Sunday, April 28, 2013

[jules' pics] Kamakura colour

While we were away, Kamakura sprung into green and other bright colours.





Meanwhile, Hachimangu pond has been having a bit of a 'mare. It is making glugging noises and is full of men getting trenchfoot. I wonder if it sprung a leak, and what they did with all the carp before it was drained. The other question is whether it take two decades to get fixed, as happened with Yokohama railway station refurbishments. In protest, the pond-side wisteria have refused to flower properly this year.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/28/2013 08:56:00 PM

Friday, April 26, 2013

[jules' pics] IIASA

Finally the big day came and we jumped into a taxi and headed for IIASA. It is located in a palace in a village a bit outside Vienna, called Laxenburg. At IIASA they do all sorts of things like global energy and population as well as working out the effects of climate change. They asked us lots of challenging questions during our seminars, which were a lot of fun to try and answer.

They have all mod cons onsite to help them achieve their lofty goals.

1. Church

2. Restaurant

3. Palace
Rather excitingly, the palace doesn't have or need air conditioning despite very hot summers (38C). James' theory was that (unlike Japan) it cools down at night, so the massive thick walls never really heat up all summer. There were also high ceilings which might have helped airflow in some mysterious way.

4. Pretty offices!

Clearly some effort is required to make JAMSTEC as habitable. Perhaps we could start by painting mountains on the grey walls.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/26/2013 08:54:00 PM

Thursday, April 25, 2013

[jules' pics] Sunday running

Last Sunday James went for a run in the rain around a concrete military base. Having done the AGU "fun run" in torrential rain I had no inclination to repeat the experience, so stayed at home. The previous Sunday, however, we both got to enjoy seeing some real runners in the sunshine, with the backdrop of Viennese architecture. They passed very near our hotel at about 8km.
Vienna marathon

And again just after halfway, by which time Haile Gebrselassie, who won the half marathon would have already collected his medal. For the marathon itself, the man with number 1 on his chest (Henry Sugut) eventually did the decent thing and came in 1st place.
Vienna marathon-2

Vienna marathon-3

Here are the fastest wimmin just after halfway. By the end F10 (Flomena Cheyech) was quite a long way in the lead.
Vienna marathon-4

The marathon was cleverly arranged to go around the town centre making it easy to cut across and get to any bit of the course before the runners. ...although some might argue that this made all that running rather futile.
Vienna marathon-5

We hung around in the sun until the funny shaped white men started stumbling past
Vienna marathon-6

However, as James pointed out, about 10 percent of them didn't seem to be in too much pain. He claims that he will be one of them one day. At 2km to go their legs weren't getting very far off the ground.
Vienna marathon-7

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/25/2013 10:19:00 PM

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sagamihara Half Marathon

Today was the day of the "International Friendship Marathon" at Sagami General Depot (one of the numerous mysterious grey areas full of khaki-clothed foreigners around this region on google maps - but don't worry, I'm not really giving away any secrets, it's all officially on line here).

There was not a real marathon on offer (a Japanese "marathon" is basically any long mass-participation run) but there was a half (also a 5km and 10km, the second of which jules had entered), and I was hoping to improve on my previous effort.

The couple of weeks before, we were in Vienna, with neither bicycles nor a handy 10km run to work, but we did have a canal within easy reach so I went there each morning for a jog before the conference. At least, that was the plan, but extreme fatigue set in after a few days. I also managed a very pleasant 18km along the Donauinsel on the morning of the Vienna Marathon (which of course we had been far too late to enter even if we'd wanted to, with our travel plans only extended over the weekend at rather short notice). Along with several longer runs in the previous month or two I thought I was generally better prepared than last time, though the recent long journeys and jet lag had interfered with this a bit.

I was worried about the heat which was possible at this time of year, but it turned out cold and rainy. In fact it was so wet and miserable that jules decided not to go for her 10km which was scheduled for an early start, but it was forecast to ease up in time for my run so I trudged off by myself in the downpour more in hope than expectation. There was a big queue to get through the security at the gate (as was complained about a few years ago). Usually I'm pretty sceptical of security theatre, but under the circumstances I can hardly complain this time. I got through in about 30 mins, but the queue was growing rapidly behind me.

