Here's a couple of pictures.  In the second, model Jocelyn Binder shows the advantages of a private room.

More Zn, Ge = life on Mars??

Well, I was surprised to read this article, but after reading it, I reined in my expectations considerably.

See, the URL says that the elevated zinc (Zn) and germanium (Ge) concentrations found by Curiosity bolster the case for life on Mars.  But they don't really do that.  They only indicate the likely presence of high temperature (hydrothermal) environments on Mars, which probably mean hydrothermal environments amenable to life, like deep-sea hydrothermal vents or hot springs (terrestrial) here on Earth.

It's a considerable distance from a place that there could be life, as indicated by the data, compared to data that's at least peripherally related to actual biological activity.

Nonetheless, it's an interesting discovery, and shows that Curiosity is on the job.

Note that the title of the article is somewhat more realistic.

Elevated zinc and germanium levels bolster evidence for habitable environments on Mars
"At concentrations that have been estimated for the average Martian crust, germanium is below the detection limit of the [Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer] APXS instrument and scientists did not expect to see it. So when the data was analyzed for elements beyond the main 16 elements, the researchers were surprised to find germanium, like zinc, is at concentrations up to 100 times higher than in the average Martian meteorite, and even 300 times higher in one vein, Berger said. The new study is the first to include APXS measurements of germanium during the rover’s first 1,360 sols, according to the study’s authors. A sol is a Martian day, which is 24 hours and 39 minutes long."

So, more possibilities where life could have begun and existed on Mars. Neat.

10 things I don't like about you

In this case, the 10 things are what Mitch McConnell probably doesn't like about Donald Trump.

From the Washington Post:

10 things Mitch McConnell probably hates about Trump

Number 6 was:

6. Trump shows no interest in understanding how Congress works: I'll let McConnell, making remarks at a local event in Kentucky earlier this month, explain this one:
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process. So part of the reason I think people feel we’re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines — unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating — may not have been fully understood.”
I doubt that will ever change, too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Ukrainian model in Playboy Russia

Her name is Selena Verner (alternatively, Werner).

According to her Playboy Playmate information, she was born in the Ukraine, and now she posed in Playboy Russia.  If you remember, Russia and the Ukraine are not exactly on the best of terms.

Here's a relatively tame picture of this pretty blonde woman.  There's more out there, and better too.

Keeping up with the royal (Monaco) tots

An article in People about the getting-cuter-every-day royal fraternal twins of Monaco.

Monaco’s Adorable Royal Twins (and Their Curls!) Are Looking More Grown Up Than Ever with Mom Princess Charlene

With adorable pictures, of course.

Coolest view of the August 21 eclipse

I  haven't had a chance to sort through all the picture (and numerous fakes) of the August 21, eclipse, but this view of the shadow on the Earth, mostly on clouds, is hard to surpass. I want to have time to look for the best eclipse shots available on the Web, but haven't had that chance yet.

So here's the ISS shot:

Lighthouse of the Week, August 20-26, 2017: Punta Penna, Italy

I did a quick bit of searching around for a lighthouse in Italy (I have previously featured a couple), and I settled on the really tall Punta Penna lighthouse.  According to Wikipedia, it's the eighth-tallest "traditional" (whatever that means) lighthouse in the world.

Here is more about it from this Lighthouse Directory page:  Lighthouses of Eastern Italy

Abridged information:
"1948 (station established 1906). Active; focal plane 84 m (276 ft); white flash every 5 s. 70 m (220 ft) octagonal concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the center of a 2-story masonry keeper's house.  This is the second tallest Italian lighthouse, after the Laterna di Genova. The original lighthouse was nearly destroyed by retreating German troops in 1944. The ruins were demolished in 1946, and the new lighthouse was built on the design of architect Olindo Tarcione. Located on the Via Madonna della Penna in Porto di Vasto, on a prominent cape about 7 km (4.5 mi) north of Vasto."
Pictures (three real, one a model)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Have you ever heard of an "ensuite"?

Have you ever heard of an "ensuite" (or "en-suite")?

Well, I admit I had not.  The first time I encountered this term was in this Daily Mail article about a nice, yet slightly unusual, house for sale in Australia.

Four-bedroom suburban family home complete with a swimming pool sells for more than $1MILLION – but can you spot what's wrong with it?

The answer is easy to see, it's in the first picture.  It happens to be a couple of bathroom fixtures (including the john) quite close to the bed.  Now, in case you think that the excretory functions are a spectator sport in this room, the hygienic portion of the room can be visually separated from the slumberous portion (the bed) by a sliding partition.  Not aurally or olfactorily, though.

