Friday, July 31, 2020

An occasional feature - pretty girls. Number one of a series

I've discovered a new diversion that I can pursue for a few minutes of each day.  The diversion is looking at pictures of pretty girls on Instagram.

There are many of them, it seems.  And as far as I can tell, more than half of them are from Australia, based on an unscientific evaluation.

My first one, however, is not.  Her name is Ashley Smouter, and I discovered her maybe a week or so ago.   She's a model (many of those in the "pretty girl" category are models, fitness bloggers, "public figures", and the occasional actress/entertainer/swimwear designer/college student (possible all of the above).

The funny thing about Ashley, who has a more-than-passing resemblance to the young Ashley Judd, is that after I had perused her Instagram offerings, she showed up in a New York Times article about the black-and-white "challenge" that was featuring black-and-white portraiture of many women.  Ashley (Smouter) was the picture at the top of the article  (this article).

You can see the same picture in her Instagram account.

So, I'll now select and display three pictures of pretty girl #1, Ashley Smouter.  I should note that she's pretty enough to have been invited to Elton John's Oscar party, based on one picture in the Instagram portfolio.  It may be a boyfriend connection.

Must take this picture

Apparently if you visit Iceland, and you have time to go to several different places, one of them is required to be Stokksnes, so you can take a picture of the Vestrahorn mountain from the beach.  There are numerous pictures available of this scene, many of them of very high quality and for sale.

So where is it?   Click right here to find out.

According to Google Maps, it's less than a six-hour drive from Reykavik.  But from what I know of Iceland, that means more like three days if you stop to take pictures.   And I probably would want to do that.

In any case, when finally arriving at Stokksnes, you should hike to the beach and then take a picture similar to the one below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

'Revelated' is a word

This one caught me by surprise;  even though I was certain that 'revelation' was a word, when I mentally coined the word "revelated", I wasn't sure it would be an official English word.  And I'm not entirely sure how to use it in a sentence, but I'll try.

So ... revelated is the past participle of revelate, which basically is a verb meaning "to reveal".  Simple, it would appear.

Here's my sentence:

To the delight of his friends, Chad described in detail how Cindy had revelated her lithesome figure to him when they had finally found some time to be alone on Saturday night.

OK, well, it's a work in progress.

Another sign

Nature is one of the best indicators of climate change.  And now nature has provided another sign that the climate, this time affecting the ocean, is changing.

"In a paper in the journal Global Change Biology, more than 30 researchers from institutions in the United States and Canada considered over 35,000 recordings taken from passive acoustic recorders. The underwater microphones ranged from western Greenland to the Caribbean Sea, and the data represented whale calls recorded between 2004 and 2014.

The researchers found that fin, sei, humpback and blue whales all spent more time in northern latitudes over the decade. After 2010, the time they spent in the Gulf of Maine, the land off the coasts of New England and Nova Scotia, declined."
So, stated in Yankee words, the whales are summering longer.

"The Push" begins in Indiana on Highway 41

As noted in the previous post, now that the Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek has visited Indiana's Turkey Run State Park, it's time to push northward to the Big City.  We aren't there yet, of course, but there's not much besides cornfields between here and there.

We'll make three stops in this post.

Highway 41 and Indiana 234

Yeddo, Indiana, which is about a kilometer west of the highway.

Highway 41 and Indiana 32, "Steam Corner"

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Premier League wraps up

I haven't said much about the English Premier League this year, but it had a heck of a finish to the season following the COVID-19 intermission. There wasn't much drama about the championship, as Liverpool was way ahead of everybody, and won the trophy with several games to spare. 

Second place Manchester City wasn't as good as them but was better than everybody else, and their drama was whether or not they'd be banned from playing in the Champions League for two years (they weren't).

However, the fate of the next three teams wasn't decided until the games on the last day were played.  If Leicester City had managed to defeat Manchester United, they would have qualified for the Champions League next year.   If they'd tied, and Chelsea lost, then Chelsea would have been knocked from fourth to fifth, and missed out on the Champions League. 

