Start Your Year With a Smile – 2018 Edition

Welcome to the 2018 Edition of my photographic year in review.  A couple of modest themes will show up later on, but for the most part we’re just going to dive right in.

Sometimes fusion works really well.  Like with cuisine. And jazz. As a retail concept, though, maybe it can be just a bit too much:

 

2017-02-01 13.57.58

 

 

Everything I know about practicing mindfulness says that it’s a good thing.  But still, I have my doubts.

 

2017-02-12 20.28.48

 

For an equally challenging version of staying mindful, there’s this:

2017-08-14 21.34.59

 

I once heard Eric Clapton say that he is at pains not to repeat himself.  Well, friends, I am no Eric Clapton.  When I first saw this a couple of years ago, I figured it was a rare, one-off experience.  But nope, they did it again! (Look closely – you’ll see what the sign is supposed to say.)

2017-01-25 18.49.38

 

Dammit, I think the wheelchairs deserve a little privacy!  Don’t you?

2017-07-14 19.33.15

 

OK, if you’re this guy, how do you go back to your day job on Monday and explain to your colleagues exactly what you did all weekend?  Or this IS your day job.  In which case, what do you say when you’re making small talk at a barbecue and new turns to you and says, “So tell me, Bob, what do you do for a living?”

2017-02-25 18.48.32

 

At last, the 2AM dry mouth explained!

2017-04-11 16.07.51

 

This big guy moved into my building just a few days after I did.  Apparently, he prepared for Moving Day by having way too much to drink the night before.

2017-04-30 11.56.06

I have to say, though, that moving can have its benefits.  The bear and I both get to enjoy this view:

2017-04-22 20.15.03

 

Speaking of being mindful, here’s a healthy approach to life:

2017-06-11 10.58.22

 

I spent some wonderful time in Italy this year, where I discovered that some things don’t translate very well:

2017-06-25 13.48.26

 

A pair of relics, side by side:

2017-06-25 15.41.21

 

My Italian is far from perfect, but this looks to me like the Institute for the Mastery of Filipino Pie:

2017-06-25 20.09.12

 

You can’t really make it out, but the green sign says “Angri.”  Exit at your own risk.

2017-06-26 17.54.42 copy

 

That was from southern Italy.  The northern Italians are not to be outdone:

2017-07-03 14.56.41

 

By the way, the Italians make cars that look like Bugs Bunny:

2017-07-01 20.22.00

 

This is from the Colosseum in Rome.  They should have added to the sign, “But scratching hieroglyphics on them with a sharp object is totally cool!”

2017-06-28 16.14.21

 

Interesting name for a leather boutique in Florence.  Someone’s a big James Bond fan.

2017-07-02 10.52.01

To make it even more interesting, the trademark listing for this place starts with “Saddlery, whips and animal apparel; umbrellas and parasols. . .”  And, no doubt, so much more.  Yes, I look these things up.

https://trademarks.justia.com/791/99/maison-79199491.html

 

Best Oxy-Clean Commercial Ever!!!!

2017-07-02 21.16.55

 

Go ahead, pronounce this.  I dare you:

2017-07-03 14.09.16

 

These two guys are duking it out for market share in Milan, but in the most civilized of ways:

2017-07-08 17.13.36  2017-07-08 17.13.41

 

Back home, in the harbor where I now keep a boat, there’s a question. . .

2017-07-13 19.03.29

And just down the pier is the answer:

2017-07-13 19.09.40

 

Then there’s this guy:

2017-08-06 12.44.56

And yes, this really is the boat he’s on:

2017-08-06 12.45.13

 

Oh my God!  What are the poor amateurs going to use?!?!

2017-09-07 07.35.11

 

Oops, they did it again (again)!

2017-10-04 19.47.07

 

Food fight!!!!!

2017-10-17 17.41.39

 

OK, this might be a repeat as well.  This little sign reminds me of two things.

2017-10-20 10.58.58

First, many years ago, a colleague of mine, while asleep, managed to swallow his uvula, which is that little thing that hangs down at the back of your throat.  The result was an elongated uvula that required extensive treatment.  And, yes, I’m quite sure you didn’t wake up this morning expecting to encounter the phrase “elongated uvula.”

The consequences of ignoring this sign seem like they would be similar, only a lot more painful.

