Saturday, March 28, 2015

So Seattle

The trip is winding down in Seattle, where it's sunny and pleasant. (I think they make up that story about gray days and rain to keep us all from moving there.)

I finally went on the Underground Tour of the oldest part of Seattle, which was fascinating. Basically, Seattle's waterfront downtown burned in 1889 and when they rebuilt, they decided to raise it all up 15 to 35 feet so that it could be infilled with soil (allowing for a better sewer system and more stable ground than the previous sawdust).

So they built the streets up, but reconstructed the buildings at the original ground elevation with a plan that the second or third floor of the buildings would become the ground floor later on.


The sidewalks stayed down below (you had to use a ladder to cross the street!), until they were eventually covered over. This created what I like to think of as an anti-skyway (protected walkways between buildings just like a skyway, but below ground instead of above it).


These glass inlaid panels, found at some of the street corners, may look like decorative elements, but when you get down below...


...you see that they're skylights, complete with ferns that manage to grow in the low light.

Nearby, Seattle is in the midst of a huge public works project/boondoggle to turn state highway 99 into a tunnel, detailed by David Roberts at Grist a few months ago. The drill has gotten stuck with no way to reverse, and now they're digging a big unstable hole to access the drill and fix it. I got a chance to see the scale model of the drill:


Be sure to notice the silver car at the bottom middle of the frame, which shows the scale of the darned thing.

I've seen a few logos I like while out and about:


This one, for a parking garage, made me smile. I wonder if IBM would have been successful if this was what their logo looked like?


This quietly clever TRACE lettering struck me as just right.

Unlike the door to the upper level of the Seattle Central Library:


Does this look very welcoming? The doors on the right say "exit only," while the left side displays the disability access icon, though it seems a bit out of context on the blank gray slab. And then there's a revolving door in the center, but when I first approached no one was using it and the glass doors were aligned with the gray solid doors, so it looked like a window. No signal that this is an entry at all.

A little while later, I saw this while looking down:


And then along the street near the convention center, I came across this symbol of change in the drug laws in Washington:


Although maybe it's not a bus for people who want to smoke cannabis... maybe it's full of tropical flowers like these:



Friday, March 27, 2015

More Signs from Washington

It amazes me what you see when you're in a new place. Today seemed like one verbal (and sometimes visual) oddity after another.


Now that's a movie that I'd pay to see.


I can only imagine that Plugra (PLUGRA?) is a shortened version of two words from another language, such as plus grand in French. But in English it sounds like a drain-clearing product more than an expensive butter.


Everyone remember: Sunlight makes ink fade and the red ink always fades first. Therefore, don't put the key word in red.


It was a day of ferry rides, so there were a couple of on-board oddities, such as this mashup of uses below-decks.


There was also this fine grouping of alien life forms. Not to mention, how many people these days know what the word "muster" means?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Red, White, and Blue in Washington

Today I'm visiting San Juan Island on the way from Victoria to Seattle. Along the way, I noticed an unintentional color theme in the photos.


This wasn't the first photo of the day, but it's the one that made me realize I was seeing a lot of these three today.


This is the blockhouse at the English Camp. Which is meaningless unless you know that in 1859, San Juan Island was almost the cause of a war between the U.S. and the British Empire. Even though the two countries had settled on the 49th parallel for a border back in 1846, they had never quite decided who got this island, and almost came to blows over it just before the Civil War.

For 12 years, there was an English encampment at the north end of the island and an American one at the south end, enforcing the truce. The top of the block house shown here is turned 45 degrees to protect the shooters who use those little holes, and it also allows for overhangs from which the fighters can drop things onto forces attacking from beneath. The top floor did double duty as a brig.


Boxed water is not better, no matter what the packaging says. But it sure is pretty between the red water and the blue label.


This fire boat is supposed to be red, but has turned pink from the sun. Girl Power to the rescue in Friday Harbor!


Am I the only one who sees this vending machine as a glowing version of an Easter Island stone head?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Few More from Victoria

Wrapping up my visit to Victoria, British Columbia, with just a few more pictures.

First, I find the city of Victoria logo better than the average city logo:


Simple and visually striking. It doesn't try to do too much.

