shine on you crazy diamond


reading links
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Reading Links this week will include links to Halloween-ish Wikipedia articles.

« T A L L »
Inside the Minds of the Perfectionists
Researchers Used to Blame Parenting but Studies Suggest a Genetic Link; Procrastination is a Problem
« V E N T I »
The Secrets of Sleep
The main symptom of FFI, as the disease is often called, is the inability to sleep. First the ability to nap disappears, then the ability to get a full night’s sleep, until the patient cannot sleep at all. The syndrome usually strikes when the sufferer is in his or her 50s, ordinarily lasts about a year, and, as the name indicates, always ends in death.


« H A L L O W E E N ! »
death loves a comedian Atuk
The film script is also renowned for an alleged paranormal curse which, as an urban legend, has said to have killed all the actors who have shown an interest in the lead role.
eerie Voynich manuscript
The Voynich manuscript, described as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript”, is a work which dates to the early 15th century, possibly from northern Italy.
nature being weird Sailing stones
The force behind their movement is not confirmed and is the subject of research.
people being weird Toynbee tiles
The Toynbee tiles (also called Toynbee plaques) are messages of unknown origin found embedded in asphalt of streets in about two dozen major cities in the United States and four South American capitals.



crazy diamond

I have been described as a lighthouse in the middle of a bog: Brilliant but useless.
–Connor Cruise O’Brien

I had some free time this past weekend so me and my brother went on a little trip. I have an affinity for lighthouses — which may be related to my affinity for the seashore — so we took a little jaunt to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

We had to cross some bridge painted a shade known as International Orange.
After getting off the bridge and driving along the main road running through the headlands, we turned off to the side.
Google maps never says anything about how steep a road is so we were all, “WHOA!” And then we were all, “YEAH! ROLLERCOASTER!”
And then we were all, “SEATBELT.”

It was a lovely day, clear, warm, and very rare for this area this time of year. It was a sure sign of global warming.

That spit of land was where we were headed. You can see the lighthouse at the end.

It was still a bit of a winding scenic drive to the lighthouse. We had to park at the foot of a hill and trek our way up over the hill, and then down the other side.

Some people are fortunate enough to live in this area (canNOT imagine how much a house would cost out here) and have Bambi grazing in their backyard.
After going down the steep side of the hill, the path began to level out (and have guardrails — whew).

The first Point Bonita lighthouse constructed in 1855 was originally located on a higher rock point. Because of the low-lying fog in the area, the light was pretty damn useless as it was above the fog. Since everyone’s a genius, some genius devised a fog signal — the lighthouse keeper would fire a 24-lb. cannon every twenty minutes. The lighthouse keeper eventually resigned because the noise drove him crazy.

In 1877 the lighthouse was moved to its current location. This location required the builders to overcome many challenges, including the need for a hand carved, 118-foot (36 m) long hard rock tunnel.

Tunnels seem fairly common when we go exploring.
This tunnel, though slightly damp, was not unpleasant and fairly short, with a right angle turn in the middle.
A rather Halloween-ish exit from the tunnel by my brother.

We had a lovely view of the City by the Bay upon exiting. We were to follow this narrow path and its guardrails until we came to the lighthouse.

Along the way, we noticed the ruins of a dock. (You can also see the house with the deer in the distance.)

According to the informational plaque a little further on, there used to be a dock there for unloading coal.
The narrow path we were on used to be a track upon which coal was trundled to the lighthouse. Back then, the light burned 140 pounds of coal per hour.
By the way, this lighthouse has the first cell-phone tour I have ever seen. Wherever there is an informational plaque, you can dial into a number (or keep the line open from the first plaque), punch in a code, and a pleasant voice will tell you all about where you are.
This spit of land wasn’t really solid. It was more a series of connected big rocks.
We crossed a bridge and had our first view of the lighthouse.
It was connected by a suspension bridge to the rock we were currently on.
Up until 1940, you could reach the lighthouse without a bridge (note the narrow dirt trail under the bridge). Erosion eventually required the building of the first suspension bridge in 1954. The bridge was rebuilt beginning in 2010 and reopened this year.