Second, it reminds me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUWOnnaVYwo  By the way, be careful of the video channel this will lead you to.  You could disappear in there for days and come out with your sides aching:

 

Nothing says “Happy 5th Birthday!” like a neon martini sign. . .

2017-11-14 18.56.29

. . .unless it’s the OTHER side of the same neon martini sign:

2017-11-14 18.57.14

 

Are you willing to entrust your life to an elevator company that counts this well?

2017-12-19 15.23.31

 

I THINK it won’t fall down! I THINK it won’t fall down! I THINK it won’t fall down.

2017-12-27 11.56.56

I received many great guest photos this year, including some that were wonderfully way too off color to use.  Here’s a sampling of the usable best.  If you sent me one that’s not here, I’m sorry.  There’s only so much time.

From Jack Altschuler:

Altschuler Bunny & Rabbit

 

From Tony Diaz, there’s this, which manages to turn the word “abut” into a noun.  And please don’t ask me to explain the metal pole.  I can’t.

Diaz Road Abutters

 

From Lisa Manning:

Manning Puddle

 

From John Muller:

Muller Shrub (Lake Cook & Waukegan)

 

And finally, this last minute (literally) gift from Lou Costabile, who answers the question I know you’ve been asking yourself: “Where DOES Jimmy John eat?”

Costabile Jimmy Johns
2017 was a very strange year in many ways.  In the midst of that, however, it’s worth remembering that it’s still possible to be rendered utterly speechless by the works of man. . .

2017-06-27 11.20.42

2017-06-30 11.55.29

2017-07-08 18.18.20

. . .and nature

2017-10-18 07.56.03

 

I wish you a healthy, happy, joy-filled and prosperous New Year.  If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, you’ve certainly earned it.

 

 

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A Drop of Hypocrisy

Back in the old days, I used to watch the Today Show a lot.  You will never catch me admitting that I did this because I was a big Deborah Norville fan.  But that’s a story for a different day.

Today’s story is that I remember them having someone from the ACLU on to argue for a museum’s right to display artwork that many people found patently offensive, and just a few days later having someone else from the ACLU on to argue for something – I don’t remember exactly what – that required them to take exactly the opposite position.

It struck me as strange enough that I actually called the Today Show, got a producer on the phone, described what I’d seen and said, “I think it would be really interesting if you got a senior ACLU official on the show and asked them to explain how they could take such diametrically opposed positions only two or three days apart. I’m not anti-ACLU at all, but it seems like there’s at least a drop of hypocrisy in there somewhere.”

The producer agreed it was a good idea.  Alas, it never happened.

But that thought came back to me this morning as I was listening to the news coverage of the Anthem Antics at many of yesterday’s NFL games.

A significant chunk of the American people seems to believe that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is a wonderful thing as long as the speakers are white and speaking about what they see as “preserving important aspects of American culture,” but that can and should go right out the window when the speakers are black and speaking about preserving something else they see as important – namely the right not to be shot in the back by the police.

Sadly, it goes without saying that the beacon for these conflicting views is the current occupant of the White House, who told us that in August that many of the pro-statue demonstrators in Charlottesville were “good people,” and said last Friday that NFL players who choose to kneel during the anthem are reprobates who should be fired.

Seems like there’s at least a drop of hypocrisy in there, doesn’t it?

Now comes the hard part.  It’s easy to point the finger at the current occupant of the White House because he’s, well, a moron.  But 60 million Americans voted for him.  Once again, we have met the enemy and he is us.

Confronting a Would-Be Tyrant

Years ago, I heard Mel Brooks being interviewed.  He was asked how he, in general but especially as a Jew, justified wrapping The Producers around a faux-musical called Springtime for Hitler.

His answer stuck with me.  As best I recall, he said that one of the best ways to deal with  would-be tyrants is to laugh at them because it just deflates them.

Obviously, he was a little late, as was Charlie Chaplin with The Great Dictator.  But maybe we can learn a lesson.

In that spirit, here’s what’s been going through my head over the past 3 weeks:

I think the Republic is strong enough to survive four years of this.  During that time, the best thing to do may just be to laugh at the news, and then go back to trying to preserve a great nation and build an even better one.

Pass it on.

