Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Is this good news?

Looking back to a week ago, I found this article from the Washington Post:

Trump remains unpopular in swing counties, just like in 2018

Even though it was a week ago, two interesting paragraphs are still relevant now:
"In the current poll, Trump’s approval in those 300 [swing] counties is 42 percent to 50 percent. In comparison, Murray noted, Trump’s approval rating in those swing counties in November of 2018, a few days after Democrats won the House, was 38 percent to 50 percent. So Trump’s approval is only a shade higher today than it was just after Democrats won their largest midterms victory since Watergate, and his disapproval rating is identical."
and this:
"It’s absolutely plausible that Trump’s numbers will rise in the short term, particularly if there’s a “rally around the leader” effect amid the coronavirus crisis. But many health experts seem to agree that the coronavirus is a gathering storm, and that Trump’s failures have laid the groundwork for the calamity to grow to extreme proportions in short order. And our slide into economic disaster is only beginning."
That's increasingly relevant, every day that this unprecedented situation grows in magnitude and impact.

The Sony World Photography Award winners

I always grab the Daily Mail's articles on photography contests, because the photographs are almost invariably fascinating, striking, amazing, and sometimes troubling.   For this year, I've got five or six different photography contests to note, so I'm starting with one of the best;  the Sony World Photography Awards 2020.

Here's the link to the Sony Web site providing the contest winners:

2020 Winners and Shortlist Galleries

And here's the link to the Daily Mail article about the contest:

From over 135,000 entries, the amazing professional images shortlisted in the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

There are lots and lots of pictures to choose from, and I haven't come close to examining all of them.  Here are two selections.

From the gallery "At the Pink Planet" by Yevhen Samuchenko  (Professional)

This picture of the Tre Cime Lavaredo peaks in the Dolomites of Italy was the National Award Winner by Atanas Chulev, Bulgaria.

A better morning

Model Anya Areva reminds us of what better mornings look like.

A sonnet on thought and action

I haven't posted a sonnet for awhile, so now I will.

what we can hope for

One day, one hour, a step outside of time
could happen anywhen, but rarely will —
yet in such special moments the sublime
and beauteous can there combine with thrill
of rawness and unfetteredness, to make
a fierce amalgamation so unlike
our coarse mundanity that we must take
and use a lexicon with words that strike
our hearts in stunning force, and use them to
describe what seems unspeakable — the sound
and movement and connection, with a view
that is expected to be seen and found
whene'er such marv'lous times occur
and where our exclusivity is sure.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Some Terre Haute preliminaries on Highway 41

Before we see some truly interesting sights in Terre Haute, we have to think about food.  All this Street-viewing is making me hungry.  How about you?

We could stop at Los Tres Caminos.

If we didn't stop at Los Tres Caminos, there's always White Castle.

Don't worry, it'll get better soon.

Approaching I-70. Indianapolis to the right, St. Louis to the left. Terre Haute is not far from Indianapolis; I-70 will angle northeast soon to get there.

Now we head toward the west side of Terre Haute, where it does get better, and more interesting.

Doing some actual Americana on Highway 41 in Indiana

This part of the trek has both some historical Americana interest to see, and some classic American advertising kitsch.

This is a little off the highway, but I happened to notice it; it's the Irishman Covered Bridge, located in Fowler Park.

Highway 41 at East Dallas Drive. A fairly typical rural scene on Highway 41 in Indiana.

Ivy Tech Community College, Terre Haute campus

Honest Abe Roofing - I thought AL was more noted for his fences, though.

Then the road crosses Honey Creek twice, but neither crossing is very exciting. But don't forget the name. You'll find out why quite soon.

Highway 41 Streetview trek views more of Indiana

A few more views from the highway as the trek moves northward through southwestern Indiana.

This road (with the cars on it) goes into Sullivan, Indiana. Let's take a quick look.

OK, here's the quick look at Sullivan, Indiana.

Back on the road, and northward once more. I'll mention that just to the east of the town of Sullivan is Sullivan Lake, a reservoir lake that looks like a nice little escape from the busyness of life in Sullivan itself.

We'll zip past Sheldon, Indiana, and take a brief look at Main Street in Farmersburg, which unfortunately I would not characterize as "thriving".

This place, beginning our approach to Terre Haute, is the Boot City Opry.

Black and white and simple and naked

Nothing boring about these black and white and shades of grey photographs.

Jocelyn Binder

Rosa Brighid

Three for the show

The real infection

Good political cartoon by Nick Anderson.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ecuador's tallest waterfall goes missing

I hate it when we lose a perfectly good waterfall.

