Saturday, December 31, 2011

[jules' pics] 12/31/2011 07:52:00 PM

Copper roof
Historic Kamakura dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, so most tourists probably don't realise quite how much things change. Here's a shiny new copper roof on one of the buildings in Hachimangu. In just a few months it will start to become dull, brown and then in a few years it will turn dusty green.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/31/2011 07:52:00 PM

Thursday, December 29, 2011

[jules' pics] Happy 42nd Birthday to me!

It seems to me there is a place in the world for "trick(s) to hide the decline"... especially when it comes to the ravages of age:
[Photo taken by James on 27th December 2011, in Kamakura St.Arbucks]

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/29/2011 06:56:00 PM

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[jules' pics] 12/28/2011 11:40:00 AM

Kaizoji bell tower
I took 4 photos in Kaizoji which I thought were OK. I asked James which one was the worst, and he picked the one that I thought was the best. Then he said which one he thought was best, and it was the one I thought was worst. So here are both of them.

As for Christmas, and my birthday, which was yesterday, on which Steve Bloom wanted an update there were no gold Nikon boxes at all under the tree! Instead, yesterday I got to go to fabric town in Tokyo to buy yardage for making clothes for James!! Why has James has come over all austerity measures? You'd think he'd be feeling happy and generous what with having the most downloaded paper in GRL this week. It is a bit odd though. I wouldn't have thought that "On the observational assessment of climate model performance", was an obvious Christmas number one title. I see he has already written a post to brag about it! Tsk - and to think he's the one who teases people for checking their H-index on a weekly basis.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/28/2011 11:40:00 AM

On the observational assessment of climate model performance

I already blogged about this some time ago, but here is the final published version, with a free download for the first 50 who want it, by using "46672759" as both the userid and password. The title seems to have enticed an unusually large number of people to read it - it is currently GRL's most downloaded paper (at time of writing). I hope they were not all disappointed.

Incidentally, the first draft IPCC report is open for review, but presumably all who are interested already knew that. As per their request, I'll not be discussing it here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

[jules' pics] 12/26/2011 10:30:00 PM

pigeons and a motorcycle
Entrance to Hachimangu. In a week's time it will be a sea of people. I wonder how the pigeons feel about it.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/26/2011 10:30:00 PM

Sunday, December 25, 2011

[jules' pics] Merry Berry Christmas

The leaves were all injured by a big typhoon this year, but I gave it my best shot.
And for those who prefer red and green...
There seems to be something being cooked in the oven. The pigeons got away...
...but the ducks are looking plump.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/25/2011 12:05:00 PM

Happy Christmas to us

Possibly the last hurdle that was standing between us and next year's budget has now been jumped:

Cabinet crafts record ¥96 trillion budget

We still have to actually apply for our jobs in the next few weeks, but at least it seems there will be jobs to apply for.

Not that the budget actually makes any sense, but Japanese economics never has, at least not since we got here. The basic budget would stretch credulity by itself, but on top of that there's a chunk of "extra budget" to plug the gaping holes that the tsunami punched in the nation's infrastructure. When the borrowing requirements come home to roost we can leave easily enough. The natives, on the other hand...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

[jules' pics] Which continent?

Another of jules' brain teasers. One of these cappuccinos was made in Kamakura and the other in San Francisco. Which is which?
And which one tasted the best?

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/21/2011 10:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

[jules' pics] Gary Dankos

After yesterday's brief diversion to the present, I'm diving back to San Francisco to share 3 silly pictures from San Francisco's best restaurant (says the internets).

Weird plates...
Fancy plate

Poor Pigeon...