Start Your Year with a Smile – 2017 Edition

Here it is – Year 7 of the photo blog.  This year, I had 94 pictures to choose from, including a few that were sent by friends and (gasp) family.  I decided to keep it clean – strictly PG. Except, of course, for when I didn’t. Which means that the hardest part of this job is bottling up my inner 13-year-old.

Just remember that this is all about how people express themselves.  Including me, I suppose. And that if you want to see what I left out, I have nowhere near enough self-restraint to stop myself from sending it to you, so just let me know.

Here we go:

I start every year afraid that I’m not going to get anything good, and yet somehow I always do.

And so, our journey begins on January 2, 2016.  I’m in the airport in Huatulco, Mexico, heading home from a holiday warmup (where I was surrounded by Canadians whom I kept assuring over and over that Donald Trump was just a sideshow whom American would never actually elect).  And there, in the airport, I see these two signs:

Here’s the thing. . .one of them points to the airplanes and the other to the restrooms.

Moving on. . .

Check out the t-shirt and imagine your dog coming home from one of those treatments.  It would either be “Ahhh. . .” or “Dude, what the hell?!?!?”

_chiro-small

If it was your cat, “Ahhh. . .” would not be an option.

CNN’s mobile app turns out to be good for a laugh or two.

I’m wondering if anyone at the Seattle Aquarium bothered to consult their octopi before this decision was made:

_cnn-octopus

 

Online ads are targeted, right?  So why did I get this one?

_cnn-bail-bonds

 

When you open the CNN app, it takes a few seconds for the pictures on the top story to catch up to the headline, which yields some pretty interesting results.  There is nothing – absolutely nothing – I could say to improve on this one:

_cnn-conway

 

In local news, this used to be a terrific steak house.  It was located in a retired fire station near where I live and was called, appropriately, The Firehouse.  It was great – right up until it was. . .you guessed it. . .gutted by fire:

_firehouse

 

In less local news, I spent a little time in Northern California last summer.  This is a spot on the Cal Berkeley campus.  If you can’t make out the sign, blow it up until you can.  And then note that every sign in the row is the same.  Show-offs.

_berkeley

 

I’m not sure why Napa Valley needs this, but apparently it does.

_silver-bunny

 

I always thought it would be good to have this much money, but I never imagined it would fit on a single bill (yes, this is real money):

_zimbabwe

I didn’t go in this place.  Like you, I’m thinking that maybe I’d rather have food that was fresh?

_vintage

And what, exactly, does this place bake?  A Revell 1/24th scale Ford Mustang?  Cindy Crawford?  I wish I knew.

_bakery

 

The next part of that trip was on the Island of Hawaii, which yielded these. . .

Seems like the upper sign is all you should need:

_warning-sign

Nothing quite says “Polynesian Rain Forest” like a band of Scandinavian marauders:

_vikings

OK, this is just a No Smoking sign. . .

_volcano

. . .except that what’s smoldering in the background is the crater of an active volcano.

 

Back home.  Last year, I shared a sign from a frozen yogurt shop that I stop into now and then.  It said, “From now on, you must have intent on purchasing a yogurt to have a sample.” (Sic, sic, sic.).  Apparently that wasn’t enough to get them the customer behavior they were after.  So they upped their game.  A single trip yielded these.  (Note – halfway through, you are going to say to yourself “Really?”  The answer is “Yes.  Really.”):

_berry-o-1_berry-o-2_berry-o-3_berry-o-4_berry-o-5_berry-o-6_berry-o-7_berry-o-8

 

By the way, this is what greets you inside the front door.

_berry-o-mission

 

In fairness, I have to say that the frogurt in this place is quite good, and it’s one of the few that has low/no-sugar options.  But there has to be a less stressful way to make a living.

 

The word choice on this street sign is interesting.  But wouldn’t “Rain” have been simpler and more to the point:

_sky-water

 

 

In itself, there’s nothing remarkable about this sign. . .

_luigis

. . except that that the place down the block – the one with what looks like a small clock tower – is called Mario’s.

 

On a summer bike ride on the Lakeshore, I passed a sign saying that the under-construction bird sanctuary I was passing would soon be complete and ready for use.  That got me to wondering how the birds would find out that it was available.  The best answer I could come up with:  “They’ll Tweet.”

On that same ride, though, I failed in my attempt, after my January start in Mexico, to avoid bathroom humor for the rest of the year.  And I believe in failing big.

