Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Labyrinth and the Falkor

Posted by Hippo Bean at 5:47 PM
at 7:55AM of sept 20, the RV Falkor (named after the Luckdragon of the Never Ending Story) of the Schmidt Ocean Institute docked at pier 15 on the san francisco bay. It is the Falkor's second call to San Francisco. The Hippo was invited to its exclusive reception. The late afternoon weather in the Embarcadero was cold but a bit sunny, and the Falkor was floating majestically on the bay. Its dual satellite white domes, its huge square QR code and shiny logo on the chimney were very eye catching. The food at the reception, which included crab cakes, kobe beef, spicy mango bites, Mumm champagne with blueberries and some sort of pink lemonade (which tasted absolutely nirvana), a table station of a variety of cheeses, crackers, french bread and breadsticks, and grapes, and another station of dim sum (dumplings and potstickers), and a full bar offering vine, beer, water and lemonade, was absolutely totally first class.

Speakers included the Schmidt Ocean Institute founder and VP Wendy Schmidt (Google ex-executive chairman Eric Schmidt's wife), who talked about the beloved ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Subastian (named after Bastian of the Never Ending Story), the COO of Saildrone Sebastien De Halleux who introduced the USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) Saildrone which was used to collect ocean data and sailed alongside the Falkor, Flightwave Aerospace CTO and fellow of the University of Porto Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory, Trent Lukaczyk who demonstrated how the Edge UAS (unmanned aircraft system) drone could aid in oceanic researches , and the final speaker shared her experience of the White shark Cafe research. Named and discovered by the researchers at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, who study the sharks by using satellite tracking tags, the White Shark Cafe is an area of approximately 250km radius, halfway between Baja California and Hawaii, at 23.37°N 132.71°W, where mostly male white sharks congregate to smoke pot, drink beer and talk about the females (just joking). Nobody really knows why the great white sharks go there.

we were given a private tour of the Falkor after the reception. The ship crew was very friendly, extremely knowledgeable about the ship, and very open and willing to answer our weirdest and most probing questions. Tom, who was onboard for a 2 week research mission off Hawaii, got a most amiable welcome back, and I took a photo of his bunk bed in the cabin he occupied during the 2 weeks mission. Falkor is state of the art, using the newest oceanic/maritime high tech and even has its very own 3D Printer, so if a certain piece of instrument did not work well, they could make adjustments and quickly print a new one. the Hippo was most impressed. After the tour we returned to the reception to hob nob with the scientists and had some more dim sum. The schmidt ocean institute not only partners with other non-profits, such as NOAA and MBARI, but also invites artists to sketch or paint about the RV's missions, and some of these paintings were on display at the reception. the Hippo took photos of some of them.

Next to the Exploritorium, we admired the buckyball, a 25 foot illuminated structure that has 2 nested geodesic spheres. We stopped to photograph its many changing colors. The night got colder as we returned to our car in happy mood and minds filled with new knowledge. gosh it's good to have a friend who's in the scientific community so the Hippo could learn new things and enjoy them. Obrigada Tom!

Photos of Hippo's Falkor visit:
falkor


Before visiting the Falkor, the gang went to do a bit of hiking in Lands End in the Golden Gate Recreational Area. First we had a light lunch at Louie's, up the hill from the Cliff House. It's been many many years since the Hippo ate there. The day was cold and foggy but the coastline just looked more romantic if not a bit haunting. We hiked alongside the coast and descended to the outcrop just above Mile Rock Beach, and walked the classic seven-circuit Chartres labyrinth, and got a bit dizzy. From this vantage point, well, for a while anyway, before the fog completely covered them, we could see the bases of 2 towers of the Golden Gate. Cargo ships slowed sailed by. otherwise the ocean was calm and quiet. On our return, we stopped by to see the ruins of the Sutro baths, now delapidated with dirty pools and graffiti on the walls of the rooms.

After the Falkor, we returned to MarDar's for the slumber party. We were all stuffed with the reception food (that dim sum was supper and of course the Hippo absolutely stuffed herself), so we just had drinks and talked into the night. The next morning we cooked up an enormous brunch and enjoyed it in the backyard under very fine weather. it's been a most awesome weekend!

Photos of Lands End, Labyrinth and slumber party:
labyrinth

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