Friday, 23 April 2010

Eerie Skies

Flew back from Chicago last night.  Thank you American Airlines.  You treated me well.

As I flew up from London the skies looked eerie.  The view of the countryside lacked clairty and the vapour trails wierdly were hanging there long after the planes had disappeared.  A phenomenon I haven't seen before.

Chicago was memorable.  Perhaps 4 images that begin to show what is a very charismatic and absorbing city.  Lovely people, but not without its problems in the poorer parts of the city.

Strange to be back in America after 6 years and to see up front and close the problems that it is grappling with.  Yes the economy is picking up but unemployment and massive indebtedeness is everywhere you look.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Chicago CAM Contemporary Art Museum

I had an interesting day yesterday exploring the Museum of Contemporary Art.  It is a fine buuilding in a fine location.  The best of the museums I have visited.  It is challenging to look beyond one's prejudices.  At the entrance of the museum was a clear statement of how they see contemporary art, which I found enlightening.  In summary their view is that art no longer has schools or groups of artists.  Now you have individuals who need to reflect modern life.  And with it the influences are media and advertising and now the internet.  Interesting.

The building is spectacular.  A huge space with views out to the skyscrapers.  And the people who are walking around are the most important exhibits!!!  The photography was big and colourful but did not excite me.  The exhibit of the oil barrels with pictures of the Niger Delta was thought provoking.

Quick walk around Navy Pier and an introduction to Bubba Shrimp.  Live replay of Forest Gump and huge portions - this is America.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Holding in Chicago

My flight to Paris due to leave today has been cancelled.  I have been re-booked onto the Thursday flight. 

A daily routine of visiting Chicago landmarks has developed.  Yesterday Nicholas and I visited the Willis Tower (Sears) to see the view by day.  We toured the business district and then went over to the Field museum to see Sue.  Sue is the larget most complete T Rex found so far.  It greets you as you enter the museum and is a very impressive exhibit.  Auctioned at Sothebys for $8m it was paid for mainly from a grant from the MacDonalds (hamburger) corporation.

Ended up in the Hard Rock Cafe.

Such is life.  Today is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Alex in waiting.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Art Institute of Chicago

I have spent an interesting couple of days in Chicago as a volcanic refugee.

The highlights were walking around Millenium Park, Michigan Avenue and visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Art institute was like other ones I have visited a very striking building.  They had a not very exciting Matisse exhibition.  Likewise they had a William Eggleston retrospective which was much better.  Fabulous colour prints.  The fascinating thing was that his dye transfer prints were very impressive as prints.  As photographs I am less convinced.  Perhaps it is me but the simple approach to imaging does not leave me with a lasting impression.  What was much more interesting was the main photography exhibition which had a kalaeidoscope of past and present master works.  Great to see these.

Looks like a flight may leave tomorrow.  This would get me to Paris.

More later including photographs.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Volcanic Geology

It was more than bizarre that I was talking with Paul Post on the veranda of his house enjoying a beautiful day in Southern Lousiana.  Watching the humming birds feed and grappling with the prospectivity of a particular basin, soon to be drilled, which has volcanics.  We were agonising about the wrong volcanics!!!!!

The AAPG convention which is now a distant memory was nothing short of fabulous.  It helps to see what other people are up to and is enourmously stimulating.  I spend too much time looking inwards.  Lets look outwards more.

I flew up to Chicago yesterday in the hope that the volcanic eruption would be short lived.  However as geologist but not a meteorolgist I am not confident.  So I am spending my time on a mini photo project here in Chicago.  I spent last night with Dr Nicolas Backert whom I met on the plane who was also at the convention.  We went downtown and visited the financial district where all of the mighty financial power as buildings is on display.  We dined in a fine Italian restaurant whose windows were without parallel looking out onto the streets of this windy city.  I adored the food and the photographic opportunity and Nicolas company.

We then ascended the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and enjoyed a remarkable view.  It was difficult to take it all in.  A young bride appeared and was married in the glass platform.

Here and waiting patiently.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Muriel's Searching For Ghosts

Went to Muriel's last night.  A venerable restaurant in the Quarter which is reputed to be haunted.  We looked hard but she did not show.  Some interesting Egyptian sarcophocus (can't spell this)  in a red room.  Was a guest of Paul Post among other esteemed organisers.  Thourougly entertaining night - thanks Paul and Gwen.

