Thursday, June 30, 2011

[jules' pics] Grander is better

The Grand Canyon is Grand enough that trying to squeeze its essence into a square inch of pixels is too Grand a challenge for me. At least in terms of size, the food mirrors the canyon. After a hard day trekking in the canyon, the three of us headed to the bar of the El Tovar lodge (which is very near the edge of the South Rim), for light refreshments. We just about managed to squeeze this Grand starter meant for one person into our three tiny stomachs.

At Grand Canyon

Yes, that's a prickly pear margarita!

Of course, Pa, not being Japanese like us, did have his pudding stomach to fall back on, and, incredibly, he effortlessly polished off this monstrosity.

At Grand Canyon

At Grand Canyon

I suppose one could argue that his trek had been harder work than ours, as he is not so used to climbing mountains...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/30/2011 01:01:00 PM

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

[jules' pics] water and rock #2

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

Drowned Glen Canyon, now called Lake Powell, Arizona.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/29/2011 11:55:00 AM

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Fukushima

While I'm on the subject...

The situation up there seems to be meandering along with very limited progress. They installed some sort of filter in order to deal with the ever-increasing lake of polluted water but found the cartridge filled up in a matter of hours. No-one stated it openly, but I'm guessing the reason was that the water was a lot worse than they had let on. They are hoping to get it working again, but at the current rate of progress, Kan could plausibly plan to stay in office for the rest of the century, if not longer...

Of course, that's not to say there is any desperate or widespread threat. Fukushima has not caused a 35% increase in infant mortality in the USA, however much some kooks and crazies would like to claim it has :-)

I was pretty disgusted by the smug self-satistfied way in which Beddington recently whitewashed over the UK Govt's response to Fukushima. He gave a presentation in Japan about how wonderful the UK science advice system is. Summarised here as "Japan needs a Beddington", if you watch the video he is full of how sensible the UK advice was that there was no real risk. What he pointedly omits to mention is that the official advice was actually that UK citizens should avoid non-essential travel to the Tokyo area (thus voiding the travel insurance of those who made the rational decision that there was nothing to worry about) and that UK residents there should consider leaving! Advice that I challenged the Embassy to justify and was basically brushed off with platitudes. I realise that the UK advice was less panicked than many other countries, but that doesn't mean it was justified and certainly doesn't explain why they are trying to rewrite history. The ambassador was at that event, and Beddington is the UK Govt's Chief Scientist, so the discrepancy can't be simply explained away as a miscommunication or ignorance on his part. No, they got it wrong, and rather than admitting it just tried to bluster their way out of it. Unfortunately the event happened while I was in the USA or I would have been tempted to challenge him directly.

Incidentally, this is perhaps the most panicked and self-destructive behaviour I've heard of due to radiation paranoia. I suppose I could be grateful it's not another article about the "flyjin", but mostly I'm just sad that people managed to get themselves worked up into such a state of hysteria.

The govt is starting to think about plans for rebuilding, but it's not at all clear how things will work out. Much of the damaged area was already in decline, with the younger generation leaving for Tokyo and other cities. So there are emergency shelters full of the elderly, who want to go back to their home towns just as they used to be...which is hardly realistic. But no-one is going to stand up and say that's not possible, so things will probably just meander along with the refugees dying in large quantities and slowly giving up.

Planned power outages have just re-appeared in my calendar. There has been nothing in the news yet that I've seen, and I don't think any cuts have actually happened, but as the temperature increases so does the prospect of a shortage. We actually had a new all-time June record temp of 39.8C (a full degree and a half above the previous record, no less) somewhere a couple of days ago. It's still rainy season, not even summer! I did see (here) that TEPCO was up to 92% of current capacity on Friday, but many of the planned power savings haven't kicked in yet (eg our computers are still running normally, they are scheduled for a throttling-back) and I think that TEPCO has some more power reserves planned to come on-line for the summer. The Govt has upgraded the annual "cool biz" campaign to "Super cool biz", ie jeans and t-shirts (Jeans? In 30C+? Cool?). I'm already on ultra-cool biz for the summer, and am pleased to report that more than one company doesn't object to shorts and sandals (and unlike Mizuno, I don't have to wear JAMSTEC-branded goods).

