Monday, August 31, 2015

Obama To Appear On Survival Expert's Show

During his upcoming visit to Alaska, President Obama will join survival expert Bear Grylls on an episode of his show Running Wild With Bear Grylls.  Grylls has been a member of the British special forces and had an earlier show named Man v. Wild.  If anyone has recently told Obama to take a hike, it appears that he intends to do exactly that.  Although I've never a fan of Obama, I hope that Grylls is the only bear that he runs into.

Read more at CNN, BBC News, USA Today and Variety.

UPDATE:  From Twitchy, PETA gives their reaction.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Links

Some things going on out there:

From CNN, New Jersey Governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie (R) promises that as president, he will "track undocumented immigrants like FedEx packages".  This begs several questions.  In order to start such tracking, don't we have to first find them, which according to some people, can't be done for all 11 million of them?  And if we can find them, wouldn't this enable us to deport them?

From Breitbart Texas, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman addresses the #BlackLivesMatter "rhetoric".

From Reuters, Sheriff Hickman states that Deputy Darren Goforth was "killed because of [his] uniform".

From Independent Journal Review, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke accuses President Obama of starting a "war on police".

From the Chicago Sun-Times, General Mills announces its goals for cutting greenhouse gases.

From Arkansas Online, the University of Texas has removed its statue of Jefferson Davis from its place near the university's clock tower.

From The Sun, a British MI6 spy who was found dead five year ago had hacked into data on former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

From The Weather Channel, in a historical rarity, there are three Pacific hurricanes now in category 4.  (via End Time Headlines)

From US of Arn, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) faults Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) for supporting the Iran nuke deal.

From WQAD, a small plane crashes near Kewanee, Illinois.

From Middle East Online, for the first time ever, woman in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to vote in local elections.

From the Chicago Tribune, Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker (R) thinks that putting a wall on the U.S.-Canada border "merits further review".

From Fox News, some Appalachian Trail hikers have been "behaving badly".  (Having hiked all of the Maryland part of the trail, and a few miles into both Pennsylvania and West Virginia, I naturally find this news rather disconcerting.)

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, hundreds mourn for a 9-year-old girl killed in Ferguson, Mo.  (via ABC News)

And from the New York Post, a resident of the Hamptons, a very rich and very leftwing area of Long Island, has had to take extraordinary measures to protect his "Hillary For Prison" signs.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Migrants In Europe Helped By Smartphones

Here's an interesting story about the migrants traveling in Europe that came out in The New York Times three days ago, and was picked up by VDare a day later.  From the Times:
The tens of thousands of migrants who have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks need food, water and shelter, just like the millions displaced by war the world over. But there is also one other thing they swear they cannot live without: a smartphone charging station.
Among other things, the smartphones help them connect with traffickers.  Also from the Times:
On the Arabic-language Facebook group Trafficking to Europe, one trafficker offers a 50 percent discount for children under 5. The 1,700 euro price of the journey from Istanbul to Thessaloniki, Greece, about $1,900, includes travel by car to and from each side of the border with a two-hour walk across.
Not only is a lot of illegal immigration going on, but there appears to be a pretty sophisticated network ready to support it, or at least make money off it.  So much for the stereotype of such migrants being poor or fleeing poverty.  Read the full story.

Migrants Die In Separate Incidents

Some of the invaders migrants trying to reach Europe or travel between its countries have seen their travels come to a grim end.

From BBC News, two boats carrying a total of about 500 people capsized near Libya.  So far, 82 of them have been reported dead, with around another 200 still missing.

From AOL, 71 migrants appear to have suffocated in a refrigerated truck abandoned on a highway in Austria.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Virginia Journalists Killed During Broadcast

Two journalists in Virginia were shot and killed while they were conducting an on-air interview this morning around 6:45 a.m. at Bridgewater Plaza in the town of Moneta.  Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were employees of WDBJ, based in Roanoke.

I first learned about this horror at Hot Air, who provide links to WSLS and WDBJ.  You can also read more at The Epoch Times.

UPDATE:  The person being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was also shot and hospitalized.  The suspect, identified as Vester Flanigan, shot himself near mile marker 17 on Interstate 66, and is reported to be in critical condition.  This would mean that he fled about 150 miles to the northeast after the shooting in Moneta.

UPDATE 2:  Hot Air has now linked a live blog by The Washington Post.  According to an entry timed at 1:58 p.m., the suspected shooter has been pronounced dead.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Some Sights In Western Colorado

To conclude my most recent travelogue, I have a few pictures from places in Colorado where I made a brief stop.  In Fruita, there is a welcome center just off exit 19 from Interstate 70.  Across a parking lot from the welcome center is the Western Slope Vietnam Memorial Park, which is easily spotted because of its mounted Army helicopter.  More on this memorial may be found at Pauahtun and Roadside America.

