Thursday, October 18, 2018

Yerevan, Armenia

When you spy a blue kiwi in Yerevan's Sculpture Park, you have to remind yourself that you're in Armenia, not New Zealand, Remember: Globalization = Armenian park + New Zealand icon + American sculptor. The sculptor is famous for animal menageries, such as the one along Broadway a few years ago. OK, you can stop smiling now. [2015]

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria

Young Bulgarians, friends and competitors: On the mark. Ready. Set. Go. Skateboards, today. Tomorrow? Leaders of their country (in one way or another). Here they learned to fall and get back up again. It is a skill every leader needs. And, every leader needs friends and competitors, too. [2010]

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Riga, Latvia

What does his posture say? 'Proud to pose, but don't mess with me.' That is also what his country's posture said in the sesquidecade following the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union. In the background is the Latvian National Opera House, once again an anchor of nationhood. [2003]

Monday, October 15, 2018

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

La Ville de Quebec is Canada's last walled city, but the walls seen here were not built by the French. The British refortified them after gaining control in 1759, and then rebuilt them after their Atlantic colonies gained independence and were seen as a threat to the remainder of British North America. Porte St. Jean was re-built yet again in 1939. [2018]

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate is one of seven gates that give access to the walled city. An additional one has been sealed off for centuries. The road from here led to Jaffa, Jerusalem's seaport. Although there is automobile access into the old city, driving is not recommended, and many people portage their luggage in and out. [2010]

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Brussels, Belgium

Most European cities have completely lost their gates (and defensive walls). In Brussels, there is only one left: Porte de Hal, seen here from what would have been outside the walled city. It was built to withstand attack, which meant it was solid enough to later serve as a prison. In fact, that is what saved it. Every city needs prison space. [2015]

Friday, October 12, 2018

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The gundi is a native of desert edges in North Africa. Cute rodents, aren't they? Cute, but known for something not so cute: Toxoplasma gondi, a disease agent that is widespread but masked in people with a healthy immune system. Gundis excel at what they're doing here, which means they are not an endangered species! [2015]

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Beemerville, New Jersey, USA

Sika deer: stag and hind. They are overabundant in Japan (sika means 'deer' in Japanese) but almost gone from Korea. In the U.S., they thrive on Virginia's Assateague Island (and the nearby Eastern Shore) where they were introduced in the 1920s. Want to see one in captivity? Try Space Farms in northern Jersey. Stag and hind? Guess what: They are really elk! [2018]

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Gulf Breeze, Florida, USA

From where she is sitting, she probably can't see a fence in any direction. Some zoos are better than others at providing their honored guests with expansive habitats that don't seem so confining. One lucky gorilla she is: not just because of the digs but because there is not a poacher in sight. [2018]

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Long Beach, Mississippi, USA

Collards are a staple of traditional southern cuisine in the United States. They are delicious when cooked with a little fatback. Actually, anyone who moves to the south is not likely to acquire a taste for collard greens. But, if you tell the locals you don't like them, here's their response: 'You just don't know how to cook them." Ditto okra. [2014]

Monday, October 8, 2018

Dearborn, Michigan, USA

Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Americas on this day in 1492. Or, was it Cristoforo Colombo who made landfall? Or, was it Cristóbal Colón? Or, Cristòffa Cómbo? Anyway, if you have the day off today, say thanks to Chris. Then, look at the date again. Should the 8th day of October really be called Columbus Day? [2008]

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New York, New York, USA

What are the world's most important currencies? In order: the dollar, the euro, the yen, and the pound sterling. Can you match them up with their home countries and symbols? You might be surprised to find that the next two are the Canadian dollar and the Swiss franc. [2018]

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Flint, Michigan, USA

Under a parking lot canopy, she sells small salvage that cyclists might need. Yes, that's right: Here in the birthplace of General Motors, she is dealing with cyclists. And, she is probably vexed by that mural, or maybe hoping that people notice how much city space cars consume, especially when compared to bikes. Nevertheless, I must say: Go MSU! [2018]

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ürgüp, Cappadocia, Turkey

Carpets are one of the foundation stones of Turkish folk culture. The tradition came to Anatolia from Central Asia, where weaving was essential to life on the steppes. Originally, all materials and colors were natural, and the designs were handed down across the generations. [2000]

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bath, England, UK

Mr. G is playing the role of good citizen by running in the Bath Half-Marathon to make money for his favorite charity, which seems to be a school. What is going to get him through? Lots of caffeine. [2015]

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, in addition to being a World Heritage Site visited by hoards of tourists, is also a Buddhist monastery. The management challenge is keeping the day-trippers from conflicting with the resident monks who prefer a milieu that is more prayerful than playful. [2016]

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Jerusalem, Israel

His church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, holds title to a small chapel in the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus. His church is one of the eastern churches, one whose liturgical language is Syriac (a version of Aramaic), which is the language Jesus and the Disciples spoke. So, this monk may be reciting to himself the Lord's Prayer just as it rolled off Jesus' lips: in Sryriac. [2000]

