New York State of Mind…post #3

Continuing the daze of our recent New York visit, I can only hope to hit the highlights of each place left on my list. Admittedly I’m posting these memories for my own benefit, to enjoy now and each time I decide to come back to the archieved posts and to have another look:

When we set out one morning to visit the United Nations Building, I got my camera ready watching for exactly the right “photo op” moment. I knew we’d see the beautiful flying flag assortment and I hoped to catch the lighting just right. I’m not the type to carry my patriotism around on my sleeve or pasted on my car, but I’ve always had a soft spot for flag photographs.

Once, during a University of Florida Gator Growl parade I got the most “professional” camera shot of my life. The Gator Growl, a gigantic pep-rally for the UofF’s pre-homecoming football game; I suspect it still is. Many University offices closed down during parade hours because no one would have been much good at their jobs anyway hearing the celebration going on in the background. I was using an old 35mm camera, knew little about taking pictures, but knew to snap away and look at what you got after the film was developed. A equestrian club group came riding along in the street, situated between bands from Florida high schools and universities and convertibles draped with beautiful campus queens and political dignitaries. The leader was carrying the US flag held high in front. Snapping quickly, I caught the flag in slightly unfurled motion with the sun hidden right behind and lighting it up in a golden glow. It turned out to be one fine picture. Even my boyfriend’s neighbor, a university professor and something of a professional photographer himself, commented how good it looked. I think I’ve been trying to duplicate that shot ever since. Here’s the view that I was waiting for ↓.

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Though not everyone agrees with the efforts of the United Nations, I still believe it’s better to have them than not. Consider:

Over 2000 nuclear explosions worldwide were registered in the 51 years between the first nuclear explosive test on July 16, 1945 and the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty on 9/24/96.

Moratoriums on nuclear test explosions have been declared by all five nuclear-weapons States pending entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.

If any of the “Bodies” exhibits happen to come to a city near you, I urge you to consider going to see it. The nearest it got to SLC was to Denver a year or so back and it was gone by the time I learned of it. Fortunately for me, this one, in lower Manhattan, had been held over for a few weeks. If you’re the squeamish type, however, you should probably have a look at what you’d see online before going to make sure you’re up to it. The exhibit includes 22 full bodies and more than 260 organs and body parts from real people; they were Chinese (I think) and had entered into some sort of arrangement with the medical establishment to use their bodies for medical science after their deaths. They were preserved in a sort of plasticized coating (remember the Jeremay Bentham story from my previous post on “how I want to spend eternity?” they were like that.)  Many of the body organs display the full effects of the diseases the people died from. How anyone could look at the lung, blackened with tar and covered with cancerous growths for instance, could possibly continue smoking is beyond me. The exhibit was very educational for me; I now understand why I cannot give myself a weekly injection in my thigh for my RA without drawing a little blood. 

Every time I go to museums featuring dioramas, particularly the small-scale ones, I think maybe I missed my calling for making these small models. It would be thrilling to know that I could make and set up these microcosmic worlds for people to enjoy. Naturally, I was happy to visit the American Museum of Natural History, again with only enough time to skim a few of our favorites from the more than 30 million items from 45 permanent exhibit halls. We grazed our favorite halls of mammals, dinosaur fossils, cultures, as well as the oceanography exhibit in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life featuring a 94-ft long model of a blue whale.

Although I got hundreds of digital shots (photography is allowed without flash), it may be surprising that my favorite of the bunch was this one taken during the first few moments after entering the museum. It’s shot through a paint-stripped wall of a little girl in the adjacent children’s play area running back and forth through the water-drenched walkway next to the Museum. You should see the shot I missed of her twin running along with her. Next time I’ll just try to be faster. 

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We were beginning to lose quite a bit of steam by the time Saturday and our trip to the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx came around. By this time I’d gotten quite used to the “new” cleaned-up New York City, and I don’t want to make the Bronx seem bad by comparison. Probably the beautiful gardens just happen to be in the midst of a “not so nice” area of the Bronx. 

The Botanical Gardens have one of the best collections of beautiful trees that I’ve ever seen collected in one garden. All of the gardens are pretty spectacular and the staff there were very attentive to our needs after a shuttle bus was canceled without notice. One of the staff who had nothing at all to do with visitor transportation picked us up at the garden library and delivered us personally to a different bus stop. By this time I was availing myself to a park wheelchair (due to what turned out to be a flair of my RA) and the gardens were far too large to walk through. Who said New Yorkers are always rude? Simply not so in my experience!

We’ll be leaving soon to take our guests for a long weekend to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. So I won’t be posting until later next week. I hope you’ll come back to visit soon.

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