Thursday, June 19, 2014


I can never stay out for a whole Nerd Nite. But luckily this month, I did catch the talks by Kasey Smith on Ghost Signs and Rich Schneider on What the Quck? Stem Cells, Skulls, and Evolution.

Ghost Signs took me by surprise (yes, I thought the talk would be about once-living people). Kasey presented the results of three years of research about advertising signs painted on the sides of buildings. As she explained, these proliferated after the post-quake rebuild of San Francisco, but before the spread of billboards in the 1950s due to new printing technology.

Using a number of resources including Google satellite views, she ferreted out these signs and uncovered information about when the sign was painted, about the company and product advertised by the sign, who painted it, and about the building it was painted on. These images here are borrowed from her blog.

She blogs about it at She’s also created an impressive Google map showing sign locations and information.

I am fascinated by obsessions and the people possessed by them. My brain seems to go in 100 different directions at all times, and so I find particular interest in a person that can stay focused on one idea long enough to see it develop into something amazing. As I look through the vast amount of information, so well organized by the map format and her color-coding, I experience a bit of her obsession.

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