Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bertinoro Streets, Italy

Being an ancient town wrapped around a steep hill, the streets of Bertinoro are even more narrow and winding than most other places in Italy, and one gets a good workout just walking up and down them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The View from Bertinoro, Italy

My trip to Italy last summer was centered on presenting at a scientific "summer school," a one week intensive course of lectures. This meeting was held in an old monastery turned conference center on the top of a steep hill, in the little town of Bertinoro --- the town being almost entirely confined to the sides of this steep hill. The town, however, is almost entirely invisible in the view from the window of my room in the monastery, hidden below the steepness of the hill, so that I just looked out across the rich plains of Northern Italy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

High speed sunflowers, Italy

I really loved watching the sunflowers bobbing past beside the train.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

High speed sunflowers, Italy

A vast field of sunflowers, seen distorted by perspective from the high-speed train dashing past them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Performing statues, Cesena, Italy

Two statues turn the entry stairway of a building in Cesena (probably part of the university) into an acrobatics act. I particularly like the integration of the tightrope into the handrail of the stairs. This seems to me to almost certainly have been designed as a single unit by an artist with some vision, rather than being added to the entrance later.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Church, Italy

A church with an intriguingly rounded steeple structure that reminds me somehow of the a visor on a knight's helmet.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Suspended apartments, Cesena, Italy

I don't know the history of this colorful set of apartments in Cesena, but they are near what I think might be part of the old city walls, and they lean out suspended over a little pocket park.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rail grade rock dropper, Cesena, Italy

This peculiar beast is a specialized maintenance train for maintaining the shape to the rail beds on railroad tracks with the traditional gravel foundation. When the foundations are eroded away, a train like this will drive along, opening slots at its base to let a shower of new little rocks out at a defined rate. How do you know when to dump how much rock in an even vaguely efficient manner? There's a whole little micro-speciality devoted to figuring that sort of thing out.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Foot-pedal sink, Cesena, Italy

I thought this was brilliant, and I would like to see it in more place: a bathroom sink with no handles, but instead a foot pedal to turn on the water. No touching anything with dirty hands --- just the sole of your foot that's not the goal of cleaning in any case. I see the issues for disability, of course, and the way that sensor sinks make it obsolete as well, but I was still startled in retrospect to have never encountered this solution in a bathroom before.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

American Street Food Hamburger, Cesena, Italy

Was there ever any real doubt about what American street food might be, in the eyes of other nations?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

E'Tornato L'Americano, Cesena, Italy

Nobody does cultural appropriate like carnivals, and so it was with glee that I discovered this mashup of all things American pop culture at a street festival in Cesena.  An American Tornado indeed!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cheese Vendor, Cesena, Italy

I love finding pieces of American culture appropriated and reinterpreted through foreign eyes (and yes, I am aware that it is a mark of my cultural privilege that this is a matter of joy for me rather than pain). At the farmer's market in Cesena, I found this cheese vendor's stall gleefully violating copyright on old Tom & Jerry cartoons, selling cheese with the implied threat of vengeful violence. Judging by the "1962" on the side, this may have been there for decades, back even to when the cartoon was much more culturally relevant in the United States---but I have no idea to what degree these characters were or are known in Italy, and that is part of the interest for me.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Giardini Pubblici, Cesena, Italy

Gazebo in the center of the Giardini Pubblici (Public Garden) in the middle of Cesena. I sat here in the late afternoon, enjoying a discussion of aggregate programming theory and possible papers to write with my colleague Giorgio. The park is a surprisingly quiet oasis for how small it is (just beyond those trees are a wall of houses), and by coincidence features in the simulation experiments of an upcoming paper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cesena Streets, Italy

Another shot of the Cesena streets, showing the "canyon" of apartments typical of these types of old, tight settlements.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cesena City Streets, Italy

I love the density and friendliness to human scale in many European cities. Cesena, where my colleagues Mirko and Danilo are based, is typical of this sort of mid-sized city: it is a thriving city of one hundred thousand people, yet we regularly walked from one side to another.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Car closets, Italy

Just as in America, many apartment buildings in Italy have associated parking. Unlike American apartments, the parking in Italy is often in the form of little closets for each person's car. For some reason, a car scooching into a closet just big enough for it to fit is just the cutest thing to me.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bioprocessing plant in vineyard, Italy

The gleaming mass of a biological processing plant rises out of a vineyard in Italy, likely producing wine from the crops surrounding it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tubes near Bologna, Italy

Seen by the side of the highway, somewhere between Bologna and Cesena, I have no idea what these big circular tube-like structures are, except that birds seem to like sitting on them.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Italian Water Tower

I don't know why, but every water tower that I noticed in Italy had this sort of sharp cone shape, rather than the familiar "big round bubble" that I know from the US, UK, France, Germany, etc.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lamborghini, Bologna Airport

Upon arriving in the Bologna airport, one immediately knows you are in Italy, greeted with a sleek, proudly banana-colored Lamborghini.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Italian farm

I don't know what the light brown crop here is, with its mysterious irregular flattened patches, but its texture intrigues me. I saw quite a lot of this, and I'm guessing it's wheat, or a similar cereal crop. The thick green stripes to its right, I believe are likely grapes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Train through Italian countryside

Passenger train rocketing its way through the Italian countryside. People in Northern Europe often like to make fun of the Italian train system as being inferior to their own, but it's still quite a fast, regular and effective way to get around, made more so by the fact that cities and towns are all so dense.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Small Italian city

An example of the sharp city/country divide often seen in Italy and other long-settled European areas. The important thing to notice is the complete absence of anything like low-density suburbia (and particularly cul-de-sacs). You can see this absence in some of the very smallest farm-towns in the US as well, but once you get at least a couple thousand people in a community, there will nearly always be patches of low-density fringe.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Italian countryside

The countryside of European nations tends to look quite different in its structure from the countryside of America. In particular, because it has been densely settled for so much longer, the fields are smaller and more irregular even than fields in the US East coast. There is also often a sharper city/country distinction, though not always, as evidenced by this bit of Italian countryside perfused with small pockets of settlement.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lego Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Airport

The famously cracked Liberty Bell has been reproduced in Lego in the international terminal of the Philadelphia airport. This side shows no evidence of a crack, however, so I'm guessing it must be hiding on the other side.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Philadelpha Airport walls

Light and shadow, straight and angled, clear and tinted: I enjoy the mixture of contrasts created by these layers of window-walls in the Philadelphia airport.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Patchwork Map, Philadelphia Airport

Part of a lovely patchwork collage map of the world, found on the walls of the Philadelphia airport.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Plutonium Train Car, Philadelphia Airport

In another part of the same "random products" model train as the breakfast in my previous image, one may find this jaunty, strangely shaped plutonium rail car (and no, that's not what actual plutonium transport looks like either).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Breakfast train, Philadelphia Airport

In a whimsical display at the Philadelphia airport, a model train shipping all sorts of random things, including this complete breakfast of waffles, butter, and maple syrup.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Campaign Buttons, Philadelphia Airport

A display of hundreds of colorful historical campaign buttons at the Philadelphia airport.