Category Archives: environmental

Gatlinburg TN recovery videos (not by me, yet)

I need to get down to this area to see it for myself, but it does look like Gatlinburg TN and Pigeon Forge TN have made robust recoveries from the November 2017 fires.  Gatlinburg reopened on Dec. 9, 2016.  A lot of volunteerism was involved, even though this was “other people’s fault” (CNN story ).

Here are a few videos:

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4  (best)

5 (Pigeon Forge)

I drove through Gatlinburg (down 441 on from the pass through the Smokies, 5000+ feet elevation)  in the evening of July 16, 2013 on the way to Oak Ridge, to take the energy facility tour.  The town was very crowded and I didn’t stop for pictures.

 

(Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 8:45 PM EDT)

“Make America Great Again!”

Today I visited the I-81 corridor NE of Harrisburg PA.

There are coal slag heaps around Mt. Carmel PA, toward Centralia, the town abandoned because of an anthracite fire burning since 1928.  There is a municipal center building in Centralia that is abandoned.  There is a “Coal House” store outside of Centralia, E of Ashburn (which has a “Mineshaft” bar).

Hazelton was the site of a major immigration law dispute in 2006, whether landlords are responsible for knowing the legality of their tenants.

There is an ICE detention center purporting to be in Leesport, but actually it is closer to Reading, off 220, and a bit hard to get the iPhone to find easily.  A prison is across the street.  I’ll comment more on this soon on the “News” blog.

(Posted: Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 11:15 PM EDT)

March for Science in Washington D.C.

I attended the March for Science in Washington DC today, and did the March down Constitution Ave as far as 10th Street.  Note even the first picture above, “Truth” is part of the “eternal feminine” in the Paul Rosenfels polarity system for personal psychological growth.  But this today is about policy.

When I arrived, I found a line, which I had thought was for the March itself.  I hiked around some fences and paths to get to 17th St, on the Monument grounds, and found that the line was really set up to enter the grounds.  There were only two checkpoints, and the line did get moving.  At first I wondered if the low number of checkpoints was a way to keep the size down and reduce the political visibility of the march.

But after about an hour I finally made it to the entry point, and found they were only checking backpacks.  The crowd was huge.

1     arrival

1a    the line

2      waiting in line still

3  — the speaker says, get over aversion to politics and asking for money

4    Rejection of the idea of alternative facts, and that policy must always be based on real facts; this does not trample on the personal experience of religion.

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More pictures

or “peer review”

I found later that someone made a sign of Jack Andraka’s book (“Breakthough“) quote Science shouldn’t be a luxury, knowledge shouldn’t be a commodty“.

(Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 8:45 PM EDT)

Gusty thunderstorms

Just to get some video work started (as a workup for some personal history videos to back up a movie proposal),  here are three videos, on a better camera (Nikon Coolpix) as a gusty thunderstorm moved through Arlington VA today.

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3  Looks like I jerked the camera, or the lens got wet

Also: Video of a shelf cloud in Laurel Mountains in Pennsylvania, Weather channel.

Midwest tornado outbreak February 28, 2017 in Missouri and Illinois;  Tornadic storms popped up out of nothing (Weather channel pictures).

(Posted: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 3 PM EST)

 

Films of the Shenandoah (“Brown Mountain” or “Rocky Mount”) fire areas

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On Monday, May 16, 2016 I visited the burned are in Shenandoah National Park, 12 miles south of the US 33- south entrance (between Remington and Harrisonburg, VA), near the Brown Mountain Overlook at Milepost 77, looking West.

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It’s important to note that this not the same as “Brown Mountain NC”, site of the famous lights (which actually occur at several places in Virginia and North Carolina — high school chemistry explanations — covered here Nov. 4, 2015).  The fire has also been called the “Rocky Mount Fire”, no connection to the Rocky Mountains in western US and Canada.

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Vegetation was already starting to grow back.  But the visual effect was striking.

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I saw very little fire damage on the south side of Skyline Drive.

Wildfires may occur in the East.  The Virginia fires don’t seem to have jeopardized homes.

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Here’s a video on “What Caused the Fort McMurray Fire?” in northern Alberta?

And I can’t resist sharing this slide show of Expeditions by (22-year old nuclear physicist) Taylor Wilson, maybe the raw material for a documentary film. in Nevada, New Mexico and northwestern Arkansas. The “SCI” in the website name seems to refer to a level of security clearance.

The next-to-last story in my “Do Ask Do Tell III” book is called “Expedition“.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12 noon EDT)

 

 

Videos on Brown Mountain, Road to Nowhere, and Cumberland Gap Tunnel

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I had meant to get to Brown Mountain in North Carolina last month but couldn’t fit in the time for days away, so I did a few one-day trips nearer.  I’ll try to visit it in the early Spring 2016 after daylight savings returns and snow is melted.

