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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

This is the galaxy cluster known as Abell 370.

Astronomers had noticed the large arc in the upper right corner of this image decades ago, and in the mid-Eighties it was identified as the probable result of a gravitational lens. The Hubble finally made it possible to see this cluster in detail and confirm the hypothesis; the cumulative gravity of the cluster of galaxies acts like a giant lens, distorting the light that passes through it. That large arc of light is actually two perfectly ordinary galaxies behind Abell 370 that appear distorted when seen from this side. So it's not quite like seeing gravity, but it's pretty darn close.

Click to enlarge and you can see numerous other arcs and distortions of more distant galaxies seen through the lens.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team and ST-ECF

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

These lovely creatures insisted on hanging back modestly behind the branches, as though pink birds are a common sight anywhere, and pink birds with huge orange and white crests occur anywhere except Australia and certain drug-assisted fever dreams. They're pink cockatoos, or Major Mitchell's cockatoos, and like any sensible creature in the heat and humidity of Kuranda, they preferred to remain in the shade instead of strutting and showing off their unlikely splendor in the sun so I could get a decent picture of them.

Even so, that is one impressive cockatoo. Well done, Major Mitchell!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday reflections

Glass floor at the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.

I've managed to overcome many of my phobias, but there's still something about walking on a surface that I can see through -- glass or grate -- that makes me queasy. I just try not to look down.

But if there are interesting reflections like this, then I don't really have a choice.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Urban poetry

When Bad Things happen to Good Fruit: bananas for sale at a sidewalk stand during a heat wave, and turning from overripe but still good for baking into disgusting slime missiles so rapidly you could actually see it happening.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

When Galaxies Collide!

They do it on a galactic scale, so from our perspective it's very very big and very very slow. Galaxies are mostly empty space; it's not as though stars slam into each other and everything blows up. They slide a little closer to each other and gravity shifts; gases eddy and coalesce and maybe one star leeches some mass off another as they pass.

These two galaxies are part of Stephan's Quintet, a galaxy group 300 million light years away in Pegasus. While the ongoing collisions of four of the five galaxies in the group might show a distinct lack of anything humans would classify as drama, they're photogenic enough to have snagged a major movie role -- in the beginning of It's a Wonderful Life, the angels who discuss the life and times of George Bailey are played by none other than Stephan's Quintet.

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA; Processing and Copyright: Jose Jimenez Priego

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

This is a pukeko, the New Zealand variant of the Australasian swamphen, hanging out in the swampy grounds in Rotorua.

One odd fact about New Zealand: except for a few species of bat, there are no indigenous land mammals there. As a result, many of the native birds are flightless, and even the birds that can fly build their nests on the ground because they had no ground-based predators. But the Maoris brought rats and dogs, and Europeans brought all the usual small mammals, and nesting on the ground, or being unable to fly, is no longer a safe lifestyle for birds and most of the native species are now endangered.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday reflections

Bonus post -- another set of reflections with the concrete blocks behind the glass. So many layers, so many textures.


I've taken many pictures of this and I never get tired of it: the skylights in the atrium at Equitable Tower, with the building looking like a walkway that ends abruptly in cloud.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Urban poetry

Waiting for the light.

I took this with my phone -- the shoes, the bag and the street just coordinated so beautifully. (I rotated the photo for effect; it looks like they're my feet but they're not.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars...

(Yes, I am that old.)

This amazing picture was taken in Australia, like so many of the best Earthbound pictures of the sky. It shows all of the visible planets lined up like obedient schoolchildren under the stern gaze of the Milky Way.

Image Credit and Copyright: Alex Cherney (Terrastro, TWAN)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

Another flashback to more tropical climes: another cassowary in Kuranda.

This picture was a little dark and noisy, but I like the point of view: seen from this angle, that bony ridge on top of his head isn't quite so alarming.

The eyes, on the other hand...

Saturday, August 13, 2016


A fire escape and railings make some interesting grids outside a bar on Eighth Avenue.

It's going to be another very hot and humid day here so I think I'll be cleaning out a closet with the air conditioning on.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Urban poetry

A suitably gritty filter over a quick phone shot of a dumpster parked on a city street, inexplicably filled with mattresses still wrapped in plastic.

It might be the result of a fire in a bedding store -- it's definitely been hot enough for some serious spontaneous combustion.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Readiest Road to Health

I woke up early this morning for a dentist appointment and knew pretty quickly I wouldn't be going anywhere. I wasn't puking or in pain, I simply lacked the ability to get out of bed, or for that matter, to sit up in bed. So there I remained, staggering to the kitchen every so often for a cup of something hot and soothing. Fortunately I didn't encounter any roving bands of delinquent kittens on the way or they might have done some serious damage.

It's mostly the stress of planning a huge project without any department behind me, and no backup for the ever-growing pile of deliverables. There are important decisions to be made and no one but me to pull the facts together and recommend a course of action.

I really need this, a “perfect substitute for the live horse" so I can ride my genuine horse-action saddle while I'm on project team conference calls and get some of those promised good spirits and stimulated liver action going.

I just can't decide whether I should get a sidesaddle or not.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

We don't have photos from the Juno probe yet, but in the meantime there are still plenty of amazing images of Jupiter from the Cassini mission to savor.

This look at the moon Io sailing high over the Jovian clouds was taken New Year's Day 2001.

Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

A sun conure in Kuranda, looking ever so demure, but no doubt plotting how to eat the buttons off your blouse. It's not a very crisp image but I can't resist that face.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday reflections

There's a corporate art exhibit behind the glass, with several pieces consisting of stacked concrete shapes. It makes an interesting texture behind the odd shapes of the plaza seating and the New York street reflections. I'm going to go back and capture some more reflections before the exhibit closes.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Urban poetry

A wall of water in one of the many little corporate mini-plazas scattered through Midtown Manhattan.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dagen H

This is Stockholm on September 3, 1967, the day Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. (Dagen H just means “H day”; the H is for högertrafik, right-hand traffic.)

Swedes had resisted the change for 40 years, even though their Scandinavian neighbors drove on the right, and most Swedes had cars with the driver's seat on the left. You can't make out the details in the photo, but I'm confident that every single driver is looking grumpy.

Posted for no particular reason -- it makes me smile, and it is a fair representation of how things are going at the office these days. I had hoped that I had done my last Windows/Microsoft Office upgrade but alas that was not the case.

Photograph by Jan Collsiöö / Public Domain

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

Saturn noir.

This image, taken by Cassini, shows the dark side of Saturn, something we never see from our faraway perch on Earth. You can just see the moon Tethys as a bright dot above Saturn's north pole.

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

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