30 June 2010

More time lapse HDR

I have been trying to learn the skills of time lapse photography.

First of all I started out using a webcam and made a week long movie of the fjord in front of the Lair, the results were ok but the quality is pretty shitty.

Then I graduated to using my DSLR and trying to combine HDR with timelapse.

The first couple of attempts were ok but not great - see here and here

Then last week I managed to get everything together and was feeling quite good about the results which are here...

That was until I found this website and realised that I have so far to go... These people are producing stuff that is utterly awesome, I especially enjoy the astro-timelapse the dancing telescopes and the stars are just amazing. Enjoy

Post-script, just for grins I reprocessed the sunset one again with a very aggressive HDR settings. The result is here, I think its interesting...

28 June 2010

House buying in Scotland

We are currently about to bid on a house in Scotland and I have to say, when it comes to house buying systems, the Norwegians are streets ahead.

In the Scottish system you have to place a blind-bid. That is to say that there is a minimum price, then beyond that anyone else who is interested gets to submit a sealed bid, in an envelope on a specific day. There is no comeback and no second chance.

This is fuckin horrible! You end up in the hideous position where you are trying to second guess a lot of people you have never met are going to do. There is a very high chance that you either miss by a few thousand quid or that you bid way over the odds and throw away 10's of thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

In Norway the system is way more civilised. On the closing day you have an open bidding round where the estate agent lists all the people who are interested and then calls them up in turn. Then people either drop out or up the price, until you have a winner. That is so much better, you know how much you have to spend, how much you think the place is worth and if you lose it's because somebody wants the place more than you or has more cash. At least it's honest and open. I can't imagine why you would not think that is the fairest system.

Still you can't fight the system but if one more person says to me "just forget about everyone else and bid what you think its worth" I will lose it! Its utter bullshit, imagine going to the supermarket for a litre of milk and at the checkout the till-doris says "what do you think its worth?" You say "70p?" She says nope, you can't have it, come back tomorrow and try again".

Utter nonsense - wish us luck!

Unexpected weekend

I have a pathological hatred of hanging around in airports, I think that a large part of the security farce of being there 2 hours before the flight is a marketing ploy to get you to spend money in hideously over priced shops. So I generally cut things pretty fine and arrive just in time to walk on to the plane. I have this down to a fine art at my local airport in Bergen where I can leave my house 1 hour before the plan departs, drive 25 minutes to the airport, park, walk to the airport get through security and board the plane. However this weekend I missed an important flight – monumentally!

I was due to fly to Greece on Friday morning for Aris’ wedding. Most of the guys had already gone out and I was set to arrive in Athens at lunch time with 5 hours to spare before the wedding. I was working late on Thursday night, and eventually got to bed at 1am and set my alarm for 5 for a 6.35 flight. .

I woke up without the alarm and looked at my phone. Fuck!!! It was 6.25. Even by my standards I was not going to make a flight that left in 10 minutes. Bugger!

So I got up, checked that the flight had actually left – it had. So then I called KLM – no joy, my flight had left, I was a no-show, tough shit, no chance to change, no money back. I hate those people. Then I looked into getting another flight and it was basically impossible to get a plane that would get me there the same day.

So I gave up, called Aris and made my apologies, then set about making the most of 3 days of free time which I hadn’t planned for. Finished a paper with Chris Jackson, edited Tore’s thesis and then when it finally stopped raining on Sunday I got loads of jobs done in the garden and finally Jamie et al called around for a barbi on sunday evening. So not how I planned to spend the weekend but at least all was not lost.

I look forward to seeing the photos and hearing the stories from Aris and Maria’s big day, sorry I didn’t make it. Good luck guys.

24 June 2010

Thursday is now geek day...

Given that I have probably run out of wise things to say about fashion, I am now going to devote my Thursday post to something much for interesting.

I have a fascination with the various cycles of the Earth, especially those that relate to the fact that we live on a tilted sphere that is rotating whilst orbiting the Sun and simultaneously being orbited by the moon. It's such a great head game and amazing that the ancient Greeks had a much better understanding of it all than 99% of the present day population - despite all our advances in observation and graphical display.

