Monthly Archives: May 2013

Travel Theme: Costume

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Costume.

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Halloween 2011 and 2012 (more photos are here and here).

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The Sign Says.

Kayaking out on open water, we meet few signs. But as soon as we come in to land, signs abound. Some of them do their best to be unavoidable. Nevertheless, we sometimes manage to avoid them—

Some years ago, Erik Baard and I paddled down from Manhattan and landed on the beach near the northwestern tip of Sandy Hook. We had a leisurely lunch, took a stroll along the beach, lazed about, and after a couple of hours were ready to paddle back to Manhattan. But just before we launched, we thought that we might, just out of curiosity, find out what those two big signs that stood there, facing away from us, said…

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And not far from that spot was another, complementary set of signs that helped complete the image of Sandy Hook, at least in those pre-Hurricane Sandy days…




(Our first interpretation of “The Sign Says” was here.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The Sign Says.

On May 20, 2011, during our multi-day paddle down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City, we landed in the town of Highland for a meal in a riverside restaurant. And we saw this sign, promising Judgment Day for tomorrow. Devastating earthquakes were predicted to usher in the Rapture!

It sure looked like our trip would enter some seriously uncharted waters. Nevertheless, we kept paddling, and made it through May 21 without incident. We later learned that Judgment Day had been postponed until October 21, and then it was abandoned altogether…

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P.S. Some people have read the bottom line of this sign as “”, suggesting quite another set of possibilities…

(A second interpretation of “The Sign Says” is here.)

Manhattanhenge 2013

By Vladimir Brezina

Manhattanhenge is the phenomenon for which, future archeologists might well conclude, the rectangular street grid of Manhattan was built.  As Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astronomer who has spread the word about Manhattanhenge, writes:

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.

For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year. For 2013 they fall on May 28th, and July 13th, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.

So Manhattanhenge proper—when half of the sun’s disk would have appeared on the horizon at the end of the cross streets at sunset—was actually yesterday, May 28th. But it was cloudy. And anyway, from Midtown Manhattan it’s not really possible to keep the sun in sight as it sinks all the way down to the horizon. New Jersey is in the way.

But today, May 29th, the full disk of the sun was to appear at the end of the cross streets at sunset. Even better!

Two years ago I observed Manhattanhenge from 34th Street. Today, for a change, I went to 42nd Street.

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The venue: 42nd Street

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Photographers gather

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That’s where it will happen

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Here it comes!

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It’s going to be good!

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Excitement mounts ;-)

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The magic moment

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Crowds worship the setting Sun on 42nd Street

Bigger IS Better!

By Vladimir Brezina

As with my kayaks

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My Feathercraft folding kayaks. Left to right: K-Light (1990s), K1 (2000s), Heron (2012). Increasing in overall length from 12′ 10″ (K-Light) to 17′ 7″ (Heron).

so with my cameras

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My Pentax Optio waterproof cameras. Left to right: W90 (2010), WG-2 (2012), WG-3 (2013). Increasing in weight from  5.7 oz (W90, with battery and memory card) to 7.4 oz (WG-3).

I’ve noticed a progressive hypertrophy ;-)

Travel Theme: Pathways

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge for this week is Pathways.

On the beaches that we’ve visited over the years, we’ve discovered the pathways of all kinds of creatures…

What are these?

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Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is In the Background: “Take a picture of yourself or someone else as a shadow, a reflection, or a lesser part of a scene, making the background… the center of attention.”

This photo seems to fit the challenge—

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Travel Theme: The Four Elements

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge for this week is The Four Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.


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And, finally, the Quintessence, the fifth element, “that which God used in the delineation of the universe” (Plato); which, unlike the four terrestrial elements, has no qualities (it is neither hot, cold, wet, or dry) and is incapable of change (Aristotle); and which is “subtler than light” (Fludd). (The last property makes it tricky to photograph.)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s photo challenge is Escape. We’ve already posted photos of the sort of passive escapees that we see on our kayak travels, but here’s a more active one…

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This happens often. The bird—around here, it’s usually a Canada goose or a mallard duck—will just sit there until the last possible moment, not quite believing that this is happening…

Then it will take off. But more often than not, especially on a narrow river, it will land just a short distance in front, still in the path of the kayak. And a minute or two later the entire performance will repeat… One time I had a duck repeat its escape, with greater and greater exasperation, seven or eight times in a row until it finally got the message that it should circle round and land behind the kayak.

(We usually try to paddle around the birds if we can, especially in winter when they need all their energy. But when there are birds sitting everywhere on the water, it’s hard to avoid them  all.)

Ducks do seem to be relatively slow learners. Gulls, on the other hand… By now we have a pretty good idea of the distinct ways in which different bird species interact with passing paddlers. But that’s material for another post… ;-)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Escape.

Congrats on a successful escape!

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until recaptured, of course—

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(From Day 5 of our 2012 Long Island kayak circumnavigation)

And here‘s a more active escapee…