Red Cedar Totem

Here are three segments of the house-front pole of a Haida household on the Queen Charlotte Islands. It faced outwards from a house in Tanu around 1870. Red cedar lasts longer than many woods, but nothing would help it if exposed to the moist elements of the northwest over century-scale timeframes.

Fortunately, it was claimed by the BC Totem Pole Preservation Committee in the 1950s, and has been housed in the dry comfort of the UBC Museum of Anthropology since 1976. There's another impressive Tanu totem pole held by the Smithsonian, and allegedly displayed at the National Museum of Natural History.

Painted Sunset

The sky burns with an intense sunset following a strong convergence north of Seattle that brought snow to every surface above 200ft yesterday morning.

One wonders if the paint in the Sherwin-Williams truck next to me is as vivid as the canvas of the horizon.

Secondary Forest

Like most of greater Vancouver, this land in Pacific Spirit Park was logged from primary forest in the late 1800s. The hulking stumps of the original firs and cedars are visible throughout the park, many having notches cut to allow the lumberjack to stand on a plank as he logged.

This land is then secondary forest, and it will take many generations to resemble old-growth.

Beech Seam

This beech fell recently in the University Endowment Lands that border UBC. It was pulled open at an awkward angle, showing the grain and color of the wood quite nicely.

Lambert-St. Louis Airport

The main terminal building of the STL airport is a beautiful space designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, the same fellow who drafted plans for the World Trade Center buildings in New York. It's cluttered with a few too many interior furnishings, but otherwise retains the curves of the original design.

This space, completed in 1956, inspired the design of other larger airports. Examples include Eero Saarinen's building at JFK (currently unused, near terminal 5), and parts of the relatively new Terminal 2 at CDG.

Seymour Valley

Bright snow against evergreen forest makes for a sharp contrast. The darkness beyond is the east face of Lynn Peak, which is a vigorous climb up from Lynn Valley.

Seymour Lake is dammed to the right (north) up the valley.

Dog Mountain Snowshoe

Dog Mountain is a convenient snowshoe trip from the Mt Seymour parking lot. It offers a commanding view over the Lower Mainland, and is a rewarding hike over beautiful winter terrain. The weather was quite uncertain; later in the day, an experienced hiker had to be rescued from a few peaks over in Cypress Provincial Park.

The snow here is quite different (wet and heavy) from that in the Cascades.

Northern Rockhopper Penguin

This lovely penguin is the Northern Rockhopper. He or she (it's hard to tell) is interred at the Saint Louis Zoo, in a pretty nice enclosure. If he managed to rock-hop out to freedom, a variety of bears (Grizzly, Malaysian Sun, and Sloth) are hungrily waiting in nearby enclosures.

Brewery Caustic

A review of the literature shows that caustic soda isn't typically used as an input to making beer. I've seen various references to its use for cleaning bottles and tanks, and to neutralize acidic waste products.

The tour guides at Anheuser-Busch were excellent at making jokes about their competitors, but not well versed in technical details about the industrial processes in the brewery.

Big Four Ice Caves

The ice caves change quite a bit each year. Last year's visit had a larger structure and more caves. There wasn't much snow across 2009/2010, so the ice shrank considerably for this visit in October.

Trees Against An Overcast Sky

Whitefish, MT, at the end of October.

I like the lack of color and moderate contrast in this scene. It wasn't nearly as cold as it looks.

I90 Floating Bridge

The twin spans of the I90 floating bridge carry eight lanes of traffic across Lake Washington. Mercer Island is at the east (top) end; Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood is at the west (bottom) end.

There is only 29 feet of vertical clearance for marine traffic. Unlike the SR520 floating bridge, this one does not open to permit taller boats to pass.


Los Angeles doesn't see much fog. In recent decades, most years have seen fewer than 50 hours of <400m visibility at LAX. Fog this past Friday hung around until well past sunset, and delayed my incoming flight by 2h. You can see the airport as the bright stripe in the top third of this photo.