While driving though Grand Junction, I came across the Museum Of Western Colorado and paid a short visit.  The museum includes this tower next to its entrance.

Also near the museum's entrance was this replica of an old steam engine.  The artwork on the wall has an American Indian motif.

A mile or so east of exit 49, Interstate 70 goes into these tunnels through Beavertail Mountain.  Eastbound traffic has the option of leaving the main road and going into what is called a "parking area", from which the tunnels may be photographed.  The "parking area" is a single lane and shoulder which, like the Colorado River, goes around the mountain, before merging back into the main road.

In the small town of Collbran is the American Servicewomen's Memorial.  Here's my picture of it.

In the even smaller town of Mesa, along Colorado State Route 65, are these two statues of horses, which I think are made of bronze.

Crayfish Species Named After Edward Snowden

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who might be a hero, freedom fighter or traitor depending on whom you talk to, has been given a new namesake, a species of crayfish native to the Indonesian part of New Guinea, the Cherax snowden.  Specimens of this animal have previously been mistaken for members of another crayfish species.  The crayfish has a dark blue body with orange on parts of its extremities, and thus does not physically resemble Snowden.  Whether any have been found leaking secrets has not been reported.

Read more at Sci-News, UPI, The Washington Post and Time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Some Sights In Eastern Utah

The entrance to Arches National Park is just off U.S. Highway 191, a few miles north of Moab, Utah.  Between the park entrance and Moab is the junction of U.S. 191 and Utah State Route 128.  From the junction, U.S. 191 goes northwest, while Utah 128 goes northeast, both of them eventually connecting to Interstate 70.  Most of Utah 128 follows the Colorado River on its east side.  About 30 miles north of its southern end, the road goes over a bridge and onto the west side of the river.  After a few more miles, Utah 128 and the Colorado part company, with the road proceeding northward across a relatively flat area before coming to a T.  Turning left keeps you on Route 128 and after a few more miles, takes you to I-70.  Turning right puts you on an unnumbered road which also goes to I-70, after passing through the remote town of Cisco.

Much of Route 128 along the Colorado is in a canyon.  There are also some rock formations along the road, such as these, about two miles south of the bridge.

The bridge itself is a replacement for an earlier suspension bridge, called the Dewey Bridge.  Its remains can be reached via a short side road near the modern bridge.  This is the tower on the east side of the Colorado.

This marker indicates that the Dewey Bridge has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Standing under the east tower, I could see the west tower and the remaining cables.

After crossing the modern bridge and continuing northward for about two miles, I came across this rock marked with Indian petroglyphs and some modern graffiti.  There was no road sign about "Indian Writing" or anything else.  The stone simply caught my eye.

For more about the Dewey Bridge, go here and here.

Black Monday Links

The stock market, already having taken a beating last week, opened today with some big losses.  Here are some stock market stories and other things in the news:

From Fox News, the Dow-Jones opened over 1,000 points down, but as of 9:50 a.m., has a net loss for the day of 611 points.

From The Street, the S&P 500 undergoes a correction.

From WUIS, a live blog of today's stock market action.

From CNBC, as the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P all suffer losses, the New York Stock Exchange invokes Rule 48.

From Zero Hedge, Rule 48 is invoked.  The site also shows the text of this rule.

From Bloomberg Business, stock trading will pause for 15 minutes if the S&P goes down by 7% before 3:25 p.m.

From International Business Times, the "Fab Five" tech stocks all get crushed.

From The Jerusalem Post, European stocks suffer large losses.

From Market Watch, since last Wednesday, the Euro has made up half of its year-to-date loss against the dollar.  (Good thing I visited Europe two months ago instead of last week.)

From The Vancouver Sun, in a survey, economists believe that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year.

From The Washington Times, presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) not only enjoys good poll numbers, but bad poll numbers among those who attacked him.

From CBS Chicago, mosquitoes in McHenry County, Illinois have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

From BBC News, a huge chunk of ice has broken off Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier.

From io9, data collected in 1995 provides evidence that rogue waves exist.

From AOL, the three Americans and one Briton who stopped the attack on a train travelling to Paris were awarded France's Legion Of Honor medal.

From MyChamplainValley, who indicate CNN as their source, what we know about the train attack suspect.

From National Review, in Big Technology, Americans need not apply.

From Yahoo News, Guatemalan President Otto Perez, accused of corruption, refuses to resign.

From The Washington Post, ISIS destroys another ancient structure in Palmyra, Syria.

From Reuters, convicted theater attacker James Holmes will be formally sentenced in a three-day hearing that begins today.

And from The Washington Free Beacon, voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania oppose the Iran nuke deal by 2-1.  (What their congresscritters think of the deal is another matter.)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back To Arches - Part 2

After viewing Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch in the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park, as told in Part 1, I got back on the area's main trail and hiked to the viewing area of Landscape Arch, one of the park's most famous arches.  There's a long sloping area that goes under and behind it, leading up to an alcove.

