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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Urban poetry

Clearly not everyone has bought into the idea of wireless.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Haiku for the working week

For all the cube farm dwellers out there:

No sun, no windows
They think we are potatoes!
Wrapped in burlap cells

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday bird blogging

Okay, enough whining.

Here's a lonely robin, hanging out at the feeders in Central Park earlier this week. Although this is obviously one of our winter residents rather than a just-arrived harbinger of spring, I find that cheerful orangey breast extremely heartening anyway.

Late February is always the hardest slog of the year. I'm tired of the cold, tired of the layers, the steam pipes banging early in the morning, the heavy skies charmless as scuffed linoleum. (And the three trips I've had to cancel in the past five years were all in February, so it's not as though I've never tried to escape.) The robin is a reminder that spring is really coming, it's almost here, if we can just hold on for a few....more....weeks.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday geometries

Not much variety, I'm afraid.

This weekend's Storm of the Century is mostly bypassing New York, but it remains drizzly and gray, gray, gray, so these vents on an office building downtown seem appropriate.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Urban poetry

Plastic crates stacked outside a supermarket.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A hazy shade of winter

The sun made a rare appearance this morning, so I observed President's Day by taking my morning coffee by the bird feeders in the Ramble.

I didn't last long. The temperature was barely in the teens, and although I was bundled up, eventually my feet got too cold to stay out any longer. Parts of the lake were actually frozen solid -- I haven't seen the lake frozen in years.

The birds didn't seem to mind the weather, although the lone robin hanging out with the usual finches and titmice may have been wishing he'd headed south with all of his friends. This group of Northern shovelers splashed around in the middle of the lake where the water must have been a toasty 33 or 34 degrees, enjoying the unusual sunshine and dunking for their breakfast.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


This amazing view of the surface of the sun is the work of Alan Friedman, who takes pictures through a small telescope from his backyard in Buffalo, stunning high-resolution shots of the moon, the planets, and the roiling, turbulent sea of gas that is our local star.

You can see more at his Tumblr here. It's an eloquent reminder that you don't have to leave home to take a voyage to the unknown.

Via Colossal.

Sunday bird blogging

A house finch, at the feeders in Central Park.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday geometries

Architecture, abstracted.

I took one of the photos from London and ran it through a software prism, and love the fun effect.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spam, Egg, Spam, Spam, Bacon and Spam

Spam filters keep most of the junk from reaching my tender ears or overloaded inbox, and overall that's a good thing. This spam comment on the blog cracked me up though:

Unquestiоnablу іmagіne that ωhich you stated. Your faνourite justіfication ѕeemed to be at the internet thе eаѕiеst factor to undеrstand οf. I saу to you, І сеrtаinly get annoyed еven as folks thinκ about conceгns that they јust do not know abοut. Υou manаged to hit the nail upon the highеѕt as neatly as outlinеd out the whole thіng without having siԁe effeсt , other folκѕ cοulԁ taκe а sіgnal. Will probably be back to get more.

Although I do always try to hit the nail upon the highest (and consider the insertion of Greek characters in an English sentence a charming touch) the cheerful incomprehensibility reminds me of the old spammer names, obviously randomly generated, that used to line up in my inbox. It was hard to get annoyed about another ad for cheap Viagra or knockoff Rolexes if it came from someone named Persnickety J. Altruism or Abnegation T. Velocity.

For a while, almost every spam email had a funny fake name as the sender, and then the spammers morphed into phishers and started pretending to be reputable financial institutions instead of Nigerian princes. In the blog comments, however, it's still a badly spelled marketplace of watches, shoes and nutritional supplements, with Valium and Viagra for all, no prescription required!

Updated: I realized that they're probably Russian characters and not Greek, as most of my spammers come from Russia.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Urban poetry

You can't get much more urban than fire escapes, here adorning an already extremely ornamental brick facade on Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, on a sunny day last fall.

I'm not sure why the original builders thought that screaming faces on every arch were a good idea, but you can't say this building doesn't have personality.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday bird blogging

A blue jay, another of the year-round residents of Central Park.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More snow

More of the winter wonderland.

After the storm

The blizzard that was supposed to make most of today miserable left town early. By 11 am, the sun was shining, and my plans to spend the day cleaning my apartment and reading one of the five new books I downloaded to my Kindle no longer seemed so attractive.

I have to keep reminding myself that although it's clear and sunny it's also bitterly cold and there's a foot of snow on the ground, so although I may give in and go out later, it's not likely to be for very long.

Saturday geometries

Another picture from lower Manhattan this week. The lights look deceptively warm and welcoming through the frosted glass on a gloomy day, but it's just file cabinets and ringing phones on the other side of those windows.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Urban poetry

One last picture from the party a few weeks ago, of traffic around Columbus Circle at night.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It was evening all afternoon

It was snowing 
And it was going to snow. 
The blackbird sat 
In the cedar-limbs.

That's my old pal Wallace Stevens, of course.

I spent today downtown at a training class. Here's a view from the classroom, Jersey docks behind the Statue of Liberty. It was foggy, with snow flurries, and the day never got much brighter than in this photo.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy blog day to me

Today this blog is five years old. I created it just before a planned trip to Egypt, my first vacation in many years, as a way to share the pictures and stories with friends back home. An uncooperative gall bladder derailed that particular trip, as described in my second blog post:

I started to have stabbing pains in my back the day before I was due to leave, but I assumed I had pulled something packing. The vomiting the next morning was obviously excitement or nerves or both. Certainly not anything that was going to cause me to miss a trip I'd been planning for seven months, for my first vacation in almost thirteen years.

Which is what I kept telling them at the airport several hours later, when I was throwing up every ten minutes, running a fever and doubled over in pain, but still insisting that I was fine, really, and I was going to be getting on that plane.

The airline had other ideas -- understandably, they really don't like it when people need medical attention on long flights over bodies of water. 

It took me a couple of years to get into a rhythm of what I wanted the blog to be, both when I was traveling and when I wasn't. I've been lucky enough to travel a lot the past few years and I've tried to share some of the amazing things I've seen. This past year, I visited five new countries -- South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Norway -- but rather than being able to say I've now crossed safari and fjord cruise off my life list, I find I just want to go back and do them both again. Along with all the other places I haven't seen and want to experience.

Ironically, this anniversary coincides with another cancelled trip. I was supposed to be leaving for Madrid Wednesday to spend a week in an English language immersion program for Spanish businesspeople, but I've been very sick and can scarcely speak English that's understandable to native speakers at the moment.

I hope to reschedule Spain later in the year. Other than a trip to Oregon in July I'm not sure where else the year is going to bring me but I have some possibilities in mind. Wherever I go, there will be pictures.

Sunday bird blogging

There's a light dusting of snow on the roofs and fire escapes this morning, so this picture from late December seems appropriate: a house sparrow, puffed up against the chill like the humans in their borrowed down.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday reflections

Another shot of the Javits Center, beams behind reflections.

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