So to start with I have this photo. It represents a composite of 36 shots taken from the same place at the same time, every 10 days for a year. The lights that make up the bowling ball are the Sun. the pattern is termed the analemma and is described in some detail here.

I got the image from here, where there is a more detailed description of how it was made. The original source is this guy in Russia, who obviously has a lot of spare time. Cheers to Lepard who sent me the original link

23 June 2010

Wednesday movie

Couple of funny takes on the BP oil spill
BP spills a cup of coffee in the board room is has done the rounds buts it pretty good

And this is slightly more esoteric but still pretty funny
The closing phrase
"You are not mad enough to not drive your car" is rather poigninat

19 June 2010

Gulf Oil spill – who is responsible?

Lots of blame being thrown about, most of it at BP, the american people blame BP, Anadarko blame BP, BP blame Transocean, Transocean blame Halliburton etc. Nobody wants to take responsibility so lets look at a few facts.

There seems to be little doubt that BP have, over the last 10 years cultivated a culture that puts profit ahead of safety. Numerous incidents such as the Alaska pipeline disaster and the Texas City refinery fire, pay short shift to Hayward’s claims that safety is paramount. To be clear, the casing design in the well, the lack of centering during the cement job which consequently failed and, not circulating the well for 24 hours prior to the cement job are all acts that put cost cutting ahead of safety. The only shame about all this is that John Brown is not around to pick up the shit that has resulted from the culture he created.

But while BP have clear responsibility, I don’t think they are the key guilty party. And I will try and explain why –

If you accept that we live in a capitalist society (of which America is the poster child) then BP’s only responsibility is to maximize share holder value. A pure capitalists would argue that the threat of having to pay the cost of the clean up would force companies to manage risk. In fact this is exactly what the Bush brigade argued for years. But the problem with that theory is the chance of major incident is so small that companies, who are competing against one another on a quarterly or yearly basis to increase their share price are happy to except the risk. It’s the same attitude as we have to many aspects of our life, where the consequence of an event such as a car crash is large (e.g. death) but the chance of occurrence is very low. We are happy to drive our cars, cross the road, climb a ladder etc.

So no company can be trusted to enforce safety regulation – it’s the job of organizations that are not motivated by profit and have a longer term perspective – Governments! To follow our analogy from above, most people would probably not but car insurance unless they were forced to. People simply believe that the chance of an accident is so small they will accept the risk. And just as government regulation works in the car insurance situation it demonstratibly works in the oil industry – Norway is the prime example of a country that has extremely strict environmental and safety regulation and while accidents could still happen, its far less likely, and while companies bitch and moan, they comply, because they have to. It’s that simple.

So who is to blame – in my opinion the blame lies firmly with the regularity authorities that failed to devise and enforce systems. But those regulators were just doing what they were told by the government. So we should go after that government, but even here Bush, Cheney et al were funded by, and openly campaigned on, a pro-oil company ticket. They invaded Iraq for that very reason. So you could argue that they are just doing what they were paid for. So then who do we blame? I would say that the ultimate blame lies at the feet of the people who voted for those governments.

Anyone who complains that $3 gallon is expensive for petrol while driving their 5 liter SUV, anyone who voted for Bush et al. and their ridiculous de-regulation of the oil industry has to be accountable when it all goes to shit. Not surprisingly they are the same people who are shouting loudest now.

18 June 2010

Friday Joke - IWC

This weeks Friday joke is the IWC - International Whaling Commission
This is the international body that is supposed to discuss, propose and then enforce rules for the management of whales in the global "resource" that is the oceans. Why is it a joke? Well firstly Norway realizes that it won't get it's own way and decides to opt out - kinda like me trying to explain to a police man who has stopped me for speeding that I have "opted out of that law because I don't agree that speeding is always dangerous "

Then the IWC allows the Japanese to murder up to 1000 whales a year for "science". As a scientist I can confirm that is utter bull shit. But not content with that the Japanese then set about recruiting and bribing very poor, often land locked countries to vote with them to overturn the ban. The bribery extends from aid packages (which may be a good thing) to providing hookers and cash handouts to the delegates - which is morally bankrupt at any level (see exposé in the Sunday times here)

There is a vote on this coming up at the meeting in Morocco in the very near future and I am, as usual, ashamed that the spineless wankers that make up the European Union will be abstaining, so as not to offend the Danes - pathetic

Any way in the light of all that, two "posters" from the excellent verydemotivational.com which pretty much sum it all up. Have a nice weekend

This week I have been mainly in places starting with the letter B...