From the same viewing area, you can see Partition Arch.

Here's another shot of Landscape Arch, from a slightly different angle.

Some trees and rocks near the Landscape Arch viewing area:

From the viewing area, there is a primitive trail leading uphill toward some other arches.  I wandered up the trail until I came to this area, where an arch had fallen in 2008, according to a ranger who was standing on the trail.  The arch had been attached to the near end of the rock formation that takes up most of the next picture.  The young hikers are on the primitive trail, which continues to the right of the formation.

After viewing Tunnel, Pine Tree and Landscape Arches, I hiked back to the Devils Garden trailhead.  On the way, someone pointed out this little guy.  For a second there, I thought I was in a Geico ad.

I just had to get another shot of the lizard and his rock, from the other side.

While driving back to the park's entrance, I stopped to see the Fiery Furnace.  It was now early afternoon, at which time this feature received more direct sunlight than in the morning.

Although I had photographed it two years earlier, I had to again stop and see Balanced Rock and its environs on my way out.

Back To Arches - Part 1

During my trip to western Colorado and eastern Utah, from which I just got back, I went back to Arches National Park, which I had visited two years ago.  This gave me a chance to see some things that I had not seen during my first visit.  This time, I arrived in the morning, rather than during the afternoon, thus being provided with sunlight from a different angle.  This would in turn help determine which of the park's features would be easier to photograph.  One example would be the Three Gossips, which was in shadow as seen from the park's main road two years ago, but this time was in sunlight.

These formations are in an area called the Rock Pinnacles.

This is another of the Rock Pinnacles.

This rock column, one of the Pinnacles, was pretty close to the road.

I headed for the northern end of the main road, to see the area known as Devils Garden.  There are several arches that may be reached from the trailhead via an easy well-maintained trail.  One similarly easy branch trail leads to a place for viewing Tunnel Arch.

Another easy branch trail leads to Pine Tree Arch, which, if you step carefully, you can go right under.

There's more to come in Part 2.  If you wish to review my first visit to Arches N.P., click on "2013" in the Blog Archive and then on "August".

Friday, August 21, 2015

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison - Part 2

After viewing the canyon of the Gunnison river from Gunnison Point, and hiking the Oak Flat Trail, I drove to some other viewing points within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  This picture was taken from a viewing area called Pulpit Rock, looking eastward.  The reason the south side of the canyon (on the right) is more eroded than the north side is that the north receives more direct sunlight than the south, which causes more water to evaporate therefrom.  The dryer rock is more difficult to erode, while the moister rock on the south side erodes more easily.

Looking westward from Devils Lookout, I could see the far wall of a side canyon, toward the left, and the north wall of the main canyon.

From another spot in Devils Lookout, I could see down to the Gunnison River.

Looking eastward from Chasm View, I could see part of the river, which was otherwise behind part of the canyon's south wall.

Seen from another part of Chasm View, the river turns into rapids that run between rocks.

Within easy walking distance from Chasm View is Painted Wall View.  This is part of Painted Wall, named because of its two colors of rock.  According to the information provided at the viewing area, this cliff is about twice as high as the Empire State Building.

Here's more of Painted Wall, looking downward into the canyon.

Painted Wall View was the last place in the park where I decided to stop and see the sights.  Soon afterwards, I was back out on the road.

Man Opens Fire On Train In France

On a high-speed Thalys train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, a man reportedly armed with a Kalashnikov and knives wounded two passengers before being tackled by two U.S. Marines.  One victim was an American, the other a Briton.  A French actor was also wounded by glass he broke in order to sound an alarm.  The alleged shooter, of north African origin, was arrested at Arras in northern France.

In English, read more at BBC News, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

En français, lisez plus à La Montagne et Le Monde.

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison - Part 1

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a National Park situated along the Gunnison River in western Colorado, and includes one of the steepest canyons in the United States.  Like the larger and more famous Grand Canyon in Arizona, the park may be accessed from either side of its respective river.  Unlike the Grand Canyon, there is no bridge across the river.  Anyone wishing to go down to the Gunnison River, which is far below the park's designated trails, needs to acquire a permit.

I decided to enter the park from its southern entrance, since from the south side, I could look at the canyon with the sun behind me.  The north side would thus be largely in sunlight, although the rugged shapes of the canyon's walls, their steepness, and the bending of the river would result in some areas still being in shadow.  Near the South Rim Visitor Center is a viewing area called Gunnison Point.  From there, I took this shot across the canyon, showing some land beyond its north side.

This picture includes some trees in the foreground, and a little bit of the river.

There were some crags and boulders on the near side of the river.

A vertical column of rock stands in a small side gully.