Poor Lobster...
I thought in such a posh restaurant it wouldn't do to carry the SLR, so only took my tiny Sony. Shouldn't have worried - the woman on the table next to us had a huge Canon that fired sparks into the air. She was even worse than me, and photographed every little bit of food served, as well as taking romantic pictures of the couple she was with. Mind you, I think it was also her living...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/20/2011 02:07:00 PM

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shock as Indescribablyoverhyped overhypes something

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and that's obviously the readership they are chasing:

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

Portrayed as some new shock result presented at the AGU, it seems to have been a relatively mundane poster. It's only an Indie "exclusive" because no-one else was prepared to touch it with a bargepole. After a few years of stagnation, the methane concentration has been climbing again (oddly, the Wikipedia page is several years out of date). But it's a long way off being a threat anywhere close to the scale of, say, CO2.

Yes, I know I'm late on this - when I first saw it, I tried to check the AGU site to see what had been presented, but it was down.

Meanwhile, the Indie is on to the next looming catastrophe - and in these days of on-line access, it doesn't even serve as a decent chip wrapper.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

[jules' pics] 12/19/2011 05:00:00 AM

James' birthday present must be just about the cutest mid-life crises purchase ever. Luckily with the seat right down it fits me too. It is brilliant fun!
[Top photo taken in Kamakura on Sunday. The momiji (maple leaves) may be rubbish this year but the camellia are startlingly good. Although they flower all winter and so provide some welcome colour, usually they are sparse and boring. This year they are incredibly vibrant and abundant.]

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/19/2011 05:00:00 AM

Friday, December 16, 2011

[jules' pics] San Franciscan kohi

Kohi is Japanese for coffee. It's always a surprise that coffee in the USA is such appalling hogwash. Afterall, wasn't it the USA that invented Starbucks? Now obviously, a Starbucks capuccino isn't the same drink as an Italian capuccino, but they aren't so bad. In fact they are quite nice. At least in Japan. But in the USA even Starbucks seem a bit like...hogwash.

So we went to some effort to find a renowned cafe in which to drink coffee in San Francisco. There is one such place near the Moscone Center, called Blue Bottle. You have to queue for 30 minutes in the cold while the inefficient staff bumble around. Two Japanese could do the job of the six or so staff in a fraction of the time. Then you have to wait for some time while they create your coffee. And then you have to drink it quite fast, before it gets cold in the draughty cafe. But I suppose its as reasonable a ritual as tea ceremony...

The odd thing was that the Blue Bottle's 2 speciality coffees were imported from Japan. Not the beans, of course, but the coffee processes. This is surprising because Japan hasn't really had coffee for very long. And I assume they got it from America. Now it seems they've reinvented it and are selling it back.

We now realise that the rather mild but expensive coffee we get in a little cafe in Kita Kamakura is probably siphon coffee.

This is how you make siphon coffee in San Francisco:
Siphon coffee
In Kamakura you stick the flask over what looks like a Bunsen burner.

The other sort of coffee (which we haven't ever seen in Japan) is "Nel" coffee, which seems to be a long-winded extension of the convenience drip coffee. We didn't have time to try this one.


And here's the stupendous preparation - see the stopclock and weighing scales?
Nell Coffee

More importantly than any of that, here below you can clearly see the effects of siphon coffee on a jetlagged James.

1.  Feeling quite sleepy before drinking
pre-coffee fatigue

2. Enjoying the flavors (sic)
enjoying the flavours

3. Post-kohi buzz
Post coffee buzz

Hogwash does not have the same effect...because it is hogwash.
AIrport hogwash

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/16/2011 11:37:00 AM

More disappointment with Debito

I mentioned he went into meltdown some time ago, and the picture hasn't got prettier since. Some recent rabble-rousing on his blog drew this comment, which I objected to. Or at least tried to, because Debito has been censoring my comments. After AJ and Debito posted explicitly asking me to back up my contention that the previous comment was nonsense (funny how he didn't ask them to show that it was remotely credible) he simply refused to let me post my reply, so here it is:

AJ, I agree that some of the temp workers are poorly treated and probably subject to a significant risk. That's a far cry from the general population being measurably affected. Even if you don't trust the Govt figures, there are lots of people looking for contamination across the country and basically finding very low levels - even when safety thresholds are met or exceeded, these are still set at very conservative levels. I'm happy that people are checking these things, but when I eat a Fukushima peach, the risk of choking on the stone vastly exceeds the risk of radiation-related harm. And don't get me started on mochi, especially in ozoni :-)

Listen guys (and girls), I agree that TEPCO and the Govt are culpable and have been incompetent in various ways. But that doesn't actually mean there is a significant risk to the general population from the situation. To those who say "one cancer is too many", I seriously doubt they make the same (unrealistic) demands of power from coal-fired stations (coal has substantial radioactivity), or their consumption of pickles and salt in their food - there's a good reason why Japanese stomach cancer rates are among the highest in the world (of course, the diet is extremely healthy in other ways, which just goes to show that there are always trade-offs and absolutist positions are rarely reasonable).

It seems a strange sort of cowardliness to explicitly ask for a response (Debito is the bold writing following on the end of my comment), and then refuse to post it, but there you go. He seems determined to cultivate a clique of tinfoil-hatters, perhaps it's to make himself feel good about his apparent decision to leave Japan, but that is just a guess.

UPDATE: The comment has appeared, after apparently being stuck in the spam trap (see Debito's comment here).

I might have some more to say about Fukushima itself some time, but to be honest there isn't much of importance to report. TPTB have decided that it is now in a "cold shutdown" situation, though the only basis for this announcement seems to be that they said months ago that they would achieve cold shutdown by the end of the year. It is still a mess, mostly contained, but with a growing waste water problem - they are trying to just pour some of the dirty water into the sea, but that is not entirely without objections...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

[jules' pics] San Francisco buildings and transport

The highlight of the week - hill running at dawn. This was the view from the top of Powell Street.

A pier off (of) the Embarcadero.

A not closed down bookshop. Having to queue for 10 minutes to pay while the person in front had credit cards rejected was a fun experience you don't get on Amazon.

A street with buildings and cars.

Market Street with buildings and cars and trams.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/15/2011 03:58:00 PM

Monday, December 12, 2011

[jules' pics] It's not the camera...'s the lens.

Recently my victims have been complaining about the size of my camera. I thought this may be because cameras are shrinking, but whatever the reason, a frightened victim does not make for good pictures. At the AGU I tried an experiment and took 3 little prime lenses along with my "enormous" DSLR camera body. Not a single one of my victims flinched, most didn't notice they were being photographed, but some of them actually smiled!

Harry Elderfield
Harry Elderfield being Keynotey. Harry has a calm soothing voice, the room was dark and it was Monday morning, but I read later on some blog that he gave a good talk. Actually I only slept through the review part of his talk, and woke up for the newer work part of his talk, which was interesting.

Americans "like comparing Apples and Oranges", but I find this phrase extremely irritating. At least Mark Boslough knows which he prefers.

Donald Lucas explains his poster to 2 interested people. This is atypical. AGU poster sessions are mostly crap.

A geologist...I suppose. They all have beards don't they? He reads his newspaper under the table like it was shameful, because he is the only person in the room without an electronic gizmo in front of him.

At beer o'clock on the 3rd floor of Moscone West, the light gets nice. I don't know any of these people, but it was apparent that most of them also prefer Apples.

She looks a bit dubious about his dodgy results.

Behind her is the queue for the beer!

She's got no beer so I suppose that's gin in her flask. At least it matches her Apple.

A real scientific discussion finishes with a smile.

Andy Ridgwell, the one person at the AGU worth photographing... but he can be quite elusive. Still, nice of him to pick a t-shirt to match his eyes. The T-shirt says "Are your cats old enough to learn about Jesus?"