Contrast this with San Francisco, where there are around 70 mornings each summer where low cloud delays flights at SFO.

Changes in fog are, like everything else, caused by global warming. There are contradictory reports claiming to reveal the direction of the change.


The Vancouver Airport Authority has an endless supply of money, primarily as a result of its ability to levy airport improvement fees. They really don't know what to do with it all, so they selflessly donate funds to projects outside their mandate, such as paying for a fifth of the cost of the Canada Line transit project.

Some of those fees end up as native artwork, like this Haida transformation mask in the transborder terminal area.

Los Angeles Freeways

Los Angeles does freeways properly. This 14-lane monster is the I405, looking northbound on approach to LAX. OJ Simpson drove his Ford Bronco this way in 1994.

The signage for through traffic is "Santa Monica", which is a bit misleading, as the I405 stays outside Santa Monica's city limits.

Las Vegas Patio

Chilly weather in Las Vegas made patio heaters an important component of dinner overlooking Las Vegas Blvd S. The Monte Carlo is across the road, and the new Aria is the mass of 4004 rooms looming in the top left.

The ambiance on the Strip Saturday night was fantastic. I believe the guy in the blue shirt is wearing a birthday cake hat!

Calamity Jane's

Calamity Jane's in Georgetown offers both a delightful ambiance and decent food for not much money. Those on an airport run with a spare hour and an empty belly would profit from stopping in.

Their bar is not original, though it is an impressive and well-worn piece of hardwood.

Nighttime I5

The standard nighttime photo of the Seattle skyline is taken from the curiously-named Dr José Rizal bridge, on the left horizon of this picture. I chose to take this the other way, from Yesler Way looking back across the I5.

The Amazon headquarters looms in what was a marine hospital atop Beacon Hill. They don't own the building; it's leased from the Pacific Medical Center.

Busted Qantas A380

Qantas A380 VH-OQA suffered an uncontained engine failure a month ago, dropping pieces of the intermediate pressure turbine over Indonesia and coming reasonably close disabling the aircraft. The engine maker, Rolls Royce, now requires frequent inspections, and a lower top power output of the Trent 972 engines.

These requirements make the A380 uneconomic for transpacific travel, so Qantas is substituting B747s instead for the foreseeable future. Here is VH-OQD this past Sunday, sitting idle in LAX with its engines undergoing more than an everyday inspection.

Las Vegas Boulevard

Traffic streams southbound along Las Vegas Boulevard South this past Saturday night.

Las Vegas in December has cool weather, but there were plenty of pedestrians about. There were a surprisingly large contingent of cowboys in town for the rodeo, and their Stetsons and belt buckles were spotted at every part of the trip.

Cast Salt Sculptures

This is a pleasing arrangement of salt sculptures at Inscape Seattle. They're raised on wood salvaged from the building they're exhibited in.

The artist says they're cast, but I don't think it means what you think it means. Salt melts at 1474 °F, a bit beyond the means of a casual sculptor. I imagine these are what's left from evaporating a saturated brine solution.

Beaver Dammed Trees

A beaver dam impounds water over my aunt and uncle's property in Connecticut. They are conflicted: the water brings wood ducks and herons, but also will soon kill the waterlogged trees.

The dam is on the electric utility's property, and will likely be removed in the coming year.

Gold Creek Trail, Snoqualmie

Gold Creek runs north off the I90, just east of Snoqualmie Pass. The wintertime trail there is very accessible, and beautiful.

This is Mardee Lake, not 10 minutes from the parking lot.

SR520 Tolling

Fading light hits the divider of SR520 in Yarrow Point.

Tolling on the SR520 floating bridge begins next spring, with rates likely to be $3.50 each way for weekday commutes. It's likely to shift significant traffic to the I90, and the charge might be worth the reduced congestion.

Alternatively, nothing will change other than commuting expense, and I'll consider other ways of getting to work.