Saturday, December 31, 2016

Vieques, Puerto Rico

The island of Vieques, just East of Puerto Rico proper, lies silent beneath the warm monochrome of early sunset.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Caribbean Sunset

Sunset from the air, leaking through the dark clouds like lava through a volcanic crust.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Caribbean sunset

Golden Caribbean sunset, seen from the air with shadows of clouds stretching over the waves.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Orangutan Crossing, National Zoo, Washington DC

At the National Zoo in Washington DC, the orangutan habitat is fractionated across several plots, with rope "skyways" linking between high towers in the various plots. When they pass over the footpaths, zookeepers pause traffic for their crossing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carousel on the National Mall, Washington DC

Outside the Smithsonian Museum of Science & Industry, on the Washington Mall, is a great grand carousel, showing off the mechanical capabilities of American industry through its intricate machinery and also providing joy to generations of small children. My daughter rode it four times in a row.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Beach maintenance, Winthrop, MA

I'm not quite sure what this bulldozer is up to, but there is clearly some kind of complicated beach maintenance project going on.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Deer Island Water Treatment, Boston, MA

The Deer Island water treatment plant is one of my favorite landmarks in Boston Harbor, sitting out there in all its industrial glory, still helping to clean up and keep clean what was once one of the most notoriously polluted waterways in the nation. When I was a child, the aquarium in Boston had an exhibit on the utter nastiness of the harbor, featuring a shopping cart and other trash encrusted with marine gunk in a filthy tank. Last time I went to the aquarium, that exhibit was gone, as the state becomes comfortable with its remarkable success.

Here, this jewel of our national infrastructure shines in silhouette in the morning sun.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nahant Beach, Massachusetts

Long parallel waves roll in to Nahant Beach, the water changing color as it shallows out.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Graves Lighthouse, Boston Harbor

Nautical landmarks are sometimes named quite evocatively, like this collection of rocks in Boston Harbor known only as "The Graves."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Theoretical docks, Lynn, Massachusetts

In season, no doubt these lines of pilings transform into full floating docks, but for now they remain entirely theoretical.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Airplane glory

The glory is a still poorly-understood optical effect, in which one's shadow seems to be surrounded by a rainbow halo. Most well-known from mountaintops, it also appears from airplanes on occasion, following along in ghostly silence before it slowly fades as one continues to ascend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Contrail

Coming off of a year in which I spent more time on airplanes than I care to rightly recall, I'm staying down on the ground in flyover country for a while, thank you very much.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Art in Chicago O'Hare Airport

This webwork of translucent plastic slowly changes to all the different rainbow hues, as is now so often the case since artists have discovered they can cheaply get ahold of a pile of LEDs. Despite that hackneyed aspect, I enjoy its form, suspended near the ceiling in the passages connecting Terminals 2 and 3 in O'Hare and helping to break up what would otherwise be a gigantic chunk of bland rectangular negative space.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bird over Waterworks Park, Iowa City

I'm not sure whether this is some sort of raptor or a vulture, but whatever it may be I like the span of its wings and the stretch of its fingers.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Monk in O'Hare Airport, Chicago

In fact, I think I've seen this same monk transiting through O'Hare more than once. It makes me wonder whether he is going for business or personal travel, and what the business of monks in America might be these days.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hancock Building at Night, Boston

The great prism of the Hancock Building stands quietly in the grey winter sky.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Logan Airport walkway, Boston

A gently arching pedestrian bridge at Logan Airport in Boston, passing from the terminals to the garage at dusk.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Electrical Substation, Chicago

Electrical substations may look quite sparse to the eye on their concrete pads, but it is simply that we cannot see the electrical and magnetic fields that crowd the area. Those components are spaced out from one another to avoid dangerous entanglements and to allow them to be safely serviced, despite a the rather unusual and non-intuitive physics that drives behaviors at such extreme voltages and currents.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Oil tanks, Chicago

Unless you look down on them from above, you may never notice that many of those gigantically solid and immovable oil and gas tanks one sees beside the road are actually quite dynamic, with the entire enormous roof floating up and down on top of their contents.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Highway rest area, Chicago

A rest area in the Chicago area, displaying a remarkably precise antisymmetry, not only in the form of the roads and buildings, but also of the vehicles parked beside them.