The 10km was underway when I arrived, and indeed most of the runners didn't seem to be having that much fun in the conditions. However, the rain did ease off as promised, and by the time I had taken my place at the start 10 mins before the gun, it had almost stopped, though it was still pretty cold. And then they put the start back by 15 mins to let more people get in. Oh well, at least we were well rested, and it's probably sensible to start off gently warming up for the first couple of km.

The run went well and I finished in 1:26:53 (by my watch - no official times yet) [update - results are in, I got an official clock time of 27:07 and an elapsed time of 1:26:56, putting me exactly 20th out of just over 1000 in my decade class and 102 out of 3146 overall]. I was pleased to take more than 2 mins off my previous mark. It didn't seem too hard - I even decided to pick the pace up from the 18km mark, which lasted all of 500m before I blew up horribly :-) But it was nothing like my previous half marathon when my legs more or less stopped working towards the end. Presumably the longer runs made the difference.

The promised American-style food after was a little bit disappointing, with some stalls apparently out of food. I only found BBQ ribs, pork skewers and chicken. I had the ribs which were good, but I had been hoping for a juicy burger with a hot-dog on the side, neither of which was anywhere to be found. Of course the whole site would have been more fun if it wasn't sopping wet. The course was about 99.9% tarmac but the tents and stalls were all on grassy (muddy) fields. Overall it was a well-organised event that I'd certainly be happy to enter again, though the poor people who didn't get through security in time might feel differently.

Pictures weren't allowed on site, not that stopped plenty of people with their mobile phones. But it wasn'y very photogenic, especially since jules wasn't there to take pics of me running. So here are some azaleas from the walk home:

Oh, and just to prove I do occasionally get both feet off the ground together, the official photographer's shot at the finish:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

[jules' pics] Vienna

Japanese travel rules do not allow scientists like us to stay in foreign longer than the length of a business trip, even at their own expense. A few weeks ago, however, we drank a great deal of sake with a man from IIASA, which is near Vienna, and he accidentally invited us to extend our trip and visit him on the Monday after the EGU. This meant that we got to spend last weekend recovering from the EGU in Vienna. We had seminars to prepare for Monday, so Saturday morning was spent with a laptop in a Viennese cafe. These cafes boast of the geniuses who have thought deep thoughts within, so I suppose this is the way they are meant to be enjoyed, rather than at a hectic tourist pace. Our change in attitude had a miraculous effect on the impression of the waiter service, which had previously seemed offensively slow. It now seemed discreet and considerate.

My first coffee was a latte:
Latte, Mozart Cafe, Vienna

Work done, the rest of Saturday we wandered South as far as the botantical gardens, which had nice trees and a bit of bamboo and a few flowers growing in the grass.
tulips, Vienna botanical garden

We strolled back through the adjoining Belvedere palacey thingie place. Weather had become a magnificent stormy-bright.

The olde Viennese may have been artistic deep thinking geniuses, but it seems they were quite zoologically confused. Here's a typical titty man lion horsey woman and its naked love child.

There were others too with wings, hooves, paws and/or fishy tails, although most also had tits. Many of the tits were burnished by the many hands that have felt them up. This probably explains the breakdown of Western civilisation. We Japanese also stroke our stone statues, but on their ears, noses or tummies. 

If one could drag one's eyes away from the titties, there was also an impressive view across Vienna, with Stephansdom spire in the middle.
We wandered back to the hotel... the following sights are on the way, but actually the first 2 photos were taken on the following Tuesday evening, when we revisited a restaurant near the Belvedere, and the third picture was from after dinner earlier in the week.

I suppose this is a war memorial behind the fountain...
Fountain, Vienna

And this is the famous Karlskirche...
Karlskirche, Vienna

And this is a probably very cliched new-and-old Vienna combi sunset photo

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/20/2013 07:24:00 PM

Saturday, April 13, 2013

EGU review part 2

After three days of action, we were both basically planning on being observers for the remainder. We even had a bit of a lie-in on Thursday and missed the 8:30 talks. I let the sea level wash over me, there was an interesting review of various projection methods for global sea level change and some detailed local investigations. I then briefly popped into some paleoclimate variability stuff, which is an area that our new project/post-doc will probably be looking into in the near future.