None of that happened though;  Man U defeated LC in a good game, and LC still had their best season since their surprising championship run.  And they still play in the Europa League, and the winner of that gets to play in the Champions League.  Chelsea beat Wolverhampton with two goals late in the first half, one of the goals featuring a clever play from Christian Pulisic.

At the other end, Aston Villa pulled off a near-miraculous late run and avoided relegation, though it wasn't a sure thing until they managed a draw with West Ham United. 

As for Crystal Palace, they were safe from relegation fairly early on, but they stumbled to the finish with a miserable offense.  If they lose Wilfried Zaha they might not score any goals at all next year, and they'll probably lose him.  It was actually a fairly even game with Spurs, and amazingly enough, CP scored a goal.  But by losing 2-0 to Aston Villa, they took part in the near-miracle.  And I think it will take several near-miracles to keep them from being relegated next season.

Still one thing left to do:  Chelsea plays Arsenal for the FA Cup next Saturday.  And the USA's own Pulisic is the real deal.  He and veteran Olivier Giroud were primary reasons Chelsea is still in the top four.

I believe it's seven weeks until the next season starts.

Love To (Get Married)

Singer, and hottie, Tove Lo, apparently got married very recently.  (By the way, her real name is Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson. She's from Sweden.)

'Oops!' Singer Tove Lo reveals she's married Charlie Twaddle... as she gives fans a glimpse of her wedding dress

Here's a photo - Mrs. Twaddle is indeed quite cute.  A bit of image searching indicated she's had a LOT of different looks.

Highway 41 trek: more of Turkey Run State Park

I wanted to get to this sooner than a week after last week's post, but I didn't have time during the week (I have to get better at that).    Here's the rest of this brief visit to Turkey Run.

Suspension bridge over Sugar Creek

Narrows Covered Bridge

Rocky Hollow

On the trail

Falls Canyon

Highway 41 bridge over Sugar Creek - moving north again.

Next: the push.

Lighthouse of the Week, July 26 - August 1, 2020: Iquique, Chile

Now this is kind of funny;  back in 2015, I featured a lighthouse that wasn't really a lighthouse in Chile. In that post, I noted that Chile has a very long coastline, and quite a few actual lighthouses.  I indicated I would return to Chile soon to feature a couple of the Chilean lighthouses.

Well, five years is pretty soon, right?

I might do a few more from Chile, and sooner than five years from now for the next one.  For my first real Chilean lighthouse, I've chosen one in Iquique (which is here, zoomed way out so that its location in relationship to Peru and Bolivia can be ascertained).

There are a couple of things to note about this lighthouse.  First of all, it's red.  ALL red.  That's not unique, but it's still unusual.  Two, it has a wind vane on top.  That's the first time I've noticed a lighthouse had a wind vane.  I may have featured one, but I don't remember noticing another lighthouse wind vane.

Here are the specs from the Lighthouse Directory. It was built in 1932, though the site was actually established in 1903. It's still a working lighthouse, with a red flash every 10 seconds. The red masonry tower is 13.5 meters (44 feet) tall, and is octagonal, which means it has eight sides.

The lighthouse is on a breakwater located on a shipping terminal peninsula adjacent to the main city boundaries.

Here are three pictures of the Iquique lighthouse.

by Vittorio Canessa

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A couple of great shots of Comet NEOWISE

First news;  despite hazy skies, I did see the comet, though the conditions weren't great either time. I saw it once as what seemed like a little cloud with just my own two eyes, and then a better view with binoculars.

But the pictures of it are stunning.  Either with clear dark skies, or the magic of time-exposure photography, Comet NEOWISE is really putting on a great and rare astronomical show.  And I am glad there are lots of observers and lots of ways to observe it in this modern era.

Dark skies in Bartlett Lake, Arizona, by Bob Bryant:

3 1/2 minute time-exposure by James W. Young, featured on

Back on the trek, off of Highway 41: Indiana's Turkey Run State Park

I've been slightly delayed in getting the trek going again for the northern push, but this is the interesting place that I promised.   This is one of America's great state parks, a remarkable geological location in the middle of the mostly flat farmland, formerly prairie, of Indiana.

