Sunday, January 31, 2016

Friendly Lego sea serpent, Disney Springs

Near the Lego store in the "Disney Springs" resort / open-air mall, this friendly sea-serpent rises a dozen feet or more from the water, with several loops of its long tail trailing up and down in beside.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Orlando-area manhole cover

When you are anywhere near Disney in Orlando, Florida, everything quite clearly revolves primarily around the great aggregation of theme parks, even down to the very manhole covers.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

The "big city" of St. Thomas is Charlotte Amelie, an aggregation of houses, businesses, markets, and docks that wraps around the largest harbor of the island, climbing steeply up the hills, with houses and hotels often spread across multiple floors in a distinctly disability-unfriendly manner.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Old sugar factory, Caneel Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands


The first Europeans to settle what are now the US Virgin Islands were Danes who came to make money by growing sugar cane.  These steep and rocky islands are clearly not well suited to this purpose, but they built rock terraces using slave labor and exploited all the resources they could before it all collapsed.  Now, the only remnants of those times are a few stone ruins, like this old sugar factory that has been partly refurbished into a restaurant.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Massive caterpillar, St. John, US Virgin Islands

The scale is not so clear in this picture, but this caterpillar was nearly three inches, and as it walked the spike on the back bobbed up on down by ninety degrees.  This one was walking alone, but a few days later on the other side of the island, I saw trees stripped bare by hundreds of them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Palm trees at night, St. John, US Virgin Islands


Palm trees in the tropical night, lit from below by lights along the beachside.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tree-climbing soldier crab, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Imaging yourself walking along through the forest, high and dry above the water, and all of a sudden you find yourself face to face with a crab the size of a grown man's first, slowly working its way along the trunk of a tree at eye level.  The soldier crabs of St. John pop up all over the island in many different unexpected places.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shuttle Atlantis reveal

At Kennedy Space Center, when you enter the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, the recommended entrance takes you first through a well-done and dramatic surrounding video presentation, at the end of which a door dramatically pulls open to reveal Atlantis, still seen through the starscape projected on the wall/screen before that too draws up and allows you all to walk forward and encounter the retired vehicle.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Collier Memorial, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Just outside the computer science building at MIT, a graceful memorial has been constructed near where the Boston Marathon bombers killed officer Sean Collier.  I remember on the day of the bombing frantically trying to reach my wife to make sure that she and our infant daughter had not been anywhere near the bombing.  After the bombers killed Collier and led police on a chase across Cambridge and Watertown, I remember spending the day at home while the city was locked down, having as usual a workday as we could manage and marveling at the difference between the accurate reporting of local media and the breathless hysteria and speculation of CNN and Fox.

Friday, January 22, 2016

You're doing great. Boston, Massachusetts

Found in restroom in Boston, and I think I must give due appreciation to these anonymous words of support.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chicago at night

Coming into O'Hare airport in Chicago for landing, the lights of Chicago stretch to the horizon, almost but not quite entirely organized rectilinearly into blocks and super-blocks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lemon wall in Brussels

One one wall of a restaurant in Brussels, hundreds of lemon slices backlit with a gentle orange light.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

National airport parking garage, Washington DC

The parking garage at National Airport in Washington DC changed its lighting colors to red and green for the holiday season.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Wind turbine towers, Brandon, South Dakota


When I saw these great white cylinders resting beside the highway in South Dakota, I thought they must be pieces waiting to become part of the Keystone XL pipeline, idled by the governmental fight over its existence.  In fact, however, when I looked up Marmen Energy, I discovered that they are actually on the opposite side of the environmental and climate spectrum: these are all towers upon which wind turbines will rest.


Each wind turbine is stacked on two cylinders fitted together to taper as they rise high above the plains.  South Dakota is a leader in wind energy now, as well as other renewables, with around 70% of its energy from renewable sources and more than 25% from wind.  The only state with more wind power than South Dakota? Iowa!

Finally, let me leave you with one more image, this one copied from Google Maps, which shows the scale of the operation from above:


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Roof construction, Iowa City


Workers atop the new performing arts building, soon to finish replacing the one destroyed in the 2008 floods. Nearly 10 years later, reconstruction of the campus has not quite yet finished, yet the new building is still positioned in the flood-plain.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Spoonbending art, Iowa City Arts Festival


At the arts festival in downtown Iowa City this past summer, one of the exhibiting artist booths featured elegant twisted objects made of found and discarded items, including many old-fashioned silver spoons.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Inside UW Electrical Engineering Building, Seattle Washington

Inside of the Electrical Engineering Building on the University of Washington campus is a tall interior atrium that feels to me like a house turned inside-out.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dallas-Fort Worth airport radar


Toward the edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport, an omni-directional radar array is thrust high into the air, surveying all the traffic around this extremely busy airport.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Geneva botanical gardens waste no space

Most of the exhibits in botanical garden in Geneva are quite pretty and conventional in their layout.  On the back wall by the train tracks, however, I found this curation rather more ugly while being at the same time quite wonderful in its creative and parsimonious use of space.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Liberty bombs, Cartooning for Peace exhibit, Geneva

The view of the United States is often very different from outside than inside, particularly when it comes to our military activities.  I find this image hauntingly valid in the perspective it offers, even as I hold no regrets in my own choice of career, which sometimes engages these issues.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reformation Wall, Geneva

In the center of Geneva stands a tribute to the city's proud humanist history: the "Reformation Wall" features political and religious radicals such as Calvin who found support and refuge in Geneva during the Reformation era in Europe.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Keeping their eyes on the TGV, French countryside

I dearly wish I had a higher quality version of this image, but the train was darting by quite fast and I only barely managed to catch these great eyes at all.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dagstuhl ruins in the fog, Wadern, Germany



Above the Dagstuhl computer science meeting center in Germany stand the ruins of the ancient castle that once dominated the surrounding lands, seen here lit from below on a foggy afternoon.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Alewife Station, Cambridge, Massachusetts

One of the less-taken exits from the Alewife subway station at the end of the subway Red Line in Boston.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Primary colors of shipping, Chicago


And one more example of the elegant curves of shipping containers created by packing them into the nooks and crannies of their surrounding transportation infrastructure.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rainbow shipping container curve, Chicago

Another view of Chicago's logistics system: an arcing rainbow of shipping containers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Waiting railcars in a switchyard, Chicago

A significant amount of Chicago's economy is as a shipping and distribution hub.  Flying into O'Hare airport, this comes clear as you stare down at vast number of containers, sitting in freight storage areas or packed together on trains in switchyards.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Frankenbale, Iowa


Seen at the side of a preschool-level haunted hayride while I was chaperoning with my daughter's class for their field trip to a local farm.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Foam on the Iowa River, Iowa City

The texture of foam patterns on water illustrates clearly to me just how complex are its chaotic flows.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Stanford Dish, Palo Alto, California

Walking on my way into a synthetic biology standards meeting in in San Francisco area, I found myself suddenly confronted by a great construct of astronomy perched atop the next hill over.  This massive telescope goes by the rather unassuming name of "The Stanford Dish."

Friday, January 1, 2016