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

Sunday, April 28, 2024

A closer look

I wish I had taken some closeups. The detail on the stonework was wonderful.

The Facade, sans moi


The Library of Celsus

This is the picture-postcard image from Ephesus, and it is even more spectacular in person. So much so that it makes me want to overcome my usual reluctance to post pictures of myself and give myself a little visual pinch. Yes, I was actually there!

The library was built in the second century, and was one of the three great libraries of the ancient world, after Alexandria and Pergamum. The library contents were burned in 262, and the building was destroyed by an earthquake in probably the 11th century. Archaeologists re-erected the facade in the 1970's; the rest of the building is still in ruins.

Getting closer

The library, peeking from behind some of the other ruins.

Entering the city

This was taken near the entrance of the archaeological site, heading down one of the main streets towards the library, which you can see in the distance.

Sunday bird blogging

I've been trying to think of a word to describe how I've felt the past few weeks, and I finally came up with subdued. Nothing terribly wrong, but nothing especially wonderful either. There was the usual constant drumbeat of unnerving headlines, of course, and enough stupid mistakes in my personal life for me to think once again that I really need to hire a keeper. Like setting up my new fancy coffeemaker to make my morning coffee and forgetting to put the coffeepot in place, so that I woke at seven am to the welcome smell of fresh coffee and found it all over my counter and floor. Or that I dutifully filed my taxes on time, but somehow managed to skip the last step where I actually paid what I owe to the Federal government.

But I managed to get to Central Park with a camera this week, for the first time this spring, and it was good for my mood and my soul, and this gorgeous Green Heron—the first I've seen in Central Park—was just a bonus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024


I've put off posting any pictures from Ephesus because it was so overwhelming—in the best way!—and I just haven't had the mental bandwidth to take it on.

I still don't but I'm going make a start. The ruins in the main city, mostly Roman, with streets where Antony and Cleopatra once walked, are jaw-dropping, but there's been a city on the site since Neolithic times. It's been, at various times, a major Greek trading center, an outpost of the Persian Empire, and for a while was even under the rule of King Croesus of Lydia.

This is the Temple of Hadrian, built in the second century AD.

Astronomy Tuesday

I posted this picture and the accompanying text 11 years ago, but reading about how an engineering team at NASA was able to reprogram the computers aboard Voyager 1—the spacecraft that took the image that inspired Carl Sagan in 1990—from 15 billion miles away inspired me to post it again.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sunday bird blogging

Yes, I am actually still here.

I have only a few classes left this semester, and plan, as always, to get my shit together this summer. We shall see.

Meanwhile, here's a cardinal.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Watching the watchers

So, you may have heard there was an eclipse today.

It was only a partial eclipse here in New York, and although I would love to see another total eclipse, I just couldn't handle traveling in the middle of the semester. And I consoled myself with the lousy weather forecasts, thinking I might scramble to get somewhere in the path of totality and not be able to see anything. (I do have to admit that when I saw there were actually going to be clear skies in Vermont today I was tempted to jump in the car and drive to Burlington.)

Instead I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood and watching the people watching the eclipse on what turned out to be a mostly clear and quite lovely day. I didn't have glasses, but someone let me borrow theirs for a couple of minutes, so I even saw the eclipse.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Return to Petra

I don't have the time or energy to start on Ephesus, so here are a few pictures from the Siq at Petra instead.

I took so many pictures the first time I was there I didn't think I could possibly have found any more interesting stone formations, but I was wrong.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Astronomy Tuesday

I haven't posted one of these in a while, but I couldn't resist this image.

Sagittarius A (usually written as Sgr A*) is the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Obviously you can't just take a picture of a black hole; you can only observe the effects it has on everything around it. The gases spinning around and falling into black holes are called the accretion disk; this image, taken in polarized light, show the structures and strength of the magnetic fields in the accretion disk. Our universe is so endlessly cool.

Credit: EHT Collaboration

The Minotaur cafe

Which is next door to Labyrinth Souvenirs.

Say what?

That statue of Marcus Aurelius is a fine example of good Roman art; however, this depiction of Hades and Persephone just made me laugh. Who knew that the three heads of the fearsome Cerberus were all the size of chihuahuas?

Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them

By 36 BC Knossos was a Roman colony. I love this bust of Marcus Aurelius in the museum.

Minoan culture

Sarcophagi in the museum.

The pyramids at Giza are only a few hundred years older than Knossos, and the Minoans are sometimes described as the first civilization in Europe. But we don't actually know very much about them. They used two forms of writing, a kind of hieroglyphics and later, Linear A, that we can't read. We don't even know what they called themselves. Referring to them as the Minoans—derived from the myth of King Minos—was popularized by Arthur Evans.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Random things I saw at Knossos

The Grand Staircase

This staircase has four levels, which I think is pretty impressive for a something built almost four thousand years ago.

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