Monday, July 28, 2008

Diamonds in the rough

This is part of the south side of the Chemical Sciences Building at the UofA taken from a nearby street. Cool design with diamond shapes and small windows. It wasn't until I got home and looked closer at my picture that I realized the side of the building isn't flat...

This has happened to me several times now, where I see something in a picture after the fact, now more obvious, that I totally missed on location. The increased resolution of cameras and ease of enlarging pictures sure makes things more interesting... I'm not saying someone else wouldn't have noticed how the brick design was done on the spot, but from the distance I was at I just jumped to the conclusion that they were using slightly different color bricks on a flat wall. Neat design.

The front of the building is glass and the east side has a copper facade. I found some construction photos showing other sides of the building here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Women's Plaza of Honor

You may have seen me in an earlier post riding a Segway on this spiral... This plaza was built after my UofA days and I didn't realize until today that the Plaza extended all the way down between the Centennial Hall and Arizona State Museum buildings.

I was in the area and decided to take a long campus walk to get some exercise and take a few snaps. I turned down the above sidewalk and was pleasantly surprised. Interesting art, designs, plants, tiles, fountains -- all in a peaceful environment honoring the contributions of women of the world.

Three peaceful fountains

Lots of benches to sit on; tiles down the center with meaningful quotes. I took pictures of a few below (click on pictures below for closer views).

After I got home I hit the web and found that the University of Arizona has a good 4 minute video covering the dedication and purpose of the Women's Plaza of Honor. Nicely done.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Approaching Tucson

Approaching Tucson from the south (Green Valley, Nogales, & Mexico) on northbound I-19 at the Valencia overpass, there is some nice highway art depicting several things that have made Tucson what it is today: astronomy, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, historic structures, sonoran desert plants & animals, and perhaps the Santa Cruz river (now dry, but not always...).

waiting for the postman?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

advanced fledgling wall art

The wall of this house is along Tucson's busy Broadway Blvd (@ Bryant Street). I've enjoyed what I could see out of the corner of my eye zipping past it, but never could look closely at it. Today I was taking a few mural pics to submit to the Tucson Mural Project and decided to park and walk to take a closer look. The artist has really created a great work of art here. I like the terra cotta roofing tiles capping the wall (although the cats in my neighborhood would disapprove -- they like using the wall tops as their own personal highways).

nice mix of common area birds and plants

you gotta love the dog/gate theme!

and it seems today is the day for pictures of nesting doves (see earlier post)

palm sunday

This Sunday I was doing some yard work and decided to take a few pictures of a date palm tree in my front yard...

I ran into this nesting dove in the palm and got a little too close, causing her to flush from the nest briefly.

time for a quick nest photo and a quick retreat (I don't like to purposely scare birds off nests)

and a more distant shot of the returned parent.

[On a sad note, I learned today that Tom Vezo, an incredible professional wildlife and nature photographer passed away while hiking Friday in the Rincon mountains east of Tucson. I knew Tom and his wife from the Tucson Native American flute circle. A really nice guy. Tom's work was widely published in magazines, including National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, Audubon, and Arizona Highways. Tom will be missed greatly and those of us that knew him while he was here are better for the experience.]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

off the wall shards

The recently completed widening of Craycroft Road, has also resulted in some great new street art. As you head north on Craycroft past River Road, the road cuts on both sides of the street have some great tile art. Nice job by the gang at the transportation department, keep it up!

#42 tried out Verizon Navigator

I've had a GPS as a hiking/backpacking navigational backup/curiosity for years, have a couple of friends who have street navigation GPS systems in their cars, and have myself rented a car once or twice that came with a GPS. They do seem useful when on unfamiliar turf...

I recently replaced my cell phone with a little better phone and saw that Verizon has a program that runs on a number of their phones called Verizon Navigator, available for a monthly charge if you use it a lot, and for a daily "just when you need it" charge if you're normally in familiar surroundings.

I had my doubts about this in a phone versus a larger dedicated GPS, but I have to say after trying it on several routes I've been kind of impressed. You put in the address of your destination and it then speaks out directions to you about approaching turns coming up and recomputes your route when you miss a turn -- this allows the driver to stay focused on the road.

It also has directory lookup functions for specifics names of businesses, or finding nearby restaurants, gas stations, or even local movie theatres and movie times.

In addition to the charge for using Navigator on a monthly or daily basis, it also eats a few of your airtime minutes: a minute or two when you initially set up your route, and then a minute anytime you miss a turn to recompute route directions.

