weird weather phenomena - part 2

Red sprites

Lightnings are phenomena that we all are used to seeing during thunderstorms. However, the white and light blue strikes are not the complete picture. Second type of a lightning phenomena occurs above the clouds. Directly above the cloud-to-ground or cloud-to-cloud lightning stikes, appear weak but massive flashes. The mostly red illuminations apear from the tops of the clouds up to 95 km above. Red sprites are very difficult to spot with an naked eye. Since the sprites occur above the active thunderstorm, to spot them one has to able to see above the clouds (for example when a thunderstorm occurs on the horizon).


Blue jets

Blue jets, similarly to red sprites, are observed above the active thunderstorm. They appear as blue illuminations from the core of the lightnings rich region of the thunderstorm. Blue jets disappear about 40-50 km above the clouds. The blue color is assumed to come from nitrogen emission caused by high energy collisions with oxygen. Together with red sprites, blue jets have been reported first time in 1989.

Lightning sprites

See also:
weird weather phenomena - part 1

weird weather phenomena

Catatumbo lightning or Lighthouse of Maracaibo

Catatumbo lightning is a phenomenon occurring in Venezuela at the estuary of Catatumbo river to the lake Maracaibo. Very intensive lighting occur there from 140 to 160 days a year, for approximately 10 hours a day. During one hour one can observe about 240 lightning strikes. Taking into account the large number of lightnings this region is probably the largest natural source of ozone in the atmosphere. Light of the strikes is seen from hundreds of kilometers from the source which gave the spot a name "Lighthouse of Maracaibo".


Lunar rainbow

Everyone is used to seeing rainbows during a daytime. The phenomena may be also observed during the night from the light given by the Moon. Lunar rainbow is also known as a moonbow or white rainbow. It is incredibly difficult to see with a naked eye. However, a camera with a long time exposure may easily capture the moonlight rainbow. A lunar rainbow may be easiest seen over a waterfall during a full moon.

Moonbow at lower Yosemite fall LunarRainbowVicFalls small
Moonbow at the Lower Yosemite Fall Moonbow over Victoria Falls, Zambia.

Rain of fish

Rain of fish or Lluvia de Peces is a phenomenon occurring in Honduras. Together with falling rain people  notice small fish. There are legends and even chronicle entries from many places all over the world talking about a similar phenomenon. However, in Yoro in Honduras rain of fish is observed every year usually between May and July. Local people got used to this event occurring and collect small fish from the streets. The rain of fish was first reported in 1970 when the National Geographic Magazine journalist visited Yoro and witnessed the rain of fish.

Gravure de pluie de poissons

Super Mario

Mario Monti
Silvio Berlusconi has stepped down and Mario Monti replaced him as a prime minister of Italy. Mario Monti or "Super Mario" as call him journalists, is suppose to create a government of experts, not politicians. His program and his decisions in the next few months are to help Italy overcome its present financial situation. Italy as a fourth largest economy in Europe is currently following Greece with 119.1% debt-to-GDP ratio (estimate at 2010, CIA factbook). Italy has after Greece (142.7%) and Iceland (126.3%) has the largest debt-to-GDP ratio in Europe.

Mario Monti may not get large support in the Italian parliament where large fraction is Berlusconi's party. Monti is a professor of economics and is an experienced politician. Monti concluded plans and ambitions for his government with words "Italy must take up the challenge of liberation from the crisis, must again be a symbol of strength, not weakness in the European Union".
Silvio Berlusconi zrezygnował i Mario Monti objął po nim stanowisko premiera Włoch. Mario Monti albo "Super Mario" jak nazywają go dziennikarze, ma za zadanie zbudowac odpolityczniony gabinet ekspertów. Jego program i podejmowane decyzje mają pomóc Włochom uniknąć bankructwa. Włochy jako czwarta europejska gospodarka podążają drogą Grecji z długiem publicznym na poziomie 119.1% PKB (szacunek na 2010 rok, dane z CIA factbook). Włochy po Grecji (142.7%) i  Islandii (126.3%) mają obecnie największe zadłużenie w Europie.