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Geographers call this a sea stack. It is an erosional remnant that marks the end of the peninsula we know as Baja California. Geographers also call this a map. In your mind, rotate the sea stack 180 degrees and you will see the outline of Baja California itself. Can you find this spec of coastal geography in a wide-angle shot? [2016]

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wheel chair rolling. Pedestrian strolling. Corner approaching. Two souls rendezvousing.
An uneasy feeling. Back pocket starts squealing. Wallet's revealing some ringgits for dealing.
Some gracious accepting. Lives intersecting. Good deeds compiling. God must be smiling.
[2011]

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

   Separate, but tandem;
Their course: a bit random.
By the market they ride;
They feel the good vibe.
The brakes they apply,
A rack they do spy.
A heaven-sent sign:
"Lemonade could me mine,
Or fruit of the vine?
Perhaps we should dine.
Something light would be fine."
   With appetite sated,
Fatigue now abated,
Mood fully elated,
The day re-created,
Onward they ride,
A groom and his bride,
One more day by his side,
[2018]

Friday, September 28, 2018

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Get ready, kids. It's Ask a Stupid Question Day. Your teachers are always telling you to ask more questions, so why not have some fun with them. Remember, no matter what you ask, their response will be the same: "There's no such thing as a stupid question!" [2011]

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wadi Qelt, Palestine

Welcome to the Judean Desert. It wasn't so welcoming to Jesus, though. He spent forty days here, in the wilderness, after being baptized by his cousin John. Here, he was tempted by the devil, but he never did turn stone into bread so he could eat. Hanging from the cliffs is the Monastery of St. George with its roots in the 4th century. [1998]

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey: Total Modernity. Two Turks: The embodiment of Ataturk's secular vision of Turkey's future. But, now, Turkey has turned its back on much of what Ataturk envisioned. It has eliminated a free press, jailed opposition leaders, blamed its ills on outside forces, reduced governmental checks and balances, and given more power to its President. [2014]

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Glasgow, Scotland, UK

"People Make Glasgow" 💖 English teachers will mutter to themselves: Subject, verb, object, but no period. Geography teachers will mutter to themselves: Place-name, but no map. On that banner, there is room for a period and room for a map. Sorry, Zara, are we ignoring you? [2017]

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Rock, Gibraltar

Homo sapiens vs. Macaca sylvanus. Primates both: forward facing eyes, bony ridge above eyes, domed cranium, prehensile hands, opposable thumbs, pentadactyly, nails not claws, flexible shoulders and hips, ability to stand or sit erect, complex social behavior. Wait! Go back. What's pentadactyly? [2015]

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Granby, Quebec, Canada

Twelve countries of Central Asia agreed in 2013 that "the snow leopard is an irreplaceable symbol of our nations' natural and cultural heritage and an indicator of the health and sustainability of mountain ecosystems." Yet, their numbers are declining, and once again, human predators are responsible. [2011]

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Birmingham, Alabama, USA

If you have been to almost any zoo, you have tales to tell about the lemurs. Some of those tales must be about those tails. Long and mesmerizing, they become the center of attention. What's going on here? Perhaps he is getting ready for some stink-fighting with a rival! [2018]

Friday, September 21, 2018

Royal Oak, Michigan, USA

The world knows them as snow monkeys, but they are really Japanese macaques. Primates they are, and the only primates who are adapted to life in a cold and snowy climate: Just look at those fur coats. They are also adapted to life in the "hot tubs" that nature has provided on Japan's portion of the Pacific Rim of Fire. [2018]

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Union City, Ohio, USA

What do you do with the classic cars you've been collecting over many years? Find an old filling station, buy it with your retirement savings, use it as your workshop, and dream about the day when the premises might be opened up as a museum. [2018]

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Roann, Indiana, USA

As the days get shorter and the sun lower on the horizon, the colors of summer fade slowly into autumn hues. If the place is Roann, the side panels of the covered bridge are counted on (as they have been for well over a century) to showcase the changing seasons. [2018]

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Vermontville, Michigan, USA

There's a little patch of New England in mid-Michigan, and Vermontville is its unofficial capital city. Just as you would expect, here is the Congregational Church, planted here after a Congregational minister visited the area in 1835. Even the architecture is reminiscent of the New England "meetinghouse." [2018]

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hopkinton, New Hampshire, USA

The Congregational Church is one of the foundation stones of New England. It was perfectly suited to the North American frontier because it insisted on the complete autonomy of local congregations. Compare that with the clerical hierarchy that governed the Church of England. The Congregational Church helped make New England new. [2018]

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Two Rivers, Wisconsin, USA

The Ethnic Festival in Two Rivers is now in its 27th year, and the theme has never been more relevant. The city at the confluence of the East Twin and West Twin, however, may have a different definition of ethnic diversity than its peers in New Jersey or California. Whatever the specifics, however, let's all Celebrate Diversity in whatever form it takes. [1995]

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Washington, DC, USA

More than one panel in the Aids Quilt used the American flag for inspiration. These were Americans, too, and HIV/AIDS was an American problem! By 1996, there were enough panels to cover the National Mall. Each one asked US to remember those who had died of AIDS. Next year, the Aids Quilt (only a part) comes back to DC, this time to the Newseum. [1996]

