Sunday, June 24, 2007

More on last winter, if you can call it that...

From New Scientist:

"Last autumn-winter season was Europe's warmest for more than 700 years, researchers say.

The last time Europeans saw similar temperatures to the autumn and winter of 2006-07, they were eating strawberries at Christmas in 1289, according to Jürg Luterbacher at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Doug and Regina Worsnop celebrating his Inauguration Lecture

Gift from Mary

I received a package from Mary Golden, my Editorial Assistant for Monthly Weather Review. Among other things, it contained the following item. I love it!


This week is the Finnish Midsummer Festival, which occurs during the time of the Summer Solstice (longest day of the year). Both Friday and Saturday are holidays with many stores closed. For many, this is the official start of summer, as people begin heading to their summer cottages and the city is run by temporary student employees. FMI has seen the arrival of several young students to help run the office and help make weather forecasts. (A subject of a future post to this blog.)

Don't underestimate the cottage culture. Finland is a country of 5 million people and 500,000 summer cottages, one for every 10 people. Much official business comes to a standstill during late June and July.

There are numerous and big parties during Juhannus. From Roman Schatz's book From Finland with Love:

Alcohol also helps regulate the population and create fluctuation. Midsummer is a good example: Hundreds of men fall into a lake or the sea while pissing and drown with open zippers. This loss is compensated for by the fact that on the very same night hundreds of Finnish women get pregnant without ever recalling the event...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Approaching the longest day

As we approach the longest day of the year, here is the sun information today in Helsinki.

Sunrise 3:55.
Sunset 22:49.
Length of day 18 h 54 min.

In reality, the sky is light for most of the "night."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Back in the USA

I will be in Park City, Utah, for the Weather Analysis and Forecasting and Numerical Weather Prediction Conferences next week, then on vacation in Oklahoma and the USA through late July. Internet access may be limited, so be patient if there is no update.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finnish tapas = Sapas

In search of a new restaurant, Yvette and I came across Ravintola juuri, Korkeavuorenkatu 27. Here is's entry for Juuri. One of the specialties that makes Juuri unique are the Finnish tapas or sapas, small Finnish appetizers whose "roots lie in hand-made cooking and Finnish food traditions."

We liked the "smoked Finnish original cow with gooseberry jam" and "fresh sausages and vodka mustard".

Very unique place. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jolly Old Orwellian England

Antisocial behavior is the buzzword in England these days. I never heard a definition of what antisocial behavior was during my ten days there. Cameras (CCTV) are everywhere observing people looking for such antisocial behavior. Opinions have been mixed about these omnipresent cameras. Some say that crime needs to be captured on video and prosecuted. One Letter to the Editor in a Manchester newspaper described an event where the woman had her new bicycle stolen from the train station. She could describe the exact time and location, but the authorities refused to replay the video from the cameras. Manchester is going so far as to have the camera operators being able to talk back to the people on the street.

On my run in Reading, I followed the Thames Trail along the river to the outskirts of Reading. I soon found myself following a well-maintained and well-worn trail through high grass fields and small woods. An occasional longboat would cruise up the river, scaring Canada geese and white swans away. Amid this placidity, a familiar yellow sign appeared indicating that CCTVs were installed in the area. Amazing, really.

On the TV, they were talking about starting a new bank holiday to celebrate Britain. They used the analogy that they wanted something like Australia Day. I wonder why they didn't choose the analogy to the Fourth of July in the US. ;-) Part of the proposal would also be a way to get immigrants citizenship. The person talking about the proposal sounded eerily racist and excessively nationalistic, but I couldn't tell if that was the perception they were trying to convey or not. Perhaps some Brits would like to weigh in?

St. Petrock's

Some things never change...

Sign at the Royal Observatory

Sights and Sounds of Londontown

Yvette joined me in London for the weekend. We had a nice bed and breakfast run by Jane, an American who has lived in England for 30 years.

Saturday Yvette and I walked around London, eating fish and chips and sausage sandwich. We got tickets for the musical We Will Rock You, a story about the time in 2300 A.D. when musical instruments were banned. A pair of young rebels must save the era from the electronic crapola provided by the Globalsoft Corporation. The key lies in getting Brian May's guitar buried in stone. The powerful chords of Queen awaken the people and save the world from the evil Killer Queen. It was a fun show with the crowd getting into the songs.