...Bergen - Bradford - Barcelona

Flew to Leeds on Thursday evening to sort wedding stuff and attend the wedding of Katharine’s father who is marrying an Asian lady who is younger than his daughter, but who was categorically not a “Thai Bride”. Note to self, her name is Anita not “Tin-Tong”.

The wedding registration for us was more complicated than it should be, all sorts of crap about where you have to register, where you have to be, where you have to live etc. The people were helpful but this system is clearly a through-back to past days that is trying to cope with modern problems. Eventually we got it sorted.

Saturday was the wedding, which was fine. It was nice for Katharine to catch up with that side of her family. It’s a huge tribe and they all seemed friendly enough. The speeches were interesting, Anita’s farther was too sick to travel from Singapore so he entrusted the job to a 12 year old nephew. I was somewhat skeptical at first but he did an amazing job. Very funny and confident and just managing to stay on the right side of precocious. Katharine’s brother Rick was the best man and he did an excellent job of the unusual task of being best man to his own father. Especially since he was still trawling for ideas over dinner the night before.

The only down side to the day was that one of the guests got clamped for being 2 minutes over in the car park. When Richard gave him a lift to get cash and go and pay the fine a couple of thugs appeared and tried to clamp his van while he was waiting. He started to drive off and they threw the clamp under the wheel then claimed he had damaged it. Then they called the police who were worse than useless and just told him he had to pay 150 quid or face charges for criminal damage. Being a person of high principals he refused – watch this space.

It transpires that the owner of the car park is notorious, he has been on Watchdog (UK consumer affairs TV show) and has also been voted by the RAC has Britain’s worst clamper. The owner a Mr Evans has clamped a bus for disabled children, pensioners going for change, disabled people and even Betty Bothroyd. The man is an utter scumbag and worse he is apparently a JP, which probably explains why the police were not interested. He obviously makes his money from persecuting tourists, Haworth is the home of the Bronte Sisters, but I can not understand why the locals put up with him. It can’t be good for trade, if peoples memory of their village is being clamped for being parked with their car over the white line and then being intimidated by a couple of thugs. Why don’t they club together and do something about it? There are some fuckin horrible people in the world and the only way to deal with them is to stand up to them.

Next day we went for breakfast with some very nice people, just to get some balance. Katharine’s cousin Laura who had Pete and Caroline staying. Much hilarity and a damn fine breakie and then it was off to the airport to fly to Barcelona.

The flight from Amsterdam was delayed waiting for 52 people from China. When they finally arrived it was a riot. Screaming kids, people shouting at each other, barging into the other passengers – total lack of awareness of personal space. A guy sat behind me shouting into his mobile phone and the guy next to me, who stank, spent the whole flight clearing his throat loudly ever 2 minutes. Hideous. We finally arrived about midnight.

On arrival my bad mood immediately improved, When you arrive in Spain it has a very special smell that isn’t nice but isn’t unpleasant – its just Spain and it felt great to be back. Taxi to the hotel then up until 2am finishing talk for the next day. First day at conference went fine, talk well received. In the evening I went out for beers with an old Spanish friend and we wandered the old narrow streets by the main cathedral before sitting under an awning outside a bar watching it pour with rain. Good times.

Next day was more meetings and conference action. Spent the evening with Roy catching up, again no big drinks, just a pleasant relaxed evening. Then flew back to the big B on Wednesday. Busy times but great to be in Spain and great to catch up with folk.

It’s now almost mid summer and the weather in Bergen is shitte, as it always is at this time of year.