Mario Monti może nie znaleźć poparcia we Włoskim parlamencie gdzie znaczącą część zajmuje partia Silvio Berlisconiego. Monti jest profesorem ekonomii z dużym doświadczeniem politycznym. Monti podumował plany i ambicje swojego rządu słowami "Włochy muszą podjąć wyzwanie wyzwolenia się z kryzysu, muszą znów być symbolem siły, a nie słabości w Unii Europejskiej".

park - photography

Park in September - late photos

See also:
Frank Lloyd Wright house in Chicago
autumn - photography

Frank Lloyd Wright house in Chicago

Open house Chicago

Last weekend (October 15 and 16, 2011) Chicago Architecture Foundation organized an open house event. Many sites that are usually closed to public, open just by invitation or are occupied by businesses were during these two days open for everyone. From many sites one of the most interesting was the house in Rogers Park designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house is not large and is placed next to a small bed and breakfast called Cat's Cradle. Cat's Cradle was a site in the open house itself and is very interesting place.

Frank Lloyd Wright house - photography

About the house

Information placed in front of the house
Chicago Landmark
Emil Bach House
Frank Lloyd Wright, architect

One of the last of Wright's small urban houses, the Bach House combines elements of the Prairie style with a compact plan well suited for an interior lot. The inward orientation of the house ensures the privacy of its residents and reflects Wright's idea of the importance of family life.

Designated a Chicago Landmark on September 28, 1977 by the City Council of Chicago. Michael A. Bilandic, Mayor

Commission on Chicago
Historical and Architectural Landmarks

See also:
Autumn - photography
Frank Lloyd Wright house in Springfield, Illinois

transgender members of parliament

Anna Grodzka, Poland

Anna Grodzka
Anna Grodzka
Anna Grodzka became a member of the Polish parliament in the recent election on October 9th, 2011. Anna Grodzka is a member of a Palikot Movement party which collected enough votes to become a third major force in the current parliament. Grodzka is currently the only transgender member of parliament worldwide. She is a long-term activist for the LGBT rights. Grodzka is a founder and activist of the Trans-Fuzja foundation which is devoted to help transgender community in Poland. Her transformation to be a woman has been presented in HBO movie Trans-Akcja and presented in 2010. Among Grodzkas goals for the parliament are to help LGBT community, equalization of opportunities for woman and raise of the minimum wages.  

Georgina Beyer, New Zealand

Georgina Beyer at International Conference
Georgina Beyer
Georgina Beyer is the worldwide first transgender member of parliament. She has served in the parliament of New Zealand between 1999 and 2007 on behalf of the labour party. Beyer underwent the sex reassessment surgery in 1984. Her public career has started from election to school board and consequent election as a city mayor.  Beyer had tried to include "gender identity" term in the list of Human Rights Act. Georgina Beyer has been elected three times, in 1999, 2002 and 2005. In 2007 she has resigned from the seat. 

Other members

Vladimir Luxuria - Roma Pride 2008
Vladimir Luxuria
The first member of parliament in Europe that has openly admitted transsexuality was Vladimir Luxuria. Vladimir was a member of parliament in Italy during Romano Prodi's government. Vladimir functions in public life entirely as a woman. However, Vladimir has never undergone the medical or the legal procedure of the sex change. Luxuria has been involved in organizing Italy's first pride parade in early 90's and has continued LGBT rights activism during her appointment in Italy's parliament. 

autumn - photography

Few pictures that I have taken on my walk today. Very sunny day gave a perfect opportunity to take some nice pictures. European yaw or hawthorn look particularly pretty in autumn, leafs changing colors are always very photogenic.  

See also:
park - photography

worlds most scenic castles

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov Castle is a renaissance castle located in southern Funen in Denmark. The Castle has been built as a fortification on a lake and originally one could reach it only by a waterbridge. The name of the Castle means "oak forrest". Egeskov Castle is surrounded by gardens featuring different topics. Whole area with the Castle functions now as a museum and is one the most important tourists attractions of the island. 

Egeskov Castle, Denmark. Pictrure from

Leeds Castle, England

Leeds Castle was built at the beginning of XII century and shortly after that became a royal residence. Over the centuries Leeds Castle was a residence of English royal family. Last private owner acquired the Castle at the beginning of the XX century and in 1976 was open to the public. The Castle was afterwards place of peace negotiation between Egypt and Israel and Northern Ireland peace talks. 

Leeds Castle, Kent, England 3 - May 09
Leeds Castle, England

Malbork, Poland

Teutonic Castle in Malbork is the worlds largest gothic castle. Malbork was the capital of the Teutonic Country and was occupied by the Teutonic Grand Master. Castle is well preserved and all of its parts are open for tourists. Over two centuries the Castle in Malbork became the most guarded town in the Teutonic Country. Castle was partially demolished at the beginning of XIX century but shortly after reconstructed. The museum is the Castle has also very large amber, art and military collection. 