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/12/2011 09:05:00 PM

Sunday, December 11, 2011

AGU 2011 aftermath

The previous post was actually written during the break before Gavin's session on the CMIP5 models, which turned out to be one of the better ones. Mind you, the analyses were substantially less thorough than most authors had promised/intended when they wrote their abstracts, due to limited data availability. For what it's worth, the executive summary is that the CMIP5 model projections seem to be broadly similar to CMIP3 so far. I would not be surprised if the IPCC deadlines slipped a bit, like they did last time. In fact they have already slipped compared to the timetable that was originally proposed, but for some time now the deadline for submitted manuscripts (to be citable in the report) has been July next year. To date there are very few paleo-related runs on the database (6 mid-Holocene, 1 LGM and 2 last millennium last time I checked) which makes it hard to see how this facet of the project can be included at all in the WCRP CMIP5 workshop in Hawaii in March - the deadline for abstract submission is this week, and: "To demonstrate that your analysis has already begun, you are encouraged to include a description of your preliminary analysis so far". Will be interesting to see how that pans out...

Anyway, Gavin's speakers made a good effort to be energetic and interesting, and jules said the parallel session on paleo modelling was also good. Friday afternoon last year was also one of the highlights. After, we went out to dinner with the Bristol bunch, and had 15 different types of meat grilled in Brazilian style. It was a fun but rather late night after a long week. Overall, we had a rather better time than last year, and my cold and sore throat waited until we had returned before coming on. I'm actually quite looking forward to white rice and miso, for a day or two at least.

Sadly our flight home was delayed, so we missed our annual Christmas carol service that we were expecting to get back for. It's the first time we have been significantly late at Narita for as long as we can remember.

[jules' pics] "unusual landing"

"unusual landing", originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Actually it was an unusual takeoff too, which was, I suppose, the first tyre popping, and the second one was on landing. It's a pity - we had wanted to attend a fun event in Yokohama this evening - the aeroplanes normally land on time or early at Narita, and it takes 10mins to get through the airport (for a Japanese resident with no checked baggage). But today we missed our train as we had to sit on the runway for an hour (so that if we caught fire we wouldn't take the terminal with us?) and then the aeroplane was towed slowly to the gate.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/11/2011 07:15:00 PM

Friday, December 09, 2011

AGU day 4 and 5

After a rather late return from Gary Danko we didn't have the enthusiasm for a morning run on a cloudy day, so just staggered in for some talks on data assimilation to hear about the latest new ideas. jules went to ocean acidification, which is perhaps of more general interest. Another working lunch followed - despite jules' cynicism, this year has been significantly enhanced by the number of people we've managed to meet. Last year we were a bit ill and knackered so it wasn't as productive. In the afternoon there was another session on the last millennium, in fact my talk might have fitted in a little better there than on Wednesday's session which was more generally covering paleo-for-future-predictions, but there was a strong overlap in terms of attendees and interests. Flagging a little after the previous splurge, we waddled off to the local Thai for a quick and early dinner - I'm not sure if it is really worth two meals there (and for the 2nd year running!) when SF has so much more to offer but it was just what we felt like.

This morning we managed a run and an 8am start - breakfast was the missing element, but eating is getting increasingly difficult. First session was interesting stuff on climate variability, with various wiggles in both models and data, some of which occasionally coincided to some extent. Lunch we managed to follow Eli's recommendation for Yank Sing which was definitely a cut above (jules said 3 cuts, in fact) the local place we have previously visited. As with last year, the organisers have kept some of the best till last, which may be a bit of a shame when so many leave early. There are sessions both on model-data comparisons, mostly modern data sets but also including jules's talk on paleo data, and also some more paleo modelling. Nothing outstanding, but it's useful to keep up with what is happening. I think the "new" obs4mips data sets are going to be particularly useful, as they are being designed to be readily usable even by numpties such as myself.

