Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Arlington, VA reflections

Reflections on the side of an office building in the Washington DC area.

Monday, May 30, 2016

NSF Lobby, Arlington, VA

Looking up into the light-well core of the National Science Foundation building.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Washington Monument at half-mast

That day when I was sitting near it, sitting outside while I worked on a paper or proposal, all of the flags around the base of the Washington Monument were at half-mast, and I have no idea why.  I've noticed this recently, that I much more often notice flags at half-mast than raised all the way, and I suspect this may be about the increasing connectivity of our world and the fact that there's always a tragedy happening somewhere to be noticed.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hidden back corridors of O'Hare

Chicago O'Hare is an incredibly busy airport, and most parts of it are packed with people and a riot of signage and advertising on the cars.  Despite this fact, sometimes just a few feet from one of those packed major concourses you may find a hidden oasis of isolation and quiet, both auditory and visual.

Friday, May 27, 2016

De-icing in progress

De-icing trucks blasting the wings of an airplane, leaving a coating that should last at least long enough to get it airborne and above the sleet.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Abandoned tennis court, Chicago

The popularity of tennis in the United States peaked in the 1970s. Large numbers of tennis courts that were built all around the country in those times when it was more popular now lie decaying, grass and even trees forcing their way between the cracks the split their surfaces apart.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chicago-area trailer park

On the other side of the economic divide, the tight regular patterns of a trailer park on the Western edge of the Chicago area.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chicago Executive Airport

Just a couple miles from O'Hare is this rather large general aviation airport, where apparently there is enough demand for small private flights to match the whole size of the airport serving Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Northwestern University, Chicago

Northwestern University lies along Lake Michigan, just North of Chicago in Evanston Illinois.  Like most universities, its architecture runs a wild gamut of different styles and eras, as seen here from the old engineering buildings in the bottom left to the brand new four-winged building just finishing construction up by the athletic field.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chicago area cloverleaf

A cloverleaf interchange slightly bent and distorted upon itself near Chicago.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Chicago three-armed residences

Another set of sigils on the ground traced by buildings in a housing development: these three-armed buildings are almost but not quite symmetric in their designs and organization.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cul de Circles outside Chicago

I love the sigils on the Earth that are made by different sorts of housing developments, and what distinctive different sorts of styles they have.  I suspect that if you really studied it, you could probably pin down most developments to within a decade just by the shapes of their roads and housing lots.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Peace-sign neighborhood

On the Western edge of Chicago, the roads of this neighborhood form something reminiscent to me of a peace sign.  I wish I knew whether it was intentional or just a bit of accident and pareidolia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Texture of cargo handling

Airport cargo handling machinery is covered with rollers, which themselves form what I find to be interesting visual textures when pack together in semi-regular swarms.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cargo land

In the small Eastern Iowa Airport, the passenger and cargo areas are right next to one another.  Despite it being a fairly small airport for people, a remarkable amount of cargo appears to flow in and out---or at least a large amount of cargo containers accumulate there.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Belfast Harbor

Old concrete pilings slowly decay off the end of the docks in Belfast Harbor on the coast of Maine.  Some parts of the harbor are working, sending ships up and down the coast to help handle cargo operations; other parts have seen their day long past.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Airplane cross-section, Syracuse, New York

In the lobby of the Syracuse airport stands this slice of aircraft hull, making it clear just how thin is the envelope that surrounds you in the air, and what remarkable engineering lies behind our common airline transport.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Morning light on Iowa River bridge

One side of this bright support is slashed with light, the other dappled gently by reflections of the morning light on the still waters of the Iowa River.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sunset lake outside of Dallas

One of my favorite things about flying near sunset is the way the sun can illuminate the surface of lakes and rivers.  When the angle is just right, every minute element of texture on the surface of the water shines out amplified, glinting bright and strong for just a few moments before the angle shifts and it begins to disappear.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sunset from Boston Harbor

Returning into Boston Harbor at the end of a whale watch, the sun came slowly to rest in a cradle of its encircling towers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Little Brewster Island lighthouse, Boston, Massachusetts

At the edge of Boston harbor is one of the quintessential New England lighthouses, still operating much as it has for 300 years.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Green line T station, Boston, Massachusetts

Here, amongst the oldest subway stations of the nation, the trains run barely under the surface, not so much a modern subway as just a streetcar driven underground.  The Green Line serves the densest parts of Boston, and yet rather than large trains still runs based on little two-car pairs that clump up on the lines, interfering with one another and exploding with overcrowded people.  If our legal and personal safety standards would tolerate it, Bostonians would ride along clinging to its outsides like people do on commuter trains in India.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Construction site, Somerville, Massachusetts

Assembly Square continues to develop apace in Boston, with some sort of high-rise now emerging above the land that used to be parking lots and rather sketchy strip mall.  When I first moved to Somerville, the development plans for assembly square were a major point of contention in local politics, between established powers who wanted to make a quick buck with their developer friends and progressives agitating for more strategic development of a mixed commercial and residential area.  I hope this high-rise means the mixed-use developments have ultimately won, but I've lost touch with what's going on in the former home that embraced me for a decade of my life, across my true transition from childhood into adulthood.  I miss that city in many ways, and in others am quite content with my new life in Iowa.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Church in hamlet near Wadern, Germany

Walking on the trails around Schloss Dagstuhl, one can also end up stumbling into little hamlets, like this minuscule one with a tiny little old church sitting in the middle of half a dozen or so houses.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hunting blind near Wadern, Germany

Every hunting blind that I have ever seen in the US is carefully concealed in woods and brush, tall reeds, or the like.  Around Schloss Dagstuhl in Germany, however, they stand full out in the middle of the fields, hoisted up on stilts where neither person nor animal can possible fail to notice it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Countryside near Wadern, Germany

The countryside around Dagstuhl is all warm rolling hills in a patchwork of forest and farm and laced through with fine walking trails on which to start one's day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Old bunker near Wadern, Germany

More modern castles of a sort are also embedded in the hillsides around Schloss Dagstuhl, though without any of the fanfare or educational signage.  If you peer through the window, you see nothing but an old and dusty concrete room with bits of debris strewn around.  I have a hunch that it probably dates from World War II, but given its location it might just as well be from any other time in the early to middle 20th century.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Berg Dagstuhl, Wadern, Germany

Schloss Dagstuhl is a remarkable and lovely meeting center for computer science workshops, embedded in the middle of nowhere in the German countryside not far from the French border.  Above it on the hillside stand the ruins of the ancient castle, Berg Dagstuhl.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Frost shadows, Iowa City

With the temperature just on the critical edge, the morning sun burns off the frost where it touches but not in shadows yet.  At the bottom and left of each shadow runs a narrow line where the rising sun has moved  to touch the frost but not quite yet melted it away.