16 June 2010

Meanwhile in Patagonia

We are in the Patagonian Andes, on a long dirt road somewhere between Mendoza and Neuquen. We are in an old ford F100 pick up – it is shit! Large, unwieldy, under-powered and uncomfortable. We bounce and slide our way along endless, mainly deserted, dirt roads. The countryside is open, empty and the few spiky bushes are covered in layers of dust. Periodically we see flocks of scraggley sheep and goats which are tended by gnarly, weather beaten gauchos sat on the back of equally undernourished horses. The only other traffic on the road is the occasional truck. These trucks are a miracle of bush mechanics and improvisation. At night they drive with no lights because their frugal owner-operators fear that using the battery increases fuel consumption. Driving a truck in Argentina is a different job to being a trucker in Europe or North America.

So we drive for weeks, chasing ancient shallow marine sediments, from a time when the Andes were lower and formed a chain of island volcanoes rather than a mountain range, when the Pacific Ocean flooded the continental interior. We started our quest in Chile, crossed the high Andes in to Argentina near Aconcagua and dropped down to the foothills and Mendoza where we worked for a week before heading south.

My companion for this geo-traverse is a large Irish man called Steve. Steve is a PhD student and after we finish this drive he will be in the area on his own collecting data for his thesis. Steve is an exuberant and jolly character with a high opinion of his own ability and worth. Before we travelled to Chile I suggest that learning a bit of Spanish may be a good grounding for 2 months in South America. His reply had come with characteristic over confidence; “I’ve been all over Europe and I never needed another language, for sure everybody understands me!”

So we spent several weeks in Chile where he depended upon me to order food, arrange the car hire, book into hotels etc. Gradually the reality that he would soon be on his own in Argentina, and that few if any people spoke any English, started to dawn on him. So eventually on this long monotonous drive, practicality overcame pride and he relented and asked me to teach him some key phases.

So with nothing else to do, I started.
“Queiro….” I want; “Donda es… where is” etc etc. Graduating to words and phrases for food and lodging.
“When you get to a gas station just say ‘llano’, pronouced YeaNo, that means full. Don’t worry about any of the aceiete or agua or any of that, just llano”

Several hours later we are getting low on petrol and we come across a wooden shack with a faded shell sign. There is no sign of pumps but they are a luxury not a necessity out here. As we pull in I suggest that Steve does the business, I’ll keep quite.

He is excited about this and I can almost hear his brain working overtime as he eagerly prepares himself. It takes an age for the extremely small, wizened old man to cover the ground between his shack and the car. Steve is too excited and bounds over to him, fully of puppy-like enthusiasm mixed with pent up energy from too long sat in the car.

He towers above the Argentinean, points at the petrol tank and shouts “Pollo” The man looks confused and rightly so. Without realizing that he has inadvertently requested ‘a Chicken’, Steve repeats the error with more frantic pointing. Pollo Pollo! The old man looks scared.

At this point I feel a need to help the situation, however I am laughing so much that as I try and climb out of the car I fall over. Now the poor guys, who has probably not seen another soul for weeks, has to deal with two huge Gringos, one enthusiastically asking for a chicken in his petrol tank and the other rolling around on the floor hysterical laughing.

We eventually control the situation and established that we want petrol not chickens and it takes almost an hour to dispense and fill the car with a hand pump from a series of large drums. We help with the pumping while our new friend eyes us suspiciously.

It’s just another day in the field…

Common gull - live movie

Not exactly a movie this week but a webcam...
This webcam is on top of the Realfag (Science) building at the University and shows a nest of common gull chicks.
It's rather endearing. Browse through the "commented images" to see the highlights

09 June 2010

Adventures with lego

It's amazing how much fun you can have with lego. The first movie is a guy who gets a double A in geekiness by building a printer from scratch out of lego. I love the way he has the little figures riding on it.

On a musical note there are literally dozens of options, I reviewed Thriller, Grease and some Ramstein before settling on this rather excellent version of Bohemian Rhapsody

And finally this week, no post on lego stop go animation would be complete without some Eddie Izzard. We have had the Death Star Canteen before but here is a remake and here is the late night petrol station. You gotta love the tray dance.