Friday, December 9, 2016

DFW Runway Island

Sometimes the intersection of different runways and roads on an airport will leave behind little abstract sigils, like this "island" in the middle of the Dallas Fort-Worth airport. Stripped of context, both the form of the island and the roadways passing through it seem entirely lacking in function other than to shape the negative space defined by the grass.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dallas Monorail

The monorail at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport (DFW) wraps around all of the terminals, plus this parking lot, in graceful looping bubbles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Headless models in Delft, Netherlands

Another in the uncanny valley mannequin series. Which do you think is more disturbing: models with sunscreen for heads or cow-people?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

More of The Freaky Cow-People of Dallas Texas

Another group of the freaky cow-people of DFW. I particularly note the popped collar on the bull at the center and the leather jacket on the left bull. I also think these would be less disturbing to me if they weren't so clearly gender differentiated also. A lot of work clearly went into making these mannequins this creepy.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Freaky Cow-People of Dallas Texas

In the mighty complex of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, there is a clothing store where the mannequins are all freaky cow-people. For me at least, this steers (pun intended) straight into the middle of the uncanny valley and stays there, leering out at me uncomfortably.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Luminous sunset near my daughter's daycare, Iowa City

This one's from a while back, but I still like the way the red sky interacts with and reflects off of the building nearby.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Very cold airport signaller, Eastern Iowa Airport

In deep winter, the gusts out on the tarmac in the open prairie must be unbelievably unpleasant.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Luxembourg city window display

I liked the way the pegboard geometry of this display superposed with the reflection across the street.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Retro lights at the Solon Brewery, Iowa

Since I first notices these retro-looking light strings and snapped this picture, I've been seeing them in more and more locations. I don't know if they've just gotten popular, or if it's what my father called "Peugeot syndrome," after his experience as a young man of buying a dilapidated old used Peugeot and having the attentional salience suddenly cause him to start noticing every other Peugeot on the road.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Robot graffiti, Luxembourg

I find the facial expression on this graffiti robot really endearing and cute.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mall skylight, Iowa City

I like how the hexagonal pattern of the roof and window extends into the spider of wires holding decorations above the children's play area in the Coralville Mall.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bangular Perspective, Iowa City

Giant mall Christmas ornaments look really weird when you aren't looking from the intended direction.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Crossing Paths

In the air, far above the ground, you lose all sense of the speed at which you are traveling. When you cross paths with another plane, however, that all comes back as the other shoots past at startling speed a thousand feet or more above or below.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

University of Augsburg, Germany

Another intriguing modernist building at the University of Augsburg.

Friday, November 25, 2016

University of Augsburg, Germany

The colorful textured outer wall of a building at the University of Augsburg in Germany.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rest-Area Roof, Ohio

This mighty wheel and spokes was actually the roof of a rest area food court, somewhere off of Interstate 80 in Ohio.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Broken Window, University of Iowa

Over the summer, the outer pane broke while the inner stayed intact in a giant double-pane window in the Engineering building at the University of Iowa.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dawn double rainbow off I90 in Minnesota

On that morning last summer, a light rainstorm swept past us as we drove West into Minnesota with the dawn breaking at our backs, a pair of red-tinged rainbows glimmering on its edge.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Turtle picnic, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison Wisconsin

Quietly in a corner of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, these two topiary turtles share a contemplative parent / child moment over a picnic.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison Wisconsin

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens, in the middle of Madison Wisconsin are a lovely green oasis of vegetation, watercourses, and sculpture.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ella's Deli, Madison, Wisconsin

To me, this is the freakiest exhibit in the whole of Ella's Deli: the singing foot family, who wobble back and forth singing mountain songs from "The Sound of Music." I have no idea why the singers are these hideous feet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ella's Deli, Madison, Wisconsin

Another inhabitant of Ella's Deli: this Humpty Dumpty looms frightening out of the uncanny valley over an unsuspecting table.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ella's Deli, Madison, Wisconsin

Another image from Ella's deli, this one an Escher-esque window shade covered with colorful birds.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Magic is Gone, Ella's Deli, Madison, Wisconsin

Ella's Deli was one of the first restaurants to serve authentic Jewish cuisine in Madison, Wisconsin, and the place is a remarkable fusion of a traditional New York-style deli, with all of the favorite dishes that you might be longing for, and knick-knack filled roadside attraction. Animatronic toys wobble on the walls and glide back and forth above the tables, colorful signs announce dishes and attractions, and it seems that every space is filled with some sort of antique mechanical miscellany. One of these that caught my eye is this pair of sad wizards, which I think were once (perhaps still are) part of a fortune-telling gizmo. To my eye, though, they seem to be mourning the passing of magic from their world.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison Wisconsin

Another perspective on the Thai pavilion in the gardens of Madison, emphasizing the spiky angles of its roof.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison Wisconsin

In the back corner of a botanical garden in Madison, Wisconsin sits a remarkable sight: a genuine Thai temple, in all its golden intricacy, gifted to the university by the government of Thailand.