Thursday, January 30, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, January 26-February 1, 2019: Lõu Lighthouse, Estonia

I found this lighthouse by going to Helsinki and then searching for "lighthouse" on Google Maps.  This one caught my eye, even though Estonia (across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki) has quite a few lighthouses, several of which are admittedly more striking than this one -- so I'm coming back.

But this one caught my eye because of its name, which is simply Lõu. And it's on the island of Saaremaa (which could easily loan a vowel or two), and it is actually more across the Baltic Sea from Stockholm than across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki, because that lies to the northeast.

Here's the location.

Let's learn more about it!

Kõrgus alusest 9m
Kõrgus merepinnast 11m
Ehitusaeg 1921
Rekonstrueerimisaeg 1934

Lõu oli ehitatud, et juhatada meremehed halbades ilmastikuoludes Lõpe lahe varjulistesse soppidesse tormivarju. Samuti moodustavad Anseküla ja Lõu tuletornid ühtse liitsihi.

Oh, you don't speak Estonian? Well, neither do I.

Height from the base 9m
11m above sea level
Built in 1921
Reconstruction time 1934

The chin was built to guide sailors to storm shelter in the shady marshes of the Gulf of Fin in bad weather. Also, the Anseküla and Lõu lighthouses form a unified leader.

So Lõu translates to "chin", apparently.

Here's a little more information from the Lighthouse Directory:
1934 (station established 1921). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); four quick flashes every 15 s, white to the west northwest along the range line, red to the left and green to the right of the range line. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with green and yellow trim.  
 Located just off the beach on the west (Baltic Sea) side of the Sõrve peninsula, north of the village of Lõu and 3.1 km (2 mi) west northwest of the Anseküla Light.
I'm not sure what "unified leader" means, but Lõu and Anseküla lighthouses are on opposite sides of the narrowest part of the peninsula.

Here's a video about the island of Saaremaa.  The lighthouse appears at the 5:15 mark.

Here (well, actually right below here) are the pictures.

How long have we been waiting for this?

Every time that extraordinary Michelle Keegan is in a swimsuit, preferably bikini, on the beach is cause for celebration amongst those who prize pulchritudinity.

(By the way, that might not be an official word in English.  But I am not the first to misuse it.)

Back to Michelle, as our attention should be. She was in Barbados, walking the beach, and photographed while doing it.

This is a good thing.

Michelle Keegan displays her tanned physique in a white crochet bikini as she enjoys a relaxing beachside stroll in Barbados

It's also a good thing that she's still with husband Mark Wright, who for awhile was in the States, and the marriage was conducted long distance.  Which boggles the mind.  But he's back where he can be in much closer touch -- wink wink wink -- with gorgeous Michelle.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Another new kind of aurora

Not long ago (like last year, I think), aurora watchers discovered a new kind of aurora, which was given the name Steve.  Subsequently it turned out that it really isn't an aurora, but it's still named Steve.

But now there is a new kind of aurora:  the "green dunes".

Glowing green 'dunes' in the sky mesmerized skygazers. They turned out to be a new kind of aurora.

This article includes a fun video to watch.

Here's what one astronomer thinks about it.
"This is a very interesting observation," said Steven Miller, the deputy director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University, who was not a part of the study. "My first reaction when seeing the pictures were that those might be atmospheric gravity waves that are being 'highlighted' by the auroral activity — it appears that this is the hypothesis of the authors as well."

On Highway 41 in Kentucky

More stops and scenes in Kentucky on the Highway 41 end-to-end StreetView trek, but it won't be in Kentucky much longer.

Crossing the Green River

Edge of Sebree Springs Park

Sebree, Kentucky, by the Sebree Dairy Bar

Robards, Kentucky, by the water tower. The actual town of Robards is a little ways away on Route 416.

Entrance to Farmer and Frenchman Winery and Cafe (

We're getting close to THE river. Hang in there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Anatomy of a slap shot

At the American Hockey League All-Star Game, Martin Frk of the Ontario Reign set an all-time record (including the NHL) for the hardest slap shot.

Here's the video of the feat:

I captured a couple of screenshots to show how slapshots are so hard/fast now.  If you didn't know, the way that they work, basically, is that the player strikes the ice in front of the puck, so that it flexes right before impact, and then whips the puck forward, with more force.   The screenshots show the amazing flex of the current equipment.  No wonder they break a few sticks.

If not before then, then here

If you wish, you can go back in the history of my voluminous posting here and find several posts about the subject of sex in space.  I have speculated several times regarding when this great leap forward will "officially" be consummated.  My speculation includes the idea that there is some rich guy out there somewhere who wants to put his name in the record books in a way that even Neil Armstrong wouldn't be able to contend with.