Meanwhile, I'm relieved not to be back in the UK (yet), where apparently they are in the middle of a deadly heatwave that threatens civilisation. Or, as we say in Celsius, "28 degrees".

[jules' pics] Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Luckily, the un-Native Americans failed to spot the touristic potential of the slot canyons, and consequently, some Navajos are apparently quite happily employed leading tours. This involves an exciting ride in a big tired gas-guzzler across the sands, and then about an hour or so walking gently through the canyon. I had heard about these canyons over the photography internets, and they were a newly opened attraction since Pa's last visit to the area, so we were keen to see what all the fuss was about. Being Japanese, we were not at all put off by the so called "crowds", which I'd over-heard photographers complaining about. There was plenty of personal space for us! It was very pleasant and interesting, but I'm not sure why photographers get quite so excited about it... it is after all, just rock.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/27/2011 11:49:00 AM

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kan he or can't he?

The soap opera of Japanese politics continues to provide mild amusement. The current PM is called Kan (though many people don't know that). A few weeks ago, lots of Important People decided he ought to resign, because, Fukushima. At least, that seems to be the gist of their argument. It's not clear to me how much responsibility he has for the tsunami and nuclear problem, or even if he has dealt with it poorly. The Japanese parliament is split, with Kan's DPJ running the lower house but not having a majority in the upper house. And after decades of LDP rule and the dominance of the long-established bureaucracy (including, but by no means limited to, TEPCO's incompetence and mismanagement), it is hardly credible to think that it could have been turned round in a matter of weeks. But still, Fukushima, so he has to go. Anyway, he's been there a year, so it's someone else's turn.

Rather than meekly stepping down, however, Kan started playing the "time for national unity" card. So a vote of no confidence was arranged. At this point, Kan said that he would resign once the current crisis was over. This persuaded lots of supposed enemies to abstain and the vote failed dismally. At which point Kan said "and of course, this crisis may run and run..." :-) Or words to that effect. The vote having failed, another one cannot be held. So lots of people are wailing impotently that Kan promised to resign in the next week or two, but he's insisting that he will plough on regardless to the end of the summer at least. A week may be a long time in normal politics, but a month is a pretty substantial career here, so the discrepancy is no small beer.

One silver lining: in the interim, the hated Ozawa has actually been suspended from the DPJ as part of a long-running corruption investigation. So if Kan resigns during this interval, it's possible that his influence in the resulting anointment will be moderated.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all the post-Fukushima chaos our lab is trying to renew a major project to run from the end of the current block of funding which ends next March. The national budget and Govt ministries appear to be in complete meltdown and as a result a lot of jobs are at risk. Including ours.

Friday, June 24, 2011

[jules' pics] rock and water

Lake Powell

If you go boating on the drowned Glen Canyon, you get strange views like this. Horseshoe Bend is a short way downstream of the dam.

[Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, photo by James]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/24/2011 10:01:00 AM

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The USA, being such a large country practices geoengineering on a massive scale. This huge dam regulates the Colorado river, thus halting the evolution of the Grand Canyon which lies just downstream.

Glen Canyon Dam

The wilds of Glen Canyon used to lie upstream, but it is now a lake that people fish in.

Glen Canyon Dam

In order to see this view you have to go through a silly security procedure, and promise not to mention the dambusters during your guided tour. I think this may be counterproductive. I doubt it would occur to most people to suppose that a dam needs protecting from visitors' handbags, but if a handbag is really all it takes to bring the whole thing down, people may be tempted to try.

Glen Canyon Dam

Up there is the visitor center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Statistically significant

Apparently global warming is statistically significant again.

