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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday reflections

It's maybe cheating a little to call this a reflection shot, but too bad -- I'm on vacation.

This is the early evening view along the water in Sunriver, Oregon, yesterday evening. The journey here was mercifully hassle-free, except for the getting up at 4:30 in the morning part. The air was thick with wildfire smoke in the afternoon, but did clear, as you can see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Urban poetry

If you're really, really, desperate for cash (perhaps because someone is pointing a weapon at you) here's a convenient ATM on one of the not-quite gentrified streets of Hell's Kitchen.

I'm leaving at dawn tomorrow (assuming I remember to bring my wallet this time) for Oregon and a weekend of eclipse-related activities, followed by some time relaxing with friends in California.

Blogging will probably be sporadic until I'm home again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Cassini is coming to the end of its mission around Saturn after thirteen years, but continues to transmit spectacular images.

Here's a closeup of a ring, showing density waves caused by the gravity of one of the many small moons.

Image Credit and License: NASA/JPL/SSI; Digital Composite : Emily Lakdawalla (Planetary Society)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

Wikipedia informs me that “a mustering of storks” is the correct collective noun, but these painted storks in Keoladeo National Park don't appear to be up for mustering anything much.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Palate cleanser

In case you ignored my warning about the cake song and are now stuck in a loop of singing to yourself about birds like tender babies in your hands, here's the song that finally supplanted it in my stubborn brain.

Here we are now, entertain us.

You're welcome.

Saturday reflections

A monster face smiles benignly out at the streets of Providence. This is the window at Big Nazo, a puppet-making and performing collective.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Regarding the earworm

Why is it usually the worst songs, the songs you really hate, that get stuck in an endless loop in your brain?

This all started with Glen Campbell. When I read about his death this week, I thought about songs of his that I'd liked -- this is a clip of my favorite, Gentle on My Mind, with a smokin' guitar solo that demonstrates why, before the corny TV show and string of soft-rock hits, he'd been a well-known session guitarist, and had briefly replaced Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys.

But this isn't the song that got stuck in my brain. Thinking of Glen Campbell made me think of Jimmy Webb, the man who wrote many of his hits: Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Galveston.

And who also wrote what I personally believe (and I am not alone) is the worst song ever written -- MacArthur Park. So, of course, that's the song that's been on endless replay ever since I made the mistake of remembering its existence.

Unfortunately, I'm all too familiar with it. My mother, although an admirable woman in many ways, had a fatal weakness for both Irish actors and variety show-type crooners and Richard Harris was both. He recorded many excruciating songs, all of which my mom repeatedly inflicted on the family throughout the late Sixties -- early Seventies, but for sheer awfulness I contend nothing in recording history comes close to MacArthur Park (and I once owned an album called Hugo Montenegro's Dawn of Dylan that made people run screaming from the room.)

Everyone remembers the cake out in the rain, and how he'll never have the recipe again, oh noooooo...but that's not even the worst lyric. There's this, for one:

I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun

Huh? This is the lyric I've been especially stuck on, because I've been reading so much about eclipses and eye protection, but I still don't understand why he wants warm wine, or is trying to sneak peeks of the sun when his lover isn't looking.

But nothing tops this:

As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

You might be tempted to search it out and give it a listen to see if it could possibly be that bad, but I'm begging you: It is. Don't go there.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Urban poetry

The stern faces of plastic barriers on West 51st Street.

I know I haven't written much about the photos lately -- life, work, and a large volume of the usual crap -- but I leave on vacation the end of next week and hope to return relaxed, refreshed, and significantly more verbal.

With my bad luck streak of cancelled travel in the past year, I've been joking that I expect to get an email from God notifying me that, unfortunately, he's decided to call off the eclipse. The eclipse is still happening as far as I know, but the wildfires in Canada after the extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest have been covering the entire region with a thick layer of smog.

When I checked the forecast for Redmond, Oregon a couple of days ago, the current weather was listed as Smoke. (So apparently that's not limited to Jaipur.) It's clear again now, so fingers crossed that it stays that way until after August 21st. Mama wants to see that corona!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

This is spiral galaxy NGC 1512, which has two unusual rings. The one closer to the center of the galaxy is the bright blue characteristic of a star nursery. The gas and dust in the outer ring are pulled by gravity into the inner ring, where they fuel the baby stars.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Space Telescope

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

This lovely creature is an Indian pond heron, also known as a paddybird.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday reflections

Summer in the city: the tower of St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue reflected in nearby office towers.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Urban poetry

That door looks as though it ought to be an exit, but there aren't any stairs, just that small balcony overlooking a rather grungy parking lot in Providence.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Now that's an aurora.

Christmas came early, in flashes of red and green, in the skies south of Australia in June, as captured from the International Space Station.

Image Credit: Jack Fischer, Expedition 52, NASA

Monday, July 31, 2017

Welcome to the working week

Here's a trifecta of faces from Times Square to start off the week: a dancer, a security guard, and a pretzel vendor.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

It turns out I got a decent picture of a jungle babbler after all. When I looked through India pictures last weekend, I found this one, which was named only with a q, my shorthand when I don't remember the name of a bird or a place and will have to look it up.

