A New Wrinkle

Sunday, September 7, 2014,

Yesterday as I drove past the intersection of Summit Street and St. James Avenue in Fairhope, I was intrigued by what I took to be a new addition to the stop sign, a mysterious yellow contraption on the top. This intersection is on my walking route, so today I was able to inspect it more closely. To my surprise, I realized that the stop sign was a portable one.

Google Maps’ Street View clearly shows a fixed stop sign in the same location. I suppose it must have been knocked down.

As for the odd yellow device on the top of the stop sign, here’s a closer look:

My initial thought was that it might be some form of illumination although, since there’s a streetlight at the intersection, it’s hard to see why that would be necessary. Inspection did not reveal anything resembling a light source, either.

When I got home, however, and uploaded the photo and saw the embossed “Sundowner,” I was able to google and determine that it is actually the bottom part of one of these (an “LED barricade light”):

Obviously, when the stop sign is deployed at a construction site, this caution light is required.

Latest Construction Report

Sunday, September 7, 2014,

Construction in the neighborhood is definitely getting more interesting. It now appears that the house I wrote about last week will be getting more than a new façade. Judging from the marked-out area and the trenches dug presumably for footings for a foundation, a major addition to the front is planned.

Meanwhile, at the site I wrote about in June, where a vacant lot was created by demolishing a small stucco cottage, a slab was poured several weeks ago. It sat neglected until last Friday, when a load of lumber was delivered. Yesterday, some cut-up lengths of lumber could be seen piled on the slab, and this morning construction workers (at least six of them, as can be seen in the photo below) were at work by 7:30. By the time I went out for a walk about 10, they had made considerable headway on the framing.

This will all be very entertaining to watch.

Further Mayhem

Sunday, August 31, 2014,

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a house in the neighborhood that had been stripped of all its shrubbery. When I got out again last week I found an even more dramatic change—a house stripped of its front porch and (I later realized) siding.

I described this house five years ago, and the picture in that blog post is far better than the “Before” picture on Google Street View (below).

Here’s what it looks like now:

When I did a little research online, I found that the house had changed hands in March. It appears that the new owner is going to completely rehab it. I think it will have a better chance of success this time, as it is in the capable hands of our most notable local architectural firm.

Testing

Monday, August 11, 2014,

This is a test to see whether I can publish a post without pictures.

Mayhem

Monday, August 11, 2014,

Yesterday’s walk around the neighborhood, the first in a couple of weeks, revealed lots of changes in progress. Quite a few houses are for sale (Ashurst & Niemeyer seems to have the neighborhood sewn up), and others are undergoing construction, not to mention a new house going up on the site mentioned in my last post. But the most stunning change was in the house at 308 N. Bayview, which has apparently changed hands recently. Google’s Street View shows it like this:

081114_1957_Mayhem1.png

Mayhem2-sm

The house previously had a name: Mayhem.

Here’s what it looks like now:

Mayhem1

081114_1957_Mayhem4.jpg

Presumably the landscaping will be replaced with something lower, to permit the view of Mobile Bay that the address of the house promises:

Mayhem3-sm

Another Fairhope Cottage Lost

Monday, May 26, 2014,

This cottage at 112 N. Summit Street, a rental, but recently repainted and expanded, is now a graded vacant lot. Stay tuned for developments.

Relativity

Monday, January 27, 2014,

I’m currently taking a break from Trollope and reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch. It is, by current standards, a very leisurely book—not as maddeningly slow as those written by obviously-paid-by-the-word Trollope, but still not a good read for the impatient. I was therefore amused by the following passage, which contrasts Eliot’s narrative style (as she views it) with that of a notable predecessor:

A great historian, as he insisted on calling himself, who had the happiness to be dead a hundred and twenty years ago, and so to take his place among the colossi whose huge legs our living pettiness is observed to walk under, glories in his copious remarks and digressions as the least imitable part of his work, and especially in those initial chapters to the successive books of his history, where he seems to bring his armchair to the proscenium and chat with us in all the lusty ease of his fine English. But Fielding lived when the days were longer (for time, like money, is measured by our needs), when summer afternoons were spacious, and the clock ticked slowly in the winter evenings. We belated historians must not linger after his example; and if we did so, it is probable that our chat would be thin and eager, as if delivered from a campstool in a parrot-house. I at least have so much to do in unraveling certain human lots, and seeing how they were woven and interwoven, that all the light I can command must be concentrated on this particular web, and not dispersed over that tempting range of relevancies called the universe. [Emphasis added]

So much for those of us who might think that in Eliot’s day there was more time for reading!

Leaning In

Monday, January 20, 2014,

Presumably the trees are stretching toward the light, but what is the utility pole’s excuse?