After leaving Gunnison Point, I hiked the Oat Flat Trail, which makes a two-mile loop starting near the visitor center.  As I had previously experienced in the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, I subjected myself to the first law of canyon hiking:  What goes down must come back up, after you're already tired.  Early in the hike, the trail led over a small area of exposed rock, of two different types and colors.

From one place along the trail, I could see some more of the trail below me.  After a while, that's where I was.  Another section of the river is in the background.

As the trail led back upward, I could see some rock formations on the near side of the canyon.

Not long after taking that last picture from the trail, I made it back to the visitor center and then drove off to other parts of the park.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Evidence Of The Past Along Utah 279

Besides the trail to Corona Arch, there are several other points of interest along Utah Route 279 south of Moab, the result of activity by earlier people and by now-extinct animal species.  The two light-colored three-pointed footprints in the large slab of rock are from a dinosaur.

On one side of Route 279 is a panel of petroglyphs.  Road signs call them "Indian Writing".

More petroglyphs appear on two adjacent panels of rock.

Thursday Links

Some things happening out there in the world:

From Real Clear Politics, why are voters giving presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) a chance?

From Daily Surge, Trump talks politics with Oprah Winfrey - in 1988.

From the Washington Examiner, presidential candidate Ben Carson (R) draws big crowds in Arizona.

From USA Today, stocks appear set to fall in part due to lower oil prices.

From the Associated Press, a scuba-diving drug smuggler used a partially underwater tunnel.

From BBC News, two suspects in the bombing of a Hindu shrine in Bangkok turn themselves in.

From Tech Crunch, Mesosphere and Microsoft combine to bring the former's container-centric program to the latter Windows software.

From Newser, in my principal ancestral country, seven people are killed when two planes full of skydivers collide.

In FrontpageMag, Michelle Malkin points out how polluting the Animas River is not the only problem with the EPA.

From Russia Today, South Korea evacuates civilians after exchanging artillery fire with North Korea.  (via End Time Headlines)

From The Jerusalem Post, Malaysia has arrested ten people with suspected links to ISIS.

From LifeNews, media networks censor a video of a woman alleging that her superior at Planned Parenthood harvested organs from a baby that was still alive.

From Reuters, existing home sales are at an eight-year high.

From The Washington Post, Tropical Storm Danny could become this year's first hurricane.

From the New York Daily News, a baby was accidentally locked in a hotel safe.  (via NJ(dot)com)

And from Hokiesports, the Football Writers Association of America's 75th Anniversary All-America Second Team includes the man known as Bruuuuuuuce.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hiking Near Corona Arch

Southwest of Moab, Utah are some arches that are not part of Arches National Park.  Two of them can be reached by, or at least seen from a trail that leads from a parking lot along State Route 279, which follows the Colorado River south of Moab.  First, you have to cross some railroad tracks.

After continuing along the trail for a little bit, I could look back toward my left and see how the tracks follow the Colorado.  In the other direction, the tracks go away from the river and eventually into a tunnel.

Here's a large rock formation, including an alcove near its top, looking left from the trail.

Further down the trail and to the right is another rock formation with an alcove.

There were many cairns (artificial rock piles) marking the trail.  In one place, there were hundreds of them.

This is Corona Arch, with a rock wall behind it.

I'm not sure if this formation is called Bow Tie Arch or the Little Rainbow Bridge.

As I was getting back to the parking lot, I saw this formation that includes several domed peaks and two alcoves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dead Horse Point State Park

Southwest of Moab, Utah and Arches National Park, and east of the north entrance to Canyonlands National Park is a state park named Dead Horse Point.  The park's namesake point is a section of a high plateau that overlooks lower lands on three sides.  The park is reached by following State Route 313 southward from U.S. Route 191, northwest of Moab.  Route 313 leads directly to Dead Horse Point.  Just after milepost 8, the route turns left, whereas continuing straight leads to Canyonlands.

The park has a visitor's center about a mile before the end of the road.  From near the center, I took this shot of a canyon that makes a notch into the east side of the plateau.

Looking further out toward the southeast, I could see this bend in the Colorado River.

Also seen to the east was this solar evaporation pond.

I continued southward to the end of Route 313, where the park has viewing areas along the edge of the plateau.  This is another view of the bend in the Colorado toward the southeast.

Here's another bend in the Colorado, looking southwest.

Also toward the southwest is yet another riverbend.  Note the flat area above the river's canyon.

This spire, seen looking northwest, sits on top of a ridge near the river.

Across the Colorado to the west is this lonely dirt road.

Here's a more panoramic view that includes the riverbend seen above.  In the upper right is another dirt road.

After leaving Dead Horse Point State Park, I stopped along Route 313 to view these two mesas.

Nearby was a long ridge with some cliffs.  This is just one section of it.

