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

Friday, July 31, 2020

More on the road, Indian style

There are annoying reflections from the car windows but I still like this glimpse of village life seen from the highway: getting water.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Color or black and white?

¿Por qué no los dos?

Some pictures just work better in black and white, even in India, like the roadside stand in Jaipur on the right. Black and white makes the detail pop in a way it didn't in the color version.

But most of India can only be captured in color, like the picture on the left, which I took from the car on the way back from Keoladeo National Park. I love those lavender and turquoise bricks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

Restaurants are still limited to outdoor dining, so even places that were always indoor only are setting up areas like this so they can open up again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

The Butterfly Nebula, NGC 6302, is one of my favorites -- because it's beautiful, but also because it actually looks like a butterfly!

I've posted Hubble images of it before, but I think this one, released last month, is my favorite so far: a filmy blue creature in a garden of stars.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Kastner (RIT)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday elephant blogging

And here is Sampa, the beautiful rescue elephant I got to spend an afternoon with in Jaipur.

She looks a lot smaller when she's in a picture by herself, but standing next to her, I only came up to the top of her trunk. I hope she's still enjoying her retirement, and grabbing all the extra alfalfa she can get.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

I posted a similar picture of these painted storks in Keoladeo National Park back in 2017, but can't resist another one. They somehow manage to look both vaguely sinister and hysterically funny at the same time, and that's a hard combination to pull off.

I will never get used to those knees.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Saturday reflections

I played around with the saturation and added lens effects, and this extremely ordinary reflection of a building in Hell's Kitchen on a summer afternoon turned into something I rather like. A lot.

You know it's July when emptying the dishwasher at ten o'clock in the morning makes you break a sweat.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Random Amber Fort

Two last pictures from the Amber Fort -- I like the symmetry of the stairs and the domes in the picture on the left, and I am always a sucker for scaffolding.

You see bamboo scaffolding all over Asia, and though it looks dangerously flimsy, it's apparently quite strong -- I was once startled by window washers taking a cigarette break outside my 13th floor office window in Hong Kong, completely oblivious to the fact that only a few spindly stalks of bamboo lay between them and a grisly death on the sidewalk far below.

I couldn't do it, but then I can't think of any scaffolding I'd be willing to climb, no matter how strong it looked.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Urban poetry

The temple in the corner is a clue that we're still in Jaipur.

The detail that I love in this view from the Amber Fort is that clothesline towards the center of the picture, and the brightly colored laundry in green, red, and white.

Flashback: the Amber Fort

The picture on the right is cropped from a larger panorama -- I just love the detail of those walls and towers snaking over the mountains.

I don't think I ever actually walked through that garden; there was too much to see in the few hours that I had there. At least I have pictures.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

A beautiful look at Comet Neowise, which is gracing our evening skies at the moment.

I'm not going to get to see it, unfortunately. It's been beastly hot, and while there might be an unobstructed sightline over the Hudson, that feels like a very long way to walk with a mask in this weather. And the light pollution would still make it hard to see. But I am enjoying all the pictures!

Image Credit and Copyright: Miloslav Druckmuller (Brno University of Technology)

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monday flashback

These arches at the Amber Fort in Jaipur were marble, so there was none of the typical Indian bright color to distract from the design, but the image still works so much better in black and white. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

Alas I did not manage to capture the feet of this Indian pond heron in Keoladeo National Park, but it's still a pretty good image of a gorgeous bird.

It was well into the 90's before noon today, and so for once I'm doing exactly what I'd be doing pre-Covid -- hunkering down with the air conditioning on, expending as little energy as possible.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Saturday reflections

This puddle in Jaipur created the only reflection I've found in the India pictures.

At least it does have that beautiful Indian house crow in the vicinity. It's gorgeous and a little gaudy, like so much of what I saw in India.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Urban poetry

If you're going to have “urban” and “cow” in the same post, we must be in India.

This particular cow was hanging out near the City Palace in Jaipur.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Flashback: Jaipur

I have not gone through many of my remaining India pictures yet, though I couldn't tell you exactly what I've been doing instead. Like most of us, I'm completely losing my sense of time, feeling as though I deserve a medal for remembering what day it is. (When Thursday is exactly like Wednesday, which was exactly like Tuesday, keeping track does seem as pointless as it is difficult.)

But here's one I like -- outside the Amber Fort in Jaipur.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

I must leave it as a prescription, viz., that the best physic against the plague is to run away from it….  
And were this very fundamental only duly considered by the people on any future occasion of this or the like nature, I am persuaded it would put them upon quite different measures for managing the people from those that they took in 1665, or than any that have been taken abroad that I have heard of. In a word, they would consider of separating the people into smaller bodies, and removing them in time farther from one another—and not let such a contagion as this, which is indeed chiefly dangerous to collected bodies of people, find a million of people in a body together, as was very near the case before, and would certainly be the case if it should ever appear again.

