Saturday, June 27, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, June 7-13, 2020: Cape Campbell, Marlborough, New Zealand

You might recognize this lighthouse, and if this works right, a couple of the next ones, too. But I'm not going to give the game away.   So let's just do the basics.

This is the Cape Campbell lighthouse in New Zealand.  (Let's see where.)

Let's get some specifications;  from this site:  Cape Campbell

Year built:
1870  (first made out of wood, then cast iron)

Tower height:  22 meters

Range (visibility distance):  19 nautical miles

Piece of trivia:   one of three New Zealand lighthouses that are painted other than just white.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The superbness of Susanna Canzian

Superbness isn't a word that's used very often.

But it applies here to the phenomenally exquisite Italian model Susanna Canzian.

It's a bird! It's a plane! Actually, it's SUPER-antibodies

Yes, I am not making this up.

Super-potent human antibodies protect against COVID-19 in animal tests

"For the new project, [Thomas] Rogers (M.D., Ph.D.) and his UC San Diego colleagues took blood samples from patients who had recovered from mild-to-severe COVID-19. In parallel, scientists at Scripps Research and IAVI developed test cells that express ACE2, the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to get into human cells. In a set of initial experiments, the team tested whether antibody-containing blood from the patients could bind to the virus and strongly block it from infecting the test cells.

The scientists were able to isolate more than 1,000 distinct antibody-producing immune cells, called B cells, each of which produced a distinct anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody. The team obtained the antibody gene sequences from these B cells so that they could produce the antibodies in the laboratory. By screening these antibodies individually, the team identified several that, even in tiny quantities, could block the virus in test cells, and one that could also protect hamsters against heavy viral exposure.

All of this work -- including the development of the cell and animal infection models, and studies to discover where the antibodies of interest bind the virus -- was completed in less than seven weeks."

So now, we  (collectively) have to make more.

A lot more.


Everything Elle

Elle Bellamy (now that's a name), who probably still goes by her well-known modeling name Elle Evans, who I first met as Lindsey Gayle Evans, just recently gave birth to her child with Matt Bellamy of the band Muse.   Matt, as those of you who follow these outcomes may remember, is also the father of a child with beauteous three-times-a-charm actress Kate Hudson.

The name of the little bundle of joy is Lovella Dawn.  If you subtract the middle name and add the last name, she's Lovella Bellamy.   So mother and daughter are Elle and Lovella Bellamy. 

Try saying that five times fast.

Muse's Matthew Bellamy, 41, welcomes his first child with wife Elle, 30, as she gives birth to daughter Lovella Dawn

Return to the blog

I'm back. 

Sorry for the absence.  Time and tide wait for no man.

I'll catch up on the Lighthouses of the Week this week.

And I've got a lot of catching up to do on other subjects, too.

So get excited.  I am!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A flare, a palpable flare

It has been awhile since our Sun provided us with a solar flare (since 2017 of this particular size), so this was indeed news.  As the article states clearly, too soon to tell if this is in the next cycle or just the final vestiges of the last cycle.

Sun unleashes biggest flare since 2017

Comet Atlas isn't holding up well

This is a post about the observed fragmentation of Comet Atlas, which was written about on May 18, 2020. 

Comet Atlas has become a bizarre comet within a comet

Basically, a chunk of Atlas came loose and fell off the main body, and was following Atlas in orbit.

So another way of saying that the comet is breaking apart is to euphemistically state that the comet "isn't holding up well", i.e., the stress of the solar wind is getting to it.

Now, if you recall who Atlas was, mythologically, you must admire the title of this post for a moment.


There, that's done.  So what happened to Comet Atlas since May 18? (I am sure you are wondering that.)

As the previous link was from cnet, let's go back there for an update.

NASA solar spacecraft captures comet Atlas streaking past the Sun

It may not have been holding up well, but it didn't turn into a clump of space rubble either (yet).