  • easy to use
  • seemed accurate
  • gave suitable advance notice of approaching turns
  • when setup before driving and using a headset, much more convenient and safer than referring to maps or written instructions, especially for solo drivers
  • recalculated directions after missed turns reasonably fast
  • when travelling or renting a car, I'm already familiar the unit and ready to go
  • could be used conveniently walking in a city
  • small phone screen shows street name of next turn, distance to next turn, and direction of next turn (easy to glance at quickly if need be)
  • cost money, but well worth it when the conditions are right (meaning wrong?)
  • voice pronunciation of street names is approximate with some names, especially Spanish ones, mispronounced (but still understandable)
Overall, I can see using it from time to time when trying to find a difficult or unusual local destination, and definitely when travelling in unfamiliar cities. I'm lucky since I get a good deal on the feature due to a corporate discount program, but even if I didn't, I think I would use it from time to time on the day rate when travelling in strange cities.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Making a splash

The white board at Javalina's coffee shop always has some pretty cool dry-erase marker art. For those of you not from this region, that's a javelina doing the dive. I've seen them in the desert, but I've not in my iced latte, yet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

blue tuesday

I like the look of this house east of the UofA. A nice mix of color, real plants, and not so real (check out the two metal plant sculptures -- they are actually pretty sizable). Nice work!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

time lapse sculpture

This sculpture has been a favorite of mine over the years. Its located outside the entrance to the large aviary at the Desert Museum. It portrays transitions from a single cell, to dinosaurs, to birds. The way the evolutionary theme is portrayed, it also reminds me of a favorite short animation done to Ravel's Bolero music in the animated movie Allegro non troppo.

starting at the bottom, minnows, fish, lizards...

hungrier lizards, dinosaurs with gathering feathers?...

(#41) back to work... but first some eats...

So, postcards in the mail, my staycation is over and its time to head back to work in the morning.

I had an enjoyable and relaxing week. I was surprised at how many chores and weekday errands I was able to kick out. Accomplished a lot, but still had a vacation -- nice!

One thing I had hoped to do was try out some new restaurants outside of my usual favorites.

I tried five restaurants as a "new to me" thing (#41):

Ocotillo Cafe (at Desert Museum): I had an outstanding Filet Mignon. I thought the menu pricing was on the high side, definitely won't be on my normal rotation, but an excellent dinner. I'll be back, but not often.

Brawley's Restaurant: Open for breakfast and lunch only, this place always seems to have a line of people waiting to get inside. I had a very good basic country breakfast for a ridiculously low price.

Casbah: This restaurant is an organic vegetarian restaurant down on 4th Ave. Eco-friendly too -- they apparently compost their table scraps. I had a tasty vegetarian cheese steak sandwich outside under their gypsy tent with a light rain tapping at the canvas, very relaxing. I need to make it back here to try their vegi - fajitas.

Cafe Jasper: I stopped by here for breakfast, interesting menu. I had french toast stuffed with banana slices and an orange sauce. I'll be back here to sample more things on the menu, perhaps lunch some weekend.

Miss Saigon: This is a Vietnamese restaurant over by the UofA. Outside appearance is very basic, interior is really nice. I ordered a coconut curry grilled chicken dish that came with rice and very thinly sliced lettuce. Outstanding! I'll be back here next weekend (smile).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

#40 show a little spine, will ya?

I've biked and driven past the Tanque Verde Greenhouses many, many times and always thought I should stop in sometime and look around. Just never seemed to happen. But I'm on a staycation this week and looking for new things to do, so today was the day!

They specialize in only cacti and succulents. I thought the health and varieties of their cacti were better than that found in garden center nurseries which specialize in traditional flowers...

I really liked this cactus!

This is a Pachypodium. I don't know its common name, so I'll make one up: "Elephant Lectern".

Warm fuzzies, anyone?

Four different columnar cacti, side by side. Very cool.

These guys were like puppies: "pick me, pick me"

Hey, get away from me with those candles!

Every staycation needs some souvenirs, right? I picked out these three and had them potted on the spot since they had a good cacti soil/sand mix on premise, ready to go. So my new patio plants are, from left to right: a Pachypodium, a Echinocactus (Crested Golden Barrel), and a Euphorbia trigona.

This place is definitely worth a stop if you find yourself on the east side of Tucson. They are on the south side of Tanque Verde, east of Houghton Rd. Interesting plants here!