No air conditioning in your classroom? Maasai school in Tanzania

August 20, 2014

Maasai school in Tanzania. Photo by Noel Feans,

Maasai school in Tanzania. Photo by Noel Feans, “We rule the school.” September 2009; Creative Commons copyright, Wikimedia image; also on Flickr

Another photo illustrating classroom technology in different cultures.


Sunshine on Harry Truman’s place

August 20, 2014

Sunset at the home of President Truman. @GoParks @Interior #POTUS

Sunset at the home of President Truman. @GoParks @Interior #POTUS

In the late afternoon light, one gets a better view of just why Harry Truman was so fond of this house.  Who wouldn’t be?

Something to visit when you’re next in Independence, Missouri.

More:


Fallen Monarch: A Yosemite tree that dwarfs an entire mounted cavalry

August 13, 2014

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site:    About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site: About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Giant sequoia trees can be found only in the United States, and only in or near the Sierra Mountains in California. 

How massive are they?  The tree above, with the 6th Cavalry’s F Troop posing on and around it with their horses, is 26 feet in diameter at its base, where it fell, and 285 feet long,   Redwood doesn’t rot like other woods.  The tree is still there, today, looking much like it did 115 years ago (Comments on Yosemite NP photo).

The Fallen Monarch, in Mariposa Grove, in 1907:

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

When did the tree fall?  Hundreds of years ago, perhaps?

More:

Yosemite NP Nature Notes 11: Big Trees


Abiquiu stars

August 11, 2014

Making those nice photographs of the Milky Way and stars isn’t so easy as it looks.

I made my most successful efforts on our recent swing through Colorado, New Mexico and West Texas.  Here’s a shot I got that almost shows the Milky Way, probably has Polaris in it, and because it was a timed exposure, also captured star movement and an airplane flying overhead.  Photo was taken from the Army Corps of Engineers campground at Abiquiu Reservoir, a few miles from Georgia O’Keefe’s home.

Abiquiu Stars - Time photograph of stars against a pinon pine, pointing north; Milky Way almost visible in the East.

Abiquiu Stars – Time photograph of stars against a pinon pine, pointing north; Milky Way almost visible in the East.


You won’t believe this double rainbow at Crater Lake National Park

August 4, 2014

U.S. Department of Interior said: Our most popular photo on social media last week: this pic of a double #rainbow over @CraterLakeNPS.

Technically a rainbow can form anytime there are water droplets in the air, and sunlight to shine through them. Pragmatically, there’s a better chance of the sunlight getting the right angle in the earlier morning and late afternoon.  Since most summer rainstorms happen in the afternoon, most rainbows probably get formed in the afternoon, too.

If the field of droplets is thick enough, a vantage point may get more than one rainbow.

So there’s a good deal of chance in this photo.  A good photographer is ready, when the chance presents itself.

Did you notice the colors are reversed in the secondary rainbow?

More:


July 8, 1853: Perry anchors U.S. ships in Edo Bay, the beginning of American Imperialism 161 years ago

July 7, 2014

History item:  On July 8,1853 four black ships led by USS Powhatan and commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry, anchored at Edo (Tokyo) Bay. Never before had the Japanese seen ships steaming with smoke. They thought the ships were “giant dragons puffing smoke.” They did not know that steamboats existed and were shocked by the number and size of the guns on board the ships.

President Millard Fillmore, defying H. L. Mencken’s later, crabby, hoax claim of do-little-government, sent Matthew C. Perry to Japan to open Japan as a refuge for shipwrecked sailors, and as a coaling stop for steamships.  For the previous 200 years, Japan had been closed to all but a few Dutch and Chinese traders.   On July 8, 1853, Perry’s small fleet sailed boldly into restricted waters of Japan and anchored.

Delivering the American presents to the Emperor of Japan, at Yokohama.  Nimitz Museum, Annapolis

Delivering the American presents to the Emperor of Japan, at Yokohama. A. O. P. Nicholson image, 1856 publication, “Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan” – artist not identified (Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson, 1856); Nimitz Museum, Annapolis. A list of the presents can be seen at a link near the end of this post; some of the gifts, such as the model of the steam engine, can be identified in this picture.

