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

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

He's a little blurrier than I'd like, but such a magnificent creature deserves to be shared anyway.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Saturday reflections

White brick apartment buildings are common on the East Side of Manhattan. They tend to be fairly generic architecturally, but make interesting window reflections.

Beach house

I like this house, which was across the road from Ditch Plains Beach, but honestly, instead of thinking about what a great location it has or what wonderful views you could enjoy with your breakfast, my first thought was, “What about hurricanes?”

Not that we get hurricanes every year, but I thought it was funny that instead of fantasizing about how nice it would be to live in that house, I immediately imagined dealing with all the broken glass. (Although if I could afford a house like that I could presumably also afford to have someone come in and sweep up.)

More Ditch Plains


Friday, January 28, 2022

Back to Ditch Plains Beach

I didn't get to see as much of this lovely beach as I might have liked. I'm curious whether it was the winter light that gave it that almost dreamlike feel, but maybe I'll be able to go back in a few months and see.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

It's always wonderful to see a new image from the late, great Cassini probe. Tethys, the moon in this picture, is one of five major moons that orbit Saturn outside the major rings, but within the faint E ring.

Tethys may be a (comparatively) small lump of ice, but the views must be amazing.

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

The freakish Atlantic

The waves out by the lighthouse were churning away, but not nearly as dramatically as I had expected. Still, I love those bands of colors.

Winter trees

These trees were near the lighthouse. Seeing those silhouettes against the ocean was worth a little discomfort.

Montauk lighthouse

The Montauk lighthouse was a five-minute drive from the house where I was staying. Despite my less than ideal first evening in town, I slept surprisingly well, and I woke to bright sunshine and the sound of gulls calling from the beach two blocks away. I treated myself to a latte and a yogurt parfait from the coffee shop in the village for breakfast, and decided to go out to the lighthouse to take some pictures, and maybe find a good place to go for a walk later.

I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be walking anywhere for very long; it may have been sunny, but the January winds coming off the Atlantic were fierce. (I actually put my facemask back on just to keep my nose from freezing.) After twenty minutes I had seen enough and I was ready to go back to the house and curl up with some hot chocolate and a book.

And the car wouldn't start. And I had no signal on my phone. And have I mentioned that it was freezing?

Obviously, since I am no longer sitting in an empty parking lot by the Montauk lighthouse, I figured it out. I walked around until I got enough of a signal to call for roadside assistance. It took 90 minutes for the truck to get there, but only a couple of minutes to fix the terminal on the battery that had come loose. And I eventually got my hot chocolate.

There were moments, sitting alone in that parking lot, and pacing around my car to warm up my feet, where I thought about other travel misadventures and wondered, as I sometimes do when these things happen, why I don't just stay home. Pascal famously said that all of our problems stem from an inability to sit quietly in a room alone; that's something I've always been very good at, but it doesn't mean that it's the only thing I want to do. And after these past two years, being someplace I've never been, seeing sunsets and hearing sea birds and taking a few interesting photos, was more than worth a few hours of discomfort in a deserted parking lot.

I was very happy to be home again on Wednesday, but I was also better for having left.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Ditch Plains Beach

Two more pictures of this lovely beach. I had never been to Montauk before; as I've mentioned many times I don't like sunbathing and I was never interested in party scenes, so summer shares in the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore never appealed to me. I have stayed on Fire Island a few times, and liked it very much, but I've seen the Hamptons only on day trips and never had any desire to stay.

Montauk had developed its own notorious party scene pre-pandemic, but it's always been a little removed. The distance helps; depending on the traffic, it can take four hours to drive there from Manhattan, with the last half hour or so mostly empty highway. And it really is dead in January. Most of the restaurants in the village are closed for the season and there were never more than a couple of people on the beach.

But that's what I wanted. I thought.

The misadventures started when I got to the AirBnB and discovered that it hadn't been cleaned since the last guests left. The beds weren't made up, the garbage hadn't been taken out, and there were wet towels on the bathroom floor. The owner was properly apologetic and gave me one night free, and asked the housekeeper to come over immediately. But, it being Montauk, “immediately” meant that she didn't get there until 8:30. And she spoke very little English, and didn't understand that all I really wanted was for her to clean the bedroom and make up the bed. Instead she spent the next two hours vacuuming, scrubbing and doing loads of laundry, while I sat there with my mask on trying to stay out of her way.

Sunday bird blogging

I passed through Central Park yesterday on my way to meet a friend for a late lunch and saw only mallards and house sparrows. So here's a blue jay from last year.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Saturday reflections

I happened to be in Grand Central this afternoon, so this picture of the clock on the fa├žade from earlier this year is appropriate. The sculpture around the clock is called The Glory of Commerce, a name even more ostentatious than the artwork.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Sunrise, sunset

Omicron upended all of my plans for my winter break. I had invitations for overnight visits with two sets of friends, but nobody wants to have or be a houseguest with such a contagious virus running rampant. Then, of course, I got sick myself and got to spend ten days in quarantine.

