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My Walk to Work, 2008-2009

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For five years, I lived ten blocks from my office -- my apartment and the office were both on Main Street, just a short walk from each other. I made that walk year after year and saw plenty of weird and wonderful things, primarily in the morning -- leftovers of whoever had spent the night out. I finally started taking pictures of these things with my camera phone around 2008, a year before I moved to a new house. I no longer walk to my office (it's a 45-minute bus ride now), but here, I've collected some of my favorite photos from that old walk. Sorry about the camera quality -- it's kinda what you get when you're on the go.

In case you're wondering, this was all going down in inner southeast Portland, Oregon. It's a transitional area between light industrial and commercial buildings (think warehouses, bakeries, distilleries) and the beginning of a residential neighborhood.

The Free Box

October 6, 2009

The flier on the front says "Free Box: The Magazine #3." Below, it says "Neighborhood Issue: 'Free Box' travels the world! Furnishing your home with freedom." Initially I was a little scared to open the Free Box, but then took to doing it every time I passed -- because, yes, there was always free stuff in there. I even took to putting my own free stuff in there. The problem with the free stuff was that it was often pretty useless (like a single shoe). But hey, free shoe.

Inside the Free Box

October 6, 2009

Here's a typical example of what's inside the Free Box. Some crazy pajama bottoms, a sheet/curtain, and a newspaper. Written inside the box: "Please don't be a dick! Thank you. Come again."

Inside the Free Box

Outside(r) Art

August 28, 2008

I passed this guy's house many times, and often there'd be a piece of art like this on display out by his car. I finally met him the day I saw this one -- I just had to ask. He said was a retired teacher, trying his hand at painting. He'd put his art outside, figuring that if somebody liked it, he or she would probably knock on his door and they could talk about it. Apparently he got visitors several times a week.

Outside(r) Art

Beach Graffiti

July 10, 2008

Seen on a utility box. I like the birds.

Beach Graffiti

Rant on a Van

August 6, 2008

This was written on the window of a van crammed full of stuff -- boxes, bags, a lamp. It reads (errors intact): "Nice try on the theft, now I have you on camera for two vans and the tools you took the first time. Best of all you left your finger prints on the bolt cutters you handeld. Be a man and come during the [day?] since you are the worst thief in the world. The ignition is very simple if you have a brain." Note that I inserted the word "day," as I think that's what this guy was getting at. I looked behind me and indeed, there was a security camera there.

Rant on a Van

Christmas in June

June 4, 2008

I lived next to a photography studio, located in a big warehouse. They did all kinds of weird stuff in there involving props. On one notable occasion, they shot a calendar involving firemen, and managed to get a fire truck inside the warehouse. After each shoot they'd leave most of the props just sitting on the curb and people would take them (sometimes I took them -- I got some decent shelves from one shoot). Here's an example of one that made me wonder: what photo shoot required a live fir (cedar?) tree -- looks like a Christmas tree to me -- in June?

Christmas in June

Twin Dogs Waiting

June 11, 2008

I saw these little guys several times, waiting outside a coffee shop. They were very friendly. They're tied to an Oregonian newspaper box.

Twin Dogs Waiting

Blue Rubber Glove

July 9, 2009

Hey, free blue rubber glove!

Blue Rubber Glove

Free Baguettes

June 23, 2009

Outside a catering company's kitchen. They'd make the food there, then drive it to events. The leftover food was sometimes kinda weird. I think I see some asparagus in there too. Note that these green containers are Portland's composting bins.

Free Baguettes

Free Bread

June 8, 2009

Another example from the same place, several weeks earlier.

Free Bread

Drifts of Cherry Blossoms

April 28, 2008

There's a period of a few weeks each year when the cherry blossom petals fall and collect in drifts on the street. Here are a few shots from my front steps and the sidewalk by my apartment.

Cherry Blossoms - Steps

Cherry Blossoms - Steps - Detail

Cherry Blossoms - Sidewalk

Snow Day

December 22, 2008

I couldn't walk to work that day.

Snow Day

Mix CDs

November 18, 2008

A bunch of home-burned CDs. I thought about taking one, but the titles were all very inscrutable...and these were sitting outside a sorta hippie-ish brewpub so I figured it probably wasn't my jam.

Mix CDs

Trees Awaiting Planting

January 8, 2009

Some trees waiting for a chance to grow.

Trees Awaiting Planting

Mental_Floss Magazine in Convenience Store

September 20, 2009

I stopped by a convenience store and noticed that our magazine was on the front display, on par with Details, GQ, and Elle. We have better placement than Wired and Scientific American! Take that, publishing industry!

Magazine Rack

Cicero Quote & Graffiti

October 27, 2009

Two photos. First, the inscription above a boarded-up school. Second, graffiti in the entryway.

Cicero Quote

School Graffiti

Coat Hook

December 30, 2009

Not technically on my walk to work -- this was seen in a restroom at the PDX airport. I have to wonder why they had to label it. Lawsuit after somebody poked an eye out? Also, why so many screws?

Coat Hook

All images © 2011 Chris Higgins.

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Courtesy of Nikon
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Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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environment
Great Britain's Last Snow Patch Is About to Disappear Completely for the First Time in a Decade

Until recently, it was easy to find snow in Great Britain at any time of the year—you just had to know where to look. In previous Septembers, the island has been home to as many as 678 snow patches, residual pockets of snow and ice whose climates and topographies keep them frozen through the summer. This year, though, only two of Britain's snow patches have survived the summer. And the island is now on track to be completely snowless by the end of the season, Atlas Obscura reports.

Snow patches vary in size and durability, with some melting completely by late summer and others remaining a permanent fixture of the landscape. Garbh Choire Mor—a steep glacial depression on top of Scotland's third-highest mountain, Braeriach—contains two of the oldest snow patches in Britain, known as the Pinnacles and the Sphinx. The Pinnacles snow patch dissolved into a puddle earlier this month, and the Sphinx snow patch, the last surviving snow patch in Great Britain, is expected to do the same in the next few days.

Scotland experienced uncharacteristically hot weather this summer, with temperatures creeping into the low 90s as early as May. But more significant than the sweltering summer was the dry winter that preceded it. Below-average snowfall last year meant this year's snow patches were already smaller than usual when temperatures started heating up. If the Sphinx snow patch does vanish before winter arrives, it will mark the first time in over a decade and just the sixth time in the last 300 years that England, Scotland, and Wales are without a single patch of snow.

The Sphinx snow patch, though currently a measly version of its previous self, is still visible for now. But Iain Cameron, a veteran "snow patcher" who writes an annual report on snow for the UK's Royal Meteorological Society, says it could be gone as soon as Wednesday, September 20.

He's currently camped out on Garbh Choire Mor, waiting to document the patch's final moments. You can follow his updates on Twitter.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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