Signs Around Cornell
Now that I'm at Cornell, one of the things I found amusing
was the specificity of some signs on campus. So I took some
pictures and posted them here for your amusement.
(I feel like Kibo).
It is hard to make out, but ths sign says "Danger, Large 10 foot drop" and
has a picture of a stick-figure teetering precaiously on the edge.
This is on a door I pass every day (for the curious, it is in the secret
passage between Upson 5 and Rhodes 4).
To me this seems to be an easily avoidable architectural feature. Maybe
the designer watched too many Tom & Jerry cartoons as a child?
This tombstone (which reads "Ostrander Elms 1880") is one of a pair, and
they cause much confusion on campus, at least if you believe the
Dear Unclue Ezra column. The question gets asked in the archives there at least
once a year, and the students manage to have lots of strange ideas about
what the markers signify.
The story is that back when Cornell was young, a local farmer wanted to help
out but did not have much money. So he donated elm trees from his property, and
for nearly a century they lined East Avenue. Then of course came Dutch
Elm disease... and now all that remains are the two tombstones, one in front
of Duffield and one in front of Day Hall.
The grounds department here has discovered that buying a few signs can
save immensely on snow-removal costs! Though I must admit they tend
to only do this to redundant stairways and the like.
This particular sign is a massive savings, as it's on a hill that gets
immense snow-drifts, and it would be quite a pain to re-shovel the stairway
every few hours throughout the winter.
I was amused here at both the "He who is without sin"
angle but also due to the whole "Those who live in glass houses" aphorism too.
But my second reaction was to be alarmed. Who was throwing stones at
people? And if you were the type of person to do that, would a sign
be enough to stop you?
Then I realized there are much less violent actions being warned against here.
People might say "hey I bet I can hit that tree from here" and that would
both be dangerous and also make a mess. So I guess the need for the sign
In case you are wondering, the sign is on the roof of
the library, which due to Ithaca's hilly nature you can walk onto from
This is also on the roof of the library. The first part says
"CAUTION: SLIPPERY SURFACE WHEN WET. ESPECIALLY WITH FROST."
This of course seemed a bit redundant, but I guess it is a useful warning.
More amusing to me was the no-skateboarding clause. From what I know
about skateboarding (which I admit is not much) this little area is
the perfect place for it. Lots of knee-high railings, broad
sidewalks, plenty of steps. It looks like it was built for the sport,
and then to taunt people they banned it.
Hmmm, I think I'll avoid this particular area once winter hits.
The engineer in me says "can't we fix it, rather than just document it?"
but I suppose there are reasons. The architecht probably wrote it off
as a "feature" of the building's design.
You cannot read this due to my shoddy photography skills, but it says
"THIS MANHOLE COVER IS A GIFT FROM THE CLASS OF 1931." OK, I am lying. It
says something to the effect of "The Landscaping in this area is a
gift from the class of 1931" which is a much nobler sentiment.
It is rather impressive the gifts former classes have given here at Cornell.
At Maryland our senior class gift was extremely pointless and thus I don't
think I gave any money towards it. If I have a part in a class gift,
I want it to be something memorable, like an orbiting laser defense
station. "What's that moon doing here?" "That's not a moon! It's the
Cornell class of 2007 memorial battle platform!"
For my friends who like Tolkien, an
elf-rune sighting. Possibly appropriate: this mailbox
is in the area known as "Forest Home".
A few additional Cornell signs can be seen at the middle of this
page of mine.
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