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

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

I'm in the mood for the abstract beauty of a nebula tonight, and this colorful deep field image of the Cat's Paw nebula in Scorpio checks all the boxes.

Image Credit and Copyright: Stefan Steve Bemmerl & Team Wolfatorium (Hakos/Namibia)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I wasn't able to get close to this guy, but people get so excited when a prothonotary warbler shows up, I feel compelled to share this less than satisfying picture anyway. There were literally crowds with long lenses lining the banks of the Loch in Central Park for the three days he was in town last month.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday reflections

I don't remember where this was. Manhattan, I assume, but I can't be more specific than that.

In ten days or so when the semester is over, I hope some of my neurons will go back to handling mundane tasks like remembering that I have already bought milk and don't need more and putting water in the kettle before I attempt to boil it. In the meantime, I have three extra quarts of milk in the refrigerator, and making coffee in the morning is sometimes taking twice as long as it should.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wood and water, part 2

I love the textures of those trees.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's another eclipse in our solar system—that dark spot on Jupiter is the shadow of Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, as seen by the Juno probe in February.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; Processing and License: Thomas Thomopoulos

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I don't believe that Canada geese need a reason to be obnoxious. This pair, in the reeds at Sapsucker Woods, was making enough racket to be heard in Connecticut.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The woods in color

Okay, there wasn't all that much color. But the light from that pearly gray sky was magical.

Saturday reflections

Sapsucker Woods again, this time in black and white.

I taught my final observed lesson of the semester on Tuesday, and did my big presentation for my Assessment class on Tuesday night, so the next few weeks should be less hectic. It rained all day yesterday, and I actually spent the afternoon lying on my bed watching Netflix. It was heavenly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

When I was lucky enough to see the total eclipse in 2017, one of the things I marveled at was the great cosmic coincidence where our moon and the sun appear to be the same size from Earth, making eclipses possible.

This is not the case on Mars, where the distinctively potato-shaped Phobos passing in front of the sun is more like a transit than an eclipse. And Perseverance was there to record it for us.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

Another bird from Sapsucker Woods.

American Bitterns are notoriously hard to spot because they're shy and they tend to hide in the reeds and grasses. So this isn't a great picture, but I was lucky to get one at all. I love that eye!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Houses of Ithaca, Blooper Edition

This house was near the Cornell campus, and I can't help thinking it was some kind of architecture class project gone horribly wrong.

Saturday reflections

Another picture from Sapsucker Woods, outside Ithaca.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Houses of Ithaca

I loved this house on the street where I was staying in Ithaca. It's completely impractical, and I wouldn't want to live in it even if I had unlimited funds and had borrowed the entire household staff from Downton Abbey, but I like that it's still there, dominating its little corner of downtown Ithaca.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

A beautiful Hubble image of M104, also occasionally known as The Sombrero Galaxy, because we see it edge-on, instead of from above or below (or whatever we pretend is above or below out in space.)

Showing, once again, that perspective is everything.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Legacy Archive
Processing and Copyright: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

This resplendent creature is the first of my new birds seen in Sapsucker Woods, a pileated woodpecker. He was some distance from the trail, so it was hard to get a good angle, but the splendor of that red crest comes through.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Sapsucker Woods

The same pond, with sunlight.

Saturday reflections

The ponds at Sapsucker Woods on Thursday. These woods are part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which runs the wonderful All About Birds website, and like the state park, they're only a short drive from Ithaca. It was gray and drizzly, and though the only birds I saw are the same ones I see in Central Park on a regular basis and there wasn't enough light to take pictures of them anyway, I did enjoy walking all of the trails. It's a beautiful chunk of unmanicured woodland full of fairy-sized ponds and witchy trees, with a few paths and boardwalks to make traversing it easy. But I didn't see any need to go back on such a short visit.

Until I woke up yesterday morning to bright sunshine and the itch to get out in it before spending most of the day in the car. Although I had to pack and clean up the AirBnB before checkout, I wondered if I might have enough time for a short visit to the woods. Since I could also pick up one of the wonderful breakfast sandwiches from the Ithaca Bakery on my way back, it was easy to convince myself that I was actually saving time by getting breakfast and a snack for the road before cleaning and packing.

And the woods were even more magical in the soft sunlight and I saw three birds I'd never seen before, and got pictures of two of them. Definitely worth the scraped bumper I acquired trying to get out of the bakery parking lot.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Taughannock Falls State Park

Home again, after what was fortunately a much less dramatic drive across New York State. This park, on Cayuga Lake, is only a twenty minute drive from downtown Ithaca.

You can see that spring has not quite arrived in this part of the state yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

This series of silhouettes shows the International Space Station passing in front of the sun.

You can see the ISS from Earth, usually either just before sunrise or just past sunset, when it can reflect the sun's rays long enough to be glimpsed. The other option is to wait until the station passes in front of the sun, which is obviously much harder to see—or photograph. These wonderful pictures were taken in Beijing earlier this month.

I almost postponed my trip to Ithaca today because of a snowstorm yesterday that left 6 to 10 inches over much of upstate New York. But I decided to go, and it turned out that the roads were fine. I had a little rain and a few flurries but nothing dramatic.

What I hadn't planned on were the power outages. Ithaca is fine—I checked that before I left—but a huge chunk of New York State is not. And I couldn't buy gas. I got off at four different exits only to find dark, locked storefronts and no streetlights, while my gas tank got emptier and emptier. I was finally able to buy gas forty miles from Ithaca, when I had about fifteen miles worth of gas left.