But we all know that the difference between "significant" and not significant is not itself statistically significant, don't we?

Richard Black is usually pretty good, so it's a shame to see the old canard "If a trend meets the 95% threshold, it basically means that the odds of it being down to chance are less than one in 20." Of course, you all know why that's not true (at least, if you don't, you will after reading this).

Monday, June 20, 2011

[jules' pics] 15 years later...

park hyatt

Apparently (I heard it from the friend of a friend) after the earthquake in March, people found their satnavs were inaccurate. This seems to be borne out by a paper in Science last week, which I cannot now verify because it is behind a paywall and I am at home. Anyway, the paper may say that they used GPS measurements to ascertain that the earth near the epicentre of the Tohoku quake moved 20 metres(!) laterally. As we sat in the most expensive bar and then even more expensive restaurant on the 52nd floor, watching rainy season playing out as the light faded over Tokyo, I thought that 20 metres laterally must surely collapse the tower. But on this occasion no big earthquake hit and the wealthy diners survived the evening. Even the marriage survived, despite the risky playing of "15 things I hate about you" to go with the 15 year anniversary. Distracted by the excellent views and delicious food, we only came up with 3 things between us.

P.S. Note in lower right image, the reflected kitchen staff and waiter. Apparently this was the hotel in which the movie Lost In Translation was filmed. Given the price, is quite surprising that anyone ever stays there.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/21/2011 07:19:00 AM

[jules' pics] water and rock

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Our guide book says that "Ranch House Grille" is THE place for breakfast in Page, Arizona. While obeying this order we were inspired by the photo on the wall above our table to visit Horseshoe Bend that afternoon. Thus the next morning we were obliged to return for another breakfast, in order to compare our photo with their's. Pa was kind enough to say he preferred ours. He's such a nice Pa.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/20/2011 02:44:00 PM

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Solar power!?!

Well it seems like JAMSTEC has taken our advice...

...those black panels appear to be solar panels. I'm not sure that mounting them vertically, pointing only a few degrees south of due west, and facing directly at our building from which this picture was taken, is the most effective location. Our buildings have large flat roofs, easily accessible and only partly covered in airconditioner fans. Still, at least they are trying...

Friday, June 17, 2011

[jules' pics] Bucolic Idyll

Cows rest in the cool shade of a tree on the prime pastureland of the Navajo Nation:

Navajo Nation finest pasture

The Native Americans were given not only the very best pasture in the whole USA, but the most promising commercial locations too:

Navajo shops

Such astonishing generosity...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/17/2011 11:42:00 AM

Thursday, June 16, 2011

[jules' pics] deserty plants



Yucca I think, but I'm no botanist, so perhaps the top and bottom pictures are different kinds.  I particularly liked the spirals peeling off the sides of the leaves of the plant in the lower photo. The rocky stuff in the background is a tiny bit of the Grand Canyon.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/16/2011 01:36:00 PM

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another comment and reply

Some time ago, some people wrote a comment on our "multiple constraints" GRL paper. We originally thought it could be safely ignored (beyond the public comments we added), but one or two people asked about it, so we eventually penned a reply, which has now been published here. It didn't seem to us that the comment was very useful - they didn't seem to like the approximations we made (and clearly flagged), but didn't provide any evidence (or even argument) that the approximations made by others were any better, and didn't provide their own analysis either.

CP does not adopt the widespread policy of inviting a reply to be reviewed and published alongside the comment, but instead invite the commentee to add a public review. That sounds ok in theory, but it means we didn't get to see or critique the revised version before publication, as the review process goes underground at that stage. I was particularly peeved at their unfounded potshots at our more recent Climatic Change paper.

Anyway, it seems like ancient history now, though there has still been very limited effort to address the issues we raised...

