This spring I was given the amazing opportunity to travel with the Columbia Alumni Travel group on a cruise of the Sea of Japan. I joined nine Columbia Alums and almost 200 other Alumni travelers on a 10-day excursion of some of the classic sights of Japan (plus one stop in South Korea).
Some of the amazing things we saw were the golden pavilion (kinkakuji)...
...and the floating torii at Miyajima.
My real purpose for being there, however, was to provide lectures for the travelers. About five other lecturers and I provided an educational backdrop to the cruise, giving one-hour lectures in our areas of expertise while the ship was at sea.
My fellow lecturers were historians and art historians, so I was the sole scientist in the group. I gave two lectures: "Japan and the Ring of Fire", which was an overview of the volcanism and seismic history of the region, including my first hand account of the Tohoku earthquake; and "Earthquakes: Friend or Foe?" (spoiler alert: it's foe, but I discussed how we can use the tiny ones occurring every day all around the earth to our benefit via seismic methods) which took a long tangent into icy satellites. I'm told the first talk was a big hit, very accessible, lots of fun, but the second was a bit "out there". Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Overall it was an amazing trip. Ready to join in on the next alumni lecture series if ever I am asked again (hint hint).