08 June 2010

The End of the Oil Industry

I would like to make a wild and radical prediction. You may think it's off the wall or alarmist or whatever, but I am going to do it anyway.

I predict that the current BP disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico is the beginning of the end for the oil industry. I told you it was off beat, so let me qualify it a bit...

Firstly I think its only the beginning of the end and I think that the beast we know and love will take a long time to die. And when I say a long time, I am talking 20+ years. This is a conservative industry and nothing happens fast. It's also so deeply woven in to the very fabric of our society that it will take a long time to unravel. However I maintain that in 50 years time, when we look back and see the BP event as the tipping point that started the demise.

What we in Britain or Norway think is largely irrelevant. It's what happens in the US that really effects World strategy and our colonial cousins are in a bit of a bind. For 100 years they have been wed to cheap fuel, many of the cities in the south and west were actually designed for the car, huge freeways and drive-thru everything from banks to liquor stores. The car is king. In Houston I-10 is 18 lanes wide and a 5 litre Ford Explorer is a small SUV. Away from the car, in the houses and offices the Air Con is racked up to the max so that you need a jumper indoors even when it is 40 degrees outside. But all is not well in paradise.

There is a lot of oil in America, or at least there was. Most of it has been squandered. A myriad of small operators have taken the easy pickings and buggered up the rest. What has been extracted was sold off so ridiculously cheaply that its all gone. But the country is thirsty and they currently have two options. Go further and further offshore, into the ultra deep water or get it from the Middle East.

The oil industry has risen to the offshore challenge. It takes a bit of effort to imagine steering a 6 inch wide steel pipe 6 km into the earth when the pressure is around 3000 psi. Just think about 3000 psi, that is 100 times the pressure in your cat tyre. Just think about 6 km of drill pipe turning and being steered to hit a target that may be as little as 20 m thick. Take a stack of drinking straws, stick them all together in a long line and then try and poke it through the key hole on the other side of the room, with your eyes shut. So yes the industry has done amazing things but when short term savings to generate more shareholder profit are put ahead of safety and the government monumentally fails in its duty to regulate. Then accidents will happen. So you ban drilling in the ultra deep water. Now where is the oil going to come from?

Well you can go the Middle East and you either buy it off a bunch of radical nutcases who still stone women to death and in doing so fund the very terrorists who hate you, but that's not really very bright. Another alternative, rather than buying it, is to invade a few countries in the region and embark on a ridiculously unwinnable war. This morally bankrupt approach is even less likely to succeed and to add insult to injury, the locals will kill more of the poor white sons of middle America than the terrorists ever did. But it will be OK because Dick Cheney will make money whatever.

So where else do you go? Well you can drill in the arctic, but if you think the current disaster is bad, you ain't seen nothing. In the warm waters of the Gulf the bugs and microbes will eat all the oil, so that in a couple of years it will all be gone - in the cold waters of the arctic any spill will be there for thousands of years! Bad idea, don't go there what ever the pig in lipstick says.

So back onshore, Canada is pretty much made of tar sands, but that is also a disaster. The mid west is made of shale full of gas, which with a zillion wells and an increase in gas infrastructure could actually be a short term solution, but its not a practical long term answer. No more than monstrous windmills all over the landscape or tidal barrages destroying coastal habitates.

So you need to cut back and you need to find an alternative source of energy. I boldly predict that America is about to face up to its fate and realise that Hummers and 5 liter Chevies and Fords are not actually necessary and when gas gets to 10 bucks a gallon (as it is in Europe) they will quickly disappear. I think that using what is there more wisely is a good starting point, but its not the final answer.

My final bold prediction is "biofuels". Not the scandalous use of corn to make ethanol for cars when it should be feeding people, that's just madness. No I am talking about algal biofuels. Algae that need energy water and CO2 to produce diesel that you can put straight into a car. Huge tracks of the US is covered with desert with lots of sun, the sun equals energy and its free. Even the land is useless - cover Nevada and nobody will even notice. Elsewhere Iceland is full of geothermal energy, which when it is not spewing ash across Europe could also be used as an energy input. And the beauty of algal biodiesal is that the infra structure already exists, to move it around, distribute it and even use it. I don't even need to buy a new car.