This sign sits above a urinal in a Chicago Park District restroom on the Lakefront, and it makes me worry about many things, including the state of civilization.

 

_rainwater

 

Let’s pause here for a second.  I’m always curious what the meeting was like where something like this got approved.  Like the marketing meeting from last year’s blog, when the bike company decided to put the words “Perineal Safety Area” around the opening in the bicycle seat.

I mean, let’s be clear.  I’m sure there’s a risk associated with the fact that the water is untreated rainwater.  But there’s also a risk that if you tried to drink it, you might, while bending over to take a sip, see an image in the water that you thought was Madonna – the singer, not the Blessed Virgin – faint from the shock, hit your head on the concrete and die of a subdural hematoma.

If I had to guess, I’d say the rainwater risk is smaller than the Madonna/hematoma thing. But they’re both pretty small.  And then there’s the fact that the water is in a urinal.  As my dog said when I brought him home from the chiropractor, “Dude, what the hell?!?!?”

But why am I worrying about that?  What I should really worry about is the strange looks I get while taking photographs in public restrooms.

 

On a separate adventure that was not supposed to involve plumbing, I was in a Lowe’s store and came face-to-face (or maybe it was face-to-bowl) with Kohler’s marketing strategy, which apparently involves giving toilet models profound, thought-provoking names. Like this:

_memoirs

 

There were two other models I didn’t get pictures of (yes, I actually started worrying about attracting unwanted attention).  One was The Cimmaron, which given it’s Western-ish name, seems it should be more outhouse than in-house.  And defying all explanation, there was the pièce de rèsistance, the sine qua non, the toilette de toilettes – The Biscuit.

And may that be the end of bathroom humor.

 

But nothing is off limits – or for that matter, private, let alone sacred – anymore.  And so I found this billboard on the road from New Buffalo, Michigan, back to Chicago.  No, not Carl’s Truck Repair.  I love the red circle with the slash through it and the Buy One – Get One Free offer.

_billboard-2

 

Here are three great guest shots:

From my friend and colleague Rene Boer – a picture he took on a beach in Belize.

boer-vacationIf you can’t make out the little yellow sign, it says “Closed for Vacation.”

From my friend Jack Trytten, a road sign that seems like it might have caused lots of accidents.

 

_trytten

 

And from my daughter, Julia, this bit of grocery store irony:

_nutrition-center-from-julia

 

From this year’s holiday warm-up in Miami:

This store in Miami Beach might be owned by a brother and sister?  If so, they have a sense of humor.  I hope so, but I don’t know.  And they don’t have a website, so I can’t look it up.  Or see what they sell.  All I can say is that the name and the subtitle kind of contradict each other.

_sib-bling

 

As the colors might suggest, this sign is by a guard house at the University of Miami.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly whom it excludes from entry:

_u-of-miami

 

And finally, for anyone who lives in Chicago (and probably many other places), there’s this:

_mattress3

That’s it for this year.  I hope you found something in here to give you a laugh.  And I wish you a healthy, happy, prosperous 2017.

Still Trumped Up

In the week since my last post, I’ve received a surprising number of emails (by surprising, I mean three) from people saying that while they agree with my assessment of Trump, they just can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary.

The arguments have ranged from “What’s wrong with a protest vote for Gary Johnson?” to “I want to send a message to the Libertarian Party that they could be a legitimate contender if they put up candidates better than Gary Johnson, like maybe Bill Weld” to “I just can’t bring myself to vote for someone who should be in jail.”

Let me check. . .yup, that’s three.

My responses:

  • Protest vote: I get it. In fact, I cast one in 1992.  But that was a year in which neither of the major party candidates was a nut-job who posed an existential threat to the Republic.  When there is a lunatic in the race, and this year there is, the protest vote has to wait.  Job #1 is to make sure the lunatic doesn’t get elected.

 

  • Send a message to the Libertarians:   This is a great idea.  And here’s a way to do it without contributing to the election of a nut-job.  Just copy the following text into a letter: “Dear Libertarian Party – I would like you to know that I think you could be a serious contender, but only if you nominate better candidates than Gary Johnson.  Like maybe Bill Weld.”  Print it, sign it and mail it to:

libertarian-party-address

  • Belongs in jail: First, in fairness, that should be “might belong in jail.”  Innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, blah.

