October 31, 2007


I set up a Flickr account and uploaded photos from the trip to Japan and of our son's 4th birthday here at home. Please enjoy.

October 19, 2007

Yokohama pictures

I see a lot of energy saving devices like these rooftop water heaters. There are also a lot of people who dry their laundry outside on the line, like you're sposed to.

Vending machines selling drinks are ubiquitous. They have bottled green tea, coffee, espresso and soft drinks.

The Colonel also sells fried chicken skin.

October 18, 2007

Hello from Yokohama

I am visiting Yokohama to talk science with some colleagues. Japan is a wonderful place. I went for a walk this morning and found some garden plots by a river. The gardens were full of amazingly healthy vegetables, potatos, carrots, cabbage, fruits, all growing in carefully tended dry sandy soil. It feels strange to walk the streets and ride the subway, and not only not to understand a word of what is around me but also to be the only non-Asian. During the walk I saw a blueberry bush growing in a small planting bed in front of a house. Same variety as we have at home but not as healthy. It had a few small berries and the leaves had turned red, even though none of the other plants here have turned.

I taught a course for a day and a half (starting 3 hours after my plane landed), and then gave a 2-hour seminar for the institute. There was a live video link to a conference room at another campus so people there could listen and ask questions. After the seminar my host and I went out for dinner and ate many Japanese delicacies including barbequed chicken gizzard, chicken skin kebab, fried battered gristle and lotus root with burdock. It was all quite delicious.

October 13, 2007

Milk carton video

I decided to try out the 'upload video' feature of blogger with a demonstration of how to fold a milk carton.

Recycling takes me back to my youth when some Saturdays the merry Scouts of Troop 246 would man the Owatonna Recycling Center to earn money for summer camp. We would pack semi trailers with newspaper, cans, aluminum and barrels of crushed glass, clear and colored. There was no shortage of fun: building a fort in the paper trailer on a slow afternoon and having a newspaper fight, running the can crusher or God help us the homemade motorized glass smasher, climbing the piles of gravel the county kept nearby, walking over to the golden arches for lunch. You can learn a lot by sorting through with what people throw out.

October 07, 2007

Fall pics

Here are the ripe hops umbels hanging from the grape arbor. I picked one and chewed on it while doing work around the yard and yep, tasted just like a good bitter pilsner, with lots of high notes that might not make it through the distilling process.

The blueberry bush has burst into flame.

The grapes ripened-- this variety is called 'Nero'. They taste pretty good too, except for the seeds.

This picture isn't related to the garden. I have spent a lifetime reading milk cartons and last week the milk carton had directions on how it could be folded to ease disposal/recycling. It takes about 10 seconds to make this cute package, once you know the trick.

Lund University

I went downtown Saturday to pick up our son after a scout to-do. The scouts were set up on the lawn behind the cathedral, built in 1103. It was a fine sunny day. A group of University students came marching by. They were not protesting anything but simply enjoying the day and advertising a humorous/satirical play that they had put together. Here are some pictures.

My policy is to do anything that a blond woman with viking horns asks.

I liked the AV nave.

The event culminated with the placing of a laurel wreath around the neck of one of the sphynxes atop the central administration building.

October 03, 2007


I was writing a section of a book about groundwater chemistry and we made a diagram of a watershed including an aquifer, and aquitard, an artesian well and a landfill leaking a plume of contamination. There was a hill on the left of a figure and a river on the right and the groundwater flowed towards the river. My coauthor labeled the hill 'watershed' and I said no, a watershed is a geographical region draining into a single body of water like a river or lake. He disagreed, citing a similar Danish word, and said that a watershed is the line where water could flow in either direction. No I said, that is called a divide, like the Great Divide or the Continental Divide. So I looked it up in Wiktionary and it turns out we are both right. The English word 'watershed' is taken from the German word wasserscheide which means 'water divide'. In Europe that is the meaning, the watershed is the boundary dividing two adjacent catchment basins. In the US it is the region of land draining into a body of water. I never would have guessed that there would be a major linguistic divide over such a pedestrian word. I wonder what the Canadians mean by watershed?

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