Monday, December 14, 2009

glad patch

endurance is the ability to draw delight from outside of self.

it is a gift from God.

it is a heart-smile.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My behavior changes around this time of the semester.

1. I wear a hat a lot. Even, and especially, in my room.
2. I like studying on the floor best.
3. Study physiology becomes eccentric: I usually like to kneel or sit in such a way that the top of my forhead nearly touches my notes, arms circling roundabout in a self-hug. This is the preferred posture for remembering biochemical pathways!
4. I spend more time staring at inanimate objects, like the trail-mix on my desk, or my pencil, or the light-switch.
5. I alternate between feelings of savage cheer and solemn haste.
6. I appreciate music more.

I wonder if my behavior is different because I know Jesus is returning soon? Oh Lord, give me the same sense of urgency and reality.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


ha! - awwwww

On my way to the cafe for breakfast I saw a paper that said:


I was thrilled. Maybe, maybe the campus was finally catching on...

I visited the site only to be dissapointed by the face of a duck I didn't recognize.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

not the numbers

Jonathan posted a blog recently that referenced a BBC article which argued that "Global Warming" was un-related to man made emissions. Indeed, that we were on our way to a set of cooler weather for the next 30ish years.

I just saw this article on BBC, which argues that Global Warming is a very real phenomenon.

1) I appreciate BBC's bipartisan approach.
2) According to the numbers, it appears that our world is cooling and warming at the same time! In other words, these arguments don't start with facts, they start with a bull-headed hypothesis which will trample discordant data in order to save itself. It's not about the numbers anymore.

Sunday, November 22, 2009



scather my life,
break my psythe,
flinder my self,
exscind my ambitude,

and hold me free.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dum spiro spero

Morning, and stars
lay down their
aery chourse to
the universe.

There, see, night
lifts up his
fenestral latch to
the light.

Doubt, so thick,
dissolves with its
cheerless light to
the life.

Hope, heare again,
take up my
breath, til I hold
the morning.

Monday, November 16, 2009

the edge

the problem with enjoying the sunshine is that you miss it when it gets dark.

but it is beautiful between day and night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Delights of life

Touch of Sunlight on the edges of the day.
Hot Tea in a lonely dorm room.
Shivers when listening to music.
Early morning smiles.
Eyes of a friend.
Grass on bare feet.
Spruce air breath'ed deep.

They are windows into heaven.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


As I was practicing in the music building this morning, it struck me that it is possible to crudely categorize some of the practicing I hear in the basement.


These pianists play a thudding/wandering style of music. They should be commended for their musical focus: they seem to meditate on a single refrain for hours. Years.

The virtuous orchestra members who practice their parts. I have only praise for this group: there are a lot of things that would be more fun to practice.

The singers who never seem to progress beyond the warm-up phase. "AAaaahh-ah-ah-ah-ah-a-e-ooooooooo, aeeeeeeeeeoooooooooooeeeeeeeeeea" Shriek Shriek.

Usually a small congregation of talents-- destined for Vespers, or Afterglow, or Not. They have to practice that little solo refrain... ("One more time, One more time: Aaaaaaaaa")

These people dazzle me with scherzic glissandos, lush vibrato, and the extraordinary gift of never-ever sounding bad. Sometimes I feel like rushing off to call Deutsche Grammophon.

Bach, Bloch, Brahms, Bartok. Oh, blast, what about Mozart? All in 5 minutes.

"Never stop. Not until you've played the last note. "

"Never finish a phrase. Micromanaging is key."

... enough for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

how not what

"... You learn that what matters is how you get there, not what you accomplish."

-- Yvon Chouinard

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams.

“If slavery be the destined sword of the hand of the destroying angel which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut in sunder the bonds of slavery itself. A dissolution of the Union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slave-holding States, combined with a war between the two severed portions of the Union. It seems to me that its result might be the extirpation of slavery from this whole continent; and, calamitous and desolating as this course of events in its progress must be, so glorious would be its final issue, that, as God shall judge me, I dare not say that it is not to be desired.”

