Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pisté, Yucatan, Mexico

The average U.S. resident eats 96 pounds of chicken a year.  How many pounds of chicken does the average Mexican eat?  (a) 43 pounds, (b) 66 pounds, (c) 121 pounds.  Answer:  Per capita consumption of chicken in the U.S. exceeds per capita consumption of chicken in Mexico by 30 pounds. Why? [2013]

Friday, May 30, 2014

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Six million people live in the state of Victoria. Eight million people live in the state of Virginia. Virginia's tallest building rises 508 feet. Victoria has 21 skyscrapers (including the Eureka Tower, here decapitated) that exceed Virginia's tallest. Why? [2011]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oak Flat, West Virginia, USA

The land is flat, water is plentiful, and soils are alluvial close to the South Fork river as it winds its way northward to the Potomac. So, here in a small pocket of the Appalachian Mountains, farming flourished. Today, however, the business of agriculture has changed, better land is available elsewhere, and family farms are disappearing from the landscape. [2014]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Scale makes a big difference to geographers. And, to some artists, it makes a difference, as well. What sets this rubber duckie apart, thanks to Dutch sculptor Forentijn Hofman, is its size! Since her origin is Dutch, she must feel right at home in The Hague and happy to call attention to Norfolk's Chrysler Musem of Art, where a few 'Dutch masters' reside. [2014]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Death Valley, California, USA

There are 31,102 verses in the King James Bible. Why has this one been chosen for roadside display in Death Valley? If ever there was a valley of the shadow of death, this is it. But, fear not, says the sign; God's people are redeemed from death. Perhaps each church ought to display the verse that best matches its earthly circumstances, physical or human. [2001]

Monday, May 26, 2014

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Kawaiaha'o is the mother church of Christianity in Hawaii. Architecturally, it is a marker of New England's prominence in the colonial history of Oahu. The design is purely Congregational, but the building material is purely indigenous: It's constructed of coral. [2011]

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Turnham Green, England, UK

What makes this church's location unusual?  Whereas most churches are are pushed to the edge of urban open space, this one is right in the middle of the green. In England, green space seems to be more sacred than religious space. Christ Church now finds itself in London; but, when it was built it was out in the country, seven miles away. [2009]

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lake Elsinore, California, USA

When the demographic landscape changes, so does the religious landscape. What began as a Presbyterian Church in 1889 now serves a Hispanic population that has left the Catholic church and needs space of its own. Underneath all that stucco is brick. Deep underneath is Gothic Revival. [2013]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

If it weren't white, it would be right at home in a Warwickshire village. But, where it stands is in the Bahamas: 4,000 miles away from its English roots. St. Luke's is right on the edge of Rock Sound. Its out-sized tower (so Anglican!) had to be tall and strong. Its job was to hoist the cast iron bells high enough to be heard all across town. [2014]

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Perintown, Ohio, USA

Sometimes, the best thing about a church is its name. The remains of an early Christian martyr, a 14-year old girl named Philomena, were found in Rome in 1802. She spoke from the grave, healed the sick, and offered hope to millions. Her popularity soared in the nineteenth century and many churches, including this one, were named after her. [2010]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

St. Mary's, Ontario, Canada

It's a perfect church for a town whose nickname is "The Stone Town." St. James Anglican is nicely landscaped, too. This photograph was taken exactly one year ago today. Let's use it as base line data for measuring climate change. If you live in St. Mary's, repeat this photograph on this date every year. What do you expect to happen to the onslaught of spring? [2013]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

'Guernica' must be among the ten most well-known paintings of the 20th century. It was painted (by whom?) during the Spanish Civil War when the one-time capital of the Basque country was bombed by Nazi forces at Franco's request. Now, it stands as a symbol of solidarity with separatist causes around the world. This reproduction is on Belfast's International Wall. [2009]

Monday, May 19, 2014

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Were he alive, Joe Cahill would be 94 years old today.  He stood up for his people, the downtrodden Catholic population of Northern Ireland: They called him a hero. (To others, he was a murderous thug.) His efforts, along with his brothers-in-arms, brought about revolutionary change. In West Belfast, this mural emphasizes the nobility of their cause. [2009]

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

The landscape of  Belfast is punctuated by over 300 murals, so many that lassies and lads all over the city confront them daily. Murals are the mechansims by which their parents' memories become theirs. Stories fly at home. Then, on the streets, murals add visuality to family narratives and Northern Ireland's troubled past. [2009]