I visited the general area in July 2013, driving through the Smokies from Charlotte and Hickory to (eventually) Oak Ridge, TN.  I drove up NC 226, the next highway to the West.  The pictures here are a close as I got to Brown Mountain.  Had I known more about the subject then, I would have chosen the 181 route.

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Brown Mountain is a ridge that extends somewhat perpendicular to the Blue Ridge, on the county line between Burke and Caldwell counties.  Linville Gorge is to the north, and the nearest town is Morganton, with a viewing overlook on Highway 181.  It’s a fairly easy drive for people in the Charlotte area, and the server farms of Apple and Google, around Hickory, are not far away.

The ridge typically runs around 2800 feet, with many sharp rocks and crags.  It somewhat resembles Old Rag in Virginia (80 miles from Washington DC), which has a similar relationship to the Blue Ridge by jutting out to the southeast.  The lights, which may have a reddish hue (like a “red shift”) often appear below the ridge top and may rise above somewhat, but they are usually not “high in the sky” like most UFO sightings.

There is a local cable TV episode in “Carl White’s Life in the Carolinas” called “The Mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights” (21 minutes without commercials), by LITCTV, from March 2015.

This episode cuts through the UFO myths and gets to the science.  The most likely explanation is that magnetite and certain forms of quartz (which has pizo-electric properties) occur together in the same area.  Heavy rain can dissolve tannic acid in fallen leaves.  The resulting reactions seem to release phosphorescent gas (with some sulfur compounds) which some say can resembled ball lightning (which normally would occur only in thunderstorms, not in the late fall when these lights are most likely to be seen).

Quartz (including blue quartz) and Magnetite occur in many locations in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge and valleys in both Virginia and North Carolina, but not usually in exactly the same place, as is the case on Brown Mountain.  Another area with similar deposits may be the Blue Ridge east of Wytheville VA, another area with supposed UFO sightings (especially in the late 1980s).  The Appomattox area NE of Lynchburg may be another such location.  Roberts Mountain SW if Charlotteville may have attracted the Monroe Institute as a location for similar reasons.  This sort of “pseudo-ball-lightning”, which seems harmless, may sometimes be seen at other locations in both states.

The Brown Mountain lights became the subject of a film “Alien Abduction” by Matty Beckerman, reviewed by me on Blogger in Aug. 2014, here.

Another attraction in the “Tarheel State” is “The Road to Nowhere: Abandoned Mountain Tunnel“, itself the subject of a mystery film by Monte Hellman, reviewed by me in July 2012 here.  This was an unfinished highway project near Bryson City NC and Lake Fontana, itself a location in “A Walk in the Woods” (by Kewn Kwapis, review link).   A filmmaker (who sponsors “Adam the Woo” on Tumblr) has a walk through the tunnel at the end of an obscure road.  It looks like it is about 3000 feet long (a little shorter than the Paw-Paw tunnel on the C&O Canal in Maryland, and much shorter than the Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnels).

Finally, let me share the fact that I visited the Cumberland Gap in February 1990, 500 miles from DC, in a rental car from Johnson City TN, on a gratuitous weekend trip.  That was before the tunnel on 25E was finished.  The construction of a tunnel, at 1600 feet elevation, to go under a 500 foot ridge seems gratuitous, when you consider that the Pennsylvania Turnpike took out the Sideling Hill, Rays Hill, and Laurel Hill tunnels in the 60s, and may take out Allegheny Mountain by 2020 (story).  In Maryland, officials made a 350 foot cut in Sideling Hill rather than build a tunnel on I-68 near Hancock MD. I prefer tunnels to “mountaintop removal”.

 

 

Here’s the “Cumberland Gap Tunnel”, simultaneous north and south approaches, filmed by Michael Kincaid.

(Published Wednesday Nov. 4, 2015 at 1 PM EST)

“Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek”, question and answer session at DC Environmental Film Festival

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I made six video clips from the Question and Answer session for the film “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” at the Carnegie Institute for Science on 16th Street in Washington DC (happens to be right across the street from the First Baptist Church if the City of Washington DC, in which I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s).

The subject of the film is African American activist Derrick Evans, who had worked as a history teacher in Boston before starting to visit his homeland in Mississippi more often. The Turkey Creek bayou is a natural wetland and was settled by freed slaves during the Reconstruction, who were able to own land here in a segregated society.  The land is threatened by over-development, which makes it even more susceptible to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and then Rita in 2005. The film is directed by Leah Mahan and has been carried on Mississippi PBS.

Evans gave up his career (even as a teacher) to become an activist.  During the QA I asked him if he was economically OK now, and the answer seemed to be, not really.  Was this an OK question?

Another speaker said that more people needed to be willing to live in the Gulf area.  Saying that people shouldn’t “choose” to live in higher risk areas just doesn’t cut it morally.

Here are the clips

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

Clip 5

Clip 6