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

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Urban poetry

This made me smile -- the Petropolitan, an animal day care in Calgary. I think playing with other people's dogs all day long is a job I could really enjoy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

All the light we cannot see....

Well, most of us can see light, at least in the aptly named visible spectrum, but there's so much more that we can't see, not just the various frequencies of non-visible radiation, but also the dark matter that makes up so much of our universe. At least we have instruments that can see the non-visible forms of light for us. Dark matter not only can't be seen, we actually have no idea what it is.

UGC 2885 was one of the spiral galaxies whose rotation was studied by Vera Rubin in the Sixties. She found that the mass of the visible stars couldn't account for how fast the galaxy's stars were rotating around its center. Unless there was a large amount of matter that we couldn't see, the galaxies should have been flying apart. Thanks to her work, we now know that perhaps 80% of the universe consists of dark matter. This isn't just a new form of the matter we're used to -- protons, neutrons and electrons -- that's for some reason hard to see from Earth. It doesn't seem to interact with what we think of as matter at all, so it may consist of entirely new subatomic particles, almost a universe within a universe.

Think about that. We know so much about the universe, macro and micro, close up and impossibly far away, and yet 80% of it consists of something we know absolutely nothing about. We know it's there. And that's just about all we know.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

I went to the park this week for the first time in a couple of months. Very few birds were around, but it was a beautiful day and a lovely walk.

This blue jay was my only decent picture. I love the soft January light.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday reflections

Street, building, sky -- New York captured and curved on the side of a car by Central Park.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Urban poetry

The on-ramp to winter.

This snow disappeared in a day, but since I got to experience ample winter in Canada over the holidays, I don't really need it to stick around.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

I feel as though this image should be accompanied by the theme to Star Wars.

This is a Herbig-Haro object, a more than usually mundane name for something quite splendid. They're disturbances in the Force, um, patches of nebulosity caused by newborn stars.

The star causing all this mayhem is hidden in the cloud, but those long, lightsaber-like beams are jets of gas and dust that have fallen into the star and are blasted out along its axis of rotation.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI / AURA) / Hubble-Europe Collaboration Acknowledgment: D. Padgett (GSFC), T. Megeath (University of Toledo), B. Reipurth (University of Hawaii)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

Here's a gray catbird digging for a treat in Central Park.

I thought I heard a catbird in the yard behind my bedroom a few days ago, then realized, No, it was just a cat.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday reflections

The Galleria Trees in Calgary made wonderful reflections.

I'm sure they're doing their best to blunt the winter winds coming off the prairies, but all things considered, I'd just as soon be in New York this time of year.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Urban poetry

The yellow sign announces that this snow-covered stairway in Montreal is fermé pour l'hiver.

We've had precious little hiver so far in New York this year, but a snowstorm is on its way tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A tale of four cities

I do love cities in black and white. These are four random pictures from last year: a power station in Manchester, New Hampshire; the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver; a snowy morning in Montreal; a weekday morning near Hudson Yards in New York.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Something a little different: the wonderful blue colors are reflection nebulae, reflecting the light from young stars on the cosmic dust. The curves in the nebulae to the left are caused by the jets blasting out from embedded newborn stars.

Image Credit and Copyright: CHART32 Team, Processing - Johannes Schedler

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

Because we need all the cuteness we can get in this crazy world, here's a titmouse to start off the New Year's birds.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday reflections

There's an array of small reflections in these windows in Quebec, but I especially love the patterns of dappled light reflected from the windows across the street.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Random things I saw in Quebec

One of the welcome fires around the city; the Dufferin Terrace outside the Château Frontenac was almost as icy as the river below; the train station (where I actually stayed in a loft my first two nights in the city); the spires and bare trees of winter in Quebec.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Urban poetry

Just a few pictures left from Quebec, but here's something different: between the buildings on the rue de Petit-Champlain and the cliffs of the Upper Town lies this little street, with stairs and walkways climbing the cliffs on one side and the backs of the buildings on the other. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

I'm returning to the regular blogging schedule with this lovely Juno image of the intricate cloud patterns on Jupiter.

Image Credit and License: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; Processing: Kevin M. Gill

Monday, January 6, 2020

The setting

The lobby and the ballroom at the Château.

I was surprised by how many families with young children came to the dinner. I'm assuming they had a special children's menu; even the most sophisticated toddlers are not likely to enjoy foie gras.

Fête de Noël

Our tour ended with Christmas dinner at the Château Frontenac.

It was four courses, not including an amuse bouche and dessert, and I was pretty much done halfway through the second course. I barely tasted the tenderloin, and ate exactly one bite of dessert. But I very much enjoyed the spectacle of it all -- getting dressed up and heading to the Château, mingling with the crowds in the lobby, then heading up the stairs to the ballroom for dinner.

I did love that they translated mousseline de courge as “squash muslin.” Muslin -- the fabric -- is mousseline in French, but an edible mousseline would never be called a muslin in English.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

O Holy Night

I took these pictures on my way to Mass Christmas Eve.

Trompe l'oeil

These murals on buildings in the Lower Town depict historic figures and writers and artists.

Benedict Arnold was here

I had long forgotten -- if I ever knew -- that an invasion of Quebec was part of the Continental army strategy during the Revolutionary War.

The assault on Quebec City on December 31, 1775 was led by Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold, and was a failure. Montgomery was killed and Arnold's leg was shattered, but for some reason the fact that he reached Quebec at all was enough to earn him a promotion to general.

These plaques near the Place Royale commemorate the Canadian victory.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Place Royale

Also in the Lower Town, this square was the original heart of the city.  Samuel de Champlain built his Abitation, a combination fort-trading post-storehouse-residence, here after his arrival in 1608. Most of the buildings are restorations, but the church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires dates from 1688. 

Christmas in le Petit-Champlain

It is basically Whoville, minus the Grinch -- there were carolers, trees and lights and Christmas decorations, and children posing for pictures on Père Noël's lap.

Le Petit-Champlain

A last view, taken as the ferry pulled in. 

The neighborhood below the cliffs is called le Petit-Champlain, and it's the oldest part of the city, and quite possibly the most charming. 

You can get there via funicular, from the terrace outside the Château Frontenac, or you can use the stairs (called the Breakneck Stairs for good reason -- they're very steep. I took them once, but used the funicular to go back up.)

City from the ferry

Here's the city seen from the ferry, floating on its magic carpet of ice.

I celebrated the New Year by catching a cold, so I've been lazy about processing and posting pictures. I caught the Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility on TV earlier in the week, and enjoyed it very much, though Hugh Grant made a most unsatisfactory Edward Ferrars -- he sidled into every scene like a child playing dress up in Mom's high heels -- and I much preferred Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon as a potential husband for the Dashwood sisters.

So I nursed my cold by drinking tea and re-reading the book, which was not such a bad way to start the year.

And ice

I was not surprised to learn that the St. Lawrence River used to freeze over every winter. Icebreakers keep it open now, because it's a critical shipping lane between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes, but there's still an abundance of ice. We had a free afternoon on Christmas Eve, and I took the ferry across the river and back to see it close up. It reminded me of Antarctica.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

More snowy views

These pictures -- a school courtyard in the old city, the St. Lawrence, and a terrace outside the Musée national des beaux-arts -- aren't black and white, but they might as well be.

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