Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ring Out The Old

New York City 2014-12-27 25

Pictures from in and around Times Square, New York, where the big glowing ball will drop tonight to mark another click on the meter. Mrs. C and I are usually sound asleep by then. Tomorrow we can wonder about what the new year may bring us. Forecasts are just a matter of probabilities but I can't say I'm optimistic about the future of our species and planet.

I'll do picture or pictures of the year on Thursday, depending on how much self-restraint I can muster. The first choice has already been decided. It's the lead photo in a post from 2014. Free STL DPB print to anyone who can guess.                                 

New York City 2014-12-27 8

New York City 2014-12-27 7

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NYC Transportation

New York City 2014-12-27 23

Few New York subway stations lobbies are as spiffy as this one under a newer, high-priced office building. Most stations are around a century old and pretty gritty (although I think many in Chicago are even more barren). 

People can try getting around on a bicycle if the weather is good, although you may take your life in your hands doing so in this city. Maybe it's okay on a simple, slow bike with a sumo wrestler on the front to push away obstacles.                   

New York City 2014-12-27 22

Monday, December 29, 2014

New York Cuisine

New York City 2014-12-27 2

The street food carts used to advertise kosher products, not halal, but I guess that reflects who's running this business these days. Are Sabrett franks and Hebrew National kosher hot dogs around any more? Yes, I see a small Sabrett sign in the third photo. And you can still get a knish if you need one.

These are shots of the line of food vendors on Fifth Avenue in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a bit of a clash with the high culture inside.                           

New York City 2014-12-27 18

New York City 2014-12-27 11

New York City 2014-12-27 20

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fooie On St. Louie, I'm Back In New York

New York City 2014-12-27 5

It was a global-warming-freakishly-beautiful day on the exotic island where I was born. We drove in early enough to beat the mob. Clear sailing through the Lincoln Tunnel, no line at the ticket window at the Metropolitan Museum. By the time we left the museum the line was out the door and down the block. By 4:30 or so, the dead stop backup at the Lincoln Tunnel toll booths was back to the New Jersey Turnpike. That's a long way. Welcome to The Big Apple. It costs $14 to get in through the Hudson River crossings but it's free to get out.                     

New York City 2014-12-27 6

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Meanwhile, Back In The Lou

2014-12-23 Garden Glow 9

Need some filler and this will do. We spent yesterday sitting around my sister's house in New Jersey, watching a marathon of all the episodes of Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos and munching on the leftovers of Thursday's enormous dinner. I read the manual for some photo editing software I never learned to use. Haven't done so much nothing in a long time.

Well, I did edit some more pictures from the family visit to Garden Glow Tuesday night. It was a very different experience from shooting on a tripod earlier. Getting rid of it gave much more freedom of composition. My camera and some software let me shoot handheld at ISO 6400. These were some of the results.

Didn't really need the advice in the bottom image. Going into NYC today, though. Pix tomorrow.                     

2014-12-23 Garden Glow 8

Photo Op

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From My Home Town

I'm happy that I live in St. Louis but I miss this place so much. No place like it on earth. Sniff...

This picture wasn't taken today (ain't no snow at the moment). The only camera I brought on the trip was the little Olympus EM-5. It totally isn't up to shooting twilight from the air. This was taken on another descent into La Guardia airport but the idea is the same. 

Could I retire here? Not if I want to outlive my savings, but one can dream. It's my idea of heaven. Expensive heaven.

Taking tomorrow off.

Merry Christmas From The Charlotte, North Carolina, Airport

What on earth are we doing here? I keep asking myself the same question.  Totally new territory to us.
*&$@% American Airlines canceled three of the four non-stops today from St. Louis to New York-LaGuardia. Since they are merging with US Airways, our least awful alternative was to take that airline through their hub in Charlotte. Kind of the long way around but we'll get there eventually.                

Merry Christmas From St. Lou

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it from St. Louis. Christmas Eve here was cold and wet, and certainly not white. Mrs. C and I are in the air today (first time ever flying on Christmas Day), heading to New York by an annoyingly indirect route. More about that later, perhaps. Easy drive from LaGuardia to my sister's home in the New Jersey suburbs. This of one of those rare nights when there will not be a traffic jam on or around the George Washington Bridge.

I'm sure we'll get into the city in the next day or two.                            