[jules' pics] Greenwash

Fortunately, the recyclable beer cups entirely offset the carbon emissions of everyone's travel to the AGU making it a truly environmentally friendly conference. Sarcasm aside, I think they should allow people to pull a Pielke, and give their talks by Skype.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/09/2011 03:15:00 PM

Thursday, December 08, 2011

AGU 2011 Days 2 and 3

As we already hinted, Day 2 was a bit of a washout for us. I wonder if the low density of interesting sessions is something to do with the division split with "Global Environmental Change" being perhaps the closest approximation to EGU's "Climate, Past, Present and Future", but the latter includes paleo whereas the AGU has that split into another division. Anyway, the morning jog to the Chestnut bakery was fun. For dinner, we slummed it and just used the hotel cafe aka "Bourbon Steak", where we shared a $28 - 70oz T-bone. Last year I'm sure it was only 69oz, so I suppose that's inflation for you. However, the exchange rate has changed so much that on converting to metric, it was actually rather smaller than last year. Or something like that.

Wednesday had an interesting session in the morning on earth system sensitivity and paleoclimate. Various somewhat incompatible definitions were used which makes direct comparison different. Most people seem to agree that longer-term feedbacks will increase the overall effect when compared to the classical AOGCM-based definition. Some people were looking mostly at data, others at models. One person concluded that the models were all wrong based on a single tropical core that differed substantially from the major MARGO data set - I pointed out in the Qs after that singling out the models for criticism in this situation seemed a little unfair! The session finished off with Jim Hansen who of course got a good reception. I thought his jibe at Andreas Schmittner (about how he had included dust aerosols as a forcing rather than a feedback) was a bit ungallant. The main point there AIUI was that he included the effect at all, when most GCM-based simulations of the LGM did not. Andreas did have the opportunity to defend himself at the end though.

A group of ensembles-and-uncertainty people had a chat over lunch (arranged by Ben), and it was interesting to hear how they were all getting on in a rather more relaxed format than via rapid-fire 12 minute talks. I had to rush off rather for another session where I was first presenter. This is on some still-unfinished (but I'm getting there!) work on last millennium reconstructions. From the audience perspective, jules thought it was more relaxed and better than Monday's effort where I tried to summarise 5 papers in the same time frame. Maybe there is a lesson there... Other talks included Andreas Schmittner presenting his recent paper. He seemed to have taken on board at least some of the criticism that has been put forward and he sounded rather more in tune with Nathan Urban's interview here, than in the press coverage here, for example (especially regarding the "robustness" of the result).

As for dinner, Gary Danko really is worth the hype (and the hoops that have to be jumped though to get a table). Eating good restaurant food here does bring home just how good the seafood that my Dad sometimes searches out is, however.

I think I have forgotten what it feels like to be hungry. Again.

[jules' pics] AGU Day 3

At 15:30 beer is served at the AGU, inhibitions are overcome and even us scientists become kind of chatty. After all, there would really be no point at all in gathering all those air miles if we never actually spoke to each other. 

Quaffing with Ben Booth.

Kneeling humbly at the feet of Mike Mann.

Annan-Schmittner face-off sharing a joke about skeptics or some such frivolity.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/08/2011 11:23:00 AM

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

[jules' pics] AGU Day 2

The day was as sunny as hoped.
Weston Hotel, Union Square, San Francisco
As James already mentioned, we sprinted round the Embarcadero for a morning pastry, and then got a bus back to the hotel. In the peace and quiet of lunchtime we toured Tuesday's posters, on regional climate, tsunamis, and bit of paleo. My favourite poster was one on using Twitter to chart climate change expressed in terms of the location of armadillos. Second favourite was a study which analysed whether the climate change people thought they had experienced was consistent with actually observed trends. The answer seemed to be on the whole yes, but sometimes no.