One aspect of this idea is that there has to be a place in space where "it" could be accomplished.  In the next couple of years, there will be suborbital flights into space with passengers, and if one of them is a couples' ticket, then the first time could be a several miles high quickie.   And there are also missions on the board, including a moon shot -- yes, moon shot -- that are actually space orbit missions where private citizens in space can do what they want to do if the spirit moves them and they can deal with weightlessness.

But ... none of that is a sure thing.  This, apparently, is.

Inside NASA's private 'space home': Padded walls and 'the largest window ever constructed for space' to feature in 'holiday unit' to accommodate the first commercial tourists visiting the ISS

Initially it will be module attached to the International Space Station.  Eventually, it can be a free flier.

Exterior (it's the brown and white module in front):


There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when this ultimate room-with-a-view is operational, that some very fortunate and fairly wealth bride and groom is going to book it for the honeymoon cruise into history.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, January 19-25, 2020: Fourteen Foot Shoal, Michigan, USA

This is an interesting lighthouse -- it's a man-made island in Lake Huron, south of Bois Blanc Island, northeast of Cheboygan, directly north of Duncan Bay.  If you look at this satellite view, you can see the little white point of light north of Duncan Bay -- that's the lighthouse.

It's also slightly unusual in that it was never meant to be a manned lighthouse, but was manned temporarily.  More on this from Lighthouse Friends:
Poe Reef Lighthouse was placed in operation on August 15, 1929, but Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse was not finished before the end of that shipping season and instead went into service on April 18, 1930.

The superstructure consists of a 1-story steel house rectangular in shape with sloping copper roof. A conical cast-iron tower rises from the center of this structure and houses the fog-signal diaphone and tanks as well as supporting the lantern and lighting equipment. Quarters are provided for one or two attendants. A boat crane, electrically operated, is provided on one corner of the pier.

Illuminating apparatus: The light is electric, of 11,000 candlepower, shown from a fourth-order lens in a fourth-order lantern 51 feet above water level.

Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse was designed to be radio controlled from Poe Reef Lighthouse, located just four miles away, but until this system could be thoroughly proven, an observer was stationed at Fourteen Foot Shoal.
The lighthouse was purchased at auction in 2017.  The owners are restoring it, but a storm in the summer of 2019 damaged the roof.

Here are some pictures:

Travel Photographer of the Year 2019 winners

I'm backlogged a bit on some photography contests, so here's the winners of one of the good ones, the Travel Photographer of the Year 2019 contest.

(All the results are at the link.)

One of the commended results is a picture of Tre Cime Lavaredo, in the Italian Dolomites, which has probably been photographed more than a billion times.  But it's a nice picture of them.

The Daily Mail article alerted me to the announcement of the winners.

Epic mountains, a polar bear meeting a wolf and a smoking race car: The incredible winners of the 2019 Travel Photographer of the Year contest

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Well, if you didn't know he was evil, you had to at least know he IS nefarious.

Mitch McConnell pulled a 'Machiavellian' move to swing Trump's impeachment trial in his favor
"Frank Bowman, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, called McConnell's move "cynically Machiavellian" and a partisan manipulation of Senate norms and rules.

"It's not only a rush to judgment, but it is an effort to structure rules to avoid any possibility that the Republicans will have their fingerprints on the results," he told Insider.

"It's a bad joke," he said of the speedy process. "You wouldn't set a briefing schedule like that in a DUI case."
But if you're Mitch McConnell, this is a piece of cake, considering how high he has set the bar on illicit, immoral, inexcusable, incomprehensible acts.

I wish they all could be ... girls from Brazil

Alessandra Ambrosio is a marvel, and also from Brazil.

Brazil's ability to produce the top level of delectable femaleness, in the mode of slender yet curvy, sleek and elegant, made to wear lingerie, is amazing. 

Alessandra and her friend provide a demonstration.

Alessandra Ambrosio sizzles in tiny red bikini as she hits the beach back home in Brazil with friend Gisele Coria

The winter song of the lake

Yellowstone Lake "sings" in winter.  There are still places in this world where nature presides.

Sound Library - Singing Lake

Here's a view of the lake at sunset, during winter.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Let's move on up through Kentucky on Highway 41

I'm getting impatient to get to Indiana on this end-to-end StreetView trek, so here's more sights and stops on Highway 41 in Kentucky.

Main Street and Highway 41, Earlington, Kentucky, featuring a historical marker. It is entitled "Century of Coal Mining".

