Sunday August 21, 2005

Photos of Lisbon

I've been taking a lot of pictures over the last couple of days.  These new, tiny, high-resolution cameras really are amazing—it's almost impossible to take a bad shot when there's sufficient lighting, and if you're really worried about it, take a second one to be safe.  Rather than bore you with my generic tourist pictures (statue, museum, church, monument, statue, church...), I've included some of the quirkier pics after the jump.

On the flight into Lisbon from Heathrow, we flew over some cloud formations that caught my eye.  They were big, sharply-defined, puffy clouds with a halo of darker, more diffuse cloud around them.  Here's what one looked like as we passed directly over it:

It looked to me like the white part was cloud while the darker part was smoke from a brush fire (at the top of the picture), and that turned out to be true—Portuguese fire fighters are currently working hard to contain a large number of fires.  I'm not sure how close the fires are to Lisbon, but they can't be too far away, because we've been able to smell the smoke, and we've even seen a little bit of ash falling.  It reminds us of our trip to Sydney in 1997, when the Blue Mountains were on fire.

This next one is a huge metal sculpture outside the Vasco da Gama shopping center.  It made me think of the Shrike from Dan Simmons's Hyperion novels—probably not what the sculptor was aiming for.  Its structure is actually flexible, so its pointy "branches" sway, faintly menacing, when the wind blows:

Here's a picture of a monument to Portugal's impressive roster of explorers.  The idea seems to be they're all striding, striving upwards in a spirit of discovery, but I couldn't avoid the feeling that it looks more like they're marching lemming-like over a cliff.  (Except that lemmings apparently don't really do that—what's next, no Santa Claus?)

Finally, a trio of interesting signs.  First, the local variation on the No Smoking sign:

Note:  it's not "No Smoking", it's "No Smokers".  A rather more forceful and less friendly statement, don't you think?

Second, the label of a fire extinguisher in our hotel.  I think somebody has taken the old joke about the HCF instruction ("halt and catch fire") a little too literally, because they're now providing special Unix fire extinguishers:

Third, the sign on a tourist information kiosk in downtown Lisbon.  This one is for you phoneticists:

Apparently, there've been some surprising sound changes occurring in Portuguese, because the first vowel in the name of the city has changed, what does a turned question mark stand for in IPA, anyway?  An ingressive epiglottal trill?  My throat hurts just thinking about it.

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I was going to leave a comment saying that that statue looks just like a Shrike from Dan Simmon's Hyperion novels. Then I read what you wrote!

(meta note: notice correct use of "that that")

Posted by: David Janes at Aug 22, 2005 12:29:04 PM

Last time I looked it still stounded lik "i" as in "it".

Posted by: Alistair at Aug 22, 2005 3:24:45 PM

Pardon the nearly off-topic comment, but I was scanning the main page and somehow read the title of this post as "Phobos of Liston," both of which registered as existing proper nouns long enough to really, really confuse me.

Does this sort of misreading occur to anyone else? I've read "sunbaked" as "subnaked" recently, which was similarly unusual.

Posted by: Andrew at Aug 24, 2005 8:14:07 PM

I saw a talk a couple of days ago at the conference in which the word "cophonologies" was used several times in the slides, and every time I saw it my brain read it as "coprophonologies"...whatever that might mean.

Posted by: The Tensor at Aug 25, 2005 2:40:20 AM