Thursday, August 22, 2019

POTD: Steamboat Geyser

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Old Faithful's less well known relative, Steamboat Geyser. There are a few facts that differentiate Steamboat from Old Faithful. One, it's the world's tallest currently-active geyser (300 feet, compared to 185 feet for Old Faithful). Two, its eruptions are very irregular, with intervals between eruptions ranging from about three days to about fifty years. That's right. Steamboat didn't erupt at all from 1911 to 1961. But it's erupted about 50 times in the last twelve months. So see it now. When it sleeps, it really sleeps. Three, Steamboat's major eruptions can last as long as 40 minutes, followed by hours of continuous minor eruptions. The day we visited, there was a major eruption at 5 am, and what you see here is what Steamboat was still doing eight hours later, continuously. We didn't wait for it to finish. Eventually, we just left while it was still spouting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Umbrella Academy (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Umbrella Academy (TV 2019): Childhood superheroes, now grown up, reunite to save the world. But first they have to deal with lots of old family issues. Goofy, quirky fun figuring out all that's going on, the central mystery of the apocalypse, and the interrelationships. B+

Saturday, August 17, 2019

POTD: Waiting for the Show

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. An excerpt from a tourist manual from 1883: "Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan's men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds."

After the jump...the show.

Friday, August 16, 2019

POTD: Grown-Up Lincoln Logs

From 2018 09 11 Yellowstone

Movin' on. Today's photo-of-the-day is from Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.

Nice, but not where we stayed. Where we stayed is after the jump.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

POTD: Gilded Monastery

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius about 50 miles outside Moscow. It is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was founded in 1337, closed by the Bolsheviks in 1920, then restored to the Church by Joseph Stalin after WWII. I don't usually think of all these gilded decorations when I think of monasteries and monks and vows of poverty, but here we are.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

POTD: I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows Ellen enjoying a Coca Cola while sitting in the gardens of Bol'shoy Kremlovskiy Square, where the czars used to stroll, with the Kremlin Senate in the background.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

After Life (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
After Life (TV 2019): Even if, like me, you don't care for Ricky Gervais, try this series. He's mean-spirited and rude as always, but with a reason. He's grieving the death of his wife. There is wisdom here. Supporting cast is strong. Story arc is predictable. B-

Monday, August 12, 2019

POTD: Church and State

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows two of the many buildings in the Kremlin. On the left are government offices. Vladimir Putin's office is in there somewhere. On the right is the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Church and state. Old and new. Side by side. All that rich history and culture.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

POTD: The Kremlin's Churches

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows several of the many churches inside this medieval fortress. That's not to say there aren't massive government office buildings there as well, but it's the number of churches and palaces and gardens and museums and open squares in the Kremlin that surprised me.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

POTD: War and Peace

From 2018 08 22 Kremlin

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It shows the Tsar Cannon, cast in bronze in 1586, "the largest bombard by caliber in the world," according to Wikipedia, whatever that means. Behind it are the onion domes of two churches in the Kremlin. War and Peace.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: Underland: A Deep Time Journey

From Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane:
Open quote 
The same three tasks recur across cultures and epochs: to shelter what is precious, to yield what is valuable, and to dispose of what is harmful. Shelter (memories, precious matter, messages, fragile lives). Yield (information, wealth, metaphors, minerals, visions). Dispose (waste, trauma, poison, secrets)."

An adventurer's journal of exploring caves, mines, and vaults, covering the Earth's history from prehistoric cave paintings until the far future when landfills full of plastic and deep stores of lead-207, the stable isotope at the end of the uranium-235 decay chain, are all that's left of our stay on the planet.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

POTD: Waxing Moon Over the Kremlin

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day shows a waxing moon over the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

POTD: The Czars or the Communists

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Which is more Russian, the Red Star or the Double-headed Eagle? The former represents Communism and the Soviet Union. The latter, the czars of the Russian Empire. Which is more prominent today? It's hard to say. Leningrad was renamed St. Petersburg after the fall of the Soviet Union. But in Moscow, Lenin's body is still on display in his tomb in Red Square. Likewise, the double-headed eagle made a comeback after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the red star is still prominent as well. Both of these photos were taken in Red Square, which oddly enough was named that long before the Russian Revolution brought Communism to Russia.

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Lion King (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lion King (2019): Sure it's an unnecessary remake, but very well done if a little long. Stunning photorealistic animation. The uncanny valley is now forever bridged for nature documentaries. And I can't help but like the new "meaningless line of indifference" philosophy. B+

Monday, August 5, 2019

In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data

The Richardson City Council approved rezoning for the construction of new pad site restaurants with drive-throughs at Richardson Square. The vote was 6-0. Public comment was largely in favor. Clearly, it was a popular decision. Time to move on, right? Sure. But move on to what?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Last Czars (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Last Czars (TV 2019): Odd mix of costume drama and mockumentary. Painless way to learn some history. Nicholas is an absolute ruler oblivious of how to run a government, run a war, or how to read the mood of his people. As drama, the characters are wooden and predictable. B-

Saturday, August 3, 2019

POTD: Moskva River and Kremlin

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Moskva River with the Kremlin on the bank to the left. The various red brick towers mark the walls of the Kremlin. The large yellow and white office building with the green roof houses government offices, one of which is President Vladimir Putin's. To the right of it is one of the many churches inside the Kremlin, one of the things that surprised me about the Kremlin.

Why the city is called Moscow and the river is called Moskva is a question I never did figure out. In Russian, the city and river have the same name, but for some reason the transliteration into English is different for the two. I guess I'll have to go back.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Farewell (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Farewell (2019): Family gathers in China when grandmother is diagnosed with cancer. A study in cultural differences dealing with universal feelings. Careful storytelling by Lulu Wang makes it heartfelt without being maudlin. Awkwafina handles a range of acting excellently. A-

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: From "Never Again" to "I can't believe it's happening here."

Tweets from July, 2019:
  • 2019-07-01: "How did we go from 'Never Again' to 'I can't believe it's happening here.'" -- Christopher Weyant"
  • 2019-07-01: Richardson, give me one good reason not to follow Portland's lead here. (Link)
  • 2019-07-01: @RepLanceGooden Thanks for noticing, at long last, that the economy was in a "boom" under Obama, in fact about twice as long as under the current Republican administration.

After the jump, more idle thoughts.