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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) posted this image of Mars on the site formerly known as Twitter today. He wrote, “I think it's incredible that we're living in an era when we can fly a helicopter on another planet—and see the images it takes on our phones.”

Me too.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Paul Byrne

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saturday reflections

Reflections by Hudson Yards on the West Side, featuring The Vessel, the copper-clad public art in the center of the complex.

The Vessel opened in 2019 and there were long lines to climb it so I never bothered. The first suicide occurred less than a year after it opened. Then there was another. Then another. The Vessel was closed; you could look but you couldn't climb. It reopened briefly, there was another suicide, and now it's closed again, just taking up space in the middle of Manhattan.

I feel like I should be able to say something interesting or profound about that because I really have a visceral dislike of Hudson Yards, which has always seemed to me to try way too hard to be New York Cool without really understanding what that is, but it's Saturday night and I'm tired from teaching today, so profundity is way beyond my capabilities at the moment. But I love these reflections.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Urban poetry

Bicycles in Central Park. I took these pictures with the new phone, and it does a decent job of capturing detail. Some pictures, like the reflection shot from last Saturday, are less impressive; I can tell it's a phone picture and the Canon would have done a much better job.

But the phone weighs a lot less and is always in my purse, and that's no small advantage.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

Comet Nishimura was only discovered last month but it's already developed quite an impressive tail from its interactions with the solar wind.

Credit and Copyright: Peter Kennett

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Saturday reflections

Reflections from 34th Street across from Macy's, a few weeks ago.

I survived the first day of classes. My students are of course delightful, but there are more than thirty of them—twice as many as I started with last semester—and just keeping track of the flow of forms across my desk was daunting.

I am tired. It's a good tired, but I am so, so tired.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

I've mentioned that I am always fascinated by images of Pluto because when I was first learning about astronomy, the only pictures available showed a blurry gray blob that honestly could have been anything.

This is a color-enhanced version of an image captured by the New Horizons probe in 2015. It took New Horizons almost ten years and 3 billion miles to reach Pluto—three billion miles! Humans actually built something that made that trip and sent back pictures. And yes, Pluto looks like a nicely toasted meringue in this picture, but still—three billion miles.

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

I have not made it to the park to see the incoming migration, despite the best of intentions. Classes start on Saturday, and I have almost twice as many students as I did last semester. I'd forgotten how much time printing, collating, and stapling take (and how many materials you need for a day's worth of classes), and because there are so many students I can't print all the copies I need on my tiny home printer. So I'm spending my Labor Day schlepping uptown to use the copy machines at school.

But a titmouse will always make me smile.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Speaking of Sunriver

Two more landscapes from Eclipse Summer.

Saturday reflections

An appropriately bucolic scene for the end of summer.

This is an overlooked photo from 2017 in Sunriver, Oregon, when I went to see the eclipse. It was hard for mere landscapes to compete with the perhaps once in a lifetime experience of photographing the sun, and I never got around to processing this picture.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Urban poetry

I got a new phone recently and while reveling in what seems like (at least temporarily) an unlimited amount of storage and a much better camera, I found quite a few old pictures I'd forgotten about.

I took this one in 2018, when what is now the former phone was brand new, from the approach to the Manhattan Bridge heading towards Brooklyn. I was clearly using some kind of filter because the graffiti isn't quite this psychedelic in real life, and I'd like to go back and try for some more realistic images.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Water feature, plus cows

Summer, upstate New York.

There was no place to pull over, but I was the only one on the road so I just stopped the car and rolled down the window to take this picture. I might have liked to try to get the cows from a better angle, but I had an appointment with the alpacas and couldn't hang around.

Breakfast room

I was apparently the only one eating breakfast, so the amount of food was a little more than I needed. And I kept hoping someone would show up and sit in the thrones, but they remained empty.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Manor Life

Some of the beautiful parkland around the hotel. There were a few other people walking through the park in the late afternoon and the following morning, but I was mostly on my own. Not nearly as alone as I was at the hotel, though.

The hotel is a Mock Tudor mansion, originally a private home, and since only one of the other rooms was occupied, I felt like a houseguest invited for the weekend by someone I barely knew who disappeared shortly after I'd arrived.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Saturday reflections

I turned my alpaca quest into a mini-vacation by staying overnight at a hotel in northern New Jersey. It turned out to be a very odd and wonderful place, in the middle of a state park so there were beautiful, extensive grounds.

Today I'm lying on my bed watching Project Runway and waiting to see if I have Covid again (negative so far—fingers crossed.) I've realized that one of many ways our lives have changed in the past three years is that I used to wake up feeling a little under the weather and be able to decide whether or not I was going to try to power through. And even if I knew that I had been around someone who was sick (as I was this week) I would just think, Oh no, I guess I caught that cold.

But Covid is different. I had to isolate, stay home, miss the second day of placement testing, and wait to see whether I'm “officially” sick or not.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A few final alpacas

I think these are the last of the alpaca pictures. I particularly love the way the pattern from the shearing on the alpaca on the bottom left makes her look like she's wearing a sweater. (And a fancy hat!)

Another alpaca snuggle

I understand the impulse; I wanted to snuggle up with them, too.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Mother and child 2

I think these are the same two alpacas, just snuggling.