According to THIS article, the European Solar Orbiter spacecraft flew through the ion tail of Atlas in May, and should have flown through the dust tail of Atlas yesterday (June 6).

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory Watches Comet ATLAS As Solar Orbiter Crosses Its Tail

After all of this information, we deserve a picture here.

Comet Atlas on April 16, with a little fragment in its tail.

Where we were (or Where were we?) on Highway 41

When last I posted Streetview images for the Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek, it was entering historical and scenic Rockville, Indiana.

Why is Rockville historical and scenic?  Because of covered bridges, that's why.

For some information about that:

Parke County, Indiana (

Main Street Rockville

We're going to have to take a look around Rockville, because it's historic.

In Rockville, we'll turn right on West Ohio Street.

By the Ritz Theater.

Downtown next to the Parke County Courthouse, which appears to have been under renovation at the time StreetView drove by.

Parke County Visitor Center, where the Covered Bridge Festival takes place, because Parke County has 36 covered bridges.

Now let's go find a covered bridge. Just down the road is the Billie Creek Bridge and the Beeson Covered Bridge. Here's the Billie Creek Bridge.

The Beeson Covered Bridge isn't visible from the road. Since you can't see it, I have a picture below.

So now that we've had a look at a couple of bridges in a county famous for them, let's get back to the highway, where more nearby adventures await.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Get ready for the Highway 41 trek return

I'm planning to go a long way on the Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek starting tomorrow, so don't be surprised.  It won't just be long stretch of highway in Indiana flanked by farm fields;  there is some very great scenery coming up very soon.

So put on your virtual seatbelt and get ready.

When they melt, they melt fast

A new study indicated how fast Antarctic ice sheets retreated and shrank at the end of the last Pleistocene glacial period.

Antarctic ice sheets capable of retreating up to 50 metres per day

Fifty meters here, fifty meters there, and pretty soon you're talking half a continent or so.

Tell THAT to the skeptics.

A picture of "The Other Boleyn Girl"

After centuries (really, no kidding), a portrait of a woman was identified as Mary Boleyn, the older sister of "Anne of a Thousand Days" Boleyn, who married the king, birthed a queen, and lost her head.   Mary, despite not getting to do any of those three things (she might not have been too eager for the third honor) apparently was also privileged to share the king's bed, may have had two of his unofficial offspring, and may have also gotten intimate with a king of France.  She was married, officially, twice as well.

(Reading that Wikipedia entry intro was kinda fun.)

Despite all of that activity (emphasis on "active"), she died "in obscurity". 

About that picture:

Mystery woman in Royal Collection portrait is finally identified after 300 years as Mary Boleyn, who was King Henry VIII's mistress before he fell for her little sister Anne

The newly identified Mary Boleyn painting:

And in the movies (Scarlett Johannsen as Mary)

Looking really, really close at Bennu

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is getting ready to get a sample of asteroid Bennu.  Just a couple of days ago, they took a very close look at the secondary sampling site, "Osprey".  The primary sampling site is named "Nightingale".

OSIRIS-REx Swoops Over Sample Site Osprey

The full-size image is an astonishing 5 mm per pixel.  You can get to that image via the article link.  It takes a moderate amount of time to load on your screen.

We still have to wait several more months until the robotic explorer makes its first sampling attempt in October.  (Maybe by then the coronavirus infection rate will be so low that we'll be able to watch the attempt with a few friends.)

Below is the small version of the big image.

Lighthouse of the Week, May 31-June 6, 2020: Grosse Point Lighthouse, Illinois, USA

I've likely kept hundreds -- well, maybe dozens -- more likely a few -- hopefully a couple -- of people wondering all week what and where the "Mystery Lighthouse" from last week was.

Well, the answer is in the title of the post, and also here:  it's the Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois, a lighthouse that looks somewhat like a big house. That's because there's a big house in front of it.

Surprisingly, even though I've been to Chicago several times, and even in the suburban area on occasion, I never knew this lighthouse existed.

