I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday bird blogging

A big puffball of white-throated sparrow singing about the fun of hanging out in a crunchy pile of dead leaves.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday reflections

Lunchtime on Fifth Avenue, and reflections at Cartier and Harry Winston.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Random things I saw in New York

I bought a new camera to replace my old point and shoot. The professional photographers I've seen in action always carry multiple cameras rather than just multiple lenses -- that way they don't have to stop and swap lenses; they just swap cameras.

My version of this has always been to carry a good point and shoot along with the DSLR for travel photography. DSLR's are expensive and they're heavy and I'm not trying to sell my images to National Geographic, so having a small camera that takes decent pictures is a good compromise.

I bought an Olympus E-M10 Mark III, which for the curious is a micro four-thirds camera -- small and portable but with swappable lenses. I've been carrying it around all week taking pictures on my way to work and back, and here are some samples: Sixth Avenue in the evening, a manhole cover in the rain, graduates on Seventh Avenue, and the armed guards at Trump Tower.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Urban poetry

A pawnshop on Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn.

It's worth enlarging the picture to take a good look at the amazing variety of services provided -- Sneakers! Tattoos! Gold teeth! Buy one pair of eyeglasses get two free! Watch repairs! Nose piercing! If they threw in dry cleaning and an espresso machine you'd never have to go anywhere else.

They also buy used phones. I should have sold them my old iPhone when I had the chance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Astronomy Tuesday

This is the Boomerang Nebula, which is about 5000 light years away, in the direction of Centaurus.

It's interesting because it's so cold  -- the rapidly expanding gases of the nebula are only one degree above absolute zero, making it the coldest region we've found in the distant universe. But what caught my attention is the size -- it is one light year from end to end, a perfectly ridiculous size and a reminder of just how much space there is in space.

And it's also ridiculously beautiful. Those colors make me want to dance.

Credit: Hubble Heritage Team, J. Biretta (STScI) et al., (STScI/AURA), ESA, NASA

Monday, May 21, 2018

In Loving Memory

This one works better in black and white: William Baybut, who died at sea in 1927 aged 37 years.

Framing a life

I loved these niches, each one a little window into a life. There were the usual saints and flowers and photos, but also toys, medals, souvenirs and a surprising number of Santa Clauses.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Familia Sharp

The names of this family are their own story, with Jorge Sharp Corona, Miss Florence Mildred Sharp Call, Raquel Mildred Sharp Corona, and Florence M. Call Voa de Sharp.

More names

About that cemetery

It really is worth the visit, if you happen to be in Punta Arenas anyway.

I've mentioned before that this trip to Chile made me aware of just how little I know about South American history and culture. For example, we think of it as Latin America, because most of South America is Spanish-speaking, just as most of North America is English-speaking. And though I knew that Argentina in particular had many immigrants from non-Spanish speaking countries, I was still struck by the names in this cemetery, where Familia Matheson-Villan is next to Familia Nicholls Sanfuentes and Familia Douglas-Tolentino.

Chile actually had fewer immigrants from non-Spanish speaking countries** because it was on the other side of the Andes and hard to reach, but Punta Arenas was a port. And as noted below, it's a long way from the rest of Chile.

**But the George Washington of Chilean history, the great Libertador, was named Bernardo O'Higgins. So at least one Irish immigrant made it over the mountains.

You could be anywhere

In the Plaza de Armas in downtown Punta Arenas, there's a park with a statue of Magellan, surrounded by large trees and vendors selling handicrafts (not surprisingly, there were a lot more warm hats for sale than you usually find in the summer.) The old mansions around the square are now mostly private clubs or museums.

Away from the center of town though, the streets look like this -- you could be almost anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists pass through Punta Arenas on their way to the Patagonian parks, or Tierra del Fuego, or Antarctica, but there's no reason to linger. As one of my shipmates put it, “When the number one attraction on Trip Advisor is the cemetery, you know there's not much to see there.”

It does feel very far away from the rest of Chile. I went to the supermarket looking for cough drops -- I had a cold -- and fruit. I found cough drops, but the limited selection of fruit was a shock after the lush produce for sale everywhere in Santiago and Valparaiso -- tiny shriveled apples and brown bananas. Even at the hotel, the fruit on the breakfast buffet was all canned. Chile sends so much produce to North America during our winters, but somehow can't manage to supply its own south coast.

Punta Arenas

I posted a few pictures of Punta Arenas while I was there, four months ago now, and I'm finally getting back to it.

Here's a look at the Strait of Magellan in the evening, as the sun prepared to sink behind the islands of Tierra del Fuego. I had walked -- briefly -- along the beach that afternoon, but it was too windy to be enjoyable.

And when I say it was windy in Punta Arenas, I mean the sort of wind that accompanies a really bad nor'easter or mild hurricane in New York, or a sail through the Lemaire Channel in Antarctica, not wind so much as a full body punch that can literally knock you over if you're not careful. I read somewhere that in the winter there are ropes along the city streets so people have something to hold on to against the winds.

I can testify that they'd be useful in the summer as well.

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