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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Arboreal poetry

I'm back in Pleasanton, California, a town that is everything its name implies. On the left, one of the beautiful trees in Ken Mercer Sports Park; on the right, the beautifully textured bark on another tree.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This wonderful image from the Hubble shows the effects of gravitational lensing, as the gravity from the large clusters of galaxies in the foreground distort and amplify the light from the galaxies behind them, making it possible to observe objects that would otherwise be too faint or too small.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA, M. Gladders et al.
Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A bluejay in Central Park.

I am enjoying my first morning of West Coast jet lag -- I fell asleep before 7 pm last night and have been awake since 4. I expect my brain will arrive sometime Tuesday.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday reflections

Another look at the Chrysler Building, as reflected in a car on Lexington.

I'm sitting in a lounge at JFK, about to take my first trip out of New York since I came back from Africa. The good news: the airport seems to be back to normal after the horrible shutdown (fingers crossed that this also applies to Air Traffic Control.) Also there is avocado toast.

The bad news: I had to listen to one side of an excruciating phone conversation about how anti-Trump the New York Times is, and how much they hate anyone with money. (This last part is particularly laughable; back when the Thursday Style section was called Living, everyone I knew called it Having. And that's still an excellent name for it.)

Fortunately I have headphones. And the avocado toast is quite tasty.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Urban poetry

The penthouse terrace at Elsie, where my friend Geraldine's firm had a party last night and I got to tag along. It was surprisingly temperate on the terrace, but there were delicious hors d'oeuvres inside and I drank an entire glass of wine for the first time since I got sick last year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This bright burst of color is NGC 1898, a globular cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA

Monday, January 21, 2019

Another view of porpoising

Three penguins this time, but unfortunately seen from behind.

I would have loved to get a shot of penguins porpoising seen from the side, but had to settle for a row of (admittedly cute) penguin butts.


Apologies for being late, but apparently yesterday was Penguin Awareness Day, and I neglected to celebrate.

Here's a picture from Antarctica, a year ago this month. This chinstrap penguin is porpoising, leaping out of the water and arcing back in. Penguins may be easy to photograph on land, but they're almost impossible to catch in the water. They race through the water like little torpedoes, then leap out to grab a breath before plunging back in. I never managed to get great pictures of them porpoising, because it was impossible to predict where they'd surface and by the time you saw them they were gone.

This is my best picture, but because it's only one penguin and he was out of the frame by the time he was completely out of the water, you can't really tell that he's leaping out of the water. It looks more like he's trudging ashore after a swim.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A tufted titmouse.

If not for that stupid branch in the way, this would be a perfect picture, but that typical titmouse adorableness comes though anyway.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday reflections

The back of the Winter Garden, where I bought my tea on Monday.

So many reflection shots of buildings end up being layers of blue because of the sky, so here's a black and white version.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Looking through the eye

The new One World Trade Center, seen from -- and through -- the Oculus.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Oculus detail

More of the Oculus

A view from outside.

Because it's long and narrow in shape and gets wider below street level, the Oculus looks surprisingly small from the street.

Except for those enormous wings, of course.

Urban poetry

It took me a few years to get there, but here's the interior of the World Trade Center transportation center, also known as the Oculus, designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Monday I was looking through architecture photos online and saw an interesting photo of the exterior. It reminded me that I'd always wanted to go back there after it opened, but the few times I've been in Lower Manhattan in the past few years -- for classes or jury duty -- I never had time.

Now I've got nothing but time, so I hopped on a bus and went downtown on a whim. It was a clear sunny day, cold (because January) but not unpleasant with a cup of hot tea in hand, even by the river. I walked around, drank my tea, took some pictures, then got on another bus and came home.

I loved being able to do that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

M100, seen in a recent photograph from the Hubble.

Monsieur Messier may have felt a thrill of accomplishment when his famous list of Celestial Objects That Are Not Comets hit triple digits, but hélas, he never got to see it in all this wonderful detail.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

The green blades of grass are a clue that this is another picture from last summer, but one of the consolations of winter in New York is that cardinals stick it out with us and provide bright bits of color in the dull landscape.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday reflections

You can tell from the green leaves that this picture, of an apartment building lobby on West 44th Street, was taken last summer. In January, the city palette is all grays and browns with cool silver light.

