Friday, July 31, 2020


Things you don't see from the land beside the Mississippi. The first one is right at waterside. No idea what it lifts. That is a barge in the foreground of the second picture. I assume the huge green arm sucks or pumps things in and out of them. It's a working river, not very scenic away from the city center but still interesting.         

Thursday, July 30, 2020


St. Louis' oldest power plant is a bit north of the Arch. It opened in 1904 and lit all the bulbs in the World's Fair that year. It remained the main source for electricity to downtown for decades, converting in turn from coal to oil to natural gas. It still operates in a limited capacity. It feeds a steam loop throughout downtown so buildings don't need their own boilers. Um, do buildings still need boilers? 

Don't see it from the river very often.              

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


I get over to the Gateway Geyser in East St. Louis, Illinois, from time to time. We went with Ellie to check it out after our riverboat ride. It was a bit disappointing. How high it goes is supposed to depend on the wind. If the day is still the geyser blows exactly as high as the Arch. The breeze was light on Saturday but the spray wasn't very tall. The four smaller side jets that point a bit inward were off. It still makes for a good picture with the right sky.

The geyser is visible from my office window. It clearly went up full blast on Monday despite higher winds sending the spray way off to the side. It's too far away, though, to get a good photo through a coated window.       

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Those words usually bring up an image of a sleek watercraft hydroplaning across a lake at high speed. This is different. This is brute force. I can't imagine how many tons they haul up and down the Mississippi. The amount of horsepower, if that's the right unit, is enormous.

It looks like it could hold a fair size crew (it's a 24/7 operation) but I don't know how much of the length is given over to the engines. I watch these go past all day from my office window. I'll try to get a picture of a whole flotilla you can see the scale.

People generally call them towboats. Ellie thinks that's silly since they are obviously push boats.          

Monday, July 27, 2020


Might be hard to read depending on the size of your screen but the side of the small boat says Gateway Blues Catfishing.  Apparently there is a business that will take you out on the Mississippi searching for the critters, which are served fried. The river is a lot cleaner than it was some decades ago but, still, catfish are bottom feeders and the river is busy and just imagine what's down there. So, no, I wouldn't eat it.

Note the enormous size of the barges in the background, some distance behind the fishing boat. When in transit, they are connected two across and up to eight or ten long, pushed by a very powerful boat. How the pilots steer them through the many bends on the Mississippi is beyond me.    

Sunday, July 26, 2020


We usually look for something particular to do with Ellie on Saturday. Of course, our options are limited. I had the idea of taking a ride on one of the Mississippi River excursion boats that leave from under the Arch. It is a one hour ride up and down. Frankly, the scenery ain't great once you get much away from downtown. As we head north/upriver, we pass under the newest bridge in the area with the rather clumsy name of the Stan Musial-Veterans Memorial Bridge. (Just rolls right off your tongue.) It is a cable suspension design so you can get some nice patterns.

The most impressive moment was when I asked Ellie why the boat went faster southbound than north. She figured it out quickly.            

Saturday, July 25, 2020


But, given the history of our species, I'm not particularly sanguine. As they say on American television, stay tuned for further details.                     

Friday, July 24, 2020


Part of what has become of St. Louis Union Station, once one of the grand railway junctions of America. It fell into disuse and great disrepair, after which it was remodeled into a restaurant and rather cheesy shopping center. That did okay for a while but after a time it  stopped drawing people from the suburbs and failed. The current iteration has a variety of entertainment attractions, a big Ferris wheel, mini golf, a rope climbing course and an aquarium. All quite overpriced but it was doing well enough until the pandemic. The wheel is open but I wouldn't go in it unless each car was fumigated between groups of passengers.

There is a restaurant simply called The Soda Fountain. It has a retro look, plays 50s and 60s music, and has a huge variety of ice cream concoctions. Apparently  you can get them laced with vodka or a liqueur. I might try that when it's safe to eat indoors.        

Thursday, July 23, 2020


I don't know about the rest of the world but these electric scooters you pay for by the hour are all over American cities. I suppose they can be fun but they can also be a nuisance - and dangerous. Someone has apparently organized a taxi rank of them at 7th and Market downtown but it is common to see them flat on their sides, blocking a sidewalk. Helmets are recommended but nobody uses them. (Who carries one around?) I've read that there are a lot of visits  to emergency departments by customers.

There are a few different brands on the streets of STL. The mix changes but the most common these days is Bird. The name faces the front on those little electronic boxes so you can't see it here. No one my age has any business riding one anyway.       

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


Central St. Louis isn't exactly a ghost town these days but it is awfully quiet. The banks, law firms and government offices are mostly on work-from-home. About a quarter of my office building is occupied by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, whose headquarters is next door. Not a soul in there. I rarely see another person on the elevators, which is fine with me.

