Wednesday, February 28, 2018
At our astronomy meeting tonight, we heard a lecture on the history of planetaria. "Planetaria" is the plural of "planetarium" which is where we see shows of stars in the sky at night, in a dome. The Vanderbilt Planetarium, where we meet, has a very modern sky projector. Dave, the speaker, talked about the evolution of sky projectors, and had a few pieces of the older projector which had been installed in 1971. This piece is called a "star plate" and is one of many from the old projector. This piece projects images of all the stars in a particular part of the sky. We got to pick this device up, point it at a bright light, and see brilliant stars against a black sky.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
One of the things I wanted to show Liz and Sarah is my drone. This is the first time they have visited since I bought the drone last year. They were seriously impressed with how high it could fly - I am limited by FAA regulations to just under 400 feet - and how much I could see of the harbor from up above our house. After flying up high, I flew the drone down to about ten feet and decided to take our portrait with the camera. The piece of cardboard on the grass is my takeoff and landing zone.
Here is one of the photographs I did of the harbor at sunset today. It's like being in an airplane! Click on this photo to see it in more detail, please.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:01 PM
Monday, February 26, 2018
...in Sea Cliff! We picked Liz and Sarah up at JFK yesterday afternoon and they will be here for several days, and then they head off to Lake Placid, NY for a wedding. It is SO nice to have them here with us for a while. We just kind of sit around and hang out and visit. We may go out for a movie and dinner in a restaurant, but otherwise it is all pretty low key. Happiness is hanging out!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:25 PM
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Saturday, February 24, 2018
I was down at Roosevelt Field the other day - a sunny day - and when I came out of the mall I spotted this. They are the stairs for two parking garages at the mall. I have seen these so many times, but it was the late afternoon sun that made this worth a picture. Can't tell you what it is that makes this special - perhaps just the geometry. It's funny that sometimes I have no idea why a particular scene speaks to me. And actually, I enjoy the mystery of that. I just respond to the feeling.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:53 PM
Friday, February 23, 2018
This is St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street in Manhattan. It is a spectacular gothic church and a New York Landmark. This is just a detail of the south side of the structure. I probably should have shot the face of the church. Next trip! This church construction was completed in 1913. It is absolutely beautiful. Please click on the image to see it in more detail.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:32 PM
Thursday, February 22, 2018
"John Bull?" What kind of name is that? I actually had to look that up. John Bull is a national personification of the United Kingdom in general and England in particular, especially in political cartoons and similar graphic works. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged, country dwelling, jolly, matter-of-fact man. Well, you are looking at a replica of a railroad steam engine also known as John Bull, a British-built railroad steam locomotive that operated in the United States. It was operated for the first time on September 15, 1831 and was initially purchased by and operated for the Camden and Amboy Railroad, the first railroad in New Jersey. I stumbled across this today in the middle of Hicksville. I have no idea how long it has been here, but I think about 10 years. It was built by the Chamber of Commerce President James Pavone. He built it in two years! How is that even possible? It is a stunning piece of history!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:10 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
I went over to Port Washington this morning to have the car's oil changed. When I drove by the west side of Hempstead Harbor I couldn't believe how large this crane was. It has never been there before, and in fact, looks brand new. This thing is a monster, and it is hard to show how large it is. It is called the Weeks 531 and it is on a 420 foot barge. The length of the boom on the crane is 205 feet, and it can lift 500 tons! That is one million pounds! What a beautiful piece of machinery!