That said, I get it. Here’s how deep my desire not to vote for Hillary runs.  In 2008, living in the most Republican county in Illinois, I pulled a Democratic primary ballot, which meant throwing away the rest of my votes, and voted for Obama because I believed it was the only chance I would ever have to vote against her.

Her judgment has often been weak (see my post on the email server here).  Her ethics are fuzzy at best.  Colin Powell uses the words “greed” and “hubris” to describe her.  Remember – hubris doesn’t mean arrogant.   It means “thinks the rules don’t apply to you.”  That’s her (and Bill) in a nutshell.

 

All of that is true.  But the choices we have are the choices we have, and like it or not, here they are:

  • A career politician with questionable judgment and fuzzy ethics who might actually belong in jail.

 

  • A guy who belongs in an asylum. By “asylum,” I do not mean “what you apply for after you finally make it across the Rio Grande because the gringos haven’t built that wall yet.”  I mean the loony bin.  If you really don’t think Donald Trump is a nut-job, please go back and read the links in my last post.  We’re talking about a man who by all appearances is an ADD-addled narcissistic sociopath with a significant brain defect.  A man who has absolutely no interest in facts.  A man who lies like a bearskin rug and actually seems not to know he’s lying. A man who is either a sexual predator or is so insecure that at age 60 he felt the need to curry the approval of a 32-year-old entertainment reporter (take your pick, it has to be one of the other).  A man who is unnerved and provoked into response by the slightest insult (imagine if the provocations came from the Iranians, or for that matter the French, and the tools of response involved the United States military instead of a smartphone and a Twitter account).  A 70-year old who behaves like a six-year-old – whose pattern of behavior will be recognized by anyone who ever encountered a bully on an elementary school playground.  Oh, and let’s not forget the long-distance love affair with Vladimir Putin, who is currently running a close second to Kim Jong Un for Most Dangerous Man on Earth.

 

  • A dope-smoking crackpot whose knowledge of world geography ends at Santa Fe, and whose soul seems to be stuck permanently at a Doors concert.

 

  • Jill Stein

 

I don’t like that list of choices any more than you do.  But everything in life is relative, and that’s what we’ve got.  Given those options, “belongs in jail” starts to look pretty good, doesn’t it?

It’s going to be OK.  Really.  Here’s all you need:

clothespins

Trust me on this.  I tried it on Friday and I’m still here.

Trumped Up!

There’s an old saying in bridge: “Get your trump out early.”  Apparently, the Republican Party is not populated by bridge players.

In the eight years since I started writing this blog, I’ve tried to find ways to explain the underlying reality or root cause of various issues, often political in nature.  In that time, I have been careful never to tell you how I voted or how I thought you should vote.

I’m changing that now. If you’re reading this, you probably know what’s coming, and maybe this is just piling on.  Please read it anyway.  And then tell your friends.  And ask them to tell theirs.

A while back, my brother asked me what I was going to do in this election.  Here is my answer:

“I have two choices – to hate myself a lot or to hate myself even more than that. When election day rolls around, I will go to The Container Store, buy a bag of 100 clothespins, put all 100 of them on my nose, and go vote for Hillary Clinton.  There’s a lot that I don’t like about her, and I don’t think she’s going to be a great president.  But she doesn’t pose a threat to the Republic. Donald Trump does.”

There.  I said it.

When this mess is over, I hope there will be some soul searching as to how we got to this ridiculous place.  I may have a few comments to offer in a subsequent post or two.  And I hope, but don’t expect, that the deepest soul searching will be done by the Republican Party, with which I used to identify, and which once was the noble Party of Lincoln. Today, it’s the Miracle Party.  The miracle is that they managed to make Ted Cruz look like a rational option.

Whether the soul searching happens or not (spoiler alert – it won’t), here’s what matters now:

  • Trumps lack of impulse control is legendary (see “Three Disastrous Debates” and “Awake at 3 AM Tweeting About a Former Beauty Pageant Winner’s Weight”).  This short article from the National Institutes of Health explains how impulse control is provided by the frontal cortex of the brain, which normally becomes completely developed around age 25.  Trump’s utter lack of such control suggests that this part of his brain either never finished developing or was damaged somewhere along the way.

