Thursday, July 26, 2012

[jules' pics] fire-flowers

Cancelled last year due to self-restraint, last night was Kamakura hanabitaikai (fireworks).

As the sun set, a zillion people gathered on the beach
sunset at the beach, Kamakura fireworks
Kamakura fireworks
Kamakura fireworks
Kamakura fireworks
Kamakura fireworks

The Japanese don't need telling to be self-restrained. It was all very calm - these girls hardly moved during this 8 second exposure.
Kamakura fireworks

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/26/2012 12:51:00 PM

Loss of Arctic sea ice '70% man-made'

Inevitably, this news article is illustrated with a poor polar bear standing on an iceberg. But the study wasn't really anything to do with polar bears:
The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70% due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% down to humans – rather higher than scientists had previously thought.
You wouldn't have guessed it from the write up, but this is work that Jonny Day did last year while he was working with us here at RIGC (he did revise it at Reading University, so it's entirely reasonable that they get some credit too). Hopefully our next recruit (advert) will be similarly successful! Jonny was only here for about 8 months (filling in at the end of the last 5 year project) so a high-profile paper in ERL seems like a pretty good return. The paper investigated how much of the decline in sea ice was plausibly due to various natural phenomena like the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation. The answer...maybe a little, but not a lot.

It was nearly published in GRL some months ago, but after several increasingly positive review cycles (by which time all the original reviewers had recommended acceptance), the editor then found yet another new one (by this time we were on reviewer #6!!) who asked for yet more analyses, at which point it was rejected...and a few days later, another paper on the same topic appeared in that journal.

It doesn't seem to be up on line quite yet but is probably due later today. Rumour has it that Jonny is also making his screen d├ębut - I'll be sure to put a link up when it appears :-)

Ok, it's up now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

[jules' pics] Wisteria muncher

I wonder what he or she will be when they grow up.
Wisteria - caterpillar

Wisteria - caterpillar
There are now several tendrils free of leaves.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/25/2012 01:41:00 PM

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

[jules' pics] Not a flower

I expect there are more flowers to blog, but then I saw this car outside Motomachi Starbucks (of course). Perhaps the reader will tell me if it is fundamentally a special car, or just a specially decorated normal car.
Motomachi red car

Perhaps the reason for all the funny cars in that part of Yokohama is that, in the city, cars are pretty useless if used only for transport. Here is something far more useful - the "one touch picnica".
Motomachi purple "one touch picnica" folding bicycle
Those who care to check the EXIF, will see that poor James has crumbled, and bought me a nice new P&S camera. He made me wait until it had gone down by 10,000¥ and the Panasonic vapourware competitor had been announced, but my argument of taking it on our upcoming trip to the mountains seemed to finally tip the scales. With a minor alteration(*), it just fits in the Goretex case I made for the S100. Note handy usefulness of EGU badge lanyards!
(*It is a slightly tight fit, so I sewed some ribbon to the outside of the case which enables it to be eased over the lens. Will just have to wait and see if the tightness/friction causes the case to wear out too fast.)

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/24/2012 10:05:00 AM

Friday, July 20, 2012


We seem to have missed rainy season this year (not all of Japan was so lucky) and moved straight into heatstroke season, which means it's time for the locals to go and run around all day outside in full sun until they collapse.

Apparently, some local idiot thought it might be fun to run 10km to work a couple of mornings ago. But other than losing several pounds of fluid and nearly drowning in his own sweat, he is no worse for it and is threatening to repeat the feat occasionally over the summer. In my defence, it was actually cloudy and relatively unsweltering that morning, and most of the route is under trees. Still broke all previous records for slowness though.

[jules' pics] Aliens

While we're on purpley theme, here is a photo from December that I seem to have forgotten to blog...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/20/2012 02:35:00 PM

Thursday, July 19, 2012

[jules' pics] Employment Opportunity!!!

James being frowny
Come and work with this nice man (and me) in lovely Japan!
The position is part of a big new multi-centre project which has just got its English name, ICA-RUS: "Integrated Climate Assessment - Risks, Uncertainties and Society". There is the opportunity to work with many of the most active climate scientists in Japan as well as scary James. Actually James is the nice one - and he only uses his scathing expressions on me! The working conditions are pretty good too...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/19/2012 10:00:00 PM

[jules' pics] Agapanthus

I used to call these plants "those oniony things", but now I can never forget their real name, since my mother-in-law corrected me. These days I bewilder poor James by squealing "agapanthus" from the back of the tandem every few minutes (they are very common flowers).

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/19/2012 01:39:00 PM

Monday, July 16, 2012

The writing on the (open access) wall

I've been meaning to write something about open access for some time. There seems to be quite a head of steam building up, especially in the UK with several kites flown about making all publicly-funded research open access. This is the latest: 

The bleating from the paywall-protected publishing industry has been shrill and feeble in equal measure. Good riddance to them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sticking out nail

Just had the results from the annual health check farce. Again, I got a fairly dismal report. Well, actually, that's too pessimistic. I only had two poor results out of the battery of tests, but the overall score assigned seems to be the worst of any individual test, so the headline result doesn't look great.

My "problems"? Firstly, my pulse is low, in a typical (and entirely benign, so far at least) case of "athlete's heart" (though it might well be as much genetic as athletic in my case). And secondly, my waist is a few mm over the threshold for "Metabolic Syndrome", aka "being fat". As an average Japanese person, I'm quite the failure.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fashion Forward

No one believed me at lunch the other day when I proclaimed that the world has finally caught up, and that James and I are now, momentarily, on trend. But now that it has appeared in the Sartorlialist, it must be believed:
So, you will be wanting to check out my stitchin' blog to see what you will all be wearing in the future ...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

[jules' pics] Mango Passion Tea Frappuccino with Mango Pudding

Mango Passion Tea Frappuccino with Mango Pudding
It is nicer than the chocolate cookie crumble frappuccino with white chocolate pudding, but, even so, one shouldn't order a tall unless it is to share. I'm not sure that these are exclusive to Japan, but putting gooey solids in drinks is normal practice...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/09/2012 09:47:00 PM

[jules' pics] Lotus

The lotus are coming...


