Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ped mall sunset, Iowa City

A truly magnificent sunset, seen while my wife and I were eating sushi outside on the pedestrian mall in the center of Iowa City, on our last date still warm enough to consider eating outside last fall.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Perkins home for sparrows, Coralville, Iowa

During the fall, sparrows took up nesting all over the sign of the Perkins restaurant near us. My four-year-old daughter was the first to notice, and I delighted too after she'd pointed them out. Recently, we went back again specifically because she wanted to see the sparrows' nests again, but alas the restaurant had hardened its hearts against them and destroyed the colony. I'm not surprised, since that's the sort of thing a business will do to keep itself looking neat and tidy, and it's not like sparrows are in any shortage of habitats given how well they integrate with human lifestyle. Yet I am still saddened by this loss of a little bit of magic and whimsy in the world.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Homecoming cornball, Iowa City

In what is perhaps the most Midwest-big-football-school thing that I have ever seen, before the homecoming game this fall this giant football statue covered with corncobs was erected on the edge of the quad at the University of Iowa.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Iron Mannequin, Coralville, Iowa

Guerrilla art and glorious pun spotted in the Target in the Mall near us. I wonder if this was intentional or just an unthinking discard by some kid.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tank farm sunset, Coralville, Iowa

Sunset gleaming over the oil tanks of the Magellan pipeline company, by the highway on the North side of Iowa city, where gasoline arrives up from Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, one of dozens of terminals in a branching tree throughout the Midwest.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

B-52, Rome, NY

Near the old air force base in Rome, New York stands this B-52, relic of the cold war and recollection of more prosperous times for the town. I remember when we used to go up to the Adirondacks when I was a kid, and we would see these orbiting overhead, still somehow making statements about strategic nuclear bombing in an era of orbital destruction.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Don't mind me, Rome, NY

A rather large snapping turtle, encountered on the swampy edge of a field while taking an early morning walk near Rome, NY. I find its ducked head to be saying, "Oh, don't mind me, I'll just take your fingers off if you bring them close to me."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Syracuse landing

Seen from above, an airplane landing into the Syracuse airport in upstate New York. Frankly, I was surprised that we were routed as close together as this, but perhaps all of that vertical separation was enough.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two paths divided, Atlanta

These lovely lines and electromechanical complexities are part of the path of the automatic tram that leads from the Atlanta airport across the highway to its associated convention center and rental car facilities.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Solar landfill, Atlanta

I've never seen this before, and I don't know why: covering a defunct landfill with solar panels seems like such a wonderfully obvious use of land to me. I wonder if they are powering only operations around the landfill, or if there are enough that they are providing significant power for its surrounding community as well?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Landfill ziggurat, Atlanta

I must confess a love for the shapes of landfills: they are the ceremonial ziggurats of our time, great hills of earth raised at a perfectly defined slope, with the precise layers of access paths circling a flattened top. The midden-heaps of our people are mighty indeed, and will remain a testament to this state of civilization for millennia to come, the reshaped earth looming low, yet bulking on the horizon.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Abandoned housing development, Atlanta

On the outskirts of Atlanta, I found this abandoned housing development: if you look closely, you can see that it is clearly a victim of the 2008 housing crisis. The trees were cleared from the roadways and the pattern of cul-de-sacs laid down. They then began to clear the trees off, prefatory to building, but had only done some of them before the economic crisis caused work to be halted. Now, the trees surge back, reclaiming what was taken from them, and some of the cul-de-sac spaces have been put to new and unofficial uses, as evidenced by the clutter (trash, or perhaps a campsite?) in the left-most cul-de-sac.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Old-school Delta Sign, Atlanta Airport

Delta has been in Atlanta for a long, long time, as evidenced by this wonderful old-school sign over their maintenance bays. It has apparently been there since the 1960s and lights up at night, an unofficial navigational aid and landmark, once broken and recently re-lit after the company worked its way through a period of financial troubles.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Atlanta airport endless underground

While there are little subway cars that can get you from terminal to terminal quickly in Atlanta, I prefer to walk along the endless-feeling tunnels underground instead. If you walk the full length from Security to the farthest terminal here, it's around a mile in a pure straight line (great for getting some exercise in transit), interrupted occasionally by sadly hidden art exhibits, far cooler in what they deserve than the exposure that they are given by the relatively few travelers who take this slow route through the tunnels.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta, poking darkly up through the humidity of summer.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Atlanta Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta is one of several that has a reasonable "busiest in the world" claim. Looking down from above, here, we see row after row of jumbo jets sandwiched between multiple active runways on each side.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Balancing act, MFA Boston