Meanwhile, I am getting quite concerned about the San Franciscans' want of taste. Who would paint their house a color (sic) that clashes with the sky?!
San Francisco house colour
And then there was this in the window of the supposedly top notch bakery...
Hello Kitty Cake in San Francisco!
I read Hello Kitty Hell for a few years but gave up recently, finally overwhelmed by the horrors it reports.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/07/2011 02:45:00 PM

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

AGU 2011 Day 1

SF is reputed to be drizzly and cloudy much of the time, but unlike last year the weather here has been fabulous so far and is set fair for the rest of the week. We arrived on Saturday morning after a good flight and had a great couple of days over the weekend, On Saturday we visited the TCHO chocolate factory on the Embarcadero (that was jules' special request, naturally) and returned home via an early Chinese dinner - the House of Nanking gets mixed reviews, I expect there is better/cheaper food for those with energy and knowledge but it certainly fit the bill for us at that time. Sunday morning started with a jog to the Embarcadero, along and back over the hills of Powell and Hyde. We then got a bus over to the Cliff House for brunch and a walk on the beach, before meeting Rob who took us to one of his old favourite spots for dinner.

Oh yes, and now we get to the reason excuse we had used to come here. Monday morning started with poster-viewing, so we had a late breakfast in the Blue Bottle cafe on the way. Then the posters themselves, including those associated with the afternoon talks we were planning to attend, which were quite fun, and I got to meet a few new people. Harry Elderfield's medal lecture was a reasonably interesting history lesson on the (mis)understanding of proxies, and then we had a useful working lunch with Dan talking about some collaboration. I was talking in the uncertainty session straight after lunch. I just about managed to rattle through a review of the work we have done with the CMIP3 ensemble, including the most recent GRL paper (now officially in press), without being able to go into much detail about any of it. The rest of the session was the usual sort of mixture, some old or incomplete stuff (promises to evaluate CMIP5 have mostly been honoured in the breach) but also some new. The philosophy session followed after tea beer. It is interesting and I think probably useful to hear people placing scientific work on model evaluation in some broader context, but these people seem to be mostly following rather than leading or inspiring the process, and doing so from a bit of a distance. For example, some of the audience pointed out that as well as the open CMIP3 archive, there is a huge amount of evaluation within the centres themselves that doesn't necessarily get reported in the literature. I also thought there was a bit of a logical failure regarding the vexed question of the "independence" of the models, but there didn't seem to be much point in picking a fight so I kept my mouth shut. [While considering the confirmatory effect of multiple models, several speakers stated confidently that the IPCC ensemble of models were not "independent", while openly admitting that they were utterly incapable of providing any operational or measurable definition of this property.] Apart from the wifi limitations, it was a good start to the week and the Thai restaurant that we discovered last year now seems deservedly more popular and perhaps even better food-wise than I had remembered. I'll note the "Angel Wings" starter for future reference.

Law of unintended consequences

One nice side-effect of our recent running habit is the ability (or perhaps willingness) to jog along the Embarcadero on a sunny morning to the excellent Chestnut Street bakery for breakfast.

Today is a bit of a thin day for both of us content-wise, and we've learnt from bitter experience that attempting 5 full 10h days is not really sustainable, so we took the opportunity for a leisurely start to the day. Amazingly after the disaster that was Denver, we've not had any jetlag problems at all this time, just 3 good nights of sleep. Oh, and a lovely Chinese dinner, German-style pork chop, Thai dinner, and assorted snacks and breakfasts. We even found decent coffee for the first time in three trips (a recommendation from Rob who used to live here).

[jules' pics] AGU Day 1

The day began with a chemistry experiment...
Siphon Coffee in San Francisco
on thin films and rainbows...
Coffee slick
Apparently this is called siphon coffee. It was nice but the music was a bit dystopian, which probably wasn't good for the jet lag. The rest of the day was much as expected and involved science and stuff. The "stuff" being the highly entertaining late afternoon philosophy session. 

Can't find any must-see talks to go to tomorrow, so hoping for another sunny morning...
Cliff House, San Francsico
and a walk round the posters in the afternoon.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/06/2011 01:19:00 PM