Petra, a city cut out from rocks

General, Photo
Petra, Jordan

Petra (Arabic: ٱلْبَتْرَاء‎, romanizedAl-BatrāʾAncient Greek: Πέτρα, “Stone”), originally known to its inhabitants in Nabataean Aramaic as ̢𐢚𐢛𐢓𐢈 rqmwRaqēmō,[3][4] is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies around Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Seato the Gulf of Aqaba.[5] The area around Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC.

We set the camera on the tripod, put it on time-lapse, and then walked away from it. This was shot at 70mm. It was quite a surreal experience to be there, to say the least!

Comet Neowise at Night

General, Photo

Can you believe we didn’t even know this comet existed until less than 4 months ago? And now we won’t see it again for 6700 years! C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) or Comet NEOWISE is a retrograde comet with a near-parabolic orbit discovered on March 27, 2020, by astronomers during the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope. Under dark skies, it can be clearly seen with the naked eye and might remain visible to the naked eye throughout most of July 2020, at least until July 23, the point of the comet’s closest approach to Earth at a distance of 0.69 AU (103 million km; 64 million mi). Comet NEOWISE made its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) on July 3, 2020, at a distance of 0.29 AU (43 million km; 27 million mi). This passage increases the comet’s orbital period from about 4400 years to about 6700 years.

24mm 6s f/1.8

Neighborhood Walk during Sheltering in Place

Photo

Everyone in California right now is sheltering in place. We have been asked to minimize travel, work from home and not leave home unless absolutely necessary. No driving to places for an evening walk etc. What’s allowed is to go downstairs for a quick walk in the neighborhood. Luckily, we live close to this spot so we decided to go for a quick walk.

It was nice to notice all the beauty, take in the fresh air and all the sights and sounds.

The Russian Woodpecker in Chernobyl

Photo, Travel

I was recently in Ukraine and I decided to visit Chernobyl. I did not know anything about this giant antenna system, the “Russian Woodpecker” until I got here. And it’s incredible.

In 1976 the world heard for the first time the eerie woodpecker-like repetitive pulse coming from these transmitters in present day Ukraine. Conspiracy theories followed instantly, generating Western media headlines about mind and weather control. Amid growing fears of nuclear war some claimed that the low-frequency “Russian signal” could change human behavior and destroy brain cells. Such wild speculations were further fueled by the Soviet Union’s denial of the very existence of the radar — it was a children’s camp after all.

The Duga Radar in Chernobyl

The Duga radar (which translates as “The Arc”) was once one of the most powerful military facilities in the Soviet Union’s communist empire. It still stands a towering 150 meters (492 feet) high and stretches almost 700 meters in length. But, left to rot in the radioactive winds of Chernobyl, it’s now in a sad state of industrial decay.

When it was in operation, the Duga supposedly used short radio waves capable of traveling thousands of kilometers using a technique called “over-the-horizon” radiolocation to detect the exhaust flames of launching missiles.

The random frequency hops disrupted legitimate broadcasts, amateur radio operations, oceanic commercial aviation communications, and utility transmissions, resulting in thousands of complaints by many countries worldwide. The signal became such a nuisance that some receivers such as amateur radios and televisions actually began including ‘Woodpecker Blankers’ in their circuit designs in an effort to filter out the interference.

Poznań at Sunset

Photo

Labels are very tricky to navigate, especially through the lens of history. Poznań is the chief city in the historical region called Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) which used to be at the heart of the 10th century Polish state. After more than a century of partitions between the Austrian, the Prussian, and the Russian imperial powers, Poland re-emerged as a sovereign state at the end of the First World War in Europe in 1917-1918. By then the capital of Poland was Warsaw and Greater Poland (which had now been under Prussian rule for a long time) was won back in the Greater Poland Uprising of 1918. Following the German invasion of 1939, Greater Poland was again taken over and now incorporated into Nazi Germany. Poznań was declared a German stronghold city in the closing stages of the war, being taken by the Russian army in the Battle of Poznań, which ended on 22 February 1945. Since then, Poznań has been back in what we today recognize as Poland. And this is what it looks like at sunset ☺️

FaceId on iPhone X tested in mountaineering gear

General, Photo

I was blown away by something unexpected this weekend. I looked like this but the FaceId on My iPhone X recognized me each time I looked at it!

I didn’t really expect it to detect my features but it kinda makes sense as the glasses block UV and visible light but FaceId uses IR light.

I didn’t do any additional testing to check if this was more of a false positive. But it was nice not having to unglove the hand to use a fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone in the cold, chilly weather.

A peek view of the Bandra Worli Sea Link

General, Photo

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge with pre-stressed concrete-steel viaducts on either side that links Bandra in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai with Worli in South Mumbai. It has a total length of 5.6 km (3.5 miles). In this pic you see the largest pylon towers which are 128 m (420 ft) high. At the base of the bridge, in the water, you see fishing boats that are not too different from the original ones used by the Koli fisherman who, less than 200yrs ago, originally inhabited this marshy region of seven islands. Most buildings in this frame are under construction, even the one with the glass windows. Enjoy this view, it’s going to disappear soon – see the slabs piling on down below? Love how the setting sun hit the skyline so selectively!

Breakfast in India at a highway stop

Photo, Travel

1. Gaathiya (yellow fried dough things)

2. Jalebi (orange/yellow sugary syrupy thingy)

3. Mircha (fried hot peppers with salt)

4. Cha (hot tea)

With two sides:

A) raw onions

B) pickled carrots

The flavors work so well together, at many different levels, despite the simplicity. The hotness of the peppers is accentuated by the heat of the tea, and the salt somehow blends with that intensity while the gaathiya creates the neutral grounding and the jalebi keeps bringing a glimpse of the sweet.

Kīlauea: spending the night next to a lava flow!

Feature, General, Photo

🌋 Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi, also called the Big Island. Located along the southern shore, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The currently active lava flow is called the 61g flow. Until October 2017, it was flowing all the way to the ocean. Now the flow ends higher uphill on the slopes.

We started the hike at night, near the ocean, walking uphill on the recently solidified lava. It was a surreal terrain: shiny, silver and brittle with fabric-like textures and folds – but this was solid rock! We made it to the flow and decided to spend the night there. We settled for a spot right under the lava flow as it was close enough without being scorching hot.

We slept under the stars on the clear moonless night, with fresh lava crackling and turning a mere 20 ft from us. About 7hrs in, we heard a loud sound as the lava cracked out of a spot much closer to us. Then we noticed steam bursting out from the rock we were sleeping on! I placed my hand on the rock and could feel a strong rumbling vibration underneath.

Within seconds we collected our sleeping bags and gear and were off that rock and onto safer ground. That’s when I took this picture!

It was a very humbling experience to spend this time with Tūtū Pele, the Fire Goddess, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

Disclaimer: we had done a lot of research, knew what we were doing, and made sure we were safe at all times.