Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

From the deep past, a Mozarabic prayer first uttered 1400 years ago:
     "Oh Thou, who art ever the same,
     Grant us so to pass through
     the coming year with faithful hearts,
     that we may be able in all things
     to please Thy loving eyes." [2014]

Friday, December 30, 2016

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Thanking my barbers for 2016: First, the Mexican stylist who lowered my ears in Lower California. Then, left to right: White Rock, SC; Seoul, Korea; San Francisco's Nob Hill; Lake Anne in Reston, VA; Jackson, OH; San Dimas, CA; Kampung Glam in Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Roswell, NM; 15th St. in Washington, DC. Haircuts are such place-perfect souvenirs! [2016]

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Beatty, Nevada, USA


The cock crows at sunrise, but he has no direction in life. His world: the barnyard. His course: without bearing. His aim: to live another day like yesterday. His New Year's resolutions: none. [2016]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lake Tahoe, California, USA

In the Middle Latitudes, the winds are supposed to blow from the west. So, thank goodness this weather vane confirms the canon. Will your winds confirm the canon in the year ahead or will they push you in a different direction? [2006]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Adairsville, Georgia, USA

A glance at the most prominent weather vane in town might suggest a railroad heritage. At first, Adairsville was an Indian-cum-settler village on the frontier; then, it served as the Granary of Georgia; after that, carpets and textiles took over the economy; now, it is classified as one of Atlanta's exurbs. Four directions over less than two centuries. [2013]

Monday, December 26, 2016

Anaheim, California, USA

Twas the day after Christmas, outside Disneyland, the homeless were sleeping. I don't understand how all the gift-giving, by-passed this man. [2016]

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA

Who wrote the lyrics to Away in a Manger? Its origins are mired in mystery, but we do know that the third verse was added later, first appearing in the 1890s:
     "Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
     Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
     Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
     And take us to heaven to live with thee there."
Merry Christmas! [2006]

Saturday, December 24, 2016

San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Evergreen trees symbolize Jesus' promise of life eternal: "whosover believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." True, the Christmas tree had its roots in the pagan rituals of northern Europe, but it is also a perfect aide memoire for John 3:16, Christianity's foundational verse. [2016]

Friday, December 23, 2016

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

One in five Singaporeans is a Christian, a proportion that has almost doubled since 1980. Thanks to the Christian population and British tradition, everyone in Singapore, including those who work in the financial district, will get a 3-day Christmas holiday, beginning at the close of business today. [2016]

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cardiff, Wales, UK

How many propellers do you see? One is right in front of your eyes: a seed pod of the maple tree. You've seen them twirling to the ground from the boughs above. Does anyone else call them propellers? Or, is that a word usage that hasn't entered the dictionary yet? [2005]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Todos Santos is on the Tropic of Cancer. Alas, today, the direct rays of the sun fall upon the Tropic of Capricorn. It's the shortest day of the year for all the saints of Todos Santos and for everyone who lives in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter begins today, but you wouldn't know it from the warmth generated by this flame vine. [2016]

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Don't fall! Please, don't fall! Bulgaria can't afford to lose you. The fertility rate is a mere child-and-a-half per family. Think about it: half a child? In fact, the fertility rate has been below replacement level forever. That makes children precious commodities. Think about it: children as commodities? Such is "social science speak." [2014]

Monday, December 19, 2016

New York, New York, USA

Observe the trees: no leaves. Winter may hover over Lincoln Square Park, but temperatures above freezing always bring out the good apples. New York City may be pretty far north, but it is on the coast (moderating influence No. 1) and it generates a heat island of its own (moderating influence No. 2). [2012]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rhyolite, Nevada, USA

If you are hiking through Nevada's Amargosa Valley and need a rest, perhaps you will come upon a magic couch. Make of it what you wish: seat, sofa bed, postern, worm hole. Let yourself collapse into its embrace and be swallowed up by memories of childhood, adventures of the here-and-now, and visions of the life to come. [2016]

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Having fun with rods and boats: If you're stuck in the polar vortex, keep on dreaming. Or even better, use some of those frequent flyer miles and sprint off to the Hawaiian Islands. [2011]

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pearlington, Mississippi, USA

'Hot Salty Peanuts.' 'Hot Cajun Peanuts.' 'Hot Boiled Peanuts.' Most of us don't eat our peanuts either hot or boiled, but if you are along the Gulf Coast, you might favor them that way. For the rest of us:  'And Roasted.' Good business practices: something to please the local palate, and something for the 'come-heres.' [2009]