Gobblers Knob Country Store

Entrance to Turkey Run State Park

Cox Ford Covered Bridge

Sugar Creek overlook

State Park swimming pool

The best geology is in the next installment of the trek, coming very soon.

Lighthouse of the Week, July 19-25, 2020: Point Prim, Prince Edward Island, Canada

As I noted "last week", actually a day or so ago, I would return to Prince Edward Island (PEI), this time with a working (i.e., active) lighthouse.  There are quite a few, so I will likely revisit the island in a few weeks.

This one is across the water from Blockhouse Point, last week's lighthouse. I selected it based on how it looked, but it turns out it's fairly unique. Quoting the Lighthouse Directory, "This is the oldest lighthouse on the island and one of only two round brick lighthouses in Canada."

Cool, huh?

Let's find out a bit more.

First of all, as might be guessable, it's on Point Prim, a fairly noticeable peninsula.  Point Prim is on the southern side of Hillsborough Bay, and Blockhouse Point is on the northern side.

Here's what else the Lighthouse Directory informs us:
"1846 (Isaac Smith). Active; focal plane 21 m (68 ft); white flash every 5 s.18 m (60 ft) brick tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with red trim; lantern and gallery painted red."
It is open for tours, and there are four windows on the tower.

And here is its own Web site:  Welcome to Point Prim Lighthouse 

So, without any more delay, here are pictures of this prim-and-proper lighthouse (sorry, I had to).

Must be Canada Day

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Could 2020 have another big disaster in store?

Saw this in the Daily Mail:

California's chances of experiencing the Big One on the San Andreas fault in the next 12 months have TRIPLED after recent spate of micro-quakes

Well, to be honest, the chances are now 1.15%.  Still, that's not 0.35% chance, is it?

Learn more from the Los Angeles Times:

Chance of big San Andreas earthquake increased by Ridgecrest temblors, study suggests
"The study is the latest suggestion of a plausible scenario in which last summer’s earthquakes in a remote part of California might have started a chain of events that could result in a devastating earthquake on the San Andreas fault that has not been seen in Southern California in 163 years."
And to think, airfares to Los Angeles are really low right now.  What a deal!

Lighthouse of the Week, July 12-18, 2020: Blockhouse Point, Prince Edward Island, Canada

I'm nearly back on schedule!   And while I haven't revealed the theme connecting the past five LotWs, I will do that this week.   And so this is the Lighthouse of the Week for the week just finished (as I write this).   It's a lighthouse on Prince Edward Island, Canada, near Charlottetown

Once before I have featured a lighthouse on PEI, a lighthouse that appeared in the Canadian TV series Anne of Green Gables, the New London Range (Rear) lighthouse.  Strangely enough, that lighthouse and this week's lighthouse were both retired by the Coast Guard (actually, the CG "discontinued the lease" for them).  As there are actually lighthouses still operated by the Canadian CG on PEI, I think I'll feature one of those next week.

But back to this week.  I'm going to rely on text from Lighthouse Friends to describe this one, partly due to the interesting historical aspect.  Note:  the location on PEI where this lighthouse is located is called Rocky Point.
"After Parliament appropriated $4,000 for a new lighthouse on Blockhouse Point, the current structure was built in 1876 by James W. Butcher at a contract price of $2,750. The lighthouse was built of wood and consists of a square tower, 12.8 metres (42 feet) high, attached to a dwelling. The surrounding red sandstone cliffs contribute to give the light a focal plane of 18.3 metres (60 feet) above the water. Besides the main fixed white light in the lantern room, a red light was shown from a lower window to lead mariners to a bell buoy in Hillsboro Bay."

"The lighthouse was automated on July 25th, 1962."

"Merrill Taylor, son of Keeper Taylor, leased the lighthouse as a summer residence for several years until the Coast Guard discontinued the Blockhouse Point lease and one for the New London Rear Range Lighthouse in 2000."

"Blockhouse Point Lighthouse has twice escaped planned replacement, first in 1963-64 and again in 1969-70."

