Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meet "the Dude"

The Dude, a year old bearded dragon, sits on the front counter of the Mill Avenue store called "Those Were the Days". The store, full of antiques and used books, is closing after 35 years. It's very sad, it was the last of the older stores on Mill. It's tough to watch things change, but they do. According to the dude's owner, the shop owners want to retire and move on from managing their store. They own their building so it wasn't high rents that pushed them out, just a desire to move on. I'm happy I got to meet the dude and his owner, one of the things I like most about this blog project, striking up conversations with people and lizards to get the Tempe Daily scoop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PF Chang's China Bistro

PF Chang's China Bistro on the corner of Mill Avenue and University - a great place for dinner. We ate Wontons, Dumplings, Crispy Honey Shrimp, and Mongolian Beef with brown rice. Mmmm Mmmm. Happy Birthday Andre!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Those Were the Days

The antique and used book store known as "Those Were the Days" is going out of business after 35 years on Mill Avenue. It was the best place on Mill for a nostalgia fix.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Concrete Enhancements

A concrete path circles Tempe lake - a great place to rollerblade, bike, walk, jog, or meander. All along the path are fossil-like impressions of native and endangered fish, plants, mammals and reptiles, by artist Laurie Lundquist. This looks like a Colorado pikeminnow, the largest minnow in North America, endangered - as are most native fish in Arizona.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

100th Post of the Tempe Daily

Hurray! This makes 100 consecutive photos. Arizona folks and vexillologists will recognize this as the star from the Arizona's state flag. Tempeans will recognize it as the star on the side of the Mill Avenue bridge.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Salt River Art

The tiles in this section of the art project at north Tempe Lake include a saguaro cactus in bloom, the Salt River (with people in float tubes), a peace sign, a car, an upside down cat, a man with a tie, a woman with somewhat bulging eyes, and a handful of tiles etched with student names.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Salt River Art

A small section of the 545-foot-long mural located along the Red Mountain Freeway, on the north side of Tempe lake. Approximately 50,000 handmade and photo-screened tiles representing the past, present and future of the Salt River area were used to create the mural. The project took four years and was completed by school children and community members.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Racing Shells

Colorful racing boats on a rack at the Tempe Lake Marina. Sculling is a popular activity on the lake. Rowing classes are offered through the City and teams practice their cadence. I like watching these boats skim across the water, especially the ones with crews of 4 or 8 + a coxswain. The movements are so precise and balanced.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quotes of the Day

Alongside one of the new light rail stations, near Rural and University, is a giant multi-layered sphere etched with great quotations. I really like the ones shown here, "Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life" (Kant) and "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever" (Gandhi)

I'm heading to northern California tomorrow and don't know what the internet situation will be; my posts will be automated through next Wednesday. If I have internet I may post updates to my bat blog, as I'll be out batting, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Horse'n" Around

Tempe has plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun, including 48 city parks. These include neighborhood and mountain parks with the usual amenities like soccer fields and playgrounds as well as special amenities like dog parks (Tempe has 5), mountain biking trails, and several urban lakes for fishing.

Papago Park is located north of Tempe Lake between Mill and Rural, stretching north to the Phoenix Zoo. It's a place to mountain bike and hike among the rocky hills and buttes, and you might even see big horn sheep standing on an isolated boulder on the zoo grounds. But one of the amenities that I think is just great is the nearby, long-standing Papago Stables. Papago Stables is family owned and operated - one of the oldest riding stables in the Valley (as we refer to the Phoenix metro area). Bill and Samantha Scott opened the stable in 1965 at its Tempe location to the south of Papago Buttes. Not many businesses can boast such a long history, but with all the new development happening throughout Tempe and to the east and west of this very rural looking stable, I hope it persists. The hay, stalls, horse smells, smiling trail riders, and outdoor riding pen give character to the otherwise perfectly manicured boat marina to the west and fancy lakeside condos to the east. What a treat to have the option of trail riding in the middle of our big little city!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On or Off?

Do you remove your shoes before entering your home, or wear them inside? Removing one's shoes is a sign of respect to the house, and is a deeply ingrained cultural habit throughout Asia. It is likely a practice that billions have (if you consider China, India, and Japan alone), but may be less common in the U.S. - nevertheless, I know many in the U.S. do remove their shoes - including at least this ASU student, whose shoes point toward campus. I've seen the subject debated, and it seems silly to me. I mean, if you want to wear your shoes inside, more power to you. And if you don't, great. In my opinion, the argument not to take shoes off, however, is a bit weak when you consider the overall benefits of taking them off. It almost seems a bit mindless to leave them on, with the exception of those who leave them on for some purpose (maybe they need arch support?).

Consider this: shoes are dirty. They are that thin bit separating you from everywhere you've been. You know where you've been. And on your travels things stick - lead, pesticides, oil, dirt, public bathroom floors - all deposited on your home floor to become part of the indoor air that you breathe.

And then consider that removing one's shoes can be a mindful practice - each opportunity to do something even as simple as removing shoes can bring attention to where you are, right now. Your bare feet touching the floor - whether natural fibers or the smoothness of wood - is an entirely different connection than your shoe touching the floor. As someone famous once said, "the foot feels the foot when it feels the ground."