Written four decades before the Civil War, in Adams' diary. Source:

  • Born 1767
  • Harvard College, trained as a lawyer.
  • Minister to the Netherlands at 26.
  • Elected to U.S. Senate at 35.
  • Minister to Russia at 41.
  • Secretary of State under Monroe: engineered incredible diplomatic triumphs. Authored the Monroe doctrine.
  • Elected President of the United States at 58. Is a terrible (principled) politician, and is soundly thrashed by Andrew Jackson in the subsequent election of 1828.
  • Elected to the House by the Plymouth (MA) district at 63. He served in this capacity for the remainder of his life (til age 81)
  • In the House, Adams fought ceaselessly against the "Gag rule" -- achieving its repeal after 8 years, and argued pro bono before the supreme court on behalf of the spanish slaves in the Amistad case -- he won too.
Adams knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. Adams is the only president to serve in the House after his presidency. We owe a lot to Mr. Adams.

Facts Source:

Thursday, November 5, 2009


My tube of toothpaste has been running on empty. I can squeeze just enough out to brush my teeth with. Every time, 2-3 times a day, for the past 14 days.

About a week ago, I noticed that my tube seemed to inflate a little bit between uses. Now it inflates to a degree that would be difficult to miss. And I'm still getting just enough toothpaste out...

Maybe there are some paste-generating bacteria in there... that would explain the gas.

I hope so.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Protein folding patterns can be described by two rotational angles of the secondary structure: Φ (phi) and ψ (psi). There are eight theoretically allowed rotational angles for each of the two bonding angles, but only a few of these rotational angles will be allowed because of steric hindrance (stuff getting in the way). Hence, we have a Ramachandran plot of ψ v. Φ. The plot you see above has been rendered in 3D with % incidence forming the texture.

It's uncanny how you can take numbers from an extremely small system and create a 3D graph that looks a lot like a topo map. If our ideas were like bonding angles, I wonder if there isn't a comprehensive dimensional representation out there?

There are a couple of levels of potential.
1. Does geography influence the way we think? Does the natural landscape code for truth?
2. What if contradictory ideas (paradoxes) were really just helping to establish cognitive texture: just like "impermissible" bonding angles are still necessary to form the plot diagram...
3. Trying to establish the "truth" through systematic logic would take about as long or longer as taking a 100 residue protein (a pretty small protein) -- each with 10 conformational possibilities, and testing each conformational combination once every 1.0 × 10-13 seconds: it would take 1.0 × 1077 years. (See Levinthal's Paradox). Proteins like this fold in less than 5 seconds under physiologic conditions: therefore the enzymes and chaperones mediating this process must have some shortcuts. In order to arrive at a semblance of truth, we might have to accept some shortcuts through faith.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Before we leave...

Dear Family,

I love you.

I want to say it.

Mean it.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Mom is like the sunlight: true, clear, warm-bright. Mom is like a wind after listless sails, and a clear drink on dusty days.

Mom used to put me to bed every night. She would always say: "I love you hundreds of bushies" ... which being translated, means an extremely large quantity.

I remember waking up with so much energy that I had to run, jump, or wrestle. It was a joy to know that Mom fully approved of all of these exercises, especially outside. It was freedom, it was happiness. I'm sure it wasn't easy to let us go off on our crazy adventures: Mom did it anyways.

Mom makes the best bread I've ever had. The three of us grew up on simple, delicious, wholesome food that I hope to eat for the rest of my life. I was happy to find an ally in Mom when at around 4 or 5 years old I developed a liking for a supper of fruit and bread. This was a "fruitish" supper. And it's still my favorite.

Mom is incredibly adventurous. She showed me how to travel: how to be flexible, how to ask for help, how to pack light.