The Disappearance of Ecuador's tallest waterfall

Geology happens, I guess.

But this was definitely a loss of one of the world's scenic wonders, even though it may have been less well-known than some of the others.

Here's a "before" picture.  The "after" picture is kind of sad, so you can seek it yourself.

Passing of Tom Coburn

Former senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma passed away a couple of days ago.  Coburn was an idiosyncratic individual.  I believe he served his country well, as he saw fit, even though there was not much on which we would politically agree.   And he had a habit of screwing up the basic works of government at times.

He was an MD who continued to practice medicine while in the House and Senate, and he tried in his own ways to control government excess and overspending, even though I think he made poor choices at times in his quest to do that.  The goal was good, and he made efforts to get there, but his opposition to basic scientific research that sounded "meaningless" or "wasteful" was, at times, misguided.

So, Tom, here's to you.  I think you were a patriot.  And you can't spell "patriot" without PITA.

Political maverick Oklahoma US Senator Tom Coburn, who railed against government subsidies for the rich, dies at the age of 72

Foreseeing the future

Back in earlier February, I mused on what had happened to Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss star Michael Biehn, in a post unapologetically entitled "Whatever Happened to Michael Biehn?"

Well, that appeared to be a prescient question to ask, as just a few days ago, something happened to Michael Biehn.

'The Mandalorian' Casts 'Terminator' Star Michael Biehn

Despite all the publicity about Baby Yoda, I haven't watched The Mandalorian.  I may have to change that.

Proceeding on Highway 41 in Indiana

As promised, I'm going to make several Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek posts in rapid succession.   Here's the first.

Crossing Maria Creek, which is near Maria Pond, which appears to be an oxbow lake formed by the Wabash River. This is about the closest Highway 41 gets to the Indiana/Illinois border for awhile.  Click "View on Google Maps" to see where this is.

Near Oaktown - actually looking right at it (west). I told you Highway 41 was quite rural in Indiana, right?

Very slightly off the highway - cute and petite Carlisle, Indiana.

More views coming up real soon.

Typical Trump

This is how Trump works.

1.  Make a statement that falls just short of an accusation, i.e., allude, don't accuse.
2.  Follow up by saying "he doesn't know if it's true or not" or words to that effect.
3.  Let the right-wing media echo and amplify the accusation as if it is true.

And that's just what he does in this disgusting miscomprehension of the dramatically increased use of face masks for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Donald Trump Just Suggested Healthcare Workers Are Stealing And Selling Face Masks

First statement:
" “For years [suppliers] have been delivering ten to twenty thousand masks. OK, it’s a New York hospital and it’s packed all the time but how do you go from ten to twenty thousand to 300,000?”

“Something’s going on and you ought to look into it as reporters.

“Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? And we have that in a lot of different places so somebody should probably look into that because I just don’t see from a practical standpoint how that’s possible.”

Then he says:
Asked by a reporter to explain his comments more fully, Trump said: “I don’t think it’s hoarding, I think it’s worse than hoarding.”

He added: “I don’t know, I don’t know, I think that’s for other people to check out.”

So now, you see, anyone or any organization reporting on demand for protective equipment, or shortages thereof, will be called into question as to whether they have investigated if these items are "going out the back door" (wink wink).

Did you know that many doctors, particularly in New York, are Jewish, and those who practice the Judaism faith have been caricatured, particularly by the farther reaches of the right-wing, as nefariously always trying to make money, rightly or wrongly, off of other people, particularly those of the white Caucasian Christian type?

We'll see how this gets reported on Fox.

This is how:
"How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000, to 300,000 [masks] -- even though this is different," Trump asked. "Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000? And, we have that in a lot of different places. So, somebody should probably look into that. I just don’t see from a practical standpoint how that's possible to go from that to that, and we have that happening in numerous places."

Pressed on the matter later at the briefing, Trump called on New Yorkers to "check" Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio, both Democrats, about the changing mask numbers. "People should check them, because there's something going on." He asserted that it could be "something worse than hoarding."

Cuomo said earlier this month that some people were stealing medical supplies. "Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products," Cuomo said. "I've asked the state police to do an investigation, look at places that are selling masks, medical equipment, protective wear, feeding the anxiety." Nevertheless, a CNN "fact-check" reporter, among others, accused Trump of making his claim without "evidence."

See what's missing?  The "out the back door" part of the quote.  THAT's the implication of a nefarious black market.  Fox News can only go so far as to say he asserted  it was "something worse than hoarding".  But that doesn't show that he implied part of the medical establishment might be trying to profiteer.

