by sam on 02/17/2019

sorting through some unposted photos, a shot of the fountain in city hall park from last june, when it was sunny and warm.

the world keeps turning

by sam on 01/20/2019

yesterday was the third women’s march – it was a little colder and grayer, and the national organization leadership has turned into a massive conflict-riddled mess, which of course resulted in various local marches literally disassociating themselves, which IN TURN led to three competing marches here in NY – an actual march organized by the local organizers who have organized the march every year here, a competing “rally” downtown organized by the national group, because they didn’t like getting tossed over, and a third rally for disabled protesters at grand central, because neither of the two other groups took account of the fact that their events weren’t accessible. So far, so…good(?).

Anyway, because supporting women and protesting the ACTUAL shitshow that is our national government is probably more important than any of this crap, I still dragged my ass out to the local march, in part because it seemed like the less objectionable of the two marches AND it also began literally in front of my apartment, so…maybe I’m a little lazy before deciding to walk several miles. As always, the camera came along and I took some pics. It was less crowded this year, probably due in part to the mess above, but also because they’ve been hyping snowstorms all week and the folks who would normally drive in from elsewhere thought better of getting stuck in the city. But people still showed up, and it’s still important to keep our eye on the ball, which is the real horror show in washington.

last day/first day

by sam on 01/1/2019

Today is both the first day of 2019, and the last day of my holiday vacation from work. Said vacation involved pretty much working from home the first week I was home (my own fault – I had a deal closing that I knew about before I planned things), and then trying to do a bunch of long-delayed home improvement projects. As usual, I cleaned out some stuff, but I also got a bunch of prints…printed AND hung up, and I finally painted the built-in cabinet that I had built six years ago when I renovated my bathroom.

So today, being the last day before I have to go back to work, and the weather being unusually cooperative (approaching 60 degrees and sunny? that’s not something to worry about in January), I decided to haul my camera across the Brooklyn Bridge and take some immensely cliched pictures of both the bridge and the eight gazillion tourists who had the same idea (can’t really blame them. It was really nice out).

Most of the pics are either of or from the bridge, but the first image is of the Beekman Hotel, which I will someday stay at just for the experience. It reopened two years ago after being restored – the building had fallen into complete disrepair and was in danger of being condemned completely. Luckily someone had the presence of mind to recognize the beauty of the place.

(As usual, wait for the page to finish loading and then click on the thumbnails to see the full images)

the great 2018 central park duck hunt

by sam on 11/17/2018

New York City has been absolutely captivated by its latest celebrity visitor – and hey, we all need a little distraction from the unending stream of horrendous political and ecological disasters going on around us – so why not spend a few days reading about and chasing a…colorful…surprise guest from out of town.

Yes, we’ve been graced with the presence of a rare (for the region) Mandarin Duck, who has taken up residence in Central Park. No one quite knows how he got here, but he seems pretty happy to commute between two different park ponds and hang out with our more…native species.

I was going to go attempt to see him last weekend, but in following the bird twitter-verse, he was hiding out, so I went and saw proto-feminist art instead. Today, he was hanging out on a little island away from the crowds, and so I wandered around and took some pics of him, as well as some of the ducks that weren’t getting as much love from the horde.

(as always, wait for the page to fully load and then click on the thumbnails for the slideshow)


by sam on 08/25/2018

For my summer vacation this summer, I opted to go to Alaska. I traveled with G Adventures/Nat Geo, the same venture that I went with to Iceland in 2016 and Peru in 2017. I chose Alaska for a variety of reasons – first, the trip was one that fit into my existing vacation schedule. Second, I have been trying, at least periodically, to go more places within the United States that I wouldn’t ordinarily travel to (see Wyoming in 2015). Lastly, I wanted a trip that was a bit shorter than my normal two weeks, because my brother was coming home for a spell, and I wanted to split my time off so that I would actually get to spend at least a few days with him. So…Alaska.

The trip looped from Anchorage to Homer to Seward to Denali and back to Anchorage. It started a bit rocky, with my flight nearly getting grounded at JFK and ultimately sitting on the tarmac for six hours, thanks to a veritable monsoon in NYC. A few rebookings and many hours later, I landed in Anchorage, missing all of the first day/night activities, but at least not missing the tour, unlike all of the folks who were supposed to be on cruises who missed their boats.

First stop took us to Homer, a cute coastal town, where we were supposed to go on lots of hikes, but due to the typhoon-like weather than apparently followed me from NYC, we instead visited every coffee shop in town, along with the very small, but very cute Pratt Museum, and squeezed in a hike when the weather finally cleared up a bit.