Mom was my tutor, driver / navigator to all those cello lessons, confidant, encourager, organizer, financial / academic adviser, nurse, cheerleader, waypoint, foundation, friend.

Mom gives so much. I'll never be able to repay the debt I owe. Mom, I love you with all of my heart.

Mom is like the sunlight.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Timothy R. Howe , M.D. : I call him Dad.

This summer, Dad and I worked together to carry a load of gear from our campsite on Metallak island, across the lake, and up a short trail to where our cars were. Afterwards, as we canoed back to the island, I remembered how good it felt to have dad in the back of the canoe. Steady, strong, sure.

When I was little, Dad would sing me to sleep on restless nights. My favorite was Bill-Grogan's Goat, to which Dad added marvelous sound-effects. On hot nights, he would "fan" my covers up and down for a long time. When we were bad, Dad spanked us, but I don't remember a time when I got an undeserved punishment. When I stomped off to bed in a bad mood, Dad would come and rub my back and tell me how much he loved me. Believe me, despite many determined attempts to stay cranky, I never outlasted Dad.

Dad taught me how to ride a bike, how to paddle a canoe, how to ice-skate, how to build a fire, how to hike, how to make a bow and arrow, how to prepare for an adventure, how to ski-skate, how to make a debris hut, how to tie a bowline, how to make a basket, how to pray, how to smile when things get tough.

I went to the hospital (I called it the hostible) with Dad occasionally when I was little. It was fun to see all the nurses and patients cheer up as Dad rounded the corner. When our family went to Nepal for three months, I watched as Dad gave consultation, care, and compassion. The people of Huas valley loved and respected Dad; I'm certain they remember him.

I didn't understand how much I relied on Dad until I left home for Peru. Awash in a giddy fear that welled up out of my own insecurity, I read and re-read a carefully folded piece of paper Dad had handed to me on my way out the door. Nobody will ever understand how much that letter meant to me.

Then college, and another letter. Now I have a cell-phone, I call home whenever a trouble or a question faces me. I call Dad for over-the-phone diagnoses of my ills, solid advice, and substantial comfort.

I'm circling. I want to cut to the essence. It's the light in his eye. The rugged personality that exudes integrity and wholeness. The way Dad loves Mom and family. His deep relationship with God. It's the hand on your shoulder and the paddle in the back of the canoe; steady, strong, sure.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Barry is my brother. He is absolutely incredible. Absolutely. Incredible.

The first picture of Barry and I shows us sleeping on the blue carpet of our home in Freeport, Maine. Barry's arm is wrapped around me in a gesture of philladelphy. Nobody would guess that we had collapsed in this posture after hours of wrestling.

That is the way it was, and is. We are too close to let our expressions of love for each other be limited to niceties.

I remember Barry first and most as an explorer. He loved to tramp -- a word which perfectly describes the process of exploring woods and fields filled with slanting sunshine, raspberry thickets, and danger unknown. On the steepest parts of the ravine behind our house, Barry would sled and mountain bike in places where nobody else had tried, and nobody else would follow. Barry climbed huge pine trees all through the woods, and once fell about 60 feet through the limbs to the ground below when a dead branch broke under his feet. He was ok, except for a badly lacerated back. That was a miracle.

Barry is shy. When he was little, he gave strangers a berth as wide as the radius of mom's skirts. To say that went away isn't wrong, it's just untrue; Barry now meets new people with the same deep courage and style that he uses in steep places.

When Barry was 9, he took the laser (a 16-ft sailing dinghy) out by himself. When he was about a mile out from our dock, the boat dumped. Barry dry-capsized, which means that he climbed over the vertical side of the boat and sat on the centerboard. He wasn't heavy enough to right the boat, so he had to wait until a lobsterman caught sight of him, and used his trap hook to grab the tip of the mast and set the boat upright.