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Yesterday was National Endangered Species Day. And, yes, the Black and White Ruffed Lemur from Madagascar (or, in this case, from the Audubon Zoo) is endangered. Lemurs are 'living fossils,' the first of the primates to evolve. They've survived 50 million years, but 'The Age of Man' may wipe them out. Look at those 'hands':  proof we have a common ancestor. [2014]

Friday, May 16, 2014

Granby, Quebec, Canada

Endangered Species Day is today. Can you identify the continent where these two have relatives living in the wild? Back in Africa, rhinos and zebras share an ecological niche, so they also share a niche at Granby Zoo in Canada. Fortunately, not all zebra species are endangered.  The rhino is worse off, with three species on the critically endangered list. [2011]

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Washington, DC, USA

Endangered Species Day is tomorrow. Spend a few minutes contemplating the almost 6,000 animal species that are endangered and the additional 4,000 that are critically endangered. The Sumatran Tiger falls into the later category; there are only 500 remaining in the wild. This one, though, lives at the National Zoo. [2011]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helsinki, Finland

If you have been looking for a visual definition of strait, look no further.
If you have been looking for a visual definition of straight, look further.
They're homonyms, not synonyms. [2005]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wemyss Bight, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

The Bahamas are like a flotilla of 700 ships stalled in the deep blue sea under the sky blue dome of heaven. Are you surprised, therefore, that blue is the background color of the archipelago's human landscape as well? Just check out the houses (and the Bahamian flag). [2014]

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tibes, Puerto Rico

What do we post-moderns have to learn from the pre-moderns? That we can live compatibly with nature; that we should take from nature only what we need; that the enemy is not nature: it is our fellow human beings. Taino voices from the past teach us these lessons when we visit the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes. [2009]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honfleur, France

By the early 17th century, Honfleur was one of the cardinal places of the Atlantic World. In fact, the modern history of Canada began right here on Honfleur's waterfront when sunlight, glinting off the wake of many ships, became a twinkle in Champlain's eye. [2005]

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

How do we invite more nature into the city? Invite nature photographers to build a wall of art around city hall. Here's a toast to the creative class: "Bottoms Up"! [2009]

Friday, May 9, 2014

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

The Q Theatre on the corner dates to 1878, but its first mission was religious. The smoke stack in the back dates to 1909. Its first and only mission was to destroy Adelaide's trash, which it did until 1952. 'The Destructor,' in fact, anchored a small industrial district. One wonders: How did that fine corner building survive with such nasty neighbors? [2011]

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bolivar, New York, USA

A boy scout troop, perhaps? It may look like a simple car wash, but what you are witnessing is community-building in progress. And, every community needs its sassy one. [2013]

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

The influence of ancient Greece is easily identified, and the wings on top belong to an American eagle. That's standard fare. Now, look for the influence of Native Americans. It was the Cherokee who gave this courthouse guardian her name: 'Beloved Woman of Justice.' In every Cherokee village was a female elder known as 'the beloved woman.' [2009]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA

The key to faster surfing is minimizing frictional drag: Make sure the bottom of your board is as smooth as possible. Remove stickers and repair dings; sand, buff, and polish. Then, turn over and wax the other side so it will be easier to maintain your perpendicularity. [2005]

Monday, May 5, 2014

Douglas, Isle of Man

Today is a bank holiday on the Isle of Man, so it's entirely appropriate to take a look at the country's government building, meeting place of the House of Keys. Until 1879, it was a bank building. Say some: It looks like a wedding cake. Well worth preserving, don't you think? [2011]

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

The day begins when the cruise ships disgorge thousands of richlings onto the streets of Charlotte Amalie. Most head to the jewelry souk; a few board 'safaris' to see the rest of the island. The luxury liners are far too big to find a berth here on the old waterfront, so passengers are bused in from the island's two mega-terminals. [2013]

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mobile manufacturing: that's what is going on here. Yes, he is a service-sector worker, but he is a craftsman as well. He manufactures in the truest sense of the word. He lays his hands on raw materials and creates something new. It's all about the hands:  las manos in Spanish, manus in Latin, manu- in manufacturing. [2013]

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

You never visit the same city twice. When you return, something old will have disappeared and something new will have been added.  Practice reading the changing urban landscape here in Sydney: What do new technologies, cultural preferences, marketing strategies, and land values have to do with the form and function of the built environment? [2011]

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Larnaca, Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus celebrates an important anniversary today. Ten years ago it joined the European Union. Long overdue, said some. As part of the Greek culture realm, Cyprus was there when the very idea of Europe was 'invented' many millennia ago. Yes, Europe is an idea as much as a geographical entity. [2004]