After some contretemps, which included Japan’s telling Perry to go to Nagasaki instead (where a military party was probably waiting) and Perry’s shelling a few buildings on shore, the Emperor accepted the letter from President Fillmore.  Perry told the Emperor he would return the following year for an answer.  Perry returned on March 8, 1854, and within a month concluded the Convention of Kanagawa, opening Japan to trade from the west.  Generally unheralded, this may have been one of the more important pieces of U.S. diplomacy in history, especially considering the dramatic rise of Japan as an economic and military power, on the basis of the trade Commodore Perry demanded Japan engage in.

We should make special note of the chain of events over the following 85 or so years, culminating in World War II in the Pacific.  Had Fillmore not sent Perry, had the U.S. not insisted Japan open itself to the world, would there have been an attack on Pearl Harbor, and war in the Pacific?  Alternative histories we’ll never see.  But see the discussion at Salon, in 2014, about this topic (conveniently leaving out Millard Fillmore’s role), “What sparked Japan’s aggression during World War II?”

More:

Documents below the fold 

Steam frigate U.S.S. Susquehanna, Matthew Perry's flagship; the black hull won this small fleet a nickname,

Steam frigate U.S.S. Susquehanna, Matthew Perry’s flagship; the black hull won this small fleet a nickname, “the Black Ships.” Japanese Woodcut, from the University of Indiana

 

Read the rest of this entry »


73 156+ things to celebrate about America on the Fourth of July

July 4, 2014

In no particular order, leaving many gaps, on the Fourth of July I celebrate America, and these things about America:

  1. The Apollo Project that put humans on the Moon

    Apollo 11:  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

    Apollo 11: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

  2. Interstate Highway System
  3. Yellowstone National Park
  4. Edward Abbey
  5. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  6. The New York Public Library
  7. Jello
  8. Baltimore, home of the Orioles, and playing field for Johnny Unitas
  9. Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, and generally the hottest.
  10. Denali, the highest point in North America, so high it makes its own weather
  11. New Orleans Jazz
  12. Grant Wood’s paintings
  13. Mark Twain
  14. Dred Scott
  15. Thurgood Marshall, and Brown v. Topeka Board of Education
  16. U.S. Highway 101, especially where you can see the Pacific Ocean
  17. Route 66
  18. Hot dogs
  19. Ketchup, or catsup if you prefer
  20. Salsa in a bottle
  21. Miles Davis
  22. Aldo Leopold
  23. French fries, with ketchup, without ketchup, with mayonnaise, with Big H Sauce
  24. Grand Canyon National Park
  25. The Mississippi River
  26. “Ol’ Man River”
  27. Meredith Willson, and “The Music Man!”
  28. Emily Dickinson
  29. Falling Water
  30. Pikes Peak
  31. Bluegrass music
  32. Philly Cheese Steaks
  33. Phyllis Wheatley
  34. Steinway Pianos
  35. Chicken Fried Steak
  36. Amish barn raisings
  37. James Levine
  38. Cheeseburgers
  39. Sojourner Truth
  40. Kansas City Jazz
  41. Onion Rings
  42. Peanut Butter
  43. Leo Fender and the electric guitar
  44. Les Paul and tape loops
  45. Gibson Guitars
  46. Chicago Jazz
  47. Martin Guitars
  48. Mississippi Delta Blues
  49. Chicago Electric Blues
  50. Woody Guthrie
  51. John Philip Sousa
  52. Phillip Glass
  53. Commander Lloyd Bucher and the U.S.S. Pueblo
  54. Frank Lloyd Wright, and Prairie Architecture
  55. Mies van der Rohe
  56. Beale Street in Memphis
  57. Richard Feynman, and his memoirs
  58. Broadway in New York
  59. Bonfires along the Mississippi near Baton Rouge
  60. Indianapolis 500
  61. Daytona Speedway
  62. Fenway Park
  63. Crabcakes from the Chesapeake
  64. Golden Gate; and the Golden Gate Bridge
  65. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
  66. Monticello, Virginia
  67. Cape Hatteras and the lighthouse
  68. Mount Timpanogos in Utah
  69. Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia
  70. Great Houses of Newport, Rhode Island
  71. Bluebirds at the Yorktown Battlefield Monument
  72. Colorado River through Grand Canyon
  73. Bluebell Ice Cream
  74. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  75. Mt. Rushmore National Monument
  76. Lake of the Woods
  77. Pete Seeger
  78. Walt Whitman
  79. Robert Service’s poems
  80. Girls Scouts of America
  81. Little League Baseball
  82. Frederick Douglass
  83. College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska
  84. Henry David Thoreau
  85. Niagara Falls
  86. Adirondack Park, New York
  87. Sitting on the porch at Mount Vernon, Virginia, watching bald eagles cross the Potomac River
  88. Condors soaring near Big Sur, California
  89. Irving Berlin, and “God Bless America”
  90. Frank Sinatra
  91. Jonathan Winters
  92. Hollywood Movies
  93. Airplane graveyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona
  94. Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona
  95. The Shiprock, New Mexico
  96. Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building
  97. Blue Ridge Parkway
  98. Susan B. Anthony
  99. Everett Dirksen
  100. Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  101. Red touring “buses” in Glacier National Park
  102. Fog rolling over the Marin Headlands, Marin County, California
  103. The Beach Boys
  104. Skiing and snowboarding, at Solitude, Alta, Hunter Mountain, Park City, Sundance
  105. The Alpine Loops — both of them, Utah and Colorado
  106. The Virginian Hotel and Cafe, Medicine Bow, Wyoming
  107. American Bison, in Yellowstone, at Antelope Island, in the Henry Mountains, in the LBJ Grasslands
  108. Osprey at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
  109. Painted Buntings at Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
  110. Dissident tradition that gives us Edward Snowden
  111. King of France Tavern, and Treaty of Paris Restaurant, Annapolis, Maryland
  112. The Triple Crown: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes
  113. Jackie Robinson
  114. Sandy Koufax
  115. Jerry West
  116. Secretariat
  117. Lewis and Clark
  118. Sacagawea
  119. U.S. Women’s Soccer Team
  120. Eugene Debs
  121. AAA Baseball, and the other minor leagues
  122. Texas Barbecue
  123. Louis Armstrong
  124. Ella Fitzgerald
  125. Duke Ellington
  126. Ballet West
  127. Second City
  128. The Groundlings
  129. Harriet Tubman
  130. Owl Burgers at the Owl Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  131. Seattle Opera
  132. Appalachian Trail
  133. Linda Rondstadt; Linda singing canciones
  134. Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, and Linda Rondstandt singing tight three-part harmonies
  135. Edward Hopper

    “Morning Sun,” Edward Hopper, 1952

  136. The Marfa Lights
  137. Sloop Clearwater, and the Hudson River
  138. Rafting on the Snake River out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  139. Acadia National Park
  140. The Moffatt Tunnel, and the passenger trains that go through it (R.I.P. old Prospector and California Zephyr; long live the new Prospector and Zephyr)
  141. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
  142. Brooklyn Bridge
  143. Hires Drive-in and the Big H Burger, 4th South in Salt Lake City
  144. Old North Church, Boston
  145. Any country road in Vermont or New Hampshire, when the autumn leaves are turning
  146. Virgin River Narrows, Zion Canyon National Park
  147. Platte River when the big birds are migrating
  148. The oldest European building in America, the church at Fulton, Missouri
  149. Harley-Davidson plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — across the street from the Miller Brewery
  150. Wisconsin bratwursts
  151. Harry Houdini
  152. Harriett Beecher Stowe
  153. Grits served four ways at a diner in Charleston, South Carolina
  154. Salmon smoked by Native Americans in Puget Sound
  155. Varsity Drive In, in Atlanta
  156. Raspberry milkshakes at Bear Lake, Utah
  157. Maple syrup from Vermont
  158. Sam Weller’s Zion Book Store, Salt Lake City
  159. Old Angler’s Inn, on the C&O Canal
  160. Central Park, New York City
  161. Seabiscuit
  162. Babe Ruth
  163. Lou Gehrig
  164. Renée Fleming
  165. Willie Nelson
  166. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and their friendship
  167. Boeing 707, and the aircraft plants that make them
  168. Howard Zinn
  169. Solid state electronics, and the Chip that Jack Kilby Built
  170. Tennessee Valley Authority
  171. Noam Chomsky
  172. A. Phillip Randolph
  173. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors
  174. Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
  175. Gold dome of the Colorado Capitol; the copper domes of the Arizona and Utah Capitols
  176. Things named after John Muir. many in places you would not expect, as well as quite a number of elementary schools
  177. Boy Scouts of America
  178. The United States Marine Corps
  179. Side Street Cafe, Honolulu
  180. Buzz Aldrin
  181. John Glenn
  182. Greensborough Four
  183. Freedom Riders
  184. Freedom Summer
  185. GI Bill
  186. Dennis Banks
  187. Gloria Steinem
  188. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Farley Mowat and all the other Canadians who come south of the border to make us think
  189. Bob Marshall Wilderness Area
  190. Twin Peaks Wilderness Area
  191. Bonneville Salt Flats
  192. Damon Runyon, and “Guys and Dolls”
  193. Utah Phillips
  194. Et cetera
  195. Et cetera

