Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaving the fireworks, Ossipee, NH

In mass migration away from the field where they had watched the fireworks, the crowd here formed a river of lights, coordinating in its own secondary display within the darkness.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shining skyscraper, Boston, Massachusetts

I know that skyscrapers are often viewed as symbols of strength and prosperity, but I also think that they should be more celebrated as simple artworks in and of themselves.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Government Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Whenever I walk past the great brutalist ediface of Government Center in downtown Boston, I am reminded of an obscure Jonathan Coulton / Modern Lovers song that sort-of celebrates it, and in my head I begin to hear: "We're gonna rock-a rock-a rock-a non-stop tonight, uh-uh, at the Government Center..."

The center is huge and hideous and also somewhat beautiful in its pragmatic and uncompromising devotion to a geometric form: no softening curves, no other nearby buildings to defray is impact, Government Center stands alone in the middle of its plaza, just above the more tourist-friendly Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, often surrounded by street festivals or skateboarders, a strong and yet somewhat inscrutable statement of the significance of government.

And here you go, an earworm gift from me to you:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Love locks, Boston Massachusetts

The phenomenon of love locks fascinates me: two people in love or lust with one another go put a lock on a public fence, perhaps decorated to represent them and perhaps not, and then they just abandon it.  It's a rather minor form of vandalism, and certainly less personally permanent than getting a tattoo, but do people still feel the same pain and resentment when they've broken up and see their lock still standing there?  Do they even recognize it amongst the many that accumulate in certain places?  Do disgruntled lovers ever sneak up with bolt cutters in the dark of night, to chop a painful piece of fence away?  Or do careful people keep their combination saved in a little file labelled "just in case"?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Early morning at the Eastern Iowa Airport

Apropos for my day today: most of my professional trips begin approximately like this, with an early morning sky as I walk to the terminal of the airport shared by Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, coming in from the farthest corner of the parking lot to stretch my legs before I spend my hours sitting in transit in air and on the tarmac.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hospital Construction Site, Salt Lake City

In the declining light of sunset, this construction site high up on the side of the Wasatch mountains glowed below and before me as I walked along a trail on the hillside, listening to an article on the radioactive wildlife of the exclusion zones around Chernobyl.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Woven contrail

Natural warp and manmade weft, entangling together above me here in my Midwestern skies.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Night roses

Roses in the backyard of our old Boston place, shining illuminated in the night.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Museum of Modern Renaissance, Somerville, Massachusetts

Near Davis Square in Somerville stands a very curious house: once a Masonic temple, it has since been taken over by a Russian artist couple who have frescoed it inside and out with phantasmagorical and mythological scenes, creating a remarkable performance space.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Santa shrine under Longfellow bridge, Cambridge, Massachusetts

In a pedestrian walk beneath the Cambridge side of the Longfellow Bridge, I came upon this small and mysterious shrine, clearly well tended and carefully selected but completely inscrutable to me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hoover Nature Trail at sunset, West Branch, Iowa

I have come to love walking the rail-to-trail conversions scattered through the landscape all around us here in Iowa, and my most favorite of all of them is the Hoover Nature Trail, running a few miles around a curve through the corn and soy fields, in and out of a thin belt of woods.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dead tree, Amana Colonies, Iowa

Dead tree standing by the side of the canal between the villages in Amana Colonies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winter lights hiding in a drooping cave of snow, Iowa City

Last February, the snow bent our bushes into a curving cave around the strings of lights we run to welcome us home all winter through the darkness of the nights.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snow Dunk, Iowa City

Last February, when we had a lot more snow than this year, it came down so deep and yet so light that it filled our driveway basketball hoop completely.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sledding Warning, Hickory Hills Park, Iowa City

Near our house in Iowa City is a lovely big park nestled across several little valleys and around a stream.  For some reason, in one location there is a small red sign warning about sledding on this particular slope and no other, though I cannot tell what difference there might be between them.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Curving winter stream, Chicago

One of the things I love about the approach to O'Hare airport, is a great green belt of parks along a stream, appearing just before the airplane touches down from the East.  Someday, I wish to go there and to see what they will feel like from the ground.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Rectangular suburban pond, Chicago

