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Old 05-13-2011, 06:07 PM   #1
Spartandude OP
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Cool2 Dilly Dallying

Sometimes I just want to stop and take pictures on my daily commute or go riding at lunch. Please join me as I explore around my daily life:

I had read of a small museum called the Byzantine Fresco Chapel in Houston (http://www.menil.org/visit/byzantine.php). It is located near the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Since reviews had said to visit it instead of Rothko Chapel I decided to visit both.

I am fortunate enough to have an hour lunch break and walked out to my dirty, dirty bike (road grime not mud, don't get excited).



The Chapel had quite a few grade school kids outside of it and I was worried that it would be rather busy and noisy. So I popped inside while their teacher was talking about the museum.

Inside I was greeted by a knowledgeable gent who explained that the chapel was a collection of remains of "thirteenth-century Byzantine frescoes that had been looted from their original home in a small chapel in Lysi, Cyprus" (quoted from their website). Unfortunately he also explained that any photographic equipment was expressly forbidden. When I asked why he explained it was about the "sanctity of the worship space." Hmm...I don't think God would mind if I took pictures, but I was told "no" so I complied. Sometimes I wish I was less of a obedient individual.

Entering the chapel I was struck with the beauty of the presentation of the frescoes. The original chapel was "ghosted" into being with frosted glass and the frescoes ensconced in their original positions. The amount of work that was put in to bring the individual bits of the original back into a composite whole was most impressive. I felt a sense of ease and quiet and was most chagrined with the raucous roar of my boots. Squeak! Squeak! In the quiet chapel.

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Some pictures from their web site I wholly recommend visiting if you are in the area:


Byzantine Fresco Chapel interior. Photo: Paul Warchol

The original Chapel:


Exterior of original chapel, Lysi, Cyprus, 1987. Photo: Laurence Morrocco

The fresco:

Christ Pantokrator, dome fresco photo: Paul Warchol

I went out into the courtyard and Figured it was okay to snap my own pictures of the outside. I liked the water feature with the stone wall broken by the random spout.



I then went and visited the Rothko Chapel (http://www.rothkochapel.org/index.ph...&id=3&Itemid=6). It is a chapel for every faith and has the holy books of about 15 different religions and devotionals. I should have been more at peace here as I really like the concept. I respect other religions as I follow my own. However, it was dark and brooding. I do not believe it was the concept that was at fault, but rather the execution. Instead of the light well lit glass and the bright colored frescoes this chapel presented a dark, dim, blank canvas. For how large the room was it felt small and claustrophobic. Again no photography allowed; maybe one of the other deities doesn't like pictures.



Rothko Chapel Interior. Photo by Chad Kleitsch, 2009. . All Rights Reserved

I walked out to the bike and took a last picture before I went back to my desk. I did take it in color, but I liked the sepia result better.



I took more pictures, but the rest didn't make the cut. If you want to see them anyway or if you want to get ahead of me check out my smug mug:
http://spartandude.smugmug.com/Motor...420680_Z5rsSNk

Spartandude screwed with this post 05-27-2011 at 01:23 PM
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Old 05-14-2011, 04:38 PM   #2
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Usually the issue is with the camera flash being hard on the frescoes over time. Since most folks shoot on auto and have no idea how to suppress the flash, it's easier to just say "no photos".

Sounds like a real cool place though, thanks for sharing it.
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:18 AM   #3
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"Texas City is mostly surrounded by a 17-mile (27 km) long levee system that was built in the early-1960's following the devastating floods during Hurricane Carla in 1961" - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_City,_Texas).

I cross over this levee on my commute and stopped to take a pic of the graffiti that someone decided to paint on the train water gate buttresses.

"Keep Learning"; not a bad statement. This picture does not in any way condone the actions of defacers of property.



Color break!



And back at my bike:


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Old 05-16-2011, 12:57 PM   #4
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I like it. Those are some pretty good shots. I like your framing as well as your eye for composition. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:30 AM   #5
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I swung by the Glassell School of Art and sauntered through their sculpture garden. I guess I was jaded by my recent visit to the Smithsonian (go figure), but I thought it was kinda' bleh.

The left most panel of this sculpture reminded me of some quark paths from collider research (oops, my nerd is showing).



This one was sort of creepy and reminded me of a wasp nest.



