The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for February 2011

Project Firebox 22

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Queen’s very own Broadway, as it slouches roughly uphill from the East River at Hallets Cove, transverses Woodside on its way to the exotic and hill defined locale of Jackson Heights and beyond. Home to a variegated sampling of the human infestation, the neighborhood’s residents largely hail from the tropical courts of Asia who are comfortably vouchsafed against immolation by this solitary sentinel located at the confluent junction of 35th avenue and 63rd street.

Broadway, of course, eventually transitions into and becomes Grand Avenue at Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, whose right of way carries the unsuspecting pedestrian toward an eventual meeting with the loathsome Newtown Creek and infinite Brooklyn.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 27, 2011 at 10:44 am

shadowed lips

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fairly excellent Watercourses blog presents this post on Sunswick Creek, a waterbody which once existed here in Astoria, and still runs to the East River through manmade corridors deep below the modern streets. No, really. Watercourses has been down there and has photos! More importantly, the post also carries two maps from the 1870’s which show the early street plan of Astoria.

You’ll notice, on the 2nd one, a “Ridge St.” and a “Camelia St.”. The road running between them is Broadway, and at its intersection with Vernon Ave. the latter takes a wicked hook and becomes Sunswick Creek XXX (at this moment, it remains obfuscated to me whether this is a street or avenue or road, I think I can hear somebody at Greater Astoria Historic Society sighing right now).

This bit of geographic reckoning, of course, is simplified by saying- “Stevens Est.” = Costco, and that weird mouth of the creek is Socrates Sculpture Garden, and these photos were shot just beyond where that little dock shape is, between the “n” and second “s” in Sunswick. (I also wanted to send a shout out to Watercourses. Well Done!)

Whew!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

According to certain sources, two aboriginals named Shawestcont and Erramorhar (as witnessed by their cohorts Warchan and Kethcanaparan) sold much of what we know as Astoria (but which they called Sintsinck) to William Hallett (who was similarly accompanied by a company of witnesses and countrymen) on August 1, 1664- which is how the place got its name.

For a more complete view of highlights from Hallets Cove, and Sunswick Creek- check out this Newtown Pentacle post from February of 2010, and the “The Horrors of Hallet’s Cove“ from June of 2009.

The very fact that temperatures have risen once again to the point at which the atmosphere can sustain water in a liquid state, by the way, is a font of joy for your humble narrator- as walking the East River shoreline is once more possible for both man and duck. Which means that a winter’s worth of book research can finally be explored materially.

Whew!

I’ll be that weirdo in the dirty black raincoat you might spy scuttling along the waterfront…

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 25, 2011 at 3:32 am

these realms

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion called for me to meet up with Our Lady of the Pentacle deep in the far eastern (from the perspective of Astoria, at least) neighborhood of Flushing over the last weekend. The obviate path would demand navigating and enduring the exquisite ironies visited upon the hapless weekend customer of the MTA here in western Queens, and though my patience was thin- my wallet is thinner so a cab was out of the question and… it was a really nice day.

Hence, I walked… and walked… and walked… from Astoria to Flushing.

The master, Kevin Walsh over at Forgotten-NY offered a “slice” of Roosevelt Avenue in 2008

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This isn’t one of the “deep history” or “occluded past” kind of posts by the way- it’s more a series of surface observations made on a very long walk.

Roosevelt Avenue is a very, very interesting place and not just because of the elevated subway tracks which dominate its experience. Roosevelt starts off at the East River in Brooklyn as “Greenpoint Avenue” and transforms into “Roosevelt” as it hurtles over Queens Blvd and ultimately ending at Northern Blvd. way out in Flushing.

My route out of Astoria followed Broadway southeasterly toward Jackson Heights, and then East on Roosevelt.

The inestimable and inexhaustable Mr. Walsh of Forgotten-NY presented a post detailing the Woodside to Greenpoint side of things, which be accessed here

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Aforementioned, the elevated tracks of the 7 line really do make you understand why Manhattan tore down its elevated tracks as soon as it was feasible. Loud, the structure is a shadowy and dripping mess, providing a home to what must be entire nations of pigeons. Sidewalk and crosswalk intersections resemble the mad excesses of certain Abstract Expressionist painters popular during the 20th century, and the vast structure dominates and demands an oppressive pall over the street.

