Cute pictures of polar bears, masking tragedy

March 17, 2015

It came from @planetpics on Twitter.

A beautiful picture of a polar bear cub getting a lift across the water from its mom!  Life on Earth/@planetpics

“A beautiful picture of a polar bear cub getting a lift across the water from its mom!” Life on Earth/@planetpics

Couldn’t help but wonder if that cub will survive the next few months, let alone to adulthood.

Generally, polar bear mothers den on pack ice, and the cub would be kept on the ice while the mother hunted from that platform.  Polar bears can swim, but not well, and not far, usually.  They cannot hunt while swimming.  To eat, they wait on the ice for seals to come up for air, then grab the seals.

Lack of hard ice platforms, pack ice, means mother polar bears can’t hunt to feed their cubs.  While an adult polar bear can swim a distance to find ice, the cubs can’t. And if the adult doesn’t find hard ice, they perish.  Long swims are deadly to cubs.

It’s a cute pic, and we hope momma bear is swimming to an ice platform and can feed that cute little cub so it grows and flourishes.

We know the odds are against it.


Queenstown, New Zealand: “Why we fly,” and what most people never get to see

February 9, 2015

Old buddy Gil Brassard (from the airline days) sent me a slightly different version of this video; this is the YouTube version from “Mr. Goodviews.” It’s shot from the cockpit of a commercial airliner coming into Queenstown, New Zealand:

Details:

Published on Oct 23, 2013

…sometimes what a pilot sees in a day, people won’t see in their lifetimes..
amazing Queenstown, New Zealand.
I invite people of the world to come visit this beautiful country and its people.

It was probably shot with a camera like a GoPro stuck on the window pointing out, in robot mode so the copilot and pilot gave full attention to flying the aircraft, and were not distracted by operating a camera in a cockpit.  I mention this because US Federal Aviation Administration is looking into claims that selfies from cockpits — usually of small planes — may have contributed to accidents in the air.  We may see some bans on shooting such videos in the future.

Enjoy ’em while you can.

Noodling around YouTube, I also found these videos of airplanes in and out of Queenstown, New Zealand.

Landing without the clouds:

Published on Apr 4, 2013

ZQN Baret arrival

And a passenger’s view of take-off and climb-out (longer piece, no music edited in):

Published on Feb 7, 2014

Flying over New Zealand from south to north. Nice views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. Passing over Mount Cook – the highest mountain in New Zealand. Later a landing at Auckland Airport.

Better videos of this route anywhere?

Even cooler videos of other routes?

Can’t say how often I’ve regretted not having a good video camera on my flight from Farmington, New Mexico, to Provo, Utah, in a Cessna, especially coming down Provo Canyon.  But alas, that was before video was even portable . . .


Coffee City? Population seems awfully low

February 6, 2015

Coffee City sign.

Coffee City, Texas

Our friend Jim Stanley posted this on Facebook.

Population count seems too low, doesn’t it?  Must be a pretty tight filter.

Caption these yourself. From the City of Coffee City website.

Caption these yourself. From the City of Coffee City website.

More:


Happy New Year from Yellowstone NP

January 27, 2015

(Yeah, I’m behind. Tell me news.)

New Year’s felicitations from Yellowstone National Park.

The Yellowstone in winter is best, the old timers tell me.  I agree.

Details:

Published on Jan 1, 2015

Winter landscapes in Yellowstone inspire artist and NPS employee Lynn Bickerton Chan. Produced by NPS/Neal Herbert.  600


Yosemite Park’s Dawn Wall climbers: They made it!

January 15, 2015

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on January 14 completed their free-climb ascent of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park — labeled the toughest free climb in the world.

Wow. Just wow.

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.  San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

This interactive piece at the New York Times should give the proper sense of awe for what they’ve done. (If you’re a climber, you may want to get some more technical reports from YosemiteBigWall.com, who contributed to that interactive presentation.)

PBS’s Newshour had among the best reports:


Yosemite Nature Notes: Ghost towns

January 13, 2015

Up on the Tioga Pass, Dana Village, Bennettville and the abandoned Golden Crown Mine tell part of the story of the 1890s gold rush in the Sierra Nevada.

Mining in California, okay. Mining at 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, and staying there all winter?

Great history, geography, and explanation that every U.S. history student should know, about gold rushes, about boom towns, about mining entrepreneurs and investors, about failed enterprises and about the aftermath.