I bought an Instant Pot several weeks ago, and it's wonderful for making soup -- just chop up a bunch of vegetables, brown some meat if desired, and push a couple of buttons. If the vegetables are watery enough -- onions, cabbage, peppers -- you don't even need stock as the pressure cooking extracts a tasty broth.

If the seasoning is insufficient, I just pour in some Buffalo sauce, and voila! Hot and spicy cabbage soup, perfect for lunch on a gray January afternoon.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Urban poetry

The slow line of cars heading for the Midtown Tunnel on a rainy evening in New York.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This vaguely creepy looking blob -- like an evil snowman come to life -- is Ultima Thule, the Kuiper Belt object 6.5 billion kilometers from the Sun encountered by the New Horizons spacecraft last week. Technically Ultima is the larger of the two blobs and Thule is the smaller; they probably teamed up as the result of a collision shortly after the formation of the Solar System and have been held together by gravity ever since.

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University APL, Southwest Research Institute

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mid-century tech

The earphones for the simultaneous translations in the General Assembly. I'm sure it works, but it does look quite retro.

The General Assembly

The General Assembly is obviously much larger than any of the council rooms. This chamber was a collaborative design by the eleven architects, led by Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, who designed the U.N. headquarters.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

The unexpected colors of the U.N. council rooms made me think we could use another mandarin duck photo. So here's Mandy in all his colorful glory.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Economic and Social Council

Sweden's contribution to the Conference Center.

The Trusteeship Council

The Trusteeship Council doesn't exist anymore; it was set up to handle decolonization in the wake of the Second World War. All of the trust territories have now either achieved independence or joined with other former territories.

The room, Denmark's gift, is used as a general meeting room now. I love that ceiling.

The Security Council

The Conference Building, which can't be seen from the street, lies between the Secretariat and the General Assembly. The three meeting rooms we saw there -- the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council -- were like a time capsule of mid-century design. 

More specifically, mid-century Scandinavian design -- the three rooms were gifts from, respectively, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It's obvious they haven't updated much since the buildings were completed in 1952.

Somehow when I've pictured some of the events that have taken place in the Security Council -- Adlai Stevenson confronting the Russian ambassador over missiles in Cuba, Colin Powell's claim that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction -- I never realized that they were taking place in a room with blond wood and baby blue chairs, and lime green seating for the spectators.

The United Nations

The U.N. tour didn't allow wandering around outside the buildings so I couldn't get some of the views I would have liked. But here are two external shots of the General Assembly and Secretariat buildings.

The photo on the right is the view from First Avenue, with the ring of flags in front of the General Assembly seen through the trees. The picture on the left is one you can only see from inside the grounds -- the back of the General Assembly building and the Secretariat building seen from the side. 

Saturday reflections

Sphere within Sphere, an artwork by Arnaldo Pomodoro on the grounds of the United Nations, reflecting the city around it.

I very much enjoyed my visit to the UN yesterday, although everyone in the group seemed to find it hilarious that someone who lives in New York was taking the tour. If the government ever opens again, maybe I'll go to the Statue of Liberty next.

There will be many more pictures.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Urban poetry

I have never been even a little bit tempted to go to Times Square on New Year's Eve; it's one experience that I'm perfectly content to experience secondhand. (I can hear the crowd cheering from my nice warm apartment on the rare occasion that I am actually awake at midnight.)  But I do love walking through the morning after, watching the cleanup of confetti and party hats.

It rained last night and I slept late this morning, and I didn't even leave the apartment until mid-afternoon. Surprisingly, there was still plenty of confetti -- the winds were obviously making cleanup a challenge.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

I had several lovely images of nebulae to pick from for this New Year's Day offering, but these colors won. This is the Lobster Nebula, located, appropriately enough, in Scorpio. As usual, I don't really detect a lobster, but I could be persuaded that it's a giant crab.

Image Credit: Dean Carr

Blog Archive