So it is hard to get a sense of how large this crane is. I was looking for any sign of workers and eventually saw these two crewmen on the tugboat. See how small they are, and then go back to the original photo to find the tug on the right side of the photo. The crewmen are invisible in the wide shot. Man, this thing is BIG!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:59 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
We drove up to Madison, Connecticut today to visit with my sister Karen and have lunch with her. When we drove through the village of Madison I spied this house on the main street and stopped to photograph it. Its style is known as a New England Saltbox house. You can spot them from a mile away with their distinctive profile - that long pitched roof that slopes down to the back. It takes its name from its resemblance to a wooden lidded box in which salt was once kept. This is called the John Dudley house, and was thought to have been built in 1675, but is now dated to 1720. Oh, and believe it or not, George Washington ate dinner here, in 1776.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:31 PM
Monday, February 19, 2018
After our afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art, I took a walk over to B&H Photo because I needed to pick up a piece of photographic equipment. Walking back to Penn Station I was looking directly at the Empire State Building the whole way to Penn. It is always illuminated, I think - I can't remember for sure. But on this day the colors were changing and I watched all the changes while standing on a street corner at 8th Avenue. I shot all the different colors, but the red was my favorite, for some reason. Seeing the vertical lights on the building to the right made all the difference in my photo because it added another point of interest.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:23 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2018
As I was taking the picture that I showed you on yesterday's blog, I noticed this woman photographer to my right, doing a really interesting thing. Her name is Linda. Most people, when taking a picture, lift their phones up, snap one photo, and then move on. Linda stood in one place for several minutes, and I could hear her phone clicking over and over again. This is what a serious photographer does - find a spot and stay there, while people walk through the scene, and keep taking pictures until you get it. After she was done, I walked over to her and told her what I noticed, and said I was really impressed of how she worked. She is an artist - a painter - and she also is a photographer. We had a nice chat about our craft, and then went off in different directions. It was a lovely moment.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
As part of the photographer's retrospective we saw the other day, there was a room with a whole bunch of photo books hanging from wires. The books were produced by the photographer, and each book had about a dozen photographs in it. You could walk around the room, and stop at one of the books and open it up and look at the photographs. But what was more interesting than the actual photographs was the surreal sense of the room, full of what appeared to be levitating books!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:12 PM
Friday, February 16, 2018
Museums are such wonderful places to look for photographs. With white walls and paintings and photographs and the shapes of visitors walking around, it is a dynamic place. This gallery is interesting because it has a huge glass window that looks out on the city. This is not one of my strongest images, but stay tuned to see what I did in another gallery.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:41 PM
Thursday, February 15, 2018
I went to the Museum of Modern Art today with Stan and Ann to see the Stephen Shore retrospective. He is an amazing photographer, and his most interesting work was done with 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras, and there are some really large photographic prints. The three of us really enjoy seeing exhibits together because we bounce ideas off each other and because many times we have slightly different perceptions of works of art. What was interesting about this room is that large photographs were suspended by wires from the ceiling. There are two prints mounted back to back. So Stan happened to be looking at the photograph on the back, and I saw this image which made it look as if the painting had legs!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Yesterday I showed you some of the ethereal photographs I took of the church restoration. Today I will show you some of the more straightforward images of the church and the work going on. This view is interesting because of the missing stained glass in two of the windows. All the walls visible have already been painted.
This is a view of the altar, with scaffolding in the archway. Up on the scaffolding is a painter who is using a stencil to apply a design on to the recently painted arch.
This is one of a series of fourteen relief sculptures called "Stations of the Cross" which are arranged on the walls around the church. Originally, there was just a blue background behind the figures, and the buildings that you can see that are gray, were painted blue as well. So these have all been carefully repainted, and are quite beautiful.
This is a wooden cross painted gold, one of fourteen, and there is one of these on top of the arch of each of the stations of the cross. They have been freshly painted and await being reinstalled on the walls.
These are some of the arches which have been repainted, as well as the columns, and you can see the stenciling which has been applied to undersides of the arches.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:29 PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Our church is closed for about three months because it is being refurbished. They are repainting it, and making some changes in where the tabernacle, the altar, the chair for the celebrant and the baptismal font are located. The huge part of the project is that they are removing each of the stained-glass windows, and sending them to Iowa for repair. It is kind of a historical moment for the church, so I volunteered to take some photographs for the historical record. The thing that struck me first were some of the statues in the church that were covered with plastic for protection during the construction.