Furthermore, there's a difference between people stealing medical supplies, which other articles say has been more like petty theft driven by anxiety about not having such products available, and an actual black market that would be causing much more demand than the medical community needs.

So Trump makes it look like the demand might not be mainly because of the rapidly increasing number of cases and corresponding medical treatment, casting doubt on the severity of the problem, and also makes it look like the urban medical establishment (in the big cities)* is trying to make a buck on this.

*I.e. rich Jewish Democrat doctors.

It's his typical game, and the people who he wants to get the message are getting the message from where he wants them to hear it from.

The con continues.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, March 22-28, 2020: St. Joseph Pier, Michigan

Having just featured four Fresnel lenses, I promised to feature the lighthouses that either house them or housed them at one time.   Since I missed a week, this post is a two-for-one;  the St. Joseph Pier Inner and Outer Lighthouses.

First, a link with a cool 360-degree video.  The title is about the outer lighthouse, but both of them are shown in both the still picture and the video.

St. Joseph North Pier Outer Lighthouse

Now, it's not unlikely that you've seen pictures of these, coated in ice (and I've got one picture like that included below).  That's because these lighthouses are frequently coated in ice created by the cold waves and freezing spray of Lake Michigan, as they are located on the coast of Lake Michigan in the state of Michigan and all.

For a general location without looking at the map, they are on the Michigan southeastern coast of Lake Michigan,  just about the same latitude as Evanston north of Chicago.

So, now, let's learn about them.

I'm going to be brief;  there's a lot of information here.  They are the first two lighthouses on the page.

The Outer:
"1906. Active; focal plane 31 ft (9.5 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 30 ft (9 m) round cast iron tower built at the end of the pier. The original 5th order Fresnel lens is on display at the St. Joseph Heritage Museum in St. Joseph. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black."
So now you know where the picture of the Fresnel lens came from.

The Inner:
"1907. Active; focal plane 53 ft (16 m); continuous white light. 53 ft (16 m) octagonal steel tower mounted on square 1-story cast iron fog signal building, built midway in the pier; 4th order Fresnel lens. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and gallery black; fog signal building roof is red."
Both of the lighthouses were restored in a project starting in 2013 and finishing in 2016.

So now, the pictures.  I'm sure there are videos too, but this time finding them is left to the reader.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, March 15-21, 2020: Four Fresnel lenses

Because I missed last week's Lighthouse of the Week, for this "late" catch-up edition, I'm going to feature one of the beautiful and fascinating aspects of lighthouse history, the Fresnel lens.  While many lighthouses still have them, many more have been retired or put in museums and replaced in the lighthouse by electric lights.  Fresnel lens are marvels of both optics and glass manufacturing, and now they seem like industrial artwork.

First, a link:

Million dollar lens:  the science and history behind the Fresnel lighthouse lens

And an image of the various orders:

Here are the four Fresnel lenses I've found and chosen.  And guess what?  These will be the next four Lighthouses of the Week!   I may have featured these before;  if so, I'll try to find new pictures that aren't in my previous post.

St. Joseph Pier North

Pointe Aux Barques

Pigeon Point

Cape Blanco

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The cherry blossoms in Washington bloomed early

Because of climate change, the famous cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., are blooming on average about five days earlier (for the period 1981-2010) than they were during the period 1931-1960.

April Fools!  The cherry blossoms are just about done blooming this year, about a week earlier than the average peak bloom date for that 1981-2010 period.

Another indication that nothing is normal anymore.

Getting restarted on Highway 41

To get the Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek restarted, we will return to the highway from our quick tour of Vincennes, and see what there is to see.

Back on the highway, crossing under the Wabash Avenue overpass.

Crossing over "old" U.S. 50.

For a stretch here, Highway 41 is also State Route 150.   Take the on-ramp here toward Terre Haute.

Purdue Extension, Knox County.  Though you can't see it, the Wabash River is flowing just behind it.

I have returned

Well, the world has been changing a lot in the days since I last wrote a blog post.  Normalcy is extinct.  It has definitely thrown my life into a mode that is entirely unexpected.   Suddenly my free time was taken up with activities that took half the time that they used to take.  My normal daily schedule (even thought it wasn't exactly regular) got tossed out the window. 

Obviously I'm not alone.  Still have income from some ongoing projects, which is good.  But the main tasks of life are mundane, trying to maintain an ongoing daily routine when nothing about the world -- local, regional, and global -- is routine.