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Aegina Island, Greece

Windmills built for milling wheat.
As scenic icons: can't be beat.
One down low and one up high,
Both turned toward the northern sky.
For from the north, etesians blow,
Sometimes strong and sometimes slow.
Enough to make the millstones grind,
But, now, alas, realigned
To catch the eyes of tourist hoards
Who seek rewards in landscapes scenic.
As antidotes to lives anemic. [2004]

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

London, England, UK

A group of monkeys is called a troop. A group of pelicans is called a pod. A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance. A group of lions is called a pride. A group of zebras is called a dazzle. A group of penguins is called a colony. A group of bats is called a cloud. A group of lizards is called a lounge. And, what is a group of otters called?  A romp. [2009]

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Amsterdam, Netherlands

For those who love lemurs, Amsterdam's Artis Royal Zoo is the best. The Reds (cousins to the Ring-Tailed) are given a free-range pass around lunch time: They come out and mingle with their biped admirers. Look out! There's one at your ankles! Then, it's time to eat. [2015]

Monday, December 12, 2016

Taipei, Taiwan

They may be called crab-eating macaques, but they will actually eat anything. That may be why they are one of the least endangered species in Asia's humid tropics. There may be other reasons as well, and this band portrait from the Taipei Zoo may suggest one of them. [2011]

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bangkok, Thailand

If you are in Bangkok and see a cyclist with an orange vest, flag him down and jump on. He wants the business and you want the fun of a speedy and breezy lift to your destination. Of course, if he is idle, he will do what everyone else in the world does: worship his cell phone. [2016]

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Istanbul, Turkey

It's the dome of the Sultan Ahmet Camii, or Blue Mosque. Actually, it is the interior of the central dome, which is flanked by four other main domes, and then eight secondary domes. It is as orderly as the heavens above: no chaos here, perfect order, and visual splendor. [2010]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Saksaywaman, Peru

Here are the building blocks of Inca architecture. The site happens to be Saksaywaman, but the practice of fitting together large stones without mortar extended up and down the Andes. Would you recognize this stone as a hexagon? The game to play here is "name the polygon." You will find everything up to a dodecagon! [2001]

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Under one roof, scores of businesses compete for the Welsh food dollar. Each has a stall, and each stall needs to be supplied with its daily victuals. Here one of the butchers, with his signatory apron, unloads a tray of meat from the refrigerated van that pulls up to the main entrance. After all, why hide food deliveries in the alley? [2015]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Milan, Italy

Arnaldo Pomodoro is famous for his bronze spheres, disks, and slabs, but they are always less than solid. This one is in his home city of Milan. Too bad people have to turn their back on it while they perch on its grassy plinth. [2008]

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ponce, Puerto Rico

The location is perfect for these beauty queens: Plaza las Delicias. They just add to the 'delights' that grace the landscape in front of the Lions Fountain. Ponce is Puerto Rico's second city, and it used to be more important than San Juan. [2009]

Monday, December 5, 2016

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

National flags in a place of prominence along Orchard Road? Maybe not. The flag of Singapore has a red stripe, white stripe, and emblem; only two of the three are represented here. So, they would be vexilloids: flag-like objects. In this position, the crescent and stars are reminiscent of crowns, perfect for the beauty queens posing for pictures. [2016]

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Seoul, South Korea

Today marks the second Sunday of Advent, which means that Christians all over the world are getting ready for Christmas. In Seoul, they are preparing their souls for Christ's birth. [2016]

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Springfield, Illinois, USA

Happy 198th birthday, Illinois! Springfield is the third city to serve as the capital of the state, and this is the sixth building to serve as the capitol of the state. Get it? In the capitol's backyard is the newest monument, the Fallen Firefighters Memorial, but the statehouse is so well designed, you don't even notice that this isn't the building's front. [2015]

Friday, December 2, 2016

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

The first weekend in December is upon us. That means it is time to find a Christmas tree. Don't wait until Christmas Eve! And, buy local if you can. [2015]

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Winger, Minnesota, USA

What's a polar bear doing at the busiest intersection in Winger? Looking for someplace to eat, of course. Since the nearby restaurant had no seal blubber on the menu, he settled for a picnic on the lawn. Public art is for everyone, even those who live in towns of only 200 people. [2012]