So I think that is the future and I think the events in the Gulf will make America sit up and realise that in a choice between funding a bunch of barbaric nomads or crapping in their own back yard, there is actually a third choice. That third choice will mark the end of the oil industry as we know it.

05 June 2010

Utah 2010

I was involved with convening a conference in Stavanger in the last few days before I left for Utah. Flew out on the Friday and the student field course started on the Saturday. The field course went very well, nice bunch of students who all worked really hard. The weather was a bit mixed but everything went to plan with no real incidents other than a lad jumping off a sandy dune and twisting his ankle in Goblin Valley. Bless him, what a Muppet!

Les arrived on the last evening of the fieldtrip and I dragged him out for food and beers with the trip. He did an excellent job of ignoring his jet lag and we ended up in a bar with some very drunk students singing loudly and badlylike all good Norwegians do. Fortunately the locals took it in the manner which it was intended and a good night was had by all.

Next morning we dispatched the students and met up with Andy and the rest of the Fry clan who were laying a floor in Owen's house. Always great to see them and plans were made for the next ten days. We picked up Katharine in the afternoon and drove to Green River were we stopped the night.

Next morning we headed from the desert decay and squalor of Green River to Moab. We spent the morning hiking around Arches and in the afternoon headed into Canyonlands via the Potash entrance, drove passed the ponds and onto the White Rim trail. Headed out to Mussleman Arch where we met a Ranger on a bike who was almost out of water. She was camping alone and seemed very sweet although we later found out she had ticketed some people for breaking the speed limit of 20mph so I almost wished I hadn’t given her the water. Oh the power that comes with a uniform and a bicycle…

Anyway from Mussleman we headed back along the White Rim and up the ever impressive Shaffer Trail to Dead Horse Point and watched the sunset. Then back to Moab and a nice camping spot by the Colorado. All in all not a bad first day!

Lots of jumping in Arches Park

Next day we picked up some bikes from Poison Spider. We had no way to transport bikes so we were a bit restricted with what we could do. Having done the slick rock trail about a zillion times me headed to Amasa Back. The trail starts with a 10 km ride out of town along the road. Then the route proper kicks off with a short, very steep descent followed by a long, very steep climb. This is also a jeep trail and its graded 4+, I can see why, it has some huge rock steps and some nasty sections.

The ascent was ok, I probably walked about 50% of it, Les more and Katharine less. We got burnt off by an old woman who glided past us. I had to look twice to check she was on a bike and not a broom stick. Fairly inspirational. Once we got to the top the views were stunning and the descent was awesome, made the whole thing well worth while, even the fairly grim ride, into the wind back to town.

Next day Les was on bike strike so we rented a jeep and went to do “fins and things”. Slick rock driving at its best. I let Les drive the whole thing and he loved it. The inclinometer on my iphone was reading 41 degrees at one point. That feels way steeper than it sounds and is about the point that the wheels stop gripping and start sliding. Love it. Katharine followed and periodically passed us on a bike and we escaped just as a huge storm came in. Not sure I would have wanted to be out there when the slick rock was soaking wet. That would add a whole new dimension.

It feels a lot steeper than it looks

Next day I did a day in the field with Tore, while Les and Katharine went to Goblin valley. Then we met up in the evening and drove to Spanish Fork to meet Andy. We hooked up with Andy and his buddy Mike and then drove to Zion, very fast! Mike was driving a 3l Lexus and I was trying to keep up. I don’t think we dropped below 90mph pretty much the whole way but we made good time. All the campsites were full so we camped in what felt like a refuge camp by the river, just outside the park but it was late and we didn’t care.

Next morning we headed in early, picked up a camp spot and then got permits for a couple of canyons (Keyhole and Pine Creek). I was desperate to do Kolobe but many of the canyons were closed off because of the freaky weather this year. I have been waiting to do it for over 10 years since we failed to find the entrance, last time I was there in 1997. The Rangers said everything was super cold and recommended wetsuits. The people in the rental shop recommend Dry suits! It was interesting to see how regulated and restricted everything had become since we where there last time, when you just turned up, chose your canyon and did it without telling anyone. Now you need permits, special parking forms etc etc.

