Monday, August 31, 2015

Predator and Prey

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BUT FIRST, WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING to announce the arrival of Ms. Audrey Crowe in Chicago yesterday afternoon, first child of our son, Andy, and his wife, Claire, and our second grandchild. All doing well. Pix to come.

So, where were we? Beginning a walk along the route of the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden from beginning to end. It starts with some amphibians. Who's lunch for whom?

Lots more of this. And I did a lot of shooting at our Festival of Nations on Saturday and Sunday. And next weekend it's the big Japanese Festival back at the Garden. (Konichiwa!) Vast amounts of material.                         

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

About Yesterday's Picture

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Turn around and see this.

We caught the last weekend of the annual Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Friday night. It is always on Chinese themes. Yesterday's pic was of the reflection of this scene in a window. The event always brings out the crowds. There's lots more to see.                         Lantern Festival MoBot 2015-08-28 4
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Saturday, August 29, 2015


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Scene from an outdoor event Mrs. C and I attended last night. It's late as I write this and I'm pooped out. Clearer images and explanation tomorrow.                 

Friday, August 28, 2015


Failed Society

A bleak hipster clothing store on Cherokee Street. I bet there is some kid in the back on a hard chair reading Kafka's Metamorphosis. The whole look made me think of the old Fugs song Nothing. (I actually owned this album. Despite what it says on the YouTube link, it was originally issued in 1966 when I was in high school. The verses get funnier as it goes on.)                      

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our Flag

St. Louis Flag

St. Louis has a pretty good city flag.  We used to have a lame one. This banner was adopted in 1964 and was designed by some professor at Yale.  According to the city ordinance adopting it:
The flag with a solid red background has two broad heraldic wavy bars, colored blue and white, extending from the left top and bottom corners toward left center where they join and continue as one to the center right edge. This symbolizes the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Over the point of confluence a round golden disk upon which is the fleur-de-lis of France (blue) calling attention to the French background of the early city and more particularly to St. Louis of France for whom the City is named. The golden disk represents the City and/or the Louisiana Purchase. (Heraldically, the disk is a "bezant" or Byzantine coin signifying, money or simply purchase.)
The flag's colors recall those of Spain (red and yellow or gold), Bourbon France (white and gold), Napoleonic and Republican France (blue, white and red), and the United States of America (red, white, and blue).
This mosaic version is on the outside wall of a bar called The Whiskey Ring at Cherokee and Ohio on the south side.                            

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Big Guy

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This odd little event I've drawn from the last two days was right by the art museum and the grand statue of Louis IX. Haven't shot the big guy in a while. The light wasn't great but that's why we have Photomatix, Photoshop and all those other toys.

You know, it's a wonder the king doesn't have saddle sores by now. Or does he?                     

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Baby Snakes

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That's just the name of my favorite Frank Zappa ditty. I don't think these are actually juveniles. Inexplicably, the raptor booth at this World"s Fare thing I mentioned yesterday had a couple of very tame snakes for the kids to handle. The birds would probably like these as a snack. Not crazy about snakes myself. I think it comes from childhood visits to my grandmother's house on the edge of the NY metro area, where I was constantly warned about deadly rattlesnakes in the woods.

Safe snakes or not, it can't be a good idea to let one get entangled in your necklace.                                 
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Monday, August 24, 2015


STL Worlds Fare 2015 1

So, back home and looking for things to shoot. There was something going on in Forest Park called St. Louis Worlds Fare: Heritage Festival. I couldn't figure out from its web site what the central theme was. I went and, um, still couldn't find a reason for its existance. Kind of a punky little event with food booths and trucks; booths with people selling things like home remodeling, insurance and cheap mobile service; a couple of undistinguished artists and a stage that, while I was there, featured a girls dance school doing clean hip-hop stuff, if you can imagine such a thing. (Obviously not outta Compton.) 

All in all, a bit tedious. But there was one booth from a raptor protection center that had this amazing owl, just as calm as you please. The feathers have an obvious comparison to military camouflage clothing.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Not Only Bad Taste But Tastes Bad, Too

Pabst and Hooters

Scraping the archives here. Everyone in the US knows this restaurant chain, known for its young waitresses in tight, low-cut tank tops. Only been once. It was this one downtown. One Saturday a colleague of mine and I (working too many weekends) met for lunch. This place was having a "soft opening," a final shake-down where people are invited to eat for free. Someone on the street invited us to come in. Free lunch? Sure.

It was awful. The whole concept was embarrassing. It seemed like everything on offer was fried and left our fingers slimy. And now they advertise Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer known for being cheap and mediocre. Drinking it out of a can developed hipster cachet and they jacked up the price. McDonalds would have been better.               

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lil' Blue Eyes

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I have no new local material. Maybe this weekend, but I have to spend some of it in the office to pay for vacation. It doesn't bother me, though, to post another picture of Ms. M. Those eyes are head turners.                      

Friday, August 21, 2015


Madeleine's Second Birthday 1

My favorite small person, Madeleine Horrocks, turned two yesterday. Her mom, our daughter Emily, has a birthday on Saturday so there's a party on Sunday. Grandma and Grandpa Horrocks are coming up from Houston.

This child is smart and happy. Being two, she delights in looking at pictures of herself in my album on Flickr on the computer. She became quite frightened of the candle in a cupcake but we will try again over the weekend.                    

