Date Archives November 2017

The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati

I say I’m not the biggest fan of advertisements, and sometimes I even mean it. I consider Times Square to be the closest thing we have to hell on Earth, and when I learned that Piccadilly Circus was much the same, I knew what area of town I wouldn’t want to stay in on my trip to London.

I despise all the billboards on the large road nearest my home, and I especially loathe the digital one that blasts blinding light into the low income apartments across the street. (Seriously guys, this is a suburb, not Blade Runner’s Los Angeles, no one needs an advertisement for a weed whacker blazing into their bedroom window at 4am.)

I sent a dude packing who wanted to advertise his business in my front yard with not so much as a “good day, sir”. I listen to a lot of NPR because then I don’t have to hear about my “friend in the diamond business” like I would on other radio stations. I have yet to take money from a single business to put any form of ad in front of your eyeballs, beloved readers*.

But I’m also a shocking hypocrite–stick me in a room with old timey neon lights and I go all doe-eyed with delight. And what the hell is my blog even about if not monuments erected as a form of advertisement? See? Hypocrite. So it’s really no wonder that when I got to Ohio, I shoved my in-laws into a rental car and dragged everyone to Cincinnati to visit the American Sign Museum. 

The American Sign Museum opened in 2005, the brainchild of Tod Swormstedt, of the sign industry magazine baron** Swormstedts. Its purpose is to preserve and display (you guessed it) signs, and they must be doing a bang-up job as they outgrew their first location and moved to this new location in 2012. Even at this new location, they’re only displaying a small percentage of their overall collection, and they’re looking to raise the roof and double the museum’s size in the future. I honestly wish I could tell you more, but there isn’t a ton in the way of context in this museum. I can tell you that while I was there, they blocked off the whole back room for an interview with/photoshoot of a Kroger executive, and part of me really, really wanted to play reporter and ask him what those brown lumps were in my brand new non-expired Kroger Brand heavy cream, but a bigger part of me didn’t want to be dragged off the property. 

All those signs sure are pretty, though.

You can hardly read it here, but that door purports to lead to “funtown”. Not to judge a funtown by its door, but…run, children. Run.

Every single time I see an indoor faux streetscape, I think of House on the Rock. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

The fish in the blender is obviously my favorite, because a fish smoothie sounds like a nom or vom in the making.

I’m 99.99999% sure that the person in this photo *is* Sign Industry Magazine Baron Tod Swormstedt. I literally was not even going to include this photo in the post until I did a triple-take whilst perusing their website. If this was a professional-person blog, this caption would read something like “above: Tod Swormstedt working in his shop at Neonworks of Cincinnati”. If it was indeed Tod Swormstedt. And also if they managed to take a photo that didn’t completely obscure his eyes.

That feels less like an ad, and more like a threat, just saying.


*Not for lack of trying, and I did post that one thing one time but those people got weird and I took it down, not just because they got weird but also because they didn’t pay me, which, to me,  feels like a really important part of the whole buying an advertisement scenario.

**I mean, yes, they own Signs of the Times but I honestly just don’t even know what qualifies one for a non-nobility barony honorific

Tree Cave at Kalaloch Beach

This summer I realized I still hadn’t made it back to Kalaloch beach to see the legendary tree cave; I’d looked for it on my last excursion but was on the wrong beach entirely, as there are several beaches called Kalaloch beach to the confusion of no one but me, evidently. When yet another photo of it popped up in a NW photography group, I asked if the photographer could be more specific about its location and got “It’s on the beach” as an answer. Gee, thanks. Well nuts to you, lady, now it’s been added to Google Maps and anyone who comes here searching for more information will be glad to know that it’s easiest to park at the Kalaloch campground and take their stairs/ramp down to the beach, and once you’re on the beach, walk north.


We really wanted to take little Napodog to the beach–he’d been to lakes and rivers but never the ocean, and I wanted him to have that experience.  He loved it. Water that comes rumbling forth in a challenge? Check. Gross dead critters to nibble? Check. Driftwood to pee on? Big check. He was like a little dog shaped machine, pulling us at a high rate of speed up and down the beach to whatever new thing interested him, fiercely fording streams of ocean water, leaping over driftwood, and generally acting much younger than his age. He definitely wasn’t ready to leave when it started pouring rain, which is especially funny because he would always give me the hairiest of eyeballs if I made him go out in the rain to pee at home, but it’s different on the beach, guys

All that, and we finally found that darn tree cave.

The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

Horned Puffin

Tufted Puffin

Pretty sure this is a female harlequin duck, but you can call her Adorabill

Common Murre

Common Murre

Rhinoceros Auklet

I tend to like aquariums best when their focus is local, and thus, I loved the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. From their local bird aviary to their efforts to ensure that humans don’t bring rats to Alaskan islands where they are not native (and thus devastate native bird populations) to the effects the Exxon Valdez oil spill had (and still has) on native wildlife populations, the Alaska SeaLife Center has its view firmly centered on Alaska.

I was shocked to learn that as of 2014, some 21,000 gallons of oil from that 1989 spill still remains on beaches and that ExxonMobil fought the government’s claim for 92 million dollars for restoration for twenty five years, finally weaseling out of it in 2015 when the government dropped their claim. What they did to this area was appalling, they did just enough “clean up” so that people like me assumed it was taken care of and forgot about it, and then used their vast economic resources to litigate into infinity to avoid taking culpability. I’ve since read an article that claims that true cleanup and recovery is essentially a pipe dream–the oil remains in some form or another, the cleaned wildlife rarely goes on to live a healthy breeding life (many never breed again), and thus these companies must properly face the risk of spills with multi-billion dollar bonds up front. I’m in full agreement on that last point, and furthermore, I’m working to reduce my individual dependence on oil and fossil fuels. I’m as willing to watch these companies go extinct as they are to sit there and do nothing when oil from their tanker coats 40% of an endangered species’ remaining population. I hope to see their demise in my lifetime. If not now, when?