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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome to the working week

There are worse earworms to have on a Monday morning than the Clash. I actually saw them live, opening for the Who at Shea Stadium. Obviously I was an infant at the time, but I do remember this song.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday bird blogging

Another pigeon congregation. Even I don't always show pigeons the respect I show other avians, but I do love the way each one is different, and their alertness and curiosity as they look down on us.

The season has definitely turned, as pigeons and mourning doves are courting, and some of the flirting is taking place on my fire escape. They're all still at the stage of making eyes and cooing at each other -- literally cooing, of course. Then one of the males puffs his chest out a little too far, or tries to get too close, and the female bolts. But they'll be building nests together any day now.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday reflections

Tour buses lined up in a parking lot last Saturday. I assume they had brought theatergoers to town for Broadway matinees as some of them had the names of shows behind the windshield.

I loved the reflections, and those huge scary windshield wipers, and the symmetry of the three buses in a row, and I posted this on Flickr, where I only put the photos I really like. No explanations or snarky commentary there; the pictures have to be able to stand alone.

And it became my first Flickr picture to get Explored.  Which is either a big deal, mostly to other Flickr denizens who get Explored all the time, or a stupid, meaningless algorithm that selects 500 allegedly "interesting" pictures every day, according to those who don't. People who don't Flickr, or who just use it to post 200 photos of their amazing vacation that no one else will ever look at, have never heard of Explore and don't care.

This is definitely not the most interesting picture I've ever posted, but I'm not going to bitch because the gods of Flickr thought so. (She looks around to see if anyone is watching, does a little happy dance with some high-pitched squealing, then resumes her air of jaded sophistication.)

As I was saying, No biggie.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Urban poetry

Okay, so we did have a little bit of snow last night. And it really hasn't been all that warm yet. Or even a little bit warm.

But it is spring, and I think scenes like this are finally, officially, behind us.

Until next year.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Astronomy Tuesday

NASA released this stunning photo last week -- a crescent Saturn captured by Cassini last September.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday bird blogging

A black-capped chickadee, in a web of branches that won't be bare much longer.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday reflections

A parade of windows, the old kind with sashes that probably still actually open, in an older brick building in the middle of the modern glass around Rockefeller Plaza.

I love how most of the windows are just glimpses of ordinary offices, so mundane, and then pop! those wild reflections in the middle look like the art on some forgotten acid band's album cover in the psychedelic Sixties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Urban poetry

Here's a nice blast of color: flags whipping in the wind in Rockefeller Plaza.

Notice the flags at the far end, where it looks as though there wasn't even a gentle breeze. (Trust me, it was quite gusty.) I kept hoping for a shot where all the flags would be flapping around at once, but the wind ran up and down the line of flags like a wave and refused to cooperate. I like the picture anyway.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Astronomy Tuesday

Big News about the Big Bang, so no pretty pictures of planets this week.

A team of astronomers at the South Pole detected gravitational waves 13.8 billion years in the past, at the birth of the universe, confirming that the universe expanded violently in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second of its existence. It explains how the universe, which basically extends 14 billion light years in every direction, is so uniform, with pretty much the same stuff everywhere you look.

While this latest chapter involves expensive equipment in the most remote part of the planet, it began with some equations in Alan Guth's notebook 35 years ago. That one man's brain puzzled out the beginnings of everything -- literally, everything -- with the help of a pencil and a piece of paper is just further evidence of how strange and wonderful the universe really is, producing funny creatures with minds that want nothing more than to understand it.

Understanding is mostly beyond this brain, sadly. I have to settle for observation and wonder.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Adventures in spam

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday bird blogging

A white-throated sparrow, perched on what we all hope is the last of this winter's snow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday reflections

Dusk reflected in a window on West 37th Street. I like that slash of the fluorescent light inside.

I don't know what any of us are going to talk about if this milder weather persists. It's been a while since the routine How are you? of day to day life has been answered with anything except some variation of "Ready for this winter to be over."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Urban poetry

Bannisters on a brownstone. The wood looks relatively new compared to the stairs, so I'm thinking it's not the original.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Astronomy Tuesday

Sunrise on the moon.

