Sunday, April 29, 2018

Crystal Palace has a day

It was only a few months ago that I said Crystal Palace didn't have a chance of staying in the Premier League this year.

A few weeks ago the situation looked better, but it was still uncertain.

With the 5-0 drubbing of Leicester City (three of the goals happened after Leicester went down to 10 men on a red card), they are pretty certain to stay in the league for the next season.

This is somewhat amazing. No other team had lost seven straight fixtures (games) in the history of the PL (and they didn't even score a goal in those games).

It was an extremely deep hole that they had to try to climb out of. But amazingly enough, they managed to do that. Given that Manchester City ran away with the championship early, the survival of Palace is one of the remarkable stories of the season.

It just so happens that 5-0 is the biggest win CP has ever had in the Premier League.

Here's a video of the game. If you watch it, you'll see that one of the first highlights was a stellar goal-saving defensive play. Kind of typical of their season - do whatever it takes.

Here's how the Daily Mail reported it.

Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester: Wilfried Zaha leads the charge as Roy Hodgson's men run riot at Selhurst Park after Marc Albrighton receives straight red card

What have I gotss in my pocketses?

It is always possible that there's a coin in your pocket worth millions of dollars.

 (Not very likely, but at least possible.)

'It's like finding a Picasso at a garage sale': 'Fake' coin from California Gold Rush is actually REAL and worth MILLIONS and its owner had no idea
"The San Francisco Mint produced fewer than 300 special edition $5 coins, and it was thought that only three survived.

The anonymous owner of the discovered fourth coin believed the piece to be fake, as did multiple coin dealers."

So make sure you check all your loose change. You never know...

Girl in a white shirt

Julianne Kissinger, aka juli.annee on Instagram, demonstrates how this simple look can be so damn sexy.

I hope she appreciates the free advertising (she has a private Snapchat - costs buck$, which I can't review, because I don't pay for things like that).

A couple of interesting shipwrecks found (maybe)

I've read a couple of articles about interesting shipwrecks. One of them was found a few years ago, and I've yet to see an update about it; the other was just found.

The one that I checked on (due to linkage from the more recent one) was the potential discovery of the U.S.S. Revenge, an important ship in the War of 1812. When it wrecked, the commander of the ship, Oliver Hazard Perry, was re-assigned to the Great Lakes (a move that he requested), where he was the commander during the pivotal Battle of Lake Erie.

Divers claim wreck is the U.S.S. Revenge 

A year ago, the Navy brought up a cannon from what might be the wreck of the Revenge. It was sent to Washington D.C. for testing. Haven't heard anything since.

The new find is actually from Lake Erie. If it is what it is thought to be, it dates from after the War of 1812, but not by much. The suggested identify of the wreck is the Lake Serpent, a trading schooner.

Shipwreck found in Lake Erie could be nearly 200 years old

More work needs to be done on this one.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Finding the blue forest

I just found out about the existence of the "Blue Forest" (the Hallerbos), a forest area near Halle, Belgium.  Every spring, the floor of the Hallerbos is covered by a carpet of bluebells.

It's sublime.

The blue forest

The future of tornadoes as climate changes

Tornadoes are very fickle things.  Sometimes they can form in bunches, and sometimes they don't form when all the conditions indicate they should, and sometimes they behave the way they are expected to, so tornado chasers can chase them.

But because they are unusual meteorological phenomena, it takes a certain set of factors to combine to make them.   So the question has arisen, how will climate change affect those factors, and will it mean more or less tornadoes?

Apparently, the answer is less, overall.  But more of them when the conditions are right to make them.

Sean Sublette on Severe Weather, Tornadoes in a Warming World

"In a 2014 study, tornado researchers at Florida State University looked at days with at least four, eight, 16 and 32 tornadoes. They found that while days with at least four tornadoes were on the decline, the number of days with 16 and 32 tornadoes has increased. And the odds of a day with at least 32 tornadoes has more than doubled."

Now, climate change deniers would point to the declining overall numbers of tornadoes as a good thing. But those that understand how the world's climate is changing know that "Attack of the Tornado" days can be a lot more devastating.