-- Daniel Defoe
A Journal of the Plague Year
In which Mr Defoe explains the necessity of social distancing. I'm not exactly enjoying reading this book; it's equal parts eerie and infuriating, because so much of it echoes our current situation, and yet, we have collectively managed to learn so little from previous epidemics.

I'd love to take his advice and run from this plague, but there is quite literally nowhere to go and no way to get there. As our numbers continue to decline in the Northeast, infections are out of control across the entire southern United States. And even if you were willing to risk international travel, there are now only a handful of countries willing to admit Americans.

Of course I'm furious at the reckless incompetence that has brought us here. But I have to be careful about indulging my anger, because this apartment is too small to accommodate both of us.

Someday, someday when this is all over,  I'm going to stand on a beach and scream until my lungs ache.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

I've posted images of Messier 82 before, with its neighbor and gravitational battle partner M81, but it definitely deserves its own entry.

Those red plumes are just hydrogen, apparently in a bad mood.

Image credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: J. Gallagher (University of Wisconsin), M. Mountain (STScI) and P. Puxley (NSF).

Monday, July 13, 2020


A tropical storm rolled through over the weekend, bringing torrential rains. Here's a photography 101 illustration on shutter speeds -- very fast, and you can see the individual raindrops; very slow, and they turn into silver spikes.

No, I had nothing better to do. Why do you ask?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

I posted a picture of this beautiful Indian darter in Keoladeo National Park back in 2017, but it's definitely worth a second look.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday reflections

This is the car reflection I didn't post last week. The windows in the reflection are sharper in this one, but I think the background added something....

Here's a coronavirus joke that made me chuckle, even though there is nothing whatsoever to laugh at these days:

A doctor, a nurse, and an epidemiologist walk into a bar. 
Just kidding. They know better.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Urban poetry

This photo is a little blurry, but still worth posting  -- directing traffic in Jaipur.

Attempting to manage traffic in India is yet another on the very long list of jobs that I would never want to do. I imagine you'd die of shock if any of the drivers or motorcyclists ever actually followed any of your directions -- and if the shock didn't kill you, a random tuk-tuk trying to avoid a cow might.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

I applied a few filters to make this into an abstract -- a basin full of my hair this past weekend. (Snarky jokes about the IQ of said hair compared to the collective intelligence of the governors of Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona almost write themselves.)

I've been desperate for a haircut for many weeks now, sick of damp strands sticking to my face and getting tangled in my mask when I'm outside and trying not to touch either my face or my mask. I had ordered electric clippers from Amazon, but they turned out to be sourced from China and despite regular emails telling me they were arriving shortly, they never came. Then I found a reasonably priced home haircut kit from Ace Hardware of all places, and it arrived last week.

It's not the best haircut I ever had, but it's far from the worst -- I look a little like Paul McCartney circa 1964. I can live with that. And it's not as though anyone is going to see me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

This spooky expanse of silky dark gas is the Lynds Dark Nebula 1251.

Image Credit and Copyright: Ara Jerahian

Monday, July 6, 2020

Monday flashback: Petra

These are some of the rock faces inside the city. Time, weather, and the laws of geology have turned them into their own architecture, so that sometimes you can't tell what's manmade and what isn't.

And this is the end of Petra, and of Jordan. India is up next.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A goldfinch, last winter in the Bay Area.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saturday reflections

I actually have two versions of this picture and keep changing my mind as to which I prefer.

Right now it's this one.

Happy Fourth of July

Raindrops bouncing off my fire escape. A slow shutter speed made them look like little fireworks.

We've had some apocalyptic thunderstorms this week, with thunder exploding out of nowhere, rattling the windows for twenty minutes or so, then disappearing. The sun comes out, shining genially as though nothing's happened, and the annoying ice cream truck on a nearby street starts playing Pop Goes the Weasel again.

An afternoon on Amazon Prime
An evening curled up reading
That's the way the lockdown goes
Pop goes the weasel!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Some of the more luxurious options for eternal rest


Petra is full of caves, some man-made, some natural. They may have been tombs, for the peasants who couldn't afford a fancy façade, or they may have been dwellings. There's very little in the way of artifacts so it's impossible to tell -- the only story here is written in stone.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Entering Petra

There were a few other tourists in the Siq, but for most of the walk it was just me and my guide, Mahmout. Entering Petra, walking into this plaza in front of the iconic Treasury, was so thrilling I almost cried. And I was glad that there was suddenly a crowd because I was so happy I needed to be sharing it with other humans.

(Yes, I do remember what that feels like, barely -- humanity as something I want to be around rather than a collection of potential pandemic hosts I desperately want to avoid.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

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