All posts by Lenore Inniss

Lightning Leaps over Lake Muskoka

I’ve been loving hobby photography lately, but I’d never thought to capture a lightning storm before. As a child I remember being told that lightning came up through the ground (which is only partially true), so I was surprised to check my pics and see the horizontal lightning bolts.

Horizontal lightning bolt over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON.

First: a short explanation of how lightning works, then I’ll explain what I learned about my horizontal lightning strikes! 

Lightning is all about the charges – nature always wants to find equilibrium. It’s a natural static discharge where different areas of the atmosphere equalize in charge. Think of it like when you get a static shock from something – it’s the same process taking place.

The most common type of lightning is cloud-to-ground (CG). Generally CG is negatively charged. This channel of negative charge, called a stepped leader, is invisible to the human eye. When it approaches the ground, positively-charged “streamers” reach up to meet it – which explains the “lightning comes from the ground” misconception! These streamers tend to travel up through tall objects like trees, and when they reach the oppositely-charged leader electric current begins flowing – which is why you’re supposed to avoid standing near trees or tall objects during storms.

Cloud-to-ground lightning via lightningmaster.com

Occasionally, an exceptional amount of positive charge builds up in the upper levels of the cloud. This too must be balanced out, and since the lightning has a longer way to travel it is much more powerful. Usually these bolts travel vertically to the ground, but because of the high difference in electrical potential they can also travel horizontally before going to the ground. This means that these positive cloud-to-ground lightning bolts can strike from a blue sky many miles away from the storm – a “bolt from the blue.” Since positive lightning has higher peak currents and longer continuing currents, it is capable of heating surfaces to higher levels… which also makes it the type of lightning most likely to start a forest fire.

Positive cloud-to-ground lightning, via the Washington Post

So anyway, onto our horizontal lightning strikes! The explanation for these bright horizontal strikes is actually pretty simple – differently-charged areas in the atmosphere are simply seeking equilibrium, this time it happens to be two clouds with opposing charges (cloud-to-cloud lightning). As we learned earlier, clouds can be either negatively or positively charged, and nature always seeks equilibrium.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON

Cottage in Muskoka Custom Cocktail Contest

Calling all Muskoka lovers! Submit your best Muskoka-inspired cocktail recipe, and a short paragraph on your inspiration. Our favourite submission will win all of the ingredients of our own custom Cottage in Muskoka cocktail (Muskoka Spirits Co. Legendary Oddity Gin*, Sugarbush Hill Farm Dark Maple Syrup, and Fever-Tree Premium Club Soda), plus an engraved Cottage in Muskoka Yeti Rambler Lowball! You must be at least 19 to enter.

Please tell us:

The name of your cocktail

The ingredients and recipe

The inspiration behind it

How you would like your name to appear (first & last or first name only)

Our favourite entries, based on creativity and “Muskoka-ness,” will be judged for taste by our family over the Canada Day long weekend (woohoo!). Please submit entries to len@cottageinmuskoka.ca or cath@cottageinmuskoka.ca, or fill out our google formEntries are due by Friday, June 25th 2021 and the winner will be announced in the first week of July. 

Subscribers to our brand new newsletter have been given a head start with their mixology, so if you’re not in on the fun yet make sure to go sign up here! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

*potentially in the form of a gift card – legal investigation pending 😜

Is Slow Cottage Internet About to Become a Thing of the Past?

We all know the frustration. You’re trying to open an email attachment with a photo of your grandkids, look at a real estate listing, get some work done, or even just check the weather… and you’d like to not spend all day doing it! While newer internet technologies like fibre are trying to make that a thing of the past, the coverage is majorly lacking. In many areas the fastest high speed internet is just across the street from near-dial-up speeds, and due to the cost and difficulty of rewiring it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. 

Should we just give up and disconnect? No way! Enter SpaceX, with their new Starlink Satellite Internet service. This satellite service will operate via a satellite constellation of at least 12,000 satellites, with more pending approval. According to SpaceX, Starlink will offer speeds up to a gigabit per second – a far cry from rural cottages which often max out at a speed of up to 5Mpbs (a 995Mbps difference!). During the beta testing phase, customers are expected to experience speed variations from 50 – 150Mbps. Even places that currently have no internet availability at all will finally be brought into the 21st century. 

This is not traditional satellite service – Starlink’s satellites are in low earth orbit, which will not only make the service more reliable, but will also help keep down space debris. Each satellite is fitted with an onboard propulsion system to deorbit at the end of its life, and in the unlikely event that system becomes inoperable the satellite will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere within 1-5 years. At the higher altitudes used by traditional satellite services, this could take hundreds or even thousands of years. Satellite service also means that unlike fibre, you won’t have to have anything wired to your home to receive the fastest speeds available.

Though it is not fully ready for consumers yet, it is operational! Check out this tweet from Elon Musk, sent in October 2019 via Starlink internet!

He followed up with a second Starlink tweet – “Whoa, it worked!!” According to SpaceX, “Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”

While we truly do look forward to being able to work online at less molasses-like speeds, I, for one, will be celebrating laser-fast internet with a good ol’ Netflix marathon in my PJs!