These are peaks in Tycho, a crater on the moon's Southern Hemisphere, as photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011. Tycho is a baby among craters, only about 100 million years old, so it hasn't been smoothed out by subsequent impacts. And though it isn't that large compared to other craters, the series of rays from the original impact that surround it make it seem more prominent than it is.

And of course, it's named for Tycho Brahe, the great Danish astronomer, known for his very detailed observations and precise measurements of heavenly bodies, and for his extremely colorful personal life. He lost his nose in a duel (quarreling over mathematical formulas) and wore an artificial nose most of his life, and he is believed to have died from a burst bladder because protocol did not allow him to leave a banquet to relieve himself. He also had a tame moose that met a tragic end when it drank too much beer at dinner and fell down the stairs.

Naming a lunar crater for him seems like the least we can do to make up for the loss of that moose.

Credit: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State Univ. / Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday bird blogging

I have much better pictures of this cardinal sitting on a tree branch; I couldn't get a close, unobstructed view when he was on the ground. But I love the bright red against the snow, so this is the photo I'm going with.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Look around, leaves are brown, there's a patch of snow on the ground

It was in the 50's today, and even though the sunlight was pale and weak as though someone had poured skim milk over the sky, it was the first day in the long time when going up to the park on a weekend morning was a reasonable thing to do.

That didn't mean I wanted to. Oh no -- I thought of a hundred perfectly good reasons why I ought to stay in bed and have another cup of coffee and enjoy my Saturday morning rather than trudging through the slush and the mud. But I have missed the birds, and I'm contemplating a major life change that has me very anxious, and unsure about what I should do, and the park is always both a tonic and a tranquilizer. So I got out the big camera lens, hopped in a cab, and headed for the Ramble.

There's still snow everywhere and the lake is completely frozen, but at least the pathways in the Ramble have been cleared of ice and I could walk over to the feeders without feeling as though I was taking my life in my hands. It was mostly the usual winter visitors -- finches and woodpeckers and sparrows -- but they felt like old friends I hadn't visited in a while.

This evil, endless winter isn't giving up without a fight, but you can feel it: it's finally, finally almost over.

Saturday reflections

Why am I so endlessly fascinated with reflections?

The relentless verticals of the Exxon Building, below, turn into something curvy and abstract when reflected in the Time-Life Building across the street.  You may know that the lights and shadows glimpsed behind and through the windows are just desks and hallways and fluorescent lights in some deadly dull office but, reflected, the vague shapes between the undulating pillars are endlessly beautiful, each window pane a unique piece of art.

I go past on 50th Street almost every day, and I always have to stop and look.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Urban poetry

Nothing funny or quirky about this, but I do love the lamplight, and the shape of the tree against the windows.

It reminds me of this Langston Hughes lyric.

     Rest at pale evening...
     A tall, slim tree...
     Night coming tenderly
     Black like me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Astronomy Tuesday

Tourists always take pictures of the sunset, and that apparently includes the Mars rover Spirit, which took this picture of a Martian sunset in 2005.

All of the dust in the atmosphere scatters the light so the sunset looks blue.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday bird blogging

No cute little songbirds this week. I was walking down Tenth Avenue yesterday on my way to a new market that's opened in the neighborhood, and there were hundreds of pigeons circling in the sky, and more sitting around on every available surface.

It was a little unnerving, like an East Coast version of The Birds -- though it's hard to see pigeons cast in the role of killers. Especially clever killers. Especially clever, organized killers. 

My guess is that they're as sick of this winter as the rest of us and they wanted to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let there be light

The bit of sun we got yesterday and early today made me realize that, even apart from the Arctic temperatures and the constant snow, this has really been an unusually dark winter, with very few clear cold sunny days. I was noticing the patterns of light on buildings like the brick facade here and it was as though I hadn't seen them in years.

This is another nice New York juxtaposition: old industrial brick, a water tower, and the spire of the Empire State Building. But it's the light I love -- I want to slurp it up like a milkshake while it lasts.


One of those juxtapositions that are so New York.

Well, we survived the frigid month of Foreverary. A new storm is on its way, hitting town sometime late tomorrow, so I'm enjoying the sunny interlude while it lasts.

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