Thursday, June 28, 2007

Crystalline Suspension

Escaping the Labyrinth

“Oh, yeah, I need steam.”
—Peter Gabriel

A Bridge Too Far

One day when I get one a them newfangled self-driving automobiles, I’ll be able to sit in the passenger seat and take semidecent pictures while I tool along down the highway. Till then, as I change lanes with my cell phone in one hand and my camera in the other, you get pictures like this.

This is the new San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. Well, it’s half of the bridge. CalTrans is replacing the half that stretches from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland, the cantilever half that almost dumped a section into the San Francisco Bay during the World Series earthquake back in ’89. That section got fixed ages ago, but CalTrans wants a more modern bridge.

What you see is mostly the old bridge, which I think is beautiful, but I have a funny aesthetic. Everyone still drives on the old bridge for now.

If you look closely under the deck of the old bridge, you’ll see the new bridge creeping along from shore (on the left) toward the island. Major budget arguments have raged in Sacramento over whether it’s worth putting up a more expensive but iconic suspension span, or whether they should just have a glorified freeway onramp that leads as far as Yerba Buena, at which point drivers will enter the majestic suspension bridge that stretches from there to the city by the Golden Gate.

Apparently so far the budget is covering the freeway onramp.

I’ve seen it from closer up, but it’s hard to squeeze off shots from the old Bay Bridge. (It’s hard enough to catch a glimpse, since the new roadway is at a lower level than the old.) This is from the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, which starts at San Quentin Prison and rises, and falls, and rises, and falls, over to the East Bay. I could be remembering wrong, but I think there was a Sacramento budget battle over that one too. Something about whether the state could afford a span high enough for freighters to pass under, or couldn’t afford it, or could afford it, or couldn’t afford it.

Ah, legislators.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Road Is Long

It’s late, and I have to get up early, with a lot to do and miles to go before I sleep. So no long comments tonight. But enjoy the pictures!

Coming down off the Grapevine hill (look it up under “Commander Cody”) into California’s Central Valley. It was a beautiful day to be out driving. A little warm, and I got a trucker suntan with the driver’s side window down.

I have a sad feeling about what’s going to happen to these cows. You can’t read a cow’s palm, but if you could, I think their lifelines would be showing up short.

Check out the concertina wire on the fence around the cows, to make sure none of them try to scale the fence and get out.

At least one person out there knows what this picture is and why I took it (again). Do you?

Grist for a modern-day Don Quixote (look it up under “Borges”).

No concertina wire here, just a good-looking fence. Remember back when I used to make an effort, and edit these shots properly before posting them, for maximum photographic effect? Think of this one as a do-it-yourself project.

Some institutions of higher learning get ivory towers. Stanford’s is made of brick.

Another shot I really should dip a couple times in some Photoshop lacquer to make the whites really white and the letters on the sign pop. Whatever with that.

Stanford has established a reserve for academics, much as in southern Africa you’ll find reserves for springbok and kudu herds. I think this is part of a genetic engineering project, where they’re trying to get engineering majors who are more photogenetic, but I don’t see the local paper often enough to keep up with all these things.

Never mind. I did it myself.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Day the Sun Stood Still II

Yup, it’s been a busy season, but I still hate to miss an astronomical event:

That’s the sun going down behind the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach, on the summer solstice, taken from Seapoint in Huntington Beach, where the angle on that single day makes for a perfect lineup of sun with bridge.

Last year when I went out to take that picture Ma Nature provided a thick overcast, so there was no bridge on the horizon, and no clear sunset.

This year I hustled down there to grab the shot and arrived almost too late. It’s important when communing with nature that you pick a place where there’s good parking and you won’t have to stand around for 15 minutes waiting for Nature to get going with the show. If I’d had an extra 15 minutes, I would have taken a panorama, but I was still hiking over to my usual spot when the sun impatiently dropped anyhow, rather rudely not waiting till I was in position.

I squeezed off the last shots my batteries would allow, and I finished a roll of film too, and then, show over, I hustled back to the car. With 12 minutes still on the parking meter, I backed out and drove over to Main Street for a pretzel.

Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When the Revolution Comes

“Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical.”
—George W. Bush, June 20, 2007

I don’t know whether I even agree with such a simple reduction, but now that the President has had a change of heart, we should be able to get the last of the U.S. troops home by the end of summer.

(Photo by Ken Jarecke, from Gulf War I, found online at

Soundtrack by The Last Poets

Saturday, June 16, 2007

True Love

In the spring, a young man’s fancy
Lightly turns to thoughts of love

There’s nothing but truth in Tennyson’s lines from “Locksley Hall.”

It’s a while since I read that poem. I can’t remember whether he goes on to describe how, not long after, a young man’s fancy turns to somewhat more lumbering thoughts of heavy construction equipment—big Tonka toys.

But it does seem to be a universal passion of the season.

Over here in Southern California, they’ve been tearing out the road in front of the office for the past week.

We had asked them to put in planters, and gates at the ends of the block, and to turn the pavement into a permanent parking lot for our office. I don’t think that’s the city’s plan, although it would sure make it easier for our forklifts to get across the street when they need to.

But we should at least end up with smoother lanes to drive in.