But now I do.  And it's a good one, even on the National Register of Historic Places, the first ever lighthouse so designated west of the Atlantic Ocean.  And if you have ever visited Northwestern University, you have been very close to it.

It has its own Web site:  Grosse Point Lighthouse

Vital stats:

Built in 1873, due to shipwrecks occurring on the northern approach to Chicago 
The tower height is 113 feet. 
The optics?  Well, let me quote: "The illuminating optic at the top of the tower is a second order Fresnel lens, the largest type of optic used on the Great Lakes and one of only five ever installed in lighthouses there. The beam of light from this optic could be seen up to 21 miles over the lake in good atmospheric conditions, and it served both to warn ships of shallow waters around the point and to guide the way into the Port of Chicago."

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1934.

So I grabbed more than my usual quota of pictures and a video.  Great views in the video (particularly at about the 1:20 mark), though the music is kind of hokey.

by Peg Donnellan

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Lighthouse of the Week, May 24-30, 2020: Mystery lighthouse

I haven't played this game for awhile, so I hope that it works.

I am behind schedule by a couple of days, so the Lighthouse of the Week from last week is this post.

Then in a couple of days I'll reveal the answer, and give the full treatment to this light station.

So, what's the name of this lighthouse -- and where is it?

You didn't think I was going to make it too easy, did you?

What did you say your name was again?

Karren Rita Brady, Baroness Brady, CBE is a British sporting executive, politician, television personality, newspaper columnist, author and novelist.   She's been in management positions for a few of the top-flight (Premier League and Championship) soccer teams. 

All of those are great accomplishments!   She's also a mother of two, fathered by her husband, also a soccer player (or as the Brits say, "footballer"), a male named Paolo and a female named Sophia.  Their last name is Peschisolido (officially via the name of their father).

This post is about Sophia.

OK, I'm done now.

(But there's more of Sophia to be found, if you care to look around.  Nothing of the starkers variety that I can tell, but some good visual entertainment nonetheless.)

How goes it in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has it tough.   They had to suffer through Scott Walker's governorship, and now they have a legislature of Republican commandos who try every means possible (most of them nefarious) to thwart the decent governing efforts of the recently elected Democratic governor.   And the Supreme Court, which still has a conservative Republican majority (sad as that is), continues to rule in ways that are against the public good.

So, let's review the most recent travesty of justice.  The governor attempted to extend his stay-at-home order, but that was overruled by the aforementioned idiots on the Supreme Court, and this allowed numerous Wisconsinites to get out of the house and into the crowded bar, to do one of the things Wisconsinites do well -- drink.  Beer gets the publicity, but anything in the category of "contains alcohol"  does the job.

So, to review, the WI SC  (ha ha ha!) overruled the governor on Wednesday, May 13, and many Badgers hit the bars that day.  So if you give COVID-19 five days to start sickening those infected, there should have been an uptick in cases starting around May 18 or so.

So what happened?   I'll consult the New York Times.

You can see where May starts, on a rising trend.  Then there's a dip in the infection rate.  The low point of the dip is May 13.   If you use this interactive graph online, you can see how many new cases of infections there were each day.

May 14:   377
May 15:   574
May 16:   514
May 17:   203
May 18:   151
May 19:   279
May 20:   573
May 21:   318
May 22:   665
May 23:   428
May 24:   377
May 25:   284

So five days after the bar crawl, er, reopening, May 18 didn't have a big number of cases.  But if we assume more people like to hit the bars on the weekend, then the "big days" would be May 15 and May 16, Friday and Saturday.  Five days after May 15 is May 20.    And the new cases hit 573.  Slight fall-off the next day, but a big comeback on the 22nd.

It's not scientific in the slightest, but it is more than just a bit suggestive that the bar reopening that was aided and abetted (not using that phrase incorrectly) by the WI SC sponsored a big increase in infections.,

Like I said, it's tough living in Wisconsin with the political alignment the way it is. But the conservative Republicans don't seem to have a problem making it easier to get sick and die.