Tiger staring through a chain link fence

The tiger was a lot closer to the fence than I expected, watching us tourists with a disdainful look as it lounged in the afternoon heat. The fence mostly blurred out of view, but I didn’t notice a dry leaf in front of its face to the left of its mouth, leaving a brown splotch in the camera’s view. The tigers at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park have quite a bit of space, and this isn’t the only shade, which makes me think they were people watching. It’s an intriguing thought. And a disturbing one!

Looking at the photo reminded me: Tigers and other large cats have round pupils, unlike housecats. I read an article a while back on a study that linked pupil shape to ecological niche: Horizontal pupils mainly appear in prey animals (sheep and goats, for instance), and vertical pupils appear primarily in ambush predators who are active in both day and night, and whose heads are low to the ground (like snakes and smaller cats). Horizontal pupils handle glare better and offer a wider visual field. Vertical pupils adjust to a greater range of light levels and, by narrowing the depth of field, offer better distance cues…but that effect is stronger when your eyes are close to the ground. Higher off the ground, the vertical slits don’t help as much, so bigger cats like lions kept round pupils.

Expanded from a post at Photog.social. More photos from trips to the Safari Park in this Flickr album.

Night EyesOur first night in San Diego, we picked up our badges for Comic-Con, then went out to see Avenue Q. We took the trolley back, and as we walked up the hill from the Little Italy trolley stop, we saw a pair of giant cartoon eyes looking out over the city from a balcony near the top of a nearby building. I thought they might be satellite dishes with convenient lighting, but then I remembered the number of odd publicity stunts connected to the Simpsons movie. No idea whether it’s related or not.

The shuttle route from our hotel to the con passed by this mural, which plays with the nature of the constructed reality. The wall is a newspaper page. The face is a sculpture, a painting. The hands holding the chisel and paintbrush, of course, are just as artificial as the face being created.

Mural on a building

We noticed an interesting coincidence at Horton Plaza. Just a few doors down from the Post Office was an Aeropostale clothing store:

Aeropostale and Post Office

Bench: Sit.  Stay. Heal.This bench was in front of a hotel, probably the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp. I suppose that makes the pun on dog training more appropriate, since it’s a block away from Petco Park stadium.

Quiznos DrinkI’ve always figured standing out on a street in a mascot costume must be miserable, especially in summer. But how much worse to be dressed as a giant soft drink? I suppose this would go with last year’s walking sandwich.

Now, you have to wonder about AMN Healthcare. It’s clearly a set of initials…but how often do people complain about health, insurance, and the healthcare industry? It’s just one letter off from “Damn Healthcare.”

AMN Healthcare

Awning: Sin NiteclubBack to the shuttle route, next to (or possibly connected to) the Martini Ranch spotted in a previous installment of this series, was this nightclub that made no pretensions about what people are going there for. Also note that it’s a “niteclub” — is that a nightclub with fewer calories?

Then there’s this place, which employed the ultimate euphemism:

F-Street: San Diego's ultimate sensual well being adult store

That’s got to be the most convolutedly delicate way of saying “sex shop” that I’ve ever seen.