“…soaring* above the bowing * of taut * nerves in haphazard double-stops* would be the one singing string of her determination.”

statue and shooting star

“… only then did he realize that the isolated system-galaxy, engine, human being, culture, whatever—must evolve spontaneously toward the Condition of the More Probable*”

heat death

“He found himself, in short, restating Gibbs’ prediction in social terms, and envisioned a heat-death for his culture in which ideas, like heat-energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease.”

dead tree on hill


zen and now

utah road

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment… through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”

snowy road

“We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on ‘good’ rather than ‘time.'”


“Unless you’re fond of hollering you don’t make great conversations on a running cycle. Instead you spend your time being aware of things and meditating on them. On sights and sounds, on the mood of the weather and things remembered, on the machine and the countryside you’re in, thinking about things at great leisure and length without being hurried and without feeling you’re losing time.”

cablecar moon

~Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

east of eden

“Ansel Adams… understood that the landscape is not only a place but an event”

Red Rocks

“Trained as a musician, Adams understood the richness of variation that could be unfolded by a simple theme, capable of evoking the specific quality of a given moment in the natural history of the world.”

Niagara Falls

“…the deeply romantic idea that the great vistas and microcosmic details of the wilderness could be seen as a metaphor for freedom and heroic aspiration.”

Moon with sunset clouds

“A surviving fragment of Eden.”

voyage of life


“In childhood there is no cankering care; in Youth no despairing thought. It is only when experience has taught us the realities of the world, that we lift from our eyes the golden veil of early life: that we feel deep and abiding sorrow.” ~Thomas Cole, artist statement, Manhood, The Voyage of Life

One of my favorite spots in DC is standing in the center of Thomas Cole’s epic 4 panel “Voyage of Life” painting. It’s like meeting an old friend who convinces you to waver away from the jaded end of the young/idealistic – aged/cynical spectrum. 

endless forms most beautiful

Sometimes, nature imitates itself.

Remind anyone of this graphic?

“One is only micrometers wide. The other is billions of light years across. One shows neurons in a mouse brain. The other is a simulated image of the universe. Together they suggest the surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different natural phenomena.” Reblogged from The New York Times > Science

Similarly, a lone evergreen overlooking Loveland Pass, Colorado…

… Evocative of axons of neurons stripped of boutons (the neural connections each healthy nerve cell should sprout many of.) Not plentiful in underutilized neurons:

Thus, on a broad scale:

Not watering your evergreens ~= not watering your brain

Deforestation ~= Synaptic pruning

Evergreens, ironically, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Something vast to think about…

And not so vast – sometimes man imitates nature as well 🙂

this side of paradise, part iii

Maybe if I post enough pictures of bone-crushingly cold weather it will actually become such. Just kidding. Never really understood why people enjoy hot weather. But then again, paradise is subjective 😉

“Time for the weather report. It’s cold out folks. Bone-crushing cold. The kind of cold which will wrench the spirit out of a young man, or forge it into steel.”

— Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Lost and Found

Seven Ages of the PhD

I read a really interesting and introspective article in Nature recently – “Seven Ages of the PhD” – documenting individual scientists’ experiences and insights as PhD students in the past 7 decades.

Generally, each decade has an overarching tone in one’s approach to research, a pervading mindset towards science and discovery, if you will. The contributors ranged from a British biologist who worked with Rosalind Franklin to a Chinese glaciologist working after the Cultural Revolution crushed Chinese academia to a Nigerian chemist whose home university did not have the necessary equipment to conduct her research.

It was wholly inspirational and I cannot wait to start my PhD 🙂


1950s: the age of formality

1960s: the age of independence

1970s: the age of innocence

1980s: the age of internationalism

1990s: the age of revolution

2000s: the age of perseverance

2010s: the age of communication

“A good PhD often raises more questions than it solves.”
— Raymond Gosling

this side of paradise, part II

“Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three – and paradise is when you have none.”

— Doug Larsen

“I would say my theme has always been paradise lost, always the lost cause, the lost leader, the lost utopia.”

— Marguerite Young

“Anything that lives where it would seem that nothing could live, enduring extremes of heat and cold, sunlight and storm… testifies to the grandeur and heroism inherent in all forms of life. Including the human. Even in us.”

— Edward Abbey

“I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last; a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise