Sunday, June 20, 2021

A thrill ride that's a bit more than what Disney offers


The Daily Mail had an article about a new tourism startup in Florida that is going to offer balloon rides.

Very HIGH balloon rides.

The article does not mention the ticket price.

Space tourism startup test flies its gigantic balloon 20 miles over Florida that is on track to carry explorers to the stratosphere in 2024

Congratulations to the new addition of the Woz family


Caroline Wozniacki has moved on from winning tennis titles to being a mother.  Congratulations to the family on their new addition.

'Family of three!' Caroline Wozniacki reveals she has given birth to a baby girl named Olivia - her first child with NBA star husband David Lee - and posts first picture with their daughter

Highway 41 crosses some bridges

Now that the Highway 41 Streetview trek has left Oshkosh, the next scenic highlights are lakes and waterways in the Fox River / Lake Winnebago system.   So let's take a look at the next set of views.

Approach to the Lake Butte des Morts bridge. Lake Butte des Morts is a relatively small lake west of Lake Winnebago, connected via the Fox River to Lake Winnebago, and also connected the bifurcated Lake Winneconne and Lake Poygan. Weirdly and confusingly, there are two Fox Rivers in this region; this is where the Upper Fox River flows into Lake Winnebago. The Lower Fox River flows out of the lake further to the north, and flows to Green Bay (an extension of Lake Michigan).

On the Lake Butte des Morts bridge. This is actually looking north on the southbound side, because the northbound Streetview was partially blocked by a couple of big trucks.

The Valley Popcorn Company (Fox Valley, that is).

This is the Neenah-Menasha area; and that's the Menasha Corporation headquarters.

Next, a closer look at the famous domicile of Neenah, Wisconsin.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Room with a view? Actually ...


While hotels and resorts may advertise rooms with a view (usually of something scenic), in this case, it's a view into a room.  And it's a very inviting view, courtesy of model Myriam Danna.

What an absolute ass


I speak in the title of this post, as one might easily surmise, of the accursed current Senate minority leader and enemy to U.S democracy, Mitch McConnell.   Why do I say this now (noting that I have said many deservedly derogatory words about Miserable Mitchy in the past)? 

This is why:

Mitch McConnell says he will BLOCK any Biden Supreme Court nomination during the 2024 election year if he becomes Senate majority leader

Mitch probably knows that this is not the way the Founding Fathers envisioned the democratic institution of the American government operating.

But he doesn't care.
"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday if he has the Senate majority he'll block President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominees in 2024, the year of the next presidential election.

'I think it's highly unlikely - in fact, no, I don't think either party, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,' McConnell said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show."

Yet McConnell is clearly stretching the meaning of "in the middle of an election", as he did with Merrick Garland.  And he clearly didn't have a problem completing the nomination and voting on a SCOTUS judge while the last election for President was actually underway (early voting had already started).

Ass is a gentle word for what Mitch is.


Did you ever wonder where Anne Boleyn is buried?


Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I did.  Now, Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, has a very nice place of eternal repose, which Henry picked for her.  It's in Peterborough Cathedral (link goes to a video), which is about 70 miles north of London.

Mary Queen of Scots used to be there too (which you'll see in the video), but now she lies in Westminster Abbey in a very fancy tomb.

But... this isn't about them. It's about Anne Boleyn, who was the 2nd wife of Henry VIII, and known as Anne of a Thousand Days, because that's about how long she had the title of Queen.  She got enough done then, though, as she was the mother of Elizabeth I.

As you may well know, Anne was beheaded after Henry moved on, still seeking a male heir.  She was accused of things she probably didn't do, but still, the King made those decisions.  But after her execution, what happened?  Well, she was quietly and quickly interred at the Royal Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, which is not very far from the Tower of London, where the execution took place.

More about that here:  Where is Anne Boleyn buried?

This article indicates that it isn't certain Anne is under the decorative plaque that supposedly marks her grave.  At least she's close to it.

There are other notables in this chapel, foremost among them Thomas More, and also Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for a much shorter time than Anne Boleyn.   Also, Anne's marker is next to one for Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, not quite as famous as Anne, and also with a shorter reign which ended the same way.

The plaques:

Here is the Royal Chapel.  In front of it is a recently-installed memorial fountain dedicated to all of those unfortunate souls who were executed at the Tower.