At least they had a nice backdrop for my lovely bike. Not a recommended place to visit. Well unless you want art classes...

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Old 05-18-2011, 10:52 AM   #6
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Great pics. I'm relatively new to the Houston area and this gives me some ideas for a ride. We used to own a small house in Galveston. Lots of "interesting" places on the island.
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskeygut View Post
Great pics. I'm relatively new to the Houston area and this gives me some ideas for a ride. We used to own a small house in Galveston. Lots of "interesting" places on the island.
Oh, definitely. I've got plans for some of those as well.
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:16 PM   #8
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At DeBandi's suggestion I checked out the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey. Unfortunately I didn't find a whole lot in Houston proper (now Galveston on the other hand...). I did find the Willow Street Sanitation Complex.

It was built in 1902 and the architecture looked intriguing. It was Houston's first sanitation station. If you want more info check out http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/displa...splayProfile=0

Or Search LOC for the Willow street sanitation complex.

But if not just check out these cliff notes:

Storage building and incinerator in the background:


My pic. And before you jump on me for leaving my precious noggin cradle poised so precariously I immediately removed it after the picture. ADV plug everywhere I go.



The Pump station was much more cool looking, but not on the outside.



See. Cool old tech. Looks like the center of the three pumps in the drawing is no longer there.



Still old school tech looks a lot less user friendly than automatic stuff:



I found a tiny hole in the wall restaurant I will have to check out later.

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Old 05-26-2011, 11:03 AM   #9
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This whole mucking about in my back yard has given me a new appreciation of beautiful places. Not because Houston and its environs are pretty, but precisely because they aren't. I may have to concede that my local neighborhood does not fit the criteria for multiple back yard posts in the rules section. However, the search for the intriguing in the mundane, the finding of beauty in the barrage of unsightliness and stumbling on peaceful scenes in the deluge of commercial advertising has been a cathartic relief to my typical hum drum.

The first break that I get from the insanity of the retail world is the inland waters of the gulf and this tree in particular. Every day I see this lone plant standing in a roadside park. I enjoy the changing of what little seasons that we have and the light play on the leaves and marshes, but like the bird I must fly on from this spit of land.



On one particular day the weather was not playing nice for my gallivanting. I arrived home after work with everything covered in a thin layer of mist. It was the first precipitation we have had in weeks, even with the over casting clouds. Since my dear wife would not appreciate me tracking my rain soaked and grime covered boots through the front door I went around back to open the garage and saw my palm tree had sprouted new fronds. They had been standing straight up this morning and though they had relaxed outward the individual blades had not fully unfurled their green glory.



Riding over the causeway to Galveston my eye was drawn to the flowering shrubbery that the tourist board had set along the side of I-45 (http://spartandude.smugmug.com/Motor...DSCN1737-L.jpg), but once I had pulled over my eye was drawn more to the architecture of the bridge itself. It was like a cathedral in the worship of transportation.



I found a road that leads to a perfect vantage point to show you the top of the causeway, but I have been searching for weeks for some natural light that isn't dull, grey and boring. Finally yesterday I was trapped at work for a project and for an audit on the new line of procedures that we must follow and didn't get to hop on the bike 'til 6:30. on the way back I was treated to the warm sun beams and fluffy clouds that I have come to love and just had to share them with you.



I thought the juxtaposition of the thorns and the man made monstrosity in the background was an interesting counterpoint.


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Old 05-27-2011, 07:04 AM   #10
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"What is this crazy idiot doing?" - bird.



If you have to wait for low tide to ride a motorcycle on a trail that has rocks bigger than your head and covered in slimy algae it is probably a good sign that you shouldn't ride it with a cruiser with balding tires.






I didn't even get close to the sunken sailboat.

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Old 06-01-2011, 11:07 AM   #11
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Thumb Latin Bites Cafe

I had ridden by this little cafe earlier in this thread and didn't have time to stop. So when I was a Dumb$%) and forgot to bring my lunch on Friday I decided to ride back and visit.

Parking was free, but in an...interesting locale. Actually it's not that bad.



This is the front that brought me back to the Latin Bites Cafe. I love the old school architecture. They do have outdoor seating, but it was a little bit warm so I went in.