No way this would work for me

Divine Michelle Keegan says that she visits her husband Mark Wright about every three weeks or so.


Michelle Keegan on Mark Wright marriage: Actress was 'gutted' her husband missed debut fashion show... but she STILL won't move to LA

According to the article, because Mark Wright followed his career to LA, but Michelle has interests in the UK, they are in a long-distance marriage.
She says:  
" 'We try not to go three weeks without seeing each other, but it can sometimes be four or five weeks.'

While she felt her husband's absence at her fashion show, the beauty added that she still has no set plans to move to Los Angeles, although she loves the lifestyle in the States."
OK, she's young and hot, but maybe she can live with that arrangement.

But Mark... you're married to freakin' MICHELLE KEEGAN.  How can you go three weeks between "visits"?   I'd have trouble going three days between "visits"!

Well, good lick, er, luck to you both.  (But seriously, Mark, you have got to find Michelle a role on an America TV show.  This situation is untenable, unfathomable, and unbelievable.

As a reminder, here's what I wrote about their wedding and honeymoon.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Crystal Palace nears safety

With Manchester City wrapping up the Premier League title a week ago (courtesy of Manchester United losing to the worst team in the league, relegation-bound West Bromwich Albion), the more exciting aspect of the remainder of the season now is watching which teams get relegated, and which ones stay in the Premier League.

And it's quite close. Though the previously mentioned WBA is definitely going to be relegated, nothing is certain about the rest of the teams, and that extends all the way up to the 13th-place team, Brighton and Hove Albion, which has 36 points.  Crystal Palace, West Ham, and Huddersfield Town all have 35 points,  covering the 14th through 16th spots, and unlucky 17 is Swansea City, with 33 points.  18th and 19th are Southampton (which amazingly enough was in an FA Cup semifinal against Chelsea on Sunday), and Stoke City, both with 29 points.  So uneasy Swansea City is four points ahead (1 draw and 1 win), with the tied trio at 35 points six points above the current drop line (2 wins).

Crystal Palace gained a point in a draw with Watford on the weekend, and maybe should have had a penalty kick after Wilfried Zaha was brought down near the goal (and he was actually given a yellow card for embellishing, i.e., "diving", though it didn't look like he did).  Now they have three games left.  One win in those three games would probably be enough for them to be truly safe from relegation and insure another season in the Premier League.  If they defeated Stoke City on May 5, that would probably seal their survival while pushing Stoke down to the Championship (the second tier).  Like CP, Stoke City has three more games left to play.

Southampton actually has four more games, which gives them one more shot at points than CP has.  West Ham has four more, but two of them are against Manchester City and Manchester United. Brighton and Hove Albion have four more games too, as do Huddersfield and Swansea City.  So as these games are played, the Crystal Palace fans have to sweat a little more until the schedule evens out.

Because some of those games are between the teams near the bottom, one win in those cases could seal the deal for another team.  A big game for the bottom dwellers is the last game of the season between Swansea City and Stoke City.  It's possible that could end up being a game where the winner stays up and the loser goes down. 

So, the Eagles (as the CP team is called) are close to safety, but not quite in the fully confident zone yet.  For the team's sake, and for the fans, I hope they close it out successfully.  I'll discuss some other thoughts about this later.

Lighthouse(s) of the Week, April 22-28, 2018: Lighthouses at sunset

Rather than feature one lighthouse this week, I decided to go with a theme, and this is a classic:  Lighthouses at Sunset.

I had a couple of rules as I searched for them. One, the lighthouse had to be identified (or identifiable).   Two, the picture had to be a real picture -- there are a lot of paintings and art works with lighthouses at sunset, some of them nearly of photographic quality.  Three, it had to be a good picture.

I think these three qualify.

Montauk Point Lighthouse, New York, at sunset

Range Light, Southampton, Ontario, Canada - Scott Rock Photography

Tybee Island Lighthouse, Georgia, USA

Friday, April 20, 2018

Again with the Sony World Photography Awards

As I've noted in previous posts through the years, I like photography contests. In a different life, I'd be a photographer, and I admire the work of the experts and skilled amateurs that show up in these various contests.