The memorial fountain:


Lighthouse of the Week, June 13-19, 2021: Butler Flats, New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA


I'm never sure how to find a lighthouse for Lighthouse of the Week. So this week I typed in "flat lighthouse" in the search box, and the search returned a number of lighthouses on flats (shallow shoals in the water, of course).  These tend to occur in rivers and near harbors.

So, my choice was the Butler Flats lighthouse, outside New Bedford, Massachusetts.   This is where, geographically.  It's a "sparkplug" lighthouse, on a platform projecting from the water surface.

Here's a bit of information about it:

It was established and built in 1898, and automated in 1978.  It was equipped with a 5th-order Fresnel lens, but now it has an LED light.  The tower is 53 feet high.  The lighthouse is now privately owned.

More information from New England Lighthouses:

Butler Flats Lighthouse

Butler Flats Lighthouse History

Lighthouse FriendsButler Flats, MA

There's also a Butler Flats Double IPA (beer).

Pictures of the lighthouse (and the beer label).

Monday, June 14, 2021

I'd like to meet these Pleiades


The Pleiades of myth were seven lovely sisters.  And this picture captures their mythical attractiveness quite well.

"The Pleiades were the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the nymph Pleione. They were in the service of goddess Artemis. They were Maia, mother of Hermes; Electra, mother of Dardanus, founder of Troy; Taygete; Alcyone; Celaeno; Sterope; and Merope. When their father was given the fate of carrying the heavens on his shoulders, Orion started pursuing the Pleiades; Zeus then transformed them into stars to help them evade him. According to other myths, the Pleiades committed suicide after learning the fate of their father, but Zeus decided to immortalise them by transforming them into stars."

Blueberry fields -- maybe not forever?


Climate change touches many places, and many people.

Maine’s beloved blueberry fields warming faster than rest of state, study finds
"The scientists analyzed 40 years of data and found that the state experienced a 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.98 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in average temperature, but the blueberry fields of Down East Maine experienced an increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.34 degrees Fahrenheit).

That seemingly small difference is significant because rising temperatures could lead to water deficits that put the blueberries at risk, said Rafa Tasnim, a doctoral candidate in ecology and environmental science at the University of Maine and the study’s lead author. Lack of water could result in smaller crop sizes and blueberries that are less likely to survive to be harvested."

So, make more pies now!

Highway 41 goes where the aircraft fly in


Back on the western shore of Lake Winnebago, heading to one of the most notably known and named small metropolises in this area.

Looking toward the Experimental Aircraft Association headquarters outside Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Entrance to the EAA Aviation Museum. Streetview has many interior pictures of the museum.

View of Pioneer Airport, one of the two airports that is used for the EAA Fly-Ins.


Wittman Regional Airport, the other airport that participates in the Fly-Ins.

Next time, a lot more water.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Lighthouse of the Week, June 6-12, 2021: Vestre Vabeinan, Svolvaer, Norway

I noted two lighthouses ago, when I featured the Eggum lighthouse as the LoTW, in Norway's Lofoten archipelago, that I would return with an unusual one.  This is it -- the Vestre Vabeinan lighthouse, or light structure, which is topped with a statue called the Fiskerkona (one of several spellings available, apparently), which means "fishwife" or "fisherman's wife".  Basically she's waiting for her fisherman husband to come home from the sea. The statue was sculpted by Per Ung.

It's located in Svolvaer harbor, which is here.  Zoom out to get a better idea of where "here" is.

There's not a lot else about this one, despite the unusual aspect of being a statue.  So this is what we can gather from the Lighthouse Directory.

"1999. Active; focal plane 11.5 m (38 ft); green light, 1 s on, 1 s off; the structure is also floodlit. This unusual beacon consists of a sculpture by Per Ung called Fiskerkone (The Fisherman's Wife), mounted on a round pedestal with a broadly conical base. The pedestal is white and the base is red."

So, let's see some pictures.  There are many available.

Dana Milbank makes a lot of sense


Note:  Before I composed this post, I found out that Clueless Joe Manchin, which is what I'll refer to him now everytime I use his name, had come out in an op-ed saying he would not support the "For the People" act, which would protect some of the voting rights that are being taken away by Republicans in states across the land.  And somehow Manchin can say that Democrats are "politicizing" voting rights.  Well, it Democrats are politicizing them, then Republicans are weaponizing them.

In any case, before Clueless Joe's statement, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote a very smart column suggesting that if Republicans filibuster the "For the People" Act, then the Democrats should bring up its provisions one at a time and see if the Republicans will filibuster/vote against all of them, even the popular ones.  And now we can find out where Clueless Joe stands, too.