This is the garage in our building's basement. It's so empty you could turn it into a massive laser tag field. I rather like the solitude, just me and my Honda.        

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Hot colors at sunset on a neighborhood eatery. I don't know if they reflect the food served or just traditional Chinese design. Our family never goes there. No reason why, just not in the habit. We do go to the Thai place next door. Another habit.

I don't do hot food. Never met a chili pepper I liked. The Thai place takes care of me.         

Monday, July 20, 2020


I am the eggman (Ooh)
They are the eggmen (Ooh)
I am the walrus
Goo goo g' joob

Outdoor dining with the family Saturday evening at Cravings, a local favorite. Gotta do something for entertainment while the big people eat their weird stuff.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


This town is dead quiet. Hot. Pitiless cloudless skies. Hardly anyone on the street. Nothing going on, of course, but I have to find an image somewhere. There were a couple of these signs in Kiener Plaza near a turned-off set of water jets where kids usually splash. Information for the uninformable, just like mask advice. 

The language police has a strong presence in our household. Why is there a comma after the first line but no period at the end? Why are "park" and "hot" capitalized? Inquiring minds want to know.       

Saturday, July 18, 2020


Gotta get back to local material. This is in the ground floor windows of an older office building that has been turned into a data center, server farm or whatever you want to call it. There are others so I don't think this one has a special claim to fame. 

I need to glean images from the home town. However, we expect it to be about 98F/37C today, which will limit outdoor opportunities. Maybe something indoors. The art museum is open with limited capacity. I'll think of something.       

Friday, July 17, 2020


My son and daughter-in-law have a mini back yard trampoline for the kids. It's perfect size and safe. Both Audrey and Ellie can get pretty high for their sizes. More energy than me.

Late post today. I usually write these posts in the evening but last night we went out searching for the comet. We couldn't find a place with a clear view of the northwest horizon and little light pollution. The expedition was a bust. Maybe again tonight.        

Thursday, July 16, 2020


Life in low gear. You can find versions of this in any of the north central or northeastern states that that are striped with glacial lakes. Just a swimsuit here, no waders needed. The water was very warm. No idea what you might catch.

I don't know anything about fishing. You wouldn't dare eat anything you caught in the waters where I grew up. Besides, I would just as soon do my own appendectomy as clean a fish.

We are home, having made it through four short flights, a couple of changes at O'Hare, several hotel and Air BnB nights. Everything okay so far but ask me again in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Yep, that's her name. The other Michigan grandchild, just shy of five years old. She is remarkably sweet and smart, just a little reserved (in contrast to our Ellie, who will walk up to anyone and try to start a conversation). The two little girls are great friends, taking turns playing mommy and child in the play house where Audrey is sitting at our rental cottage. Her shirt, appropriately, says Oh Happy Day.     

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


Found off the patio of the house we are renting in Michigan. There are caterpillars all over but I've never seen anything like this, with its bright red head and teeth-like structures on the back. Can anyone identify it?

This could be sharper. I have a newish 60mm Fuji macro lens that I'm getting used to. Probably should have more DOF than f4.

Monday, July 13, 2020


Budd Lake, Harrison, Michigan. You can just see that there is a second flag that has come loose from its lower anchor point. It is a Trump banner. Reminds me of a photo I took in this town four years ago, .  

And on a completely unrelated note, happy birthday to Mrs. C, my life's companion.       

Sunday, July 12, 2020


Of Clare, Michigan, my only grandson, 17 months old, who has been into the chocolate cream puffs.          

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Like many of my online friends, people who don't wear masks in public make me angry. Our family, even the little ones, are with the program. While waiting for the next flight at O'Hare, Ellie, Lambie and her favorite doll, Aliane (pronounce it the French way - we think she is Qu├ębecois because the card that came with her says she likes poutine) are full of respect for their fellow travelers. Hard to see in these pictures but Ellie put a little bottle of hand sanitizer on each of their left wrists. Not everyone in the terminal was so respectful despite the Illinois state mandate.        

Friday, July 10, 2020


Changing planes at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Saw this on our way between gates and I don't get it. Recreational marijuana is legal in  Illinois if you get it from a licensed dispensary. So if you brought it in from somewhere else you shouldn't technically be taking it out of the airport. But if you got the stuff through security in carry-on luggage at your home airport, do you really think you have to worry about it on the streets of Chicago? Or is it for people leaving Illinois? I doubt this gets a lot of use.

Lansing, Michigan, Thursday night, then up to Clare to see the family on Friday. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020


An old photo of the main concourse of the American Airlines terminal at Chicago - O'Hare. There was a time in my life when it was a rare month that I didn't fly somewhere. Now it's been six months since we set foot on an airplane.