The Woodside section of Roosevelt Avenue was given a short and sweet “once-over” a while back in this May of 2010 posting, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Additionally, the Flushing River just beyond Roosevelt Avenue was explored from the water in this November 2009 posting, and intriguing municipal machinery was observed along Roosevelt Avenue at Flushing’s Corona Yard in this posting from February of 2010.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue, and a few of the neighborhoods it passes through are a subject of much conversation amongst area wags. The whole stretch is home to such a vast agglutination of nationalities and ethnicities, representing what seems like a statistical sampling of every variation which the planetary human infestation might take, that it’s hard to say exactly who lives here.

In the section between Woodside and Flushing though, a LOT of people speak Spanish.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding these neighborhoods, with long time Queens residents pointing accusing fingers and offering dire prophecies for the future of the borough based on the presumed moral and legal failings of this new population. The spanish speaking community has exploded in the last decade along Roosevelt Avenue, growing by an astounding estimation of 450% since the last Census. That number, of course, is the official one. There is probably a larger number of people extant, but hazy immigration patterns and reticent newcomers leery of government officials contribute to a less than full accounting.

I can tell you from observation, however, that the economic doldrums affecting other commercial streets (like Steinway Street in Astoria, for instance) in the so called “more affluent” sections of Queens does not seem to be affecting this area.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps its because the folks who live here will do just about anything they can to make a few bucks, often working multiple shifts, starting work at a lumber yard in the morning and busing a table in a restaurant at night for instance. A buddy of mine lives around here who came to New York from Ecuador, allows himself only 4 hours of sleep a day at the dormitory like and quite illegal rooming house which serves as his address in Corona. He’s sending money back home when he can, and trying to save what he has left over to do “something” with when opportunity presents itself to him.

I’m not going to gloss over the crime and gang life that is here, it’s just that I don’t know too much about it, and thankfully haven’t had any experience with that side of these neighborhoods.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The newer buildings you see along Roosevelt Avenue are slapdash affairs, and would seem to fit the term “Queenscrap” coined by our friends over at the blog of the same name. The charming early 20th century detached 2 and 3 story homes which were familiar to multiple generations of…

What is the term for Queens natives anyway? Is it “Queensites” or “Queensipolitans” or “Queensicans” or something? If you’re from Brooklyn or Manhattan it’s “ites”, but what about Queens?

At any rate, the newer structures have one governing principle, and it’s that form follows function. The function seems to be a desire to use every square inch of the property lot and build to maximum height allowable by zoning regulations (and often beyond all law). In a lot where one or possibly two families historically declared their address, there can be as many as 10 or 12 today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The effect that this huge surge in population has had on area institutions like schools and hospitals has been profound. The usual problems arising from urban life are compounded by the fact that these are a “working class” group of people- often the so called “working poor”, who suffer from a well known and commented upon series of cultural “Gotcha’s” as it is- many amplified by speaking a different language and differing expectations for the future than those born to the culture they’ve joined.

The largely “middle class” (and often college trained) population of surrounding neighborhoods sneer at the Roosevelt Avenue corridor as being populated by illegal immigrants, call everyone here the “Mexicans“; the males of which are all gangsters- and accusing their women as scheming to spawn “anchor babies” in order to guarantee citizenship in “El Norte” and then allowing their lawless spawn to run wild in the streets. It’s blatant, more than a little racist, and I hear it all the time- even from sources you wouldn’t expect. One neighbor recently opined that “mexicans shit in the street”.

And that’s crap, Lords and Ladies. I’m tired of hearing it, frankly, and that’s what this post is really about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In no uncertain terms, understand this- what the “Lower East Side” and “Five Points” were to the Irish, Italians, Germans, and Jews 125 years ago is what Roosevelt Avenue is to this “immigrant wave”. As you’re reading this, a future President of the United States is eating Churros in her baby carriage somewhere on Roosevelt Avenue around 100th street. A Supreme Court Justice is kicking a ball around with a future incarnation of Al Capone in some dusty lot near Linden Park. Roosevelt Avenue is where America is being retooled, and you can safely watch it happening from the sidewalk, while the cowboys and arabs draw down on each other in the cool dusty air of some faraway land.