Will Republicans filibuster all of this?

"After the "For the People" Act fails, the Senate should bring up its popular and unobjectionable provisions, one at a time. If by some miracle Manchin succeeds in getting Republicans to support their passage, all the better. In the likely event he fails, it will be obvious to America, and hopefully to him, that Republicans have no interest in cooperation."

 Here's one of his examples.

"The bill requires states to alert each other when voters apply for a driver’s license in a new state, to avoid duplicate voter registrations. Will Republicans filibuster this?"

Yeah, that's a threat to secure elections, right?  I sure would like to see if the GOP would filibuster that;  and if Clueless Joe Manchin would support them.  And I'd like to hear his explanation, too.


A key to the Republican mindset -- and mindlessness


Disturbing article in the Washington Post a few days ago.

The really scary reason Republicans don’t want to face the truth about Jan. 6

Excerpts below:

"That was another way of saying that he [Scummy traitorous Senator McConnell] would prefer that voters not be reminded of Trump’s own culpability for inciting his supporters to smash their way into the Capitol two weeks before he was due to be evicted from the White House — and for doing little to stop a rampaging mob that Trump subsequently described as “very special” people.

The more dangerous truth is that a not-insignificant portion of the GOP’s Trumpian base actually appears to believe that the violent mob was justified in its effort to disrupt Congress as it conducted its pro forma tally of the electoral votes that made Joe Biden the 46th president.

Even more worrisome were the 15 percent overall — and, again, 28 percent of Republicans — who were of the opinion that because “things have gotten so off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” "

I hope this doesn't surprise you.  It certainly doesn't surprise me.



Saturday, June 5, 2021

The state of the state in Florida


Trying to keep up with everything that happens in Florida is really difficult.  Politically, at least, it's a complete farce.  The Goobernor is continuing to do things that primarily benefit him, and his political party, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's good for most of the people in the state, the state itself, or the rest of the country.

So here's what we've got now:

Florida Republicans are trampling on the wishes of locals in a rush to consolidate power

"The legislature and governor have also meddled with local control in health emergencies. Let’s be clear: Without mask mandates, shutdowns and strict social distancing policies enacted by South Florida’s local governments — defying the governor’s laissez-faire approach — the state almost certainly would have been a bigger covid casualty, and DeSantis wouldn’t have morphed into a national GOP darling. Local governments in big cities helped save Florida. So of course Republicans have now moved to make it easier to overrule local mandates such as these."

Does that make sense?  Very little does in Florida.


Catch of the day


I've seen most of the trilogy of Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and I've seen parts of Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides.  I never paid attention to the next one.  

Well, I accidentally happened to see the music video below, and I couldn't stop watching.  Originally and briefly, I thought the fetching blonde mermaid was played by actress Amanda Seyfried, but I didn't think she'd be just a mermaid in a movie. The blonde fishgirl, who turns out to have quite an appetite, was actually Australian model Gemma Ward, who I should have been paying more attention to, I think.  

So here's what I'm going to do.  Below is a still from the movie of Gemma, and then the video, entitled "Siren".  And soon after this, I'll do a bit more on Gemma Ward, who's now 33 and the mother of one.

You'd jump in after her too, wouldn't you?

Might not be the best idea.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Meanwhile, in other soccer news


Soccer news comes fast and furious these days.  After Manchester City finished up the Premier League title, and then Leicester City defeated Chelsea for the FA Cup, Manchester City and Chelsea faced each other for the UEFA Champions League championship (which sounds a little redundant).  Chelsea won that 1-0, and the USA's own Christian Pulisic came real close to making it 2-0.  Ah well.

Since then, the USA with all the stars they could finally get on the roster just barely defeated Honduras in the Nations Cup, and (hmm ... let me check ...) yes, will play Mexico in the final on Sunday, June 6.  That's unfortunate, as the USA rarely does well against the Mexicans.  Hope they have a good day.

But I did miss the news that the Brentford Bees, after numerous almost-made-its, finally qualified to get into the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Swansea City.  They are the kind of team I root for -- one that has suffered bad luck and bad results many times, which finally triumphs.  

They'll probably get trounced in the Premier League, but here's hoping they avoid relegation next season.

