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

Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve


If your mind runs to the metaphorical, you might think -- as I do -- that this is a most appropriate image to usher out this awful year.

It's not a tunnel, exactly, but a typical New York scaffolding with steam and dirty snow is a good substitute. And I don't know if we'll reach that distant square of light in 2021, or if I'll still be writing about a hoped-for return to normalcy a year from now.

For now, I'm just happy to have made it this far. By far the best view of 2020 will be in the rearview mirror.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I know it wasn't really ten years ago that I went to Quebec for Christmas; the bizarre wormhole that 2020 sucked us all into has made time move both faster and slower, often at the same time. Ah, 2019! How innocent we all were then!

And though I know my first night in Montreal was rather miserable because my luggage was missing and I had to sleep in my underwear, the emergency pajamas (with penguins!) I bought at Hudson's Bay the following day have been making me smile ever since the weather got cold. 

This was Montreal seen from my hotel room.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

NGC 1055, seen edge-on, is one of our galactic neighbors, a mere 60 million light years away. Those large stars photobombing the image are in our own galaxy, and just wanted to get in the photo.

Image Credit and Copyright: Martin Pugh

Monday, December 28, 2020

Random interiors

And I do mean random -- going through pictures and finding some I'd never processed, much less posted.

On the left, a curve of ramp and staircase and the deep blue sky of a winter's afternoon, at the Musée national des beaux-arts in Quebec. On the right, a nondescript hallway in an office building in Chelsea. I just liked those strange winged light fixtures.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday bird blogging

They're all flashbacks these days, though I hope to get to Central Park while I'm on break.

This osprey was in Hilton Head.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Saturday reflections


Traffic on the West Side Highway, reflected in a showroom window. It's been a long time since I've seen so many cars!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas


I couldn't resist this picture of garbage bags left uncollected after the blizzard surrounding this naked tree. Christmas, 2020.

I'm going to spend the afternoon treating myself to cinnamon toast with tea while reading through a semester's worth of The New Yorker.

Wherever you are, however you spend this day, I hope you're safe and healthy and warm. Virtual hugs.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Life in the time of coronavirus

An empty storefront near the Port Authority.

I'd say it's starting again, except that it never really went away, not completely -- it just got  a little better. We don't have the sirens yowling all through the night, not yet, but the stories are back. Somebody's sister. Somebody's dad. Positive, but no symptoms, quarantining at home. Sick for a couple of weeks, but starting to feel better. In the hospital. In the ICU. Daryl. Angela. Susan.

Yesterday a friend called to wish me a merry Christmas, and we talked for a long time, catching up on all the silly things you share with old friends. An hour later, she called again, sobbing. Angela had died.

I'm not sure anyone writing a history of this time a hundred years from now will really understand what this year has been like. I know, I write for the hundredth or thousandth time, that I'm one of the lucky ones. (So far.) I'm not sick. I have enough money. Even so, I suspect that I will never really get past this now, that I will be jumping at this virus's shadow for the rest of my life. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's a Hubble image of a portion of NGC 2525, a galaxy in the constellation Puppis in the Southern Hemisphere.  That bright, Christmassy star makes this the perfect image for this week.

Except that bright, Christmassy star is actually a supernova, a star in its death throes, so maybe that makes it the perfect image for 2020. 

Image credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA, A. Riess and the SH0ES team
Acknowledgment: Mahdi Zamani

Monday, December 21, 2020

Welcome to the working week


Sanitation workers clearing snow from the gutters on Tenth Avenue last week.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday bird blogging


I've been surprised by how many of the common birds I see in the park actually turn up in my back yard if I just pay attention -- blue jays, woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, cardinals, robins, mourning doves, and that one hawk -- but I've yet to see a nuthatch.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Saturday reflections


Here's a photo from yesterday: a slushy gray street in Hell's Kitchen, reflected in an empty storefront.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Whose woods these are I think I know

Actually a view I know very well now -- my neighbor's yard as seen from my living room window.

We got ten inches of snow Wednesday night, and though I was tempted to go out and revel in the purity of the fresh snowfall yesterday, the cold temperatures and strong winds discouraged me. I did go for a walk today, carefully -- the sidewalks haven't all been cleared and I would very much prefer that my bones remain unbroken -- but wading through knee-high drifts is never as much fun as I think it's going to be.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Le jour de gloire est arrivé!


I finished my portion of our group paper and submitted my last final, so I have now officially survived my first semester of grad school.

One of the many things I learned from my fellow students, most of whom weren't even born the last time I had to study for a midterm, is that bitmojis make classroom presentations more engaging. Mine doesn't really look that much like me -- there's no hair color available that resembles the "reddish blonde with silver and steel roots" that I've got at the moment -- but it's close enough to the little Zoom face that is all any of these people have ever seen of me to be recognizable. And it's fun. 

I had to do a presentation on modal verbs that included a news article about the Pfizer vaccine, and I loved dressing my bitmoji in scrubs for the occasion, with a clipboard and a syringe. I'm sure that when I again have a life outside this apartment, I won't be spending a lot of time changing my virtual outfits, but at the moment I'm just loving those boots.

Astronomy Tuesday

Now that's a shockwave!

Simeis 147 is the remnant of a 40,000 year-old supernova. It's also known as the Spaghetti Nebula, with a dusting of stars instead of parmesan cheese.

Image Credit and Copyright: Georges Attard

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday bird logging


This is another old picture that I don't think I ever posted.

It's a little blurry, but as I've been saying, Any cardinal is better than none.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Saturday reflections

It's still Saturday for another 54 minutes, and I've been trying to write a final paper for most of the day with very little to show for it, and sorry, this is all you're going to get.

Thursday, December 10, 2020


It actually snowed yesterday, not long and not hard, but proof that winter is icumen in.

Here's a picture from Antarctica (Pleneau Island, I believe -- I'm too lazy to verify) a place so fond of winter they have it all year round.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday

M63 is also known as the Sunflower Galaxy.

That's it. That's all I've got. One more week of school and then I'll possibly have something intelligent to say.

About anything.

Image Credit and Copyright: Fabian Neyer, Rainer Spani

Collaboration Credit: I.D. Karachentsev, F. Neyer, R. Spani, T. Zilch

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Another look at that rainy night

 I played around with filters here, and the trees now look like something out of an old tapestry. All that's missing is the unicorn.

Sunday bird blogging

I've had titmice, a chickadee, and a blue jay visit my fire escape this past week, none of them lingering for more than a second, but all of them giving me the gift of a flash of beauty and an excuse to smile during this horror of a year.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Saturday reflections


A gray view for a gray day, with wind lashing the trees  outside and a steady rain coming down.

It's a (small) comfort to think that I wouldn't want to go anywhere today, even if I could.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Rainy night in Manhattan

A  nor'easter is rattling the windows, reminding me of this view of the back yard on a rainy night a few weeks ago, before all the leaves fell.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Astronomy Tuesday


Barnard's Galaxy (NGC 6822) is one of our neighbors in the so-called Local Group of galaxies. It's classified as a dwarf irregular galaxy, but as it spans 7000 light years it could be only be considered a dwarf if your scale is the rest of the universe. 

It may be small, but it still manages to create an impressive number of new stars, as you can tell by all those points of brilliant blue.

Image Credit and Copyright: Data - Martin Pugh, Processing - Mark Hanson

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