Saturday, July 19, 2008


The Lattie F. Coor Hall, named after ASU's fifteenth president - presiding when I graduated in 1996. Several departments are housed in this building, including Political Science, Philosophy, History, Sociology, Chicana/Chicano Studies, and Speech and Hearing Science. It is also home to the Centers for Latin American Studies, Russian and East European Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Asian Studies.

From a different angle, you can see text fragments and letterforms, etched on the glass fa├žade. These are part of the latest, and largest, work of public art on campus. Chicago artist BJ Krivanek, commissioned by project architects Gensler and Jones Studio, selected letters from several Latin-based, Native American and Asian languages, as well as numbers and punctuation marks, to represent the universal potential of language. He designed the building so the text fragments are cast on an inner, opaque wall.

I like the giant "EXPLORE" reflection. I love to explore!

Friday, July 18, 2008

the Library

For me, browsing through a library or a bookstore is always the same - exciting and full of possibility. I have always loved books, literacy, words; I have always wanted to know about everything. Apparently, I'm not alone. Collecting written knowledge and keeping it in a repository is as old as civilization itself. The ancient Greeks were especially interested in literacy and intellectual life. The biggest movement to finance libraries in the U.S. was by Scottish-American philanthropist and businessman, Andrew Carnegie. From 1900 to 1917, his foundation constructed nearly 1,700 public libraries. I can't imagine growing up without a library, the crinkle of a mylar book jacket just opened to reveal something colorful, something ordinary, something extraordinary. Even today, hearing that sound gives me that familiar feeling of anticipation.

Tempe's public library is located on the southwest corner of Rural and Southern. The Connections cafe inside the library was my telecommute choice today: tables, free wifi, coffee, sandwiches, and thousands of books. That's a great atmosphere.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Steel Trestle Bridge, Below Yesterday's Plane

The Salt River Union Pacific Bridge is significant not only because of its age and size, but also because of is durability in the face of heavy flooding, which destroyed three previous bridges in this location. It is on the site of the earliest railroad crossing of the Salt River. The first railroad bridge, built at this crossing in 1887, was washed away in 1891. The second bridge fell victim to a flood in 1905.

During 1905, the newly organized Arizona Eastern Railroad built a bridge on a slightly different alignment. It was founded on ten sets of concrete-filled steel cylinder drums anchored in the bedrock of the river. The nine spans were moved to the site from various locations in Texas, creating a workable but temporary structure. The present bridge was built by the Arizona Eastern in 1912-1913 on the old 1905 piers, but with nine through truss spans manufactured by the American Bridge Company. This structure has since dependably served the railroad for seventy years. During the floods of 1980-1981, when most crossings of the Salt River were closed, the commuter train "Hattie B" was able to take workers from the east valley to Phoenix via the Salt River Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge (its name before the recent acquisition of Southern Pacific by the Union Pacific Railroad).

The Salt River Union Pacific Railroad Bridge at Tempe is a 1,291-foot long, nine-span. Pratt type through truss bridge. It consists of two 100-foot through riveted trusses, five 150-foot through truss pin connected spans, and two 160-foot through truss pin connected spans. The spans are arranged so that one 100-foot span is at each end of the bridge, while the to 160-foot trusses and the five 150-foot trusses are between the shorter spans. The approaches consist of a 178-foot ballasted deck trestle at the north end and a 223-foot ballasted deck trestle at the south end of the bridge. Roadway extensions at each end add 10 feet, 6 inches, for an overall length of 1,692 feet. The structure rests on ten pairs of concrete filled steel cased pilings that were sunk in 1905 as part of a previous bridge. The approach spans rests on wooden timbers. The flooring material is treated timber covered with ballast. The bridge is structurally sound and sturdy and is in daily use. And immediately next to the bridge is the new Metro light rail bridge which will be in action beginning this December.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Can I Get a Ride to the Airport?

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is located just across Tempe's border with Phoenix to the northwest. It's one of the top 10 busiest airports in the U.S. and about the 18th busiest airport in the world, in terms of numbers of passengers - nearly 1,500 planes arrive and depart every day! Phoenix has consistent wind patterns so all of Sky Harbor's runways run parallel. Incoming planes fly over the Salt River corridor (the area where the Tempe Town Lake is). I think it's relatively rare to have a large airport right in the middle of a metro area, but Sky Harbor has never had any major accidents at or near the airport. Trivia: In 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 255, which departed out of Detroit and had a planned stop in Phoenix, crashed after take-off, killing many Phoenix passengers (one 4 year old survivor).