We have one grandchild in STL, the redoubtable Ellie. But there are two more in central Michigan we see all too rarely, my son's kids, Audrey, almost 5, and the well-named Atlas, close to a year and a half. We researched this thoroughly and we decided it's okay to visit. (Ellie and our daughter Emily are going along.) Very short flights from here to Chicago and on to Lansing, Michigan. We are on smaller jets with 2-2 and 1-2 seating, no middle seats. We got a stash of N95 masks (Chinese, so we hope they are not fake, but at least they enclose the mouth and nose tightly.) We got sterile, disposable plane seat covers and tray table covers.  We got sterile wipes out to here, purchased before things got bad. We have  an Air BnB cottage with no one else around. So, volare...              

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


From the graffiti-permitted section of the Mississippi River floodwall. I've always admired Bart Simpson. He was a boy I never was, self-determined, sometimes rebellious, sarcastic, often disrespectful. I was a good kid, reasonably obedient, following the social, political and religious party line. Always had a good haircut. Rarely got into trouble. Then adolescence hit me in the cauldron of New York City. Wow, did things change. 

Got some mildly irresponsible things to do tomorrow. Three airports: STL - ORD - LAN. Gotta see those other grandchildren.    

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


The upper part of Roxy Paine's Placebo on the lawn next to the art museum. It's stainless steel and stripped of foliage. This seems to be Paine's thing. I've seen other versions of this. I remember one in Union Square in New York.

There is a trend I notice in contemporary visual art and sometimes music that I don't like, even with artists I generally admire, They find one thing that gets popular attention and then beat it to death for years. Paine is an example, but think of Chuck Close's exquisite sorta-pointillist portraits from here to eternity; Philip Glass's death by arpeggio (although I think Satyagraha is the finest opera of the 20th Century); even though I adore her work, Jenny Holzer's unending streams of aphorisms; Botero's infinite parade of chubbies; Cindy Sherman's mercurial selfies. But then there are are those whose every major work tells us something new: Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Bernstein, Sondheim, Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams, for example. So that's my occasional rant.     

Monday, July 6, 2020


It's a sentimental, recurrent theme in 19th Century European art and literature, the ruins of an ancient castle, barren and evocative. Think Sir Walter Scott. It was nostalgia for a dream of older times. Tower Grove Park, St. Louis' most beautiful, IMHO, has a reference. Kids love to climb on it.         

Sunday, July 5, 2020


It was dead quiet in this town yesterday. Normally an occasion for trombones, snare drums, politicians waving from the back of convertibles and colorful explosives, we could hear only a few passing cars and the wind from our porch. I went out in the late afternoon cruising for images and might have come back with nothing.

As usual I ended up in Forest Park. Pretty empty. When I took a swing by the great statue of Louis IX I found what looked like a small group of conservative Catholics on patrol. (Don't get me wrong. I spent five years under the supervision of the Sisters of Mercy and eleven in Jesuit schools.) There was a priest in an ankle-length cassock, something you don't see much anymore.  And this man. Anti-mask (ggrrr). No churches closed? What kind? No Nazis, no Communists and no Muslims? No "new normal." What is the new normal? Love his shoelaces, though.        

Saturday, July 4, 2020


Our national holiday in what may be a year of sweeping change. There is more hope for racial and economic justice, but it remains unfulfilled. The economy itself is battered by a disease that many of our leaders lack the courage or intelligence to control, while many of our people reject the medical science that can lead our way out of it. We have the opportunity but not the certainty of turning out of office a corrupt wannabe strongman who threatens our democracy. May July 4, 2021, be brighter.                 

Friday, July 3, 2020


You have seen this view on television, in electronic media or a newspaper. This is the entrance to Portland Place, a private street filled with old mansions in The Lou's Central West End. You also saw the owners of this mansion, fellow members of the local bar, standing in front. He had a semi-automatic rifle. She had a small hand gun pointed at the passing protesters, finger on the trigger. It is unclear whether the crowd broke through the locked gate.

The car in the foreground is from the news department of a local television station. No particular repercussions so far but the story has not ended.                

Thursday, July 2, 2020


Wave after wave of storms have passed over us. There is no dust, no smoke. The statues in Citygarden are dripping. All the plants are lush and dampen what little sound is made by the virus-chastened city.

Some people can form a mental visual image - they can see things "in their mind's eye." I'm a little different. I can hear music in my mind's ear. Not a hallucination, just a clear non-physical experience of the music. This is what has been playing all day:


Wednesday, July 1, 2020


I've run these images before but it's what I got. So here we are in Webster Groves, Missouri, back in the spring, when my neighbors would set up a well-spaced lawn chair happy hour in the cul de sac in front of our home. The second one is at the point where our community driveways (the garages face the back) abut a large, grassy school yard. The view is due west. Sunset has moved way to the right by now.