More on this Dead Horse Point SP may be found at its official site, Discover Moab and Utah(dot)com.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sego Canyon Rock Art

About three miles north of Thompson Springs, Utah is an American Indian rock art site that includes both petroglyphs (made by etching the rock surface) and pictographs (made by painting the rock surface).  You can take Utah State Route 94 north from Interstate 70.  The numbered route ends just south of the town, but the road keeps going and eventually leads into a narrow canyon.  On the left side of the road is a small parking area.  This petroglyph panel is commonly attributed to the Fremont Culture, who lived in what is now central Utah from around 600 to 1250 AD, but whose origins go back further.  Sadly, there are some non-Indian additions.

A large panel of pictographs is thought to have been made by Archaic people, who were in the area between 8,000 and 2,000 BC.  While the Freemont, like their contemporaries the Anasazi, were agricultural, the earlier Archaic people were mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers.  The style of these paintings is called Barrier Canyon Style.

Here are the pictographs from a different angle.

The most recent art was made by the Ute, and includes both petroglyphs and pictographs.  Some of the figures depict horses, thus dating them from after the arrival of the Spanish, who introduced the horse into North America.  Sadly, this panel also contains non-Indian additions.  The Ute lived in the area from around 1,300 AD, and are still around today, largely on reservations.

The Sego Canyon rock art has been subjected to quite a bit of study and speculation.  More about the figures can be found at Climb Utah, Science Views, Ancient Origins and Legends Of America.

Bomb Explodes Near Shrine In Bangkok

Up to 22 people are reported to have been killed, and over 100 others wounded, by a bomb that exploded next to a Hindu shrine in central Bangkok, Thailand.  The Erawan Shrine is popular with tourists, and was crowded at the time of the blast.  The explosive device was reportedly a pipe bomb wrapped in cloth.

No one has yet claimed responsibility.  There is a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, but they are not known for attacking in other parts of the country.

Read more at CNN, BBC News, The Telegraph, The Guardian and CBC News.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rifle Falls State Park

North of the town of Rifle, along Rifle Creek, a number of miles upstream from the Rifle Gap, is Rifle Falls, within its namesake state park.  The park also includes campsites, hiking trails, and several small caves near the falls.  It was pretty crowded, with its regular parking spaces filled, but the two rangers on duty allowed other visitors such as myself to park our cars on the shoulder of the park's road.  I even got some help from another visitor, who used hand signals to help me position my car in front of his.  From there, it was only a short walk to the falls.

This is the second time I have visited the park.  While staying near Vail in 2004, I took a day trip, going to Rifle Falls and further west.  Back then, I didn't have a digital camera or a blog, but this time, I get to record my visit online.

The falls consists of three streams that go over a cliff, hit some rocks below, and then gather into a common pool.  The left stream appears to be further divided into one part that shoots outward and another that goes more straight down.

From this angle, we can see a large alcove to the left of the falls.  The man standing in it provides some size perspective.

I took the next shot from a position near the right stream, which shows the subdivided left stream and the central stream.  A woman is now in the alcove, just in front of a cave.  In the top foreground are some tree branches.  In the upper left is a projecting metal balcony.

Naturally, I then climbed up to the alcove and took a pic from there.

The Coyote Trail led upwards from the right side of the falls and past several caves.  Upstream from the falls is this pond.

The trail continued just above the top of the falls, from where we could see the stream below.

I continued over to the above-mentioned projecting balcony and took this picture.

At the parking area near the falls, I found the Squirrel Trail, which led over Rifle Creek and then southward along an artificial channel.  This picture looks back to the north.

The trail eventually separated from the channel and went downhill, passing near this boulder surrounded by trees and grass.

The trail would go back over Rifle Creek and led past some campsites.  I followed a gravel road back to the park entrance and then back to my car.  After I drove away from the park, I stopped to see Rifle Gap Reservoir, used for boating and fishing at nearby Rifle Gap State Park.

This last picture shows a parking area on the north side of the reservoir.

More about Rifle Falls State Park can be found at The American Southwest.

I know the time of post will be around 11:30 p.m., but out here in Mountain Time, it's only about 9:30.

Greetings From Western Colorado

I'm out here in western Colorado for a change of scenery and some exploration.  (Thankfully, my flights were not affected by yesterday's air traffic computer glitch.)  As you might expect, the scenery here is very different from that of Maryland.  While driving between Mesa and De Beque, the latter located on both the Colorado River and Interstate 70, on a road known as the "De Beque Cutoff" but whose official designation is "45 1/2 Road", I came across an interesting rock formation, and had to snap a few pics.  It appears to contain at least two openings.

Here's the formation from a different angle.  A few trees are in the way.

I continued stepping around bushes and smaller rocks, and took this shot from a greater distance, with even more trees in the foreground.

