Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Henan provincial art museum

Managed a brief tour last week through the Henan provincial art gallery, which is in the Central Business District. The Arts Centre is a collection of golden easter eggs separated by a couple of glass "wings".

The art museum is the largest of the easter eggs. The others are for operas, ballets, and the like.

It's springtime, and the CBD is filled with wondrous, inexplicable things.

The workmen are cleaning the glass with great care.

. . . while the food deliverymen await orders.

We went on a nice Sunday. Perhaps the weather kept a lot of people away? This is the rather large entry hall.

Here is the doorman.

Most of the paintings seemed really familiar--not different from paintings in the Hubei provincial museum. It may have been a display by the same artists. Either that, or the style of painting is so similar, they all just seemed the same. Anyway, most of the paintings were of persimmon trees, ducks, geese, flowers, and so on.

One section that was different was the section devoted to Henan folk art. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the stories behind them.

Vivian and Ivy with a friend.

Three dogs and a monkey.

Clay homestead.

We didn't end up spending a lot of time there, and I will have to go back next weekend. I am in Tokyo for the next few days.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Something new

I'm guessing this is a new bank in China.

Either that or it is a comment on the cost of building it.

From the Central Business District in Zhengzhou.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A picture of inflation in China

Lunch yesterday. Same price, notably smaller amount of food. Definitely fewer mushrooms.

Garlic price is up nearly 100%. I was shocked buying some last week. Sure, it isn't rising from a very high level. But for people here on the edge, every little bit hurts. Pork is up by about 50%

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The fire last time

It was very sudden. I was in our field office, just outside Accra, when a nearly indescribable racket began. It was if the most intense rainstorm in history suddenly broke upon us and our tin roof. I knew that it was sunny out--I had just been outside minutes earlier. I rushed to the window and looked out--and it was still bright and sunny. But the sound was localized now, outside and to my right, but out of sight. Heavy black smoke rose into the sky from the opposite side of the block wall that demarked our property boundary.

Outside, there was panic. The dogs and chickens had run to the northern part of our plot, and the grounds staff were in a panic. The flames were more than 10 m high, right up against the other side of the wall. The wind was blowing the fire away from us and across the overgrown neighbouring plot, away to the northeast. Small Kwame told me that Grandpa (our old security guard) had gotten drunk and used far too much petrol in burning the trash--the result was this fire that was now threatening to sweep through our neighbourhood.

Great, I thought. Canadian mining company burns down neighbourhood.

We always had the hose hooked up to the spigot. I turned on the water, but as usual, there was no pressure. Fortunately, we had an elevated water tank, where we stored water as it was normally out. Unfortunately, we only had a few buckets, and in seconds, we had an impromptu bucket brigade snaking its way across the overgrown yard. I tried not to think about snakes. We had spitting cobras, and once a green mamba.

Vegetation in the neighbouring plot. It wasn't quite this green when the 
fire happened, as it was the end of the dry season.

Unfortunately, our few buckets were able to accomplish very little against the raging fire. A little more manpower arrived from the neighbours on the opposite side of the property, with a few more buckets, but it was clear that we were losing ground rapidly. The wind had picked up, the fire had advanced about 200 m and was reaching the concrete shell erected on the neighbour's plot, blackening it. At this point I realized that we had better get to the crossroads and take advantage of the firebreak, otherwise the fire could burn through the entire town.

We ran. The flames were well over 10 m--the building was to be three stories and flames were higher than the building. It was the end of the dry season, and there was plenty of fuel in the neighbour's yard. The roads in our neighbourhood were laterite with some gravel. With only a few damp cloths, we crossed the road and chased down wind-borne flaming debris, stamping them out before they could spread. Luckily the yards on the far side of the crossroads were well kept, and there was little there to burn.

After about fifteen minutes, the fire backed up against the road and ran out of fuel.

The surreal moment of the day - I was still chasing down windblown sparks, when a woman emerged from one of the houses on our block. At this point the flames were right against the side of her house, and they were still higher than her house, but the fire was mainly confined to a narrow space between her house and that of her neighbour. She spies me, and begins walking toward me very deliberately. I kept chasing down sparks, and every time I looked up, she made eye contact and kept approaching. I was almost out of breath when she caught up to me. "Here it comes," I thought.

"Nice to see you," she says. "When did you get back? How was Canada?"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Minority Report, part 2

Some time ago, we looked at minority groups in southern China, and discussed the reasons for so many different cultures in a relatively small area.

Today, I will take a brief look at some minority groups in northern China. Unfortunately, I haven't been to the areas where they hang out, but there's always next year.

The first observation we can make about these groups is that there are a lot fewer of them than in the south. I think the primary reason for this is that the type of inhospitable land in the north lends itself to a nomadic living scheme. Nomads have to travel long distances, hence cultural cross-pollination will occur over large distances, and you won't see the kind of cultural differentiation that you do in the south, where the inhospitable land is individual mountains.

A lot of the northern artifacts are not that different from other northern hemisphere nomadic peoples. Some of them were even reindeer herders (photos below taken at Nanning Museum of Nationalities in Nanning).

Oroqen outfits (a northern forest people)

Tobacco pouches

Described as Hezhe 'Theogony', these fish-skin masks are probably representations of deities.

Depictions of Hezhe shamen (pasted fish skin)

Hezhe shaman outfit

Uyghur artifacts.

Tibetan pavilion at the Nationalities' Court.