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Northern Exposure

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The semi-elderly like myself may remember the 90s TV show Northern Exposure. It was about a young doctor from New York who ends up in a small town in Alaska. The fictional town of Cicily is said to be modeled on Talkeetna, a short detour off the road the road north from Anchorage to Denali. We visited there 20 years ago and on this trip. It has changed a lot and not for the better. It once felt like a remote outpost. It's bigger and commercialized now, fed by tourists from the cruise lines' land excursions.

I'm scraping the Alaska pictures. However, today is my precious Madeleine's second birthday. I plan to stop by her house on my way home from work to record the occasion. 
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Yakkety Yak

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I lied. The title is a teaser. No yaks in Alaska (they are over here). But our northernmost state does have musk oxen, which is what these are. If I met one of each in a dark alley I couldn't tell them apart.

There is a musk ox farm in Palmer, a pretty little town that  is really a suburb of Anchorage these days.  The animals were nearly hunted to extinction and the farm carefully cares for them. The person who took us around said that the animals are lazy and might lay around all day until they get hungry.                     

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015


2015-08-11 View of Denali 1

You're lucky if you get to see Denali. It's officially Mt. McKinley but President Bill had little to do with its protection. Most people now refer to it by the native Alaskan name that means the High One. It is by far the tallest mountain in North America.The peak is lost in cloud most of the time but we got a peek from Talkeetna, 70 miles away.  

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Monday, August 17, 2015


Denali 2015-08-12 11 (Carolyn On The Lookout)

Well, that's what we are. You could think of it as broadening your experience, making for a richer life. Or, you could think of it as fly-in, fly-out voyeurism. I suppose there is some of both but I'll tell you, being there is a whole lot better than looking at these photos. 
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Denali 2015-08-12 14 (Toklat River Station)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Interior

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Alaska photos will skip around until I can shoot some new STL material. That probably won't be until next weekend.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, there is a single 93 mile road into the 6 million acres of Denali National Park. Most of it is gravel, some of it is harrowing and visitors are not allowed to drive more than a few miles in. Farther than that requires approved buses. The weather was pretty bad the day we rode to the end (well, it wasn't snowing) so photographers make do with what is available. This is outback Alaska.                       

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Outside Fairbanks

Fairbanks 2015-08-13 1 (Chena River)

Fairbanks, Alaska, is a gritty little city. 35 or 40,000 people within its boundaries, twice that in the borough, the equivalent of a county in most of the US. It sits on the edge of a broad plain between the Alaska and Brooks mountain ranges. The surrounding country is taiga, the scrubby spruce and birch forest below the tundra that sweeps across Russia, Alaska and Canada, There is permafrost a few feet under the surface. The trees grow very slowly. They cannot sink their roots far and it's just too damn cold and dark half the year. The locals told us they have periods of -50F/-46C every winter. Yet, they insist, they get out and do things and don't let the weather stop them. There is a sizable university. I think they are bloody crazy.

Not much to do except to claim that you've been there, pretty close to the Arctic Circle, and visit the spectacular Museum Of The North at the university. For some fun, we booked a tour with a van ride to a restaurant 24 miles out of town. It was okay if not memorable. Then our van driver, Larry, took us 12 miles further up the Chena River that goes back to town. Larry, on the left in the first picture, was just a little strange. We floated for an hour back past fly fishermen to the restaurant owner's home (off the grid, as they say) where we had an interesting talk about life in the area.

That's your intrepid travelers in the front of the boat. I'm writing this at nearly 11 PM Alaska time in the Anchorage airport. 19 hours and two plane changes from now we will be home.                  
Fairbanks 2015-08-13 2 (Chena River)

Fairbanks 2015-08-13 3 (Chena River)

You'll be glad they're around...

Zombie Response Team

... when you need them. Found in a garage in downtown Anchorage on Friday.                    

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Denali Is Not A Zoo . . .

Denali 2015-08-12 1 (Moose)

Or so said our guide and driver as we set off on a 12 hour bus tour to the end of the road in Denali National Park. It's genuine wilderness. But, hey, I'm a tourist and I have to get my shots. The weather was miserable, cold and drizzly. It's obvious that summer is ending up here.

We had a moose cross the highway not far in front of us on the drive in. They say if you hit a moose with your car, you break its legs and the massive body comes through the windshield, often leading to your early demise. Not likely to see bear near the highway but I think they are totally scary and this was quite close enough.

The ptarmigan, seen below, is the official state bird but many say it should be the mosquito.

Driving to Fairbanks this morning for our last stop, then a succession of inconveniently timed flights home. We have 12 hour layover in Anchorage Friday - we'll get a car for the day and have one last look around before a red eye flight down south. Posts may be irregular for a while.                   

Denali 2015-08-12 4 (Bear)

Denali 2015-08-12 2 (Bear)

Denali 2015-08-12 3 (Ptarmigan)

Denali 2015-08-12 6 Mosquito Net)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Seward At Sea 201-09 9

Day trip at sea from Seward to Aialik Glacier and various scenic points. We have to get up in a few hours for a 12 hour drive to the end of the road in Denali National Park, home of Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. More later.
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Seward 2015-08-09 1 Seward Harbor

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sea Life

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Seward, Alaska, on Resurrection Bay, one of the very few year-round ice free ports up here. We stopped by the Alaska SeaLife Center, where we saw the puffins.  On Sunday, we took a full day boat ride down Resurrection Bay, through the many islands of the local fjords and to the face of Aialik Glacier, more about which soon. These puffins were at the center. Below are river otters, a whale, seals resting on glacier ice and orcas we found out on the water. 

The pod of orcas was engaging in a rare behavior, going right up to a rocky beach and scratching themselves on the stones. The weather was terribly gloomy but the sights were amazing.                         

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