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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

Returning from the exotic Middle East, this is as American as you can get: a robin pausing to listen for breakfast on one of the lush green lawns of Central Park in summer, before hopping as far away as he can get from the annoying woman with the camera.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday reflections

Since I'm doing some housekeeping, here's a reflection shot I never posted: the scalloped facade of the World Trade Center in Abu Dhabi.

Friday, June 23, 2017


Two pictures of the stonework inside the Umayyed temple.

The Umayyed temple

You can't see much of the temple in this picture, but I like the waving grasses and the old stones off in the distance.

Above the amphitheater

A few more pictures of the Citadel: a portal in the stone walls, another view of the modern city beyond the ruins, and one more picture of the Temple of Hercules, just because it's spectacular.

Amman flashback: the Forum

Two more looks at the forum -- one from in front of the amphitheater entrance, which gives you a sense of how huge it is, and the streams of people that are constantly coming and going, and the other from the terrace on top of the hill across the street (the stone walls you can see in the picture on the left.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Faces of Amman

I promised more pictures from Amman, but it turned out that I had a lot I hadn't even looked through yet. So I'm still sorting and cleaning up, but here's a start.

The top two pictures are in the forum in front of the amphitheater, which is a fun place for people-watching -- I only wish I'd had a lot more time there! The men on the bottom right were walking on a nearby street. I saw the two teenage girls from the taxi on the way back to my hotel.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Urban poetry

I took this with my phone on my way to work this morning: getting ready to greet the summer solstice with yoga in Times Square.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Another chapter in When Galaxies Collide!

This is HGC90, one of the so-called Hickson Compact Groups. Three galaxies are distorting one another with their gravity, leading to no doubt bruised feelings and furious star formation.

Image Credit: NASA; ESA, Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing: Oliver Czernetz

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

A blue jay in shadow, in front of a burst of bright early summer greens.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday reflections

I love these colors, on West 52nd Street in New York.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Urban poetry

Lights and shadows in the (mostly) empty lobby of an office building on a Saturday.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's another look at the Dumbell Nebula, number 27 on Monsieur Messier's list of things that are not comets.

This was taken by the Subaru Telescope, one of the many in the prime viewing location atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The Subaru is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Image Credit and Copyright: Data; Subaru, NAOJ, Assembly and Processing; Roberto Colombari

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

This lovely creature hiding up in the branches is a great crested flycatcher. They're allegedly quite common, but this was the first one I ever managed to see, much less photograph.

This week I confirmed my booking for Antarctica in January, after I was waitlisted on my first two date choices. (My friend Jayne thinks I'm crazy to book things so far in advance, but I've learned the hard way that if you dither too long you may be out of luck. Hotels can usually be cancelled and flights can be rearranged, but for tours you just have to take a deep breath and commit.)

So I'm dreaming of glaciers and snow during these bright hot days of early summer.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Another look

Here's the French building again, in context, with a few of its neighbors.

Urban poetry

In New York, it always pays to look up.

This is the Fred F. French Building on Fifth Avenue, one of the first Art Deco skyscrapers. There are a pair of stunning faience panels at the top, with sunbursts and Assyrian-style griffins, and many years ago when I was first working in New York, I used to stand on the terraces outside our offices and look down Fifth Avenue at the north-facing panel and wonder, What the hell?

Most of the exterior is just brick, but the setbacks all have this bright terra-cotta trim in varying patterns. It's not what you notice first, but it's worth taking a look at.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Another beautiful shot of Jupiter from the Juno probe, this time seen from below where the horizontal bands around the planet that we're used to seeing are much less noticeable.

Who knew Jupiter was so blue? It looks like swirls of painting on a porcelain bowl.

Image Credit: NASA, Juno, SwRI, MSSS, Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran

Monday, June 5, 2017

Welcome to the working week

I've been meaning to post a few pictures from Amman that I never got around to, so here's one to get me started: a man chatting with a policeman on a cigarette break in the Roman amphitheater.

It's allegedly late spring, here in New York many months later, but the weather hasn't been much warmer than it was that winter day in Amman.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

Sex in the city: a frisky pigeon trying to get lucky on an underpass.

Saturday, June 3, 2017


A bonus photo, and a shout-out to the reality-based community: neat triangles of light carved by the shadows on an iron fence on West 37th Street.

After all the abstracts I've been creating recently, there's something reassuring about patterns and the geometry of simple shapes. And you don't get much more reality-based than rivets on an iron fence.

Saturday reflections

Here's the kind of gaudy garish color I took out of the last picture -- a very abstract reflection, with only the word “Mercedes” in the top right corner to tell you that this came off a car.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Urban poetry

42nd Street, seen through a wide-angle lens.

