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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Astronomy Tuesday

How have I never seen these pictures before?

The Soviets sent 10 probes to the surface of Venus between 1961 and 1984. We were still in the middle of the Cold War then, so maybe it was kept secret, or at least not publicized much in the West. I'd heard of the Venera program; I don't think I ever saw any of the images.

This is from Venera 14 in 1982. Because of the intense heat and atmospheric pressure, the spacecraft only lasted about an hour on the surface. We've seen a lot of Mars at this point -- though never enough to satisfy my curiosity -- but I'll bet most of us have never seen Venus. Well, here it is.

Image Credit: Soviet Planetary Exploration Program, Venera 14; Processing and Copyright: Donald Mitchell and Michael Carroll

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday bird blogging


A bird as common as they come, but still beautiful -- a mourning dove hanging out on my windowsill.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday reflections


Here's one more window shot, with at least a little bit of a reflection.

I am allegedly on Spring Break now, although I have a paper and a midterm due Monday, and two more papers due as soon as we're back. So basically, it's a break from classes, not from homework.

But I do plan to take the opportunity to get outside a little next week, and maybe even take some pictures. It's been two weeks since my first vaccine shot, so my body should be starting to crank out the antibodies now. Oddly, this makes me feel more vulnerable rather than less. In four more weeks, I will be as immune as current science can guarantee, able to see friends and take public transportation. It's so close I can't help worrying that something will happen and I won't cross that finish line.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Urban poetry

Here's another look at the view in early spring, as color seeps back into the world.

The trees have been whipping back and forth in high winds all day, making the light dance on my walls. I catch myself staring, hypnotized like a cat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's a trio of galaxies, the Leo Triplet,  consisting of (clockwise from upper left) M66, NCG 3628 (the so-called Hamburger Galaxy) and M65.

They're all typical spiral galaxies, but appear different because we're viewing them from different angles.

This morning I am feeling very discouraged about school, and so am fantasizing I am in the equivalent of grad school on one of the many billions of planets in these galactic homelands. Where, I am telling myself, I would react to getting a paper back with zero comments or feedback by assuming that it was an oversight, and not that the paper was so bad the professors can't even bring themselves to discuss it.

Image Credit and Copyright: Francis Bozon

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday bird blogging


Plenty of robins spend the winter here, but I still think of them as a herald of spring.

I was grateful to have them around this past winter, though -- their beautiful song cheered me up on many a gray day.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Saturday reflections


Here's another in my Rear Window series, in which I watch the world through binoculars and zoom lenses.  

Unlike Jimmy Stewart, I don't have the opportunity to see much of my neighbors, and I've yet to see a single murderer making late night trips with mysterious suitcases.

I watch the birds, when they cooperate (three mourning doves on the fire escape as I type.) I watch the sky. I watch the pattern of shadows shift as the sun slides west, and the way the light paints my trees.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Urban poetry

Goodbye to all that, for another year, anyway. I've seen plenty of snow in April, but it's rare and never lasts long.
And this spring, this year, I can't imagine that anyone will care if we have back to back blizzards. Every conversation, in a Zoom room at the beginning of a class or with a neighbor in the hallway or a stranger at the pharmacy, centers around vaccines. Did you get a shot? Which one? What were the side effects? Everyone is so excited about getting vaccinated; we're all dying to share our stories. And those who aren't eligible yet -- me, ten days ago, for example -- are good sports about it, while jumping up and down inside like kids on Christmas Eve impatient for their turns.

We all know this doesn't mean things will go back to normal. But it's a step -- a big step -- back from the ledge.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Life in the time of coronavirus

When this is all over, there will be a flood of memoirs and reflections about the year(s) we all spent in quarantine, and I can already write some of them in my head -- how I learned to appreciate the small things and the dailyness of life, what I saw on my three hundred walks around my neighborhood, why Zoom is not real life.

I won't be writing them. But I have learned to love the views from my windows, and how weather and light and shadow and the seasons change the narrow slice of Manhattan which is all that I see most days.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Astronomy Tuesday

We saw this nebula last week, hanging out over the Pleiades -- NGC 1499, the California Nebula.

As usual with nebulae, I don't think it bears much resemblance to its namesake. But those ripples of bright gas do remind me of waves rolling in on the beach, which might as well be a beach in California.

Image Credit and Copyright: Yannick Akar

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sunday bird blogging

It's still Sunday for another ninety minutes, so I'm not late. And I've already made it very clear that you can never have too many titmice, so here's another, in the February snow that already feels like so last season.