Okay, Dear Reader: What have I left off the list?

(Maybe we should hold on to this list for Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be grateful for, and a lot of people to give thanks to.)


Glacier National Park, 104 years old and looking good

June 26, 2014

Department of Interior, May 18, 2014 -- Here's our most popular photo on social media last week celebrating @GlacierNPS 104th birthday. pic.twitter.com/JNaYYNnfcH

Department of Interior, May 18, 2014 — Here’s our most popular photo on social media last week celebrating @GlacierNPS 104th birthday. pic.twitter.com/JNaYYNnfcH

Glacier National Park marks its 104th year in 2014. Glacier offers views this spectacular every day of the year.


School in distant, difficult classrooms: Afghanistan

June 10, 2014

From @HistoricalPics: This is what a school in Afghanistan looks like. Be thankful for what you have. pic.twitter.com/Dsfva1yNb4

From @HistoricalPics: This is what a school in Afghanistan looks like. Be thankful for what you have. pic.twitter.com/Dsfva1yNb4

A school in Afghanistan — probably the entire school.

Learning can occur almost anywhere.  Some children go to great lengths to get an education, to improve their lives where they are, or to improve their chances of finding a better place to live.

I’ll wager this school has no wi-fi, no in-school suspension, few homework problems, and no difficulty with Common Core State Standards.

Afghanistan’s schools all seem to offer amazing hurdles to education, by U.S. standards.  Look at these photos.

A line of girls on their way to school. In Afghanistan most of the cities have limited number of schools which are mostly far away from students home. From Everything Afghanistan

A line of girls on their way to school. In Afghanistan most of the cities have limited number of schools which are mostly far away from students home. From Everything Afghanistan

BBC featured a story on the Afghanistan schools project.  Caption here:  Many Afghan schools are outdoors or in makeshift shelters on barren, dusty earth

BBC featured a story on the Afghanistan schools project. Caption here: Many Afghan schools are outdoors or in makeshift shelters on barren, dusty earth. (These photos from 2009; photos by Ramon Mohamed, a teacher from Broomhill, Sheffield, England.)

 

Another outdoor Afghanistan classroom.  Photo from BBC

Another outdoor Afghanistan classroom. Photo from BBC

2010 post from Reality of Life in Afghanistan:

2010 post from Reality of Life in Afghanistan: “Eight years since the repressive Taliban regime was overthrown, 42 per cent children still do not attend or have access to schools. (Photo: RFE/RL)”

Those of us who advocate for outdoor classrooms generally have something else in mind than these photographs from Afghanistan show.

More:


Starry, starry night over Mt. Fuji

June 7, 2014

Time exposure of Mt. Fujiyama in Japan, from the south. Who was the photographer?

Time exposure of Mt. Fuji in Japan, from the south.  via @SciencePorn  Photo by Prasit Chansareekorn

As best I’ve determined, the photographer is Prasit Chansareekorn, of Thailand.  Obviously an amazing photographer.  We might also presume the star over the summit is Polaris.