For reasons I can’t really attribute, the necessity of saying this out loud and in public is important to me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Running late, it was decided that to save a few steps and cut through Flushing Meadow Corona Park instead of continuing down Roosevelt Avenue, and I was forced to make a right turn instead of my usual left. Some interesting sights were had, which will be discussed and presented in some future (and less grandstandlingly Progressive!) posting of this- your Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

gazing back

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Following a friend around last week, I ended up in a shop on 9th avenue in Manhattan which sold all manner of spice and grain (as well as a few interesting cheeses and a nice variety of olives). Struck by the palette of flavor and the alien smell of unknown colors, I pulled out the camera and started shooting. Just a block from the “ass end” of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, this part of the City has always struck me as a mean section, rife with danger and lurking predators which frightens one who suffers from timidity- such as myself.

As I scanned the market, the spice began to work on me in the manner of some exotic drug, and your humble narrator’s thoughts began to whirl in the manner of a dervish…

from wikipedia

The spice trade is a commercial activity of ancient origin which involves the merchandising of spices, incense, hemp, drugs and opium. Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes. The Roman-Indian routes were dependent upon techniques developed by the maritime trading power, Kingdom of Axum (ca 5th century BC–AD 11th century) which had pioneered the Red Sea route before the 1st century. By mid-7th century the rise of Islam closed off the overland caravan routes through Egypt and the Suez, and sundered the European trade community from Axum and India.

Arab traders eventually took over conveying goods via the Levant and Venetian merchants to Europe until the rise of the Ottoman Turks cut the route again by 1453. Overland routes helped the spice trade initially, but maritime trade routes led to tremendous growth in commercial activities. During the high and late medieval periods Muslim traders dominated maritime spice trading routes throughout the Indian Ocean, tapping source regions in the Far East and shipping spices from trading emporiums in India westward to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, from which overland routes led to Europe.

The trade was transformed by the European Age of Discovery,  during which the spice trade, particularly in black pepper, became an influential activity for European traders. The route from Europe to the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope was pioneered by the Portuguese explorer navigator Vasco Da Gama in 1498, resulting in new maritime routes for trade.

This trade — driving the world economy from the end of the Middle Ages well into the modern times — ushered in an age of European domination in the East. Channels, such as the Bay of Bengal, served as bridges for cultural and commercial exchanges between diverse cultures  as nations struggled to gain control of the trade along the many spice routes. European dominance was slow to develop. The Portuguese trade routes were mainly restricted and limited by the use of ancient routes, ports, and nations that were difficult to dominate. The Dutch were later able to bypass many of these problems by pioneering a direct ocean route from the Cape of Good Hope to the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost in aromatic reverie and pedantic observations, the timeless nature and ubiquity of this sort of shop intruded rudely into my gentle musings. The presence of markets like this, with variegated imports from foreign lands presented gaily… Oh, the “historicity” of it.

After all, weren’t shops like this a large part of the original organizing principal behind cities, and the formation of what we call “civilization“?

from wikipedia

Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. That is why a multitude of vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, on the other hand, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians. Common examples of such combinations are dal (lentils) with rice by South Indians and Bengalis, dal with wheat in Pakistan and North India, and beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut butter with wheat bread (as sandwiches) in several other cultures, including Americans. The amount of crude protein found in grain is measured as Grain Crude Protein Concentration.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Versions of this place have existed in every city in every time period since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, and trade in dried foodstuffs was the original economy. The comestibles offered here represent an enormous supply chain, as well, one which perverts the “feel good” concept of “organic” marketing. These “imported lentils from France” may satisfy some desire to be close to the earth, but they were shipped to Manhattan via a petroleum powered steel ship and delivered by a diesel truck.