Legate's New, Used, and Bruised Furniture

Prairie Farms Dairy.  They have pretty trucks.

Downtown Madisonville, KY -- Highway 41 (also Main Street right here) and Center Street.

Silver Star Burgers!

Otter Creek bridge

Hanson, Kentucky

I hope she's right

Jennifer Rubin's columns in the Washington Post on impeachment are must-reads.   Here's another one.

Trump and his Republican cronies have made three big mistakes

"... the Senate and Trump have been banking on a non-trial with no new witnesses or evidence. That is how they intend to spare Trump and the Senate from the humiliation of overwhelming, persuasive evidence of the president’s guilt. The problem is that Americans overwhelmingly think this is wrong."

"The more obvious the coverup, the more that 69 percent of Americans will come to see the trial as a fraud and Trump as guilty."

Since the Republicans in the Senate are rolling over and licking Trump's privates like dogs on a beef bone, we have to hope that the worse the "trial" gets, the more people in America will be disgusted by it and vote out the dog in the White House.

Lighthouse of the Week, January 12-18, 2020: Utö Lighthouse, Finland

OK, this one is a couple of days late -- I'll get back on schedule.   I decided to revisit Finland for lighthouses, and this one jumped out visually.  It's basically a red-and-white box with a light on top.  But as we'll see, it's pretty famous.

Here's where it is, beyond the inspecific Finland:  A map to find it in Finland,  Basically, it's just above the point where the Baltic Sea divides into the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland.

I went straight to the Lighthouse Directory, and here is some of the information from the entry for Utö.
"1814 (station established 1753). Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); two white flashes every 12 s. 24 m (79 ft) square granite tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted with red and white vertical stripes; lantern painted red; lantern dome is greenish metallic. ... The first lighthouse on the island was destroyed during the Russian-Swedish War in 1808. As the most substantial building on the island, the present lighthouse served as a church and town hall for the islanders during the mid nineteenth century."
So now, pictures and a video.

A model lighthouse:

On the coins of the realm.

And here's the video:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The great rescue of the Wollemi pine

This is an amazing story -- and sadly, perhaps a metaphor and a preview of the battle to save the Earth's global natural heritage.

Firefighters saved the last remaining grove of a rare Australian tree

"While most of the Wollemi National Park has been burnt by the huge Gospers Mountain fire north-west of Sydney, specialist remote-area fire crews managed to ensure the so-called "dinosaur trees" survived.

"Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them,” Mr Kean said.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service, backed by the Rural Fire Service, kept their efforts largely a secret to avoid revealing the location of the Wollemi pines."

Wollemi pines

Hard to believe this one

Read today that Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler, who had seemed as rock solid a couple as it is possible to be in Hollywood and the world of drama, just broke up.

That's shocking.  I think there must be a story behind this, but we may never know.

Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler Break Up After More Than 8 Years of Dating

Monday, January 13, 2020

Three more stops on Highway 41 in Kentucky

Here are a couple more locations in Kentucky on Highway 41 as the end-to-end StreetView trek heads north toward Indiana.

Crossing under I-69 (we'll see it again)

Intersection of Highway 41 and Main Street of Morton Gap (if you're looking north;  the red arrow needs to be pointing up).

A pond near Morton Gap

Slow and steady, we strive northward.

He could be the guy

According to this story, a Japanese billionaire named Yusaku Maezawa wants to be the first man to ride a private spaceship around the moon.

And he wants to take a new girlfriend, chosen by application, screening, and a reality TV show, with him.  He wants to have the love of a lifetime.

I initially thought it was going to be a private trip (wink wink), but the article says he also wants to take some artists with him.

I don't know if he and his chosen girlfriend will have a private cabin or not.

But since the guy apparently likes making big gestures and big scores, I wouldn't be surprise if he at least makes the attempt.

A Japanese billionaire is looking for a 'life partner' to fly with him to the moon

One other thought: I sure hope they get the navigation right on this one.   Wouldn't want to lose in space a billionaire, his wife (or girlfriend), a professor, Mary Ann, a movie star -- well, you get the idea.

Don't do a Google search on it

McDonald's Japan is releasing a new dessert.

It may not be a good idea to do a Google search on the English translation.

McDonald's Japan is mocked for launching Adult Cream Pie dessert

Well, at least it looks tasty.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Finding a big crater

I learned from this article that about 800K years ago, a big asteroid impact scattered tektites (solidified droplets of melt from the impact) over a wide area of the Earth.