"Blockhouse Lighthouse Preservation Society, formed in 2011, submitted a petition for ownership of the lighthouse under the Parks Canada Heritage Lighthouse Program, but then in 2015, it learned that the Mi'kmaq Confederacy had filed a claim for the lighthouse, along several others and surrounding Crown lands across Prince Edward Island. In 2017, members of the society, concerned about the neglected lighthouse, contacted their MP and officials from Fisheries and Oceans in 2017. "From far away it looks like, 'Oh gee, it could just get some red and white paint on that and it would look great,' but now we're talking about structural damage," said Carol Carragher, a nearby resident and member of the society. "This is our history. When it's gone, you cannot bring it back — it's gone. And shame on those people who let it happen."

Spurred by the feedback from the public, the Canadian Coast Guard sent a team to inspect the lighthouse, and in November 2017, construction workers arrived at the lighthouse. Scaffoling and plastic wrap were placed around the structure, and when this covering was taken down in March 2018, a gleaming white lighthouse was revealed. Rotted wood and old shingles were replaced. New deck posts were installed, and the foundation was repaired. Carol Carragher was pleased with the work, noting "It's a great feeling to see a building that's so important to our community to be looked after with that type of care which is really all that we all wanted."
So now that we have sufficiently prepared, here are a few pictures of Blockhouse Lighthouse.  The first two are from Flickr user "Craigford".

by Doug Sturgess

from Locationscout

Still more black-and-white glamour photographs

Continuing with more examples of black-and-white glamour photography, which is an ongoing enjoyment of mine.

Clare Rene

Marissa Everhart

Marissa Everhart again

Rosa Brighid

Anonymous model

Tsara Lunga

NASA announces Curiosity's road trip

As NASA readies to launch a new rover (equipped with demo helicopter) to Mars, the still-working, still-climbing Curiosity rover is on the move.

They hope to go higher on Mount Sharp, but first they have to circumvent some sand that is in the way.

Curiosity Mars Rover's Summer Road Trip Has Begun

"But between the rover and those sulfates lies a vast patch of sand that Curiosity must drive around to avoid getting stuck. Hence the mile-long road trip: Rover planners, who are commanding Curiosity from home rather than their offices at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, expect to reach the area in early fall, although the science team could decide to stop along the way to drill a sample or study any surprises they come across.

Depending on the landscape, Curiosity's top speeds range between 82 and 328 feet (25 and 100 meters) per hour. Some of this summer road trip will be completed using the rover's automated driving abilities, which enable Curiosity to find the safest paths forward on its own. Rover planners allow for this when they lack terrain imagery."

Lighthouse of the Week, July 5-11, 2020: Race Point, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Still continuing my theme (and still trying to catch up on my 2020 schedule), this is the final lighthouse in the thematic set.  The big "reveal" will be early next week, hopefully.

So this week's lighthouse is somewhat iconic;  it's on the end of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, actually in the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  I never made it that far on the Cape, and plus, you have to walk or four-wheel-drive to the lighthouse.  It was available for overnight stays, too, but not currently, for obvious reasons.

So, where is it?  Click here for the map.

Some linkage:

Race Point Light Station

New England Lighthouses:  Race Point Lighthouse

National Park Planner; Cape Cod National Seashore; RACE POINT LIGHTHOUSE

Some facts:

Address: Provincetown, MA 02657
Construction started: 1816
Height: 45′
Opened: 1816
Location: Northern tip of Cape Cod
Coordinates: 42 03 45 N 70 14 35 W
Present tower built: 1876
Automated: 1972
Other buildings: 1876 keeper's house, 1874 fog signal building, 1902 oil house
Original optic: Fourth order Fresnel (1876)
Present optic: VLB-44 (LED), solar powered

Some pictures!

by Frank C. Grace

Mpath Imagery

by Bill Wakeley

I've shown pictures of Fresnel lenses (either still in the tower or on display), but I haven't done staircases much, so I decided to show this picture of the Race Point spiral staircase.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Superbly scenic Sunwapta

It's one of those things -- on a Web site or in a photography contest online or just a rotating photograph, you come across an amazing picture of a place that now you'd really like to go see.

That happened here, with Sunwapta Falls in Jasper National Park, Canada. I'm not sure how I happened to find it, and it was a place I'd never heard of before (which given its stunning beauty I'm a bit surprised by), but just plain WOW.

