Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pas de Deux

By Vladimir Brezina

Performers: Two Brown Pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis

(It’s nice to think that they were a male and a female. But it’s very hard to tell male and female pelicans apart by external appearance alone.)

Venue: A piling just off John’s Pass Boardwalk, Madeira Beach, Florida (near St. Petersburg, on the Gulf coast)

Date: February 23, 2012, as the sun set…

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In Preparation for Landing, Please Return Your Seat Backs to Their Full Upright Position… and Take Out Your Cameras!

By Vladimir Brezina

Like everyone who travels often enough by airplane, I’ve seen breathtaking things from the plane’s window: towering cloud formations, lightning storms, the brilliant colors of sunrise and sunset, and the map-like pattern of land and water sliding into view below.

But until yesterday, I’ve never taken out my camera. Looking out through a misted, scratched window at a cramped angle not under my control, the photographic situation didn’t seem too promising.

Still, I’ve always been tempted in one case—when landing in New York City. When landing at LaGuardia Airport, especially, if the wind is right the plane flies along the length of Manhattan, offering spectacular low-altitude views of the city.

So yesterday, when it looked like we were following that flight path once again, I got out my camera. And I was not disappointed!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Indulge.

I think the photo says it all…

Other nice interpretations that I’ve seen:

The Bright Lights of the Big City from Space

By Vladimir Brezina


[For best viewing, click on the HD icon in the top right corner, then expand to full screen by clicking on the icon in the bottom right corner]

Video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center:

This video was taken by the crew of Expedition 30 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken January 29, 2012 from 05:33:11 to 05:48:10 GMT, on a pass from just southwest of Mexico to the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Newfoundland. This pass begins looking over Central America towards the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States. As the ISS travels northeast over the gulf, some southeastern United States cities can be distinguished, like New Orleans, Mobile, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. Continuing up the east coast, some northeastern states, like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City stand out brightly along the coastline. The Aurora Borealis shines in the background as the pass finishes near Newfoundland.

And notice the firmament of fixed stars unchanging above…

This is just one of the many amazing videos at this site.

Wild New Yorkers

By Vladimir Brezina

To survive and to thrive in the big city, it sometimes seems that New York City’s wildlife has diversified to fill much the same niches as the city’s human inhabitants…

Some specialize in being decorative

Some are charming hustlers

Others still are quick small-time opportunists

The hustlers just won’t take no for an answer!

Many establish societies, in plain sight yet with their own secret rules, in the interstices of the city

But all come to watch the sunset along the river…

(All photos taken yesterday in Central and Riverside Parks, Manhattan.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Down. “We spend a lot of time looking ahead, looking from left to right before we cross the street, looking into the sky for Superman, but not a lot of time looking down. What do you see?”

As it happens, Johna recently posted some thoughts on that theme, and I added a few photos that could serve again here…

But what first popped into my head just now was quite a different sense of “Down”.

So here is “Down” in both senses!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Vladimir Brezina

Circumnavigating Monomoy

By Johna Till Johnson
(With additional text, charts, and photos by Vladimir Brezina)

This happened in July 2011.

The day dawned clear and bright, and we were excited: This was the day we were going to circumnavigate Monomoy Island. Located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod, Monomoy juts out some eight miles, dividing Nantucket Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a nice spectrum of paddling opportunities: The protected, shallow water of the Sound on one side, and the deep swells of the Atlantic on the other.

And then there is Monomoy Point, the very end of the island, where the two waters meet.

“Kayakers have died there,” Vlad informed me cheerfully over breakfast.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Regret.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

“A Bizarre Boating Accident”

By Johna Till Johnson
(Photos by Vladimir Brezina)

Since we posted our Red Hook adventure a couple of weeks ago, readers have been asking for more. So here’s a real adventure, which until now, for reasons that will become obvious, we’ve been a bit reluctant to post in full…

We’ve drawn upon the initial couple of hours of this story for a previous post. But at the point where that post left off, the adventure was just beginning!

Two further comments: First, we regret that photos are a little thin in this post. During most of these events, photography would have been difficult, or inadvisable.

And second, this is an example of people going “above and beyond” to be human, even when it could potentially threaten them professionally. So to protect the well-intentioned—and much-appreciated—innocent, all names, dates, and other identifying details have been modified or obscured.

This happened sometime last spring…

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