This is the organ and some chairs, also covered.
This is the Sanctuary, covered with construction materials and scaffolding. What a huge project. The finished painting that I have seen is just beautiful!
Monday, February 12, 2018
They announced a month ago that this Sears in Hicksville will be closing in April. When I first came to Long Island in 1966, this was the place I came for tools. When we were first married and living in an apartment, Kathy bought me a 10" Sears bench saw, which I used to build bookcases and furniture for our apartment. I still use this saw. When we bought our house, I bought even more tools at Sears to do all the improvements and repairs. My friend Jimmy Wildey always made fun of me, saying "For Ken, the world begins and ends at Sears!"
We needed some vacuum cleaner bags for our Sears vacuum, so I went by the store. I hadn't been by there in quite a while. They were out of vacuum cleaner bags, so I wandered around for a while. It was depressing seeing the tool department, above, with very few tools on display. We also bought our last washer and dryer here, and Sears was the first place I came to buy automobile batteries for all our cars.
I could be partially blamed for Sears decline. When the Home Depot stores opened I stopped coming to this store. I am not sure why, but I guess it was becauseHome Depot had tools and lumber and all the other things I needed for my projects, all in one place.
There was an interesting story in the paper about this painting. It was done by a local artist back in 1965, and it has been hanging in a stairway all this time. It is a beautiful painting and lists historical people connected to New York State. The concern is to find a museum or organization who can accept and display this painting. Because it is such a large painting, they are having trouble finding a home for this work of art.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
After Sister Victorine's funeral, there was a luncheon for all the people who came to the service. It was held in the Mother House, and the nuns who live there were having their lunch as well. Two of the nuns sat down at our table and I started a conversation with one. This is Sister Annunciata. We talked about a number of things, then I asked her when she knew for sure that she wanted to enter the Convent. She said it was in her later years in High School. Then she told me a story. She had a math teacher named Sister Rita when she was in the sixth grade. Sister Rita was one of Sister Victorine's sisters, and everyone loved her. When Sister Annunciata was talking with her mother about her decision on the Convent, her mother said "When you were in Sister Rita's presence, there was a light that came into your eyes..."
Saturday, February 10, 2018
When we go upstate, we usually drive through Binghamton, and we always stop at the Wegman's grocery store for lunch. I always get "beef on a weck" - that's the upstate term for roast beef on a Kimmelweck seeded roll and I always get a latte. This time my latte came with a design on top. I have seen that before, but never at Wegman's. I asked the woman who made my drink "How do you DO that?" She said it was all about how she poured the steamed milk into the top of the drink. I asked if she had used a stick or something, but she said she hadn't. So now I need to learn how to do this! Why? Because I am a curious guy.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 5:49 PM
Friday, February 9, 2018
The New NY Bridge has been open for a while now. Look at the difference between the old Tappan Zee Bridge on the left, and the new bridge on the right. The old bridge, opened in 1955, is a cantiliever truss bridge. The new bridge is called the "Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge" and it is a cable stayed bridge. How different the technology is, and how spectacular it is! This view is looking west, heading upstate.
