Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beautiful Science

John and I splurged on an evening out the other night. We planned ahead, made reservations and bought tickets for a special event: the curator tour of a new permanent exhibit at the Huntington Library. It's called Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World.

Dan Lewis, the Huntington's Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology, somehow got this wacky idea that science is beautiful. He went about putting together an exhibit of books and objects significant to the history of science as well as beautiful in and of themselves. Lewis gave an introductory talk to the 20 of us who were lucky enough to have made reservations early. Then he let us loose.

The Huntington Library already owned a vast collection of books relating to the history of science when, in 2006, it received the donation of the 67,000-volume Burndy Library from the Dibner family of Connecticut. This new exhibit features some of the most significant books and manuscripts of the now-combined collection (think Edwin Hubble's copy of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus), augmented by other fun stuff - like a prism experiment, antique medical models and the coolest collection of light bulbs I've ever seen.

Not that I've seen a lot of light bulb collections. But!

I love books, especially rare and ancient ones. I marvelled at 13th century astronomy books. I gaped at the sight of at least a hundred volumes of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species in different languages and editions, lined up in a special case in a red room. I liked the optics room with its twinkly lights and I think kids will especially love it. But my favorite was the section on medicine and childbirth, with its gruesomely beautiful texts and drawings from the days when medicine was first breaking taboos to learn the workings of the human body.

The 16th century astronomy book above has colorful moving dials for measuring the heavens. Behind it is a mural created specifically for the exhibit, depicting the view you'd see if no wall separated you from a San Gabriel Valley night without light pollution - something like what Hale and Einstein might have seen over 75 years ago.

More pics tomorrow.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Edmondson Alley

Recognize the "free range baby palm tree"? (Thanks, Elaine.)

Turn south of yesterday's photo and you'll see more of Edmondson Alley - lots more. Until Trish mentioned it (see yesterday's post), I hadn't known this alley existed. It's just one of the million little things I have yet to explore in Pasadena.

Well. Not so little. Edmondson is a long alley, stretching from the south end of Central Park at Del Mar all the way down to Glenarm. Eight straight blocks of Edmondson Alley, between Fair Oaks and Raymond, wait to be photographed.

You can read a fascinating bit of history about Edmondson Alley in the History: Planning section of the Wikipedia entry about the Pasadena Freeway. The Alley was originally an elevated wooden bikeway that started at Hotel Green (which explains why the alley starts at Central Park) and ending at the Raymond Hotel.

For you non-Pasadenish, the Hotel Green once stood across the street from Castle Green, which still looms north of Central Park. Alas, South Pasadena's Raymond Hotel no longer stands.

Eight blocks of Alley. Castle Green. Central Park. Tip of the old iceberg. If I could make a living posting pictures of and digging up info about alleys, hotels, stores, coffee shops, pretty houses and civic activities, I'd do it. (Who wouldn't?)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Am Curious (Yellow)

In comments on a November post called Old Paint, Trish mentioned Edmondson Alley near the Pasadena Humane Society. She said there had once been " interesting painted walls back there that I am sure are gone now too."

Trish, the paint is gone but the walls are still interesting.

Commenters send me to all kinds of places. You may have sent me an email ages ago and thought I had forgotten. I haven't. I have a long list and a short schedule and I mean to get everywhere. I don't know if I'll manage it, but Pasadena has many corners and I'm still loving every minute I spend photographing them.

Thanks for your suggestions. They send me to discoveries.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tangled Weblog

I took this shot in Sierra Madre yesterday because it was colorful and fun. Karin (the Altadenahiker) and I were meeting at Bean Town to try the soup because Cafe Observer had told us it was good. (Turns out he was right).

Karin had just finished her ceramics class. If you've ever checked her blog you may know it's a new skill she's learning, and she admires Pasadena Adjacent's expertise. There was a frog challenge going on at one point. PA created a frog drawing, then Karin (the Altadenahiker) incorporated it into a ceramic tile. Pretty soon Laurie of Glimpses of South Pasadena posted about it on her other blog, Glancing About. It may still be my turn to come up with something froggish in response.

As Karin and I returned to our cars, she pointed out this building, the one I'd photographed before meeting her at Bean Town. "That's where I take my ceramics class," she said. I looked for frogs on the premises, but found none.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Zen Tuesday: #4

On Zen Monday (or in this case, Tuesday) you experience the photo and tell us what you think, rather than me telling you what to experience from viewing it.
There's no right or wrong.
If the photo evokes something in you, that's all it is.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Theme Day: Circles/Spheres

When I learned of this month's theme, the first thing I thought of was this sphere at the corner of Union and Oak Knoll. It's part of an untitled artwork by Mark Lere that comprises three large pieces.
The work vexes me. It's captivating. I like looking at it. I might even like it, though I'm not sure about that. I've made several attempts to photograph it, but I'm never satisfied with the pictures.

187 City Daily Photo Blogs are participating in today's theme. Visit someplace new today and expand your circle! Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

(Tune in tomorrow for a special edition of Zen Tuesday.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Paint

I found this old paint in the alley between what is now Steve's Altadena Hardware and Rituals Studio for Hair on Mariposa. I've processed the hell out of the picture to try to make the letters stand out, but all I can say for sure is that the first word is "Altadena" and the last two words are "Dept. Store." Does anyone know what the rest of it says? (The red squares indicate where earthquake reinforcement has been done. I covered them in an earlier post.)

While I was there I peeked into the hardware store. It's getting fixed up! Don't freak out, they're just painting in the east end of the store. If I'm not mistaken that's where Steve's going to add his bike business, which he's moving from Lake Avenue.

I've never met Steve Salinas, but I think I like this guy. He stepped in and saved a long-standing, much-loved Altadena business in a practical way. Steve's Bike Shop gets great customer reviews. And does he also own Steve's Pets? Careful, people, soon it's going to be Steve's Altadena!

(Tomorrow is City Daily Photo Blog theme day, so we'll do Zen Monday on Tuesday.)