Category Archives: travel

dispatch from the greatest city in the world

We are travelling this weekend, something we haven’t been doing as much of lately. We’ve headed down to New York City to see a show.

We’re staying in a hotel somewhat near both the theater and Central Park, and as our room is on the 65th floor, and on a corner to boot, our views are pretty amazing.

Even though we arrived after 10 last night, we got up at the crack of dawn. You see, we have an avid birder in the family, and we have been talking about going birding in Central Park for a while. (I’ll probably write more about this later.) Early morning is one of the better times to see birds. And so it is that I have photos of the view at sunrise. (I usually avoid being awake at sunrise. Especially on weekends.)

sunrise-nj-view

I was looking at the map to see what is in the direction of these views, past the water. I was vaguely aware that New Jersey was to the west. In particular, it appears to be Weehawken.

sunrise-nj-view2

View towards Weehawken. Dawn.

In the other direction, we can see a bit of Central Park.

central-park-view

This room must have had an amazing view of Central Park before those two new buildings sprang up.

We spent basically the whole day today in Central Park, birding. We got to see a number of interesting water birds (wood ducks, coots and shovelers, for example), as well as many of the bird types that frequent our neck of the woods (jays and cardinals). All my bird photos are on my camera, and it’s too much work to download them to my laptop for now. (These photos are a few from my phone.)

expressive-tree

A very expressive tree in Central Park

(For those friends of mine who live in the greater NY area, I’m sorry that I can’t see you this trip. It’s a rather short trip–less than 48 hours in town, sadly. And we have committed to birding for most of the trip. At least for the hours that are not spent in the theater for the show tomorrow.)

And now I need to get to bed, because we’ve got more birds to see bright and early. (The early worm catches the bird?)

perchance to read

I have a confession to make. One of the things that has kept me from blogging this past year is that I have reconnected with a past love: reading books. Before I started grad school, I used to always be reading something for enjoyment. Once I was in grad school, I felt like if I had time to read, it should be dedicated to reading journal articles or dissertations and other papers related to me studies. I would occasionally indulge while traveling, but I read very few books for fun. Fast forward to last fall, when my graduate studies were finally finished, and I picked up a book for fun. And then another and another. If I didn’t have so many real-world obligations, I’d happily sit around and read 12 or 14 hours a day. But, the reality is that I have the real-world obligations, and I feel obligated to tend to them. So, I mostly only read at night. So, tonight, instead of writing more here, I will keep this short, and go to bed and snuggle up with a book.

And because I hate to post without photos these days, I will leave you with a few images from my visit to the Trinity College Library in Dublin from May, 2014.

Tonight I am grateful for reading and for books.

spiraling down (or up)

Here are several spiral staircases I’ve seen.


A double helix spiral staircase in Paris, France. 2007.


An ironwork spiral staircase inside the library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. 2014.


Stairway inside a hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. 2015.

Stately guardian statues near the Forbidden City

When I visited mainland China in 2012 with my cousin for a conference in Shanghai, we also made a quick trip to Beijing so that we could make an excursion to see the Great Wall. Even though it was a short trip, we also wanted to see some of Beijing, including the Forbidden City. Between a hole in the wall place where we had breakfast and the Forbidden City, we encountered this impressive building:

Stone guardian lions are quite a frequent sight in China, but nowhere else did I see a guardian duck. This little (well, actually, it was quite a large duck) welcomes visitors to the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. (I’d never have remembered that, but I can make out the English text on the very shiny golden revolving door.) The internets inform me that this is quite a famous restaurant, and possibly the home of the original Peking duck. We did not enter this colorful building, so I can’t speak for the interior, or comment on the quality of the food. I can only vouch for the memorability of the duck.

duck heads in a row

I’m on a roll with my ducks these days. Not that I have any actual ducks. I do, however, have plenty of photos of ducks.

This photo is one that strikes me as funny, probably because it’s not a sight likely to be seen in the US. I saw this display of duck heads on my trip to China in 2012, at a food stall. I believe it was in the city of Hangzhou, which is near Shanghai.

Most Americans prefer to dissociate the meat and poultry they eat from the animals they come from. Typically, these purchases are made in a supermarket, with cuts of meat and poultry wrapped in cellophane, denuded of as many signs of having once had feet and faces as possible. Clearly this is not the case in many parts of the world. I still remember being somewhat shocked as a kid when we moved to France, and encountered butcher shops and market stalls with whole animals hanging from hooks, and being disturbed that the chickens we purchased still had feet and head attached.

In any case, it seems that in China, duck heads are a fairly popular food dish.

6 unrelated photos

Here are 6 photos I took at different times and in different places in recent(ish) years.


Exeter, New Hampshire. 2008.


Sevilla, Spain. 2009.


MIT. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2009.


Forbidden City, Beijing, China, 2012.


New York City, NY. 2012.


UMass Amherst, MA. 2014.

3 unrelated photos

Here are 3 (largely) unrelated photos that I have taken at different times in recent years.


Botanical gardens in Paris, France in 2007.


Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL. 2010.


Forbidden City, Beijing, China. 2012.