Sound of two black holes colliding

With a nod to Zen students.

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” [originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978]

Mapping drone sent to a watery grave by a Bald Eagle

An Upper Peninsula bald eagle launched an airborne attack on a drone operated by a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) pilot last month, tearing off a propeller and sending the aircraft to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

The brazen eagle vs. EGLE onslaught took place near Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on July 21 when EGLE environmental quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King was mapping shoreline erosion for use in the agency’s efforts to document and help communities cope with high water levels.

King was watching his video screen as the drone beelined for home, but suddenly it began twirling furiously. “It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride,” said King. When he looked up, the drone was gone, and an eagle was flying away. A nearby couple, whose pastimes include watching the local eagles attack seagulls and other birds, later confirmed they saw the eagle strike something but were surprised to learn it was a drone. Both King and the couple said the eagle appeared uninjured as it flew from the scene of the crime.

The eagle was fine. Rescue expeditions failed to find the EGLE.

A Derecho roared across the Midwest, Monday


NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

On August 10, 2020, NOAA’s GOES-East satellite tracked severe thunderstorms as they raced across much of the Midwest and caused a widespread, fast-moving windstorm called a derecho. According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, the derecho traveled from far southeastern South Dakota into Ohio—a distance of about 770 miles—in a span of 14 hours.

The high winds were reportedly so strong that they flipped or blew some tractor-trailers off roadways, downed trees, flattened crops, and caused widespread property damage. Across the Upper Midwest in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, more than 1 million homes and businesses lost power. In Iowa, where gusts reportedly topped 100 mph, the damage was even more severe; the highest wind speed recorded there 112 mph near Midway.

When I still was on the road out here in the Southwest, I saw one of these suckers coming just as I was leaving Amarillo, Texas, heading back home. Turned around in a New York minute and made it back to the last motel west of town and got into the office to register for the night…just in time.

Winner gets to bury the GOP

I presume the eventual winners of the Final in this international competition will also be awarded the opportunity to bury the moribund Republican Party. Driven to distraction, self-harm and suicide by continued support of the proto-fascist regime of the Fake President…that political party has lost all respect. From traditional members and office-holders, from political conservatives around the world with the backbone to hold to standards rejecting bigotry, racism and fascist brutalizing of any nation.

Social Distancing…with feathers


Burrowing owls
Amateur category/Andrew Lee/Audubon Photography Awards/2020

Click to enlarge

In my neck of the prairie, burrowing owls are about the most common owl there is. Yes, I have other favorites. But, burrowing owls are critters you might bump into most any owl-time you’re wandering around rural New Mexico. Though, not in numbers like this.

Balloon spider migration


Click to enlarge

The annual migration of balloon spiders started a week or so ago. Always look for their webs tangled in our East-facing fenceline. A usual sign that summer is here.

Took this iPhoto about 5 minutes after sunrise on my first walk of the morning, today.

100 degrees F in Siberia!


Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.

As long ago as the 1890s, scientists predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a warming planet, particularly in the Arctic, where the loss of reflective snow and sea ice would further warm the region. Climate models have consistently pointed to “Arctic amplification” emerging as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Well, Arctic amplification is now here in a big way. The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate of the globe as a whole. When extreme heat waves like this one strike, it stands out to everyone. Scientists are generally reluctant to say “We told you so,” but the record shows that we did.

The question now on the table is will nations led by fools who continually reject science change their practices in the least? Or are the residents of the planet stuck into a downward spiral, refusing to act – for whatever excuses they adopt – until it is too late to halt our collective demise?