In a lot of ways, the “greener” product would actually be found in a commercial supermarket, where a large conglomerate’s “economy of scale” can put food on the table spending far fewer “carbon dollars” and often at a significantly lower retail price- but that doesn’t sound good at cocktail parties.

from wikipedia

A pulse (Latin “puls”, from Greek “πόλτος” – poltos, “porridge” is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term “pulse”, as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed. This excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops that are mainly grown for oil extraction (oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts), and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa). However, in common use these distinctions are not clearly made, and many of the varieties so classified and given below are also used as vegetables, with their beans in pods while young cooked in whole cuisines and sold for the purpose; for example black eyed beans, lima beans and Toor or pigeon peas are thus eaten as fresh green beans cooked as part of a meal. Pulses are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.

Just like words as “bean” and “lentil”, the word “pulse” may also refer to just the seed, rather than the entire plant.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

vapour soaked

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- photo from “The Newtown Creek industrial district of New York City By Merchants’ Association of New York. Industrial Bureau, 1921″, courtesy Google Books

My weird obsession with recreating very old photographs once again turns toward Dutch Kills, this time it’s looking to the end of the Degnon Terminal barge turning basin toward LaGuardia Community College’s building C- which was the former Sunshine Biscuits or Loose Wiles Bakery.

The shot above was captured in 1921 or thereabouts, and the ones below from 2011.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting parallell to this shot is the one presented at the end of the “Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial, Dec. 11” posting from December 3rd in 2009, which presents the inverse viewpoint of today’s.

That shot was obtained from a 7th floor window of the building, on the wall with the red detailing, 3rd window from the left some four score and ten years or approximately 24,855 days later than the original and focused on the spot where these were shot.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the uncropped version, showing Dutch Kills just around sunset, on February 17th, 2011 from the deck of the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 20, 2011 at 12:15 am

glassy flatness

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Odd and solitary even as a child, amongst my few friends in public school was a fellow named Brian. Despite the occasional beatings he would administer to me, which long experience has taught me to expect when interacting with others, he was an amiable kid. Brian was wont to propagate an urban legend which once permeated Brooklyn, a story which goes like this (phonetically spelled, as Brooklyn patois is critical to the telling):

“So, yooz knows about de Verryzanno Bridgde, rights? When deys wuz bilding its, and pourinz de cement- workers who fell intadee cements would just sinks rights down, and dheres nuttin that could get dones to saves ‘em, so’s da bahdeez are still in da bridge. My grandfather’s brudda died dat way, my Uncle Mike…”

translation:

So, you know about the Verrazano Bridge, right? When they were building it, and pouring the cement- workers who fell into the cement would just sink in, and there was nothing that could be done to save them, so the bodies are still in the Bridge… As far as the Grandfather’s brother, versions of the story told by others involved every possible male acquaintance or familial description possible.

from nycroads.com

The foundations, which support the 264,000-ton weight of both the towers and the suspended deck, as well as a design live load of 16,000 tons on the deck, were dug 105 feet below the water on the Staten Island side, and 170 feet below the water on the Brooklyn side. Conventional foundation design called for sand islands that kept water, as well as provided working and storage space. However, because the currents were swift and the ground was unstable in the area, sand islands were not constructed. Instead, “cofferdams,” or vertically interlocking steel sheet pilings, were driven below the surface to protect the caissons. Above each 13-foot-high caisson base, muck and sand were dredged out of 66 vertical concrete shafts. When the caissons reached their predetermined depth, the shafts were filled with water, and caisson tops and bottoms were sealed with concrete. The two tower piers, which contain a combined 196,500 cubic yards of concrete, were completed in less than two years at a cost of $16.5 million.