I may sleep all day tomorrow.

Image Credit and Copyright: Wang Letian (Eyes at Night)

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

We all get spruced up for spring. Here are two white-throated sparrows—the one on the left was taken during the snowstorm in February; the one on the right, in full breeding colors, was taken last week.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Saturday reflections

This was a moving car in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, which explains the blurriness. After having to make major last-minute changes to a lesson Tuesday morning, and then teaching it through a throbbing toothache, everything that has happened since has felt pleasantly dreamlike. I may be stuck inside on a beautiful spring day reading and commenting on research paper outlines, but at least nothing hurts.

And I am now on spring break, which really just means that I get to do just as much homework but I don't have any scheduled classes. At least I will be doing some of the work from an AirBnB in Ithaca for a few days next week.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Plus, there were chipmunks

Proof of life

This robin was performing his Good Friday ablutions in Central Park this afternoon. The intensity with which birds meet water always makes me smile, and after an exhausting week I needed it.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I have a lesson observation this week, which is failing spectacularly to come together, and I'm also teaching a Zoom seminar on Thursday, so I don't have time to go to Central Park on these beautiful spring days and look at all the birds that are passing through on their way to their summer homes.

But I went anyway. On Friday I took a cab up to the Pool, and spent maybe half an hour watching the birds before getting another cab and heading back to my lesson prep. I'd like to pretend that when I got back I suddenly saw how to fix all the issues with my lesson plan, but I was just as stuck as ever. On the other hand, I'd seen this gorgeous Palm Warbler so I didn't mind nearly so much.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Saturday reflections

Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

I have made it to Brooklyn early enough to walk around before class exactly once this semester. Maybe next week.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Urban poetry

I will clearly never catch up on my backlog of photos until I am no longer in grad school. I must accept this.

Here's a photo that is less than a month old, of the legacy Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

This is the shadow of the Hayabusa2 explorer on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu, in October 2018.

Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

Here's a bird I don't think I've ever posted a picture of: a ring-billed gull in the Reservoir.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Saturday reflections

This is so very New York to me. I especially love the way the reflection of the scaffolding across the street is almost psychedelic.

It's a splendid spring day and I'm enjoying the blue skies and soft breezes and abundant birdsong from my bed, which is currently Homework Central.

I'm alternating between doing my own assignments, and grading the students in the class where I'm a TA this semester. They had to submit three of the citations for their research papers, with the name of the article, the source, and a brief description of how it related to their thesis. I'm reviewing them now, and more than one student has listed the source of their cite as “The Internet.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

This gorgeous composite of Hubble images shows the Bubble Nebula, the result of stellar winds and radiation from a type O star like our sun, but 45 times more massive.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing and Copyright: Mehmet Hakan Özsaraç

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I saw crows and cormorants and chickadees in California, but didn't photograph any of them. So here's a pretty junco in Central Park a few weeks ago.

One more tree

This cypress lost its fight with the sea winds, but I love how the broken trunk forms a (sort of) heart.

Trees at Land's End

Nothing evokes the Bay Area for me more than the smell of eucalyptus on a foggy day, but I've always loved cypresses as well. The weathered trunks and scrawny flat crowns are well suited for a life of being windblown.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Saturday reflections

It's obviously a stretch to call this a reflection picture—a few faint clouds and two silhouettes in the water do not really qualify. But I'm in the middle of a take-home midterm this weekend and don't have time to look for something better.

These are the ruins of Sutro Baths, by Ocean Beach in San Francisco. The baths burned down in the Sixties, but I remember visiting when we were having special occasion meals at the Cliff House next door. There was a skating rink, and for some reason a mummy in a glass case, which I found both fascinating and terrifying. I never even realized there were actual baths there until after it had burned down and the ruins of the pools were exposed. We used to climb all over the ruins and the hills above when I was in high school; like so much else in San Francisco they've now been cleaned up and there are beautiful trails over the hills where we used to skid around on the bare rocks.

Speaking of the Golden Gate Bridge

I saw this bridge on a daily basis when I was young. I've driven across it countless times, sailed under it, and walked across it more than once. It often shows up in my dreams. And yet, I had never noticed the Art Deco details on the towers before.

Obviously, when I was a kid I wouldn't have known what Art Deco was, but the adult me never noticed either until I looked at these pictures.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Urban poetry

A look at two bridges—the new span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate—taken through the sunroof of my friends' car.

My body is finally back on Eastern Daylight Time; I know what time it is, more or less, but I am still not entirely clear what day it is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

I am back in New York after an all too brief visit to the Bay Area. I had to get up before 4 am yesterday to make a 6 am flight and that, plus the time change and the general disorientation of finding myself on the other side of the continent again, have left me with the firm belief that there is no such thing as enough coffee or too much sleep and that I have not had nearly enough of either.

So here's another alien landscape, where humans have now left their mark: tracks made by the Mars Rover, photographed by Perseverance in February.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Paul Byrne

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

I would have loved to get a closeup of this turkey hanging out by the freeway in Berkeley, but I was in a moving car and had to admire those wonderful tail feathers from a distance.

Saturday reflections

This is the wall of windows across from the benches in the previous picture.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Urban poetry

This is just a bench in one of the corporate pocket parks in Midtown, but I loved the arrangement of the trees and the benches.

I am actually in California; I will write more about that and post some pictures later. I had an airline credit that was about to expire, and Covid cases are low at the moment, so I took a few very deep breaths and went for it. It's a short visit because of my school schedule, but more than worth the jet lag.

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