Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pythagoras and the Geometry of Gas

Sidewalk, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Pythagoras of Samos, the 6th century BCE Greek philosopher and mathematician, was a pretty clever fellow, even if he's the bane of the mathematically challenged. Pythagoras expanded Euclidean geometry, theorized on the transmigration of souls, and revolutionized thought on the mechanics of the universe. His genius beams across the ages. So it is not surprising that an employee from the Gas and Electric Company is apparently a practitioner of the Pythagorean System, a line of thinking which seeks to explain the geometric harmony of the heavenly spheres, as this scholarly diagram on a Charleston sidewalk so clearly demonstrates. Note the brilliant use of the term "gas" as a metaphor for swirling stars and planets. Observe with keen interest the position of the Sun and its neighboring planets, and their triangular relationship with one another. Simply amazing! Bravo gas person, Pythagoras would be proud!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blue Angel

Angel Oak, John's Island, SC  © Doug Hickok

It would be an understatement to say this old live oak has witnessed much change in the world during its time. Ancient beyond what many can imagine, the Angel Oak is estimated to exceed 1400 years in age. It was just a seedling when the Chinese were perfecting the water clock and the Great Wall was STILL under construction! Europe was entrenched in the Dark Ages. Not only was there no Facebook, no internet, no computers, there was no electricity! There was no France yet, and no French cuisine! In the tropical rainforests of Central America, the Mayas were building pyramids and inscribing calenders in stone. North America was largely wilderness, with no NASCAR, no football, and, dare it be said, no shopping malls! And the whole concept of Lady Gaga was simply inconceivable! Go figure!

(Photography note: The Angel Oak is not normally blue. It's certainly very green. I just added a little filtration to match the introspective mood of that day. Local lore relates that the spirits of slaves would gather around the tree and appear as angels, which I envisioned happening during the nebulous moment between day and night).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

From the Archives - A Zen Koan

Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
All Photos  © Doug Hickok

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And Quiet Flows the Dawn

Ashley River, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A peaceful morning in our lovely low-lying country. A little tidbit of local history is called upon I think. The Ashley River was named after 17th century English politician Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, who was one of the Lords Proprietors of the newly formed Province of Carolina. He was also the patron of philosopher John Locke, who everyone knows eventually went on to play an infamous role in the TV series LOST, sans powdered wig.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wagging the Camera

 Maple Tree , Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

With the beautiful autumn foliage peaking in Charleston, I thought I'd try portraying the warm colors with a photography technique I call "wagging the camera". This is setting a slow shutter speed for a long exposure and generally moving the camera around in front of the subject, in this case, a red maple in my front yard. You can try this technique with an assortment of subjects, such as shiny things, colorful things, brightly lit things, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert #3, hydroplaning tractor trailer trucks, Buckminster Fuller's t-square, pumpkin pecan pie, the stupas of Katmandu, bodkins, wadis, Vulcan's hammer, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, oblivion, Glaucous-winged Gulls, David Bowie's hairdo, regular-looking things, ziggurats, pseudo-intellectuals, Iman, stampeding herds of duck-billed platypuses, kazoos, page 62 from Dostoyevsky's
The Brothers Karamazov, the killer white bunny from Monte Python and the Holy Grail, shrubbery, self-propelling lawnmowers, perplexing stuff, Leonardo da Vinci's 

Vitruvian Manimmovable objects, The Eleusinian Mysteries (may be too obscure for most including myself), Red Hot Chili Peppers, psychedelic rock, Manifest Destiny, Inspector Clouseau's mustache, and silly run-on sentences. This is of course just the short list of suggested material. I'll post the long list another day. (My apologies, the font size seems to be weakening from the weight of too much nonsense).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

From the Archives - Happy Thanksgiving from the Caesars

Ruins of the Temple of Saturn, Roman Forum, Rome, Italy  © Doug Hickok

It may seem a stretch of the imagination to say the Caesars of Ancient Rome had significant influence on our modern day Thanksgivings. But it was here in the Roman Forum, along the Via Sacra, where the conquering Caesars famously held their triumphal processions, spectacles that often featured captives, hoards of treasure, marching bands and colorful floats. It was here the Caesars famously ate their salads topped with dressing and croutons. It was here the Caesars (especially the little Caesars) famously held their feasts of the pepperoni pizzas. It was such places as this where gastronomic reputations were born. Was not the esteemed warrior-philosopher, Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, renown for his fondness for pizza pies with extra cheese?
So it follows logically to conclude the Caesars had an indisputable influence on the way we celebrate today's holiday feast. After all, we do watch our parades, we do enjoy our salads and our dressings. And who doesn't love gobbling-up pizzas for Thanksgiving? Duh.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Shocking Truth About Yuccas

3 Yuccas, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

There hasn't been much in the headlines lately about yuccas, so you're probably wondering why that is. Could it be there's a media blackout, a government cover-up, a yucca conspiracy in the making? Is what "they" know about yuccas too unnerving for us to hear? So dangerous for the public that yucca knowledge must be hidden?
Well, I have the inside scoop, and believe now is the moment to reveal the shocking truth about yuccas. After all, someone must rise to the occasion... Yuccas actually belong to the lily family,
Liliaceae (WHAT!?). Yes, furthermore, the cup-like flowers open at night but aren't particularly fragrant (NO WAY, GET OUT!). It's a fact. And to make matters worse, the southeastern species, Aloe Yucca, yucca aloifolia, grows as tall as 25 feet! (SAY NO MORE, SAY NO MORE!).
Good citizens, it's time to revolt against the cover-up! Spread the word. The shocking truth about yuccas must be told!
To learn more, visit www.yuccamania.com ( Please note, Yuccamania should not be confused with any small Eastern European nations).