Marienburg 2004 Panorama
Malbork, Poland

Kalmar Castle, Sweden

Kalmar Castle was build in XIII century and since then played significant role in Scandinavian history. The union of Denmark, Sweden and Norway was finalized in the Kalmar Castle in XIV century. Kalmar Castle was heavily damaged XVII century and not restored until the XIX century. Nowadays Kalmar is one of the best preserved Swedish castles and is open to the public. 

Kalmar slott.nordostra sidan
Kalmar Castle, Sweden

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a XIX century palace in southern Bavaria in Germany. The Palace was planed to act as a royal residence but has been open to public immediately after the construction. The magnificent scenery of the Castle was an inspiration for many movies. Today the Castle is a popular tourist destination.

Neuschwanstein Castle panorama
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

See also:
Teutonic Knights' castles in Poland

graduation towers - different face of spa

Graduation tower in Ciechocinek, Poland

What is a graduation tower?

A graduation tower is a wooden construction traditionally in a shape of long tower. Tower is filled with blackthorn branches. The purpose of the graduation towers in the past was to increase the concentration of salt in saline solution and to obtain salt. Nowadays graduation towers are used in spa towns for artificially creating salt concentration in air similar to sea shore area. Mineral rich water obtained from a local spring is run slowly from the top of the tower. Droplets of saline evaporating and breaking on the branches create a mineral rich aerosol in the vicinity of the tower.  The condition of the air around towers highly depends on the weather and is the richest in minerals when evaporation is high, that is sunny and warm days. 

Graduation towers in the world

Graduation towers can be found only in Poland, Germany and Austria. In all of those counties towers have been build in towns with mineral rich natural springs. Previously used for salt production, nowadays are a tourist attraction and turned towns into health resorts. Large complex of graduation towers is located in Poland in town Ciechocinek. Ciechocinek became a health resort mainly used by people with respiratory tract problems.

Gradierwerk2BadNauheim 6 Ciechocinek 18 Ciechocinek teznia 4
Bad Nauheim, Germany Ciechocinek, Poland

See also:
10 reasons to visit Poland
Teutonic Knights' castles in Poland

the largest earthquake and tsunami in North America

The largest earthquake in North America

Very close to Seward, in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on Good Friday March 28, 1964 took place the largest earthquake recorded in North America. The magnitude of the earthquake reached 9.2. The earthquake caused a tsunamis more than 200 feet (60 meters) hight. Tsunamis reached Oregon and California causing fatalities. Despite a large magnitude of the earthquake only 131 people died, mostly as victims of the tsunamis. The largest damage was caused in Anchorage as a direct result of the earthquake. Other areas damage was mostly caused by tsunamis. The strength of the Alaskan earthquake has been noticed worldwide and as a result even level of wells in Africa has changed and boats sunk in Luisiana. The great Alaskan Earthquake is worldwide second largest earthquake ever recorded. Only the Great Chilean Earthquake that stroked in 1960 was larger and reached 9.5 on the magnitude scale. 

View Americas largest earthquake in a larger map

On the map above the epicentrum of the Great Alaskan Earthquake is marked in green, in blue we marked Anchorage and Seward. 

Alaska after the largest earthquake

Althout only 131 people died in the Great Alaskan Earthquake, large region suffered great damage. Anchorage suffered the most damage. About 30 blocks of commercial buildings in downtown Anchorage were heavily damaged. Smaller coastal towns, like Seward, suffered also great damage caused mainly by tsunamis. After the earthquake plans of towns were adjusted and new buildings or constructions have been put new more save areas. Damage in Alaska has been estimated at 2 billion dollars (at todays value). Results of the tsunamis are still visible as a death forest that is nowadays preserved. Salty water brought inland by tsunamis destroyed trees in large coastal area. 

Tsunami hazard in Alaska

Alaska as one of the most seismically active region on the planet is at constant earthquake and tsunami hazard. Most of the earthquakes and vulcano eruptions do not cause big damage since the most active region of the Ring of Fire is sparsly populated. However, the southern Alaska is not only in danger of tsunamis and earthquakes caused in the region. As an coast open to the Pacific Ocean, it is in the tsunami hazard area of more distant earthquakes like those in Japan, Hawai, California or South America. 

The tsunami hazard zone, the evacuation route and area are well marked in all tsunami hazard areas. Seward in Alaska has daily test of the tsunami alert, similar to other towns in the hazard zones. Below we show road signs used in Alaska for the hazard area. 

Tsunami hazard zone US road sign. Evacuation route, road sign from Alaska. Evacuation area for tsunami hazard, Alaska.

See also:
Alaskan honeymoon - part 1
Alaskan honeymoon - part 2
Alaskan honeymoon - part 3
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