Published on Nov 19, 2014

Sitting on the crest of the Sierra Nevada, Tioga Pass is a gateway to Yosemite’s past. In 1880, a gold and silver rush erupted here, and miners flocked to Tioga Hill in droves.

Today, the ghosts of these miners work can be seen in the stone walls of Dana Village, rusty machinery at Bennettville, and the log cabins of the Golden Crown Mine. Even today’s popular Tioga Road was once a simple wagon road built to access the wealth of minerals that were never found.

It’s another great production by Steven Bumgardner, featuring two National Park Service rangers, Yenyen Chan and Greg Stock.

More:

Tioga Road.  Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV -- so you can do it, too.  Photo from stillhowlynntravels

Tioga Road. Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV — so you can do it, too. Photo from stillhowlyntravels

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line).  Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line). Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.


Texas earthquakes, 2014

January 7, 2015

WFAA Channel 8 map of four quakes confirmed by 10:00 p.m. news casts, showing how close the quakes are in proximity to each other and the site of the old Cowboys Football Stadium.

WFAA Channel 8 map of four quakes confirmed by 10:00 p.m. news casts, showing how close the quakes are in proximity to each other and the site of the old Cowboys Football Stadium.

This Tweet from our local NBC TV affiliate sums it up nicely.

North Texas shook yesterday — not big quakes, but a bunch of ’em — and that doesn’t sit well with Texas oil executives, since it seems likely gas and oil drilling, especially hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and especially waste-water reinjection seem to be causes.

I grew up in Utah.  We had quakes you could feel, at least weekly.  Our home sat less than a mile west of the Wasatch Fault.  Many mornings my mother would stand drinking her coffee, looking over the stove and out our kitchen window at Mt. Timpanogos, remarking on the earthquakes.  Most often we couldn’t feel them, but the power and telephone lines that slashed through our $10 million view of the mountain would dance in sine waves during quakes. It was pretty cool.

Along the more famous faults, one rarely comes on more than a couple of quakes a day.

Dallas — more accurately, Irving — is far away from most major faults, and rarely has more than a couple of quakes a year in recent human history.

So this swarm of quakes makes news!

WTVT Channel 11 (CBS) reported:

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Nine earthquakes, three of them with a 3-point magnitude or greater, rocked North Texas Tuesday into early Wednesday, knocking items off walls, causing cracks to appear in ceilings and generally rattling nerves across the region.

“The last one really shook,” said CBS 11 anchor and reporter Ken Molestina, who felt the the earth move in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas.

The latest quake, reported just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, measured in at a 3.1 magnitude, and was centered near the convergence of State Highway 114, Loop 12, and the Airport Freeway near the old Texas Stadium site in Irving.

Others felt the temblor in the Uptown area of Dallas and as far away as Bedford and Mesquite.

Here’s a list of the quakes in order of when they happened:

7:37 a.m.                    2.3 magnitude

3:10 p.m.                    3.5 magnitude

6:52 p.m.                    3.6 magnitude

8:11 p.m.                    2.9 magnitude

8:12 p.m.                    2.7 magnitude

9:54 p.m.                    1.7 magnitude

10:05 p.m.                  2.4 magnitude

11:02 PM                   1.6 magnitude

12:59 AM                   3.1 magnitude

Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist with the USGS, spoke with NewsRadio 1080 KRLD and said while the Irving earthquakes happened only hours apart, given the strength and intensity, “we’re not calling it an aftershock.”

At last count Tuesday night, there had been 24 or more earthquakes in the Irving area since November 1, 2014.

Jokes fly, too.  Not this much shaking since Elvis toured the area heavily in 1957, some say.

Screen capture of USGS reports of four earthquakes in or near Irving, Texas, on January 6, 2014

Screen capture of USGS reports of four earthquakes in or near Irving, Texas, on January 6, 2014

Recent studies show earthquakes in other areas linked to oil and gas drilling and extraction.  All of these quakes are in close proximity to working wells or wells being drilled.

What’s the Earth trying to tell us?

Details from USGS on biggest quake, January 6, 2014

Details from USGS on biggest quake, January 6, 2014

More:

Historically, Texas has not been a hotbed of earthquake activity, between 1973 and 2012.  Texas Seismicity Map from USGS.

Texas Seismicity, 1973-2012. USGS


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