So I decided to get out of town for a few days, and booked an AirBnB in Montauk, at the eastern tip of Long Island. Where I had enough misadventures to remind myself of all of the less fun aspects of travel, culminating in having to leave a day early when yesterday's predicted rain turned out to be snow.

But here's something I didn't expect to see on this side of the continent: sunset over the ocean. This is Ditch Plains Beach, on the south side of Montauk Point. The sun is so far south this time of year that from the right angle you can actually see it set over the Atlantic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

Here's a last look at Comet Leonard, which has completed its swing around our sun and is now headed out of the solar system. You can really see the colors in this image, the green coma surrounding the head of the comet, and the blues in the tail.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales found that the green color that surrounds the heads of some comets is caused by the reaction between diatomic carbon—a highly reactive form of carbon found in stars and comets—in the comet's coma and the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The blue color in the tail comes from carbon monoxide.

Image Credit and Copyright: Blake Estes (itelescope.net)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

The beautiful summer colors of a starling in Central Park.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday reflections

The Corinthian columns in front of Grand Central, on 42nd Street.

The Gunks

Those views of the Palisades reminded me of this: the Shawangunk Mountains in Ulster County, a ridge that forms part of the western boundary of the Great Appalachian Valley.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Two more from Fort Tryon Park

These are from late November.

View from Fort Tryon Park

I'm going to try to catch up on some old pictures before school starts again. The skies here may look wintry, but this picture looking up the Hudson from Fort Tryon Park was taken on a rather mild day in October.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula in Perseus. The dust hides much of what is going on, but those red spots are called Harbig-Haro objects, bright patches of partially ionized gases associated with newborn stars.

Image Credit and Copyright: Michael Sherick

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

A typically gorgeous female cardinal in Central Park.

I am about 99% asymptomatic this morning, so I'm going to consider myself out of quarantine as of tomorrow. I think I will treat myself to a drive.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Saturday reflections

This is a view of Midtown West in Manhattan. I'm not crazy about most of these buildings, but as a group, all that glass reflecting all that sky is pretty stunning.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Life in quarantine

This picture is actually from last winter, but since we got our first real snowfall last night, it's appropriate. And since I'm in quarantine, I can't go out and take any pictures of this storm—a concept that, apparently, some people have a hard time understanding.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

The spectacular Comet Leonard is unfortunately not really visible from my part of the planet, but at least I can look at the pictures.

Image Credit and Copyright: Rolando Ligustri (CARA Project, CAST) and Lukas Demetz

Monday, January 3, 2022

Well, damn

So Christmas weekend I got to have that lovely adventure on the fire escape. And New Year's weekend, I tested positive for Covid.

No, I don't know how I got it; I wasn't anywhere except the supermarket and the laundry room during the estimated incubation period, and never without a mask. Apparently omicron really is as insanely contagious as we've been told.

Fortunately, I seem to be having the typical experience of the fully vaxed; it's like coming down with a bad cold, with a little less snot and a lot more brain fog.

I went for a PCR test today just to confirm, though now I'm not really sure why I bothered. The labs are overwhelmed so I won't get the results for at least 5 days, at which point I'll probably be symptom-free and out of quarantine. And getting the test meant standing in line for three hours in sub-freezing temperatures with an upper respiratory infection, not exactly best medical practice. I came home, took a hot shower, and went to bed, where I intend to remain until, oh, maybe Thursday.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Sunday bird blogging

Another look at Spuyten Duyvil Creek and the Henry Hudson Bridge, this time with a mallard.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Saturday reflections

Here's a lovely water reflection from Inwood Hill Park yesterday. This is Spuyten Duyvil Creek which, along with the Harlem River, separates Manhattan from the Bronx—this really is the northernmost tip of Manhattan Island. That's the Henry Hudson Bridge, and beyond it, the Hudson River.

Happy New Year

And the first morning of a new year is an excellent time to sneak in another sunrise from the Jersey Shore.

Awful as so much of this past year was, it was still an improvement on 2020. I got vaccinated and boosted. I got a car, and was able to get out of my apartment. I survived two more semesters plus one summer session of grad school.

There were griefs and struggles, but there were also accomplishments and new friends and, on balance, probably more laughs than tears. At this stage of my life, any year that ends with me upright and more or less healthy and sane and my loved ones still with me is by definition a good year. If, a year from now, I can say the same about 2022, I'll be more than satisfied.

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