I didn't have any terrible side effects from my Fauci Ouchie -- no headache or body aches or chills -- except for feeling tired. Very very tired. Transcontinental jet lag tired. Crossing the International Date Line tired. I'm fine today, but working on a group project yesterday with no functioning neurons was an interesting experience.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Saturday reflections

 A shopping center in Abu Dhabi.

Quite unexpectedly, I got my first Moderna shot yesterday, on only my third day of eligibility.

I started navigating the various websites on Wednesday (and the IT professional in me found the mishmash of badly designed websites one must navigate a personal affront -- or would have, if I weren't so goddamned happy at finally being eligible for a shot.) There is no one place to go to sign up for available vaccines; New York state has one website, New York City has another, and the various pharmacies giving shots have to be checked individually.

I lucked out with the Walgreen's site and got an appointment for a first shot tomorrow. They called yesterday afternoon and asked if there was any chance I could come in right away? An hour later I was sitting in a drab Duane Reade pharmacy on 57th Street, waiting out my fifteen minute reaction watch. Mostly I was unnerved at being around so many people, even at proper social distance, but this morning I am reveling in my sore shoulder as though it's a first-place winning lottery ticket.

At the beginning of the week, I was trying not to be jealous of all my friends who've been vaccinated, and reminding myself that I'd definitely qualify by summer. Monday they announced eligibility rules were changing as of Wednesday, and Friday I got the shot.

By the end of April, I'll be able to take a bus to Central Park again.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Here, have some architecture

It has been an insanely busy week, leaving me with no time or energy to say anything intelligent about any subject -- including, but not limited to, adverbial phrases, subordinating conjunctions, lesson plan sequencing, intensive reading, extensive reading, and Covid-19 vaccine availability and scheduling in New York City.

So here are two fairly random architecture photos from Abu Dhabi -- the sleek Etihad Towers, and the ornate columns at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Astronomy Tuesday

This gorgeous widefield view is a closeup of the constellation Taurus -- the bright orangey star in the lower left is Aldeberan, the brightest star, and the literal bull's eye, in the constellation. Like many of the brightest stars, Aldeberan was named by Arabic astronomers; the name means “the follower,” because it was always following the Pleiades through the sky.

But what is that other, even brighter, star just below the Pleiades in the bottom center? That's not a star; that's our neighbor Mars, dropping in for a photobomb. In this picture it could pass for Aldeberan's younger sibling, but like so many pairings in our night sky, the two of them are billions of miles apart and only appear close in our limited line of sight from Earth.

The red glow at the top of the image is the California nebula.

Image Credit and Copyright: Petr Horalek / Institute of Physics in Opava

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday bird blogging

Here's a white-throated sparrow, which I was surprised to discover is one of the most frequent visitors to the backyard trees I can watch from my window.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday reflections


It's a small reflection -- a tree, a bit of blue sky, brick and windows  -- but I do love the way this headlight frames it so perfectly.

It seems appropriate in a year when all our lives shrank, when my world collapsed to four walls and what I could glimpse through a window. This week marked a year since I went out for a meal with friends -- lunch with Joseph, breakfast with Jayne to plan the Bay Area trip we had planned.

We still thought it wouldn't be that bad. A week later, we were in lockdown.

And my big accomplishment this week was realizing I can have a Zoom meeting all by myself. I did two practice run-throughs of a lesson I had to present and recorded them. It was very helpful, but it doesn't improve my sometimes shaky hold on reality to spend time obsessing over the pixelated Kathleen that is all most people see of me anymore.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Et in Abu Dhabi ego

I, too, was in Abu Dhabi, several eons ago.

I had my own scarf and tunic, so didn't have to borrow the long itchy hooded robes the other women visitors were wearing at the Grand Mosque. (Having been to Iran, I know how to dress for a mosque.)

Beach life

These aren't the most interesting pictures, but seen from the vantage of the final weeks of a very difficult winter, any beach looks good to me right now.

And I say that as someone who burns up faster than a vampire under the slightest UV exposure and considers sunbathing boring beyond belief. These particular beaches were in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Urban poetry

A random street scene in Abu Dhabi, four years ago (a lifetime ago), far away from the glitzy towers and hotels.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Astronomy Tuesday

This Hubble image shows a star cluster, NGC 346, located in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

I love those nebulous filaments of pink gases thrown off by the hot baby stars in the cluster.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and A. Nota (ESA/STScI, STScI/AURA)

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