So something definitely hit the Earth then.  But Earth being what it is, geological and all, scientists didn't know where the hit was.

But now they do.  It's in Laos (Southeast Asia).

800,000 Years Ago, a Meteor Slammed Into Earth. Scientists Just Found the Crater.
"Geochemical analysis and local gravity readings told researchers that the crater lay in southern Laos on the Bolaven Plateau; the ancient impact was concealed under a field of cooled volcanic lava spanning nearly 2,000 square miles (5,000 square kilometers), the scientists reported in a new study."

Symmetry and asymmetry

On a glamour shoot at the extraordinary Sheats-Goldstein residence in Los Angeles, model Jocelyn Binder (who is pretty extraordinary herself) demonstrates both symmetry and asymmetry in this remarkable composition.

Quite a view, eh?

Has this been tested? Sufficiently?

The next Olympics is going to be very eco-conscious, which is good, and the housing will be somewhat temporary, so they're going to use cardboard beds. 

Apparently they've thought this plan through.

Tokyo Olympics athletes are assured their cardboard beds won't collapse during SEX - so long as they limit themselves to two-in-a-bed

According to the article, they tested the beds by dropping weights on them.

But did they test them by dropping weights on them repeatedly?

I think more work needs to be done before the Games begin.

I'd dutifully volunteer.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Highway 41 trek in and around Nortonville, Kentucky

Three more stops in west-central Kentucky on this leg of the end-to-end Highway 41 StreetView trek.

Intersection of Highway 41 and Main Street in Nortonville, Kentucky

On an overpass crossing East Louisville Avenue, in north Nortonville.

Somewhere down there is Pleasant Run.

This bothers me

I saw this article about a pizza-making robot.  This bothers me, because there are a lot of people who have jobs making pizza.  Automation is useful in many places and for many products, but in this case, I don't think this is a great step forward.

Pizza-making robot that can assemble and cook 300 pizzas an hour with minimal human input unveiled at CES

However, the CEO of the pizza-making robot says this:
"While it’s easy to envision a system like Picnic replacing workers, [CEO] Wood says Picnic could actually help solve a labor problem in the restaurant industry. ‘In the food service industry there’s a huge labor shortage globally nobody can get enough and when you can’t get enough workers often you’ve got new under-trained workers,’ Wood said."
So maybe there are places that need it.   Hopefully it will go to those places and not to places where people need the job.

Monday, January 6, 2020

More black-and-white glamour

If I haven't noted it before, I'm a fan of black-and-white glamour shots of beautiful women.  Here are three more recent finds.

Heather Monique

Antje Utgaard (aka Awesome Antjay)

Model unidentified, photographed by Kesler Tran.

Lighthouse of the Week, January 5-11, 2020: Báishāmén, Hainan Island, China

Hainan Island is the large island south of mainland China and southwest of Hong Kong and Macau, which is a summary vacation destination for numerous Chinese citizens.   The lighthouse of the week for this week is on Hainan Island, Báishāmén, is a relatively newly constructed lighthouse, according to the Lighthouse Directory.   The LD also indicates that it's one of the tallest lighthouses in China.  Here's more about it.
"2 m (236 ft) triangular cylindrical concrete harbor control tower with lantern, rising from a 4-story stepped hexagonal base. The structure is buff-colored and white white concrete. ... This remarkable modern lighthouse is one of the tallest Chinese lighthouses."
Surprisingly, despite the large number of Chinese tourists that visit Hainan, and the unique design of it, there aren't a lot of pictures of it.  Provided below are two views of it, taken from just about the same location, but at least at two different times of the day.

Here's a locator map.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Eiger from Kleine Scheidegg

If you are old enough to remember the novel or the movie The Eiger Sanction, you might remember that people watched the climbers on the Eiger's famous Nordwand (North Wall) from a few hotels located in the alpine pass named Kleine Scheidegg.

Given the wonders of the Internet and Google Streetview, I wondered if it is possible to see the Eiger from Kleine Scheidegg that way.

And of course we can!

The Eiger's Nordwand is just to the left of the multi-story building in the view below.

The uncertain future of the North Atlantic Current

I probably (let me amend that: there's no way) won't be around to see if this happens, but does amount to a concern about humanity's future in the next millenium:

North Atlantic Current may cease temporarily in the next century
"A temporary interruption in the delivery of relatively warm water to north-western Europe is more likely: 'In our simulations, the chances of this happening in the next 100 years are 15 percent.' Such temporary transitions may cause cold spells in the North Atlantic, although this needs to be verified in further studies. Therefore, the current study is just a first step in determining the risk."

