Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trees, Surprised by Winter

By Vladimir Brezina

The snowstorm that came through New York City a couple of days ago wasn’t much as winter storms go. But it was so early—it’s nowhere near winter yet! New York City has had measurable snow in October only three times previously since records began in 1869, and this storm, dropping 2.9 inches in Central Park, set a new record by far.

The trees weren’t ready. They still had almost all their leaves—the fall colors haven’t even peaked yet in Central Park!—and the weight of the snow accumulating in the foliage brought down branches and whole trees everywhere.

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A Walk in the Park

By Vladimir Brezina

Yesterday:

Today:

More photos from both days to come. (Update, November 18, 2011: they are here.)

Dance Your Ph.D.

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

It’s the question every science graduate student dreads:  “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You take a deep breath and begin. People’s eyes glaze over…

The problem isn’t that your life’s work is uninteresting. It’s that the conventional way to explain it can be limiting:  Words can only get so far.  What if there were a better way to tell your story? Something like…  interpretive dance!

The first “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest was organized in 2008 by John Bohannon, the “Gonzo Scientist” of GonzoLabs and a contributing correspondent covering the intersection of science, culture, and art for Science magazine (“who, in true gonzo style, will participate in the events he covers”). Since then, the contest has become an annual event sponsored by Science. For the 2011 contest, 55 dances were submitted “covering everything from psychology to astrophysics,” and the winners have just been announced.

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Halloween Is in the Air on the Upper East Side: A Photoessay

By Vladimir Brezina

The Upper East Side of Manhattan takes Halloween very seriously. Halloween is still some days away, but decaying bodies, chained skeletons, and giant black spiders have festooned the area for weeks. The block of 92nd Street between Madison and Park Avenues is particularly worth seeing… here are some photos from that block and a couple of adjacent ones.

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A Blaze of Fall Color by Kayak: A Photoessay

By Vladimir Brezina

In New York City, the leaves are only just starting to turn. But farther north along the Hudson the fall colors must be well advanced.

For a number of years I used to go by train with my folding kayak to see the fall colors in the stretch of the Hudson just south of Albany, near Catskill and the town of Hudson.  In Ramshorn Creek, a little winding creek off the Hudson just south of Catskill, I saw, about this time in October one year, the best fall colors ever—a vivid profusion of yellows, oranges, reds, purples, reflected in the green-brown waters of the creek against a crystalline fall blue sky.

It doesn’t look like I’ll have time to go up there this year. So here are some photos from that memorable trip. Even though photos can’t do the real experience of such colors justice, they do give some idea…

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Touched By Fire: An Early-Autumn Kayak Trip Along the Palisades

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Autumn is a time of melancholy, of dreams and mists. It’s also a time of intense beauty—and a reminder that everything in life is transient.

That’s particularly true when it comes to catching the leaves turning along the Hudson: Bare hints of color one day, blazing the next, and then fading—all in the space of a week or two.

For New York City kayakers with day jobs, the challenge is that the currents are right for a weekend trip up the Hudson only once every two weeks—which means there are only two October weekends to catch this ephemeral color.

The first weekend with a daytime flood current was October 15-16. Either weekend day would have worked, but since I’d just gotten back from an intense week of traveling, Sunday was the better fit. Plus, Saturday’s winds were pretty severe—predicted and ultimately proving to be over 20 knots. So we agreed to go Sunday.

By then, the winds had calmed somewhat. Vlad and I set off on a crystalline, perfect, early-autumn day.

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On the Beach: A Photoessay

By Vladimir Brezina

That first glimpse of the sea instantly shows what the day will be like. The sea sets the mood.

That day at the beach may be just an ordinary Sunday at the seaside
or it may be stormy
or dreamy…

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