Naturally, I'll be putting up some more travelogue posts in the near future.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Man Killed By Roller Coaster

At the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, a man was killed when he was struck by a roller coaster train.  After losing his cell phone while riding the roller coaster, named the Raptor, he entered a restricted area apparently thinking that he could retrieve it.  Instead, he became eligible to receive a Darwin Award.

Read more at CNN, USA Today and the Sandusky Register.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Israeli Newspaper Misidentified U.S. Senator As "Gay"

Earlier today, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz referred to Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) as "gay" in an entry on Twitter.  This, of course, would be a surprise to his wife Franni.  Why Franken was identified as "gay" is not known, but one reported possibility is that he was confused with openly gay former Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass), who has never been a U.S. Senator.  Franken has recently come out (if you'll forgive the expression) in favor of the recently-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran.  Besides being a Senator, he has also written and performed for NBC's Saturday Night Live, and has written books and screenplays.

Read more at The Hill, MarketWatch, the Washington Examiner and Sputnik International.

[Edit: As pointed out in a comment, Congressman Frank represented Massachusetts, not Connecticut, as I previously mistakenly indicated.]

Some Science News Items

Here are some news stories of a scientific nature:

From The Christian Science Monitor, scientists have discovered the smallest exoplanet seen by a telescope.  (It still has twice the mass of Jupiter.)

From Science Daily, researchers from the United States, Ireland and Singapore have altered the magnetic properties of a film of LaMnO3 by changing its thickness.

From The Daily Star, listening to music before, after, and even during surgery has been shown to decrease the need for pain-killers.

And from Mashable, the European spacecraft Rosetta, currently orbiting Comet 67P, has remained healthy after experiencing the comet's perihelion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wastewater Spill Threatens Navajo

The EPA-caused spill of wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers is now threatening the livelihoods of the Navajo Nation, many of whom normally depend on the San Juan for drinking water and irrigation.  The Navajo have responded by suing the EPA.  The Navajo president and tribal officials have accused the EPA of trying to cheat some Navajo people by getting them to sign away their rights to make future claims against the EPA.  Some stories:

From CNN, the damage done to the Navajo's water "goes beyond money".

From The Washington Times, Navajo President Russell Begaye has alleged that EPA officials have been asking Navajo people to sign waivers.

From Time, President Begaye discusses his tribe's lawsuit.

From the StarTribune, experts predict "long-term health risks" from the spill.

And from the Chicago Tribune, the Navajo are "bearing the brunt" of the spill.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday Links

Some more stuff going on out there:

From NBC News, at the crash site of MH17, shot down over Ukraine last year, some of the debris might be fragments of a Russian missile.

From Engadget, NASA is seeking more ideas for its CubeSat nanosatellites.

From the Los Angeles Times, a report on the benefits received by illegal aliens in California.

From The Rakyat Post, police use force against migrants on the Greek island of Kos.

From Haaretz, talks between Saudi Arabia and Russia over Syria fail to reach any agreement.

From Reuters, presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) can't pay his campaign staffers.

From ABC News, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) will appeal his convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court.

From FrontpageMag, violence once again breaks out in Ferguson, Missouri.

From The Times Of Israel, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is accused of treason for opposing the Obama administration's deal with Iran.

From Live Mint, a disease spread among tadpoles is threatening worldwide frog populations.

From Sky News, ISIS directs lone wolves in the U.K. to carry out terror attacks.  (via Fox News, who report possible plots to attack V-J celebrations)

From The New York Times, in various states, the Democratic Party is removing the names Jefferson and Jackson from their official gatherings.

From Yahoo News, two British cops join go on the beat on the Spanish island of Majorca.

From Epoch Times, two residents of Mississippi have been charged with trying to join ISIS.

From The Street, the U.S. Army and Helius Medical Technologies will launch the third phase of their traumatic brain injury clinical trial.

From the International Business Times, Russia has signed a contract to spend $1.6 billion on fighter jets.

And from SB Nation, players at the PGA Championship will be reminded of the rules even while relieving themselves.

Monday, August 10, 2015

White House Staffer Allegedly Involved In Domestic Violence

This post illustrates how I occasionally must follow a trail to get to the original source, or at least an original source, of a story.  This one comes via Conservative Byte, who got it from Breitbart's Big Government, who got it from the Hill Blotter blog at Roll Call, who in turn refers to NBC Washington.  From the last link:
A White House staffer threatened her boyfriend, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, with his own weapon during an argument, according to police.
From what I can gather from the linked articles, the argument was over another woman that the man was allegedly seeing, and took place at the staffer's home in Marlboro, Maryland.  Read more at any of the links above.

