Monthly Archives: December 2013

We’re Back!

By Vladimir Brezina

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After more than a week away from civilization, paddling through Florida’s Everglades, we are back in NYC!

IMGP1706 cropped smallEvery time we are away from the news for an extended period, we keep in mind the story of Shackleton, who returned from two years in the Antarctic to the news that a World War had been raging for some time. Fortunately, no such news greeted us. But we did miss all of this year’s Christmas festivities. This was our Christmas dinner of 2013 ——————————>

Here is a preliminary small selection of photos from the trip (click on any photo to start slideshow):

Our writeup, with more photos, begins here!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Joy.

Kids have no trouble finding Joy.

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Adults sometimes have to work at it…

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Figment NYC 2011. A writeup with more photos is here.

Happy Winter!

By Vladimir Brezina

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

In NYC, meteorological Winter has been with us for quite some time. And with tomorrow’s Winter Solstice, astronomical Winter starts as well. But there is a silver lining—even though the coldest days are yet to come, from today the day length will steadily increase toward Spring…

In the meantime, Happy Winter!

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However, for reasons that can’t be gainsaid, we are off to Florida for a week’s paddling, in regions that even WordPress cannot reach… Happy Holidays, and see y’all when we get back!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is One.

The One.

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Manhattanhenge, May 29, 2013.

Boundary Conditions: Exploring the Hudson River in Autumn

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

As the season descends into Winter, we figured it would be good to post a long-overdue writeup of a trip that we took during the magical boundary between Summer and Autumn—a trip up the Hudson River in October 2013. 

Fall colors

In mathematics, a boundary condition is a constraint imposed on the solution of an equation. By imposing boundary conditions, you focus on a specific subset of solutions, rather than all solutions.

In ecology, there’s also the concept of a boundary—in this case, the transition from one habitat to another. Boundary conditions are then conditions at the habitat boundary. And as a tidal estuary, the lower Hudson River itself is a permanent habitat boundary, since it’s the interface between salt water and fresh, between the ocean and the rivers and streams that feed it.

The two meanings are different, but what they have in common is the notion of focusing on a particular part of the cosmos, one embodying flux, change, and intermingling of diverse forces.

That’s what we did one day this Fall when we drove north for an extended weekend of kayak-camping on the Hudson River, at our favorite spot, the Hudson River Islands State Park, about 20 miles south of Albany.

We set up camp
River view

For this excursion, we’d joined forces with Alex and Jean, fellow paddlers and fellow bloggers at 2Geeks@3Knots, who drove up from New Rochelle. And we were hoping to meet up with Mike and Julie, paddlers from Albany with whom we’d shared a lively correspondence over the past year but had never met. And also, with luck, with our friend David, who lives both in NYC and upstate, and was planning to be on the river up there that weekend.

All of us from different habitats, in other words, but with our common boundary—the Hudson River.

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Autumn Day

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

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Blame it on Rilke… Or his translators, actually.

On a recent late-fall evening, Vlad was chuckling over the varied translations of the poem “Autumn Day” by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herbsttag

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiel den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

The translations are here.

And even if—like Johna—you don’t read German, it’s rather obvious they’re rather, ahem, divergent when it comes to cadence, connotation, and tone.  Different from each other and from the original meaning.

Johna read them over Vlad’s shoulder and burst out laughing. “‘Summer was awesome?’ We could do better than that!”  Well, maybe not better… but different. If it’s acceptable to say “summer was awesome”—well then, that opens up a whole host of possibilities!

So here you go.  “Autumn Day” loosely translated for the modern era:

Autumn Day

By Rainer Maria Rilke (sort of)

Dude, it’s time! Summer rocked, but
It’s over. Sucks.
The sun slants low now.
The autumn wind sweeps through abandoned
Bodega stalls. Across the last bruised fruit,
Fermenting fast.
At least you’ll have some awesome vino.

No place to crash? Tough.
Too late. You’re solo now.
Time to stay out long
And ride the board
Up and down darkening alleys
Where the trash swirls.

First Snow

By Vladimir Brezina

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It’s snowing! The first real snow of the winter. Quick, everyone out into the park before it melts!

(Click on any photo to start slideshow)

In Central Park, NYC, yesterday.