Love the fuzz!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday reflections

Here's something a little different: reflections in the windows of a hotel on Rush Street in Chicago, solarized into something even more abstract.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Urban poetry

The lettering is faded so you may not be able to read the sign, but this is The Tri-Store Bridge, in Providence.

This bridge linked three long-gone department stores -- Cherry & Webb, Gladdings and Shepard -- in what was once the retail center of downtown Providence. The Google tells me that the bridge was built in the late nineteenth century, so it would have been handy for the ladies in their long dresses to move from store to store without having to go out in the rain or snow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

This magnificent emission nebula has the unromantic name of IC 1396, but that dark structure just below the center does have the more whimsical, and descriptive, name of the Elephant's Trunk Nebula.

Image Credit and Copyright: César Blanco González

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

“Oh, just hanging out watching the kids -- what are you up to?”

The tropical weather makes makes me feel like I'm back in India, so here's a pair of teenage storks babysitting in Keoladeo National Park.

Those backward knee joints just look so uncomfortable to me, but I have to admit they're much more practical for sitting on the ground than ours.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday reflections

From the archives:

This was taken in Portland, a few years ago, and for some reason never processed. I love the red truck.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Urban poetry

This “public parklet” is a small covered pavilion on one of the main streets in Newport. No one was actually sitting there though -- maybe it just looked too perfect to use -- despite shady seating and the Newport Creamery nearby. This would be a perfect place to sit and enjoy your ice cream.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Sometimes I think the universe is like an enormous Christmas tree, minus the tree: globes and stars and twinkling lights in every color we can imagine (and many that our eyes can't even see.)

Omega Centauri is the largest of the approximately 200 known globular clusters that hover around the halo of our Milky Way. It may actually be the remnants of a small galaxy that merged with ours.

Image Credit and Copyright: Mike O'Day

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

My pictures of goldfinches are never that great, but that bright yellow feels appropriate for the thick of summer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Providential architecture

Some of the very cool buildings, mostly around the Brown campus (those are the main gates in the first picture.)

Saturday reflections

It was blazing hot the day we walked around Providence, and most of the interesting sites are at the top of very steep hills, so air-conditioned art galleries were a welcome break.

Here's some of the art reflected in the very glossy floors at the Providence Art Club.

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Baptist

I've seen many churches called the First Baptist, but this one in Providence is the first First Baptist, founded by Roger Williams in 1638.

They didn't get around to building an actual church until 1775, and the result is the largest surviving wooden structure from Colonial America, according to the blurb on my tourist map.

The prominent spire is modeled after the one on St Martin in the Fields in London.

I've been queuing up Providence photos to post over the next week or two. It was probably my last weekend off until I go away on vacation next month, and I want to savor it as long as I can.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Urban poetry

One of the quaint Colonial communication devices in Newport.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's two for the price of one -- a composite of pictures from two different telescopes, showing Messier 20, the Trifid Nebula, in the center of the image, and Messier 21, the star cluster in the upper left.

Image Credit and Copyright: Martin Pugh

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Random things I saw in Newport

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, which occupies a large chunk of downtown Newport, and a book in a shop window that made us laugh.

If you can't read the title, it's How to Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster, and Master Other Simple Pleasures. Somehow I doubt that anyone in the market for those crystal candleholders next to it is really interested in learning how to split wood.

Newport Tower, close up

Enigmatic, maybe not. But it is an odd thing to see among all the colonial buildings.

Touro Park

This beautiful cherry tree isn't the main draw in this Newport park. It was also the site of a now-demolished mansion built by Benedict Arnold, the first colonial governor of Rhode Island, and great-grandfather of the traitorous general.

The stone structure in the lower right corner of this picture is the Newport Tower, the remains of the windmill built in the mid-seventeenth century. Or so the scientists with all their fancy carbon dating claim; there are numerous theories about Vikings, Chinese sailors, and the Knights Templar actually being the builders. A small museum across the street calls it "the most enigmatic and puzzling single building in the United States."

Sunday bird blogging

The birds of Providence are basically the same as New York -- robins, house sparrows, starlings -- and I didn't take any pictures worth sharing. So here's a cardinal in Central Park.

Because you can always look at another cardinal, am I right?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

More Salve Regina University

Salve Regina

If we hadn't skipped the Breakers, we might have just gotten back on the trolley afterwards and headed back downtown, and would have missed one of my favorite things in Newport: Salve Regina University, a private Catholic college built on seven former Gilded Age estates, just down the road from the Breakers.

I had fantasies of enrolling in one of their graduate programs -- I didn't care which one -- just so I could spend a couple of years living on that campus.

The Breakers

The most famous of the Newport mansions was built by the Vanderbilts in the 1890's, and has 70 rooms.

When we saw the back of the house from the Cliff Walk, I have to admit that $24.50 no longer seemed like such an outrageous price to pay for the privilege of paying a visit. I still wasn't interested in the interior, but I very much wanted to sit under one of the big shade trees on the velvety lawn and stare out at the ocean for awhile.

Then we walked around to the front and saw the long, long line waiting to get in, and I realized that I had much better things to spend $24.50 on after all.

Saturday reflections

An art exhibit on the Brown campus in Providence.

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