We were planning on staying late into the evening, so chose a gentle option for the afternoon - the panel discussion on blogs and social media in scientific research. It was, perhaps predictably, fairly rubbish. I've been to enough of these sort of things (e.g. at the AGU) that I should have known better, but like I said, I needed a mental break anyway. There was the usual po-faced advice for "professionalism" etc, and the ubiquitous stern advice to under no circumstances blog any research in progress, because the journals won't like it, because of copyright, or prior publication, or some other generally ill-defined bogey-man.

It took all of 30 seconds to confirm what I was already pretty confident about, that Nature explicitly allows pre-publication on a personal blog or server such as Arxiv. The AGU and AMS have basically the same policy for all of their journals. Of course the EGU does too - almost all of its journals provide open access to the submitted manuscript prior to publication anyway. That EGU web page handily has links for similar statements from Elsevier, PNAS, and PLoS. Can anyone find a single case of a journal rejecting a paper based on the fact that an author has discussed some of the content on a blog?

But still, the myth propagates. Sigh. I'm sure he meant well, but that's little excuse for making up stuff (and thereby potentially misleading the audience) that could have been so easily checked.

[Update: but see comment below - apparently, the Geological Societies of America and London both prohibit any prior publication of "results, data, ideas and/or interpretations", including on any electronic media. It's therefore understandable that the speaker might have assumed these conditions would apply more widely. But fortunately, they don't!]

Of course, there is no compulsion to write about work in progress, if it is something you'd rather keep private. There is no compulsion to write about anything at all! Perhaps it's time to present to the world, jules and James' three rules for scientific bloggers and twitterers:
1. There are no rules.
2. See 1.
3. You have the right to remain silent, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be used in evidence.
Rule 3 brings us on to the other big bogey-man which was, remarkably, that some people seemed genuinely concerned about getting sued. Honestly. As if anyone actually cares what inconsequential drivel you write on your personal corner of the internet. Of course it wouldn't be sensible to libel anyone, but that's nothing to do with blogging per se, but rather a matter of ... being careful not to libel anyone, irrespective of the format. You should remember that you are effectively standing in public shouting with a megaphone - most of the time, no-one is listening, but someone could be, and it's the embarrassing bits that will get propagated - like, that someone said that blogging research in progress is a big no-no :-) I would guess that the knee-jerk re-tweeting of a libel might be more of a risk than writing a blog-post on some scientific topic, regardless of whether you are critical or cheer-leading. But it's certainly not a particular issue for scientists that I can see.

The humorous highlight was when one panellist stated that blogging had doubled his citation rate, which he supported by a histogram of his citations over time. I of course immediately assumed (based on the graphic) that he was joking, but it soon became clear that he was being serious.

I may re-post his stats when I have access to WOK next week, but for now a verbal description will have to do. His histogram showed the rapidly increasing quasi-exponential growth in citation rate that just about every mid-career scientist will have seen over the first 10-15 years of their career, though the last few years in his case seemed to showed a distinct plateau. His blogging started shortly before the last year in the increasing phase, and hence (or otherwise) he attributed the final doubling to this. If I was him, I'd be more concerned that his blogging efforts might have hurt his performance sufficiently to kill off the expected subsequent growth in citations, as this seems to me to be a far more plausible interpretation of the data he presented. I don't want to embarrass him too much (hence not naming him, though he'll be easily enough tracked down if you try) but google scholar suggests he hasn't actually published a great deal in the last few years, at least compared to the arbitrary handful of other mid-career scientists of similar overall performance that I bothered to check. Not that I care about his output one way or the other - I'm just pointing out that his claim that blogging gave him a boost is hardly supported by the evidence. Of course there may be an number of alternative explanations for his particular trajectory.

Rant over, I'll demonstrate that I'm also quite capable of posting entirely positive and enthusiastic commentary without snark when the situation deserves it. Jules and I greatly enjoyed the short course on nonlinear time series analysis oven by Reik Donner and Jonathan Donges. I'd seen the former giving a "Young Scientist" prize lecture a few years ago, which at the time was a bit too detailed and I never got round to chasing up the content. The gentler didactic style this time round was much more digestible, even up to the 8pm finishing time. This event was certainly the highlight of Thursday, and one of the highlights of the week for me.