Friday, September 14, 2018

Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Geographers might classify this as stimulus diffusion: The symbols of 'old glory' have been rearranged to form a hat and reshaped into a medallion with a paw-print on the canton! It is all in the interest of publicizing a summer basketball camp. Remember: The U.S. flag belongs to US, not the state! In other countries, a display like this might be illegal. [2018]

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jenner, California, USA

What difference would it make if we replaced the fifty stars on the American flag with the international peace symbol?  It would be even more fun to switch out each of the fifty stars for a set of ideograms representing the essence of American values and ambitions. Here is a chance to design some new emojis! [2005]

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New York, New York, USA

It must be patriotic to buy Polo Jeans. What difference would it make if we replaced the fifty stars on the American flag with a single corporate logo or even fifty different ones: Wal-Mart, Apple, CVS, etc. Isn't big business more important to your life than the fifty states? Don't we really let corporations govern us anyway? [2003]

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Shiloh, New Jersey, USA

Here's the American flag as we know it: 50 stars for the 50 states, 13 stripes for the 13 originals. It's a very geographical design. In fact, it's almost a map, or what geographers call a cartogram. The scene itself is a re-creation of New York City firefighters hoisting the stars and stripes above the ruins of the World Trade Center in the days after 9-11. [2006]

Monday, September 10, 2018

Forks of the Brandywine, Pennsylvania, USA

Should there be 50 stars on the flag's canton or a one-star cartouche encasing the phrase '50 United'? In the early years of the 21st century, right after 9-11, the nation was in a mood to think about how united we were, and had to be, as a county that had been attacked. Today, things may be different. [2003]

Sunday, September 9, 2018

New Oxford, Pennsylvania, USA

All the small stars have been kicked off the flag's blue canton and replaced by a single large star. A single-star design suggests unity, but also refutes the principle of states' rights. We imagine our union as a constellation of 50 sovereignties, not a unitary state in which the national government is the only star on the field. [2005]

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA

On this garage door, the flag's upper hoist (or canton) is but a field of blue. There are no stars. Did you ever think of the symbolism of those stars, or what the flag would mean without them? If you were designing the American flag for the first time, what would you put on the blue 'first quarter' (yet another name for that part of the flag)? [2002]

Friday, September 7, 2018

Bernardston, Massachusetts, USA

"In Our America" appears where the fifty stars should be. On this flag, it begins the sentences that continue on the stripes (albeit only 9). Are you a part of 'Our America'? If not, you must believe the opposite of each statement. Lest you think this is mixing church and state, remember: The flag belongs to us, not the state! [2018]

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Northfield Falls, Vermont, USA

Labor Day is not for laboring. It's for taking a break and enjoying the last days of summer. Fall comes to Northfield Falls and the Green Mountains early, so this may be the season's last chance to bag some rays, imbibe some brews, and bathe some booty in the cool waters of the Dog River. [2018]

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Contoocook, New Hampshire, USA

Here, along the Contookook River, a rare wooden rail car survives from the early 20th century. It served the people of New Hampshire well during the heyday of passenger service and is now being affectionately restored with one volunteer who was out laboring or Labor Day. See the covered railroad bridge in the background? [2018]

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA

Along Memorial Plaza, the Wall of Names honors the crew and passengers on Flight 93, one of the four hijacked planes that brought devastation to America on September 11, 2001. On the hill behind this couple is the Visitor's Center; ahead of them is the boulder that marks the crash site. The flight path (now walked by the grateful) connects the two. [2018]

Monday, September 3, 2018

Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA

Visitors to the Flight 93 Memorial are now able to walk the flight path through gateway walls that mark how high the hijacked airliner was as it headed toward the place were it would crash on September 11, 2001. Through the portals is the overlook, from which visitors may contemplate the horror that unfolded that day, now almost 17 years ago. [2018]

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA

A boulder has been moved in from the countryside to mark the point of impact: the very place where Flight 93 was brought down on September 11, 2001, less than an hour after two other hijacked airplanes plowed into the World Trade Center and one more struck the Pentagon. United Flight 93's speed at impact was 563 mph. All were killed. [2018]

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA

September 11, 2001: "America Attacked!" It was horrific, and now it is memorialized. In addition to New York, there is another memorial expressly for Flight 93, the hijacked airliner brought down in a field only 20 minutes from DC as heroes stormed the cockpit. They overpowered the hijackers whose target was the Capitol. Thank them in your prayers. [2018]

Friday, August 31, 2018

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

This be Boston. If you haven't noticed, the last week of posts has honored B cities and their inhabitants: Bath, Bursa, Brașov, Brussels, Battambong, Bandung, Belize, and now Boston. And, what preceded the beta cities? An alpha city, of course: Amsterdam. That's how we get ready for the school year. We practice our alphabet. [2008]

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Belize City, Belize

He is not your typical taxi driver. Then again, this is not your typical taxi. It is Belize City's water taxi. You can even find one to take you to Mexico: 2 hours and 45 minutes! But you would be missing so much if you didn't stop at Caye Caulker or San Pedro. [2015]