I've got to get out of this house and start seeing the world again.

Including a few waterfalls.

Lighthouse of the Week, June 29-July 4, 2020: Point Arena, Mendocino County, California

This is a continuation of the theme postings (and I haven't revealed the theme yet).  I'll do one more lighthouse after this and then give the "Big Reveal".

This one is pretty special, too.  It's the Point Arena lighthouse in Mendocino County, California (click the link there to see where).

Let's learn more about it. featuring 3-D virtual tour


Tower is 115 feet tall, tallest on the Pacific Coast with Pigeon Point (both of them had the same tower design when first built).

First tower, built in 1870, damaged in 1906 by earthquake (the famous San Francisco one), replaced with current tower in 1908.

Fresnel lens retired in 1977.

"The United States Lighthouse Service contracted with a San Francisco based company to build a new Lighthouse that could withstand any future earthquakes. The company built factory smokestacks, which accounts for the final design for the current Point Arena Lighthouse. The new design featured steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete, and was the first lighthouse to be built in this manner."

"In 1984, a nonprofit organization called the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers acquired the light station as part of a 25 year land lease from the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation. In November 2000, the nonprofit group became the official owners of the property due to their diligent historic preservation and educational efforts. Daily visitation, gift store sales, memberships and the rental of the historic Keeper's homes on the property as vacation houses, all provide income to the group for ongoing preservation, facility upgrades, and educational endeavors. The Point Arena Light is California Historical Landmark No. 1035."

Below, first the video, then the pictures.  That cape the lighthouse is on seems to go on Forever, doesn't it?

For these next two, I was on the Web site while composing this post, and happened to see the lighthouse right at sunset, so I downloaded these two images.

And here's the mighty Fresnel lens. 

If Obamacare ends in court ...

I saw this awhile ago, but with coronavirus still rampaging, it's still relevant.

Trump’s legal argument for throwing out all of the ACA is a nightmare for Senate Republicans
"The Trump team’s core argument is that every Republican who voted for the tax cuts three years ago knowingly voted to destroy the 2010 law in its entirely, not just to get rid of the mandate that individuals buy health insurance. And, because the Supreme Court previously upheld the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that the individual mandate is a tax, Trump’s lawyers say that the whole system became invalid once Congress got rid of the penalty for not carrying health insurance."

On the other hand ...
"The House joined the opposition to the lawsuit when Democrats took control of the chamber last year. “Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement responding to the new brief. “If President Trump gets his way, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely.” (The 23 million figure comes from a recent analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress think tank.)"

So, in summary:
"From a political perspective, the timing of the Trump administration’s maneuver to get rid of the law, root and branch, is suboptimal for GOP candidates on the ballot this year. The justices are unlikely to make a final decision until after the November election on the legal challenge by Republican state attorneys general, ensuring that this looms as an issue in the fall campaign."

I have no problem with that, because it's NOT a good issue for Republicans.

So there will be LAWS?

Scummy President Trump has screwed up the country royally, numerous ways, and we need to boot his fat ass out of the White House this November.   But meanwhile, he's holding rallies.  And apparently, according to the Daily Mail, there will be laws on display at these rallies.

Now, I won't shed a tear for any monuments to the Confederacy that went up during the Jim Crow era, but I really thing we need a little perspective before taking down Washington and Jefferson.  There wouldn't be a country named the USA with statues to take down if it hadn't been for Washington and Jefferson.

See Comet NEOWISE, with your eyes

It has been a long time since there's been a naked-eye comet.  And right now, there is one.  For about two more days, it's going to be visible before sunrise, and then it will be visible right after sunset.  I'm providing help (there's lots of it) to see it, and I'm going to try to see it.  Conditions might not be optimum around the Chesapeake Bay (and there's a tropical storm nearby right now), but I'm hoping for a little luck.

July 13, after sunset

Here's what I'm hoping to see

Highway 41 Streetview trek, toward a great place

It's been awhile, but after visiting a great place just up ahead (which will be featured in the next Highway 41 blog post), I plan to make a northward push toward the next big city, and if you look at a map you can figure out where that is.   Meanwhile:

There are a lot of tractors at the Parke County Highway Garage.

