The Bank of Ireland

Today is Saturday and I have an almost un-interrupted day of pleasure. First I go to look for kingfishers with my new lens.

Manual focus is the new black

Manual focus is the new black

Tittle tattle

Tittle tattle

I then spend the morning sanding, cleaning and generally pampering the new boat, whose name cannot be spoken.

Voldemort

Voldemort

There is nothing better than messing around with boats.

I go to the university and spy Pintails on the lake.

I like it that they come to our lake.

I like it that they come to our lake.

On the way home, I see a beautiful Egret kinda wandering around.

Great Whiite Hope, y'all.

Great White Hope, y’all.

Whilst watching the Egret another Egret slip, slides in.

Yay, Pacific Rim Egret.

Yay, Pacific Rim Egret.

I rush back to the car. I’m late. I have to go to a dinner. Suddenly about 10 meters from me a Peregrine Falcon explodes from the growth. This is a rare, rare bird on Okinawa. Even with my manually focus lens, I get it.

How to explain the importance of this?

How to explain the importance of this?

I live in a sub-culture of seeing.

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My Old Man Said Follow the Van

Following the theft of my D90 and 80-400 lens in California I am bereft.

I must buy camera and bird lens now. Ebay gets me an immaculate D300 and a Tokina 300 2.8 for next to nothing. New camera equipment is a really bad investment. As the big companies bring out new models, the nec plus ultra of 5 years ago is only worth $200. This suits me fine as I really do not need the features that the most recent cameras vaunt.

Serious lens for  very little money.

Serious lens for very little money.

My new lens arrives minutes after the boat. Like a spoilt child I do not know which of my new toys I should play with first. I mount the lens and to my distress I find I have bought a lens that lacks two important letters, AF. My new lens only focusses manually.  No wonder it was so cheap.

Anyway today I take it out to see if I can use it to any effect.

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Windswept White Wagtail

Windswept White Wagtail. Click on these photos to get Hi res.

Greenshanks. Edward I was known as Longshanks.

Greenshanks. Edward I was known as Longshanks.

Mr Kentish Plover

Mr Kentish Plover

DSC_0746

Mrs Kentish Plover But I dillied and dallied, Dallied and dillied; Lost me way and don’t know where to roam. And you can’t trust a “Special” Like the old-time copper When you can’t find your way home.

 

I think I will keep this lens.

Weighs a ton

Weighs a ton

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Italians

I have been weak with excitement throughout the day. Today my new, old boat arrives. Actually I do not think I have told you about my new, old boat. She is a Scaffie, which sounds like a skin disease. http://www.honnormarine.co.uk/Scaffie/Scaffie.htm

She comes from the UK but has been lying around in a back yard on the mainland for some years. She is in need of care. I am good at this.

She comes on a truck

She comes on a truck

Previously owned by Italians

Previously owned by Italians

Of course there is no crane or anything to get the boat off the truck. I rally a lot of middle-aged muscle from the university and we manhandle her down onto the trailer that previously bore Dileas.

Middle aged muscle

Middle aged muscle

We had no plan, no leadership but it worked.

Safe on the trailer

Safe on the trailer

Thanks

Thanks

I can now redouble my efforts to invade North Korea. The boat looks wonderful and clearly has quality build. Lots of brass and good wood. Whilst in California I purchased gallons of Teak Oil and Spar Varnish. I will now embark on a makeover program for er, um, what shall I call her? Probably Dileas.

Damsel in distress

Damsel in distress

What larks Pip!  So many adventures ahead.

Wheee!

Wheee!

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Deification

I have been mulling over the car crash I had in California. I remember well the hurtle towards certain death. I remember the shock of impact and the unearthly silver dust that filled the car. I then remember nothing until I find myself scrambling around in the undergrowth trying to make it back to the road. How I got out of the car, which was severely tilted both on the X and Y axes, I do not know.

All the damage was on the driver's side.

All the damage was on the driver’s side.

I do not have a scratch nor bruise. Nothing even from desperate climb through thorn and shattered trees. Since the accident I generally feel much better. My knee seems to be improving and my leg is much less swollen. I am also aware of a silver dust like aura that surrounds my body.

I feel a lot like this

I feel a lot like this

There can only be one interpretation. I died in the accident and am reincarnated as a God.

I somehow always felt this would happen.

I better put this on my CV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJvVEt6F_Xw

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Valley Inn

I do not like staying in conference hotels. Especially in the US where they tend to be soulless Hiltons and Marriots attached to the conference facility. Worse still, if the conference is in San Jose, which is a car city, because even if you leave the huge conference center, Hilton/Marriot conglomerate, you are confronted by a six lane boulevard and a feeling of hopelessness.

I search for a cheap motel on El Camino and find one, The Valley Inn, perfectly attuned to what I wish from a San Ho hotel experience. Here are some Yelp reviews:

“Worst hotel I’ve ever stayed inn. Very crusty old and not maintained.”

“This place by far was the worst place iv stayed.. Over priced no chair tv doesn’t work.”

“Simply the worst hotel I’ve ever booked. Customer service was beyond non existent & the “Owner”/”Manager”/”Everything” as he called himself on the phone was an idiot at best.”

“I have to say that if there were laws about truth in advertising these people would be in jail.”

It was very scary. All night people were trying to open my door. The doors do not close…

I love old style motels and the Valley Inn is perfect for me, it is cheap, has personality, has louche people hanging around, women who,after dark, say “What you got for me honey?”

