Category Archives: Culture

But I Saw It on the Internet…

By Vladimir Brezina

The Internet instantaneously connects many millions of people in all parts of the world into a vast network. And just like a natural ecosystem, it can serve up unexpected storms at any moment.

Recently we experienced a minor storm.

One day, Wind Against Current began to get thousands of hits on this old picture:

Two suns over New Jersey

Over a day and a half, there were over 10,000 hits.

And they all came from a country where until then we hadn’t had many readers: Malaysia.

Johna said, “It’s an attack!” But closer inspection (for which WordPress has quite good tools) showed that all the hits came from a number of websites (such as this one) that published and republished a post that included our picture (and linked back to our blog, which was very nice of them!).

Things became clearer when we saw that many other Malaysian visitors came after searching for “2 suns” or something similar. And I had just happened to title this picture “Two suns over New Jersey”…

Some time later we received the following message from a stranger: “Your pic is making round on FB [Facebook] with Following details – “TWO SUNS AT A TIME in USA——The Miracle Has Happened Today USA And CANADA Saw Two Suns. This Is Called As Hunters Moon. Due To Change Of Orbit The Sun Sets And Moon Rises At the Same Time With Both Being Opposite To Each Other At A Particular Angle Or Degree Moon Reflects The Sun So Bright That It Almost Feel Like Another Sun…. Effects Stay For Couple Of Days…”

The stranger who sent us this message added: “LOL”. LOL indeed. Needless to say, this makes no sense whatever, and our picture just shows the sun’s rays reflected off the glass wall of a building…

But now we have some small insight into how the sausages of the Internet are made!

Halloween Postmortem, Part II

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Even skeletons check their cell phonesThis year’s Halloween decorations were plenty scary. But in our neighborhood, they’re just the backdrop: Every year, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, the local neighborhood association, puts on “Spooktacular”, a Halloween block party that features entertainers (including a lively DJ/MC playing dance music) and a costume contest—and of course trick-or-treating, with lots, and lots, and LOTS of candy!

Whole families show up in costume, including mother, father, kids, pets, and—this being the Upper East Side—nanny. (For those who don’t know, the Upper East Side is home to financiers, top lawyers, and other Masters of the Universe.)

The party is open to the whole neighborhood, and it seems to be getting bigger, and better, each year.  (Here are the photos from 2011, 2012, and 2013.)

Looking left... and looking rightVlad in the crowd

The photographer stalking his prey (while being stalked by a giant floating spider)…

… and here are some of his photos:

Continue reading

Halloween Postmortem, Part I

By Vladimir Brezina

Halloween decorations 2015 4Halloween 2015 is over—and it was quite a party! So much so that I didn’t even have time to post my photos of the Halloween decorations—if that is the right word—seen this year in our neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Some of the old favorites made return appearances (here are the photos from 2011, 2012, and 2013), but there were many imaginative, even artistic, new additions. Many of the residents of our neighborhood obviously feel a strong need to keep up with the Joneses, no effort or expense spared, in this department as in many others… The huge crowds of trick-or-treating kids loved it all, of course!

(click on any photo to start slideshow)

Even more photos are here.

Part II, with photos of the costumes at the Halloween block party itself, is coming soon!


By Vladimir Brezina

For this week’s travel-themed photo challenge, Ailsa wants Frame.


Someone thought this was a good idea for a costume for our annual Halloween block party in 2011. What were they thinking?

We’ll see what tonight’s party brings. Happy Halloween!

Doi Nomazi

By Vladimir Brezina

Doi NomaziIt was late December 2013, on the first day of one of our shakedown paddles through the Florida Everglades in preparation for the 2014 Everglades Challenge. We had just landed on the muddy beach behind the Everglades City ranger station to get our permits for camping in the Everglades.

As Johna tells it, “as we headed inland I caught sight of a couple of figures—a man and a woman—dressed identically in Army-green T-shirts and black pants. The woman was wheeling a loaded barrow, and I took them for park rangers.

But Vlad stopped and said to the man, ‘I know you! We’re friends on Facebook!'”

The couple were Doi Nomazi (“Two Nomads”), Adrian and Mihaela, a Romanian husband-and-wife adventure team. Even though they too are based in New York, we’d never met before, and this was the only time we have crossed paths so far.

Like us, they were on a kayak expedition in the Everglades over the holidays—but they were sailing, rather than merely paddling, their black U-boat, a double Long Haul folding kayak.

Later, back in New York, I looked to see how their trip had gone, and found that they had produced an enchanting 86-minute “video diary” of their adventure, entitled “Echoes of the Eskampaba—2013”.

“Echoes of the Eskampaba” remains my favorite among their videos, perhaps because it features many of the places in the Everglades that we, too, visited on our trip (such as the lovely but mosquito-plagued Highland Beach, where Doi Nomazi camped a few days after us).

But that’s just one of their videos. There are now 28 of them. Once or twice a year, on their vacation, Doi Nomazi visit some fascinating, remote corner of the world. The resulting video is as well-produced as any commercial movie, and more watchable that most. (It’s perhaps not surprising to find that Adrian has a rich resumé as a journalist, cameraman, and film producer and director.) In addition to the Everglades, Doi Nomazi have paddled in the Black Sea, in the Gwaii Haanas of British Columbia, in Greenland, in Alaska’s Glacier Bay… And it’s not all paddling, either: they have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, driven through the back country of Africa and Australia

Here is their latest video, from Glacier Bay:

Doi Nomazi say that “we have no special training, we are not athletes and we are not seeking any records.” Perhaps not, but their thirst for nature and adventure, and their willingness to endure the inevitable discomforts and hardships, are extraordinary. An inspiration to us all!

Fearsome Sails, Ancient and Modern

By Vladimir Brezina

Sailors have always put fierce images on their sails to intimidate their enemies:

Ancient Greek trireme        … the ancient Greeks

Viking longship






… the Vikings






… and now—

... and now

… sailing forth to intimidate, at least, their brand’s enemies.


By Vladimir Brezina

New York City architecture is ruled by rigid grids. But often the result is surprisingly fluid…

Grid 1Grid 2Grid 3Grid 4

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Grid.