The two of us used to play "animals" every day. "Animals" was a full theatrical production managed by Barry, the players were a large chest of stuffed animals. The lines of the production were predictable in only one way: it was always war. In every other respect, every day was a breathtaking masterpiece on its own. Barry created every animal with layer upon layer of personality, and then contrived to execute complicated plotlines, impersonating each animal personally. I loved every minute of it, I was absolutely enthralled.

Barry was a pioneer of the stair-jumping phase which I talked about in my post on Paul. He still holds the record for the highest jump -- that jump incindentally damaged some nearby wallboard. I always used that as a excuse to avoid the jump myself.

Barry got a two-man tent, and we eventually decided to camp out in the woods. We set up our tent in the daylight, and then made our way by flashlight to our tent at night. Our tent was snug with sleeping bags, pads, and piles of blankets. Our boisterous conversation quickly gave way to a pervading silence. I was immediately afraid, and after 10 agonized minutes, I let Barry know it. He bolstered my courage with a generous infusion of his own, and we might have lasted 'til the morning except for the sudden scream of a screech owl. We fled.

One winter night, Barry and I donned two of our Dad's white lab coats hanging in the laundry room, and went by moonlight on our cross-country skis to spy out the far fields which had recently been sprinkled with some new houses. When we got close, we took off our skis and crept through the darkness past the houses. I was thrilled to be doing something so dangerous with my brother.

I loved rooming with Barry in college. He faced challenges there with incredible courage. He was an explorer. I'm ordinately proud of my brother because:
1. He has arrived
2. He still explores

Barry is ... a brother. I love him so much.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Paul is my oldest brother. He is awesome. (P.Y. = Paul years.)

0-6 P.Y. : I didn't know him. Pictures show a mischief cherub with a natural bent for raspberries. He loved Barry, who appeared on the scene in 3 P.Y, and John (6 P.Y.), despite the fact that he had hoped for a little sister.

6-12 P.Y. : In 6 P.Y. Paul canoed 110 miles of wilderness river with Dad and Bey (his hardy traveling teddy-bear). So began a lifelong love of white-water canoeing. Around 9 P.Y., Paul initiated a time of stair-jumping in our house. We would pile all our clothes and bedding at the bottom of the stairs and jump from as high as we dared. On high-energy days, we played an indoor form of tag called "Guilty Guy," for reasons that have long since abdicated. Two brothers would chase the third to the tune of a yodeling record from the 70's. Successful evasion usually required creative use of furniture.

12-16 P.Y. : Paul learns to sail, and the three brothers set off on the first of many overnight sailing trips to islands in Casco Bay. Paul remained physically small while all of his friends seemed to sprout overnight. He held his own during these years with a penetrating faculty for wit and riposte. Paul read exhaustively during these years. At one time, he read all the parenting books that Mom and Dad kept in their room, and honed his understanding by teaching Barry and I the psychology they contained. I remember watching Paul read a book, listen to a tape, reenact a civil war battle with pinto beans, and soak in the bathtub all at once. Incredible.

We played a lot of hockey in the winters on our pond. Sometimes, we played in big games, and I remember watching in anger as Paul got knocked around by insecure 15-year olds about a foot taller than he was. Around this time, one of Dad's patients invited Paul to help bring a 50-ft sailboat from the Bahamas to Maine by way of Bermuda. Paul accepted, and came back with some well-founded confidence.

A 3-month trip to Nepal drew our family together. Paul, Barry, and I came back as brothers with intense loyalty and love for each other. After that trip, Paul started touring extensively with the New England Youth Ensemble as a violist, and, as a guy who could pack a bus really, really well.

16-18 P.Y.: Paul grew and got strong in one summer, working landscaping at a local retirement village with David Penner. Hockey that winter was a different story: Paul not only held his own, he let players who would bully smaller players cool off in a snowdrift.

Paul got his license, and for two winters, we went snowboarding almost every week with the Gerrans brothers in our ancient Volvo. Paul drove faster back then: I remember the sound an old volvo makes when approaching 100 mph on back roads. Paul was an active leader in our church, and always made a point of pulling outsiders in.