The original bridge (and this one) was meant to mirror the architecture of the Golden Gate Bridge, with its cables and two towers.

The helpful park docent let me take a picture of the bridge with no people on it. Teehee! Then, we crossed the bridge. You could feel it move as you walked across. Naturally, I jumped when in the middle so I could feel it bounce.

Here is a picture of the cable fastenings on the other side.

That’s some serious hardware (for which I am very grateful).
The bridge looks more precarious from the lighthouse side, since you can see the side view more clearly.

There was no access to the light itself, but I had a nice view from below. I contemplated climbing some of the concrete support columns that once held up a platform of some sort but were now platform-less (like how I wish most women’s shoes would be these days).

While I was pondering this, a father wanted to take a picture of his little daughter sitting atop one of the support columns (they weren’t very tall), but she was very proper and said adamantly, “They’ll [the docents] say no.”
Since I was thinking of doing the same thing, I said, “It’s fun because they’ll say, ‘no’!” The father laughed and said, “She has the right attitude!”
My brother shook his head and said, “You’re a horrible role model.” I did not disagree.

The lens at Point Bonita was a second-order Fresnel lens, the second largest used in lighthouses. It clocked in at about 2 meters tall (~6 feet). Fresnel lenses were assembled from numerous individual prisms — the largest Fresnel lens ever made (for a lighthouse in Hawaii, I believe) was 12 feet tall and had a thousand prisms.

Point Bonita was the last manned lighthouse on the California coast. Automation came to pass in 1980 and now a modern lightbulb shines out from the lens where there was once a flame powered by coal.

Some of the old masonry of the lighthouse keeper’s house.



I took this photo on my phone using a panorama app. I can’t wait to upgrade my phone as the 3-megapixel camera of my current phone is total crap compared to what’s out there today. I grew up living in that tiny area obscured by mist, a little to the right of center.


There was a natural sea arch at the bottom of the rock. I didn’t climb down there because I figured the park docents would say, “no”, among other reasons.

After poking around a little more, it was time to go. The lighthouse and its grounds were actually quite small so we really did have a chance to see everything.

Back into the tunnel.
A picture of the lock for the door to the tunnel.
I’ve seen similar lock systems on less-desirable cars in the ‘hood.


We went next to Fort Cronkite which had a pebbly beach. We had Vietnamese sandwiches and Vitasoy for lunch, a total throwback to our childhood days.

The way out of this area included a one-lane, one-way tunnel. The metering light for the tunnel was five minutes long.

Upon our return to the city, we still had a little time left so we went to check out one of the smaller neighborhood beaches. At this beach, there was A Big Rock. Of course that meant I had to climb it, and I did.

At the top of the rock, we found a survey mark from 1971, which isn’t very old to some and incredibly ancient to others.


I took a panorama with my regular camera which made up in detail what it lacked in continuity.

The bit of land in the second panel is where Point Bonita Lighthouse is (and we were just there!).


In the first panel, you can see a little doohickey sticking up out of the water like an oil drum.

This “drum” is also a lighthouse — the Mile Rocks Lighthouse. It is now an automated lighthouse, but it was once an actual, live-in lighthouse. What is left now is actually only the base of the original lighthouse and tower.

U. S. Coast Guard photograph of Mile Rock before they chopped off the top part for automation.
Lighthouse keepers were almost always pairs or more of people, since the job was pretty darn lonely. Mile Rock was so isolated and tiny that it was considered a “stag” lighthouse, that is, only one person could live there and operate the light.
Mile Rock today is barberpole living out its karmic cycle as a helicopter landing pad.

Right before we left the beach, we came upon this little feller, an isopod.

He was slightly less than a half-inch long and quite sprightly, sproinging away many times before I got a good picture of him.
Hard to believe he’s just a mini version of the cute and cuddly creature to the right.

That’s all for this lighthouse adventure. Have a fun and safe Halloween, peeps. Until next time…



This post brought to you by the letters AJR. Thank you for the coffee, which is ever my lighthouse in the fog of an early working morning.

shine on you crazy Fresnel lens