Two anchorages were then constructed at either end of the Narrows. Each anchorage stands 130 feet high, 160 feet wide and 300 feet long. However, because of the differences below ground, the Brooklyn anchorage contains 207,000 cubic yards of concrete, while the Staten Island anchorage contains only 171,000 cubic yards of concrete. On their inshore ends, they support the two decks of bridge approaches. On their outshore ends, they carry four massive, roller-mounted saddles that support, and move with, the four cables as they change length, either because of temperature changes or because of load changes. The hand-polished concrete exteriors have diagonal patterns that continue the path of the suspension cables. Inside the anchorages, forces from the suspension are transferred at two points: the front of the anchorage (where the compacted cables bend around saddles that rest on inclined steel posts), and near the heel of the anchorage (where eyebars transfer force to inclined girders buried within the concrete). The anchorages cost $18 million to construct.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This urban legend- and yes, it is- was once omnipresent in the land of Egg Creams and really good Pizza.

So much so that it actually made it to the movies, as you’ll observe in the clip from “Saturday Night Fever” presented below, courtesy of youtube. For a great first person description of the building of the bridge, and the remembered effects of building the Brooklyn pierage in Bay Ridge- check out the inestimable Forgotten-NY’s “Bridge in the Back Yard” posting from 2003 here.

I can tell you that the old guys in Canarsie and Flatbush who worked on the thing always “beamed” a little bit when driving down the Belt Parkway toward the City and seeing it rear up.

from youtube

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Officially, there were three deaths associated with the building of the Verrazano, and the bodies were all recovered. Brooklyn legends notwithstanding, that is actually an incredible number given the size and scope of the project.

But what else would you expect from the maestro, Othmar Amman, on his final project?

from wikipedia

The bridge is owned by New York City and operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Interstate 278 passes over the bridge, connecting the Staten Island Expressway with the Gowanus Expressway and the Belt Parkway. The Verrazano, along with the other three major Staten Island bridges, created a new way for commuters and travelers to reach Brooklyn, Long Island, and Manhattan by car from New Jersey.

The bridge was the last great public works project in New York City overseen by Robert Moses, the New York State Parks Commissioner and head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, who had long desired the bridge as a means of completing the expressway system which was itself largely the result of his efforts. The bridge was also the last project designed by Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann, who had also designed most of the other major crossings of New York City, including the George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, and the Throgs Neck Bridge. The plans to build the bridge caused considerable controversy in the neighborhood of Bay Ridge, because many families had settled in homes in the area where the bridge now stands and were forced to relocate.

of stout body

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Ok, just one more frozen Calvary post… and apologies for the sparse presentations this week, a dear friend of the Pentacle has been hospitalized and I’ve been spending a good amount of time visiting with and attempting to take some of the load off of the immediate family. Such is the price of true fealty and companionship, this duty to “be there” when the good times stop. I’m no “good time charlie”, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots are from the same walk through the ice at Calvary Cemetery discussed during a couple of last week’s transmissions . On the lookout for animal tracks (I’ll find that damned Coyote), I discovered these curious prints etching back and forth through the crusty ice and deep snow.

from wikipedia

In 1847, faced with cholera epidemics and a shortage of burial grounds in Manhattan, the New York State Legislature passed the Rural Cemetery Act authorizing nonprofit corporations to operate commercial cemeteries. Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral trustees had purchased land in Maspeth in 1846, and this land was used to develop Calvary Cemetery. The first burial in Calvary Cemetery was in 1848 and by 1852 there were 50 burials a day, half of them the Irish poor under seven years of age.

The original division of the cemetery, now known as First Calvary or Old Calvary, was filled by 1867. The Archdiocese of New York expanded the area of the cemetery, adding more sections, and by the 1990s there were nearly 3 million burials in Calvary Cemetery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Childhood fantasy blossomed in my thoughts, and despite the obviousness of these being bird tracks, I entertained certain vague memories of Spring Heel Jack and other Dickensian bogeymen. Imagine if there were some monopodal mystery hopping about the place, thought an idiot in a filthy black raincoat while standing in knee deep frozen precipitants at an ancient cemetery in Queens.

from wikipedia

Spring Heeled Jack (also Springheel Jack, Spring-heel Jack, etc.) is a character from English folklore said to have existed during the Victorian era and able to jump extraordinarily high. The first claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack that is known occurred in 1837. Later alleged sightings were reported all over England, from London up to Sheffield and Liverpool, but they were especially prevalent in suburban London and later in the Midlands and Scotland.