The three brothers went on an Austrailia/NZ tour with NEYE the summer before Paul went to college. On that trip, Paul decided to go to Columbia Union College.

18-25 P.Y.: Paul went away to college. In his senior year there, he met Petra Houmann, the girl he would marry the summer after his second year of law school at Washington and Lee University. After Law school, he accepted a position with AHI to become the C.E.O. of Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia. Last summer, I went there for a month to spend some time with my brother and new sister.

It was a different Paul. His mind, honed by three years of Law school, was fit enough to handle the incredible negotiating challenges that assailed him every day. But he was the same too; leaping off proverbial heights, multitasking like the boy in the bathtub, driving fast, and caring most about the little people. The people who got overlooked, bullied, and knocked down -- those people found a friend... a brother ... my brother.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Middle English pharise, from Old English farise, from Late Latin pharisaeus, from Greek pharisaios, from Aramaic pĕrīshayyā, plural of pĕrīshā, literally, separated
From [search: pharisee]

No single system of beliefs has survived intact over a long time.

=> How should a religious system keep itself?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

4 snakes

Just got back from a weekend in the Bigelows.

Bike mileage: 10 miles
Hike/run mileage: 18 miles
Weather Patterns: Sun, rain, hail, lightening
Favorite food: Hershey's 5th Avenue
Trail conditions: mud-water
Bible study: Matthew 5
Fauna: 2 deer, 1 toad, 4 snakes

Monday, June 22, 2009


How big is God? Why is it easier for me to see His design under the microscope and in the sky than in my own life? God is a spirit (John 4:23). Spirits are not confined to a space dimension (Wind-Spirit analogy: John 3:8). His creation occupies a set amount of space, and in that way, it is dissimilar from Him. So, when I look at something that fills a very different proportion of space from myself, I may approach to that "dissimilarity factor" with which God views his creation.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

twinkle twinkle

I'm working on defining musical notes in other ways than their wavelength. There are two reasons for this.
1. I want to apply my musical intuition to writing and art.
2. I want to unravel music to see the ideas and colors implied in melody and chord.

I've always thought that various musical keys have personalities. To test this, I sat down with my older brother Paul ( a violist and pianist) and David Hegstead ( musician and composer) in Gimbie, Ethiopia. We chose hymns that we knew the words of, and then thought silently about what key would be appropriate for that hymn. After individually determining which key was a "fit", we conferred upon our results. Of about 20 hymns we worked through, 16 selections were unanimous. In only 1 case did all of us disagree. (I checked to see if we were simply selecting the key of the hymn as written from harmonic recall... but this was not the case. Our results frequently differed from that of the hymn.)

That is great, but it's another thing to actually express or characterize those personalities. I decided to try and characterize individual notes first. I used two words and a color for each of 7 notes. I decided that flats (or sharps) would be a mixture of the two notes which they fall between. So:

C : Solid Comfort
D: Sharp Definition
E: Fluid Movement
F: Viscous Thought
G: Optimistic Fluff
A: Tragic Sardonic
B: Sweet Sad

Hence, Twinkle Twinkle in C major.

Soft flannel pajamas will sooth sore hearts. I wonder if perilous deeds might also?

That isn't very satisfying. Maybe about as good as a beginner playing twinkle twinkle on the violin.

Now a chord. Starting from the bottom: G F B D F B-flat. (sorry, don't know the name)

Optimistic fluff + Viscous thought + Sweet Sad + Sharp Definition + Viscous Thought + Sad Comfort

aaaaaa Jazz Chord.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

my 1 cent

Selfishness (the quality of a vital self) leads to desperate unhappiness. Actually, it leads to hell.

Vanity (feeding the self) is unnecessary. Actually, it leads to selfishness.

Death to self is necessary.

Love (feeding the other) is necessary. Actually, it leads to God.