The Sony World Photography Awards are always outstanding, and the winners (and runners-up) have just been released.

2018 Sony World Photography Awards Winner's Galleries

I screen-grabbed a couple of them (not at full superb resolution - I hope they don't mind).

Worth noting

By now, swimsuit and glamor model Kate Upton is pretty well-known.  And as would be expected, she looked great in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (despite getting knocked off a coastal rock by a big wave).

However, she models for other brands as well, and she looked pretty darned fantastic modeling for Yamamay swimwear.

Kate Upton looks sensational in new bikini photoshoot for Yamamay swimwear campaign

A small example of sensational:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

That's Gunilda, not Gundila

The Daily Mail had a really interesting article about a really interesting shipwreck dive, undertaken in Lake Superior.  It was risky because of the depth of the wreck (270 feet) -- even with advanced diving technology, the expedition only had 25 minutes to photograph it.

The expedition was led by intrepid (I don't get very many chances to use that word) underwater photographer Becky Kagan Schott of Liquid Productions (good Web site to visit).

The reason for the title of this post is that the Daily Mail, as it does sometimes, gets the spelling wrong in the secondary headline.  I wasn't sure;  they also spell it wrong one time in the article.  But it is the 'Gunilda', as is clear in this article with a lot of history about the ship and also deep-diving.

Here's the Daily Mail article:

The mini-Titanic: A ship's bell, table, chairs and even a piano revealed inside the incredible wreckage of a British ship preserved for 107 years hundreds of feet under Lake Superior

And here's a picture of the ship's bell, confirming that it's the Gunilda. Either spelling sounds Scottish, where the ship was built.

Heard about the "Haywired"?

The "Haywired" is a described scenario of a Richter scale 7 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, which runs under Oakland, California.

It would cause some problems.

Study: East Bay fault is 'tectonic time bomb,' more dangerous than San Andreas
"The Hayward fault is so dangerous because it runs through some of the most heavily populated areas in the San Francisco Bay Area, spanning the length of the East Bay from the San Pablo Bay, through Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont and into Milpitas. It is one of the most dangerous faults in the nation "because of the density of the population directly on or astride it, which would include San Francisco, and the amount of infrastructure that crosses it," [USGS earthquake geologist emeritus David] Schwartz said."

I wonder if this will have any effect on real estate prices.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This Bureau's building is unique

I don't think that the building in Washington D.C. that is the HQ of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is on most Top 10 lists of things tourists should see on a visit, but it is kind of interesting to look at.

No, it's not the Wendy's, that's on the other side of the street.  But I expect more than a few ATF (also known as BATFE) staffers do eat there for lunch.

If by chance you're visiting downtown DC and decide you also want to see Baltimore via the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, you'll drive by this building on your way out.

Chronicling the close calls

They're out there -- and it only takes one to ruin a planet's day.

'Tunguska'-Size Asteroid Makes Surprise Flyby of Earth
"The asteroid, designated 2018 GE3, made its closest approach to Earth at around 2:41 a.m. EDT (0641 GMT), whizzing by at a distance of 119,400 miles (192,000 kilometers), or about half the average distance between Earth and the moon, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS)."
According to the article, the estimated size means that if it encountered Earth, it would cause regional, but not global, damage.  Which is fine unless your region is Ground Zero for the space rock.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Lighthouse of the Week, April 15-21, 2018: Tubbataha Reefs, Phillippines

Can you find this place?

If you can, it's purported to be a prime scuba diving site in the Sulu Sea.  If you have to reacquaint yourself with that location (I did), the Sulu Sea is the body of water located to the west of the southern Phillippines, east of Palawan, and northeast of Borneo.  (To make it easier to visualize, click here. The red pin is where the reefs are, and they are in the middle of a lot of water.)

So, though quite small, the Tubbataha Reefs have a distinctive lighthouse, probably a good idea because boats woudn't want to run aground on these isolated reefs, and the lighthouse is a decent landmark making them easier to find.