Mario Brothers. Not the arcade / video game, this is the Mexican restaurant. I have a need for enchiladas.

Entrance to the Parke County Fairgrounds. Rockville has it all !

Highway 41 and Indiana 236. As can be seen, the trek is back in the fields of Indiana, but there's an interesting place up ahead. Trust me.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Not expected, but not entirely unexpected

There have been successful mergers of the Hollywood-hockey variety before.  (Case study:  Elisha Cuthbert and Dion Phaneuf.)

Unfortunately, the Julianne Hough - Brooks Laich linkage has come undone.  Apparently when Julianne noted to Brooks that she wasn't entirely straight and was not referring to her slapshot, this caused a few warning flags to get posted.

And now, after Brooks has been quarantining mostly alone (except for a dog) up north while Julianne has been Kinrgzing (or something) from her home in Los Angeles, they realized that being apart together was just about the same as being apart by themselves, and they decided that would work.

Too bad though for Hough -- Brooks is pretty hunky with that northwoods beard.  But this was a case of two worlds colliding, and not sticking.

Brooks Laich 'did not want to divorce' Julianne Hough but 'her behavior ultimately pushed him to end their marriage of nearly three years'

Actually, I have it on good authority (my own) that Brooks ultimately gave up on the marriage because he could never get used to the way that Julianne did the laundry.

Not so rocky after all

The strange interstellar object we named 'Oumuamua  (apparently it didn't visit the Solar System with a nametag) might possibly be even stranger than its initial strangeness suggested.

Because it might not be made of standard dirty ice (rock and snow) like most comets apparently are made of.   So just read the headline.

‘Oumuamua Might Be a Giant Interstellar Hydrogen Iceberg

I know, right??

NASA folks take pics of NASA in a contest

The Daily Mail reported about this photography contest where people that work for NASA take pictures of their work and things related to their work.

NASA unveils the winners of its internal 'Photographer of the Year' contest celebrating the people behind the iconic images of US space centers

(There are no pictures of the space aliens that NASA is hiding at their headquarters in Washington, DC.  And darn it, there should have been.)

The picture below was a runner-up.  To get more publicity, NASA should now have a caption contest. I've offered my first entry below the picture.

"So explain to me again how the helmet was put on backwards?"

Lighthouse of the Week, June 21-28, 2020: Point Reyes, California, USA

When I was looking for another in this thematic series (have you guessed the theme yet?  Did you even know there was a theme?) and found this one, I was stunned I hadn't featured it before now.  This is the very very famous Point Reyes Lighthouse in Marin County, California.  It's famous because a) it's in a stunning location, b) it's in Marin County, one of California's most stunningly scenic counties and also one of its most visited, due to its proximity to San Francisco, and well, wine, and c) because it's on a stunningly gorgeous national seashore.

(Did I use the word "stunning" enough up there?)

Also -- it's the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the entire continent of North America, according to the National Park Service.  (Most foggiest is Grand Banks, Newfoundland, which basically isn't on the North American continent, it's in the ocean, so Point Reyes would actually appear to be the leader on land.)

It took three years to get built and they had to blast a flat place on the side of an oceanside cliff to put it in the best location.

So yeah, it's famous.

The basics about it are these:

  • Built 1867-1870, retired from active service in 1975, with the warning light duties taken over by an automatic tower lower down on the cliff.
  • Restored and reopened in 2019 after $5.7 million in renovations.  And of course as of this writing, it's closed (it has been converted to a museum). 
  • The tower is only 35 feet high, but when the actual structure is nearly 300 feet above the ocean surface, a big tall tower seems hardly necessary.
  • Visitors get to it by going down 308 stairs, which are closed when it is too windy.  And apparently too windy is not an uncommon condition.

So that's about all we need to know.  Below are pictures and a video.  The lighthouse appears at the beginning of the video, so it's not necessary to watch the whole thing, except you might want to because the whole area is quite stunning.

This is a clue to the theme