Add all that up, and here’s what you get:

The Republican Party, in its infinite wisdom, has nominated for President of the United States, an ADHD-addled narcissistic sociopath with a significant brain defect.

I wish I were trying to be funny, but I’m not.  The appropriate response to people like that is to pity them and to help them as best we can.  It is not to elect them to the most powerful office on the planet.

So let’s not do that, OK?

Start Your Year With a Smile – 2016 Edition

It’s Year 6 of the photo blog and we’re going to dive right in.  This is my annual look-back at the year just ended.  What follows are the best pictures or screen captures I took (and in a few cases, that friends sent me) from all of 2015.  In one way or another, they are all about the things people choose to do and how they choose to express themselves.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I hope you find something that makes you laugh, and that you aren’t offended by the parts that are a little off-color.  As always, I refer you to my blog rule, which is that I never make anything up because I’m not nearly funny enough to come up with stuff as good as what real life provides.

With that, let’s get started.

My journalistic year started in January, when I paid a visit to Kohler, Wisconsin.  And I want to be absolutely clear about something:

Anyone who can turn a toilet factory into a tourist destination has my undying respect.

That said, the Kohler design center has an entire roomful of toilets, including a wall full of them that must be fifty feet high.  Standing atop that wall is this guy.

2015-01-17 12.46.36

I’m really not sure what he’s so joyful about.  After all, he’s gazing down on a roomful of toilets.  He looks like the toilet version of Rocky.  Maybe he’s feels like a king, in which case could this be his Throne Room?

The piece de plumbing resistance of this exhibit is Kohler’s remote control toilet.  Call me crazy, but I always thought the idea of a remote control anything is that you don’t have to touch, or even be near, the device in order to use it.  I’m not sure how that applies in this case.  Anyway, here is the remote’s screen.

2015-01-17 12.49.33

Yes, you can now have a toilet that will serenade you.

While we’re on the subject of toilet humor, there’s a high-rise going up across the street from the building I live in.  I walked out the front door one day and saw a handful of people on the sidewalk gazing skyward.  I looked up and saw this:

2015-10-06 07.21.37

It’s a little dark, but those blue things in the middle are a trio of Flying Porta-potties.  Trust me, there were lots of crossed fingers and a few prayers being said on the sidewalk.

In June, I had the great fortune to take a road trip with my daughter from Scottsdale, AZ, to Chattanooga, TN.  In Scottsdale, I happened to see this sign.

2015-06-03 10.13.04

I was curious, so I pulled in to see what it was for.  Here’s it is.

Lunch Box

As we were traveling, I discovered that there is indeed Welfare in Texas. . .

2015-06-04 16.34.43

. . .and that there are some roads probably best left less traveled.

Bad Route

At the end of the trip, we went up to the top of Lookout Mountain, TN, where we saw this:

2015-06-07 11.32.56

I’m thinking that Starbucks may have become just a bit too important in our culture.

We also saw this.  I’m pretty sure that “Restrooms” would have been entirely sufficient.

2015-06-07 11.51.28

At the bottom of Lookout Mountain, which actually puts it in Chattanooga, we came across this place.

2015-06-07 12.53.18

If you can’t make it out, this is the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum.  Aside from the history of the tow truck, it’s dedicated to those, and there appear to be many of them, who gave the last full measure of devotion.

2015-06-07 12.54.012015-06-07 12.54.13

 

 

 

 

According to the website, this year they will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tow truck.

While we’re on the subject of arcane museums,  I was back at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID, this summer.

2015-06-25 16.58.32

Yes, back. Second visit. This time when it was open.  Well, not quite open. I missed closing time by five minutes, but they were still there and opened it back up to give me a private tour. I think I heard someone in the back yelling, “Hey, we got one! We GOT one!!!!”  I picked up a souvenir, a Potato Museum hat, which caused my friend Lynne Marek to comment, “OK, never wear that thing around your kids.”

This is the kind of thing you can find at the Idaho Potato Museum. Where is Garrison Keillor when we really need him?

2015-06-25 17.20.17

Last year’s post contained an ill-advised and regrettable beaver-themed section. So does this year’s.

A Beaver Tail

2015-02-11 14.31.54

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, you can find yourself at the intersection of Big Beaver and Crooks.

