Thursday, August 31, 2017

Accident garden, Iowa City

Insofar as I can tell, this collection of plants growing in broken pottery is actually intentional, an artistic presentation of an accident that has failed to be prevented by the flattened "slow" sign.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fairy garden, Iowa City

"Fairies gather here" says the sign on this fairy garden that someone has built in their front yard near our house.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Looping lights, Eastern Iowa Airport

I really like this new lighting fixture, composed of two asymmetric circles linked together.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lobsters, Belfast, Maine

Scrum of lobsters in a tank at a dockside restaurant in Belfast, Maine.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Astronomical mobile, Eastern Iowa Airport

This mobile hangs hidden in a raised section of ceiling at the far end of the terminal in the Eastern Iowa Airport: the symbols are clearly astronomical, but other than the Sun (orange-red at top center), and Mars (bright red) I haven't been able to figure our which symbols are supposed to represent which planets.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Interplanetary bees, Iowa City

Every year, all the benches on the pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City are repainted by local artists. The results span from the mundane to the abstract to the thought-provoking to the downright whimsical, like these interplanetary bees.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Colorful birdhouse, Iowa

A jauntily decorated birdhouse along the Hoover Nature Trail in West Branch, Iowa.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Construction Droid

With its stabilizer legs out, this lift being used for renovation in a building looks to me like some sort of anime construction spider-droid.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Child playing alone in brewery, Iowa

As my wife and I were walking to a date-night dinner, we passed a local brewery. At first, I just aimed to take a shot of its gleaming ranks of fermenters, but then was highly amused to notice a boy, apparently unsupervised, playing a game of catch with himself at the end of the row.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dry Iowa cornfields in August

Much of the corn grown in Iowa is not sweet corn for humans, but feed corn for animals and industrial purposes. Unlike the sweet corn eat off the cob, feed corn generally dries down in the field before harvest, leading to great brown swaths of dried plants across the rolling fields around us.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Elegant highway interchange near Dallas, TX

I like the complexity of swooping lines in the Dallas highway interchange.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Uncanny valley carousel, Huntsville, AL

Spotted in an outdoor mall: this carousel was surrounded by faces leering at me out of the uncanny valley, too realistic to interpret symbolically but not realistic enough to feel human.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Enigmatic planet signs at Monte Sano observatory, Huntsville, AL

Atop Monte Sano is a small educational observatory, and in its yard I found this collections of signs: one for each planet, plus the Sun and Pluto. Clearly they are representing (a slightly older version of) the solar system, but why are they arranged in this double-column? If they were just being stored, I would think it would be a tighter arrangement.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Monte Sano trail blazes, near Huntsville, AL

On the other side of Huntsville from the rocket museum, the Monte Sano park rises into craggy woodlands laced with any number of lovely criss-crossing hiking trails.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Offerings to Miss Baker

Standing unobtrusively near the front entrance of the US Space and Rocket Museum is this simple memorial to Miss Baker, the space monkey who had one brief and glorious flight and then spent her remaining 25 years in pampered retirement. Her grave is a quiet site of worship.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shuttle necklace, Huntsville, AL

Another entry in the space jewelry exhibit: while I doubt this would be comfortable or practical (I keep thinking how the shuttle would snag on things), I strongly appreciate the daring asymmetry of this necklace.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jeweled planet, US Space & Rocket Museum

There was a special exhibit of space-themed jewelry and artwork when we were visiting the museum, featuring some lovely pieces like this jeweled planet.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ceiling of a Mars habitat playground, Huntsville, AL

Ceiling in an inventive playground setup as a notional Mars Habitat at the US Space and Rocket Center.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ISS Training Bay, US Space & Rocket Museum

Mockups of the ISS and the space shuttle, used for Space Camp --- and maybe some real training as well perhaps? In any case, I like the huge blue-lit bay.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Celebrating Operation Paper Clip(?)

Huntsville shows remarkably little shyness around its German cultural heritage, much of which came from the mostly-Nazi scientists and engineers imported to the US at the conclusion of World War II. Perhaps it is a good sign that this history is not buried, but subverted into the grin of a charming little girl.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Von Braun Disapproves

A rather stern and disapproving bust of Wernher von Braun, Nazi weapons engineer and hero of the US space program.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Military hardware grown into the earth, Huntsville, AL

Slowly, the earth grows up around the feet of the missile launchers in the rocket garden. Feels like it should be a heavy-handed metaphor, but I just like the imagery and the reminder of elapsing time.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

SR-71, US Space & Rocket Museum, Huntsville, AL

Another remarkably sleek and sinister piece of military hardware: an SR-71 spy-plane, rusting quietly near the front gate of the museum.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vietnam-era military helicopter interior, Huntsville, AL

Unlike the NASA exhibitions at Kennedy Space Center, the Huntsville museum is quite comfortable with the military aspects of air and space, and its exhibits also include a number of weapons systems, even some with no particular relationship to rocketry like this Chinook transport helicopter.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Huntsville Rocket Garden

The main rocket garden at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, including a Saturn I (the larger one on the left) and various Mercury and Juno rockets. The biggest of the lot, a Saturn V visible from many miles distant on the highway, is off in its own separate location.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rocket power, Huntsville, AL

The sheer size of the rocket nozzles on the external shuttle boosters is amazing to me: each of those nozzles is taller than a person.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Shuttle Stack, Huntsville, AL

This collection of genuine NASA artifacts is a bit of a funny mixture. The booster and main tank are real enough, recovered from actual missions, but if you look carefully at the shuttle you may notice that it looks rather fake. That's because it is the Space Shuttle Pathfinder, a genuine NASA wooden mockup, carefully built to the same size, weight, and shape as the actual shuttles and used for testing shuttle-handling and launch facilities. It didn't originally looks this pretty, but has been given cosmetic improvements to fit its afterlife role as celebrity impersonator.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Shuttle stack through the trees, Huntsville, AL

In the rocket garden of the US Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, a dramatic corridor leads you from to upright Atlas and Mercury rockets to their mounted space shuttle stack.