Also, coming soon to a city near you, Yuccapalooza!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A True Charleston Ghost Story

Market Hall, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Charleston has more than its share of ghost stories, but few are more curious than that of the Bicycle Taxi ghost. The tale begins like this...

While peddling across the Meeting and Market streets intersection, a speeding bicycle taxi suddenly collided with Firefly, a large, lumbering circus elephant, who had slipped on a banana peel while dodging a piano plummeting from the sky. The scene was a dreadful sight.
 Several bystanders claimed to have actually witnessed the ghost of the Bicycle Taxi departing into the spirit world.
As with many ghost stories, some suspension of disbelief is necessary, but I am told this tale really is true. If you're observant, it's not uncommon to see this unfortunate soul from time to time, especially at night in the haunts around Market Hall.
So don't be alarmed if you see a ghost. Do be alarmed if you see an elephant.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Great Morning for a Bike Ride

Ravenel Bridge, Mt Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok

Another beautiful sunrise on the Ravenel Bridge. Where else can you have such a string of marvelous weather but in the Lowcountry in autumn? When I lived in Iceland for a year we had a warm day once. Well, almost warm. More like lukewarm. Yes, that's it. We had a tepid day, once. But we still had to wear our mukluks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

From the Archives - Speeding Ambulance

 Krakow, Poland   © Doug Hickok

Krakow is one of my all time favorite places, where an abundance of visuals can be found around every corner, especially in and around the historic city center. This will be the first of many posts from a really cool but underrated European destination.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Beacon in the Night

Saint Michael's Church, Charleston, SC   © Doug Hickok

Saint Michael's Church, a prominent Charleston landmark soaring high above the Four Corners of Law, is the oldest of the Holy City's beautiful churches, dating back to the colonial era. Of some historical note is the little recognized fact that the structure which stood here previously seemingly no longer exists.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From the Archives - Thou Art Like A Stoic

Near the hamlet of Trenton, Maine   © Doug Hickok

Alas, methinks it not easy being the Maine Lobsterman cut-out, betrimmed in your spectacles and your slickers, your foolish grin displayed as though on stage for all the world to gape or leer at. Well then, as you like it. Mark ye gentlemen and gentlewomen, imagine the slings and arrows he must endure, the ill-blowing tempests, the benumbing winters, the tooth-picking tourists and their eye-offending antics, a-brandishing cameras before his merry visage, a-clicking, click, click, click. Pah! And you, brave sir, standing stolidly without so much as a blink or flinch, like Pericles or Julius Caesar in the face of perilous harm. Forsooth, would not even that good Greek sage Zeno make much ado about your valiant Down East stoicism? By my beard, that is well said, well said! And as with many a tale well told, all's well that ends well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lady Bedazzled by Blue

King Street, Charleston, SC   © Doug Hickok

A stylish lady she would not be, something missing above, that, she could not see, for the lady was bedazzled by the blue. So, you ask, what could I do? I simply clicked and waved adieu.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ode to the King Street Rider

Biker, Charleston, SC   © Doug Hickok

Fracturing the silence of night with a sudden crack, the dark biker roared past in a static blur of light and color, leaving behind in his wake once again the smooth stillness of night.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From the Archives - Old and New

Venice, Italy   © Doug Hickok
(Old World)
Cincinnati, Ohio   © Doug Hickok
(New World)

I like the contrast between the historical ages, the renaissance and the modern architectural styles and the contrast in materials, but I especially like the difference in line/shape patterns, warm/cold colors and the light/dark key.  Also, the best espresso I ever tasted was in the Caffe del Doge in Venice. Not so much so in Ohio.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Autumn Energy

The autumn cool infuses us with energy and the urge to be in the great outdoors...

Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC   © Doug Hickok

 A little patience and some good timing allowed me to capture this runner in Waterfront Park in mid stride. I also like the pathway as a leading line to the Carnival cruise ship in the background. Whether you're jogging or cruising, it is a great time to be in Charleston!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Road Trip IV - The Cabin

When Becky and I make our quick retreats to the mountains in North Carolina, we're very fortunate to stay at our friend's cabin just outside of Burnsville. Here are a few shots from in and around Dennis and Louanne's place...

All photos  © Doug Hickok

Great View of the Black Mountains from their back porch.
(In the vein of Hokusai, the Japanese Ukiyo-e artist and his Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji)

Road Trip III - Around Burnsville, NC

Becky and I drove some of our favorite routes on our most recent visit to the mountains. The area around Burnsville offers endless possibilities for exploration...
An old Apple Orchard along the Blue Ridge Parkway

A venerable ole apple tree of undetermined age
Three amigos with a splendid view
Fence line near Crabtree Falls area
Shadow of a winter Dogwood tree

Nostalgic spot in Pensacola, along hwy 197
Along the high ridges of Pisgah National Forest, Hwy 197
Glimpse of an era gone by
It was still autumn in some isolated spots in the mountains
All photos  © Doug Hickok

Road Trip II - Colorful Burnsville, NC

Becky and I make a visit to the mountains a few times a year, staying just outside Burnsville. This little gem of a town is packed with interesting visuals, a really fun place to visit...

All photos  © Doug Hickok

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Road Trip I - A Twist on Autumn Colors, Burnsville, NC

On our recent visit to Burnsville, Becky and I saw some remains of autumn color in the mountains of North Carolina. I experimented with long shutter speeds and moving the camera during exposure, and eureka! Some neat abstracts of color...
Panning with a twist
Twisting and spinning

All photos  © Doug Hickok
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