From Homer we circled around to Seward, another coastal town, where we got a private behind-the-scenes tour of the Alaska Sea Life Center (interrupted by an always fun fire alarm!), saw our first puffins, went on a boat tour of the alaskan coast and saw more puffins in the actual wild, together with a pod of orcas, and hiked up to view Exit Glacier, which is much smaller than it was even a few years ago.

From Seward, we had a loooong drive up to Denali, stopping a few times to stretch our legs and take pictures along the way. Our first full day in Denali was a 4 hour one-way bus ride deep into the park to view wildlife and the Alaska range – of course it was cloudy and rainy on the day we were scheduled to do this, so we couldn’t actually see Denali (only 30% of visitors actually ever see the mountain). The next day, when we did some more local hikes, it was (obviously) clear and beautiful.

Last, we headed back to Anchorage where at least some of us had a day to wander around before leaving for the airport, but not before I (or really, our fantastic tour leader) arranged for a local photography guide to take me on the Denali and Parks highways early in the morning so that I could do some landscape photography. As a bonus, we ran into some beavers building a beaver palace, even though they normally only come out in the evening!

families belong together

by sam on 06/30/2018

When someone draws a map of the Americas, they should just put a giant squid over the United States and say “Hark, here there be monsters”

Another day, another reason to protest against this malicious, mendacious, miserable administration. This protest was organized in reaction to the horrible news that the administration had, as a matter of policy, decided to use the separation of parents from children as a punishment and attempt to deter families for the “crime” of seeking refuge and safety in this country and not filling out the proper forms in the correct order (aka, not presenting themselves at the correct checkpoint – checkpoints, mind you, that the administration has deliberately CLOSED in an attempt to block people from seeking entry the proper way in the first place – Trump likes to talk about entrapment? How is that not a trap?).

Our government is causing lasting harm to children in some sort of petty power play against incredibly vulnerable people. Against CHILDREN. These are folks who have traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles, often over land that is incredibly dangerous, from the only homes they have ever known because of a tiny glimmer of home that it might be just a tiny bit less bad here. We were never great at living up to that promise, but at least we sometimes tried. At least we gave lip service to the ideals embodied in our laws protecting refugees.

But until we can take back at least some control of the government, we as a citizenry can at least stand up and say that while our government does these things, they do them without our consent.

Pictures from the first part of today’s Families Belong Together protest – I only went to Foley Square, because it was REALLY hot, and I didn’t want to end up with heat stroke (which I’ve managed to give myself crossing bridges on super hot days before). But as usual, there appeared to be significantly more people than originally anticipated.

central park in spring

by sam on 06/24/2018

wandered through central park a few times this spring – sometimes just because it was a nice weekend afternoon, sometimes because it’s how I walk home from work. These are from a few of those walks.


by sam on 06/11/2018

As anyone who spends any time looking through my photos can figure out, I’m a sucker for signs, particularly of the old/neon variety. Here are some I’ve shot in my wanderings around town.

The clover delicatessen

The Waverly restaurant

Bigelow drugs – this sign is such a landmark that I got worried for a second when I saw the scaffolding. But when I got closer I saw they had carefully worked to build around the sign while they did whatever facade/renovation work needs doing.

berkshires (and history)

by sam on 05/28/2018

In march, I went up to the Berkshires for a few days for passover, and in addition to cooking (and eating!), I took a walk around town.  I’ve probably posted pictures of some of these local houses before, but they’re just so…photogenic…that it’s hard to resist.

I took a walk up to the Ashley house, which is probably our town’s most historically significant place. Obviously the town and the falls are named after Colonel Ashley, but more importantly, this house was where the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts was born.  Despite Colonel Ashley, not because of him.

Slate’s podcast on The History of American Slavery (premium subscribers only) did an entire episode on Elizabeth Freeman, and wikipedia gives a good breakdown of her life and case. But the short version is that while Elizabeth Freeman (then known as Mum Bett) was a slave in Ashley’s house, she heard all of these ‘revolutionary’ men discussing the declaration of independence and the constitution, and in particular the concept that “all men are created equal”. And so she went to a lawyer in Great Barrington and sued for her own freedom. And won.

There were a few subsequent cases that ultimately abolished slavery in totality in Massachusetts, but they all cite back to Brom & Bett vs. Ashley as the foundational basis for their decisions.

And after the case, Ashley tried to get Freeman to come back and work for wages, and she basically told him to go pound sand – she spend the rest of her life working in “town” for the family of the lawyer who helped free her. The Ashley house is now largely a historical site that explains the history of Elizabeth Freeman.

I just…no

by sam on 05/27/2018

Sometimes you wander around the local Sunday flea market and find some really great jewelry or a fantastic vintage cigarette case.

And sometimes the local serial killer clown decides to rent a booth in order to sell off some of his clutter.