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Back In The Glow

2014-10-23 Garden Glow 1

Son-in-law Brian's parents are up from Houston for the week so we took the whole group back to Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We were there by ourselves a couple of weeks ago for photographer's night. No tripods for the rest of the run so these are all handheld, mostly at ISO 6400 and the new 40 mm f 2.8 pancake lens.

Madeleine was getting a new tooth or two and was a bit of a crankypants. Grandma is forever indulgent, though. Note that her blouse and the kid's jacket both have snowflakes.                         

2014-10-23 Garden Glow 2

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How About A Chess Set For Christmas?

World Chess Hall Of Fame 1

I don't know why I never got around to a post about this (maybe because I'm so hard up for material just now) but the World Chess Hall of Fame is in The Lou (as is the International Photography Hall of Fame, which I probably had a post about somewhere). It's not well known in the outside world but St. Louis is a hotbed of chess. The US National Champoinships have been held here for the last six years.

But wait, there's more! The Hall has the world's largest chess piece, certified by the Guinness Book Of World Records. It's 4.46 m or 17 feet, 4 inches tall, not even counting the seasonal carrot nose.. Bigger than your typical giraffe, as illustrated below.

I sort of know how to play chess. I tried to learn it in high school but I'm just terrible at it. Insufficient visual-spacial-analytic aptitude. Give me a camera and I'm just fine with space.
World Chess Hall Of Fame 2

World Chess Hall Of Fame 3

World Chess Hall Of Fame 4

Monday, December 22, 2014

So Be Good For Goodness Sake

So Be Good For Goodness Sake

And be careful about who's next to you.

Shirt found in a store window along the Delmar Loop.                  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas On Wall Street?

Christmas In The Stock Market

Actually, this statue is in front of an investment company's headquarters, just across the street from my office building. The symbolic bull and bear, gaily decorated for the season, attack each other viciously. The statue seems to say that life is a zero-sum game, some win and some (most?) lose, and none of that goodwill-towards-men business. But it's worth a wreath and a red ribbon.

I just shake my head. The security guard in the lobby of our building told me she hates having to look at it all day. It upsets her.

My children, and probably me and my siblings many years ago, used the word below as a synonym for Christmas presents. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Forget The Milk And Cookies

Forget The Milk And Cookies

But Santa, Little Billy cried, won't bacon grease get on your nice white gloves?

Ho ho ho, Little Billy, don't worry, the jolly old elf replied. They're latex. You wouldn't believe the slop I see in some of these houses. Anyway, milk and cookies are full of cholesterol and sugar. Here, have some fried pork fat with a bit of meat yourself. Ho ho ho!
What will the marketeers think of next? Does this billboard make you any more likely to buy bacon? (Vegetarians are not allowed to vote.)

I know advertising is part of a market economy. My firm advertises. But all of it is hogwash (except, of course, my own).

Friday, December 19, 2014


Citygarden Christmas Decorations

A bit after sunset in Citygarden. The globes have many colors of LEDs in them, constantly changing hues and patterns. Wish I took a video.                              

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

On Ramp 3

Well, sort of. the Arch is in the picture although it's not what the picture is about.

Sometimes I get desperate for blog fodder. This isn't that big a city, most of the suburbs are a snore and there are few street events in the winter. As someone, maybe Frank Zappa, said, necessity is the mother of invention. Gotta wrack my brain for stupid photo tricks.

So I went out to shoot light trails. Simple if you know the recipe. These were taken in a trashy corner where I 55 goes up a ramp and onto a bridge over the river, heading for Chicago. On a tripod, of course, ISO 100, f 22 and a -3 stop ND filter. The top exposure was 20 seconds and the bottom one 25.

Came out pretty cool, if I do say so myself. That's a private dinner excursion train, not Amtrak, on the trestle in the top picture. I opened the shutter before the front of the train got to the Arch so the legs sort of show through.                 

On Ramp 2

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

For The Young And Well-Coordinated

Indoor Climbing Wall 3

Which excludes me on two counts.

The old building that contains Element restaurant also has a large indoor climbing wall. The restaurant is on the second level and has windows looking out at the climbers. It boggles my mind that these athletes can just hang backwards from overhanging slopes.

This young woman has muscles I've never been introduced to. When she got back to the floor she gave us a proud wave.                       

