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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday bird blogging


I'm off to Scotland Saturday, so until I have some real traveling pictures, here's a very New York bird entry: a house sparrow serenading the rush hour traffic on Eighth Avenue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday reflections



A building on 52nd Street, shot from the Equitable Tower atrium.

I like the way the dark framing gives the illusion that you're looking through, rather than at, the windows, to some strange, wavy, zigzaggy imaginary city.

Or possibly Barcelona.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday bird blogging


Cardinals are always hard to miss, even in the thick greens of summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sumer is icumen in


Hazy, hot and humid, so here's a flashback to last summer in Sweden, and  a photo of a boathouse in Kl├Ądesholmen.

Cool, clean, stark -- everything that New York in summer is not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday bird blogging






A blue jay. From the foreshortened angle in the photo above you can't see the tail at all, and it barely looks like a bird.

But here's another picture of the same bird with his ass hanging out of a tree. Definitely a blue jay.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome to the working week


It's my birthday, so welcome to my working week: still life with BlackBerry.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday bird blogging


A gray catbird pauses on a bench in the Ramble.

Every time I go through a new batch of bird pictures, I wonder why I keep trying. There are brilliant photographs of birds all over the web, and mine are never more than passable.

But I do love the challenge. Any idiot with a decent camera and access to Photoshop can take great pictures of the reflections in windows; the worst that can happen is that you miss the best light. And in that case, you can usually go back. Buildings are so beautifully sedentary.

Birds, on the other hand, are in constant motion. They sit on branches obscured by leaves, or they dig for dinner in the mulch on the ground, and they fly away the minute you get a decent angle. The trees are thick in the Ramble, so it's dark as well, but birds tend not to like it if you use a flash. In fact they display no interest in cooperating with photographers whatsoever.

I don't have a huge zoom lens like some of the photographers I run into in the park, but I don't think it would help me much. This catbird landed ten feet from where I was sitting and stayed there long enough for me to get this picture, and it's still a little blurry.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday reflections


Here's a ready-made Impressionist canvas -- the appropriately murky waters in New Orleans City Park.

Friday, June 3, 2011

News of the world

I've barely been keeping up with local news recently and haven't spent much time cruising the online news reports. But here's an interesting story from Afghanistan, with yet another in a long series of unintended consequences: the government has banned ammonium nitrate fertilizer because it can be used to make explosives, perhaps not taking sufficiently into account the fact that it is also used as...fertilizer.
Nur Agha, from the village of Adazai, said, “When I was using ammonium nitrate, I was selling 420 kilograms of dried prunes a year. Last year, after the fertiliser was banned, I harvested just 70 kilograms of plums as the fruit dropped before it was ripe.”

The farmer said he now believed Afghanistan’s international allies “want us to lose our livelihoods and be forced to go to war”.

Eight out of ten Afghans are involved in agriculture or animal husbandry, but chronic underdevelopment and years of war mean the farming sector is always on the edge. Even when ammonium nitrate was allowed, growing crops was an arduous task based on manual labour, and farmers were lucky to make a subsistence living.

A local elder in Tagab who did not want to be named said the plum trees in his orchard had yellowing leaves and dropped their fruit prematurely. He compared the fertiliser ban to the outlawing of opium production – in both cases the authorities had failed to come up with a workable alternative.

“We’re fed up with orders from the government. One day, they tell us not to grow poppy as it’s harmful to their foreign friends. The next, they tell us not to use this [fertiliser], again because it harms their foreign friends,” he said. “Promises of assistance haven’t been delivered on…. I am left with an orchard that isn’t productive because there’s no ammonium nitrate since the government ban, and there is no alternative fertiliser.”

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