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

Monday, August 10, 2020

Quarantine Alley

The lineup in my hallway, where packages, mail, and non-perishable groceries sit, usually for a day or two, until I feel comfortable dealing with them.

Scientists now say this virus is transmitted through the air rather than on surfaces, but I got in the habit of disinfecting and then putting aside everything that comes into the apartment during the early days of lockdown, and like all habits, it's hard to break.

It might be overkill, but since the last mystery virus I encountered landed me in the cardiac unit, I'm inclined to be extra cautious.

Life in the time of coronavirus

When you've only got room for two tables outside.

Here's another excerpt from A Journal of the Plague Year, in which Mr. Defoe demonstrates that even in 1665 people knew you could spread a disease before showing any symptoms.
…it was not the sick people only from whom the plague was immediately received by others that were sound, but the well. To explain myself: by the sick people I mean those who were known to be sick…these everybody could beware of; they were either in their beds or in such condition as could not be concealed. 
By the well I mean such as had received the contagion, and had it really upon them, and in their blood, yet did not show the consequences of it in their countenances: nay, even were not sensible of it themselves, as many were not for several days. These breathed death in every place, and upon everybody who came near them.
Then from today's Guardian:
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, says testing should be available if schools are to reopen: 
I’m not an expert in testing, but I would say that regular means weekly. It needs to be as regular as it needs to be to ensure the infection is caught and identified as soon as possible, and then the tracking system can move on from that. 
Schools minister Nick Gibb rejected that call, saying there would not be “routine testing without symptoms. The advice that we have is that it’s better to test when people actually show symptoms.”
Because why bother to prevent four or five days of asymptomatic transmission if you can just pretend it doesn't happen? The only consolation -- if you can call it that -- in this nightmare is that while the U.S. may have had, no question, the worst possible response to this pandemic, the U.K. is doing its best to show us that criminal stupidity is not uniquely American.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A white-breasted nuthatch in Central Park, pausing from the usual acrobatics to pose for the camera.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Saturday reflections

Another restaurant temporarily closed, on Ninth Avenue.

I'm happy to report that this one has reopened, for takeout only.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Agra Fort garden

Not nearly as impressive as the gardens in the Amber Fort, but here's photographic evidence that I actually walked through this one.

I usually avoid posting pictures of myself here but I'm enjoying the memory of being outside, somewhere that's not my apartment or the immediate neighborhood, which is all I've seen for many months now. (Today I went to the cleaners and the pharmacy and the bank! Very exciting!)

That long mop of hair looks almost as strange to me. I've been putting the clippers to good use and every couple of weeks my hair gets shorter. I'll be Sigourney-Weaver-in-Alien-3 by the time we're out of quarantine.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Backyard, Jaipur style

Two pictures of the same backyard, because I liked both of them, and the idea of having a backyard is more attractive than ever these days.

Okay, it probably has snakes. I'd still take it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


I can't post anything about the virus right now, because I'm vacillating between fear and rage and do not want to Go There today.

Fortunately, this truck barreling through a foggy morning on a highway in India makes me smile. Usually I spend a lot of effort getting rid of vignetting -- those shadows in the corners -- but I think it works here, adding to the otherworldly effect.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

If it’s true that there are billions of universes stacked alongside one another, the thickness of a thought apart, then there must be people elsewhere.  
But wherever they are, no matter how mightily they try, no matter how magnificent the effort, they surely can’t manage to be as godawfully stupid as us. I mean, we work at it. We were given a spark of it to start with, but over hundreds of thousands of years we’ve really improved on it.
That's the great Terry Pratchett, stating the sadly obvious in his inimitable fashion. And this is emission nebula NGC 6188 in the southern constellation Ara. The image was taken over ten hours from a backyard telescope in Argentina, reminding me that humans, despite our manifest failings, do manage to find and memorialize the beauty and wonder in the only universe we've got.

Image Credit and Copyright: Ariel L. Cappelletti

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. -- Mary Oliver
I seldom disagree with the thoughtful wisdom of Mary Oliver, but I would argue that this common quail caught mid-step in Keoladeo National Park counts as exactly one crumb of joy. And that's fine. Not a great picture, but I don't think I've ever posted one of this particular bird, and the fact that I had to go all the way to India to do so does make me smile.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Saturday reflections

Still in India -- another image from the road, but the reflections are more pronounced this time and add a dreamlike quality.

Friday, July 31, 2020

More on the road, Indian style

There are annoying reflections from the car windows but I still like this glimpse of village life seen from the highway: getting water.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Color or black and white?

¿Por quĂ© no los dos?

Some pictures just work better in black and white, even in India, like the roadside stand in Jaipur on the right. Black and white makes the detail pop in a way it didn't in the color version.

But most of India can only be captured in color, like the picture on the left, which I took from the car on the way back from Keoladeo National Park. I love those lavender and turquoise bricks.

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