But later on in the article, it says this:
"Despite the initially confronting visual of the toilet so close to a bed, the bathroom can be concealed by a series of sliding doors, effectively turning the space into a bedroom with ensuite."
That was the second time I had ever seen the word "ensuite".  The first was in the previous sentence, where it was hyphenated.

So naturally I had to find out what an ensuite was, though I'd already had a visual example.  Focusing on definitions, here's what it is:

"(of a bathroom) immediately adjoining a bedroom and forming part of the same set of rooms."

That actually doesn't seem so unusual;  many master bedrooms are (or have) ensuites.  In the case of the Australian house, the ensuite just happens to be very, very close to the bed.

Being naturally curious, I decided to see if I could find other ensuites, particularly the kind where a lady might shower in full view of the bed, where amorous activities had just taken place, and where her satisfied partner could take in the view of his partner in those amorous activities in the shower.

I'm funny that way.  But I found a few.

Bath or shower, for variety

In this case she'd have to take a bath.  I'm not sure where the shower is.

You'd have to slide the bed over a little to get a view of the shower


And here's a small, PG-rated example of what I meant by "taking in the view".

Back to Ceres

Lest we forget, as Cassini enters its final orbits around Saturn, the Dawn satellite is still orbiting the asteroid Ceres.

I happened to find this interesting short article, which features the most interesting feature on Ceres, Occator Crater.  You know, the one with the really bright spots that turned out to be complex salts.

Here's the article, and followed by that, the accompanying picture (which you can also see in the article).

Complex Relationships in the Occator-Kirnis Region

Here's the opening paragraph:
This view obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft during its Survey orbit illustrates the diversity and complexity of Ceres' geology. It shows familiar features: Occator Crater with its bright deposits (called faculae) of carbonates and other salts, a series of linear features (at right) called Samhain Catenae, and another large crater on the right side of the image called Kirnis. A relatively fresh crater called Lociyo, superimposed on an older crater, can be seen toward the bottom left of the picture."
And here's that picture:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A sonnet inspired by an eclipse, Cassini, and a girl

unlikeliness is not impossibility

A chanced proximity does not imply
itself that two unguided paths will cross --
just as the circling lines of moons deny
that they will intersect (unless a toss
of gravity creates chaotic swirls
disturbing Kepler's laws and bringing two
unlikely bodies to a single curl's
serene interior) -- so rarest few
could find their tracks attracted, close enough
to see the impacts of each lifetime and
the regolith of dreams. Now if this tough
restriction can be breached by fate, the grand
cohesion of the Universe persists
and they will bind as Newton's math insists.

An excerpted opinion

From the op-ed "Donald Trump gave the most disgusting public performance in the history of the American presidency", by David Rothkopf -- He is a visiting professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Coming attractions

This is the start of a continuing feature, something I've thought about for quite awhile.  I'll explain more soon.  Meanwhile, if anyone of the rare and privileged people that are reading this blog can figure out why this place is significant, feel free to chime in.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Briga Heelan had a baby

Briga Heelan is a cute/buxom/attractive blonde comedic actress, most recently appearing in "Great News", which got renewed, but from what I've seen the writers need a refresher course in getting laughs. The jokes and gags are a little too forced, but they are trying hard.

Back to Briga. She is always someone I thought was both pretty cute and pretty sexy. So having a baby with her is an activity for which I would congratulate her husband on what was likely a fun session or two of baby-making. And Briga and her partner Rene Gube just had a baby.

Acting career on IMdB:

Now, I never saw her in Cougar Town (or if I did, I forgot); never saw her in Love; don't remember her on Undateable (and I would have watched more if I'd known she was on it), and I only saw a couple of episodes of Ground Floor. But that last show is what I remember her for, and why I keep looking to see what's she's currently doing.

This picture is an example why I remember her for Ground Floor.

But what I've really never forgotten is this video, with Picture Perfect's Skylar Astin, who was also on the show. She's pretty much gorgeous, but her hair in this performance is flat-out amazing.

Lighthouse of the Week, August 13-19, 2017: Cape St. Elias, Alaska

There's remote, and then there's REMOTE.  It's not surprising that Alaska has remote lighthouses, but I didn't realize when I went looking for another Alaska lighthouse (I've featured two before this one) that I would find the most remote lighthouse in the United States.

And it's pretty spectacular, setting-wise, even though it may be hurting a bit for upkeep.  Not surprising, considering where it's located.