And here's what the Lighthouse Directory has to say about this light:
"1980 (station established 1915). Active; two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 15 m (50 ft) octagonal concrete tower with gallery rising from the center of an octagonal concrete keeper's house. It appears that the lantern has been removed and replaced by a light on a short mast. ... The lighthouse is on South Tubbataha."
This lighthouse does have a keeper's house, as it says, but living here would be right out of "what would you bring to do if you were going to live on a desert island"?  Lots of time for introspection, and waiting for the next supply boat.


This one is better bigger - click it

Best I could find of a close-up, though small

Famous enough to be on a stamp

Highway 41 Streetview trek - the Tampa Bay turn

So where we are now on the Highway 41 trek is north of Bradenton.  Highway 41 does not cross Tampa Bay -- Interstate 275 does that, over the Sunshine Skyway II bridge -- while Interstate 75 parallels what Highway 41 is about to do.  The highway is going to go to the east of Tampa Bay, and is much closer to the water than the interstate.

First thing to do north of Bradenton is to cross the Manatee River into Palmetto.

There are a lot of side trips that would be possible, more interesting Floridian sights, but it's time to get moving north.  So we're skipping the DeSoto Memorial, Anna Maria Island, an Terra Ceia Bay, Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, those last being some nice natural areas contrasted with the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa.  We're zipping through the little locale of Rubonia (but you can visit that link if you want).    We'll also go by the Tampa Bay Ecosystem Rock Ponds and retirement haven Sun City.   And we go by the unfortunately named Cockroach Bay, and important baylet for larval fish and a remarkably wild mangrove "forest" in this region. Cockroach Bay is also an Outstanding Florida Water and Aquatic Preserve.

Our next point-of-interest is the crossing of the Little Manatee River, not to be confused with the crossing of the Manatee River, which we did earlier.   The Little Manatee is also an Outstanding Florida Water.

But for the end of this leg, I will take a very short side trip to E.G. Simmons Region Park, which is on the shores of Tampa Bay too.  The thing about this park is that it's one of the few places you can drive to the Tampa Bay coastline.

Next -- up to Tampa.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rachel McAdams had her baby - according to sources

Via this article in the Daily Mail, which references a report from the Hollywood Pipeline, divine actress Rachel McAdams recently gave birth to the baby that was apparently fathered by her partner Jamie Linden.

None of this, however, is official.  McAdams never even officially said she was pregnant.

Of course, no has to announce this type of thing officially. But McAdams and Linden are one of the best celebrity couples ever at not saying anything about it.

Congratulations, I guess.  (Though I'm sure that if they really did have a baby together, they really are happy about it.  Sure hope so.)

One reason

Here's one reason I love women - their mystery, their sensuality, and how they can look so remarkably beautiful in just a casual pose.  As shown below.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sarasota sights near and on Highway 41

We've returned to the Florida mainland on Highway 41, and we'll note a few sites and sights as we head north.  We're going to make some serious progress this week.

The Ringling Museum of Art is literally a few hundred yards off of Highway 41.  First a panorama, featuring an iconic replica of Michelangelo's statue of David overlooking the courtyard.

Here's a view of the museum from the road.  If you head directly away from the museum on the red brick road, you will quickly be back on Highway 41. It's the first road you come to.  Turn left to head north.

New College of Florida - this is a liberal arts, high academic achievement branch of the University of South Florida.  We're just going to drive by.   You can see the logo on the pedestrian overpass.

You knew that there had to be a Bearded Clam restaurant somewhere in the world, didn't you?  Well, there's definitely one, as seen below.  I wonder if they have box lunches available.

North to Bradenton!

Lighthouse of the Week, April 8-14, 2018: Pointe aux Caves (Albion), Mauritius

Now that this is back on schedule, this week's lighthouse is the only working lighthouse on the actual island of Mauritius, the Pointe aux Caves (Albion) lighthouse, which covers the entrance to the capital and main city on the island, Port Louis.  It's a standard lighthouse, but with really great views and well situated.