Keyhole was short but a great introduction to what was to come. Very narrow slots, a few swims and some abs (rappels). Everyone loved it and I got some pretty good pics with the water proof camera. After lunch we dropped into Pine Creek. I had done this with Andy last time we were there and his brother had got hypothermia. Full on very serious hypothermia and that was on a mid summer day when the air temp outside the canyon was in the high 30s (C). It was a lot colder today but the wet suits did the trick. I had totally forgotten what a fantastic trip it was. Amazing slots and some really cool abs. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and we got lots of good photos. It was cold but a dry suit would have been way over the top. We emerged about 3 hours after we went in, hiked down to the car and headed back to camp.

Next day we did Spry Canyon which involved a fairly long hike up to the drop in. It was well worth it. A technical canyon with a lot of down climbing and 12 abs. It took about 7 hours and had some very spectacular scenery. The hike back to the car was a bit grim but all in all it was an excellent day.

Next day Mike and Andy went climbing and we hiked up Angles Landing. Its the most famous walk in the park and I had heard it was well worth doing so we set off. Most of the climb is on a very broad concrete path with steps. Even at this point we went passed some people who looked like they were out of their depth. The climb is fairly steep but once you reach the plateau things suddenly get very mad. The path gives way to a ridge which is, at its narrowest about 4 m wide with 300 m drops on either side. The terrain is rough and there is chains bolted to the rock to hold on to. Its sounds fairly extreme and for a regular tourist path it is. To add to that there are literally hundreds of people, some relaxed, many freaking out and crying while others, clamber past them. Its all surreal but well worth the effort to get to the top. That is a hike I will definitely remember I am absolutly amazed they let joe public up there.

From Zion we drove back to Green River and spent the night at my old haunt of the Robbers Roost, which had been significantly improved since I used to stay there in the early 90s and pay 70 bucks per week! Even that was too expensive. Anyway we opted for Green River as Moab was fully booked!

Next morning it was up early and down to Moab to pick up a raft for stage 3 of the desert adventure. We got the raft, loaded it and al load of supplies on to a trailer and then got shuttled, down a very hairy track to Mineral Bottom on the Green River. The start of Still Water Canyon. Still Water, as the name suggests lacks rapids, this absence is made up for by two things, the amazing scenery as you drift through Canyonlands and the fact that you don’t need to go with a commercial outfit or wait 5 years for a permit.

Google Earth view looking north of Canyonlands and the Confluence of the Green (left) and Colorado (right) rivers. We put in at Mineral Bottom on the Green River (top left) and cruised down the Green River to the Confluence, then got picked up by jet boat and taken back up the Colorado to Moab (top right).

We got dropped off and floated down the river for 4 days. On the first there was really strong upstream winds and we gave up for the day when we were being blown up stream. The second day was a very long one because we were worried that after only making 9 miles on day 1 we might not actually get to the end in time for our pick up. The weather warmed up on day 3 and the wind dropped off and we made excellent time. We were picked up at lunch time by a jet boat just below the confluence of the Green and Colorado on day 4. It was a great few days, even if the weather was shitty on the first two. Drifting down the river, no one else around. Hiking to old cabins and Indian granaries, camping in some amazing spots and just spending time with Les and Katharine. I managed to fall in on day 2 while we were looking for a camp and on day 3 Les jumped out of the boat to land us but lost the rope. The boat was whisked down stream in the current and the dawning horror on his face has he realized he needed to swim before he got left behind was pretty comical. It was a good trip.

We got back to Moab in the evening, unloaded the boat, emptied the Grover (ammo can that you use as a toilet) and then drove to Salt Lake arriving about midnight. Next morning Les left about 10 am and Katharine left after lunch. I then drove back to Green River for two days of fieldwork with Andreas.

The first of those involved a very long walk up onto Battleship Butte and once again the weather was really windy and cold. Next day we drove up to Nine Mile Canyon and logged a long section and then I drove back to Salt Lake City and flew out the next morning. By this stage my ankle (the one I broke a few years ago) was the size of a football!

