Vault Lights

Vault Lights

Vault Lights

Vault lights, also known as sidewalk or pavement lights, are those old glass prisms set into sidewalks to let light into vaults and basements below. They first originated in the 1840s, aboard sailing ships. Prisms were used instead of flat glass to disperse the light over a larger area. Nowadays these bits of glass appear to be purple, but originally the glass was clear. Manganese added to the glass as a decolorizer, eventually turned purple after years of UV exposure from the sun. We saw these vault lights during our tour of underground Seattle last month.

I work in a vault, but sunlight never penetrates it, not even through purple vault lights. Instead like everywhere else, electric lighting has supplanted vault lights. On the rare occasions that electric power is lost, the room becomes as black as a cave. I keep a flashlight on my desk, for just such eventualities, so I can find my way out. I got my fifteen minutes of fame today at work, but it took ten hours to get it. That is too long a time for too little a reward.

Looking Up

Last night I had a thought, gentlemen now-a-bed shall think themselves accursed they did not see the blood-red moon. It was an eerie sight and must have scared our ancient ancestors to no end, when one of these eclipses occurred. They lived in a time when demons and spirits roamed the earth and the night was as ominous as the day was bright.

I got up last night at 2:30 AM CDT and observed and photographed the total lunar eclipse, the so-called blood-red moon. It was much darker than a normal full moon, but then it is in the earth’s shadow. It gets its red color in much the same way as sunrises and sunsets are red in hue. The only sunlight that shines on this moon and is then reflected back to earth, must first travel through the earth’s atmosphere and be refracted around the earth’s limb. I stayed up until 3:30, witnessing the totality of the totality. Anne got up and took a peek at it too.

Checking Facebook the next morning, I was not alone in having posted photos of the eclipse. Both Gina and Kelly had posted photos too. As awesome as this experience was, there was a downside and that first occurred at 6 AM. With fifteen minutes until the alarm would go off, Anne rolled over again and muttered, “Sleep harder, dammit!”

Easter Greeting

Easter Greeting

Easter Greeting

The above greeting card was framed and mounted on the wall of the Pike Brewing Company in Seattle. Located at Pikes Market, it is an eclectically attired place. Unlike another bit of memorabilia that I have written about, Michigan Memories, this one was posted without any explanation. It is a bit of a puzzle. There is the Star of David in it, but it is captioned, “Easter Greetings”. The two chicks look vaguely Eastern European, but what is the significance of the one chick’s bandaged foot. Is the chick behind the bar Jewish and the other gentile? Their hats look like clues, but they are clues now lost to time. I’m guessing that if you knew who sent the card and to whom, things would be clearer. Missing that information, the card remains a mystery to me, but it seems friendly enough, so maybe it is no more significant than the caption implies, a holiday greeting.

Today is the first day of Passover and this is Holy Week in the Christian tradition. This Sunday is Easter. At a time when both these faiths are marking holidays of deliverance, the events of yesterday in Kansas City become especially heartbreaking. A lone gunman attacked a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement home and killed three people. A known anti-Semite, neo-Nazi and convicted felon, this man had wanted to kill Jews. The fact that such a man haled from Missouri, my adopted state, makes the pain of these events all the more personal and tragic. 

The Art Of Riding

On Saturday, Anne and I participated in Trailnet’s first bicycle ride of the season. This one was one of Trailnet’s community events, which are newer than their more traditional Bicycle Fun Club events. The Fun Club events are usually hammer-fests out in the country, while the community rides usually occur within the city limits and are more themed than the Fun Club rides. The community rides are also free, while there is a fee for the Fun Club ones. On the community rides there are fewer riders, usually less than fifty and an effort is made to keep the group together.

“The Art of Riding” as the name implies was a public art themed ride. We started at the Pulitzer Museum. The let us in the museum while we were gathering, but you had to take your shoes with cleats off and walk barefoot through the museum. Their exhibit there featured a collection of artists, one of whom had created a bed of moss, queen-sized. I had to resist the urge to walk on it barefoot. I don’t think that the staff would have approved.

We visited five Saint Louis artists on this ride. The first artist was a woman who had built her own portable art studio out of a pedicab tricycle. Her project is called NOD, for North of Delmar. She has set up camp just north of the Grand Arts District, which happens to end at Delmar. Her work is a community outreach project. She was all setup when we got there had had an interactive project for everyone to participate. Then she showed us how her studio folds up and rode off with us as we headed towards our next stop.

The next three artists were ones that we had visited on last year’s ride. Our next stop was in the Grove neighborhood, where a muralist showed off her “Evolution of the Bicycle” mural to us. We almost rode past her; our point guide was so determined at that moment. Just outside the garden, we met the yarn bombing artist again and then we rode to Jefferson, where Peat “Eyes” Wollaeger has opened a store. One of his colleagues was operating a quad-copter, with a GoPro camera mounted in it. $900 from B&H with the optional gimbal mount, in case you were wondering, Jay. ;-)

It makes a sound disturbingly similar to that of a hornets nest. Many people found it distracting, while Peat was doing a demonstration of his technique. I think Peat got a little annoyed at that. Our final stop was at the Yeyo Arts Collective, an African-American community arts collective. They looked like they have just opened up shop. On the way back to Grand Center, we peeled off for the Central West End. We had lunch outside at Kopperman’s, in business since 1897.