Specifications from the Lighthouse Directory:
"1910. Active; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); two white flashes every 10 s; there is also a continuous red passing light at a focal plane of 30 m (98 ft). 30 m (98 ft) masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with two red horizontal bands."
And just like last week, three pictures and a video:


Lighthouse of the Week, April 1-7, 2018: Île aux Fouquets, Mahébourg, Mauritius

If you notice the date on this post, you'll figure out that for the first time in a long time, I missed having a Lighthouse of the Week for the week of April 1-7, during the week of April 1-7.   So this is a special lighthouse on the island of Mauritius - an abandoned lighthouse that once guarded the main approach to the harbor of Mahébourg, which was the original French settlement on Mauritius. It is kind of symbolic of the island's history.

Some quick info from the Lighthouse Directory:
1865. Inactive for many years. 26 m (85 ft) masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 2-story and 1-story keeper's complex.
That's pretty much it.   Below are three pictures and a short video.

50-second video

Sunday, April 8, 2018

My first sonnet in April

I'll be posting a couple of sonnets in April.  Here's the first one.

A time that never happened, in a place never seen

Within an isolated space, though here
surrounded by humanity, where walls
define their occupants and have no fear
of sound or light or how strange fate befalls
the witnesses to subterfuge—a match
of intersecting lovers finds a place
to be alone, afloat upon a patch
of solitary rapture, though no trace
persists in public view, no five-fold sense
can tell with whom it was, or even where
it happened—if it did—a dense
anomaly adrift, extremely rare
yet massively attractive, so it bends
refined reality to its own ends.

Interesting article, but there's a big mistake for LoTR fans

The Daily Mail just ran this article about the Amazon Lord of the Rings TV series, which is going to have a very impressive $1 billion dollar budget.

Lord Of The Rings: Amazon's TV series will become the most expensive show in history with a budget of $1 BILLION... beating Netflix's The Crown

Clearly, the budget for this series is partly based on the success of Game of Thrones, and the perceived appetite in the TV-watching community for sword and sorcery epics.  But there's a couple of differences between GoT and the Amazon LoTR.  GoT either had scenes that readers were looking forward to seeing (such as the infamous "Red Wedding"), or it is going where the books haven't gone yet (and may never), and hence there's a surprise factor.  I say that even though I saw the Riders of Rohan-style rescue of Jon Snow and his plucky band by the Knights of the Vale, even down to the horn blowing in the distance, coming from a long way off.

In contrast, this LoTR series is going to take place before the War of the Ring, which is described in the three LoTR novels.  Speaking of that, I want to tell the Daily Mail that the accepted title of the third book in the trilogy is entitled The Return of the King, not The King Returns (read the article).

Tolkien does describe the events between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring cursorily in the history appendices after the end of The Return of the King.  The thing is, these events weren't nearly as exciting as the events in the trilogy.  Furthermore, we know how it ends -- because it ends with the War of the Ring.  So how interesting and exciting is a story with no surprises and very few "big" events going to be?   Obviously Amazon is betting $1 bil that it will be interesting and exciting for enough people to be worth such a magnificent investment.  But I'm a big admirer of LoTR, and unless I hear that the Amazon LoTR series is magnificent, I'm likely not going to invest my time in it.

Kate Hudson joins the 3-with-3 club

Actress Kate Hudson, who I admire GREATLY (just search my blog) for her talent, her sex appeal, and her overall high cute factor, clearly loves the men she loves deeply.   And she demonstrates that by having their children.

Kate, now pregnant with boyfriend Danny Fujikawa's baby (it's going to be a girl), has already had a child with Chris Robinson, followed by a child with Matt Bellamy.  So by having a child with Fujikawa, she joins the fairly exclusive celebrity club of women that have had children with three different men.  (Christie Brinkley is also a member.)