This is a view headed east, returning from upstate. The photograph below shows a better view of the cables that run from the vertical pylons to support the bridge deck. I have not kept track of when this new bridge was announced, and when construction began, but now feels like the bridge was built in record time. Construction began in 2013 and the first of two spans opened in 2017. It is scheduled to be completed in 2018 when the second span opens.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:22 PM
Thursday, February 8, 2018
So we went to the funeral in Watertown, but a winter storm moved in, and we had to stay over an extra day before coming home. The thing is, in the North Country, it may not be the amount of snow that falls - I think the total was only 8 inches. It is the howling wind that blows snow across the roads, causing "whiteouts" that obscure the road so thoroughly that you can't see ten feet in front of you. Several of the people who live in Watertown said "Do not even THINK of driving home in this weather." So we drove home today on completely clear roads, while surrounded by a winter wonderland, on Route 81, between Watertown and Syracuse. They were expecting another 7 to 14 inches of snow tonight!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:35 PM
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Today was the day of Sister Victorine's funeral. She was Kathy's first cousin and she passed away at age 94. She has been a nun nearly all her life having entered the convent in 1941. She celebrated 75 years of her vocation in 2017. She was one of ten children - three brothers and six sisters, two of whom were also nuns. The funeral was impressive. The bishop of Syracuse, and the bishop of Ogdensburg were scheduled to officiate. Because of the snowstorm, the Syracuse bishop was unable to make it to Watertown. But there were more priests on the altar than I have ever seen before, and the bishop of Ogdensburg gave a wonderful homily celebrating Sister Victorine's life. We were so glad we could be here to celebrate her life with family and friends.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:02 PM
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
We left Sea Cliff this morning under overcast skies, and after an hour or two we were in blue sky and sunshine. Then we passed through Syracuse, headed north on Rt 81 and pretty soon we were in snow. It is called "Lake Effect Snow" because the cold wind blows across Lake Ontario picking up moisture and dumping the snow on the land. We are here for the funeral of Kathy's cousin, who has been a nun all her life, and who passed away peacefully at 94.
Monday, February 5, 2018
This is our friend, Father Martin. He is a wonderful Priest who is wise, and compassionate and he has a great sense of humor. Our church is being refurbished for several months, so Masses are being held in the school. As we entered the school, I noticed Father Martin sitting just outside the room where the Mass was to be held, and I saw him in quiet contemplation, and quickly grabbed my camera to record this moment.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:47 PM
Sunday, February 4, 2018
All of a sudden all I am taking photographs of is food! Kathy made yet another sourdough loaf and I cannot believe how beautiful this is! We used to buy bread up at the specialty grocery, and it came from a bakery in Brooklyn that uses wood fired ovens. This loaf looks as good as that, and tastes even better! The bread looked so good, that instead of photographing it on the stove top, I set up one of my photographic umbrellas so that I could photograph the bread on the dining room table. I am getting so spoiled having all this fresh bread!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:59 PM
Saturday, February 3, 2018
This is Jessica, and she didn't want her picture taken. I explained that anyone who has coffee with me is at risk of having their portrait done. She wasn't feeling all that great, so that has something to do with it. We got together at Dunkin Donuts for coffee today, to catch up. I have written of her before - she came to our astronomy club when she was a sophomore in high school, looking for help building her own telescope. She continued to come to meetings, graduated from high school and then went on to Stony Brook University, where she graduated with three degrees, Physics, Engineering, and Astronomy! Wow! Now she will be heading off to the University of Arizona for beginning work on her PhD. Wow...
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:37 PM
Friday, February 2, 2018
There was a food story in Newsday the other day that said a restaurant was offering a pastrami sandwich for the super bowl, and it cost $1000. It had truffles and gold leaf, among other ingredients! I have not had a pastrami sandwich in probably 25 years. I just don't go to delicatessens for sandwiches, and if I do, I usually have roast beef. But when I saw that story I just HAD to have a pastrami sandwich. So I went to one of the local delis and bought this! I only ate half of it today, I will have the other half tomorrow. It was absolutely delicious! Oh, and note that it came with a dill pickle spear, in the top of the photograph.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:33 PM
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Kathy bought a cloche, which is a two piece ceramic dome-shaped device for baking some kinds of bread in the oven. It came in this box, carefully wrapped in paper. Nice that it was paper, instead of bubble-wrap. Anyhow, whenever any kind of box or bag arrives in the house, Grace is immediately curious about it. She climbs under it and over it and in it, and will amuse herself for an hour hiding in the wrappings! Endlessly fascinating are our cats!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:11 PM