I find an intriguing irony in the precise geometric forms sometimes engineered for injecting elements of natural beauty into the suburban landscape.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Snowy night, Porter, Maine

Lovely snow in the evening, a couple of years ago while staying at the old farmhouse my parents had renovated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dawn double rainbow off I90 in Minnesota

Before that moment, I had never before seen a rainbow reddened by the light of dawn, and then not one but two appeared together before me, just after crossing the Mississippi into Minnesota at dawn this summer, as a light rain moved across the fields towards our car and my wife and child slept quietly beside me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Everything is locally sourced somewhere

When I saw this sign in a McDonald's near our house, I found it extremely strange at first. After all, McDonald's is not normally accustomed to bragging about having locally sourced its ingredients.  Here, however, was a reminder to me that even large scale agriculture is local produce for somebody, and in this case quite a bit is apparently coming from Iowa, and probably much of it not too far away.  Indeed, I would not be surprised if all the processing was also done quite locally, since a lot of food processing happens here as well.  The one thing that's still surprising, though, is how tiny the amount of corn that is: unlike much of our food, I guess McDonald's doesn't really use much corn in anything it sells after all.

Monday, February 8, 2016

British Airways planes at Heathrow

When I first flew on airplanes, I felt a great degree of nervousness, though I can't particularly understand why when I look back.  Even while I knew how safe and reliable flying was, it just felt like something that I should be concerned about.  This even carried on into my early professional life, a feeling like I had to be paying attention when the plane was taking off, or else it would somehow fail to operate correctly.  That fear has faded, as I travel more, and my relationship with airplanes and airports has changed to one of comfort, a strange sense of homeliness, and a quiet and almost unacknowledgable delight in the great beast of air and fire that we have created to carry us to the far ends of our environment.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parc Montsouris, Paris

When I am in Europe, I like nothing more than to sit quietly in some pleasant city park, soaking in the quiet calm pools near the center of whatever bustling metropolis that I am currently visiting.  I feel like a terribly irresponsible tourist, who should clearly be out experiencing more Important and Significant Cultural Things, but I cannot deny that this is who I seem to be.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mysterious Parisian tomb

In the midst of every old city, and many new ones, you come across little strange inclusions whose histories are entirely obscure.  In this case, on a little street in the Southern part of Paris, I came across a rather large triangular area of bare grass and dirt with this rather small tomb on a little mound in the middle.  I saw no sign to say what it might be, but it is clearly cared for to some degree, and felt, on this bright summer day, like nothing so much as the resting place of some ancient vampire.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Rooftops of Paris

One of the things I love about Paris is the remarkable architectural unity, much of it due to the renovation led by Haussmann in the latter half of the 19th century.  I'm sure that it was horribly disruptive to life at the time, but a century and a half on it the rooflines make me very happy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Brussels main square at night

In the center of Brussels is a pedestrian-only main square lined with cafes and the historic civic centers of the city, and on warm summer evenings they sometime play a concert and a light show across the face of the old town hall.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Luxor Obelisk, Paris

In the middle of Paris is a remnant of Napolean's conquest of Egypt, a fragment of an ancient temple gifted to France in the early 19th by an Egyptian ruler trying to navigate the unstable dynamics of modernization unleashed after the shock of French invasion unsettled the Ottoman empire status quo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Massive Crowds on the Main Drag, Iowa State Fair

Another image from the Iowa State Fair, this one more just giving a feel of the throngs that pack into the area every summer.  Over the course of a week, more than a million people swarm through, enjoying all the various aspects of life and culture on offer there.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bernie Sanders in the Press Scrum, Iowa State Fair

Apropos of todays' Iowa caucuses, here is a picture I got of Bernie Sanders at the Iowa State Fair this year.  We hadn't actually been thinking about politics when we planned our trip to the fair, but rather about corn-dogs and tractors and music and rides on the midway.  When we arrived, however, Trump was orbiting overhead in his helicopter, and although we missed both him and Clinton, we did hear Sanders speak, and afterward followed the press mob after him. What impressed me visually about this moment was the way that Sanders was virtually cocooned in all the camera and sound equipment that packed in and surrounded him.