A new cello, and Oblivion performance

2012 Dec 16

Recently I purchased a new cello. This had not been in my plans, and was a surprise to me.

This actually is news, and I'm not repeating myself!   :-)

When I purchased a cello last year, I played quite a few cellos including some that were above of my price range. I wanted to see what other people considered to be more ideal sounds. There was one cello that I remembered in particular because I didn't understand its correlation between price and sound.

Two cellos on a table

Highly Complex Genome

2012 Sep 7

A recent set of articles have reported on the the newly published results of ENCODE, an extensive project to map uncharted areas of the human genome. (WSJ, Nature, Wired) Only a tiny fraction of cell DNA is actively used in manufacturing proteins (about 2%). The purpose of the rest of the genome wasn't known, and was sometimes thought to be useless "junk DNA".

The study results have shown these "useless" regions to actually be very active in switching and regulating the encoding genes. Function has been assigned to about 80% of the genome, and shows that these areas are highly complex, inter-related, and information-dense. The mountain of cell complexity gets higher the more we study how cells function!

However, I notice an unfortunate re-occurring attitude that if we can't assign function to something, then it has no function (thus the epithet "junk DNA"). Such a view of cells seems strange because it seems naive. The rest of our world is amazingly complex; why should we assume that cells are simplistic considering all they do? I think the attitude connects to world view about biology:

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A bear? Over there!

2012 May 12

We returned to Spada Lake and were not disappointed. (more info)

All vehicles must register at the entrance to the area. Melanie conquered the remaining snow that had came off the shed!

Spada shed by entrance

Most of the time on the lake, the water was glassy. The mountain views were fantastic.

Paddle over water with mountain beyond

What is a Value System?

2012 Apr 16

A value system is the complete collection of things you care about in life. We have many opinions and preferences. Some we hold strongly, others not so much. Each of these things holds some level of value to us. Taken as a whole, we can call them our value system.

All of what you do in life can be set into the paradigm of value system.

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Kayaking by Nisqually Wildlife

2012 Apr 4

The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is in the delta area where the Nisqually River empties at the south of the Puget Sound. It truly is rich with wild life.

We put in during the end of a negative tide that had exposed the delta as a vast mud flat. Some water flow had cut a channel from the boat ramp out to the Sound. Our kayak can float in only inches of water, and this is a good thing because that was all there was in the channel at some places. (more trip details)

The view of the Olympic Mountains was fantastic. You can see the shallowness of the water by some underwater grasses just visible in the lower left.

View forward the kayak toward Melanie

Kayaking Upstream

2012 Apr 1

The Sammamish Slough is a pretty good river for kayaking. It meanders slowly through interesting areas. Last year we traveled down its length, but we have paddled limited distances upstream.

There is a section just before Woodinville's Wilmot Park where the water runs faster downhill. We paddled to it in Feb, but we were not able to get through there because the water level was so low that we were scraping our paddles on the river bottom!

We went back there today, and on this trip, water depth was not a problem. Speed of water flow was! As the river narrowed it picked up speed so that at this point we were in an all-out sprint to keep moving forward.

Larry & Melaine in tandem kayak sprinting

This was probably the hardest paddling we have ever done. And yet at that, my young granddaughter could probably have crawled forward faster than we were moving!

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