February 2011

Posted by Ellen

This lucky duck, preening for the camera amongst the ripples of Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville, New York, was selected for immortality of a sort--or if not immortality, then fifteen minutes of fame, give or take--when Karen and Stuart Berlowitz happened by last fall while out for a walk in the woods. Of all the ducks on all the ponds all over this crazy world, this guy is the one to be get its very own Good Morning post on the intertubes.

Posted by Ellen

The cancan line shown here was photographed during a dress rehearsal for this weekend's performance at the Super Bowl University of Montana Foresters' Ball.

Every February, students in the Forestry School at the University of Montana stage a dance with an Old West theme. They spend months preparing: chopping down trees, hauling the logs to campus, building a wild-west town with saloon and jail and dance hall and helicopter launching pad. The helicopter dropped cardboard all over the campus oval, prize pieces of which had Foresters' Ball tickets attached. As always, the event sold out.

Posted by Ellen

We knew Washington, D.C., was full of vultures and chickens and screaming cuckoo mockingbirds; this winter, also ducks.

Posted by Ellen

Last night, senior midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy participated in Ship Selection to determine their first assignments after graduation in May. The names of ships in need of junior officers were posted on the wall, listed under the names of their home ports. One at a time, beginning with the midshipman at the top of the class, the students walked up to the wall of options and claimed their billets.

Allen chose the USS Ingraham, pictured here at its home port, Naval Station Everett, on Puget Sound  north of Seattle. This year there were only nine billets available in Everett, which is generally a popular home port option; it was Allen's first choice. Many of his classmates chose ships in Florida, Hawaii, or San Diego. 

The Ingraham, a frigate, is the gray ship in the middle. Mount Baker is the snow-covered volcano in the background.

Posted by Ellen

Those of us of a certain age take one look at what's going on here and think: things are about to get very bad. We know the scene is set in an isolated spot along the coast of northern California. But actually, the flocking here is on the coast of southwestern England, in Devon, where starlings fill the sky like this all winter long, and it's not a problem at all.

Posted by Ellen

 This is a picture of a real estate bubble. There have been land bubbles in Florida since forever; what we're looking at here is just the bubble du jour, a subdivision near Fort Myers, on the Gulf Coast, where the developer put in the roads and the "lake" and the cul de sacs and managed to build two houses complete with swimming pools before it was all over.

I read today that 11 per cent of the housing units in the United States are currently unoccupied. So it's really over. For a while.