Today, while visiting the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, I discovered three women artists I'd never heard of. First, there's Emily Carr (1871-1945), who is a quite prominent Canadian painter:


She's known for her images of the old-growth forests of British Columbia and of the cultural icons of the native peoples of the West Coast.

Next were a pair of print-makers who went to the same art school a few years apart, first Sybil Andrews (1898-1992):


Andrews worked primarily in linoleum in multiple colors. Her swirling shapes and color use are invigorating.


Second was Gwenda Morgan (1908-1991), a wood engraver whose subject was mainly the countryside of Sussex, where she lived. I love the pollarded trees in this piece, particularly. Her work reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton's.

And then, one final shot from the city. This is the blue bridge that separates Victoria's downtown and Inner Harbor from the town of Esquimalt:


But all I see when I look at the bridge is a goofy light blue bull.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Six from Victoria

Here are a few from Victoria, B.C., a charming city.


First, see if you can spot Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton in this mural on the back of a hotel.


I've been reading Chasing the Scream, a history of and jeremiad against the Drug War, so I couldn't help noticing this bit of evidence of Canadian humaneness.


And then there's this evidence of Canadian male inhumaneness. They've taken Princess Leia, the most accessible female character in fantasy/science fiction, and turned her into a typical boobs-and-butt cartoon character. Ugh.


Cartage -- a term not used much anymore -- along with what may be the best tag line ever, "Careful since 1890."


Here's one more piece of evidence that some folks think quote marks are a form of emphasis.


And finally, one more name that I think would be literally bad for business. Can you ever start any business name with the prefix "mal"? Well, these people did.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Signs in Spring

It has been another day on the road with unfamiliar surroundings, noticing things. First, a bunch of photos from Port Angeles, Washington.


I loved this sign because the business owner probably thinks the name is clever, when it's just as easy to understand it as insulting to all the posers doing yoga because they think they should be.


A new addition for my collection of "no solicitor" signs.


A happy piece of metal.


An interesting set of bumper stickers. Don't miss the one in the bottom row, second from right.


I think I saw the current version of Virginia Lee Burton's Little House.


This last sign is from Victoria, capital of British Columbia. Things are different in Canada.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Four from the Road

I'm out and about for a bit, seeing new sites.


First I saw a door with a complex.


Then a hand-made ad for a person who makes hand-made ads.


They even have different bumper stickers here....


...even though the issues are the same.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

From the Desk of an 11-Year-Old Graphics Intern

CNN tweeted this graphic a couple of days ago:


I didn't even notice what it said because I was so distracted by the incredible bad drawings. Hillary is barely recognizable in a kind of generic, traced-from-from-a-photo way. Rand could be any white guy in a collar. Really. I would have had no idea who that was supposed to be if his name wasn't hiding out under his 43%.

Has CNN turned over its graphics department to middle-schoolers who've never had an art class because they were too busy learning to write a five-paragraph essay?

Maybe they can hire Eddie Thomas away from the Star Tribune. It's hard to admit, but it would be an improvement.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Adorable Microbes

Operating on the theory that if you cover something in plush fake fur and give it glassy doll eyes it will be cute, I give you Giant Microbes:


First, there's blue Cholera and yellow Bifido, with their friends Trichomoniasis (purple) and syphillis (the pink wormy guy).


And then there's polka-dotted Rubella and orange Athlete's Foot, lying on a bed of hepatitis and various amoebae.

There was also a cluster of attached brown fuzzy spheres wearing a black cape, much larger than all of the other microbes. It was labeled MRSA (multiple-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), the super bug. As the website says, the toy is "Suitable for infectious disease doctors and hospital staff." And such a bargain, at only $9.95!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Signs Made by Hand

Here's one little piece of the reaction to a world where so much is done with computers:


The use of chalkboard art in businesses (usually food-related, but not always) is something that I enjoy and don't mind seeing more of. Copycats some of them may be, but the world is better with more things made by hand.

This example is from Seward Co-op's cheese department in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Watch Out, Little Fishies!

It's a dangerous world out there in the big concrete sea, especially for little goldfish who've escaped from the bag:


Seen on a street in St. Paul, while looking down.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

For Today

My contribution to the world on March 17, 2015: an earless cat basket.


Or maybe it's an alien being.

From Strasburg, Pennsylvania, summer 2013.