Miami Athletic Administrator Shows Some Athleticism

The Miami Hurricanes football team, while practicing catching punts, brought in a special guest - their Assistant Athletic Director of Communications, Tom Symonds.  After demonstrating some pretty impressive footwork, he hauls in the punt, spikes the football, and sets off a wild celebration by the players.  This video comes via ForTheWin:

Whether AAD Symonds will be showing off his skills when Virginia Tech visits Miami during the upcoming NCAA football season is anybody's guess.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frank Gifford 1930-2015

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, who also had a long career in sports broadcasting, died suddenly today of natural causes at his home in Connecticut, according to a statement from his family.  He was 84, just a week shy of what would have been his 85th birthday.

Frank Newton Gifford was born on August 16, 1930 in Santa Monica, California.  He attended USC on a football scholarship, before being drafted by the New York Giants, with whom he broke into the NFL in 1952.  He played defensive back, running back, wide receiver and occasionally kicker during his career, winning the league's MVP award in 1956.  While playing against the Eagles in 1960, Gifford was knocked out by a hit from linebacker Chuck Bednarik.  He spent 10 days in the hospital and did not play again until 1962.  He quit playing for good after the 1964 season.

Gifford worked as a football broadcaster for CBS before joining ABC's Monday Night Football.  At various times, he broadcast the Olympics and several motorcycle jumps by Evel Knievel.  He also acted in a number of films.

Gifford was married to the former Kathie Lee Epstein, a well-known TV personality.  It was the second marriage for both.  He had two children with her, and three others with his first wife, Maxine Avis Ewart.

Read more at NFL(dot)com, the New York Daily News, ABC13, CBS Sports and ESPN.

Pollution Released By EPA Spreads Downriver

Four days ago, the EPA was trying to clean out an old mine in Colorado, when the crew they were supervising accidentally released wastewater into a nearby stream.  While the irony of a government agency dedicated to keeping the environment clean polluting it instead was pretty obvious, I had not bothered to learn the specific location of the mishap.  As it turns out, I had visited the affected area two years ago.  Now, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, the polluted water continues to spill via Cement Creek into the Animas River, which flows past Silverton and Durango, Colorado, has reached New Mexico, and is headed for Utah.  This is because the Animas is a tributary of the San Juan River, which flows past several towns in New Mexico before continuing into Utah and eventually reaching Lake Powell, a reservoir along the Colorado.

Read the full story and take a good look at the pictures.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Links

A few stories in the news:

From The Washington Post, a Metro train derailed this morning, and the cause is not yet known.

From Local 15, a Silicon Valley company presents robot room service.

From CBC News, a scientist in Brazil learns the hard way about venomous frogs.

From Science Daily, scientists find evidence of oscillating neutrinos.

From ForTheWin, Alabama football coach Nick Saban is not pleased about his unauthorized biography.  (FTW cites two sources for their information.)

From TheStreet, NASA TV will broadcast live the upcoming six-hour spacewalk of two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station.

From Forward, the move to Israel by Ethiopian Jews might be making them sick.

From GolfNewsNet, Tiger Woods has opened his own restaurant.  Whether the menu includes any items once suggested by Fuzzy Zoeller has not yet been determined.

From MSN, the first production run of Honda's new S660 has already sold out.

From BBC News, North Korea is setting up its own time zone.  (via, appropriately enough, Time)

From The Washington Times, the White House is downplaying the opposition by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to the nuclear deal with Iran.

From The Telegraph, suspected Islamic terrorists have killed and kidnapped guests at a hotel in Mali.

From NewsOK, jurors deliberating over whether to sentence Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to death ask to review a crime scene video.  UPDATE:  The jurors could not agree on the sentence.  As a result, Holmes will get life without parole.

From the Los Angeles Times, immigration officials have urged a district judge to reconsider her ruling to release hundreds of detained women and children.

And from Wired, the inanimate objects you should follow on Twitter.

The Death Of Cecil From A Zimbabwean Perspective

In The New York Times, a Zimbabwean studying for his doctorate in the United States gives some perspective about the death of Cecil the lion at the hands of a visiting American hunter, and his opinion on the reaction by Americans.  Let's just say that he's not asking for condolences for a lion.  I'll provide just one brief quote:
Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sights In Three States

After leaving the Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS in central Pennsylvania, I continued driving north and west toward Lake Erie and into Ohio.  I stopped in Conneault, which occupies the northeast corner of Ohio, to visit their railroad museum.  The Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum consists of an old New York Central depot, full of various exhibits, and some larger objects outside.  Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive #755 is parked on its own track, along with several railcars.

Here's one side of #755.  A metal fence is in front of the other.

On a separate, very short track are these vehicles once used for track inspection and maintenance.  Behind the fence are active tracks used by CSX.

In this shot, we can see the track inspection vehicles from their front end.  To the left in the shade are a caboose and a yellow hopper car.  Behind all these is the east end of the museum building.  To the right is an old ball signal, along with the above-mentioned fence and CSX tracks.  This site has some good information on early railroad signals such as ball signals.

