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

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A year ago, in Newfoundland, here's a cloud of birds in the Witless Bay reserve near St. John's.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Saturday reflections

A puddle on 42nd Street, capturing a face from an ad on a building across the street.

I am heartily sick of my own face now after months of Zoom, especially now that I'm in online classes. When I'm sitting in an actual classroom, I don't have a mirror in front of me, displaying every expression on my face (and every place my self-inflicted Covid haircut is clumping together and sticking straight up.) I can actually focus on the instructor.

In a Zoom class, my face is always there and it's hard to stop noticing it. Sit up straighter! Turn the laptop so no one is looking into your closet! Can't you tuck that piece of hair behind your ear?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Urban poetry

This is the kind of detail that can always make me smile. I love the way the bright colors on this pipe are framed by those little squiggles of wrought iron.

I am back in school, after a decades-long absence, in the first week of a master's program. My life -- and the world -- have been so upended that the reasons I had originally for pursuing this degree may no longer exist, but I'm hoping I'll find new inspiration.

In the meantime, I'm a little overwhelmed by the amount of reading I have to do, and a lot overwhelmed by trying to navigate the multiple websites, portals and email addresses online classes require.

Blog posting will probably be less frequent while I sort all of this out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

I always love these Hubble deep space images, but this one is especially cool because of what you can't see.

Galaxy cluster Cl 0024+17 is in the center of this image. Around it you can see background galaxies that appear distorted because of the strong gravitational field, something that you often see in similar images. By mapping the distortion of the light, astronomers were able to spot a ring of dark matter around the cluster. We can't see dark matter, of course (and don't really know what it is) but here its effect on the visible universe lets us know it's there.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M.J. Jee and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

Not the best picture of a tufted titmouse, but after this rather crappy week, a dose of cute is highly appreciated.

This was Central Park last fall. I hope that this fall I will actually be able to go there again.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Saturday reflections

I like the way there are just small pieces of city and sky reflected on this car -- a jangle like the world we're living in these days.

I'm trying to hang on to the unexpected uplift from the Democratic convention, which made me believe that things can get better, that we will come through this. But I'm grieving for my beautiful home state, where the fires are raging and control is elusive. And we're still stuck at home while a pandemic remains equally out of control.

But look -- there, on the left. There's a little triangle of blue sky. I've got to hang on to that.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Urban poetry

Those GrubHub meals aren't going to deliver themselves!

Emergency bike repair on Tenth Avenue. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Way back in what feels like another lifetime -- eleven whole months ago -- I got invited to the New Hampshire Democratic convention as a supporter of Elizabeth Warren. There were approximately 900 Democrats running for president then, and I saw almost all of them.

I honestly would never have predicted that it would come down to these two. Nobody thought Biden had a chance then, and some people were angry that he was even running, sucking money and attention away from the eventual nominee. He was the first candidate to speak at the convention, when people were still filing into the arena and he didn't generate much of a response. Harris was good, but I'd expected to be wowed by her and wasn't.

Now I am one of the millions who would enthusiastically crawl over broken glass to vote for these intelligent, empathetic, decent human beings and take our country back. Biden-Harris 2020!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Last week, Saturn; this week, Jupiter.

Juno took this picture in April, showing the beautiful complexity of Jupiter's cloud patterns.

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

Monday, August 17, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

The pétanque court in Bryant Park is open; I don't think I'd ever realized that the court was even there, but watching a game, any game, played live has to count as a luxury these days.

Pétanque lends itself well to social distancing. (Yes, I read the rules--you think I had something better to do?) The players take turns standing at the end of the court to throw, and they only handle their own balls. And apparently a mask doesn't get in the way.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A pair of house sparrows, female on the left and male on the right. There was too much glare to get good pictures but since these are the only birds I've been able to get close to since the winter, I'm happy to have them.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Saturday reflections

Posting late, but it's still Saturday, isn't it?

The shiny façade of a hotel on West 43rd Street.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The last of India

So I might as well end with something really iconic.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Remember squinches?

Here's a fun abstract design -- the squinch over the Great Gate at the Taj Mahal. I love the way those lines curve and interlace.

Urban poetry

I'm not sure what this is -- an elaborate gate acting as the entrance to a park?