Living so close to the airport is very convenient, about a 12 minute drive. Of course, that also means I get my share of airport pickup requests. That's okay, I'll need one myself next week when I fly to northern California. Hey, can I get a ride to the airport?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chinese Take-out

I've got to agree with the panda on the right, orange chicken is the champ - I'm a big fan! photo from china panda (I mean, Panda Express) at University and Forrest, across from ASU

fortune cookie saying: "seize from every moment its uniqueness"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stilts Walking

Yesterday's heavy rains dumped over 2" in under one hour in parts of Tempe. Today, the streets are muddy, littered with debris, and there are puddles all around. The heavy air remains, temperatures are down in the 90s but it's muggy (usually it's a dry heat!) and we are sure to get more rain. Outside the familiar cicada buzz is nonstop (when I first began to write, then abruptly stopped for the evening at 8:19). Earlier I went downtown and was rewarded with a rare sight - several black-necked stilts (Himantopus mexicanus) picking through the lawn puddles near Tempe Center for the Arts by the lake. I'm a big fan of black and white birds, and these are beautiful with their elegant beaks and crazy red stilt legs. They show up when there are puddles around, which is why I don't get to see them in Tempe too often!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Today I was wandering around my back yard, searching my trees for a cicada exoskeleton for today's post. I've heard their familiar buzzing for a couple weeks now, a sure sign that monsoon season is here. The North America monsoon occurs from Mexico north to the southwestern U.S. In Arizona, we receive a lot of high winds, dust storms and heavy violent thunderstorms beginning as early as late June (like this year) and continuing into September. In fact, we get the majority of our annual rain during this time. Most desert plants are adapted to take advantage of the rain when it does arrive, and make do with little for the rest of the year. Rather than having to use a cicada to demonstrate the return of the monsoon, the monsoon showed up itself around 4:00 this afternoon. The rain started off as if poured from a bucket and came down hard for about 40 minutes. When it stopped, almost as suddenly as it had began, the street in front of my home had become a river and a nearby freeway corridor had turned into a lake - stranding all these drivers who had to wait for the water to recede.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Honey Bee

I found this little guy in a cactus flower in my front yard a few months back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trailing Ice Plant

Delosperma cooperi, trailing ice plant or pink carpet, is a dwarf perennial plant native to South Africa - and found in Tempe lawns.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Artistic license

Squid-like mobile hanging in the new Night Gallery at Tempe Marketplace. I couldn't decide if this looked more like eggs with scrawny seaweed legs or some rudimentary alien squid. If the artist had a biological bent, perhaps she was demonstrating camouflage - a strategy utilized by squid and other cephalopods. Squid will change color to blend with their environment and circumstance, with all members of the group taking on the same color (or risk being eaten for being the odd color stand out!). Suddenly this exhibit is looking more like an off white wall in an art gallery. What do you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008

One from the Vault

Okay, this is not from Tempe. We still have a few horse properties but no ox drawn carts. I'm traveling in Boulder City, Nevada (no ox drawn carts here either, but a bit more of a possibility) and it has been a very long travel day. I'm treating myself to an easy posting - taken in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua a couple years back.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sneaker Attraction

Sneakers and topsiders posing in a store window. What is it about shoes that we can never seem to have too many?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Live Entertainment

Tempe Marketplace is a new "destination" in an area that was formerly a huge landfill - gigantic pits from sand and gravel operations had created large craters that were filled with car parts, construction debris, and toxic materials - 1.3 million square feet of federal Superfund site, an eyesore. The sort that usually remains untackled because of the enormity of the task and the cost. Tempe incorporated the area and cleaned it up at a cost of about $40 million dollars, turning it into an outdoor mall that opened in September 2007 with 120 retail stores and restaurants, live music, movie theater - a fun place to go. I was a skeptic of how it would feel to walk around outdoors in the 110 degree heat, but was surprised to find that the misting system works wonders.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

What does it mean to be a citizen of the United States? Since I was born here I don't even know what it would be like to live without freedom to speak, vote, or have certain rights and protections. Today 300 were sworn in as naturalized citizens of the U.S. in a special July 4th ceremony. My co-worker and friend, passionately pursuing citizenship for more than a dozen years, helped give me a sense of how special it is to live in the United States.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What to do on a hot day?

Tempe's Splash playground at the beach park - lots of water jets and splashing fun for the kids.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Palm Walk

This corridor is popular among students, faculty, staff and university visitors alike. Palm Walk is the most photographed site on the Tempe ASU campus, and extends from the University Bridge on the north to the Student Recreation Complex on the south. The palm trees at the north end of Palm Walk were planted in 1916 and are over 90 feet tall; those along the south end are over 70 feet and were planted in 1930.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No Pictures Please

Posted below a stop sign on the Tempe border with Guadalupe is an interesting "NO" sign. It refers to the dances and other ceremonies performed especially around Lent and Easter in the tiny community (one square mile) of Guadalupe. It's a proud little community with a strong ethnic and cultural identity. I like to drive through on my way to hike South Mountain - it's like a drive through rural Mexico, and their Farmer's Market is special.

Guadalupe was founded by Yaqui Indians, who migrated there from Mexico at the turn of the century; now home to about 5,500 Native American and Hispanic residents. The dances and other ceremonies had their origins in the early 1600s in Mexico. The community opens some parts of these ceremonies to the public, but people must observe and respect the Yaquis’ wishes (and the city ordinance!) that no photos be taken and that no drawings or recordings be made.