After that ~12h day, we thought we deserved the morning off. I don't think I have ever done 5 full days at a meeting of this nature without missing a session, and I'm not sure it would be sensible to try. Friday always has the feel of a wind-down and this time seemed particularly weak in terms of my interests. It is hard not to feel sorry for the afternoon speakers. We managed a morning run before heading into town for a really good cake. One thing that we have been repeatedly reminded of is that Viennese standards of service are not on the same planet as what we have come to expect in Japan. But once you get used to that, it's pleasant enough really.

In to the conference for the afternoon, there wasn't actually a great deal I could focus on. I wrote most of this post in the climate data homogenisation session, which had a few interesting things, including rather bizarrely a talk on the periodicity (or otherwise) of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. I wonder what the satellite calibration guys made of that!
Then off to Salm Bräu for probably the best meal of the week. I've been pleased with how well the Tripadvisor recomendations have turned out. Next Sunday's half marathon may suffer as a result, however.

Friday, April 12, 2013

[jules' pics] EGU, 5pm Friday.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/13/2013 04:00:00 AM

Gender balance

In his recent interview, HvS asked me about how we might engineer society so that there are the same numbers of men and women in atmosopheric (or climate) science. Sitting in my cubicle in Japan it seemed an odd question, as there are so few women doing science that it's easy to assume that most women aren't interested in it, so there is no point even thinking about having 50% women. I chose to answer the question in terms of "equality" (ie treating everyone fairly) rather than actual numbers.

However, after a week at the EGU I am starting to wonder if there was a point to the question after all. I recall noticing, at about the turn of the 21st century that there seemed to suddenly be LOTS of young women at the EGU (EGS is was then I think). I remember relaxing, and looking forward to the gender gap basically disappearing as these women progressed through their careers; the science gender battle was won.

Those women from 10 years ago should now be in their mid-thirties. Unless I'm perceiving age wrong due to my own advancing years, most of those women aren't here! What's happened to them? What are they doing instead? 

Are women being mostly employed as more attractive bench monkeys and then being discarded by their middle-aged male bosses once they cease to be so cute? Thoughout my career I have had the ocassional conflict with certain men when they discover I'm an outspoken battle-axe rather than a cute little fluffy bunny rabbit. And I've seen for myself the different reaction the same words from James and I receive. As I said in my interview, we don't get this in Japan; there we are both unfathomable foreigners, which is nice, as it allows us to just be ourselves.

[jules' pics] 'Bux Vienna

Even weirder things can be found outside 'bux Vienna, than 'bux Japan

For the confused and alarmed, here's another view of the arms and legs and things.

It's part of the Hoffburg palace.

Some might prefer Cafe Central, where at last I managed to enjoy delicious cake this morning - we took the morning off after fusing my brain on nonlinear timeseries last night.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/12/2013 10:07:00 PM

Thursday, April 11, 2013

EGU review part 1

As jules has already mentioned, it is EGU time again. It's been a bit hectic for the first three days but should calm down a bit now.

We didn't go last year so were anticipating it more than usual. Somehow despite being about half the size of the AGU meeting, the program manages to be packed with interesting things to see. The EGU app is also far better than the AGU equivalent, good enough for me to plan my program without reference to the web site.

As usual, we turned up a day early to get over jet-lag. I think this is still officially allowed by JAMSTEC rules, but anyway we can claim the meeting starts on Sunday with the registration and reception. We got to our favourite hotel (which has the best breakfast buffet imaginable) in good time and thanks to tripadvisor's recommendation, had possibly the best beer and ribs in Vienna. To be honest it was probably not quite as good as the Yokohama equivalent, but about half the price so we're not complaining. On Sunday, I'd planned to go on a guided tour of the Opera House, being one of the few attractions we've not yet visited, but the tours were off due to a ballet. So we spent the morning in the Albertina and then went to the ballet, as they had some v cheap tickets. Not really my cup of tea but it made for a relaxing day off. Then it was time for registration and a square foot of schnitzel (well it was round) to build up our strength for the week ahead.