Mother and child

I took the picture of the baby alpaca nursing, and as soon as the shutter clicked the alpacas stopped and looked at me like, “Do you mind?”

Alpaca faces

Some of the amazing variety in those beautiful alpaca faces. Alpacas are easier to photograph than birds, but that doesn't mean they're willing to stay in one place for very long, and so some of my pictures are a little blurry. But still worth seeing.

This is clearly the Bad Girl of the alpaca farm


Sunday alpaca blogging

I may have mentioned that I have been sluggish and slothful, to put it kindly, since I came back from Peru. I had a lot of things I wanted to get done this summer, and accomplished very few of them. (It didn't help that the weather was unbearably hot and sticky and that every time I left the apartment I returned with my clothes sodden and my hair dripping.)

Then I happened to see this article about therapy alpacas. The alpaca farm in the article is up near Boston, and had only one free slot for visitors left this month, but it occurred to me that there might be an alpaca farm closer to home, and that really, aren't all alpacas by definition therapy alpacas?

So on Thursday I visited the Shalimar Alpacas Farm in Warwick, New York. It was possibly the only incentive that could have gotten me off my ass and out of the city, and the alpacas did not disappoint.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Saturday reflections

 A colorful hodgepodge of facades in the city.

We finally had a beautiful, cool, not humid, day, and I spent it all inside administering placement tests for the fall semester. But it was good to see my fellow teachers and meet some of my new students, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the classroom.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

My summer vacation is almost over and I have done almost none of the things I meant to do, including finishing going over older photos. But here's one from Berkeley, earlier this year: some lovely architectural detail on a house, a framing tree, and the warm light of the golden hour.

And, if you look closely, a downy woodpecker in the tree.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Saturday reflections

I upgraded my phone a couple of weeks ago; although I was curious about how much better the new cameras are, I was driven more by a dying battery and the fact that I kept running out of storage space.

I haven't tried to take many pictures yet, but this car reflection isn't bad.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

I don't think I've seen this before, which always makes me very happy. Despite the uncountable number of interesting things to look at in our universe, there are certain objects (looking at you, Horsehead Nebula!) that show up over and over again.

This is a supernova remnant, SN 1006, and is interesting for many reasons apart from its unusual appearance. Astronomers have never found a black hole or neutron star remnant from the original star. And the explosion in 1006 was so bright it could be seen in the daytime on Earth, and was visible on and off for two years, as recorded by observers in China, Japan, the Middle East and Europe. This was less than 50 years before the appearance of a different “guest star”, the supernova that created the Crab Nebula, in 1054. So even taking into account the very short life expectancies in the 11th century, there were probably many people who actually saw two supernovas during their lifetimes.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgement: W. Blair et al. (JHU)

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Saturday reflections

The reflections are faint, but I do like the way overlapping reflections make museum photos kind of magical. This is the Museo Larco in Lima, and those giant vessels are Incan.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Light and shadows

A bridge over the river in Ollantaytambo.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Astronomy Tuesday

From Earth, this group of galaxies appears to be in the southern constellation Pavo, the Peacock, so it is referred to as the Pavo Group.

NGC 6872, the galaxy in the upper right, is more than 500,000 light years across, five times bigger than the Milky Way. It's nicknamed the Condor Galaxy because its spiral arms have been distorted into those vaguely wing-like appendages. This gravitational mayhem is courtesy of the (comparatively) small galaxy hovering just above the galactic core.

Image Credit and Copyright: Mike Selby, Observatorio El Sauce

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

A West Peruvian Dove in Lima. Again, not a great picture but you can just see the blue eye ring.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Saturday reflections

An office building on a Saturday, taken from my hotel in Lima.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Urban poetry

Boats pulled up on the beach near the fish market in Chorrillos.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Cerca del océano pacífico

One more picture of the view from the cliffs in Lima—the little black specks in the water are surfers. Surfing is very popular there. And a wiggly sort of tree that caught my eye nearby.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Sunday bird blogging

One of the very noisy scrub blackbirds which provide a constant soundtrack of chatter for Lima's green spaces.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Finishing up

A few Peruvian odds and ends. This is the ornate Baroque façade of the Convento San Francisco in Lima, built in the late 1700’s. The interiors were magnificent—a cloister with an ornate wooden ceiling and tiles from Seville surrounding a garden, a library with spiral staircases, beautiful paintings. No photography was allowed unfortunately, but if you Google “Convento San Francisco” you can find pictures from visitors who ignored the rules.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

I love a parade

Taken on my only night in Cusco. I tried to walk from the hotel to the main plaza and ran into a parade coming in the opposite direction. I stood on the median in the middle of the avenue and took a few pictures; when I turned around I realized that the parade now filled the street behind me as well. I gave up on trying to get to the plaza and just joined the parade for a few blocks back to the hotel.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Saturday reflections

A car parked on the very California-like streets of the San Isidro neighborhood in Lima. The West Coast is the West Coast, apparently.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The library technique

A closer look at the bricks at Huaca Pucllana. That a structure built of adobe has survived for 1800 years is partly due to the climate—the coast of Peru is a desert, and Lima gets less than an inch of rain a year. Stacking the bricks vertically is called the library technique; the spaces in between the bricks allow them to move and makes the structure more earthquake-resistant.


Another look at the contrast between the Huaca Pucllana pyramid and the surrounding streets in Lima. It's just so cool.

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