I take most of these pictures while riding my bicycle around San Francisco. I hope you will enjoy viewing them. August 27, 2007 and before: $15 Radio Shack digigr8, 300 kilopixel camera. November 13, 2007 and after: Canon SD1000

21 January 2009

The Smell from Here

This picture of a dog in sun-warmed bliss inspires some olfactory reflection:

The janitorial services at my office started using a translucent green urinal screen that makes the entire bathroom smell like scope. Minty fresh urinal.

The smell knocks me so completely out of my work-dulled reverie every time I walk in there. Today, it inspired contemplation on the nature of our daily smell-scapes. I was considering how much thought goes into creating the smell for a product. And whether the smell-designer thinks about the smells that are already likely to be part of that consumers surroundings, and how they might intermingle.

I rarely find myself willingly blending or merging with the ambient smells of my consumer life. It seems that whatever is considered 'average' and designed to entice the greatest number of people through the lowest common denominator, are not smells that I enjoy. The only times I find myself willingly and openly merging is in natural settings. Perhaps the scent of a jasmine blossom releasing its perfume into the night air. Then I might even pause to enjoy the lingering smell.

Coincidentally, as I type this, a co-worker has just sprayed an "orange" scented air freshener two desks over. It is now permeating my nostrils. His comment that he was hungry and the orange smell reminded him of food is exactly the discrepancy to the normal range of reaction to smells that I experience. It smells like orange-inspired chemicals to me. Period.

For example, I dislike the smell of just about every major supermarket I walk into. The initial blast of "bread smell" doesn't actually elicit thoughts of "bread". It just makes me think of "bread smell." I remember reading something in the book Fast Food Nation that said that intense research goes into chemical cocktails that are used to create the "food smell" of fast food. Think about the next time you pass a fast food restaurant. Does it smell like real food, or chemicals?

Only tangentially related to smells is this that an old college friend drew yesterday during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony:

As an acquaintance said while we were watching yesterday's ceremony, "Ah, that new-president smell." Yes, just like a new car, the excitement of refreshing change. Let's all take a ride in the Obama mobile. Where do we want to go?


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