Inside I was seated and shown excellent service by the friendly staff. They gave me a warm roll with huacatay sauce. I ended up going with the Polo something or other. Mmm...tasty. The chicken had a smoky flavor and the peppers gave flavor without a lot of heat. Now, if you want heat ask for their hot sauce (I was too skeerd).



While I was eating I watched the wait staff, chefs and the hostess interact with the regular customers. Everyone seemed to know each other on a first name basis and the head chef (Roberto) stopped by to ask how my food was. Unlike most restaurants the workers seemed happy and were constantly joking and having a good time. Now when I asked to take a picture the smiles went away and the "serious" face came out. Here one of the chefs is working on the ceviche line for which they are most famous.



The hostess stopped by my table and asked how my meal was and when I queried about the cookies in the cabinet she gave me one. It was two soft white cookies sandwiching dolce de leche and covered in powdered sugar. It tasted even better than it looked, but if you want to see it don't say I didn't warn you http://spartandude.smugmug.com/Motor...DSCN1874-L.jpg. Although it is not an inexpensive restaurant it was not terrible either. If you happen to be in Houston look this place up and check out their ceviche. I am going to take my wife here when I get the chance. I took a pic of their card if you want more information: http://spartandude.smugmug.com/Motor...DSCN1876-L.jpg

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Old 06-02-2011, 10:46 AM   #12
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This is the former Galveston city incinerator (for my info source see http://galvestondailynews.com/story....0af939b0049e0e). Built in 1943 and decommissioned in 1955 this piece of junk was abused into failure by misuse, mismanagement and laziness. For years DDT was stored in bags and firefighters would train here by dumping gasoline and diesel fuel on the ground and lighting it. Now it is contaminated by "heavy metals; semivolatile organic compounds... and organochlorine pesticides". Lovely. Maybe I won't ask permission to enter. Still it looks cool in a post apocalyptic Chernobyl esk kinda vibe. Come to think of it Chernobyl may be safer to visit.



Moving on to prettier settings I have been riding passed the Sacred Heart Catholic Church for years and never took the time to photograph it. Originally built in 1892 it was destroyed in the cataclysmic hurricane of 1900. Still the worst US natural disaster in terms of loss of life.



It was rebuilt in 1904, but the dome was damaged in the hurricane of 1915 and rebuilt into its present grandeur.





I then rode to my sweetie's work and while I waited for her to come down and get me I snapped a few pics.




Color break!



Remember some places have fences for a reason.


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Old 06-02-2011, 04:52 PM   #13
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Daily riding is what we can usually do the most and it's so important to be mindful of the details. I hope to see more pictures like these.
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by conchscooter View Post
Daily riding is what we can usually do the most and it's so important to be mindful of the details. I hope to see more pictures like these.
Thank you. I do this ride report for my sanity, but it is nice to that I'm not wasting the inmates time.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:44 AM   #15
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"By 1899 Galveston was the world's foremost cotton port and the fifth most important port in the United States. Innovative ideas like the high density compression of cotton developed at Galveston kept the wharves competitive... It did most of the cotton compressing and exporting until the compress industry moved inland." - http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/o...articles/etg01

"The Webb 90 press...the press is steam actuated and includes a main stream (sic) cylinder of impressive size...requires a crew of approximately 30 people to operate at an average throughput of about 100 bales per hour...a more dangerous implement is probably not now in wide use in the United States. It is somewhat surprising that the accident rate involving cotton presses is quite low. The explanation for this phenomenon is that the press is so clearly dangerous that workmen quickly learn to be careful and the workmen look out for each other."-United States Patent US4391186

These cotton presses are magnificent pieces of abandoned machinery and I had been wondering what they were for some time. After deciding to visit them I rode homeward on I-45 and the sun's brutal intensity made me worry that any pictures would not turn out. Sure enough I was correct. The only one I liked was this detail of the follower mechanism.



So, when I awakened the next morning to a red glow due to the impending storm system I had to go back for more pictures in better light.





Although the storm brought little to no rain in Galveston it blew past my office with a short burst of fury. I was so glad I could wait a bit to let it blow by. When I checked the radar there was a space a few hours wide with just sprinkles and I went for it. Arriving in Galveston the sun was just peaking over the clouds.



Question: are these picture big enough? I am only using the large sized from smugmug.

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