[jules' pics] Trees

trees, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Top: Capitol Reef
Bottom: Bryce Canyon

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/14/2011 05:30:00 PM

Thursday, June 09, 2011

[jules' pics] The other raven


[Also in the snow at Bryce Canyon]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/09/2011 02:03:00 PM

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

[jules' pics] Churches

The hunt for 2nd churches of anything American remains fruitless. One small town we visited called Page, in Arizona, contains little other than churches, mostly either 1st churches of X or Unified churches of Y, all lined up along the main street. I couldn't bear to photograph such unanimous division, so instead...

Green River, being practically a ghost town, has just three churches, of which this is one:
church, Green River

In cuddly Boulder, one church has taken the bold decision of investing in stewardship of the environment, by exposing half a massive roof to the sun, which is nice of them:

But why are they using 5KW all night?!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/08/2011 02:11:00 PM

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

[jules' pics] Condor!!!

This is not a condor:


It is a raven in the snow at Bryce canyon. Aren't the pretty yellow and pink rocks lovely?

We did, however, see condors at Grand Canyon:


Oh. um. I mean:


James was carrying the binocules and the condors swooped around for a while so actually we both got really good field-of-view filling memories and the photo was taken just to prove it wasn't actually a raven - here's a 100% zoom:


Do you think all that gubbins on their wings - tags and transmitters - has a deleterious effect, as was recently suggested for the flipper tags on penguins?

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/07/2011 12:43:00 PM

Monday, June 06, 2011

[jules' pics] Another flower

globe mallow

globe mallow

The orange flower called globe mallow, apparently used by Native Americans to cure stuff. Photo taken in Capitol Reef park.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/06/2011 12:36:00 PM

Friday, June 03, 2011

To Bo(u)ld(er)ly go...

I don't really like running much - I tolerate 20-minute jogs as a way of staying active when unable to do anything more interesting, like cycling (or in a previous era, rowing) but that's about as enthusiastic as I can get about it. Jules and I tend to take our running shoes with us when we go to conferences, but the reality doesn't often live up to the good intentions. One problem is that running only very infrequently has the inevitable result of making our legs incredibly stiff and sore, so in an attempt to prevent this, recently we started running in the hills behind our house about once every week or two. This seemed to have paid off on the recent EGU trip to Vienna when we managed several early morning jogs along the canal without crippling ourselves.

Anyway, we found ourselves in Boulder over the recent Memorial Day weekend, and on Monday there was nothing much to do...except the Bolder Boulder 10k road race. This is a huge event with over 50,000 people (many more than the London marathon) starting in waves of a few hundred at a time every minute or so for a couple of hours, followed by a professional race over the same course. And somehow we found ourselves signing up for it.

Our goals were basically limited to hoping that we would make it round without too much pain, and with no previous experience over this distance or much idea how fast we could run, we entered in the middle of the joggers category. I was lucky to soon find someone heading off at what seemed like a nice pace, so I followed her all the way round the course:

and was dragged to a time of something under 51 minutes, which was quite a surprise. I hope she wasn't too annoyed off by my wheezing along behind her. Jules went at a more leisurely pace, as per our original plan, and took a few pictures on the way round. Despite this she was only just outside an hour herself.

Not sure if I'll be giving old Stoaty much of a run for his money any time soon. And I certainly don't plan on any marathons! But it was surprisingly fun to take part in a big event with huge crowds cheering all the way round.

[jules' pics] Transport

Wondering how to blog the trip. Chronological would be too dull. Perhaps I should have themes. Of course this means that many of the posts will simply be called "rock". This one, however, is "transport".

A truck:

A train:

[Location: Rockyplace, USA]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/03/2011 02:23:00 PM

Thursday, June 02, 2011

[jules' pics] flowers

We are back in Japan now, in a semi-conscious sort of a way. I have a bazillion photos of Amerika to bore you all with for weeks to come! Here are two showing some rocks and some paintbrush flowers taken in Zion National Park.

Indian Paintbrush - Zion

Indian Paintbrush - Zion

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 6/02/2011 10:30:00 AM