The convention was good yesterday.  With the challenges of chairing and postering behind me it was good to float from oral to poster sessions and chat with Vendors in between  Nipped out at lunch and photographed the overpasses that swing around the convention centre in a confusion of roads and concrete pilars and big bridges. 

Highlights - The paper on the prospectivity of meteor impact craters!!!  Stunning.  Meeting Ken McClay and seeing the sand box models and agreeing they are a thing of beauty!!!  Finding out about Greenland, Israel and much else besides.  Not to forget the hand held XRF tool - no longer a machine that fills a room.

The bus is here.  Next stop Geochem and fly out Friday.

From a warm and welcoming NO.  Alex


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Back to the Convention This is America

Our Poster on right  Well done Andy!!

The sounds of U2 this is America spins in my head.  Kinda strange but a look forward to seeing them in Glastonbury.

The AAPG convention is a stunning thing for any scientist.  6000 geologists and trade shows.  8 concurrent sessions.  100s of posters.  All talking to the business of exploring and producing oil and gas.

At the invitation of the AAPG I chaired a session yesterday.  It was well attended and I met lots of people.  my friend and colleague Steve Kimbrell from Exxon came down the night before and chaired the session with me.  It was the first time that AAPG has had an Operations Geology session so there was a great sense of "moment" for all those that took part and presented papers.  The convention centre is ginormous.  Despite the number of people it does not feel crowded.

Yesterday morning I got up at sunrise ( a la Nepal)  and took the ferry across the river and photographed the city skyline.  I then took the street car up St Charles and photographed the mansions.  I visited with guitarman who gave me the low down on the shooting across the road the night before.  I had not felt very comfortable about how it looked in this part of Canal street.  And it explained all the comotion.  I had walked past 15 minutes earlier.

I then took a guided tour of the city.  To see the Katrina damage.    The city is close to being refitted and seems vibrant here in the centre.  This is not the case in the poorer part of town.  A great deal of housing has been removed and only cement plinths remain.  Strip malls have not been rejuvinated and many shells of houses remain.  The barriers and leveees and pumping stations have been replaced / repaired.  You have got to admire the American spiriti and industry.  People have worked hard to get their environment back.  But there are now fewer in the city.  320,000.

Off to the convention to relax and enjoy some good papers.


New Brad Pit Zero Energy Home

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Orleans The Crescent City

Beautiful to be back in New Orleans.  The city looks much as it did.  However this is misleading.  Probably because the downtown has been re done whereas the bits I have yet to see have not.

The flight across the southern tip of Greenland was stunning.  See attached image.  The down through the heartland of central America and following the Missisipi south.  A great day.  I do love these great plane journeys.  And took advantage to take a great deal of images. 

I missed the first bit of the ice cap though!!  It sneaked up on me as a I read the agenda for the Convention.  My head was preoccupied with which papers were in our session and then I looked up to see this wonderful pristine glacier slip past.

Off to explore NO.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Return to the US

I am headed off to the US this weekend to attend the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention in New Orleans.  Sounds like fun and I am sure it won't disappoint.  Something like 6000 delegates and 1000 paper and oral presentations.  NO will be planet sized with geologists everywhere next week.  It is 6 years since I last visited the US and 9 since I visited New Orleans.  Redolent with memories.  The last time in NO was three weeks after 9/11 and I was honoured to go to a small restaurant with the late Mike Harris.  Poignant this therefore.  He was an outstanding geologist and a a fascinating gentleman.  He knew the Bush family personally and given that it was so soon after the collapse of the twin towers it is all the more poignant that he was so supremely close with his prediction of the future.  Tragically he was to die last year in the Air France flight from Rio.

I am going to New Orleans to chair a session and present a poster.  The session is exciting because it is the first time that an Operations Geology session has taken place and it will be one of the openning sessions.  At 8am , so if you are in the neighbourhood as they say!!!!!!!!

And so to the image of the day.  Taken in 2004 in Westeheimer Houston.  On my last trip I carried my LF camera there and back and this is perhaps the most memorable image of one of the most memorable buildings.  This time I will take my D700 and go light and hopefully fast.  Check back next week and hopefully I will let you now whats cooking around Bourbon Street.