It's the location that really makes it spectacular. Behind the lighthouse is an island that's basically just a big tall ridge, and right in front of it is a rock spire that looks like a sail.

Here's some information from the esteemed Lighthouse Directory:
"1916. Active; focal plane 85 ft (26 m); white flash every 10 s. 55 ft (17 m) square cylindrical reinforced concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from the corner of a square concrete fog signal building; solar-powered VRB-25 aerobeacon (1998). The original 3rd order Fresnel lens is on display at the Cordova Historical Museum in Cordova. 3-story brick keeper's quarters. The lighthouse is white concrete; lantern painted red."

One of the most remote of all U.S. lighthouses."
Here are a couple more links about it:

Alaska's Cape St. Elias Lighthouse (from Lighthouse Digest)

Kayak Island web site

And here are a variety of pictures:

Find the lighthouse!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My weakness

Confession: I like sexy nightgowns.


This is the "Lace-Trimmed Floor Length Satin Gown".

Sigh.  It's pretty nice. And sexy.

Good science story

I hope those of you out there in reading land, few though you may be, can read this fascinating New York Times story. It describes how dedicated scientists traveled around the world, chasing the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a star occultation by the Kuiper Belt object that the New Horizons satellite will rendesvous with on the first day of 2019.

They had three opportunities, and only one of them worked.  But they learned new things about the object that New Horizons is headed for.

They basically learned this:
"Instead of round like a ball it appears to be more like a long, skinny potato — or maybe two objects in close orbit around each other, possibly even touching."
They also think that there's no debris field around the object, which reduces the chances that New Horizons will crash into a disabling bit of space dust.

So they didn't learn a lot, but they learned enough to make the chase worthwhile.

Chasing Shadows for a Glimpse of a Tiny World Beyond Pluto

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A convergence of comeliness

Demi Rose Mawby and Bianca Gascoigne got together in the Cape Verde Islands.

The result was outstanding.

And of course, the Daily Mail had it covered, tops to bottoms.

Bianca Gascoigne cosies up to busty Demi Rose as she flaunts her sizzling bikini body in a series of steamy snaps during Cape Verde getaway

Lighthouse of the Week, August 6-12, 2017: Bodie Island, North Carolina

In case you hadn't heard, life on the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been a bit more difficult after construction crews cut a main power line.  So, inspired by that, I'm featuring a North Carolina Outer Banks lighthouse - Bodie Island.  The one there now is actually the third one, as shown by this informative chart:

It's located south of Nags Head, and is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

National Park Service:  Bodie Island Light Station

Carolina Outer Banks:  Bodie Island Lighthouse Fact Sheet

Pictures and video!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Look for the arch

Courtesy of Sara Underwood and Steve Bitanga (who I mentioned a couple of posts ago), I just found out about the existence of Morning Glory Arch, or Bridge -- I've seen both names.  Bridges go over water and arches don't, and I'm not sure in this case which it is.

Anyway, it's outside Moab, Utah, and it isn't in either a national park, monument, or forest, which I found surprising.  And given the way it is oriented to the surroundings, it isn't really easy to see.  I recommend searching for more images of Morning Glory Arch to see what I mean.

Here's how to get there:  Morning Glory Bridge Trail (and here they call it a bridge)

But officially, even though the Natural and Arches Bridge Society page for it is Morning Glory Natural Bridge, they clarify and now make me sure of what it is.  (An arch.)

"This is not a natural bridge, but it is a very large alcove arch."  (The link goes to a definition of an alcove arch and describes how they form.)

Enough of that.  Here's a picture.

Eye-catching cover

There was an article in the Washington Post about romance novels;  the writing thereof, and the economics of the genre.   Here's the article:

Stop dissing romance novels already

It was an interesting read, but what really caught my eye (hence the title of the post) was the cover on the example book, which happens to be written by the Post's romance novel columnist, Sarah MacLean.   The book is entitled The Day of the Duchess.

OK, that's hot.  Looks more like Night of the Duchess to me. And because most of these covers are modeled by real people (remember Fabio?), it'd be great to know who was really on the sofa.

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Who to believe?" dichotomy

According to this Washington Post article by the inestimable Greg Sargent ("GOP voters know Trump is telling them the truth, and the media is lying to them"), there's a major split between Democrats and Republicans (which isn't really a new thing) in terms of who they believe is to be believed. See below.

The question is: Who do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues:  President Trump or the news media?

If that's hard to read, click on it or read my following summary. The total survey group picks the news media over Trump, 52% to 37%.  Democrats side with the news media over Trump 86% to 7%, while Republicans pick Trump over the newsies 78% over 13%.