Back in Norway the weather was sunny and the fat cat was pleased to see me. It was great to be able to show Les and Katharine all the great things I love about Utah and also good to actually have a bit if time to actually play – kinda like the old days. The weather this year was bizarre, constant cycles of very windy weather with or without big thunder storms for a day or two, followed by very cold and clear conditions for a few days, then a day or to of more normal hot weather and the whole things starts over again. Still it didn’t spoil or fun at all and we had a top time. I love Utah!

Lots more photos on my flickr site

Virtual tumbleweed

Things have been a bit quite for the last month, tumble weed has bouncing through the part of the blogosphere that is karmasotra. But do not despair, because I am back, to bother you, you just logged in to find me here, with that look upon my face, you should have changed that URL or made me leave the key...

Sorry - getting all musical. I have in Utah for three weeks and then the last week, since I have been back in Norway has been horribly busy. Lots of stuff has happened since I've gone. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a huge issue, it has so many different implications and ramifications that I would like to write some stuff about. On a lighter note, I had an excellent holiday with Katharine and my Bro, they got to sample the full Utah experience with some hiking, biking, jeeping, canyoneering, sight seeing and rafting. Will try and write a summary of the best bits of that but in the meantime I put a selection of photos here on flickr. If you are going to look at them I strongly urge using the slide show mode, the thumbnails never do them justice.

Also ran a field course and did a few days of field work. It’s always great to be in Utah.

Other things I have been thinking about writing about include some more stories from the past, a weekly or monthly description of some of the awesome places that I have been to do fieldwork over the years and the usual jokes and rants.

Karmasotra passed 20,000 hits while I was away which I guess is a bit of a milestone although I still have very little idea who actually reads it as there are rarely any comments. Anyway if you do, I hope you enjoy it and keep coming back.

04 June 2010

Friday Joke is back...

and of course topical and irreverent...
"The BP president said yesterday that the company would survive. That's like someone running over your dog and saying, 'Don't worry, my car is fine.'" —Jimmy Fallon

"BP wants Twitter to shut down a fake BP account that is mocking the oil company. In response, Twitter wants BP to shut down the oil leak that's ruining the ocean." —Jimmy Fallon

"A new poll found that 25 percent of Americans think BP is doing a good job at handling the BP oil spill. Of course, the same poll found that 25 percent of Americans hate pelicans." –Jimmy Fallon

"In a new interview, BP's CEO said that the Gulf Coast oil spill is relatively tiny compared to the 'very big ocean.' That's like telling someone who's just been shot not to worry about the bullet because they're really, really fat." –Jimmy Fallon

"Scientists say they have developed a car that can run on water. The only catch is, the water has to come from the Gulf of Mexico." -Jay Leno
"What they're going to do is they're going to suck all of that oil that's leaking into the gulf and pump it up into a tanker. Now the bad news is the tanker is the Exxon Valdez." –David Letterman

"This oil spill in the Gulf is affecting everybody. In fact, when I went to lunch this weekend and ordered the sea bass, they asked if I wanted it regular or unleaded." —David Letterman

"Dick Cheney's pals at Halliburton ... say they're going to do the underwater cement job to plug the hole. I thought, wait a minute, this is a mistake. Underwater cement? You call the mafia. Am I right?" —David Letterman

"The oil company said it was the rig company's fault. The rig company said it was Halliburton. And somehow, each time they passed the blame, Goldman Sachs made a hundred million dollars." —Bill Maher

"You folks been following the big British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I'm telling you, British Petroleum has put more birds in oil than Colonel Sanders." —David Letterman

"On Monday, British Petroleum promised to pay all necessary cleanup costs for this oil spill. And they said they will do it, no matter how much they have to raise gas prices." —Jay Leno

"They say the oil spill has the potential to kill more wildlife than a Sarah Palin hunting trip." —David Letterman"This is the worst thing to happen to beaches since the Speedo." —Bill Maher, on the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico

"By the way, Sarah Palin, if you're watching, how is that offshore drilling working out for ya?" —David Letterman