Many theories have been proposed to ascertain the nature and identity of Spring Heeled Jack. The urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack gained immense popularity in its time due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point where he became the topic of several works of fiction.

Spring Heeled Jack was described by people claiming to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that “resembled red balls of fire”. One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an “oilskin”. Many stories also mention a “Devil-like” aspect. Spring Heeled Jack was said to be tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman, and capable of making great leaps. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Inexpert, I clumsily followed the tracks, moving in my typically arthritic, lurching, and uneven winter scuttle. By this point, the specie which had left its mark behind was clearly avian, and quite obviously a water bird of some sort.

from wikipedia

Anatidae is the biological family that includes ducks, geese and swans. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on all the world’s continents except Antarctica and on most of the world’s islands and island groups. These are birds that are adapted through evolution for swimming, floating on the water surface, and in some cases diving in at least shallow water. (The Magpie Goose is no longer considered to be part of the Anatidae, but is placed in its own family Anseranatidae.) The family contains around 146 species in 40 genera. They are generally herbivorous, and are monogamous breeders. A number of species undertake annual migrations. A few species have been domesticated for agriculture, and many others are hunted for food and recreation. Five species have become extinct since 1600, and many more are threatened with extinction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Three toes and webbed at that, this was no Spring Heeled entity… I recognized what shared my walk through Calvary that cold day… And then they appeared…

from wikipedia

6-8 living species of black geese are known. In addition, one species has been described from subfossil remains found in the Hawaiian Islands, where it became extinct in prehistoric times. Another undescribed prehistoric species from the Big Island of Hawai‘i was extremely large and flightless; it is tentatively assigned to this genus due to being very peculiar. It is fairly certain that at least another species of this genus awaits discovery on the Big Island, judging from the facts that at least one species of Branta was found on every major Hawaiian island, and that remains of such birds have not been intentionally searched for on the Big Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several Canada Geese appeared at the top of a hill, quietly picking at the ice. Copious deposits of their feces were observed as well- but not pictured as to insure against the delicate sensibilities of the Lords and Ladies of the Newtown Pentacle being offended.

from wikipedia

This species is native to North America. It breeds in Canada and the northern United States in a variety of habitats. Its nest is usually located in an elevated area near water such as streams, lakes, ponds and sometimes on a beaver lodge. Its eggs are laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down. The Great Lakes region maintains a very large population of Canada Geese.

By the early 20th century, over-hunting and loss of habitat in the late 19th century and early 20th century had resulted in a serious decline in the numbers of this bird in its native range. The Giant Canada Goose subspecies was believed to be extinct in the 1950s until, in 1962, a small flock was discovered wintering in Rochester, Minnesota, by Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey. With improved game laws and habitat recreation and preservation programs, their populations have recovered in most of their range, although some local populations, especially of the subspecies occidentalis, may still be declining.

In recent years, Canada Geese populations in some areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests (for their droppings, the bacteria in their droppings, noise and confrontational behavior). This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, man-made bodies of water (such as on golf courses, public parks and beaches, and in planned communities).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Often are such Geese observed here at First Calvary, even during the summer. It’s odd, alongside the maligned Newtown Creek and within the walls of New york’s ancient burying ground, that there exists a sort of nature preserve amongst the tomb legions.

from  a 2009 nytimes.com report:

All commercial airplane engines are required to pass a “bird strike” test before they can be certified for use. Engine manufacturers, including CFM International, which produced the engines on the US Airways Airbus A320 involved in Thursday’s sudden landing, test the engines physically and through computer simulation.

In the physical tests, the engines are revved to full power inside a test facility and absorb various kinds of birds, from those the size of sparrows to those the size of herons, one at a time. (The birds are already dead.) The engines also ingest multiple birds meant to simulate a collision with a flock, said Matthew Perra, a spokesman for the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

To pass the test, engines must keep operating after the collision, maintaining enough power to take off, fly around the airport and land the plane safely, he said. That is because a jet with two engines has to be able to take off on 50 percent power

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm

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