September Diving

Cut it a little fine this month and almost ran out of days for diving. This forced a rather unusual Saturday dive. It has been a long time, and it makes for a very short weekend…

A week, or so, ago Matt and I were all set up to dive at IOP (my usual spot), but a typhoon was sitting of the coast churning things up. Nothing had really changed a week later, and we ended up diving at Yokobama. As all the other dive sites were either closed or posting warnings about the swell / currents, the place was packed. It has never been my favourite place to dive – the facilities are dilapidated, it’s badly laid out, and the actual diving is mostly uninteresting. It’s the last part that is the biggest strike against the place. It gets so much traffic, and so many people start diving there, that pretty much everything is degraded and / or scared away. Still, it’s the most sheltered local point, so eventually you end up having to dive there if the weather refuses to co-operate.

Apart from all of that, it was fun watching Matt cope with having to dive in a wetsuit.  If you’ve only ever dived in water that is warm enough to cook an egg, these northern latitudes must seem like a very odd place to get into diving. The water is warm enough (24ºC is toasty for up here, but still cool enough to make shorts and a t-shirt not an option) it’s a long way from the clear blue water of the tropics. A depression offshore had stirred up enough gunk to make it relatively dim and vaguely green. All in all, not a particularly auspicious introduction to diving in Izu.

Hopefully next month we’ll dive IOP and it’ll be more obvious why i’m such an addict.

Shinjuku Blue Sky Thinking

Back in May, in a moment of excitement, i threw myself into a new project. It was inspired by a single shot that i’d taken earlier in the year, and perhaps i should have stuck to that formula more closely. Having, for various reasons, given up on this idea, here they are! All processed (not that i actually bothered to remove the dust) and blue…

(click for slideshow)

Belgium Symbolists

We made our seemingly semi-annual pilgrimage to Bunkamura on Friday to see the Belgium Symbolists exhibition. A museum in Hakone Himeji holds the main collection, and they seem to rotate pieces in from there, and elsewhere.

The last time this was held the selection was really good, a lot of the works by lesser know artists; Jean Delville, Felicien Rops, Fernand Khnopff, etc, and these were their major works. This year presumably because they previously shown all the good stuff, it was a lot of Magritte, and a few minor works by the others. Most disappointing.

It was all almost enough to make me want to plan a mini-tour of Northern Europe…

All Perfectly Rational

In the FT today:

Almost a year after it filed for bankruptcy, the value of Lehman Brothers shares has soared amid a surge in trading activity. Other bankrupt companies – where the value of shares is usually close to zero because equity investors are compensated only after all creditors have been repaid – have also seen a frenzy of trading in the last few days. “People lost so much money last year and they are so desperate to recoup their losses, that they are willing to invest in anything,” said Brad Golding, portfolio manager of CRC Financials Opportunity hedge fund in the Cayman Islands. “Everyone wants a lottery ticket.”

and even more damning:

Shares in Washington Mutual and IndyMac, two other bankrupt financial institutions, have also risen sharply in recent days. Traders say Lehman and WaMu have more debt than cash, meaning they have no equity value and that buying their shares is a forlorn cause. “It is tulip mania,” said Mr Golding. “People have decided [a stock] is worth something based on nothing. The facts are quite the contrary.”

Which is rather inspiring…

Someone must have written something about the dynamics of crowds and investing. There comes a point where it’s simply ‘herd thinking’ and when something comes along to panic the herd… BOOM!

It’s interesting (to me!) that the only bubble that i’ve really bought into was the late nineties internet / tech bubble. At the time i was in Silicon Valley and it really did feel like the world was changing so fast, that the whole ‘net economy’ thing might justify the valuations. No doubt being so close to it all, coloured my perception. All of which makes me wonder if the participants in the current rally (froth? bubble?) are all so close to banking / trading that they don’t see that it’s all baseless?

Wipes away tear…

He also stressed that curbing climate change will benefit Japan’s economy, saying: “Building a society not dependent on carbon will offer a big chance for Japan. Proactive efforts to curb global warming through the development of electric cars and solar power will create a new frontier and new jobs.”

— Hatoyama firm on 25% emissions goal

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read that… could they actually really sort of get it?

Reflecting on Tokyo

I know it looks like it’s badly developed and streaky, but that’s because it’s actually taken through one pane of glass, and is a reflection in the mirrored glass of the Ebisu Garden Place Tower, on the 38th floor.

You’d really have to be paying attention to know that Shinjuku is mirrored, and that the negative isn’t scanned emulsion side down.

What it is about this extra complexity that pleases me isn’t immediately apparent… but when i look it side by side with one taken directly, i like this one, with it’s odd shapes / shadows cast into the sky, somewhat more.