Sunday we took a ferry along the Thames to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich where the Prime Meridian is. The accompanying picture is us at the Prime Meridian. They had displays on time keeping and the Longitude Problem (the issue of sailors not knowing with precision what longitude they were at). The town was like a cute New England coastal town (except I guess this was closer to the original).

Sunday night we found a concert in the Jazz Cafe by Chris Difford, one half of the partnership in the band Squeeze. The band rocked, especially the pedal steel guitar player, with Difford bringing a country flavor to many of the Squeeze songs.

Whistlestop Tour of England

Several months ago, I was invited by colleague Conny Schweirz to visit Leeds University in Leeds, England, where she teaches. Coupled with a workshop entitled Meteorology Meets Social Science: Risk, Forecast and Decision at the UK Met Office, I compiled a travel itinerary around these two events.

I visited the University of Manchester, generously hosted by Prof. Geraint Vaughan. I gave our mammatus talk there, which was well received since the audience had many cloud microphysics people there. Then at Leeds, I gave a seminar about my frontal work and Fred Sanders' legacy. In the afternoon, we had a roundtable session with students, but given the nice day, we had it outside in the grass next to the cemetary. I've never had such a wonderful scientific exchange!

On Monday, I visited ECMWF, which has the world's best global forecast model. What a tightly run ship. I was especially amazed at their maproom and the operational duties that some reseachers had to maintain the veracity of the data going in (or not going in, as the case may be) the model. I got quite a few good ideas from my interactions there. I thank my host Martin Miller. After a morning of relaxing in Reading, including a nice run through ruins of the Reading Abbey from the 1200s and along the Thames River, some CD shopping, I was on the train to Exeter for the workshop.

Prices in England are ridiculous. A pound is about two US dollars, yet the prices of things are the same in numerical value. (See my previous entry on the prices in Finland being about the same numerically as in US dollars.) One example was finding Ben & Jerry's ice cream store (Vermont) in Leicester Square. (Another Clash of Cultures! Actually, I found a video store in Helsinki that carried pints of Ben & Jerry's for 5.80 euro.) Having some flavors I've never had before, we had a scoop for 1.80 pounds.

The standard (nonreservation) price at the Novotel hotel I stayed at in Reading was 180 pounds, with 14 poounds for breakfast. The convenience of being located near the train station was outweighed by the excessive price. No free internet, only ten channels on TV. There was a swiming pool, but that was about it for free amenities. While many hotels are going to great lengths to provide amenities for their customers, Novotel seems to charge for everything. Avoid this chain if you can.

Overheard at a conference

Speaker, to the audience: "How many people know about knowledge management?"

One person in the audience raises a hand.

Speaker: "I have a problem."

Me, thinking to myself: "I guess he didn't manage the knowledge well enough."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Recycling in Helsinki

In Helsinki, you separate out your food waste from your other kinds of waste, and are recycled at your home. Paper and cardboard (including milk cartons) are both collected in bins at each apartment. Clear and green glass and metal cans are recycled at public collection points. Most brown glass, soda bottles (which are hard plastic and reusable), and aluminum cans are returned at the store for deposit. 1.5-liter bottles go for 40 euro cents; 20 oz (250 ml) soda bottles are 20 euro cents. Aluminum cans are 15 euro cents.

One thing that isn't recycled as far as I know is plastic containers. These and the juice containers that are not recyclable (mixed carton and plastic) comprise most of my trash, which seems to be much more than I would generate in Oklahoma.

Finnish Ingenuity - Part 1

The Finns are very proud of their designs. Simplicity and functionality characterize their structures. They even have a Design District of the city, where you can go shopping. The furniture and kitchenware I have seen best characterizes this.

One example was seen at the reception for Doug Worsnop's professorship appointment. Here, Regina, Doug's wife, displays a glass holder for cocktail parties. The attachement to the dish holds wine, champagne, or water glasses with necks. How convenient! Now you can shake someone's hand at the reception without compromising your drink or your plate.

Doug Worsnop Appointed Finnish Distinguished Professor

This afternoon, we had the pleasure of seeing the appointment of Prof. Douglas Worsnop as Distinguished Professor at the University of Helsinki. As part of the ceremony, Doug gave a new lecture entitled, "Aerosols in the Atmosphere: From the Ozone Hole to Climate Change." The lecture covered his career from the role of atmospheric chemistry in acid rain, Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the ozone hole, and global climate change. Looking forward, Doug gave a nod to the meteorology programs at FMI and the university and the role of aerosols in precipitation formation.

Here is Doug receiving his appointment letter (in Finnish) from the Chancellor.