Monday morning started with nonlinear time series analysis and probabilistic forecasting, which introduced some new (to me at least) methods which may be useful. I was talking after lunch on climate sensitivity, which seemed quite well attended. It seemed to go ok, there was a certain amount of scepticism but that was only to be expected. I find it amusing that on the one hand, people will argue that based on observational analyses, the GCMs have a worrying probability of excluding the truth (not just for sensitivity, although that's the poster child) but then when confronted with more observational data at the fringe of the ensemble, they insist that this doesn't really mean anything and the models aren't that bad after all! Anyway, it made for a lively afternoon. I'll probably post more about my talk later. My poster in this session was not until Wednesday. The Climate division organises things much better with posters on the same day as talks, which helps in facilitating discussion.

Tuesday morning was jules' newly invented "Past2Future" session, not to be confused with the EGU project Past4Future. Unfortunately due to a failure of scheduling it suffered from a clash with another paleo session, which must have hurt the attendance. But there were still quite a lot of people and there now seems to be much more interest in really using paleo modelling and data to improve and constrain future predictions - rather than just vaguely hinting at it, which has sometimes been the case. Then there was a big session on the response to orbital forcing, including a good medal lecture by Paillard. Jules' poster session (including our LGM reconstruction and related sensitivity estimate) was that evening. The poster sessions have been improved since we last attended, with much better lighting and the addition of moderate quantities of beer to add to the nasty wine, but we had to rush off a bit early to a concert I'd booked earlier.

Wed morning jules was speaking in a paleo modelling session, I was mostly sitting in the decadal prediction session. It still seems like there is very little skill in these methods, and in fact someone has just presented a simple statistical method that seems to generally outperform the initialised GCM systems. There is a "new" DePreSys system from the UKMO based on the newish model HadGEM2, but the presenter didn't mention that, let alone explain why, the forecast from the last one had fared so badly. Ed Hawkins showed that recent data lie outside the Smith et al forecast from 2007, which is a picture I was about to plot myself. He said he thought it might just be luck, but I need some convincing of that.

Later on Wednesday we had the data assimilation session. It's usually rather technical and I enjoy hearing about all the newest methods being devloped. Someone was talking about parameter estimation in a GCM, and came out with "and of course Annan did this ten years ago" citing a 2004 paper. Yes, that really is about as good as it gets for a minor scientist like me.

In the evening poster session we had two posters in different rooms, so jules and I took care of one each. Actually the sensitivity-related posters were only thinly attended (probably would have been better on Monday), so I also spent a fair bit of time upstairs in the paleo session. For some reason I'd not actually submitted my poster on the LGM temperature to any session. but we made the poster last week before realising this omission! However there were as always spaces due to withdrawal so it ended up being displayed on both Tuesday and Wednesday and attracted a surprising amount of attention. Then out the back of the conference centre and across the park for a huge Chinese banquet to celebrate the end of our official duties.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

[jules' pics] EGU Tuesday

Yesterday was the day of our (me, Michel and a not actually present Gavin) session about using paleoclimate models and data to learn about the future.

First were the talks...I might be biased, but thought it the most interesting session I have convened. Here is the 8:30am warm-up act, Dan Lunt.

In the afternoon we had a PSD. ... a sitting-down poster session, with opportunities for discussion. I had my doubts about it, but it was quite interesting to have a small group discussion as well as the one-to-one poster discussions.

The alcohol assisted poster session in the evening seemed busy and active...

Then off to hear Brahms 1. It was very good, but before that reward, we had to hear someone trying to break a nice cello with the help of Prokofiev.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/10/2013 06:04:00 PM

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Public toilet stolen in Kyoto

Sorry, been too busy to blog about the EGU so far. Another early start tomorrow, and at the tail end of the day I'm presenting two posters in different rooms at the same time. But that should be the last of my official duties for the week.

[jules' pics] Day 1 EGU

Day 1 is of course Sunday and mostly involves recovery from travel.

First we visited the Albertina art gallery which, like SFMOMA, made me want to give it all up and become a penniless artist.

Inspired by the extensive exhibition of shit photography, my photography took an artistic nose-dive, at least until we got to the opera house.


Where we saw the ballet La Sylphide.

And then it was up to the EGU to register and enjoy the ice breaker party.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 4/09/2013 01:23:00 PM