In Jaipur, coming to end of the India pictures.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

A new image from Cassini -- well, new to me -- is just what I needed this morning. This shows Saturn in crescent, something that we'd never be able to see from Earth, with the shadows from the rings on the planet's surface, and the shadow of the planet across the rings.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team

Monday, August 10, 2020

Quarantine Alley

The lineup in my hallway, where packages, mail, and non-perishable groceries sit, usually for a day or two, until I feel comfortable dealing with them.

Scientists now say this virus is transmitted through the air rather than on surfaces, but I got in the habit of disinfecting and then putting aside everything that comes into the apartment during the early days of lockdown, and like all habits, it's hard to break.

It might be overkill, but since the last mystery virus I encountered landed me in the cardiac unit, I'm inclined to be extra cautious.

Life in the time of coronavirus

When you've only got room for two tables outside.

Here's another excerpt from A Journal of the Plague Year, in which Mr. Defoe demonstrates that even in 1665 people knew you could spread a disease before showing any symptoms.
…it was not the sick people only from whom the plague was immediately received by others that were sound, but the well. To explain myself: by the sick people I mean those who were known to be sick…these everybody could beware of; they were either in their beds or in such condition as could not be concealed. 
By the well I mean such as had received the contagion, and had it really upon them, and in their blood, yet did not show the consequences of it in their countenances: nay, even were not sensible of it themselves, as many were not for several days. These breathed death in every place, and upon everybody who came near them.
Then from today's Guardian:
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, says testing should be available if schools are to reopen: 
I’m not an expert in testing, but I would say that regular means weekly. It needs to be as regular as it needs to be to ensure the infection is caught and identified as soon as possible, and then the tracking system can move on from that. 
Schools minister Nick Gibb rejected that call, saying there would not be “routine testing without symptoms. The advice that we have is that it’s better to test when people actually show symptoms.”
Because why bother to prevent four or five days of asymptomatic transmission if you can just pretend it doesn't happen? The only consolation -- if you can call it that -- in this nightmare is that while the U.S. may have had, no question, the worst possible response to this pandemic, the U.K. is doing its best to show us that criminal stupidity is not uniquely American.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

A white-breasted nuthatch in Central Park, pausing from the usual acrobatics to pose for the camera.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Saturday reflections

Another restaurant temporarily closed, on Ninth Avenue.

I'm happy to report that this one has reopened, for takeout only.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Agra Fort garden

Not nearly as impressive as the gardens in the Amber Fort, but here's photographic evidence that I actually walked through this one.

I usually avoid posting pictures of myself here but I'm enjoying the memory of being outside, somewhere that's not my apartment or the immediate neighborhood, which is all I've seen for many months now. (Today I went to the cleaners and the pharmacy and the bank! Very exciting!)

That long mop of hair looks almost as strange to me. I've been putting the clippers to good use and every couple of weeks my hair gets shorter. I'll be Sigourney-Weaver-in-Alien-3 by the time we're out of quarantine.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Backyard, Jaipur style

Two pictures of the same backyard, because I liked both of them, and the idea of having a backyard is more attractive than ever these days.

Okay, it probably has snakes. I'd still take it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


I can't post anything about the virus right now, because I'm vacillating between fear and rage and do not want to Go There today.

Fortunately, this truck barreling through a foggy morning on a highway in India makes me smile. Usually I spend a lot of effort getting rid of vignetting -- those shadows in the corners -- but I think it works here, adding to the otherworldly effect.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

If it’s true that there are billions of universes stacked alongside one another, the thickness of a thought apart, then there must be people elsewhere.  
But wherever they are, no matter how mightily they try, no matter how magnificent the effort, they surely can’t manage to be as godawfully stupid as us. I mean, we work at it. We were given a spark of it to start with, but over hundreds of thousands of years we’ve really improved on it.
That's the great Terry Pratchett, stating the sadly obvious in his inimitable fashion. And this is emission nebula NGC 6188 in the southern constellation Ara. The image was taken over ten hours from a backyard telescope in Argentina, reminding me that humans, despite our manifest failings, do manage to find and memorialize the beauty and wonder in the only universe we've got.

Image Credit and Copyright: Ariel L. Cappelletti

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. -- Mary Oliver
I seldom disagree with the thoughtful wisdom of Mary Oliver, but I would argue that this common quail caught mid-step in Keoladeo National Park counts as exactly one crumb of joy. And that's fine. Not a great picture, but I don't think I've ever posted one of this particular bird, and the fact that I had to go all the way to India to do so does make me smile.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Saturday reflections

Still in India -- another image from the road, but the reflections are more pronounced this time and add a dreamlike quality.

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