Before the sun goes down

Before the sun goes down

My key

My key

my plug-hole

my plug-hole

Best room in the house

Best room in the house

I am at the AAAS meeting, which is immense fun. I catch up with old friends and colleagues, listen to mind-blowing talks and spread the OIST gospel.

Vint

Vint

Bill Slowhand Cabbage

Bill Slowhand Cabbage

I also go to the Exploratorium in SF to talk about the future.

Mary, Melissa and fat man

Mary, Melissa and fat man

The best restaurant in SF is in the Exploratorium. There are amazing views out over the bay. Just settle in, eat excellent food and watch the boats go by, like er sitting on a dock on the bay.

Melissa,Silva Rob. Thanks Youhei for the photos.

Melissa,Silva Rob.
Thanks Youhei for the photos.

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Off-roading

So I go down to Stanford in a rented car. I get the car through a website: https://relayrides.com/  It is fun. Individuals rent out their own cars and you choose which car you would like, normally through an algorithm involving proximity and price.

I get to SLAC and wallow in nostalgia. Lots and lots of old friends. Melinda and I are walking down a corridor when Burt Richter, Stan Brodsky, JoAnne Hewett and Marty Breidenbach came out of their offices at the same time.  What a corridor! We all cried on each others’ shoulders. Thanks to everyone who gave me such a warm Californian welcome. The air is full of helicopters – Obama is coming to the university later in the week.

I go quickly to Palo Alto Bayshore to photograph advocets. I go to Big 5, the best shop in the world, http://big5sportinggoods.com/store/ and then to the bank. Somewhere along this route my incredible camera with the really amazing 400mm bird lens is stolen from the car. Palo Alto is not Okinawa. How? I don’t know but I think I had to lock both doors on the rental individually or by some informed slight of hand on the doorlocker thing. Don’t worry I got my revenge on that car.

I make a very bad decision.

“Why drive back up 280 when you could drive through the redwoods up 84? Pass Alice’s Restaurant and cruise down to the ocean as the sun is going down and drive up the wild Pacific coast line into SF, er instead.”

I take the wrong option.

Cruising down to the ocean as the sun is going down on a very wet and muddy 84, the back of the car just slides away. I try to correct, which makes things much, much worse and in a nanosecond I am plunging off the side of the road. I collide with a baby redwood. I thought I was going to die. I survived but not the car.

Let people steal my camera, would you?

Let people steal my camera, would you?

I am Ok. Thank you seat belt and airbags. This is the first car accident I have ever had, except for one on Jura.

You are totalled.

You are totalled.

bald like me

bald like me

I suppose I should have checked the tires before I set off.

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For Eternity?

I have always worried about going to Heaven. I mean, what can you do for eternity without getting bored?  Maybe if Heaven was only for 10 insane years it would be a more attractive proposition.  Even that is probably too long. Maybe a couple of weeks in Heaven followed by a few hours of Hell with the resultant “Oh, Thank God!” upon returning would provide necessary variation.

This is just a lead in to another heavenly morning spent in the Kezar Bar, which is close to our house. The bar is so named because the mighty Kezar Stadium used to stand right in front of it.

Original home of the 49ers

Original home of the 49ers

The stadium, just at the entry to the Golden Gate park was demolished after the 1989 earthquake. You will remember it featuring in the last scene of Dirty Harry. Hard to imagine it having been there now.

Anyway I have written about the delights of the Kezar before:

https://spikekalashnikov.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/secret-vice/

This time I have just got of a plane from Tokyo and have being lying wide awake since 4:00 am. I realize that the Plucky Losers, or Scotland, are playing France in a couple of hours. Off go Ben and I. We establish ourselves in the warm bar with the other fetishists,  who fall into two groups. Rugby freaks wearing old rugby jerseys and football freaks of whom there are many more. They occupy the front room and wear Liverpool FC jerseys with Gerrard 8 on the back. Yep, Liverpool are playing Everton at the same time as the Plucky Losers play France. We are in a bar in San Francisco.

What is Ben staring at?

What is Ben staring at?

At this.

Full Irish Breakfast

Full Irish Breakfast

Black pudding, white pudding, 2 eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages, tomato,toast. People are drinking beer, Bloody Marys and shots. We don’t drink. I am getting old – it is 8:30.

Two beautiful young women, both of whom have truly outstanding, er, postures, swoop back and forth with trays of breakfasts and drinks. They are happy and welcoming and very aware of the effect their, er, postures are having on the menfolk. Watching tennis drives the eyeballs from left to right, from left to right. Watching rugby in the Kezar drives 50  eyeballs away from the screens to the left, as one of the barmaids breasts her way out of the kitchen bearing trays of happiness. The eyeballs then follow her to wherever she is going and then lock back on the screens again. It is a circular motion that is repeated every few minutes throughout the match.

Scotland lose in a plucky sort of way. However how close is this to Heaven?

Ben goes to work and I stroll back home past yellow Mimosa and kind of magnolia colored Magnolias. I come across a library on Page that I had not noticed before.

I read th NYT and San Francisco Chronicle.

I read th NYT and San Francisco Chronicle.

The front page of the Chronicle has a story by David Perlman, whom I first met  at CERN in 1989, when he was 70. Do the math. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/21/local/la-me-perlman-20130222

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

I suppose Heaven could be watching rugby in the Kezar, followed by sojourn in a library with  little touches of Hell to recalibrate.

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