2015-08-12 16.12.35

And what year would be complete without Flying Beavers?  I couldn’t get the video code to embed properly.  To see this 1-minute “film treasure” (their words, not mine!), just click here or on the picture below.

Flying Beavers 2

As always, there were a few great signs in, on or near businesses:

I’ll have whatever this place is serving!

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A great sign, seen in Seattle:

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From my friend, author Debra Dean (if you haven’t read her novels The Madonnas of Leningrad and A Mirrored World, do yourself a favor. . .stop reading this, go get them now, read them, then come back here. . .you’ll thank me for it), came this rainy-day picture of our friends at the Neptune Society offering a service that I thought went out with the Spanish Inquisition.

IMG_0510

 

This place is on North Avenue in Melrose Park, right across the street from a gun shop that has assault rifles on prominent display.

Red Star

Go back and take a closer look.  It does not way “Warehouse.” It does say “Bar.” And did I mention that it’s right across the street from a gun shop?

Bad grammar aside, I love seeing the poor, beleaguered Frozen Yogurt people take a stand.

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It is so good to know that that this company, in Elk Grove Village, IL, is keeping things clean.

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For a moment, I thought the T fell off this building, but it was only a shadow. Still, one can hope.

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It was another good year for things seen on, in or from cars.

Check out the model of the car, the license plate bracket and the first 3 letters on the license plate.

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The poor State of Illinois is so broke it is now private labeling vanity plates to neighboring Indiana.

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This one is a little hard to explain.  I only know what “twerking” is because Miley Cyrus did it once while performing on an awards show.  So last year, I thought it was pretty funny when I saw a car with a bumper sticker indicating that it’s owner was a (presumably proud) member of something called the  “Twerk Team.”  Imagine my surprise when this year I saw two more.  After all, I’m only one pair of eyeballs in a metropolitan area of 16 million eyeballs.  What are the odds?

2015-03-06 15.22.14

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These people are very proud of their pastime and their membership on this team.  I figure that if there are enough people like this to form a team, then there must be other teams, so that they can hold some kind of twerk-off.

If you’re like I was and are wondering what twerkers do, I have saved you the trouble of Googling “Twerk Team Chicago.”  Click this link and watch any video you like.  I can promise that all of your questions will be answered.  I can’t promise that you’ll be happy about that.

Moving on.

Who wouldn’t give their eyeteeth to be able to go a barbeque armed with this as the answer to the question, “So, Bob, who do you work for?”

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As my friend Mike Paton will attest, I am rarely rendered speechless.  This did it:

2015-06-05 License Plate

The State of Arizona went to great pains to make sure that this cow is udderly, anatomically correct.

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Another road to leave less traveled:

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Back on the business front, every now and then, I see something that makes me wonder about the conversation that led to it.  Here is this year’s winner.  I’m picturing a team that has been charged with coming up with a new feature to differentiate their bicycles.  They’ve spend a long, frustrating day in the conference room.  They are tired and sweaty, there are empty coffee cups all over the room.  They know that soon they have to go back to the boss with an answer.  Then, suddenly, a member of the team sits bolt upright and cries out, “Eureka!  I’ve got it!”

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If you can’t quite make out the writing around the hole in the middle it says “Perineal Safety Area.”

And the winner in the “Helpful Labeling” category:

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In the ever-popular Animal Hijinks category, here’s a TV show you wouldn’t want to miss:

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If you’re old enough, as I am, you might remember Morris the Cat of 9 Lives fame. It turns out that Morris was adopted from a shelter in Downers Grove. Who knew?

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And in that shelter was this guy, whose motto, I’m pretty sure, is “Because I can.  Sue me.”

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Lastly, thanks to my friend Bruce Onsager, who bought the boat, did all the hard work and invited me to be part of the adventure, I had the opportunity this year to sail the Chicago-Mackinac race. We sailed in the Cruising (read “slow boat”) division, and even then we were the finest ship and crew ever to finish last in their group.  Nonetheless, we crossed the finish line with the same crew we started with, which is a win in my book.

Along the way, I got to see this:

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That wasn’t part of what I expected from the race.  It occurred to me afterward that we can’t force these experiences. All we can do, and we should, is to put ourselves in places where we might have them.

I hope you will in 2016, and that it turns out to be an even better year for you than 2015 was.


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