Impressive, eh? Much as I was impressed by that, I was more impressed by this quote from the article:
"In other words, the entire point is the assertion and demonstration of the power to say what reality is in contradiction of what is empirically, demonstrably true."
That has a lot of similarity to my discussions with climate change deniers, now mostly occurring on Twitter. Because I can empirically demonstrate the truth --- but they get mad at me because they need what they believe to be something other than what's actually true.

Keegan exposed! (but I'm a bit worried)

Well, I believe it has been quite awhile since there have been new pictures of UK actress Michelle Keegan in swimwear. So here we have her, at her birthday party, wearing a bikini top and a wrap on the bottom. Being a big fan of the Keegan body -- of work -- oh, who am I kidding? -- of her fantastic figure and her acting skills, this isn't enough, but it will have to do for now.

Bikini-clad Michelle Keegan showcases enviable abs as she celebrates her 30th birthday... as Mark Wright prepares to quit UK to be full time correspondent for Extra in LA

Now, according to this article, her husband Mark Wright has just accepted a hosting gig in the States. For a year. Full-time. If I was newly wed to Michelle (and they haven't been married for a real long time yet), this would frustrate me immensely, even if I was looking after my own showbiz career, if my wife was back in Britain. And, speaking seriously, long times apart aren't good for a marriage, even showbiz ones. Especially showbiz ones, as has been numerously demonstrated.

So I don't like this arrangement, unless Michelle doesn't have much in the way of upcoming local commitments, and is therefore coming to California with Mark, and can try to land a gig here in the States. That would be good, because then she'd be visible here (not on some UK show I can't get), and it would also be another step on her path to world domination, which I've been predicting for several years.

So, word of advice, Mark, from me both as a man and as an ad hoc adviser -- don't leave the wife behind.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Finding and defending against rogue asteroids

Although climate change is a real and increasingly important concern for the continuance of human civilization, we've still got time to address it.  Not much, but we do, and I have an idea about that I have to write up.  But that's for another time.

This is about asteroids.  If a big asteroid hit earth, big enough to cause major upheaval, climate change would fade as a concern, at least for awhile.  And obviously there's a potential for a big asteroid to hit a big population center.  That would be bad.

So NASA has been looking for asteroids, and finding a lot.  NASA has also been coming up with ways to divert a potentially dangerous object.  Both finding and diverting are described in the video below.

As the video states, they're still working on finding smaller asteroids. And clearly they haven't found them all yet.

Close shave from an undetected asteroid

Gallery quality

Twice before on this blog I've mentioned photog Steve Bitanga, who's one of those lucky guys that gets to photograph beautiful women, frequently when they aren't wearing much and sometimes when they aren't wearing anything.

If you want to see some of his work, here's his Instagram account:  Steve Bitanga

That's apparently what he's using as his main show-off page, too.  He's also on SUPE, Twitter, Facebook, and I guess if you want to get in touch with him, LinkedIn.

That's not the point of this post.  The point of this post is the picture he took, which I have taken the liberty of reposting here, that is a gallery-quality nude.  Now, he has done a lot of that in his devotion to this craft, notably taking lots of pictures in the indoors and outdoors of Sara Underwood, who was a Playmate of the Year one year, but this particular picture is just plain outstanding.  He should have an exhibition somewhere.  Meanwhile, we can enjoy what he's made available online.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cheryl's back

Cheryl (formerly known as Cheryl Tweedy, Cheryl Cole, and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini), moved on with One Direction's Liam Payne, and as is well known by now, things got truly serious.  Meaning that they were so much in love that they had a baby together.  Cheryl has been pretty much out of public sight since (understandable but unusual for some with such a high profile), but as this Daily Mail article indicates, she's back in the public eye.  And we're all happy to see her.

Cheryl's post-baby comeback: Star ends her maternity leave as she returns to work for a stunning shoot five months after welcoming son Bear

Starting August with a sonnet

A sonnet for the first day of August 2017.

"my neighbor, my desire"

She gives me all she has, yet it is an
illusion; if this happened while we are
alone, I'd have a very diff'rent plan —
yet though she's close and naked, she is far
from being mine, the way I wish that she
would be if she weren't dancing by a pole —
and yet we've talked, and know some bits that we
do share in public, yet not the vital whole
by which I'd know her deepest. If I could —
if I could burst the boundaries that lie
between her lives and mine, then what I would
endeavor to provide her is what I
possess, the all of me, condensed to just
a single act and bond and place and trust.