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.
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.
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:
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.
I was curious, so I pulled in to see what it was for. Here’s it is.
As we were traveling, I discovered that there is indeed Welfare in Texas. . .
. . .and that there are some roads probably best left less traveled.
At the end of the trip, we went up to the top of Lookout Mountain, TN, where we saw this:
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.
At the bottom of Lookout Mountain, which actually puts it in Chattanooga, we came across this place.
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.
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.
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?
Last year’s post contained an ill-advised and regrettable beaver-themed section. So does this year’s.
A Beaver Tail
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, you can find yourself at the intersection of Big Beaver and Crooks.
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.
As always, there were a few great signs in, on or near businesses:
I’ll have whatever this place is serving!
A great sign, seen in Seattle:
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.
This place is on North Avenue in Melrose Park, right across the street from a gun shop that has assault rifles on prominent display.
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.
It is so good to know that that this company, in Elk Grove Village, IL, is keeping things clean.
For a moment, I thought the T fell off this building, but it was only a shadow. Still, one can hope.
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.
The poor State of Illinois is so broke it is now private labeling vanity plates to neighboring Indiana.
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?
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.
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?”
As my friend Mike Paton will attest, I am rarely rendered speechless. This did it:
The State of Arizona went to great pains to make sure that this cow is udderly, anatomically correct.
Another road to leave less traveled:
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!”
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:
In the ever-popular Animal Hijinks category, here’s a TV show you wouldn’t want to miss:
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?
And in that shelter was this guy, whose motto, I’m pretty sure, is “Because I can. Sue me.”
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:
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.