Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Odd Picture

Signs convey information. Two principles - brevity and clarity - both being necessary to efficiently communicate the intended message to most number of people; are at the heart of good sign design. In many cases, a symbol (or colors that signify certain ideas) can convey the message much more clearly and briefly than words. Several words would be needed to convey the same information conveyed by the symbol or color or a combination of both. Hence one finds more symbols and less words on street signs. Sometimes the combination of words used in a sign can convey a mildly comical message.

Here is an example which we encountered at a rest area off of I-89 in New Hampshire.

If you are traveling in New Hampshire...
Make sure your cat isn't on fire.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Of ghosts and goblins and ... pumpkins? The story of Halloween!

Of ghosts and goblins and... pumpkins? For the past few years, I've been intrigued by Halloween - of how it is represented in pop culture and what it represents...

For me, the most beautiful part of Halloween is the Fall season! Here are some recent pictures we took on our drive to see some Fall colors. We drove to the Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire. Online reports indicated that the Fall color seasons were at their peak and so I was really excited. I've seen Fall colors each year for the past 5 years - Pennsylvania is beautiful that way! But the stories I've heard about the New England Fall colors were inviting... Although most of the drive was done under cloud cover, we did get some nice shots of the colors!Okay, so coming back to Halloween... My first memory of Halloween is of pumpkin carving - the student center (HUB) at Penn State holds lots of different activities for students during Halloween - pumpkin carving being one of them. I wish I had some pictures to share - I remember carving out my pumpkin in some geometrical shapes... couldn't get myself to carve it into a jack'o... One of my friends grew up around upstate New York and the regular thing to do around Halloween time for him was pumpkin carving, apple cider, horror movies and Charlie Brown! The Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown... When I told him I had no idea what this was, he made sure I watched the cartoon with him one Halloween :-) Another year for Halloween he arranged a nice "horror" movie shindig for us and some great hot cider to go along with it! No Charlie Brown and Halloween's craziness for me this time, I'll be away during Halloween this year.

Anyway, while walking down to the T station two days ago I took a few pictures of some typical Halloween decorations around some houses. More pictures of Fall & other Halloween craziness here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The lighthouse bug!

Somehow, I've caught the lighthouse bug! Since moving to the east coast I've had a lot of chances to visit different lighthouses - mostly on Cape Cod and others along the shoreline in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Whenever I visit a lighthouse I think about what life in a lighthouse for the keepers must have been like a few hundred years ago - undoubtedly lonely ... on most days - I'd presume. Looking out into an empty, dangerous sea... Standing on the brink of humanity on one side and a vast expanse of nothingness on the other...

But think about what a lighthouse would have meant to somebody lost at sea, looking for land... A tiny flicker of light signaling rescue and life. And yet there are innumerable stories of devastation, when ships misjudged the rocks and the location of the lighthouse and directly slammed into them, throwing sailors into ice cold water. So maybe my conjecture is more romanticized than real. But that still does not preclude me from finding these beautiful beasts really really fascinating!

Have you ever seen/visited a lighthouse? I do not know why they are almost always white in color! Makes a good contrast with the sea, the land and a beautiful blue sky when you are taking a picture. That being the purpose of this blog, I want to share a few pictures I've taken this summer. I have another post on lighthouses, so I won't include the same ones again...

Woods End Light in Provincetown on Cape Cod

Portsmouth Harbor Light in New Hampshire

World view through the Portsmouth Light window

Stairs leading up to the top of the Highland Light (inside the lighthouse) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

In case you are interested in finding out a little bit more about different lighthouses on the New England coastline, please see this website. It is maintained by Jeremy D'Entremont and has lots of historical information, pictures and conservation information. I incidentally met Mr. D'Entremont while visiting the Portsmouth Harbor light and he gave us his visiting card, but I didn't even look at it until after we got home! I admire all the lighthouse pictures he has taken for his website and did not even know I was talking to him!

While I was writing this post, I realized that I knew nothing about lighthouses back home! Never heard of any... India has a long coastline and boasted a strong trade and commerce destination through ages. So there have to be at least some lighthouses around. A quick google search revealed a treasure! Here's a link hosted on the University of North Carolina server by Dr. Russ Rowlett who is a mathematics professor. This website has tons of information about lighthouses in many different countries! If you have a little bit of time, click on a few links - the variety of the structures in different parts of the world is impressive, to say the least... I stand corrected - white seems to be the way for New England lighthouses, but others around the world are much more colorful! Needless to say, I'll be spending some time on this website in the next few days... wonder if anybody is actually taking care of these national treasures back home...