Thai photographer Prasit Chansareekorn

Thai photographer Prasit Chansareekorn

Fujiyama is the single most-visited tourist spot in Japan. (“Fujiyama” translates to “Mt. Fuji.”)  It’s the tallest mountain in Japan, at 3,776 meters (12,380 feet).  In Japanese, there is a special word for a sunrise viewed from the mountain:  Goraiko.  About 200,000 people climb the mountain every year.

It’s an active volcano, though its last eruption was 1707.  Vulcanologists discuss the possibility the mountain is overdue for an eruption.

Who would be in the best spot to get a photo of such an eruption?  What would van Gogh have made of this view?


Grand Falls, near Flagstaff, at sunset

June 7, 2014

Grand Falls, Flagstaff, Arizona by Scott Wood. pic.twitter.com/L0WDJmqhFr

Grand Falls, Flagstaff, Arizona by Scott Wood. pic.twitter.com/L0WDJmqhFr


Milky Way over Arches N.P.

May 30, 2014

From the Department of Interior's Twitter feed:  Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

From the Department of Interior’s Twitter feed: Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

Owachomo Bridge?  Photographer?  I wish Interior would put in all the details with their photos.


Sunset on the Madison

May 20, 2014

Photo after photo, I come increasingly to understand why my oldest brother, Jerry, wanted to spend his life and eternity in the Yellowstone.

Wholly apart from the thermal “features” and geological wonders, the area is just smashingly beautiful day in and day out, in even the mundane areas away from the celebrated features.

Here’s a part of the Madison River, just flowing through its streambed, at sunset.

Yellowstone National Park's Twitter feed:  Spring sunset on the Madison River. pic.twitter.com/8nZSxJvBeZ

Yellowstone National Park’s Twitter feed: Spring sunset on the Madison River. pic.twitter.com/8nZSxJvBeZ


Moon and Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills, California

May 18, 2014

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the moon over Mabius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the Moon over Mabius Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

Interesting points, reasons to like this image:

  1. No, that’s not the Sun.  It’s the Moon.
  2. Who knew California had natural arches?  I mean, it makes sense — but there’s one in Virginia, and a bunch of them at Arches National Park, and . . .
  3. An arch that should be in Utah, in the Alabama Hills, but not in Alabama, in California.
  4. Stars!
  5. Great photograph, obviously a long exposure.  Let’s see if we can find the name of the photographer.  Pox on Interior for failing to fit that into the caption. Photographer is Steve Perry, and you should check out his site (and buy some photos!). (Thanks, J. A. Higginbotham, for tracking that down.)
  6. America’s public lands, showing how they are unexcelled at astonishing us.
  7. What? Interior called the “Mabius Arch?” No, it’s the Mobius Arch!
  8. This place was named after the Confederate warship C.S.S. Alabama. Sympathetic miners making claims on minerals, it appears. “The unusual name Alabama Hills came about during the Civil War. In 1864 Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold ‘in them thar hills.’ When they heard that a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama had burned, sunk or captured more than 60 Federal ships in less than two years they named their mining claims after the cruiser to celebrate. Before long the name applied to the whole area. Coincidentally, while Southerners were prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles north near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1864, the Independence people struck back. They not only named their mining claims ‘Kearsarge’ but a mountain peak, a mountain pass, and a whole town as well.”
  9. More than 400 movies were shot using Alabama Hills for a backdrop, including How the West Was Won, Gunga Din (standing in for the hills of northern India) and the 1960 Audie Murphy classic, Hell Bent for Leather.
  10. Geologists will love that this area is a prime example of chemical erosion — rocks made out of the same stuff as the craggy Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, but eroded differently.
  11. Lichens by moonlight!  (Or is that just desert varnish?)

More:


Signs of life: GPS not advised

May 14, 2014

From space, from the satellites, the route may look shorter.

But on the ground, it may not work.

State Highway Signage, US 11 and VA 56; near Steele's Tavern, Virginia.

State Highway Signage, US 11 and VA 56; near Steele’s Tavern, Virginia. “GPS Routing Not Advised” Photo by Linda Walcroft

At the View from Squirrel Ridge, comments suggest that Virginia has several places like this, where the GPS favoring the shortest route may include inclines and turns that trucks cannot make.  It’s hell to back up a big truck for several miles of twisty, narrow roads.

More:


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