Indoor Climbing Wall 2

Indoor Climbing Wall 1

Indoor Climbing Wall 4

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Please Don't Forget

Please Don't Forget

A billboard along a crummy stretch of I 44, asking people to make Christmas donations to the Salvation Army. They do a lot of social good.

Mrs. C and I agree with the idea. Sure, it's nice to give a gift to someone you care about at this time of year, but we are more and more turned off by the season's coarse materialism. We're getting a few things for our children, their spouses and particularly for Madeleine but it's nothing fancy. However, we are not buying anything for ourselves. We've got enough stuff, too much. We have each other, a relationship that's lasted more than 40 years and keeps getting better. That's plenty.

If anyone wanted to give us something, we ask that they make a contribution to the education expenses of Januka Basnet, a wonderful young woman in Kathmandu we have helped support for a number of years. We've met her a couple of times - here's a picture of her and my wife taken five years ago. She has now graduated from the equivalent of 10th grade and passed the all-important Leaving School Exam, which I think is something like the A Levels in the UK. Now she's starting Nepalese college. If you would like to help, too, click here.                  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Madeleine Monday: At Element, Powell Symphony Hall And Meeting Santa

Madeleine at Element

Yes, it's time for my favorite moppet, out for a whirl this weekend. Top, the guest of honor with mom Emily at Element Friday night. (She's always the guest of honor.) Middle, her first visit to Powell Symphony Hall with daddy Brian (that's grandpa's girl - I didn't get to Carnegie Hall until I was, I think, 12 or 13) for this weekend's performance by Circus Flora with the St. Louis Symphony. Bottom, first face-to-face encounter with Santa at a church Christmas pageant. Getting pretty worn out by that point. Second and third pictures by Emily, iPhone and Canon 5D Mark II, respectively.

The child does not lack for stimulation.                          

Madeleine at Powell Hall

Madeleine And Santa 2014-12-14 1

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kitchen Art

Element Restaurant 7

In this country, at least, professional chefs own their personal set of premium knives. My son-in-law, who is executive chef for St. Louis University's arena and athletic facilities, has for years. He is not so extreme, though, as to have them tattooed on his forearm.

Element has an open kitchen, a popular design these days, and we were seated right in front of it Friday night. The people doing the cooking were precise, very organized and obviously enjoyed their work and one another. They had a great air of competence. It certainly showed on the plates put before us.                  

Element Restaurant 4

Element Restaurant 5

Element Restaurant 6

Element Restaurant 9

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Element Restaurant 1

Late post today since I literally fell asleep over my laptop last night. The family went out to dinner at Element, a newish restaurant, located between Lafayette Square and Soulard in an old industrial building. We thought it was terrific. The people were delightful, the menu inventive and the wine list of modest size but high in quality and value. We will go back. More about the place tomorrow.                             

Element Restaurant 3

Element Restaurant 2

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ferguson Embers

S Grand After Ferguson 1

Around the time all hell broke lose in Ferguson there were parallel demonstrations miles away in the south side of the city proper, centered on Grand Boulevard and Arsenal Street. There have been, shall we say, some problems between police and residents in that area, too.

That part of the city is known for its international population - southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Bosnian and more. There is a strip lined with one terrific ethnic restaurant after another. Although there was not nearly as much violence as in Ferguson, there was some. Local businesses boarded their windows for safety. Local artists adorned the boards.

These pictures were taken by my daughter, Emily, who lives nearby and is a pretty good shooter, too. In the bottom poster, Imo's is a very popular local chain of pizzerias, known for their cracker-thin crust St. Louis style pies. 

I've been bad about comments this week. Work has been off the meter but things will calm down soon. And, hey, we get to NYC on Christmas Day. There's no place like home for the holidays.             

S Grand After Ferguson 2

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Light The Afterburners

Tower Grove Park 2014-12-06 1

Um, this may be a bit too photo-technical. I was playing with a -3 stop ND filter and long exposures with the camera on a tripod. This was shot on the main axis of Tower Grove at 5 seconds. I wanted to get both head and tail light trails but traffic was too light. All I got was a minivan aspiring to warp speed.

This park is elegant, quiet, not busy. And it's got some gorgeous groves.  

Tower Grove Park 2014-12-06 3