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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday reflections

Wintry colors here, which feel appropriate on a day when the air is rushing around enthusiastically, shoving the trees outside my window back and forth and sharpening the bitter cold temperatures.

It was 12 degrees when I got up, and eventually I had to give up on the idea that I wasn't going to go outside until it hit a minimum of 20, since that may not happen until April.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Urban poetry

Some big office buildings try to keep their tenants from clustering around the building entrances when they go outside for a smoke. So you see a lot of signs like this.

Being, for the most part, ignored.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

The Orion nebula can allegedly be seen with the naked eye. Maybe, with better eyes than I have.

The best view I ever got was in the bush of Zambia, hundreds of miles from the nearest city, and even through strong binoculars it was just a white smudge. This magnificent mosaic, taken in different bands of infrared light by the orbiting WISE observatory, is something else entirely.

Image Credit: WISE, IRSA, NASA; Processing and Copyright : Francesco Antonucci

Snow day

Monday, January 26, 2015

Skater's waltz

It's been coming down all day, but the furrow-browed, deeply concerned TV reporters reminding us every ten minutes to STAY INSIDE (while standing for no particular reason on various street corners and highway overpasses being snowed on) insist that the big blizzard hasn't actually started yet, and we won't be getting the real snow until later tonight, when the entire Eastern Seaboard will turn into the ice planet Hoth (tauntauns sold separately.)

In the meantime, here are a few more pictures from Friday, since it was apparently the last sunny day we'll have until well into February. There are always a few showoffs spinning and jumping at the Rockefeller Center ice rink, but I love to watch the novices, clinging desperately to the railings or their friends, and how delighted they look when they start to get the hang of it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

It may have been warmer than usual Friday, but it was still not exactly swimming weather.

But here's a pair of pigeons demonstrating that they are perhaps second only to cockroaches on the indestructibility scale. Brrr!

Sun dance

Here's another relief, part of the two sets on opposite sides of 30 Rock called, for some not very obvious reason, Radio and Television.

It was unexpectedly sunny Friday, and a relatively toasty 35 degrees, so these dancers seemed less interested in acting out cryptic metaphors about modern communications than in just soaking up some rays while they can.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday reflections

The NBC building in Rockefeller Center.

There were originally a lot more windows in this picture, but I ended up cropping it down to get a better look at the Art Deco bas relief. There are many similar reliefs around Rockefeller Plaza, some allegorical, some less so. Like this one, which seems to suggest that not only was television widely known in the Classical world, but that ancient Greek cameramen did their jobs naked.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Urban poetry

I understand that I'm not their target audience, but I still think this storefront on West 50th Street is not the most promising spa I've ever seen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

Happy birthday, Hubble!

In honor of its 25th anniversary (and upgraded optics) the Hubble team captured a larger, higher resolution version of one of its most famous subjects: the Pillars of Creation, in the Eagle Nebula (M16, for those who wonder whether our friend Monsieur Messier took note). While these columns are only a small section of the nebula, they are almost unfathomably huge. The leftmost pillar is about four light years tall, and those little fingers of gas poking out at the tops are each larger than our solar system.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

It's hard to resist a nice grackle.

They're actually quite annoying birds, loud and aggressive, but lovely to look at.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday reflections

I love this taillight shot, with the red wall behind the car, and the black and red reflections in the car window.

It's almost a little too posed. Except that it wasn't.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone

Wednesday night there was an event at the New York Times that for some reason my status as a premier subscriber allowed me to attend. Pamela Paul, the Book Review editor who created the By the Book feature, did a kind of live version with Francine Prose and Andrew Solomon and Mary Higgins Clark. What do you read? Where do you read? How do you read? I love By the Book -- it's one of the first thing I read on Saturday mornings when the new Book Review arrives, and the torn out page frequently ends up crumpled in the bottom of my purse because a book sounded interesting and I want to remember to buy it.

I have at least 20 or 30 books already waiting for me on my nightstand and my Kindle, but that never means I don't want to add 20 more. I like the abundance; I love being able to look through the piles, digital or analog, and think Which one next? It's one of the only things I can be greedy about without feeling guilty.

I took this picture of one of the coat racks on my way out.  New York in January -- I'd know those coats anywhere.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Urban poetry

These planks, stacked on a truck bed, were part of a construction scaffolding that was being taken down.

You would never have noticed them in place; they were just something to stand on. But piled up like this, they turn into a beautiful pattern of unexpected colors and textures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Astronomy Tuesday

This was an easy choice -- NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for today.

This is quite aptly called the Soap Bubble Nebula, discovered only a few years ago in the constellation Cygnus. It is probably a planetary nebula, the end of life for medium-sized stars like our own sun. I have to say that I find it somehow consoling that if our sun has to die -- and it does, and it will -- that it will do it beautifully.

Credit and Copyright: T. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage), H. Schweiker (WIYN), NOAO, AURA, NSF

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

A red-bellied woodpecker graciously bestows some color on the wintry afternoon, in exchange for some seeds.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday reflections

Keeping it simple: a window, a tree.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Urban poetry

The giant Snapple bottle over Eighth Avenue during yesterday's snow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


It's my fault.

Yesterday I realized that by this time last winter we'd already had two huge blizzards, but the snow we've seen so far this year has basically melted as soon as it hit the ground. Whew. Maybe this winter won't be so bad after all.

Somehow between the time I woke up this morning to gray, but clear, skies, and when I left for work an hour or so later, several inches of snow just materialized. For some reason, this seemed horribly unfair.

Astronomy Tuesday

Two galaxies, NGC 1055 in the upper right, and Messier 77, in the constellation Cetus. I think they look as though they're dancing, but they're actually 500,000 light years apart.

Image Credit and Copyright: Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday bird blogging

A tufted titmouse performing an oral pedicure.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Saturday reflections

Here's something a little different: the fan in my bedroom, reflecting the window gate and slices of the world outside.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Winter evening

            Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.
       Margaret Avison -- New Year's Poem

Icy winds today, whipping scraps of paper so high up in the air I thought they were birds. There's no doubt that one of the great pleasures of winter weather is being inside, away from it, and I am reveling in the quiet warmth of a day when blessedly little happened.

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