Friday, January 3, 2020

I haven't mentioned space debris for awhile

Yes, I haven't mentioned space junk (aka "debris") for awhile, but now that lots and lots and lots of mini-satellites are being sent into orbit, it's still a concern.

So now there's a satellite that's going to be capable of de-orbiting defunct satellites, which may help a bit.

It’s the First Orbiting Garbage Collector—or a New Kind of Space Weapon

Here's the Web site:  ClearSpace Today

And here's an artist's idea of what the satellite under development and construction will look like in space, as it tracks a defunct satellite:

Here's an artistic idea of what the satellite will look like as it captures its first target object:

That reminded me of something.

That's a model of the SPECTRE Bird One from the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, in the processs of capturing a NASA Gemini space capsule, and also cutting off the astronaut on the umbilical.  Video excerpt of the same scene: that was an evil thing to do.   But what do you expect from Ernst Stavro Blofeld?

Interestingly, the linked article refers to a similar possibility:
"Now imagine if a rogue state or some future high-tech terror group sent a craft similar to ClearSpace-1 to intercept and de-orbit, say, an active missile-warning satellite or even the space station. “There is of course a potential that certain regimes will find such technology abusively interesting,” Daniel Campbell, managing director of U.K. space firm Effective Space, told The Daily Beast back in early 2019."
Even worse, what if a one-eyed supervillain who likes cats gets control of one of those space junk collectors?!!

We are now in the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

According to this report in the American Geophysical Union's EOS newsletter, the United Nations has declared the next decade what I have in the title, which to repeat is the

Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

That's a fancy way of saying that they're hoping science and scientists can come up with ways to deal with overfishing, climate change, and ocean acidification in such a way that there will be more fish that people can eat.

While I will hope that can be accomplished, I am also realistic that if the world can just merely maintain the current status quo for 10 years, that will be pretty good.

Quoted paragraph from the article:
"The road map outlines some societal themes and potential outcomes of the decade. These outcomes include a clean ocean with sources of pollution identified, quantified, and reduced; a healthy and resilient ocean with marine ecosystems mapped and protected and with climate change and other impacts measured and reduced; a predicted ocean with society having the capacity to better understand current and future ocean conditions; a safe ocean with human communities protected from ocean hazards; a “transparent and accessible” ocean in terms of widespread access to ocean data and technologies; and a sustainably harvested and productive ocean."

Sounds great.  I'm supportive.

One thing we can do:  Eat more lionfish!   (There's too many of them, so we can eat all we want, and they taste good, too, and reducing their population will be good for the reef environment in general.)

The link goes to this recipe:  Blackened Lionfish with Creamy Potato Salad (shown below)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Drac is back

Even though at the end of virtually every Dracula movie the title character gets staked, burnt, or dusted, Dracula always seems to come back for more.

And the BBC is providing the latest Dracula, which just premiered over there (in the UK), and will premiere in the U.S. on Netflix in the first weekend of 2020.

Here's the Web site.

BBC One - Dracula

Morfydd Clark plays Mina Harker (apparently as a blonde, but some viewers didn't like her color).  Next she moves on to play Galadriel in Amazon's Lord of the Rings based show, which I haven't decided if I want to watch or not.  She also had a part in the just-finished first season of His Dark Materials.

So how many will land safely on the Red Planet?

In July of 2020, because that's when the Earth and Mars get closest to each other, there will be four -- yes, 4 -- satellite missions launching to Mars.  Three of them will attempt to land, while the fourth is an orbiter that will study the atmosphere.

Mars has traditionally been a hard place to land on, and there's a long list of missions that went missing or smashing on final approach.  So we will have to watch and wait to find out which ones are successful.  Hopefully all of them will make it.

The Daily Mail article linked below succinctly describes all of the missions.

The race to Mars: USA, Europe, Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates are all launching missions to the Red Planet in 2020 to search for ALIEN life

We don't want this to happen.

Never noticed there was an island there!

OK, how many people other than me did not know there was a very small island in the Caribbean Sea to the west of Antigua and northwest of Montserrat?  Well, if you did know, I'm impressed.  Not to be confused with Redondo Beach, the island is named Redonda. As you might figure, it's the remnant of a volcano.

The story on National Geographic is about how a dedicated effort has managed to partially restore the natural ecology of Redonda Island after getting rid of the feral goats and a lot of rats.

Redonda Island

Ravenous wild goats ruled this island for over a century. Now, it's being reborn.

There's a lesson here, also learnable from how fish populations rebound near marine reserves: left to iteself, nature has remarkable internal restorative powers.