Even in black and white, it's nothing like the gritty street of hookers and hustlers and drunks and druggies I used to avoid when I first moved to New York.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Just for fun.

This started out as a photo of the pipes and vents and other structures on a nearby roof, taken from my hotel room in Chicago. I switched the colors and added some double exposures, and ended up liking the result very much.

Because reality feels highly overrated these days.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's a pretty galaxy to start off the (working) week -- number 101 in Messier's catalog, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy.

Image Credit and Copyright: Laszlo Bagi

Monday, May 29, 2017

Urban poetry

I was going to save this for the end of the week, but what the hell, it's a holiday.

A very cool bike rack, just off North Rush Street.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Random things I managed to see in Chicago

Right up my alley

Two samples of the Chicago-style alleyway, one charming with painted brick, those wrought iron hanging lights and the city looming in the background, and the other more typical big-city grunge, with giant beer cans and a dumpster.

I could live here, definitely

And I'm equally sure I could never afford to.

This is East Bellevue Place, a street of charming houses just off Michigan Avenue. It was chilly and getting dark and I didn't stop to try to get decent pictures from the other side of the trees lining the street. But I would have loved to be going up those front steps and into the warm glow of that living room.

Sunday bird blogging

I saw this bird hopping in a gutter near the Natural History museum last weekend, and took its picture mostly because I couldn't figure out what it was.

Away from the park, New York birds are mostly limited to pigeons, house sparrows and starlings, all of which are quite distinctive. This was too small to be a pigeon and much too large to be a house sparrow, so it had to be a juvenile starling. I'd seen them before, but I'd forgotten how dull they are compared to the flashy adults.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

John Hancock Center

Another look at the tower disappearing into the mists.

Water Tower

North Michigan Avenue, in the gloaming.

Saturday reflections

The Burberry store on North Michigan Avenue, up the street from my hotel in Chicago.

It had been raining most of the day and I didn't get outside until evening, but the gloom just enhances these reflections. The building is so insanely shiny that it takes advantage of every photon of light aimed its way.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Urban poetry

Some of the Times Square costumed characters posing with a baby while the parents took pictures. I love the expression on the kid's face.

I was in Chicago for a conference this week, and I had intended to come up with something very Chicago-y for urban poetry day. But I had very little time to get outside and walk around -- once the sessions finished for the day I had to spend most of the evening answering email and doing my regular job -- and I've had no chance to look at the pictures I did take. 

I got in very late last night, after thunderstorms shut down La Guardia for most of yesterday. I sat around O'Hare for five hours before getting on the plane, then we sat at the gate for another two hours while we waited to find out if we'd be allowed to take off. (It wasn't just that no planes were being allowed to land there -- La Guardia usually shuts down at midnight and they had to get approvals to keep the airport open.) We finally got in around 3 am, and I've been cross-eyed from lack of sleep all day.

So Chicago can wait. In the meantime, here's a grumpy baby, brought to you by Grumpy Kathleen.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

I've posted several amazing images from the Cassini mission to Saturn recently, but Jupiter has its own exploration going on, and the images from the Juno probe are also stunning.

This white spot is a massive storm in the planet's Southern Hemisphere, surrounded by thousands of miles of turbulent swirling cloud.

 Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Bjorn Jonsson

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday bird blogging

Forget the warblers -- for me the real sign of spring is when the redwing blackbirds show up. (Plus, I can actually identify redwings without a field guide, so I'm already inclined to like them.)

This isn't a perfect picture -- too much clutter in the way. But that's life, or my life, anyway.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday reflections

Because I haven't done a taillight in a long time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Urban poetry

Okay, so this woman with bright red hair just happened to be standing in front of the red awnings of the Westway Diner on Ninth Avenue reading a book called Book of Dissent that happened to have a bright red jacket and -- I don't know. I feel as though she must have been posing for someone; it was all a little too perfect. Or maybe she was meeting a blind date and the book was how she was going to be recognized?

Anyway, she ended up posing for me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

I've seen a lot of galaxies, but I have to admit that this image just made my jaw drop. How lucky are we to live in such a splendid universe?

This is UGC 1810, which is in the process of colliding with a galactic neighbor. All the brouhaha has resulted in that striking ring of hot young blue stars around the more traditional spiral form; in another billion years or so, UGC 1810 will pull the kids into line, they'll cool down a little, and the galaxy will look more like a typical spiral.

I'm on jury duty, in Federal Court, so no electronic devices of any kind are allowed. I don't mind having to read a dead-tree book rather than my Kindle, but I do wish I could bring my camera or even my phone. The weather has been gorgeous, if windy, and I could have taken a hundred pictures of the skyline yesterday.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA; Processing and Copyright: Domingo Pestana

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