Outside the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, one finds this daring balancing act is carried out by a colorful statue.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Geese at FW Kent State Park, Iowa

Geese and goslings last spring, gathering on the edge of the central reservoir lake in F.W. Kent State Park.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Windswept construction barrier art, Iowa City

This past summer, Iowa City was engaged in a renovation of its downtown sidewalks, and to make the construction sites more pretty and engaging, they put out buckets full of ribbons and asked passers-by to tie the ribbons to the fences.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wood fungus, Turkey Creek, Iowa

A speckled fungus slowly helps to dissolve an old log near the banks of Turkey Creek, above the Coralville Dam near Iowa City.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Turkey Creek, Iowa

As I continue to explore the quieter corners of the area around me near Iowa City, I keep discovering more small and poorly advertised parks.  This one is Turkey Creek Park, which doesn't appear at all on Google Maps, and offers a pleasant walk along the flood-plain of this friendly winding creek.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lost picnic table, Sugar Bottom, Iowa

Walking in the Sugar Bottom Park, by part of the reservoir upstream of the Coralville Dam, I came across this old, decaying picnic table that appears to be slowly melting into the turf.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Restaurant Ceiling near Chicago

Yes, I know it's just some sort of ultra-non-threatening bland corporate architecture, but I still like the way these big orange glowy circles break up the negative space on the ceiling of this restaurant. Somebody still took pride and put craft into their choices of how to implement this non-threatening corporate decor, and it works quite well.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The world's raddest T-shirt, Chicago

When I spotted this T-shirt on the back of another visitor at the Field Museum in Chicago, I couldn't quite believe my eyes. There was no way that I could avoid taking a surreptitious picture, and the longer I look at it, the most astounded I become. Godzilla-like kittens breathing fire as they smash the Chicago skyline, while pterodactyls shoot lasers under a sky heavy with luminous planets? How is this not the most completely rad (and I'm sure ironic) thing in the entire world? My only regret is that I never caught a glimpse of the front, to see what sort of space-wizard madness might lie there as well.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Maori meeting house wall, Field Museum, Chicago

In a great room on the upper floor of the Field Museum in Chicago stands a Maori sacred meeting house. It has actually been in Chicago longer than the museum itself, having been imported in anticipation of the museum's completion, and though it began as a typical act of Victorian-era anthropological exploitation, it has now apparently transmuted into a positive point of cultural cultural exchange, with an active relationship between the museum, the community that originally housed it (and which has long ago built a new meeting house), and the local Native American community as well. This fierce figure with the gleaming shell-interior eyes is just one of many unique and individual faces covering the interior and exterior of the building, representing a particular ancestor of one of the builders of this structure, apparently a warrior based on the fierce visage and stuck-out tongue.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sculptural diagram of Terracotta Warrior factory, Field Museum, Chicago

In an exhibit on the Terracotta Warriors of ancient China, one of the neat bits added was a long thin sculpture, made in miniature in the same style as the warriors, that also served as a diagram showing how these sculptures are believed to have been created, in stages in a rather sophisticated factory-like environment.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Men's Room Ceiling, Field Museum, Chicago

Always remember to look up, because you might find something interesting waiting for you, like this beautiful domed sky hovering above the men's bathroom in the basement of the Field Museum in Chicago.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Underground Adventure Exhibit, Field Museum, Chicago

The Field Museum has a really awesome exhibit called "Underground Adventure" that shows what things would look like underground at 100x magnification, as one wanders through tunnels laced with root threads, lumpy dirt clods, and gigantic bugs. It can be a bit scary for a preschooler like my daughter, but also super-awesome and fascinating for her as well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wall of Diversity, Field Museum, Chicago

By the halls of evolution and paleohistory in the Field Museum, one may find this beautiful illuminated mural celebrating the diversity of life as it exists on this rare planet.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Velociraptor Safety, Field Museum, Chicago

I haven't bothered to do the math to see if they've got their numbers right, because I don't care. I simply want to appreciate the audacity of whichever wag placed this likely unauthorized sign in the "fishbowl" window of the anthropology lab at the Field Museum.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Windmills at dawn, Illinois

Windmills silhouetted in the sunrise, glowing off the side of Interstate 88 somewhere in the middle of Illinois. I remember fierce debates about wilderness and coastlines and natural beauty back in Massachusetts, but farm country and windmills seem quite well suited to one another. Quietly, without much notice in the national debate, wind power has been booming throughout the Midwest, and the long graceful arms of the turbine farms are taking their place with silos, grain elevators, and hundred-car freight trains as a major feature of the rural-industrial landscape.