In front of the rear of the caboose is a scaled-down steam engine.

For more on the Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum, go here and here.

After my stop in Conneaut, I continued eastward into Pennsylvania and took a brief hike in Erie Bluffs State Park.  From a parking lot just off State Highway 5, a trail leads northward toward the lake.  The trail approaches these trees, and then passes them on the left.

After a bit of exploration, I found a place where I could see Lake Erie without too many tree branches in the way.  Somewhere just beyond the horizon is Ontario, Canada.

I eventually found my way to the southwest corner of New York.  From a rest stop on Interstate 86, which is also NY State Highway 17, this is part of Lake Chautauqua.

I eventually turned southward back into Pennsylvania and toward Maryland.  There were and still are some more mountains to cross to get back home.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Allegheny Portage Railroad

During my younger days, I once read about a canal that went across Pennsylvania, which included a railroad that took canal boats over a mountainous area between two sections of artificial waterway.  The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site near Gallitzin, PA preserves a small section of that railroad, which ran from Hollidaysburg, just south of Altoona, to Johnstown, later known for its tragic flood.  The NHS also includes an engine house.  In each engine house along the APR, there was a steam engine that pulled ropes attached to railcars on which canal boats rode up and down an inclined section of track.  On level sections between the inclines, horses or locomotives pulled the boat-laden cars.  This is the east side of the engine house.

These tracks run eastward and downhill from the engine house.  In the distance is the Skew Arch Bridge, under which the tracks used to run.

In this closeup of the inclined track, we can see that the rails are made of wood clad with strips of metal.

Inside the engine house, the ropes used to pull the railcars are mounted on wheels, which would have been driven by the steam engine.

In the section of level track west of the engine house, the rails are made of steel and anchored via triangular supports.  In the background is the Lemon House, a tavern built by businessman Samuel Lemon.

The Lemon House, as seen from its south side, is three stories tall.

Beyond the west end of the tracks, the old path of the APR can still be seen.

Inside the engine house was a small exhibit, including these replicas of two types of rope used by the APR.  The earlier ropes (top) were made of hemp.  They were eventually replaced by steel cables (bottom), developed by John Roebling, later known for building suspension bridges.  The replicas are chained at one end to the exhibit table.  Visitors can thus handle them and get an appreciation of their physical properties.

More information about the APR may be found at Exploring The Offbeaten Path and ExplorePAhistory.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Links

Some things in the news:

From NBC Bay Area, in California, San Mateo County will conduct this coming November's election entirely by mail.

From Fox News, the families of two missing teenager boys in Florida have turned to online fundraising to continue searching for them.

From Business Standard, Motorola presents the Moto G.

From Twin Cities(dot)com, Minnesota's first month of having medical marijuana "is a mixed bag".

From CBS Chicago, a daughter of a former Illinois governor remembers the poor condition of her state's Governor's Mansion.

From The Independent, a policeman in Memphis was fatally shot while making a traffic stop.  UPDATE:  From AOL, the suspect has been identified.  He was a passenger in the stopped vehicle.

From Quartz, the Canadian hitchhiking robot, attempting to travel from Boston to San Francisco, survived only as far as Philadelphia, where it was found decapitated.

From The Street, Verizon employees continue to work while their contract is still being negotiated.

From The Chattanoogan, contrary to various Internet stories, the Navy will not charge Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White with any offense relating to the shooting incidents at two military centers.

From USA Today, debris found on the French Island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, has been determined not to be part of Flight MH 370.

From ABC News, a teenage girl has died three days after being stabbed at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

From The Gateway Pundit, this morning in Las Cruces, New Mexico, bombs explode at two churches.

From the New York Post, a teenage girl in New York City wonders why she was given a diploma that she didn't deserve.  She herself wrote the NYP article.

From The Guardian, hundreds of Confederate flag supports rally at Stone Mountain.

From Yahoo News, the EPA's Clean Power Plan faces legal scrutiny.

From the New York Daily News, the U.S. Coast Guard rescues a man who had been treading water for 4 hours, 44 miles off the coast of New Jersey.

From NBC Chicago, the body of a 20-year-old woman has been recovered two days after she and some friends went for a swim in Lake Michigan.

From CBS News, a wildfire north of San Francisco continues to spread.

From The Register, an asteroid known as "Space Peanut" just flew within 4.5 million miles of the earth.

And from Contract Music, a look at the musical career of British singer Cilla Black, who passed away at her home in Spain.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Obama's Son" Causes Bomb Scare

A man in Chicago has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for causing a bomb scare near President Obama's home in Chicago.  After being arrested, he also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device.  The suspect, Marquez Hassell, 20, claimed to be Obama's son.

I'd say that either teh stoopid or teh crazy is strong with this one.  Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times, CBS Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and WGN.