But I'm going to start blogging again, because that used to be normal.  So I'll post more lighthouses around the world (even though I missed last week), catch up on several impressive photography contest results, and get moving again on Highway 41 northward through Indiana.  I may even do four or five straight Highway 41 posts, because Indiana is pretty flat, though there are a couple of highlights ahead.

I'll keep doing this as long as I can.  Hopefully that will be for a long time.

But nothing is certain anymore.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, March 8-14, 2020: Les Mamelles, Senegal

Looking for lighthouses from different places, I checked on Africa, and found out that all the lighthouses I had featured from Africa thus far had been from the country of South Africa.  So I looked further and found this one, the Les Mamelles lighthouse in Senegal, specifically Dakar.

The Lighthouse Directory calls this one of the world's great lighthouses.  It's on a high hill (one of the Mamelles, which is a French way of saying "breasts"), and it used to be visible from a long way away.  The Lighthouse Directory also says that it has not been maintained well, and the light might not shine so far anymore.

But still, it has history, and furthermore, it's on the westernmost point of the continent of Africa.   Here's excerpted information from the esteemed Directory.
"1864. Active; focal plane 120 m (394 ft); white flash every 5 s. 16 m (52 ft) cylindrical masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to the front of a 2-story keeper's house. 2nd order Fresnel lens in use. Entire structure painted white. ... This is one of the world's great lighthouses, guiding ships around the western tip of Africa. Its light has a range listed at 57 km (almost 36 mi). Sadly, poor maintenance of the aging equipment hinders the operation of the light."
Pictures, and a short candid video. Video first:

Now the pictures.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Not much of a firefall

Winter and early spring rainfall (as well as snowmelt) has been much less than normal in California, so the "firefall" alpenglow+waterfall phenomenon that happens in late February was pretty much a bust.

Yosemite ‘firefall’ slows to a trickle amid drought

Here's the "firefall" in 2016, a good year for the event.

Highway 41 trek continues in southern Indiana through Vincennes

The trek continues, with a side trip off of the highway to look at some historical sights around Vincennes.

Highway 41, between the White River crossing and Vincennes.

Near Vincennes, the StreetView car passed a fire truck.

Off highway, Wabash River crossing and George Rogers Clark Memorial in the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

Office of Admissions, Vincennes University.

Best view I could get of the William Henry Harrison mansion.

Knox County Court House

Another view, with what is probably a Civil War monument in front.

As you might expect, we'll see more of Highway 41 in southern Indiana next time.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

World champion cheese

The World Champion Cheese of 2020 is Swiss cheese.

To be precise, it's a Gruyère, specifically the Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP, which just plain sounds good.  I've had Gruyère, though not the world champion kind, and I really like it.

Second place was the Gallus Grand Cru, a hard cow's milk cheese.   Third place was a Gouda, the Lutjewiinkel Noord Hollandse Gouda PDO.

I learned all about this from the Wisconsin Farmer:

Gruyere from Switzerland named 2020 World Champion

For all the results of this exciting contest (if you're into cheese, it's exciting), here's the Web site:

World Championship Cheese Contest

There is a video, but I wish there were pictures of the top cheeses, something like this (this is a picture from this year's contest): 

Better yet, samples of the top cheeses, but I'd be in lactose overload well before I could try them all.

Full results

Dream duo on the beach

It's hard to believe that there could be any beach in the world with both Alessandria Ambrosio and Izabel Goulart on it, unless it was a bikini shoot.

And that's what it was.

Well, not exactly, but they were both wearing swimwear from Ambrosio's line, called Gal Floripa.

(Nice swimwear pictures there, too.)

Alessandra Ambrosio proves to be the ultimate beach babe as she poses in a tiny blue bikini with supermodel pal Izabel Goulart in Abu Dhabi

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, March 1-7, 2020: Rose Blanche, Newfoundland, Canada

Little did I know when I picked this lighthouse that it would have the backstory it does.  I just thought it looked good.  It's on the island of Newfoundland (location map), which as one would expect has a whole lot of lighthouses.

But this one is special;  it's a restored granite lighthouse.  As one of the Web sites says, it might be only restored granite lighthouse on the Atlantic seaboard. 

Let's learn a bit more about it.
"On July 26, 1871, Neville selected the location and work began soon after. Of granite construction and built by local workers, the building operated as a lighthouse from 1873 to the 1940s. The original light was a 4th order dioptric lit from sunset to sunrise at a height of 95 feet above sea level. It could be seen for 13 miles in clear weather."
(Neville was the builder/designer.)