God is necessary. Actually, since redemption = recreation, He leads to Life.

This post derived inspiration from Barry and Joel... who each wrote wonderful blogs on this topic.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Simple , Good

I like bread with peanut butter and a glass of cold soy-milk for supper.

Simple things can taste so good.

Wouldn't it be neat to have a recipe-book which was full of simple, nutritious, combinations? A book which derived taste from the quality of an idea, and not from the quantity of ingredients?

Friday, May 29, 2009


A "Thomas" posted comment #4 on my blog about Shop-ing.

"You want to carry the wholesale polarized sunglasses this is very important. Our polarized lenses are made in U.S.A. very high quality. These are very popular for fishing and driving because they block the glare so good."

I would have deleted it immediately as a poorly written scam add, except for its juxtaposition with the next comment, again by "Thomas."

"There are many good Christian wholesale suppliers that you can find online. If you want to start a business and would like to find good Christian wholesale suppliers to contact for your business purposes than it should be rather easy to do."

I am unimpressed by Thomas's business offer, but...

Do we sell christianity because it blocks "the glare so good"?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Grey skies today. Spent most of the day working on a spoon and thinking. Good times.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


We, by nature, are slaves.

Whose slave are you? 

The Light
The Dark

There are no alternatives.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Feeling Foolish...

... after loosing all four wisdom teeth yesterday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bach, Smith, and Howe

I am learning a piece from this guy

And reading his book.

And greatly enjoying myself at HOME!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sabbath Afternoon Hike. 
Misty-bright, sun-light. Spruce air, wind hair. 

Monday, April 6, 2009


Most cells are regulated by a system of checkpoints which decide whether or not they can proceed through the cell division cycle. At one checkpoint, metazoan eukaryotic cells (the kind in your body) must prove that they have sufficient space around them (are not too enclosed by neighbors) before it can proceed through the cycle.

Cancer cells are the one notable exception to this. They ignore 'neighbor constraints' and push on to proliferate their own kind almost continuously. Our bodies suffer accordingly.

Am I a cancer cell in the body of Christ?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Smoky Mountain NP

Morning mood.

An old school house -- built late 1800s. Bottom timber estimated > 2 feet wide.

Fire Pink: one of 14 flowers we identified on Chestnut Tops Trail.

Evening view from Chimney Tops.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The problem with...

Argument against swearing:

Presupposition: That every individual is entitled to a basic dignity of existence.

I. Dignity of existence is contingent upon a modicum of personal privacy.
II. Personal privacy is a circle in which one stands alone.
III. To cross the circle without the consent of the individual in the circle constitutes a violation of personal privacy, and therefore represents a lessening of that individual's dignity of existence.
IV. Some swear words describe extremely private functions.
V. To mention an extremely private function to another person without their foreknowledge or consent represents a violation of personal privacy: the circle is transected.
VI. These swear words represent a violation against another's dignity of existence.

This does not include all swear words. I cannot make an impartial argument against those swear words which show no respect to my faith. I may only assert that this remainder of swear words make a mockery of what I hold most dear.

I appeal to my fellow students to consider their words. The swearing I hear here is either:
A) A violation against another's dignity of existence
B) Hurtful to another on the basis of faith

1. Swearing gets redundant. Oxford english dictionary credits the english language with 500,000 words (actually a rather conservative estimate)-- the odds that a swear-word qualifies as the best descriptor are therefore very low.

2. I detest the way in which people abbreviate swear words to make them "good." If swearing here is rife (it is), this is endemic. These narcissists are unwilling to take the responsibility for saying the actual word, but want to enjoy the naughty feelings that accompany their forays into moral turpitude. Yuck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

John Donne -- 1633

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring break was wonderful. The trip up to maine meant ample food, warmth, and comfort to recuperate from the sickness that struck me there.

Now back to the books, at least til April 29 -- A mere 49 days away!

Monday, February 9, 2009