[Hachimangu, Kamakura]

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/09/2012 11:12:00 AM

Friday, July 06, 2012

[jules' pics] Lichen 'n' stuff

Nature Geoscience said last week that lichen 'n' stuff is really important (see here). Up until now I have kept lichenish shots hidden away, as I didn't think anyone else would be interested. But now you are *supposed* to be interested!
Myonhonji - lichen etc

Myonhonji - lichen etc
Luckily, super-clean is not the only Japanese aesthetic, but sometimes a very particular level of dilapidation is cultured, and it is in such places that lots of lichen 'n' stuff may be found [Myohonji, Kamakura].

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/06/2012 03:41:00 PM

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Possibly the best pizza in the world

Another trip to Tokyo on Tuesday, this time to the EU Delegation to hear a European science bigwig talk about funding opportunities. When notified of the event, I had recognised the name - Don Dingwell - as the current President of the EGU, which was one added point of interest, but he was visiting in his capacity as the Secretary-General of the European Research Council, to publicise their grant schemes. Oddly, he's Canadian, but has been in Europe for a long time. The odds of a non-Japanese leading the JpGU or heading up a major national funding agency must be very long indeed.

He was pushing the ERC grant scheme as being incredibly attractive, high on science and low on restrictions. I suspect he wants more applicants and a greater global presence in order to justify a large research budget that the committee can then share out amongst their friends (he has one of these grants himself, naturally). But the more he talked it up, the more jules and I thought....meh. When we consider that we have plenty of funding for 5 years for 3 people (postdoc/researcher position to be advertised shortly...) and pretty much complete freedom on what we do (within a general theme), it actually sounds pretty similar. Plus, we didn't have to be world class to get it, or even fill in a 30 page application :-) Of course what we have here won't last for ever and it would be a nice parachute back to the UK when the gravy train hits the buffers (or we get sufficiently fed up to leave), but we wouldn't stand much chance of getting funded anyway. Predictably (but sadly) all the questions from the Japanese attendees were along the lines of "can we get your money without having to cut our apron strings and actually go abroad"...I only exaggerate a little.

After that, we went to have the best pizza in the world. Or so I thought at the time. However on re-reading more carefully, it seems that although the prize-winning chef did indeed win several awards while working there, he has subsequently set himself up somewhere else. It was still very good though, with not a kani-jaga-mayo pizza in sight. Which may explain why it was not completely full. That and being a rainy Tuesday evening. Not only the food, but also the service was good - it was a nice touch to bring the pizzas out sequentially so we had the second one fresh and hot to share. It's also handy location right next to Omotesando station so we might be back some time when we have another central Tokyo engagement.

 Due to the absence of a small decent quality camera (see previous TX5 failure) the pics are rubbish ones from my ipod.

[jules' pics] Flowers...

Got a bit of a flowery photo backlog to blog. This is the famous Meigetsuin staircase in Kamakura taken from not your usual angle. The hydrangea have had a good innings this year, as it has been rather cold. By cold I mean that one can walk around not fast but quite happily in a lesiurely sort of a way in shorts tshirts and sandals, and do not have to vend an isotonic drink every 100 yards. In other climate news, rainy season, which is usually expected at the start of June, has not yet started. Perhaps it will not happen at all this year.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/05/2012 12:54:00 PM

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

[jules' pics] Party

The party after Saturday's meeting was not actually at Standing Sushi (the establishment in the middle of this photo), but next Lion, on the left as you look at the picture...
Standing Sushi, Shimbashi

After a couple of beers things were, however, getting quite blurry.
Party of scientists
Or rather, my TX5 had gone wrong again. While I think the effect adds an authentic mood to an after work beer party on a Saturday, the fact that the blur appears on all shots gets a tiresome quite fast.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/04/2012 04:43:00 PM

Monday, July 02, 2012

Cast ne'er a clout till May's out

I mentioned some time ago that Piers Corbyn had been up to his old tricks with an apocalyptic prediction of doom for the coldest May ever in the UK, right in time for our recent trip there.

May is long since out, and it's time to get clouting. May turned out to be slightly warmer than average. I wonder who actually pays for his "forecasts"?

[jules' pics] Market Research


Still in little-camera quandary after giving sister in law my Canon S100. As no one will recall (cos hopefully you do not care, and only look at the pictures on this blog), I was going to buy the new Sony RX100. Then James was jealous, but finally he decided to wait for the rumored (sic) Pansonic LX7 to replace his LX5. This somehow left me with my Sony TX10, which has a firmware issue that makes me want to smash it to the ground and stomp on it, only I don't bother since being a "robust" camera that might not kill it. Picked up my Sony TX5 again, which is nice, and worked for a week (see recent posts on this blog for examples!) before its image stabilisation fault resurfaced.

So what to do? I thought I'd interrogate the man and woman on the street...


Left to right, top to to bottom: "getting the shot" DSLR style, NEX+adapter+Canon manual focus super-geek style (woot!), pinky P&S style, colour coordinated phone camera style, "does he realise he's photographing me?" style, backseat driver shooting style, shoot without looking style, and his 'n' hers shooting style x2.

But then I found image making enlightenment...
[All taken at Hachimangu, Kamakura with my trusty DSLR... of course :-) ]

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/02/2012 04:16:00 PM