As I've noted before, having children with several different men is not the exclusive realm of celebrities -- in fact, it probably happens more often to women in lower-income circumstances, and that's quite unfortunate.  Kate is lucky to be wealthy, and that apparently her ex-partners and the fathers of her previous children are caring parents.  Not always the case in the lower-income circumstances.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Eruption at Piton de la Fournaise

Saw the news a couple of days ago that Piton de la Fournaise, likely the world's second most active basaltic volcano after Hawaii's Kilauea  (if you don't count volcanoes with lava lakes, which I'm not doing here) had erupted.  Might still be, I'm working on that. 

Here is an article about the eruption with a video.  You'll have to watch a couple of ads before watching the video, and the volcanologist in the helicopter speaks French, but despite all that, it's worth it.

Éruption du Piton de la Fournaise : les premières images vues du ciel !
(Eruption of Piton de la Fournaise: the first images seen from the sky!)

Article with pictures
Volcan - Vol au-dessus de la première éruption de l'année
(Volcano - Flight over the first eruption of the year)

Below are a couple of pictures I grabbed of this recent activity.

Visiting Mars

Every now and then I want to check in to see what the Curiosity Rover is seeing on Mars.  You can too, on the American Geophysical Union's "Martian Chronicles" blog ( ).

The most recent entry is entitled "Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Wheel Tracks", and it includes a pretty nice shot of the location that Curiosity is currently occupying.

Apparently the robot couldn't get stable enough to deploy its full instrument set, so they took this picture and moved on.

It's just alien enough to be real, yet otherworldly.

ANOTHER space hotel?

As long-time readers of this blog undoubtedly know --- well, let me start over, since I very likely don't have any long-time readers of this blog.

During the course of writing this blog, I have noted several different ideas, and some actual tentative plans, to put civilian humans in space, sub-orbitally or orbitally, in private spacecraft.  There have been several different plans discussed and designed.  One of the recent ones (which might have a better chance to come true than the others) was an add-on module to the International Space Station.

Now here comes another proposal.  I don't know how much of a chance it has to fly (as of now, they don't even have a launch vehicle identified), but hey, the proposal is on the table.

"Luxury Space Hotel" to launch in 2021

Now, if you don't remember why I am so interested in this topic, it's because I'm waiting for that one loving couple to boldly go where no one has gone before, and become the first members of the Higher-Than-Anyone Else Club.  Which is a lot higher than the Mile High Club.  A space hotel, whichever one gets into space in an operating state first, is a perfect place for this unique weightless docking maneuver.  So who's going to make the first reservation for the orbiting honeymoon suite? 

The world is waiting.

Romantic Paris

Recent newlyweds Brooks Laich and Julianne Hough took some time to visit Paris, and had some exclusive photography of themselves taken while they were there.

After getting married, Brooks made a return to NHL hockey with the Los Angeles Kings, played a few games, and then took the rest of the season off.  He's probably done -- he had a good run.  Now, with time on his hands, he can have Julianne in his ... arms.  And that's not a bad thing at all.

Here's a posed and romantic shot of the pair.

And here's a more casual shot, clearly taken by someone in the right place at the right time.  I think it's pretty likely who that was.

Did you hear what Ann Coulter called Donald Trump?

Ann Coulter is apparently more than a little bit disappointed in Donald Trump as President.

Ann Coulter: Trump is a ‘shallow, lazy ignoramus’

Yes, a little disappointed.

Later in the meeting, feisty Ann had this exchange:
“You’re a racist!” a young man yelled from the cheap seats.

“No, I’m sorry, the people bringing in Juanita, the maid, and underpaying her, are the racists,” Coulter shot back. “You are a moron!” she added—prompting a burst of applause. “You’re very stupid. I can’t argue with stupid people.”
Still such a likable and polite lady.  Really.

Pass the guacamole

Important news: it appears that the avocado shortage crisis has ended.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of avocados this year

"According to produce industry trade publication The Packer, avocado crops in California, Mexico, and Peru are expected to be "heavy" this year—at least partially due to the fact that they're an "alternate-bearing fruit," meaning that it's normal for crops to be heavier one year and lighter the next. 2017 was an "off" year with considerably smaller crops, but this year, US avocado volume is expected to reach 2.4 billion pounds—300 million more than 2017, according to Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board."
Well, good, that's one less thing to worry about.