Brentford 2-0 Swansea: Brentford are promoted to the Premier League and return to the top flight for the first time since 1947

"[ Manager Thomas ] Frank always insisted he was not superstitious, that he saw no symbolism in Brentford's nine failed play-off attempts – an English record – or the strange curse of red-and-white that had seen sides in their colours go 32 campaigns – and 16 finals – without promotion."

Do you know what edaphon is?


So, that's the question.  Do you know what edaphon is?

When I encountered the word, I didn't either.  I thought it might be like edamame, but that's not from the same language. So being endowed with unending curiosity, I looked it up.  

It turns out that it's the soil equivalent of plankton. I.e., with plankton being the things that float and swim in the sea, from bacteria to diatoms to dinoflagellates and euphausiids and salps and such, 

then edaphon is the bacteria and worms and springtails, mites, nematodes, earthworms, ants, and other kinds of insects and such.

So now you know.  Would you like to see a picture?  Of course you do.  So here's a picture.  I hadn't thought of cicada nymphs as edaphon, but for 17 years while they're growing in the ground, they are.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

One more from Jocelyn B. in Maxim-France


For more, scroll (stroll?) back in time a few days.  Or search on "Jocelyn".  There's only one here.

Lighthouse of the Week, May 30 - June 5, 2021: Cap Formentor, Mallorca, Spain


I've been doing this Lighthouse of the Week feature for several years now, and I strive to find new places with lighthouses before I repeat visit (but of course I've repeated many countries and locations, because some places have a lot of lighthouses and other places don't).   I was casting around mentally for a new place, and though it isn't a new country, it is a new island.  And this island has several lighthouses, so many and some centuries old, that I think I'll make it a short series.   

I'll start with the Cap Formentor, because of its outstanding location at the top of a high oceanside cliff.  It's easy to find this one on a map.

As one would expect, I went to the Lighthouse Directory for the relevant information, which is edited for length below.

"1863. Active; focal plane 210 m (689 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 22 m (72 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and double gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white; lantern is gray metallic. This lighthouse marks the northernmost tip of Mallorca and the entrance to the Badia de Pollença; it is accessible at the end of a very crooked road about 25 km (15 mi) northeast of Port de Pollença. There is a café and gift shop at the lighthouse."

 Pictures below from near to close, and an impressive video.

Highway 41 end-to-end Streetview trek - The Bottom of the Lake lakefront


As promised, now the Streetview trek visits Fond du Lac's lakefront, which has a couple of mild surprises.  So let's look around.

"Mouth" of the Fond du Lac River on Lake Winnebago.

Since I do Lighthouses of the Week, here's the Fond du Lac lighthouse, on the other side of Lakeside Park. 


On the other side of the Fond Du Lac River mouth, there's a little marsh called Supple Marsh.

So endeth our short visit to Fond du Lac. Now, by gosh, we're headed north again.

North of Fond du Lac, a typical view of the flat part of Wisconsin (there's a lot of that).

Onward through Wisconsin (don't forget to look for my Easter eggs).

So how did West Ham United qualify for the Europa League?


A couple of weeks ago, I was counting out West Ham United's chances to make it into the UEFA Europa League next year.  If you don't follow soccer/football but you do follow this blog and therefore you wonder what that is, it's the second-tier club tournament in Europe (as the UEFA Champions League is the top tier). 

So I thought that in the Premier League the top four qualify for the Champions League, and the fifth-place team goes to the Europa League, and that's it. So I was right about the Champions League top-four rule, but it turns out there's an exception. If the winner of the FA Cup (and a couple of other cups) is in the top five, then the sixth-place PL team also qualifies for the Europa League. And that would have happened if either Chelsea or Leicester City made it into the Champions League (which it turns out was Chelsea, who lost on the last day, but Leicester City lost as well, to Tottenham Hotspur, so Chelsea exceeded them by a point).

So the Hammers are in the Europa League. The PL commentators, notably ex-USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, said that for them to be successful next year, they're going to have to increase team depth, because the grind of playing both PL and Europa Cup (and the other cups, FA, Carabao) can wear down a team over the full season.

So they've got their chance. Now, how do they make the most of it?

At least for next season, I'll probably follow both Crystal Palace and West Ham.

A note: last season, the Spurs got into the Europa League because Manchester City won the EFL Cup, also known as the Carabao Cup.

From Wikipedia: "Since the winners of the 2019–20 EFL Cup, Manchester City, qualified for the Champions League group stage by league position, the spot given to the EFL Cup winners (Europa League second qualifying round) was passed down to the sixth-placed team."