Recommended Reading

Friday, July 12, 2013,

Readers who know me, or who have followed this blog, will know that, although I read a lot, I rarely buy books. For printed books, there is the library. For my Kindle, I look for free books, and that has generally meant that most of my downloads have been of out-of-copyright classics: I’m currently wading through The Complete Works of Anthony Trollope, for which I actually paid $2.99, but it was worth the price for nearly 50 MB of content including 47 novels, short fiction, plays, and assorted nonfiction, mostly pretty well formatted, with illustrations. The only real downside is that I never have any idea where I am in any given novel because the percentages are given for the entire file, of which I’ve currently read 16%.

In my pre-Kindle days, in preparation for a trip out of town, I would have swung by the Friends of the Fairhope Public Library’s used bookstore and picked up a handful of cheap paperbacks, preferably detective novels. Now, instead, I keep my eyes on the Facebook postings from Pixel of Ink and grab free Kindle books that look promising. Since June 2 I have grabbed eight free Kindle books and read six of them. For the most part, they were worth about what I paid for them; in a couple of cases, they were worth less (one started out so unpromising that I gave up on it, and another I finished even though it made me very uncomfortable). Even the ones that were engaging and well written suffered from moderate to severe need of copy editing. Only one—The Dirty Parts of the Bible—was a total standout in content, style, book design, and freedom from errors. I can recommend it without qualification.

But there was one other Kindle book that I took with me on my vacation, and I took the Kindle version only because the hard copy would not arrive until I got back. That was Jay Freedman’s Microsoft Word 2013 Plain & Simple. It was not a bad book on the Kindle, but the printed book is much more readable and far more convenient as a ready reference, which it is ideally suited to be. If you are a novice Word user, you will find the step-by-step, illustrated instructions in this book very clear and easy to follow, and probably 90% of the content of the book is also applicable to Word 2007 and 2010—and much of it to earlier versions as well. Full disclosure: The book (both copies) was supplied to me by the publisher at the author’s request, and I was very grateful to get it and am more than happy to be able to say nice things about it. Jay is a fellow Word MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) whom I’ve considered a friend for ten years or more. There is hardly any better way to get a broad understanding of the Word application than to, day in and day out, answer questions from users in all walks of life and areas of business, with varying requirements and a wide range of familiarity with the program, and I have always admired Jay’s ability to explain Word in terms that users can understand. That ability is put to excellent use in this book.

I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I’ve constantly been astonished by the completeness of its content. My experience with Word/Office books in the past has always seemed to be that they were very general—often more likely to boast of all the things Word could do than to tell you how to actually do them—and never seemed to answer the specific questions I had. Not this book. In addition to the basics on each page—one simple procedure with numbered steps, each step identified on a screen shot—there are colored boxes for TIPS (green), TRY THIS (red), CAUTION (orange), and SEE ALSO (blue). And Jay includes keyboard shortcuts (when available) for every command that is accessed from the Ribbon or a menu. Only very rarely have I seen him miss one (Alt+Shift+O to open the Mark Table of Content Entry dialog, for example), and so far I’ve found only one typo (“tab atops” for “tab stops” in a heading on page 186), and, coming from a copy editor, that is high praise.

The cover bills the book as “Your easy, colorful SEE-HOW guide!” It is certainly colorful. Each chapter has a colored stripe at the top of each page, the colors keyed to blocks in the table of contents, making specific material easier to locate—and just generally making the book more cheerful and attractive. It is a delight to look at and a pleasure to read, and I’m actually learning quite a bit. As I say, I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I also haven’t yet gotten around to installing Word 2013, and this book is definitely whetting my appetite!

Fairhope Graffiti

Monday, April 22, 2013,

Fairhope has traditionally been known as an “artists’ colony,” so I guess it should come as no surprise that even its graffiti are arty. The significance of them, however, so far escapes me.

Some months ago, I noticed this utility box on Fairhope Avenue:

At some later point, I began seeing the upper owl stencil on the backs of STOP signs around town:

I intended to take photos and blog about this at the time but hadn’t gotten around to it. Then I started noticing that someone had begun to obliterate the owls by painting over them with metallic paint, with varying success:

Alarmed, I decided I had better document the phenomenon before it vanished entirely, so I took my camera with me on my walk yesterday. To my surprise, the first “decorated” sign I found had a new stencil:

As can be seen, this stencil has also been added to the only remaining owl-stenciled sign. Furthermore, the next STOP sign I came to had this one:

I have no idea what any of this means. Gangs marking their territory? It would be a bit of a stretch to imagine a gang named the Owls, but Butterflies? Seems hardly likely. In addition, the meaning of the rather drippy ambigram (which seems to say “sapeades”) is totally unfathomable. I await enlightenment!


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