March 2012

Posted by Ellen

I have it on very good authority that these princesses were on their way to the drug store.

Posted by Ellen

German artist EVOL works with stencils and spray paint on concrete walls, steel electrical cabinets, and plain cardboard boxes to create vast high-rise apartment blocks. For this installation in a Berlin parking garage, EVOL works a cross-beam into his creation as a crushing artistic blow.

Posted by Ellen

This early twentieth-century advertising placard recommends drinking Georges Borman cocoa if you want to be big and strong.

Posted by Ellen

Sunbeams break through gaps in dark clouds after an intense snow squall in Port Maitland, Nova Scotia. This is the sort of astronomical phenomenon that used to be used in ads for gospel albums by singers who are no longer with us, but it can occur any time that thick clouds blocking the sun get a little raggedy, most notably when the sun is low in the sky. This photo was taken 45 minutes before sunset last January 30.

Posted by Ellen

Another visit with the chained beast of Manning Street, at the side door of a dress shop near Rittenhouse Square.

Posted by Ellen

The desert of northern Saudi Arabia is among the most barren places on earth. But beginning in 1986, when water wells were drilled into deep aquifers, vast stretches of desert land have been irrigated for agricultural use. So much of Saudi Arabia is now farmland that the fields are visible from space, as shown here in this photo taken last week by astronauts on the International Space Station. The circular fields are each about one kilometer in diameter.

This is energy-intensive agriculture; it takes a lot of fossil fuel to pump water from so deep underground and to operate the center-pivot irrigation systems that keep the wheat fields and vegetable patches green despite bone-dry desert air. But Saudi Arabia has a lot of fossil fuel, and its desert agriculture is expanding rapidly.

(The water in the aquifers is itself fossilized, left over from the Ice Age, before this part of the world became so hot and arid.)

Posted by Ellen

Dusk comes to the rooftops of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Posted by Ellen

In August 2004, during a family gathering on Peaks Island, Maine, to celebrate my father's eightieth birthday, some of the grandchildren spent many hours doing stuff with the rocks on the beach. Here we see Ted, Hank, Allen, Joe, and their cousin Nick.

If I remember correctly, shortly after this picture was taken, something catastrophic happened to the structure. The catastrophe was great fun for some of the boys, but not so much fun for Hank, who felt compelled to devote more hours to "fixing" it.

Posted by Ellen

California's self-inflicted budget mess is no secret, making it no surprise that the state has begun closing down at least seventy of its state parks and recreation areas. Kevin Forrester, a parks-department supervisor, is shown here in front of the locked, shuttered, and recently boarded-up visitor center at Mitchell Caverns, a state park unit in the Mojave Desert that was closed a few months ago because it needed budget-busting repairs to its water system.

Burglars broke into the closed-down visitor center and stole all its copper wiring and plumbing fixtures, along with two-way radios, binoculars, and other emergency gear. Those same intruders or other vandals broke all the windows and glass exhibit cases and caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage.

After welding shut the doors to the visitor center, Supervisor Forrester observed that the state will need to find a pot of money if it is ever "to bring this place back to life." What happened at Mitchell Caverns, predicts Forrester, will happen again and again around the state as more and more parks are closed to visitors.

A Californian who gave his name as John Houck read about the troubles and offered assistance. "I am 60 years old and very healthy and able," he wrote in a message to the Los Angeles Times. "I don't know where this e-mail will end up, but I hope it might be read by someone of importance.

"I am a builder in many crafts (new construction and maintenance). I am currently unemployed and have been for quite some time now. I am just looking for for some kind of work to give me something to do, and maybe be helpful at the same time. I am not looking to become rich, just helpful. If anyone of any importance reads this e-mail, please contact me....."

What's the matter with this country?