If you read all the Web sites that I've got linked here, you will find out that Rose Blanche fell into "disrepair" over time, meaning that every wall of the place collapsed, leaving only the light tower (because it had a staircase inside to hold it up).   But it was actually rebuilt, with 70% of the original granite (one site says), and is now a dedicated museum and tourism site.

Now some stats, from the Lighthouse Directory, of course:
"12 m (40 ft) octagonal granite light tower with lantern and gallery, mounted at one end of a 1-1/2 story granite keeper's house; 6th order Fresnel lens. Fog horn (blast every 60 s) nearby."
After they restored it in the 1990s, they relit the lamp in 2002.

Now some sites about it:

Heritage of Newfoundland and Canada

Rose Blanche Lighthouse

Lighthouse Friends - Rose Blanche Lighthouse

And we shall finish with pictures and a video (which has a very powerful soundtrack).  I tracked down a picture of the lens they have there now,  a 6th order Fresnel lens -- and there are not many of them left.

Monday, March 2, 2020

This thought crossed my mind, too

With fears of coronavirus growing, a lot of sporting events are having to evaluate their plans, and their schedule.

One of these events is the Tokyo Olympics.  As of now, there are no plans to cancel them.  However, I was thinking that they might go on -- with no spectators.  Which would be a financial disaster of mega-proportions, but at least the Games would go on.

It appears that I'm not the only one thinking this way.  And I expect that I and this other guy won't be the last to think it, either.

In fact, already many events have taken place with no fans in attendance -- which I didn't know.

The Olympic Games could be played out behind closed doors with NO FANS in Tokyo due to coronavirus crisis, British Cycling chief admits

I guarantee if it happens this way, it will be a lot different than any previous event of this magnitude.

Lighthouse of the Week, February 23-29, 2020: Ballycotton, County Cork, Ireland

There are a lot of lighthouses that are partly painted black;  like the two-tones I posted earlier, or black-and-white stripes, even checkerboard and similar alternating patterns.

But there are very few all-black lighthouses.  One article I read said that there are currently 3 around the world. 

So this is one of them, situated amazingly perfectly on an island off the coast of Ireland.  This is called the Ballycotton lighthouse.

Here is a page about it;  it even includes a map.

The lighthouse was first lit in 1851. The tower is 15 meters (50 feet) high, and is on a small island just off Ballycotton Head, which will be seen.

Below, pictures an a video.

by John Finn

In front of the rising full moon

Sunday, March 1, 2020

March 1st sonnet to get some momentum

This sonnet is entitled mental vacation.

mental vacation

I cannot do the frivolous unless
I do the obvious before I have the chance
to think about what constitutes the less
important points in life. So circumstance
requires priorities to be assessed
and that which does not hold excitement may
be dominant in terms of the expressed
commitment it entails, thus, I must weigh
what must be done against my heart's desires
and oft-times do the drudgery that needs
completion; whilst my patience flags and tires
along with strength, at least my mind proceeds
to where the job is done, and then respite
might then be found where sybarites invite.

Why have I never noticed Katheryn Winnick before?

The answer to the question posed in the title is, apparently, because I don't watch Vikings.

The reason I noticed here now is that I accidentally saw this story about her being in a new "procedural" drama named Big Sky, and when I looked at the article, I thought her picture bore a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence.

However, starring in the Vikings, she doesn't look much like Jennifer Lawrence.

Nice owl, by the way.

Schnorkie is a real (mixed) dog breed

Sometimes I make up words and then Google Search them.  Oftentimes the first entry for a word I made up has already been acquired by the Urban Dictionary and turned into something raunchy.  Try it yourself for some amusement.

However, when I came up with the word "schnorkie" and looked it up, I was surprised to find out that it was the name of a mixed dog breed, more commonly snorkie.  It's a mix between a miniature schnauzer and a Yorkshire terrier.  Learn more about it here.

If you're a dog person and you have an idea what those two dogs look like, you might expect that they'd be pretty cute.

You would be right.

Highway 41 gets to the White River

The White River in Indiana goes through a LOT of Indiana, including going through parts of the state's main city, Indianapolis.  The White River is actually two rivers, the East Fork and the West Fork, both of which are entirely in the state.  In this installment of the Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek, we will reach the East Fork.

So, let's go.

Passing by Fort Branch

Passing Toyota Manufacturing Indiana (and it snowed recently).  Zoom in on the red sign.

Crossing the Patoka River near Patoka.

Passing the Hull Airport, which appears to be a very long grassy field.

Crossing the East Fork of the White River. Unlike the West Fork, the East Fork doesn't go anywhere close to Indianapolis.

I'm going to try have two posts a week in the Trek. Maybe we'll get out of Indiana by April.