Sunday, July 31, 2016

Abandoned Drydock, Baltimore

The massive drydock at Sparrow's Point lies idle, still maintained in the middle of a blasted wasteland: its owner's website offers it for rent, but nobody currently seems to be taking them up on the offer.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sparrow's Point Shipyard Ruins, Baltimore

At one point earlier this year, I travelled to Baltimore.  Banking in towards the airport, I was presented with a remarkable wasteland, the ruins of the once massive Sparrow's Point Shipyard. Once a major outlet for the products of Bethlehem Steel, Sparrow's Point built more than 100 ships during World War II and supported a whole community to workers. Eventually, however, the plants closed down and the site was juggled from owner to owner.  Three years ago, it was all razed to the ground, as corporations abandoned the aging infrastructure and environmental cleanup problems.  Now there is talk of building new development and a new port, but little sign as yet on the ground.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Small Iowa farm

A small farm near one of the landing paths to the Eastern Iowa Airport.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Immortalization in the Granite State

In the midst of the natural beauty of Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, I came across a granite bench with an incredible durable ad carved into it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Herky the Hawk as a scary hospital clown

Imagine being a child walking nervously toward your doctor's appointment, and on the way in from the parking lot, you suddenly come across this leering mascot, repainted to be even more horrifying...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Elvis has left the birdhouse

This, and a number of other unusually decorated birdhouses, may be found hiding surprisingly inconspicuously in the trees alongside the Hoover Nature Trail near West Branch, Iowa.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Aftermath of a rampage in the shoe aisle

I have no idea what the real story behind this scene might be, but that doesn't stop me from wild and enjoyable imaginings.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunset over the power plant

Rich red sky over the University of Iowa cogen plant, down by the river in the middle of the city.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Library Children's Room Mural, Iowa City

In the Children's room at the Iowa City public library, this playfully multichromatic mosaic mural presents itself near the entrance, and at its back it a little slide for kids to play on.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dressed for the cold, Iowa City pedestrian mall

This past winter, somebody gave this statue in the Iowa City pedestrian mall the scarf that it clearly needed for dealing with the bitter cold.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Magic Kingdom sunset

Sunset over Cinderella's Castle in the Disney World Magic Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sunset over Disney Springs

Sunset over the Disney Springs resort, picking out its hot-air balloon ride in silhouette.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Disney Springs road bridge

Pedestrian bridge into "Disney Springs," the fourth of the major theme parks at Disney World.  Unlike Magic Kingdom or Epcot, there is no entrance fee: instead, it is essentially a giant outdoor theme-mall.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cinderella mosaic detail

Detailed stonework from the mosaic telling Cinderella's story inside the focal castle of Disney World.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Disney photographer

One of the official photographers wandering around Disney Magic Kingdom, rocking some awesome tattoos herself.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Just an hour away from Cape Canaveral on the other side of Orlando is an institution that encourages people to dream in a very different way than NASA does: the Disney World complex of resorts.  Here, the blend between fantasy and commerce is nearly seamless, as seen, for example, in the high-priced princess makeovers offered by the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Boat shelves

Moving from NASA to a different artifact of Cape Canaveral, Florida, I had never before seen boats stored on shelves, like packets of mail in post boxes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Even at NASA you cannot escape

Racks of Astronaut Barbie await the consumer at Kennedy Space Center, conveying a decidedly mixed message.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Saturn V rocket nozzles

Each of the five nozzles of a Saturn V rocket stands twice as wide as a person is tall.  At Kennedy Space Center, their great cones are lit from below with a subtle purple light.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saturn V stages

For me, the size of a Saturn V rocket almost defies belief. You walk along and along the stages, and this feels to me not so much a machine or a vehicle as a piece of architecture.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Apollo Mission Control

At Kennedy Space Center, NASA has preserved the original Apollo Mission Control, now lit dramatically for the recreation of the launch that visitors pass through on their way to see the Saturn V rocket, moon rocks, etc.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rocket Garden

Looking up in the NASA rocket garden, they tower converging to the sky.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Entrance to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

Here is what the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center looks like when not infested with holiday cheer, with the stark blue exhoration to explore emphasized by the towering members of the rocket garden at its back.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Shuttle boosters with raptor

At one side of Kennedy Space Center is a giant building housing the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and outside of it, visible from many miles away, is the giant booster/external-tank combination that used to lift it into orbit.  As I stood looking up, sort sort of raptor drifted by (I liked to think an eagle), lazily comparing its own flight capabilities to ours.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Space mirror memorial

A more sublime and serene part of Kennedy Space Center: the space mirror memorial honors those astronauts who gave their lives for the space effort, in one simple and reflective obelisk.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Holidays in space

This past December, we spent a few days in the Orlando area, and one of the things we did was go to the Kennedy Space Center.  I'd been there once before and as such was not quite ready for the transformation it undergoes for their "Holidays in Space" period.  It strikes you the moment you arrive, seeing the NASA logo transformed into a giant Christmas-tree ball, but I was more discomfited by their need to replace the lovely ambient space music with rather generic Christmas/holiday music and by the giant Christmas tree which looked totally international but wasn't---it doesn't have all the spacefaring nations, only those who participate in the International Space Station, and thus leaves out major players like China and India.  All of it seemed to me rather to bring down an institution that otherwise is all about the best of human aspirations and capabilities.

Silo top, Iowa

Geometric forms in the complex piping arrangements on the top of a set of silos.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Kids learning to fish in F.W. Kent State Park, Iowa

On a picnic to another park near to Iowa City, we found ourselves surrounded by a summer camp outing, with lots of young kids learning to fish with simple stick-and-string rods.  These girls seemed to be picking it up particularly well, pulling up little fish after little fish as they stood on the shore of this little bay.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Glowing pond, Waterworks Park, Iowa City

Another shot of sunset at Waterworks Park, reflecting the sky in one of the ponds and highlighting in silhouette a duck-house in the middle.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sunset over Waterworks Park, Iowa City

One of my favorite places to go walking in Iowa City is Waterworks Park.  Nestled in a curve of the Iowa River, the heart and purpose of the area is the water purification plant supplying the city, but out surrounding it are miles of paths through swamps, ponds, and restored prairie, dotted with occasional pumping stations.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Looking up to Quad and Old Capitol, University of Iowa

Looking up into the heart of the University of Iowa quad, one is rather saturated with neoclassical architecture and a prototypical "university" feel.  Other parts are much more heterogeneous.